Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The True Black Tragedy


The True Black Tragedy

Walter E. Williams

5/20/2015 12:01:00 AM - Walter E. Williams
Hustlers and people with little understanding want us to believe that today's black problems are the continuing result of a legacy of slavery, poverty and racial discrimination. The fact is that most of the social pathology seen in poor black neighborhoods is entirely new in black history. Let's look at some of it.
Today the overwhelming majority of black children are raised in single female-headed families. As early as the 1880s, three-quarters of black families were two-parent. In 1925 New York City, 85 percent of black families were two-parent. One study of 19th-century slave families found that in up to three-fourths of the families, all the children had the same mother and father.
Today's black illegitimacy rate of nearly 75 percent is also entirely new. In 1940, black illegitimacy stood at 14 percent. It had risen to 25 percent by 1965, when Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote "The Negro Family: The Case for National Action" and was widely condemned as a racist. By 1980, the black illegitimacy rate had more than doubled, to 56 percent, and it has been growing since. Both during slavery and as late as 1920, a teenage girl raising a child without a man present was rare among blacks.
Much of today's pathology seen among many blacks is an outgrowth of the welfare state that has made self-destructive behavior less costly for the individual. Having children without the benefit of marriage is less burdensome if the mother receives housing subsidies, welfare payments and food stamps. Plus, the social stigma associated with unwed motherhood has vanished. Female-headed households, whether black or white, are a ticket for dependency and all of its associated problems. Ignored in all discussions is the fact that the poverty rate among black married couples has been in single digits since 1994.
Black youth unemployment in some cities is over 50 percent. But high black youth unemployment is also new. In 1948, the unemployment rate for black teens was slightly less than that of their white counterparts -- 9.4 percent compared with 10.2. During that same period, black youths were either just as active in the labor force or more so than white youths. Since the 1960s, both the labor force participation rate and the employment rate of black youths have fallen to what they are today. Why? Are employers more racially discriminatory today than yesteryear? Were black youths of yesteryear more skilled than whites of yesteryear? The answer to both questions is a big fat no.
The minimum wage law and other labor regulations have cut off the bottom rungs of the economic ladder. Put yourself in the place of an employer, and ask: If I must pay $7.25 an hour -- plus mandated fringes, such as Social Security and workers' compensation -- would it pay me to hire a worker who is so unfortunate as to possess skills that enable him to produce only $5 worth of value per hour? Most employers view that as a losing economic proposition. Thus, the minimum wage law discriminates against the employment of low-skilled workers, who are most often youths -- particularly black youths.
The little bit of money a teenager can earn through after-school, weekend and summer employment is not nearly so important as the other things he gains from early work experiences. He acquires skills and develops good work habits, such as being prompt, following orders and respecting supervisors. In addition, there are the self-respect and pride that a youngster gains from being financially semi-independent. All of these gains from early work experiences are important for any teen but are even more important for black teens. If black teens are going to learn anything that will make them a more valuable employee in the future, they aren't going to learn it from their rotten schools, their dysfunctional families or their crime-ridden neighborhoods. They must learn it on the job.
The bulk of today's problems for many blacks are a result of politicians and civil rights organizations using government in the name of helping blacks when in fact they are serving the purposes of powerful interest groups.

   Walter E. Williams 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The miraculous story of Claude Newman & his conversion through the intercession of the Virgin Mary

The miraculous story of Claude Newman & his conversion through the intercession of the Virgin Mary


The remarkable true story of the miraculous intercession of the Virgin Mary in 1944 to prisoner Claude Newman of Mississippi

-The Virgin Mary appears in a series of visions through the intercession of the Miraculous Medal and converts two men on death row.

By: Glenn Dallaire

Claude Newman was an African American man who was born on December 1, 1923 to Willie and Floretta (Young) Newman in Stuttgart, Arkansas. In 1928, Claude’s father Willie takes Claude and his older brother away from their mother for unknown reasons, and they are brought to their grandmother, Ellen Newman, of Bovina, Warren County, Mississippi.

In 1939, Claude's beloved grandmother, Ellen Newman, marries a man named Sid Cook. Soon Sid becomes sexually abusive toward Ellen, which deeply angers Claude. In 1940, Claude works as a farmhand on Ceres Plantation in Bovina, Mississippi. The plantation is owned by a wealthy landowner named U.G. Flowers, and Sid Cook was born and raised on this plantation. One biographer also has Claude getting married also in 1940 at age 17 to a young woman of the same age.

