Pope Pius XII and Fatima

Pope Pius XII


Emilia Paola Pacelli
L'Osservatore Romano -12/19 August 1998

On 13 May 1917, while the Mother of God was appearing in Fatima, announcing to the world her message of peace and conversion and warning humanity about the terrible crises of the 20th century, in the Sistine Chapel in Rome from which he would emerge years later as the Successor of Peter, the Nuncio Eugenio Pacelli, the future Pius XII, was being consecrated Archbishop by Pope Benedict XV.

In the perspective of faith, as we know, nothing happens by chance, and some apparently chance occurrences are indicative signs of a providential course of events. Nor, we believe, was it a chance occurrence that the burial of Eugenio Pacelli took place on 13 October 1958 - 40 years ago - the anniversary of the last apparition in Fatima. A further, clear confirmation of Mary's desire to accompany that faithful son of hers to the threshold of eternity.

Indeed, the Blessed Virgin had taken that son by the hand when he was still very young, a child predestined by God to guide the Church in the most tragic period of history, She had accompanied him step by step from the fervent Marian devotion of his infancy to his first Mass celebrated in St Mary Major's in the Salus Populi Romani Chapel, from his episcopal consecration on the same day that Mary appeared in Fatima, to the Throne of Peter. Preparation, in a certain sense, for the role that the future Pius XII was destined to play in the glorification of the Mother of God, especially in relation to the events of Cova da Iria.

Pius XII: the Pope of the Dogma of the Assumption, of the Queenship of Mary, of the Consecration of the human race and of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the Pope of the Holy Year and the Marian Year; that Pope who, in "the decisive hour of divine judgement of the world", would be called to co-operate, through the Mother's mediation, in fulfilling God's saving plan for humanity and who, as was prophesied, would have to suffer greatly, undergoing persecution together with the Church.

It is important to stress this Marian dimension of Pius XII's Pontificate, not only because it constitutes an aspect with a particular "force of gravity" but also because it serves to connect it, in a profound line of continuity, with the exquisitely Marian dimension of John Paul II's totus tuus.

From that 13 May of 1917 in which Eugenio Pacelli received episcopal consecration, to the dramatic 13 May 1981 on which the blood of the Vicar of Christ was spilled on the ground in Rome, to 25 March 1984 when John Paul II himself, in union with all the Bishops of the world and with reference to Pius XII, consecrated humankind and the people of Russia anew to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, repeating the vow of trust uttered in 1982, an invisible thread, passing through Fatima, unites the two pontificates, placing them under the maternal protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

And the sensational, regained freedom of the peoples beyond the Iron Curtain, the re-opening of the church dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption in Moscow, and that bullet, set like a precious jewel in the crown of Our Lady of Fatima - which Pope Pius XII had placed on the "miraculous statue" by his legate on 13 May 1946 -are merely equally unmistakable signs of a grandiose providential project which, begun originally by Pius XII, John Paul II, "the Pope from the East", has successfully concluded.

They are also signs which, even in the darkness of the present time - showing the close bond between the Mother of God and the Roman Pontiffs - appear as an explicit, clear prelude to the prophesied triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary that will inaugurate a new era for the Church.

Pope John Paul II himself, in his pilgrimage to Fatima, asserting that there are no mere coincidences in the plans of divine Providence and thanking Our Lady for her special protection during the attempt on his life which took place "in mysterious coincidence with the anniversary of the first apparition", confessed that he saw in this "an appeal and a reminder of the message" from Fatima at the beginning of the century; that message which, with its maternal and at the same time strong and decisive call to conversion and repentance - the Pope underlines - is "so deeply rooted in the Gospel and the whole of Tradition that the Church feels that it imposes a commitment on her" (cf. Address outside the Chapel of the Apparition, 12 May 1982; Homily at Mass in Fatima, 13 May 1982).

Mary's presence and the Fatima event, of such great importance for the history of the Church and of all humankind, are therefore deeply engraved in the heart of Eugenio Pacelli's pontificate - which he expressly wanted to place under Our Lady's protection enlightening it with special reverberations that help to express its goals better and at the same time the undercurrent that runs all the way through it.
It can almost be said that, contemplated in the beams of light radiating from the open hands of that Lady, "brighter than the sun", Pius XII's entire pontificate acquires a special clarity that exalts the essential core of his mandate: to co-operate, as we have said, through the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in God's plan for the salvation of the world at a decisive moment in human history; to be, therefore, not only the Helmsman sent to guide St Peter's Barque in the planetary devastation of the 20th century; but also, and at the same time, to be the defender of civilization - through the promotion of "Christian renewal" - and the artisan of a new era for the Church in the difficult post-war period of reconstruction for which he would have to prepare Christianity.

