What’s First Saturday All About?
First Saturday is about veneration of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Through this devotion, we pray for peace and offer reparation for the sins of the world.
First Saturday Devotions happen on the first Saturday of every month, which means the next one is March 3, 2012.
The Devotion begins with 8:00 a.m. mass and includes meditation, praying of the Rosary and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
The Blessed Virgin Mary appeared six times to three shepherd children at Cova D’iria in Fatima, Portugal, on the 13th of each month from May through October in 1917. The only exception was in August when our Lady postponed her appearance due to trouble in the town.
The children (pictured) were Lucia dos Santos, age 10, and her two cousins, 9 year old Francisco Marto, and his little sister Jacinta, age 7.
Lucia, who vividly described the visitations in her later writings, said nothing about them at the time. She cautioned the other two children to say nothing as well. But seven year old Jacinta was unable to keep silent.
Jacinta’s words reached other ears, and it wasn’t long before the three children were in serious trouble.
The townspeople overheard her stories. Rumors began to spread.
Boiled in Oil
Soon folks from near and far began invading Fatima on the appointed days. They trampled the crops and wreaked havoc in the villages, hoping to see the visions of Jacinta’s stories. But only the children were able to see.
In August, just before Our Lady’s fourth visitation, over 15,000 pilgrims descended upon the tiny parish. The authorities were furious. They threw the children into jail on the morning of August 13, the day of the anticipated appearance.
Lucia had already been severely beaten by her skeptical mother. Attempting to force the children to recant their tales, the district Mayor told the two older children that Jacinta would be boiled in oil if they did not deny her claims.
But their faith and their courage were unshakable. The kids refused to recant and were released after a few days. (No, Jacinta was not boiled. It was an idle threat designed only to frighten.)
That month the Blessed Mother waited to appear until the children were freed, and her visitation occurred on August 19 instead of August 13.
The Fatima Message
The message of Fatima focuses on sacrifice, prayer, and penance. Through her visitations, The Blessed Virgin urged the children to pray the Rosary for peace in the world, and to offer sacrifice for the reparation of sins and the conversion of sinners.
Through those Fatima visitations, our Lady revealed three “secrets” to the children. While the first two have been widely known since Lucia wrote of them in her 1941 memoirs, the Virgin’s third message was not made public until more than 40 years later.
Our Lady’s Fatima Message came at a time when the world was torn asunder by war and bloody violence. Political chaos reigned. Death was on every front page. Society was in turmoil. The Church was under attack by the press, the civil authorities, the politicians.
The Message of Fatima is as relevant to our own 21st Century as it was to the turbulent 20th. Perhaps more so.
A Promise of Salvation
On Mary’s second visit to the children on June 13, 1917, She told the them that Francisco and Jacinta would soon be taken to Heaven. Lucia, however, would remain here for some time longer to carry out a special mission.
Our Lady told Lucia:
“Jesus wishes to make use of you to make me known and loved. He wants to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart.
“I promise salvation to those who embrace it, and those souls will be loved by God like flowers placed by me to adorn His throne.”
Then, as the children knelt before Her, Mary opened Her hands. They could see above our Lady’s hand, a heart, encircled with large thorns. They understood that this was Mary’s Immaculate Heart, hurt by sin, asking for reparation.
The Blessed Virgin then promised to return at a later time to ask for the Communion of Reparation to Her Immaculate Heart.
Just 28 months after the Virgin’s last visit to Fatima, her first prophesy came true. Francisco and Jacinta died of influenza.
The Promise Renewed
In 1920, not long after her cousins died, our Lady appeared at Fatima a seventh time to Lucia alone. As a result of that visitation, Lucia entered a convent, became a nun.
Then on December 10, 1925, The Blessed Virgin Mary, together with the Child Jesus, appeared to Sr. Lucia in the Dorothean convent in Pontevedra, Spain. There she enlarged upon Her Fatima request.
Our Lady appeared holding Her Immaculate Heart encircled with thorns.
The child Jesus spoke:
“Have pity on the Heart of Your Most Holy Mother. It is covered with thorns with which ungrateful men pierce it at every moment, and there is no one to remove them with an act of reparation.”
The Blessed Mother then spoke:
“I promise to assist at the hour of death, with all the graces necessary for salvation, all those who on the First Saturday of five consecutive months, shall confess, receive Holy Communion, recite five decades of the Rosary, and keep Me company for 15 minutes, while meditating on the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary, with the intention of making reparation to Me.”
In her memoir describing this Devotion to the world, Sister Lucia wrote:
“[You] cannot imagine how great is my joy in thinking about the consolation…that the Holy Hearts of Jesus and Mary are going to receive and of the great number of souls who are going to be saved through this amiable devotion.”
Next First Saturday Is March 3, 2012
Catholics have always honored the Blessed Virgin Mary on Saturday because of her constant faith in Jesus on that Holy Saturday before the Resurrection.
Won’t you join us?
We invite you to honor our Blessed Mother with us on the next First Saturday, March 3, 2012.
Please join us then — and on the first Saturday of every month — starting with 8:00 a.m. Mass.