Thursday, June 1, 2017

Fatima, the Apocalypse, and the Lights of Heaven (Parts 1 and 2)


 “But when these things begin to come to pass, look up, and lift up your heads, because your redemption is at hand.”— Lk. 21: 28.

by Marianna Bartold 
Copyright 2017. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

NOTE: When colleagues like Patrick Archbold and readers alike asked for my input on the two upcoming heavenly events of 2017, it occurred to me that, rather than answer incoming questions one-by-one, I would save time by writing an article. Originally published as a 2-part essay in Catholic Family News (March and April 2017), I here present the 2 parts (for the convenience of my readers) as one piece.

Within the next six months, two celestial events will occur in this year of the Fatima Centennial. Already, Catholics are asking if they are signs of significance relating to Fatima, especially the seeming 100 year time limit for the collegial consecration. While nobody can foresee the ultimate answer, this essay offers considerations for prudential discernment because the prophecies of Fatima, the greatest “crown of all Marian apparitions” granted to the Church, continue to unfold.

Throughout salvation history, the signs of God indicate various purposes. A true sign can possess any one or more of the following seven functions: It confirms God’s word, His goodness, authenticates prophecy, verifies God’s blessings and His intervention for the sake of the elect, strengthens the faithful with hope, insures or testifies God’s Presence, or declares His judgment upon sin.[1]

Let’s first turn to the Holy Bible, which infallibly confirms that the lights of the firmament are intended for many purposes, including “for” signs.

• “And God said: Let there be lights made in the firmament of heaven, to divide the day and the night, and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years: To shine in the firmament of heaven, and to give light upon the earth. And it was so done. And God made two great lights: a greater light to rule the day; and a lesser light to rule the night: and the stars” (Genesis 1:14-16).

Thus, the ancient Hebrews understood that God designed the lights of heaven to serve many purposes. “In Hebrew, the word ‘season’ is ‘moed’ and signifies an appointed or fixed time” but, interestingly, it does not refer to the seasons of spring, summer, fall or winter. “‘Signs’ and ‘seasons,’ used by God with respect to the mission of the stars, were to indicate ‘happenings’ and the ‘periods of time’ pertaining to them, specifically for prophetic reasons, especially that of signifying historical incidents at chosen times as the plan of salvation unfolded.”[2]

A STAR SHALL RISE out of Jacob and a sceptre shall spring up from Israel…” (Numbers 24:7).

• “The sun, and the moon, and the stars being bright, and sent forth for profitable uses, are obedient” (Baruch 6:59).

• “Where is he that is born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to adore him” (Matthew 2:2).

• “And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, by reason of the confusion of the roaring of the sea and of the waves; Men withering away for fear, and expectation of what shall come upon the whole world. For the powers of heaven shall be moved” (Luke 21: 25-26).

The Solar Eclipse and the Constellation Virgo
One will note that, with both of this year’s events, the sun is present but obscured or behind another heavenly object. As we know from Scripture, the sun is the material symbol for Our Lord, Jesus Christ, the Son of Justice.

• Initially addressing August 21 (day of the approaching solar eclipse over the U.S.), three things are observed about this date:

First, it is the vigil (the eve) of the octave of the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin.

Second, it is the vigil of “The Immaculate Heart of Mary" (traditional liturgical calendar) or “The Queenship of Mary” (updated liturgical calendar).[3]  Whichever calendar one may reference, the coming total eclipse occurs on the eve of a feast day of Our Lady.

Third, it is the anniversary of the one-time apparition of Our Lady of Knock, the silent vision [4] pointing to the Apocalypse Ch. 8:1: “And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven, as it were for half an hour.” Since “heaven” denotes the Church, the prophecy foretells silence in the Church for the mystical time of half an hour. We also recall that Sr. Lucia of Fatima said that the Third Secret is in the Gospels and the Apocalypse—specifically referring to Apoc. Chapters 8-13. [5]

• Almost a month later, on September 23, 2017, the sun will rise behind the constellation Virgo—an annual event. What is rare and striking about this year is the interaction of the planets Jupiter, Venus, Mars, and Mercury.  Last year, on November 20, 2016, Jupiter (the “king” planet) entered the constellation Virgo. In retrograde motion, Jupiter is currently in Virgo’s womb, but exits Virgo on September 23 (after 43 weeks, 6 days or 9.5 months, an over-due gestational length of an unborn baby). On that day, almost directly above the head of Virgo will be Leo (the 12th largest constellation), which includes—but is not limited to—12 brighter lights of heaven, three of them being the planets Venus, Mars, and Mercury. Additionally, the moon will be near (but not directly under) the feet of Virgo.