In fact, Pius XII was deeply conscious of the determinative role the Church was called to play in God's designs, at that critical hour, in the spiritual regeneration of a world ravaged and lacerated by conflicting ideologies, which ran the risk of destroying itself. With farsighted wisdom he perceived the formidable challenges she would have to face, which were already darkening the horizon.

Here we have the basic features of his pontificate: a work directed above all to consolidating within the Mystical Body its eternal and immutable principles, that is, its spiritual defences, at the same time increasing on the outside its dynamic ability for incarnation in the most diverse fields of society; also an attempt to unify all positive human values, harmoniously and hierarchically arranged in a mighty synthesis based on the profound affirmation of God's primacy in human life; and again, the energetic mobilization of all members of the Church with a view to an in-depth evangelization and re-evangelization of the whole social structure. Many strong points organically arranged in a far-reaching plan, characterized by a singular unity.

In fact, from a careful analysis of the acts and documents of Pius XII, it can be said that all the policies of his Magisterium, which contributed so much to impressing a vigorous rhythm upon the Church, preparing her for the new historical mission she had been sent to carry out in the world, converged essentially towards this one goal: to re-establish the gospel spirit in a society where all values had been destroyed and to bring or lead peoples back to Christ as soon as possible, through the mediation of the Blessed Virgin, if they wanted "to avoid immensely greater and more disastrous ruin than that sown by the war". Exactly the "heart" of Fatima. That "nucleus" which John Paul II would recall years later, underlining its special relevance and urgency, to the extent of indicating it as "the way that the Church follows at the end of the present century", in which "sin has thus made itself firmly at home in the world and denial of God has become widespread", and so many "almost apocalyptic menaces ... gather like a dark cloud over mankind", "more than it has ever been in any other period in the course of history" (cf. General Audience, 19 May 1982; Homily at Mass in Fatima, 13 May 1982; Regina Caeli, 9 May 1982).

And it is always in that beam of supernatural light that the pontificate of Pius XII not only expresses the profound purpose and prophetic inspiration that permeates it, but also very clearly reveals its distinctive character: that sovereign theological view of history and the world which, animating and guiding from within the immense volume of acts, interventions and documents of Pius XII's Magisterium, constitutes its solid, unitary outline, providing at the same time the essential key for interpreting and understanding it correctly.

Therefore the profound motivations of his work are clearly perceived in this transcendent vision and one can easily understand on what level he tackled the issues related to the events of the civilized world. As in the case of the Consecration of the Church and of the human race in 1942 and then of the people of Russia, 10 years later, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, in response to what Pope John Paul II would call the Mother of God's "powerful warning against the errors that have been spread in this very century" (cf. General Audience, 19 May 1982). In 1948 Pius XII had indicated that he saw in the consecration of humankind to the Blessed Virgin Mary a sure and effective way for obtaining from God, through Mary's powerful protection, the end of the "terrible universal conflagration", for which human means have proved uncertain and insufficient (cf. Auspicia Quaedam, 1 May 1948; Meminisse iuvat, 14 July 1958).

Again, we should remember the institution of the feast of Our Lady's Queenship, which he was sure would bring great benefits for the Church and the world (cf, Ad caeli Reginam, 11 October 1954); or the great mobilization of public and private prayer which he called for so that, by recourse to deeper remedies than human ones, a remedy could be obtained for the enormous calamities that weighed upon so many peoples and nations (cf. Fulgens corona, 8 September 1953; Ingruentiurn malorum, 15 September 1951; Meminisse iuvat, 14 July 1958, etc.).

The very definition of the Dogma of the Assumption can, in this perspective express at best its truest and most profound value, proving to be not only a gesture of great honour towards Our Lady, but also an excellent means for obtaining from God, through Mary's mediation, great benefits for the whole of humanity: peace, freedom for the Church suffering violent persecution, and deliverance from the imminent danger of new conflicts. An authentic vision of faith (cf. Bull Munificentissimus Deus, 1 November 1950; Discourse to the Consistory, 30 October 1950; Summi maeroris, 19 July 1950; Meminisse iuvat, 14 July 1958).

