by Barb Ernster –
On Feb. 15, 1926, the Child Jesus appeared to Sister Lucia in the courtyard of her convent in Pontevedra. After a brief conversation, he asked her, “And have you been spreading around the world what the heavenly Mother asked of you?”
This was the impetus for her to begin the long and difficult road to getting the Church to approve the First Saturday Communions of Reparation to the Immaculate Heart, which Our Lady had requested on Dec. 10, 1925.
Lucia explained to Jesus that her Superior, Provincial Mother Monfalin, was unsure how to move forward. It seemed impossible. But Jesus simply assured her that He would take care of it, and He did.
By 1927, the devotion began to spread thanks to Mother Monfalin’s belief in its authenticity. She took every opportunity to do what she could, including having a small prayer card printed with the elements of the devotion. Lucia also made every attempt, especially through her own mother and friends, and her spiritual director, Father Aparicio. Lucia soon learned from him that the devotion was being embraced in the Communities in Lisbon. Likewise, her mother spread the devotion among relatives, friends and neighbors in Fatima, and her Confirmation sponsor, Mrs. Maria Filomen Morais de Miranda, began to make it known. Lucia’s enthusiasm for the devotion was evident in her letters. She wrote that she was never as happy as when the First Saturday arrives.
These simple efforts sparked the flames for the devotion to grow. Yet it would be a much harder challenge to get the Church to officially approve it. Resigned to her limitations in this regard, Sister Lucia surrendered constantly to the will of God, lamenting often: “I can do nothing more than pray and suffer.”
She often revealed what she felt the Lord was communicating to her, such as in this letter to the Bishop José Alves Correia de Silva, bishop of Leira, on October 1928.
If I am not mistaken, the good Lord in His infinite mercy is complaining that He can no longer accept the offenses that are committed against the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Mary. He says this is the sin for which a great number of souls are falling into hell, and promises to save them in the measure that the following devotion is practiced in order to make reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Our Blessed Mother.
In 1928, the apparitions of Fatima were still being studied and not yet fully approved. Bishop José was not ready for the devotion of the First Saturdays. Lucia then sought help from Father Aparicio, who had sent information to the bishop. In several letters, she expressed her great desire for this devotion:
The greatest joy I feel is seeing the Immaculate Heart of our most tender Mother known, loved and consoled, by means of this devotion. (Dec. 1928) ….Your Reverence has no idea of the extent of my happiness in thinking of the consolation that this devotion is going to give to the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary as well as the thought of the huge amount of souls that are going to be saved through this lovable devotion. (March 1929)
On June 13, 1929, Sister Lucia received the vision of the Holy Trinity in the chapel of the convent in Tuy, Spain, in which Our Lady said the time had come to request the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart. It set off an even greater urgency in her to spread the devotion of the First Saturdays, as she saw the two requests intertwined. Despite the delays, she told Father Aparicio that God had made her aware that “His grace was setting hearts afire with the love and desire to make reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”
In 1934, she finally heard back from Bishop de Silva, wherein he promised to begin promoting the “Devotion of Reparation to the Immaculate Heart” in the coming year. She continued to work through her spiritual director and other priests, not only to advance the mission of the First Saturdays, but also the consecration of Russia. Father Aparicio was as diligent in writing to Bishop de Silva for official approval.
It was not until 1939 that things started to move forward, and by then, the rumblings of war were being heard. Sometime that year, Lucia had received another communication from the Lord, which she detailed as follows:
Ask, insist again on the publication of Reparatory Communion in honor of the Immaculate Heart of Mary on the First Saturdays. The moment is coming when the rigors of my justice are going to punish the crimes of various nations. Some will be annihilated. In the end, the rigors of my justice will fall most severely on those who wish to destroy my Kingdom in souls.
She wrote several times to Father Aparicio about the urgency of the matter:
Whether there is going to be peace or war in the world depends on the practice of this devotion along with the Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This is why I am so anxious for its propagation; and above all, because it is the Will of Our Dear Lord and Our Dearly Beloved Heavenly Mother. (March 1939)
Our Lady promised to postpone the scourge of war, if this devotion is spread and practiced. We see her putting off this chastisement in the measure that efforts are being made to spread it. But I am afraid that we are not doing all that we are able to, and that God, in no way satisfied, may raise the arm of His mercy and let the world be ravaged by this punishment, which will be as never has been, horrible, horrible! (June 1939)
Bishop de Silva finally gave official approval to the devotion in September 1939, after the war had broken out. Lucia continued her efforts to get the devotion spread worldwide throughout the Church. She poured out her heart to the Bishop of Gurza in a letter May 27, 1943, expressing the real need for this devotion:
I long for the coming of the Office in honor of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, throughout the whole world. When I put this request in the letter to the Holy Father, I put it as a simple desire of my poor heart, and that’s the truth. But, in fact, it isn’t only mine. Someone up there entrusted it to me. It belongs to the Most Holy Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
They love and desire these devotions, because by them, they attract souls to themselves. All their desires are summed up in this: To save souls, many souls, each and every soul (emphasis Lucia’s).
A few days ago, He said to me, “I really want the spread of the cult and devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary; for it is the magnet that will attract souls to me; the spotlight that will throw the rays of my light an love on the earth, the eternal spring that will flood the earth with the living water of my Mercy.
In 2020, during our prayer campaign for the Church, we are asking everyone to commit to completing five consecutive First Saturdays in reparation for the blasphemies against the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and to adopt the practice monthly as a sign of your love for Our Mother and the salvation of many souls. Sister Lucia, pray for us!