What immediately comes to mind is Apocalypse Chapter 12:1-4: “And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; And being with child, she cried travailing in birth, and was in pain to be delivered. And there was seen another sign in heaven: and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads, and ten horns: and on his head seven diadems: And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to be delivered; that, when she should be delivered, he might devour her son. And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with an iron rod: and her son was taken up to God, and to his throne.”

The Book of Destiny, a generous tome of essays on the Apocalypse, explains:  “Before the eyes of the Seer [St. John], a great sign, the first of the ‘signs,’ a portent of something momentous, appears in the Church. It is a sign of divine origin. ‘Signs’ in prophetical terminology are ominous revelations of what is about to happen…The word furthermore denotes the wonders wrought by evil powers. In the Septuagint, [6] the word [sign] is used for celestial phenomena. The sign [of “a woman clothed with the sun”] appearing here is GREAT, because it will indicate the time of the judgment that shall proclaim the ‘Great Day’ of Almighty God. It will herald the near approach of the events narrated in chapters eleven and thirteen. Appearing in heaven, it will point to the center of the whole desperate struggle for the possession of the world by Satan and his hordes. When this sign appears in the Church, the advent of Antichrist is near…The interpretation of this ‘sign’ is thus very important.”[7]

In my book, Fatima: The Signs and Secrets, I explained why this GREAT sign strongly indicates both the Virgin of Fatima and the Great Miracle of the Sun, which so terrified the 70,000 witnesses that they thought the world was ending. “Just as the Apocalypse foretold, in 1917 it was the Woman who first appeared as ‘a great sign’ in the Church. ‘And there was seen another sign in heaven−and behold, a great red dragon, having seven heads, and ten horns: and on his head seven diadems.’ This sign is not ‘a great sign’ like the Woman clothed with the sun, but it is another sign, one that is in stark contrast against the woman, an ominous sign that appears in the Church.”[8]

Additionally, in the early 20th century book, The Apocalypse of St. John, Fr. Sylvester Berry states that, in Chapter 12:1-9, St. John “shows us the true nature of that conflict. It shall be war unto death, between the Church and the powers of darkness, in a final effort of Satan to destroy the Church and thus prevent the universal reign of Christ on earth.”
Below are excerpts of Fr. Berry’s commentary, with the number denoting the verse of Apocalypse 12:

“1. …The brightness of the sun is a fitting symbol for the enlightening power of the Church’s teachings. [Author’s Note: We might then consider the symbolic meaning of a sun’s eclipse.]…The crown of twelve stars represents the twelve Apostles and, through them, the whole ministry of the Church. It may also denote the assembly of faithful nations, symbolized by the mystic number twelve.

“2. The Church is ever in labor to bring forth children to eternal life. In the sad days here predicted, the sorrows and pains of delivery shall be increased many-fold. In this passage, there is an evident allusion to some particular son of the Church whose power and influence shall be such that Satan will seek his destruction at any cost…This person can be none other than the Pope to be elected in those days. The Papacy will be attacked by all the powers of hell. In consequence, the Church will suffer great trials and afflictions in securing a successor upon the throne of Peter…

“3. …The dragon is Satan, red with the blood of martyrs which he will cause to flow. The meaning of the seven heads and ten horns must be sought in the description of the beast that represents Antichrist, where they symbolize kings or worldly powers (Apoc. 17:9-12). Those of the dragon must have a similar meaning…

“With the beast of Antichrist, only the horns have diadems as symbols of royalty or governing power. The heads are branded with names of blasphemy (Apoc. 13:1). Hence, they symbolize the sins and errors that will afflict the Church. Seven, the number of universality, indicates that, in this final struggle to prevent the universal reign of Christ, all forms of sin and error will be marshalled against the Church. A prelude to this may be seen in the errors of Modernism which has been rightly designated ‘a synthesis of all heresies.’ The number seven is also appropriate since all sins are included in the seven capital sins. In like manner, all errors that have afflicted the Church may be summed up in these seven: Judaism, paganism, Arianism, Mohammedanism, Protestantism, rationalism, and atheism.

