Fatima and the number “13”

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The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Homily for the 106th Anniversary of Last Apparition in Fatima, 13 October 2023
Isaiah 61:9-11 ><}}}}*> Galatians 4:4-7 ><}}}}*> Luke 11:27-28

Today – October 13, 2023 – is the 106th anniversary of the last apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima, Portugal when the “Miracle of the Sun” happened, witnessed by about 70,000 people. It was her sixth apparition to the three young children at Cova da Iria that started in May 13, 1917.

Except for the month of August when authorities jailed the three children on August 13 on their way to Cova da Iria to force them to recant their earlier statements of the apparition, the Blessed Mother appeared to them on August 19 at the nearby Valinhos where she repeated her calls for prayers and sacrifices as well as the request for them to come every 13th day until the coming October when she reveals herself after a great miracle.

What is significant with the 13th day of each month that Mary appeared in Fatima from May to October 1917 that we have continued with this 13th Day Devotion?

From Pinterest.com.

The Blessed Mother never explained to the three children, now St. Francisco and his sister St. Jacinta Marto and their cousin Sr. Lucia dos Santos why she appeared to them every 13th day of each month.

According to later interviews with Sr. Lucia who became a Carmelite sister and the last to die of the three children in 2005, she believed as the fruit of her prayers that the number 13 signified the Blessed Trinity. Sr. Lucia explained that number “13” illustrates to us that there is one (“1”) God in three (“3”) Persons (she was recently declared Venerable by Pope Francis to pave the way for her sainthood).

Here we find anew in the Fatima apparitions the consistency of truths found in our Church teachings and doctrines, specifically, the Blessed Trinity, that there is One God in Three Persons. Saints have also tried to explain the Blessed Trinity in simple analogies like the number 13 reflection of the Venerable Sr. Lucia.

In a 2022 article by Catholic author Joseph Pronechen that appeared in Soul magazine (see, https://www.bluearmy.com/the-significance-of-fatimas-13th-day/), he presented how the number “13” has many biblical foundations to be chosen by the Blessed Mother in Fatima as date of her apparitions. Foremost of this is found in the Old Testament Book of Esther.

Esther was among the Jewish exiles living in Persia after the Babylonian captivity. She was said to be so lovely and beautiful that the Persian king, Ahasuerus chose her to be his Queen among his many wives. Her uncle named Mordecai was the King’s most trusted adviser too that earned the jealousy among Persians in the royal court. Both Mordecai and Queen Esther remained faithful to God despite their royal positions. Esther then discovered a plot by some of the King’s men to exterminate all the Jews in Persia, especially her uncle Mordecai. It was at this instance that she prayed so hard to God for her to be able to warn her King of his men’s evil plot against the Jews even it could have cost her own life.

By the grace of God, Esther was able to muster all the strength and courage to speak to King Ahasuerus to foil the evil plot of his men set on “the 13th day of the twelfth month of Adar” (Esther 3:7).

The Persian king truly loved Queen Esther and ordered the arrest and execution of his aide (Haman) to prevent the murder of so many Jews. Queen Esther thus saved her fellow Jews on the 13th day of the Jewish month of Adar! And because of her intervention, King Ahasuerus ordered Jews in his kingdom to freely worship their God with assurance of protection from enemies.

Like Queen Esther, the Blessed Virgin Mary is also our Queen being the Mother of the King of kings, Jesus Christ. Every August 22 we celebrate her Queenship and in the Glorious Mysteries, we meditate her being Queen of heaven and earth.

Most of all, like Queen Esther, the Blessed Virgin Mary in Fatima intervened on October 13, 1917 to save the world from the ongoing WWI that began in 1914 and ended the following year in 1918. Sad to say, the world was plunged anew into the darkness of WWII that was more deadlier in 1939-1945 as predicted by our Lady at Fatima if the world would not heed calls for repentance and conversion of sinners. In recent history we have witnessed how our Queen Mother Mary saved St. John Paul II on May 13, 1981 – her feast day as our Lady of Fatima – from a deadly assassination attempt at St. Peter Square in the Vatican. Again, the world is in the darkness of deadly wars right in the Holy Land and in Ukraine by Russia whom the Virgin Mary had specifically mentioned in her October 13, 1917 apparition at Fatima.

When are we going to follow her maternal instructions of repentance and conversion, something which she merely repeated from similar calls by Prophets in the Old Testament and by her Son Jesus Christ in the gospels?

If we truly consider Mary is our Queen, why can’t we obey her and follow her instructions more than 100 years ago?

See how in today’s gospel Jesus underscored the importance of listening and following his words as main component of being part of his family. Mary was the first to listen and act on his word at the Annunciation and until now, she does the same thing so we may be saved from the wraths of evil caused by man’s inhumanity to one another.

Page from Ilustração Portuguesa, 29 October 1917, showing the people looking at the Sun during the Fátima apparitions attributed to the Virgin Mary. From en.wikipedia.org.

Going back to the Sacred Scriptures, we find more bases of the significance of number “13” used by the Blessed Mother at Fatima in 1917. In the Book of Acts, we find that when the Holy Spirit came on Pentecost, the 12 Apostles (Matthias replaced Judas Iscariot) were with “Mary the mother of Jesus” (Acts 1:14). Here we find 12 (Apostles) + 1 (Mary) = 13!

In the gospel accounts, we know Jesus Christ’s choice of 12 apostles was from the “12 tribes of Israel” or 12 sons of Jacob who was also called by God as “Israel”. Again, 12 + 1 = 13.

According to an interview by Pronechen of a Jewish rabbi, the meaning of number 13 in Hebrew is “bonding of many into one”. Every time we pray the Apostle’s Creed, we profess our faith not only in God in Three Persons but also to the Catholic Church that bonds us into Christ’s body who was born of the Virgin Mary. In Fatima on October 13, 1917, our Lady called on us to be one in God through Jesus in prayers, fasting and sacrifices, and commitment to live as true Christians.

Most of all, Pronechen explained that according to the Jewish rabbi he had interviewed, every letter in the Hebrew language has a numeric value. The word “love” which is ahava in Hebrew is connected with God with a numeric value of 13. Now, consider that when the Virgin Mary first appeared at Fatima on May 13, 1917, it was the original feast of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament. Here we find another intimate link in our Lady of Fatima’s insistence in celebrating Mass and receiving Jesus in the Holy Communion often because the Holy Eucharist is the Sacrament of Love.

How wonderful to meditate that our Blessed Mother Mary appeared in Fatima 106 years ago today with that singular message and expression of God’s love for us all!

When are we going to listen to her call for us to truly live in the love of God expressed by Jesus Christ on the Cross? Amen. Have a blessed weekend everyone!

From cbcpnews.net, 13 May 2022, at the Parish of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, Valenzuela City.
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