This article was published in New Dawn Special Issue 9 (Sept 2009)
It is a little known fact that, prior to their occurrence, the Fatima apparitions were predicted on the pages of at least four of Portugal’s most prominent daily newspapers. In the Lisbon newspaper, Diario de Noticias (Daily News), they were predicted on March 10th, two months prior to the first apparition on May 13, 1917. In Porto’s most important newspaper of that time, O Primeiro de Janeiro (The First of January), a front-page story dated two days before the occurrence of the apparitions was published on May 13th. In addition, it has been confirmed that bulletins published on May 13th in two more Porto newspapers, Jornal de Noticias (News Journal) and Liberdade (Liberty), announced that something “big” would be happening on that date.
There are those who have pronounced these peculiar press releases to be part of a massive hoax, one perpetrated by the very parties that would ultimately benefit from the apparitions, presumably the hierarchy of the Catholic Church and devout adherents to the faith. We find this conclusion to be as unsatisfactory as it is trite. It simply makes no sense that a mystification of this nature, and on such a scale, would be announced in such a manner, in several daily newspapers.
An investigation into the origins and the content of these announcements suggests that they were what they appear to be, the work of two different self-described “spiritualist” groups of psychic individuals, located in the cities of Lisbon and Porto, both of which predicted that an event of historic significance would take place on that date. In one case, the prediction was made over three months before the events happened.
Both groups felt so strongly about their premonitions that they decided to document them (so as to later prove their accuracy) by publishing their statements in the national news. There is no evidence linking these two groups of psychics with the events of the apparitions themselves. No connection has been found between these psychic groups, who were from the cities, and the rural child witnesses of the Fatima apparitions. Nor, for that matter, is there any trace of involvement by any other organised “cabal” in relation to the actual events witnessed by the three young shepherds.
One of the only things absolutely clear about the mysterious apparitions of Fatima is that the unconventional, “psychic” methods by which these predictions about them were obtained are utterly offensive to conventional sensibilities. Atheists and devout Catholics alike disdain all things “psychic.” This stance lies at the heart of the confusion and controversy surrounding these curious news dispatches; it explains why the remarkable fact of the existence of these published predictions has languished in the twilight of neglect and obscurity for almost a century.
We are talking about separate predictions of an “impressive event” that would occur on May 13, 1917, published in the national press of Portugal. The existence of these published announcements is not a matter of religious faith. Though relating to Scripture and interpretations thereof, the fact that these predictions appeared in print remains incontrovertible, however inconvenient and uncomfortable this may be for many people to accept. Whether or not one believes in the Fatima apparitions, the truth remains that these events were prognosticated in the newspapers, and can be easily verified today.
The First Prediction
I felt a heat throughout my arm, up to my shoulder… I had the impression that they were trying to get my attention. Without knowing why, I picked up a nearby pencil and piece of paper. My hand began to write in a script that was not my own.
– Madame Keech
The description above refers to a particular extra-sensory or “psi” phenomenon, well known to devotees of the occult as “automatic writing.” But what is astonishing is that Madame Keech’s hand had achieved a truly remarkable feat that evening. She wrote the words of the message that she dictated from right to left and inverted, so that they could only be read by placing the note in front of a mirror. Wait a minute, when and with who did this happen?
In his booklet A Ray of Light on Fatima, published in 1974, Filipe Furtado de Mendonça describes the scene of this extraordinary event. He writes that on February 7th, a group of “spiritualists” was engaged in one of its regular meetings. This group included Carlos Calderon, a trance medium famous in Lisbon at the time. According to the tract, on this particular evening, one of the members of the group received a “message” by way of “automatic writing.” In the transcript, reproduced by Furtado de Mendonça together with facsimiles of the original pages of backwards script, we read that “one of the assistants (presumably that of Carlos Calderon) asked for paper and pencil and wrote automatically, from right to left, a message that could not be read unless it was placed in front of a mirror or bright light so that it could be read through the page.”
