The secrets of Fatima encompass the children’s vision of hell (and personal promise of heaven), the prayers for Russia and the ending of the war, and finally, the pope struck down, among other disturbing visions. Indeed, when John Paul was in the hospital, he asked to see the Fatima records. He turned to the Blessed Mother, he turned to the Fatima children. I was only nine when the pope was shot. So Jacinta and Francisco and Lucia, the sainted Fatima children, are my special comfort, my special companions. That is the outcome of May 13, 1981.
How did your pilgrimage actually come about?
We were a busload of American tourists from Leighton Barracks in Würzburg, West Germany. My father was the logistics officer for the air defense artillery missile battalion. My mother and two sisters and myself were in St. Peter’s Square. Dad was not in St. Peter’s Square that day because he went to his ancestral village. But he remembers many things that he saw after the shootings, and he also remembers what he heard secondhand about the day itself.
You were a nine-year-old at that time. Did anything change in your life as a result of that day?
Only after many decades did I start speaking about what I saw that day. I’ve spent decades processing this, learning how to stay safe and keep others safe, how to recover from trauma. I had no counselors or therapists in the early days back then. Shootings are no longer rare, they are in the news all the time. Children are traumatized and even their own parents and teachers (and counselors) do not know what they are really feeling and what to say to them. The most important thing is to listen to the child and not try to tell the child what to feel.
Did anything change in your life as a result of that day in May 1981?
As a result of that day in 1981, I am a person who sees the action of God in history. I feel the pain that children feel when they are witnesses or victims of violence. I search for the meaning of events. I search for how healing can be obtained. I try to reconcile justice with mercy and forgiveness. As life goes on, there is more to forgive, and it is harder to forgive. It is even harder, as life goes on, to forgive myself too. The example of John Paul is like a ghost that haunts. He forgave his attacker because he felt the hand of God in his affliction, he saw God’s plan. He trusted that plan.
How will you spend May 13 this year?
The Blessed Lady of Fatima spoke through these children: she asked us to pray for Russia. The Church and the people have forgotten to do that. Maybe that’s why all this madness is happening. A few years ago, I started to teach myself Russian, to study Russian history, and to meet ordinary Russian people in America. I deepened my understanding of the events I saw that day. On May 13, I will follow Mary’s request. I will pray for Russia. I will pray the rosary and make many other private prayers.
This interview by Markus Vögele was first published by CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner.
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