Thus the image of a great architectural work emerges: a work which John XXIII defined as a "colonnade of the solid pillars of contemporary Christian thought". The architecture of a papacy that far from indicating the end of an age, as Fr Raimondo Spiazzi explains, inaugurates instead a new era for the Church, laying the solid premises for the Second Vatican Council and planning the milestones for the Church's subsequent path towards the third millennium.

Today John Paul II, who in turn has received the heritage that was yesterday in the hands of Pope Pius XII, is leading the Church along this path, written in the beam of light that started to shine just over 80 years ago from Cova da Iria and which projects its radiance into the next century, preparing her to cross the threshold of the Year 2000: that new millennium which, we hope, will finally mark the advent, foretold at Fatima, of a more complete return of the nations to Christ, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Now, 40 years after his entrance into God's glory, let us remember Pius XII as the: "Doctor optimus, ecclesiae sanctae lumen, divinae legis amator", according to the definition of Pope John XXIII. But above all, let us remember him and feel him still as the Father, Teacher and Friend of our time, close to us through the Communion of the Saints; let us remember him - as Paul VI so touchingly exhorted - "this illustrious and elect Pontiff; let the Church remember him; let the world remember him; let history remember him. He is worthy of our pious, grateful and admiring memory".

Pope Pius XII

Pius XII's motto for his pontificate was Opus Justitiae Pax, meaning "Peace is the work of justice"

Pius XII Saw "Miracle of the Sun"
Handwritten Note Reveals Pope's Experience
By Antonio Gaspari

ROME, NOV. 4, 2008 (Zenit.org).- According to his own testimony, the Pope who declared the dogma of the Assumption saw the "miracle of the sun" four times.

This information is confirmed by a handwritten, unpublished note from Pope Pius XII, which is part of the "Pius XII: The Man and the Pontificate" display. The display opened in the Vatican to the public today and will run through Jan. 6.

A commissioner of the display and a Vatican reporter for the Italian daily Il Giornale, Andrea Tornielli, explained to ZENIT that the note was found in the Pacelli family archives. It describes the "miracle of the sun," an episode that until today had only been affirmed by the indirect testimony of Cardinal Federico Tedeschini (1873-1959), who recounted in a homily that the Holy Father had seen the miracle.

Pius XII wrote, "I have seen the 'miracle of the sun,' this is the pure truth."

The miracle of the sun is most known as the episode that occurred in Fatima, Portugal, on Oct. 13, 1917. According to the Fatima visionaries, Mary had said there would be a miracle that day so that people would come to believe. Thousands had gathered at the site of the visions, and the sun "danced," reportedly drying instantaneously the rain-soaked land and spectators.

Confirming the dogma

Pius XII's note says that he saw the miracle in the year he was to proclaim the dogma of the Assumption, 1950, while he walked in the Vatican Gardens.

He said he saw the phenomenon various times, considering it a confirmation of his plan to declare the dogma.

The papal note says that at 4 p.m. on Oct. 30, 1950, during his "habitual walk in the Vatican Gardens, reading and studying," having arrived to the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes, "toward the top of the hill […] I was awestruck by a phenomenon that before now I had never seen."

"The sun, which was still quite high, looked like a pale, opaque sphere, entirely surrounded by a luminous circle," he recounted. And one could look at the sun, "without the slightest bother. There was a very light little cloud in front of it."

The Holy Father's note goes on to describe "the opaque sphere" that "moved outward slightly, either spinning, or moving from left to right and vice versa. But within the sphere, you could see marked movements with total clarity and without interruption."

Pius XII said he saw the same phenomenon "the 31st of October and Nov. 1, the day of the definition of the dogma of the Assumption, and then again Nov. 8, and after that, no more."

The Pope acknowledged that on other days at about the same hour, he tried to see if the phenomenon would be repeated, "but in vain -- I couldn't fix my gaze [on the sun] for even an instant; my eyes would be dazzled."

Pius XII spoke about the incident with a few cardinals and close collaborators, such that Sister Pascalina Lehnert, the nun in charge of the papal apartments, declared that "Pius XII was very convinced of the reality of the extraordinary phenomenon, which he had seen on four occasions."

Son of Our Lady

Tornielli told ZENIT that there was always a close link between the life of Eugenio Pacelli and the mystery of the Virgin Mary.