It was by this unconventional means that this group of psychics received three months’ notice that something transcendental, with far reaching implications, was to occur on the coming 13th of May. But the content and the concrete significance of this message were rather inscrutable. It read:
Judge ye not. He who would judge you would not be pleased with your prejudice. Have ye faith and be ye patient. It is not our custom to predict the future. The mystery of the future is impenetrable, though at times God permits a corner of the veil to be lifted over that which it covers. Have ye confidence in our prophecy. The day of May 13th will be one of great happiness for the good souls of the world. Have ye faith and be ye good. Ego Sum Charitas (“I am Love”). Always at your side shall ye have your friends, who will guide your steps and who will assist ye in your work. Ego Sum Charitas. The brilliant light of the Morning Star will illuminate the path. – Stella Matutina
As can be seen in the photocopy of the original script published by Furtado de Mendonça, most of the message was written by the same hand, from right to left, and backwards. The message is for the most part transcribed in Portuguese, except for two repeated expressions, “Ego Sum Charitas,” as well as the signature, “Stella Matutina,” both of which appear in Latin. The last phrase and the signature, however, appear to be written normally, requiring no need for a mirror in order to be read. In addition, it should be noted that apparently this last phrase was written in different handwriting.
It is no leap of faith to accept that this “automatic writing” session was in some way connected to the apparition events at Fatima, which, as predicted by the script itself, began on May 13th of that year. There is no other event in the history of that time and place that could be considered relevant or extraordinary enough to be identified as the occurrence that the gathering of psychics’ “revelation” referred to.
Furthermore, this group was motivated to put notices in the press about their experience, and well in advance of the events of May 13th. An examination of the script shows that this is not an anonymous message from an unidentified, disembodied “dead guy.” The signature, “Stella Matutina,” is actually quite pompous. Who is Stella Matutina? Over the centuries, the “Morning Star,” or “Stella Matutina” in Latin, has referred to Venus, as well as to the Virgin Mary.
In his book, Fatima, Antero de Figueiredo, unfamiliar with the “automatic writing” message described above, referred to Our Lady as “the Morning Star.” The alchemist Fulcanelli affirms, “the Celestial Virgin is still called Stella Matutina, the morning star,” because “it is c1ear to see in Her the splendour of a divine signal.”
For the millions of people around the world who believe that it was Our Lady, Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, who physically appeared at Cova da Iria on May 13th, we cannot help but wonder how the undeniably miraculous existence of the published predictions of these historic apparitions has remained completely below radar. Why has there been no apologetic book, nor any ecclesiastical sermon, nor any Episcopal document, to take up an argument either for or against this circumstance? Is it because the hierarchy of the Catholic Church and the dominant culture characterise spiritism as a “pseudoreligious practice”? Would Our Lady use a means of communication refuted by the very religious hierarchy that venerates her? All of these questions are quite perplexing; they touch on so many suppositions that have been accepted during the almost nine decades since the Fatima incident occurred.
According to Furtado de Mendonça, “in order for there to be no doubt as to the veracity of the occurrence,” the group of psychics determined to set it down in the minutes of the meeting. It was also decided that a small announcement about the event should be published in the Diario de Noticias. If one views a copy of this newspaper from March 10, 1917, the announcement appears on page 4, column 13, with the headline “135917,” which indicates “13 May 1917.” As we all now know, it would transpire on that day that an apparition of a “Lady,” reportedly about three-and-a-half feet in height and appearing to be 15 years of age, would initiate the most important series of Marian apparitions of the 20th century.
The Message Received In Porto
The announcement in the March 19, 1917 edition of the Lisbon daily newspaper, Diario de Noticias, is by no means the only historic proof of a precognition of the phenomena that would visit Fatima. As it turns out, another group of psychics in Porto also received the same distinct foreknowledge that “something transcendental” was about to occur on the 13th day of May.
In fact, this prediction was not revealed in unimportant newspapers with small circulations, but in the editions of the major dailies of that city and, indeed, throughout Portugal – including O Primeiro de Janeiro (which at that time had the largest circulation in Northern Portugal), the Jornal de Noticias, and Liberdade – on May 13, 1917. On that day, these three newspapers (perhaps there were others) published a text dated two days previously, signed by a psychic named Antonio, a resident of Porto. The essence of his prediction was: “On the 13th of this month, there will occur an event, with respect to the war, that will strongly impress all the world.”
In the Jornal de Noticias, the treatment is that of a “Sensational Revelation,” written in bold black letters, with text relating the events of the world war to events occurring on the “Spiritual Plane.” In the other newspapers, the journalists make humorous commentaries. (As can be seen, psychic prophets were as unacceptable to the mainstream pundits of that era as they are to today’s professional skeptics).