On Dec.19, 1942, Claude is apparently still very angered by Sid's abusive treatment towards his grandmother Ellen, and egged on by dominant friend named Elbert Harris, Claude lies in waiting at Sid Cook’s house (Sid Cook and Ellen Newman have since seperated). Claude shoots Sid as he enters, killing him, and takes his money, then flees to his mothers house in Arkansas, arriving on Dec 20th.

Claude is arrested and sent to prison on death row
In January 1943, Claude is apprehended in Arkansas and is returned to Vicksburg, Mississippi and makes a coerced confession on Jan. 13. Despite protests of Claude’s lawyer Harry K. Murray, his confession is admitted as evidence, and he is found guilty by jury, and is initially sentenced to die in the electric chair on May 14, 1943. Later an appeal to retry the case is rejected by State Attorney General and he is rescheduled to be executed on January 20, 1944.

Claude receives the Miraculous Medal of the Blessed Virgin Mary
The majority of the information that will now be presented comes from a tape recording of a radio show interview of Father O'Leary- a priest who came to know Claude very well during Claude's imprisionment. 
While Claude was in jail awaiting execution, he shared a cell-block with four other prisoners. One night, the five men were sitting around talking and eventually the conversation ran out. During this time, Claude noticed a medal on a string around one of the other prisoner's neck. Curious, he asked the other prisoner what the medal was. The young prisoner was a Catholic, but he apparently did not know (or did not want to talk) about the medal, and seemingly embarrassed, he appeared angry and suddenly took the medal off from around his own neck and threw it on the floor at Claude's feet with a curse and a cuss, telling him to "take the thing". Claude picked up the medal, and after looking it over, he placed it around his own neck, although he had no idea whose image it was on the medal; to him it was simply a trinket, but for some reason he felt attracted to it, and wanted to wear it.

The Blessed Virgin Mary appears to Claude in a vision
(The Icon to the left is of “Mary the Teacher” © Copyright 2004 by Brother Claude Lane, OSB, Mount Angel Abbey. This beautiful icon is a representation of the amazing facts below. Click here for more info about Brother Claude's iconography.)

During the night while sleeping on top of his cot, he was awakened with a touch upon his wrist. Awakening with a start, there stood, as Claude told Father O’Leary afterwards, ‘the most beautiful Woman that God ever Created’. 

At first he was quite frightened, not knowing what to make of this extraordinary beautiful glowing Woman. The Lady soon calmed Claude down, and then said to
him, "If you would like Me to be your Mother, and you would like to be My child, send for a priest of the Catholic Church."
And after saying these words She suddenly disappeared.

Excited, Claude immediately started to yell "a ghost, a ghost", and started screaming that he wanted a Catholic priest.

Father Robert O'Leary SVD (1911-1984), the priest who tells the story, was called first thing the next morning. Upon arrival he went to see Claude who told him of what had happened the night before. Deeply impressed by the events, Claude, along with the other four men in his cell-block, asked for religious instruction in the Catholic faith.

Claude and some of the other prisoners receive instruction in the Catholic faith
Father O'Leary returned to the prison the next day to begin instruction for the prisoners. It was then that the priest learned that Claude Newman could neither read nor write at all. The only way he could tell if a book was right-side-up was if the book contained a picture. Claude told him that he had never been to school, and Father O’Leary soon discovered that his ignorance of religion was even more profound. He knew practically nothing about religion or the Christian faith. He knew that there was a God, but he did not know that Jesus was God. And so Claude began receiving instructions, and the other prisoners helped him with his studies.

After a few days, two of the religious Sisters from Father O'Leary's parish-school obtained permission from the warden to come to the prison. They wanted to meet Claude and hear his remarkable story, and they also wanted to visit the women in the prison. Soon, on another floor of the prison, the Sisters began to teach some of the women-prisoners the catechism as well.