"Since childhood," he said, "Eugenio Pacelli was devoted [to Our Lady] and was registered in the Congregation of the Assumption, which had a chapel close to the Church of Jesus. A devotion that seemed prophetic, since he would be precisely the one to declare the dogma of the Assumption in 1950."

The future Pope celebrated his first Mass on April 3, 1899, at the altar of the icon of Mary "Salus Populi Romani" in the Basilica of St. Mary Major. "And then," Tornielli continued, "Eugenio Pacelli received episcopal ordination from Pope Benedict XV in the Sistine Chapel on May 13, 1917, the day of the first apparition of the Virgin of Fatima."

As Pope, in 1940, he approved the Fatima apparitions, and in 1942, consecrated the entire world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

As well, Pius XII often spoke with Sister Lucia, the visionary of Fatima, and he asked her to transcribe the messages she received from the Virgin. He thus became the first Pope to know the "third secret of Fatima," which Pope John Paul II would later make public.

Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Pope Pius XII Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary took place on October 31, 1942 just before major turning points in World War II. Pope Pius XII performed a Marian consecration, entrusting not only the Catholic Church but the whole human race to the Virgin Mary, doing so as “Father of Christianity” as the representative of Christ, who has all power in heaven and on earth”, referring to Matthew 28:18.

The consecration was made in the context of the reported messages of Our Lady of Fatima which had requested Marian consecrations and the October 31, 1942 consecration was performed via a Portuguese radio broadcast, and then renewed on December 8, 1942 in Rome.

The noted Mariologist Gabriel Roschini called the 1942 consecration of the human race to the Immaculate Heart of Mary the greatest honour, which anyone can imagine. It is the highest manifestation of the Marian cult. [8] It opens new perspectives for salvation history. He and others see the consecration as a new “Marian way”, a new definition of what human means between the collectivism and unlimited liberalism. The consecration to Mary by Pope Pius means “that an age of the Church” had begun: Through Mary we understand the super-natural destiny of mankind and every human being.


Act of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart
by Pope Pius XII

Queen of the Holy Rosary,
Help of the Christians,
Refuge of the human race,
Conqueress in God’s battlefields,
To You and to Your Immaculate Heart
In this tragic hour of human history
We entrust and consecrate ourselves,
And the Holy Church.

She is the Mystical Body of Your Jesus,
Suffering and bleeding in so many parts
And tormented in so many ways,
We consecrate to You the whole world torn by bitter strive
And consumed by the fire of hatred
The victim of its own wickedness.

Look with compassion to all material and moral destruction
To the suffering and fears of fathers and mothers
Of husbands and wives, of brother and sisters and innocent children.
Look at the many lives cut down in the flower of youth
So many bodies torn to pieces in brutal slaughter
So many souls tortured and troubled
And in danger of being lost eternally.

Oh, Mother of Mercy, obtain peace for us from God!
Obtain especially those graces, which can convert human hearts quickly.
Those graces, which can prepare, establish and insure peace.
Queen of Peace, pray for us;
Give the world at war the peace for which all are longing,
Peace in Truth, Justice and the Charity of Christ.

Give them peace of the arms and peace of mind,
That in tranquility and order
The Kingdom of God may expand.

Grant Your protection to infidels
And to those still walking in the shadow of death;
Give them peace and permit that the sun of truth may raise upon them;
And that together with us
They may repeat before the Only Savior of the World:
Glory to God in the highest
And peace on earth among men of good will (Lk2.14)
Give peace to the people separated by error and schism,
Particularly those, who have special devotion to You
And among whom there was no home,
Where Your venerable Icon was not honoured,
Though at present it may be hidden
In the hope for better days.
Bring them back to the One Fold of Christ,
Under the One True Shepherd.

Obtain peace and complete liberty for the Holy Church of God,
Check the spreading flood of neo-paganism,
Arouse within the faithful love of purity
The practice of Christian life and apostolic zeal,
So that the people who serve God,
May increase in merit and number.

All of humanity were once consecrated to the Heart of Your Son.
All our hopes rest in Him, Who is in all times
Sign and pledge of victory and salvation.

Forever we consecrate ourselves to You
And to Your Immaculate Heart,
Oh, Mother and Queen of the World!
May Your love and patronage hasten the victory of the Kingdom of God,
May all nations, at peace with each other and with God, proclaim You Blessed
And sing with You from one end of the earth to the other,
The eternal Magnificat of glory, love and gratitude
To the Heart of Jesus, in which alone,
They can find Truth, Life and Peace.


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