In the newspaper Liberdade, it was said, with a tone of mockery, that on the 13th of May, something important “with respect to the war, of great transcendence and great consequences, would occur. If this does not take place, then the psychics and their material incarnation will be discredited!” The unsuspecting journalist had inadvertently read more into the posting than he professed. In addition, he revealed himself to be a prophet, in his own right, by adding his own words, “great transcendence and great consequences” to the posting, which is, in actuality, what did come to pass in the apparitions of Fatima!
A well-known journalist of the time, Guedes de Oliveira, who wrote for O Primeiro de Janeiro, commented in depth on the content of Antonio’s posting. In this newspaper, the revelation comes on the front page, under the headline, “Spiritualism.” It is an in-depth feature article, eerily commensurate with the magnitude of what eventually came to pass.
Guedes de Oliveira (Henrique Antonio, 1865-1932) is a personage whose biography can be read in the Grande Enciclopédia Portuguesa e Brasileira (Great Encyclopedia of Portugal and Brazil). An anticlerical Republican during the time of the monarchy, he was a dramatic writer, an award-winning and internationally acclaimed photographer, and the Director of the School of Fine Arts in Porto. He had a degree in architecture, and a house that he built still stands, inhabited by his descendants, in the town of Rio Tinto, where both a street and an alley were named after him.
After publishing the bulletin, as transcribed previously from the Jornal de Noticias, preceded by the words, “I have just received the sensational information,” the renowned journalist gave shape to the ideas that follow. We have taken an extract of his words and italicised certain portions, to highlight the strangeness of certain words, which appear to transcend the significance of the received message:
Today is the 13th and I do not know if, as of yet, our readers have set their compassionate eyes upon the words of the spiritualist, Mr. Antonio. The predicted event will have taken place and all of us will be so deeply impressed, as if an abyss had opened up beneath our feet. The intervention by those who exist beyond matter, in that which over the crust of the Earth is now occurring, cannot be of no consequence to us, and it is with true alarm that I receive this information from a zealous promoter of the truth. I never thought that we could be in such close communication with beings from another world.
Guedes de Oliveira confirms that he had received the magazine, Luz nas Trevas (Light in the Darkness), edited by a spiritualist group. Take note that the journalist never refers to the world war, as written in the news bulletin, but always to another event. He emphasises:
But now with the letter from Mr. Antonio, I confess that all I lack is the announced event, in order to also create a light in the darkness of my soul. What mysterious forces would these be who act upon terrestrial things, with their inexplicable influence? How are they able, for example, to levitate a cast iron table, without any physical contact?
Later on, in a postcard, Guedes de Oliveira expresses ideas, which are, at the very least, curious, and which we would judge improbable for someone with anti-clerical leanings to have written:
Is it not an accepted truism that the end justifies the means? Who tells me that this principle, so German in nature, waited until the 13th, which is today to manifest, as announced by Antonio, in a manner that will strongly impress all the world? What kind of table will we see raising itself?
Almost a century later, we see that the events of Fatima continue to “strongly impress all the world,” regardless of what belief or interpretation we project on them. “What kind of table will we see raising itself?” he asks. In the end, we did not see a table raise itself, although de Oliveira uses the term “table” in a figurative sense, preceded by the expression “kind of.” But on this day, in an obscure little village, we did, indeed, see an altar of world renown raise itself, “The Altar of the World,” as Fatima is popularly known.
Could this web of circumstances be the product of mere chance? Independent from the conjectures about the origins of the phenomena – and of the supposed and implied “agents” involved – could one possibly consider that this chain of events corresponded to a logic, which was ultimately informed and programmed, down to the tiniest details, by non-human “beings,” distinct from cultural representations of “disincarnate spirits” or the Marian model of Catholic thought?
We reflect on all of this – but always keep in mind our own “bias.” In any case, we feel comfortable conceding victory to the Lisbon psychics, who “channelled” a prediction of the events of May 13th. Their victory is of a kind that transcends simple acceptance or rejection, regardless of their subjective beliefs – and regardless of our feelings about their beliefs.
Adapted from Chapter 1 of Celestial Secrets: The Hidden History of the Fatima Cover-up by Joaquim Fernandes and Fina d’Armada.
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