A heavenly lesson about Confession
Several weeks passed, and it came time when Father O'Leary was going to give instructions about the Sacrament of Confession. The Sisters too sat in on the class. The priest said to the prisoners, "Ok boys, today I'm going to teach you about the Sacrament of Confession."
Claude said, "Oh, I know about that! The Lady told me that when we go to confession we are kneeling down not before a priest, but we're kneeling down by the Cross of Her Son. And that when we are truly sorry for our sins, and we confess our sins, the Blood He shed flows down over us and washes us free from all sins."

Hearing Claude say this, Father O'Leary and the Sisters sat stunned with their mouths wide open. Claude thought they were angry and said, "Oh don't be angry, don't be angry, I didn't mean to blurt it out." 
The priest said, "We're not angry Claude. We are just surprised. You have seen Her again?"

Claude replied, "Come around the cell-block away from the others."

Proof that the Blessed Virgin Mary was appearing to Claude
When they were alone, Claude said to the priest, "She told me that if you doubted me or
showed hesitancy, I was to remind you that lying in a ditch in Holland in 1940, you made a vow to Her which She's still waiting for you to keep."

And, Father O'Leary recalls, "Claude then told me precisely what the vow was."

Claude's revelation absolutely convinced Father O'Leary that Claude was telling the truth about his visions of Our Lady. The promise Fr. O’Leary made to Our Lady in 1940 from a ditch in Holland (the proof Claude gave the priest that Our Lady really was appearing to him) was this: that when he could, he would build a church in honor of Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception. He did just that in 1947. He had been transferred to Clarksdale, Mississippi in 1945 when a group African American Catholic laymen asked to have a church built there. The Bishop of Natchez, Mississippi had been sent $5000 by Archbishop Cushing of Boston for the “Negro missions.” The Bishop and Father O’Leary commissioned the church of the Immaculate Conception to be built, and it is still there today (photo left)

Father O’Leary and Clark then returned to the catechism class on Confession. And Claude kept telling the other prisoners, "You should not be afraid to go to confession. You're really telling God your sins, not the priest”
Then Claude said,
"You know, the Lady said that Confession is something like a telephone. We talk through the priest to God, and God talks back to us through the priest."

A heavenly lesson about Holy Communion
About a week later, Father O'Leary was preparing to teach the class about the Blessed Sacrament. The Sisters were again present for this lesson too. Claude indicated that the Lady had also taught him about the Eucharist, and he asked if he could tell the priest what She said.

Fr. O’Leary agreed immediately. Claude related, "The Lady told me that in Communion, I will only see what looks like a piece of bread. But She told me that It is really and truly Her Son, and that He will be with me just as He was with Her before He was born in Bethlehem. She told me that I should spend my time like She did during Her lifetime with Him-- in loving Him, adoring Him, thanking Him, praising Him and asking Him for blessings. I shouldn't be distracted or bothered by anybody else or anything else, but I should spend those few minutes in my thoughts alone with Him." 

Claude is received into the Catholic church and scheduled to be executed
As the weeks progressed, eventually they finished the catechism instructions and Claude and the other prisoners were received into the Catholic Church. The St. Mary’s parish (Vicksburg, MI) baptismal log has recorded his baptism on January 16, 1944.  Fr. O’Leary officiated and a young nun, Sr. Bena Henken, served as his godmother.

Soon afterwards the time came for Claude to be executed. He was to be executed at five minutes after twelve, midnight, on January 20, 1944.

The sheriff, named Williamson, asked him, "Claude, you have the privilege of a last request. What do you want?" 
"Well," said Claude, "all of my friends are all shook up. The jailer is all shook up. But you don't
understand. I'm not going to die; only this body. I'm going to be with Her. So, then I would like to have a party" 


"What do you mean?” asked the sheriff.

"A party!" said Claude. "Will you give Father O’Leary permission to bring in some cakes and ice cream and will you allow the prisoners on the second floor to be freed in the main room so that we can all be together and have a party?"

"Somebody might attack Father," cautioned the warden.
Claude turned to the men who were standing by and said, "Oh no they won't, right fellas?"
The warden consented and posted additional guards for the party. So, Father O’Leary visited a wealthy patron of the parish, and she generously supplied the ice cream and cake, and everyone enjoyed the party.

Afterwards, because Claude had requested it, they made a Holy Hour, praying especially for Claude and for all of their souls. Fr. O’Leary brought prayer books from the Church, and they all said together the Stations of the Cross, and made a Holy Hour, without the Blessed Sacrament.

As the time neared for Claude’s execution, the men were put back in their cells. The priest then went to the chapel to get the Blessed Sacrament so that he could give Claude Holy Communion in the moment before his execution.
Father O'Leary returned to Claude's cell. Claude knelt on one side of the bars, the priest
knelt on the other, and they prayed together as the clock ticked toward Claude's execution.

A two week stay of execution is granted
Fifteen minutes before the execution, sheriff Williamson came running up the stairs shouting,
"Reprieve, Reprieve, the Governor has given a two-week reprieve!"
Claude had not been aware that the sheriff and the District Attorney were trying to get a stay of execution for Claude to save his life. But when Claude found out, he started to cry.

The priest and the sheriff assumed Claude’s reaction was that of joy because he was not going to be executed. However Claude said, "But you don't understand! If you ever saw Her face, and looked into Her eyes, you wouldn't want to live another day!" 

Claude then continued, "What have I done wrong these past weeks that God would refuse me my going home?"
Father O’Leary then testified that Claude sobbed as one who was completely brokenhearted.

Bewildered, the sheriff then left the room. The priest remained and Claude eventually quieted down, then Father O’Leary gave Claude Holy Communion. Afterwards Claude said,
"Why Father? Why must I still remain here for two weeks?"

Claude generously sacrifices himself in an offering for a fellow prisoner
Father O’Leary then had a sudden inspiration. He reminded Claude about James Hughs, a white prisoner in the same jail who hated Claude intensely. This prisoner had led a horribly immoral life, and like Claude he too was sentenced to be executed for murder. James was raised a Catholic, but now he was a reprobate, and rejected God and all things Christian.

Father O’Leary then said "Maybe Our Blessed Mother wants you to offer this denial of being with Her for his conversion." And the priest continued, "Why don't you offer to God every
moment that you are seperated from your heavenly Mother for this prisoner, so that he will not be seperated from God for all eternity."


Claude thought for a moment, then agreed, and he asked Father O’Leary to teach him the words to make the offering. Father O’Leary complied, and he later testified that from that moment on the only two people on earth who knew about this personal offering were Claude and himself, because it was a private matter between God, the Blessed Mother, Claude and himself.

A few hours later (still on the morning after his reprieve of execution) Fr. O’Leary came once again to visit Claude, and Claude said to the priest, "James hated me before, but oh Father, how he hates me now!" (This was because James had heard about Claude’s reprieve and was jealous) To encourage him the good priest said, "Well, perhaps that's a good sign."

Claude’s execution
During his two weeks reprieve, Claude generously offered his sacrifice and prayers for his fellow prisoner, the reprobate James Hughs . Two weeks later, Claude was finally put to death by the electric chair on Feb.4, 1944.

Concerning Claude’s holy death Father O'Leary testified: "I've never seen anyone go to his death as joyfully and happily. Even the official witnesses and the newspaper reporters were amazed. They said they couldn't understand how anyone could go and sit in the electric chair while at the same time actually beaming with happiness."


Claude's death notice was printed in the Vicksburg Evening News on the day of his execution Feb. 4, 1944 (see photo left). His last words to Father O'Leary were, "Father, I will remember you. And whenever you have a request, ask me, and I will ask Her."

The miraculous conversion & execution of prisoner James Hughs
Three months later, on May 19, 1944, the white man named James Hughs--the who Claude had offered his sacrifice for, was to be executed. Father O'Leary said, "This man was the filthiest, most immoral person I had ever come across. His hatred for God and for everything spiritual defied description."

He would not allow a priest or any clergyman in his cell. Just before his execution, the county doctor pleaded with him to at least kneel down and say the "Our Father" before the sheriff would come for him. The prisoner spat in the doctor's face.

When he was strapped into the electric chair, the sheriff said to him, "If you have something to say, say it now."
The condemned man started to blaspheme.

All of a sudden he stopped speaking, and his eyes became fixed on the corner of
the room, and his face turned to one of absolute horror. Suddenly he screamed in terror--a horrible scream that shocked everyone present.

Turning to the sheriff, he then said, "Sheriff, get me a priest!"

Now, Father O'Leary had been in the room because Mississippi law at that time required a clergyman to be present at executions. The priest, however, had hidden himself behind some reporters because the condemned man had threatened to curse God if he saw a clergyman.

Upon calling for a priest, Father O'Leary immediately went to the condemned man. The room was cleared of everyone else, and the priest heard the man's confession. The man said he had been a Catholic, but turned away from his religion when he was 18 because of his immoral life. He confessed all of his sins with deep repentance and intense fervor.

While everyone was returning to the room, the sheriff asked the priest, "Father, what made him change his mind?"
"I don't know " said Father O'Leary, "I didn't ask him."
The sheriff said, "Well, I will never sleep tonight if I don't ask him."

The Sheriff went to the condemned man and asked, "Son, what changed your mind?"
The prisoner responded, "Remember that black man Claude – the one whom I hated so much? Well he's standing there [and he pointed], over in that corner. And behind him with one hand on each shoulder is the Blessed Virgin Mary. And Claude said to me, 'I offered my death in union with Christ on the Cross for your salvation. She has obtained for you this gift of seeing your place in Hell if you do not repent.' 
I have been shown my place in Hell, and that's why I screamed."

James Hughs was executed as scheduled, but the heavenly appearence of our Blessed Mother with Claude Newman and the subsequent vision of hell had instantly converted his soul in the last moments of his life. With the help of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Father O'Leary had taught Claude to unite himself with the suffering of Jesus by offering his own sufferings to Him, just as we all can do for others, and Claude's suffering helped to pay the price for James' remarkable last minute conversion and repentance. Therefore we must never under-estimate the the value of our suffering joined with that of Jesus Christ’s, and also the power and loving intercession of Our Blessed Mother in heaven.

O’ Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee!
____________________________________________________________
I am very grateful to Brother Claude Lane OSB, of the Mount Angel Abbey, in St. Benedict, Oregon for the following information and chronology of the life of Claude Newman (Note: Br. Claude is the artist who created the beautiful icon of the Virgin Mary and Claude Newman in this article. Click here for more information about Brother Claude's iconography.)

Chronology of the Life of Claude Newman

1923- Dec.1, Claude Newman is born to Willie and Floretta Young Newman in Stuttgart, Arkansas.

1928- Claude and his older brother are removed from their mother by Willie, who takes them to be raised by their grandmother, Ellen Newman, in Bovina, Mississippi, east of Vicksburg.

1930- Six year old Claude appears in the Federal census, living with his Grandmother in Warren County. They reside on the Ike Henry place.

Late 1930s- Claude spends time in the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corp)

c.1939- Claude's grandmother, Ellen Newman, marries Sid Cook. Soon he becomes sexually abusive toward Ellen, which angers Claude.

c.1940-41- Claude works on Ceres Plantation in Bovina, owned by U. G. Flowers. Sid Cook was born and raised on this place. If Claude Newman has married, it was not registered in Warren Co. Perhaps he was married in another county, or parish of Louisiana. In any case, he is no longer with her by Dec. 19, 1942.

1942- Dec.19, Egged on by dominant friend Elbert Harris, Claude lies in waiting in Sid Cook’s house (Cook and Ellen Newman have since seperated). Claude shoots Sid as he enters, and takes his money, then flees to his mothers house in Little Rock, AR., arriving on the 20th. First time she has seen him since he was five. She is now re-married to a man named Rogers, who finds Claude a job. Claude now goes by the name ‘Ralph’.

Jan 1943- Claude is apprehended in Arizona and is returned to Vicksburg, Mississippi and makes a coerced confession on Jan. 13. Despite protests of Claude’s lawyer Harry K. Murray, confession is admitted as evidence. He is found guilty by an all white jury. He is sentenced to die in the electric chair on May 14, 1943. Appeal to re-try the case is rejected by State Attorney General. Sid Cook’s patron, U. G. Flowers, has too much influence.

Jan.20, 1944 is given as new date for execution.

1943-44 Sometime late in 1943, Claude puts on a miraculous medal, begins having visions of the Virgin Mary. She encourages him to find a priest and become a Catholic. Fr. Robert O’Leary, SVD of St. Mary’s for Colored, and Catholic County Doctor Augustine Podesta, minister to him.

1944- Jan.16, Fr. O’Leary baptizes Claude in jail with the name ‘Claude Jude’, with Sr. Benna Henken, SSpS standing as his sponsor. Just before Claude is to be executed on Jan. 20, a stay of execution of two weeks arrives. He is finally put to death on Feb.4, 1944. Claude has his favorite dessert, coconut pie, on the night before he dies. His body is buried in the historic African American “Beulah cemetary” in Vicksburg, MS. His death notice was printed in the Vicksburg Evening News on the day of his execution, Feb. 4, 1944.

A few months later on May 19, 1944, Claude appears in a vision along with the Blessed Mother, to his fellow inmate James Hughs – a white man who he had prayed and sacrificed for in the two weeks prior to his death, and who on this day is himself seated on the electric chair. Seeing the vision, the James immediately repents of his sins and is saved from eternal damnation, just moments before his execution.

1947- Fulfilling his previous promise to the Virgin Mary made in a ditch in Holland, Fr, O’Leary founds Immaculate Conception Parish (for African Americans) in Clarksville, Mississippi.

1960’s- Fr. O’Leary records a testimony of Claude Newman’s Story for a radio broadcast.

1984 –Death of Fr. Robert O’Leary, SVD (1911-1984)

2001- The March 2001 issue of The Catholic Family News publishes “The True Account of Prisoner Claude Newman (1944)” by John Vennari. This article is taken from the 1960’s radio broadcast testimony by Father Robert O’Leary.

2002- While looking for information on Cardinal Newman, Br. Claude Lane of Mount Angel Abbey, happens on the miraculous story of Claude Newman.

2003- In the early summer, Br. Claude is inspired to write the icon “Mary, the Teacher” and he begins the task of researching Claude Newman’s life with initial help from Catholic Family News, along with the research of John Sharpe Sr. of Phoenix, Arizona.

12/22/2011 -Additionally Brother Claude adds: “A historian by the name of Ralph Frasca has been working on a biography for Claude Newman. He did find the identity of the white reprobate for whom Claude offered his life. His name was James Hughs, and he was electrocuted in Vicksburg on May 19, 1944. That can be added to the chronology. Interestingly, a black woman was also executed (for murder) in Vicksburg on that same day, named Mildred Johnson. She, too, had become a Catholic through the ministrations of the nuns from the African American parish of St. Mary's. These last two findings were the work of Mr. Frasca, and can, as I said, be added to the chronology." –Brother Claude Lane, OSB

Addendum: Feb 4, 2013:
I received an email from a gentleman and his wife who are said to have investigated the facts concerning Claude Newman. One of the details they pointed out is the following:
"His (Claude Newmans') official Mississippi department of health death certificate lists Newman’s place of burial as “Beluah Cemetery.” As we subsequently learned from Ms. Yolande Robbins, a African-American funeral director in Vicksburg, that this was a misspelling of “Beulah Cemetery,” Vicksburg’s only public burial ground for blacks in Newman’s day, which, according to Robbins, was undergoing restoration at the time to help identify the many unknown bodies."

Additionally the email also points out: "...Newspaper accounts reported that Newman was executed at 7:00A.M on Feb. 4, 1944, not midnight as Fr. O’Leary claimed."
"....Other [newspaper] accounts dealt with the execution on May 19 that year of one James Samuel Hughes, most certainly the man Fr. O’Leary described as the white prisoner who had committed incest with his daughters and had shot a policeman. But he was not, as Fr. O’Leary asserted, a lapsed Catholic. The newspaper described him as “a member of the ‘Holy Roller’ faith.”

O’ Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee!
http://www.mysticsofthechurch.com/2011/12/miraculous-story-of-claude-newman-his.html
http://www.mysticsofthechurch.com/2011/12/miraculous-story-of-claude-newman-his.html

2017, Fatima and the End of the World

2017, Fatima and the End of the World

Pope Francis Consecrates the World to OL Fatima, October 13, 2013
Pope Francis Consecrates the World to OL Fatima, October 13, 2013
Today Catholics celebrate the anniversary of the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary to three shepherd children in the Portuguese village of Fatima in 1917.
These extraordinary events can be seen as ushering in the catastrophic twentieth century. By 1917 the first World War was grinding on with horrors never before imagined by the human race. The lady of Fatima predicted another war if mankind did not repent. This war would be presaged by a heavenly sign. This took place with an amazing display in the night sky across Europe on January 25, 1938–just before Europe was plunged into another war.
The rest of the century would witness untold misery and bloodshed in genocide, atomic warfare, terrorism, famine, natural disaster and the rise of technologies that would poison nature, destroy the family and set humanity on a course of self destruction.
The miraculous nature of the events at Fatima have been affirmed by the church and most of the popes of the last century have had a strong personal and seemingly apocalyptic association with the prophecies given to the three children. The co-incidence of the dates of May 13 (when the apparitions began) and October 13 (when the apparitions ended with the miracle of the sun) are interesting. Pope Piux XII was consecrated bishop on May 13, 1917 – the day of the first apparition and became known as the Fatima Pope. He consecrated the world to Our Lady of Fatima and made repeated references to the prophecies.
Paul VI met the visionary Sister Lucia and prayed with her on May 13, 1967–on the fiftieth anniversary of the visions. John Paul II was almost killed by an assassin’s bullet on May 13, 1981, and six years later on the seventieth anniversary of the visions went to Fatima to give thanks to the Virgin for saving his life.  Benedict XVI affirmed his belief in the supernatural origin of the visions, visited Sr Lucia, went to Fatima and said “the prophecies of Fatima are by no means completed.” Pope Francis had his papacy dedicated to Our Lady of Fatima on May 13, 2013 and consecrated the world in a public ceremony on October 13, 2013. He has the image of Fatima in Rome  today to be venerated and plans to visit Fatima in 2017 for the centenary of the events.
Seeing that it is one hundred years since the events makes one wonder how significant this anniversary in two years’ time is for world history. 

2017, Fatima and the End of the World

Seeing how the events of 1917 opened up an unprecedented century of evil in the world one is reminded of the vision of Pope Leo XIII in which Satan would be given one hundred years to attempt to destroy the church.
 In 1884, after saying Mass on the morning of, according to at least one source, October 13th, as he was leaving the Altar, the 74 year old and frail Pope Leo XIII fell to the ground as if dead. One version has it that those around him thought for a few moments that he may have passed away. According to this version, a few minutes later, his breathing returned to normal and he revived.
Another version has it that as he was leaving the altar after a weekday low Mass, he paused as if in a trance for about 10 minutes, turning ashen white. And yet another states that Pope Leo went into this trance while kneeling in attendance of a mass of thanksgiving after his own Mass that morning. See Appendix II for sources of written documentation on this subject.
The Pope (born Joachim Vincent Pecci in 1810), according to the most common and popular version, related that he had experienced a sort of vision, in which he heard two voices, one of which he took to be that of Christ, gentle and kind, and the other that of Satan, guttural and harsh.
Satan said, “I could destroy Your Church if I had the time, and more power over those who give themselves over to my service.” And then Pope Leo heard Christ to answer, “You have the power, you have the time: 100 years.”
If the visions of Fatima were the beginning of a hell-inspired century it means we are approaching the end of this time.
Curiously, the prophet Venerable Bartholomew Holzhauser predicted seven ages of the church. The fifth began in 1517 with the Protestant Revolution. This period of tribulation comes to it’s five hundredth anniversary also in the year 2017. This fifth age would culminate in terrible persecution of the church. After that he predicted an era of peace and consolation. Our Lady at Fatima also predicted a period of peace after the difficulties to come.
Will 2017 therefore see some sort of climactic event which surges humanity and the whole world into a new era?
What should a Catholic’s response be to prophetic uttering, supernatural signs, apparitions and warnings from heaven?
On the one hand we take the with a pinch of salt. The world is full of apocalyptic worries. It always has been. The world is full of false prophets, deluded visionaries, fraudsters, maniacs and fanatics.
On the other hand, we watch and wait and pray and do penance. If the popes are convinced of the supernatural aspect of the Fatima prophecies then who am I to pooh pooh them? The fact that such venerable popes as Pius XII, John Paul II and Benedict XVI take all this seriously is enough for me.
When we look at the state of the world today–the pace of moral decay, the threat of war and terrorism, the rapid disintegration and persecution of the church we seem helpless to turn back the tide.
It is as if we are facing the sea and watching the surging wave of a tsunami rolling in.
And there is nothing we can do about it except to pick up our rosaries and pray for the strength to stand firm.