“The dragon is seen in heaven, which is here a symbol of the Church…This indicates that the first troubles of those days will be inaugurated within the Church by apostate bishops, priests, and peoples—the stars dragged down by the tail of the dragon.

“4. The tail of the dragon represents the cunning hypocrisy with which he succeeds in deceiving a large number of people and pastors—a third part of the stars…The dragon stands before the woman ready to devour the child that is brought forth. In other words, the powers of hell seek by all means to destroy the Pope elected in those days.

“5. The woman brings forth a son to rule the nations with a rod of iron… Scarcely has the newly elected Pope been enthroned when he is snatched away by martyrdom…During the interregnum, ‘that wicked one shall be revealed’ in his fury against the Church.
“It is a matter of history that the most disastrous periods for the Church were times when the Papal throne was vacant, or when anti-popes contended with the legitimate head of the Church. Thus also shall it be in those evil days to come.”[9]

Fatima, the Apocalypse, and the Lights of Heaven: Part 2

“Sweet Heart of Mary, be our salvation.”
Favorite brief prayer of little Jacinta of Fatima

To continue with Fr. Berry (numbers below denote the verse of Apoc. 12):

“6. The Church deprived of her chief Pastor must seek sanctuary in solitude, there to be guided by God Himself during those trying days. This place of refuge prepared for the Church is probably some nation, or nations, that remain faithful to her…In those days, the Church shall also find refuge and consolation in faithful souls, especially in the seclusion of the religious life.

“7. St. Michael, the guardian angel of the Church, shall come with his hosts to defend her against the onslaughts of Satan and his minions. The followers of St. Michael are the angelic hosts of heaven and all faithful bishops and priests of the Church. The minions of Satan are the fallen angels with the leaders of heresy, schism, and persecution.

“8, 9. The battle is waged in the Church, the kingdom of heaven, from which the dragon and his angels are cast out and hurled down to earth. The earth symbolizes the nations hostile to the Church—the world over which Satan rules. By the aid of St. Michael, the Church shall purge herself of all heretics, schismatics, and apostates…”[10]

“Michael, Your Prince,” and the Mysterious 21 Days
Interestingly, while St. Michael is specifically mentioned in the Apocalypse, it is not the first time his name appears in the bible. In fact, the first scriptural occurrence wherein Michael’s name is given may shed light on the time-frame of 21 days (again, the length of days between September 23, 2017, which will see the exiting of Jupiter from Virgo’s womb, and October 13, the 100th anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun).

As I explained in the first chapter of my book, Fatima: The Signs and Secrets, it is a moral certainty that St. Michael is the Angel of Fatima. The same chapter also touches upon a 21 day period in the Old Testament in regard to a vision of the last days. The heavenly characters include St. Gabriel, St. Michael, and an unnamed prince (angel) of the Persian kingdom—in reality, a demon who resisted a good angel for “one and twenty days”:

In the Prophecy of Daniel, Chapter 10, the Holy Scriptures give Michael’s name for the first time. Daniel’s chapters 7-12 are considered to be his four ‘apocalyptic’ chapters…

“Beginning with Chapters 7 and 8, Daniel wrote the first of his prophetic and apocalyptic visions. Explanations of these visions were given by the angel Gabriel, [11]  who appeared to him as a man. In Chapter 10, it is recorded: ‘In the third year of Cyrus king of the Persians, a word was revealed to Daniel surnamed Baltassar, and a true word, and great strength: and he understood the word: for there is need of understanding in a vision.’[12] Following this event, the prophet Daniel mourned and fasted for 21 days.[13]

“Then appeared a good angel (whose name is not given by Daniel, but who may have been Gabriel returning to the prophet), saying, ‘Daniel, thou man of desires, understand the words that I speak to thee, and stand upright: for I am sent now to thee.’ [14]   After speaking of Daniel’s prayers and sacrifices, the angel revealed, ‘I am come for thy words,’ [15] and then declared, ‘But the prince of the kingdom of the Persians resisted me one and twenty days; and behold Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, and I remained there by the king of the Persians. But I am come to teach thee what things shall befall thy people in the latter days, for as yet the vision is for days…’”

“…To return to the prophet Daniel, he had for 21 days fasted and prayed in reparation to the Lord, for he had seen a great and terrifying vision of what would befall his people. Although he understood the vision, he did not yet know that it was a vision ‘for days’−meaning far into the future, the end times. The 21 days were thrice the ancient custom of seven days’ of fasting, which tell us that Daniel’s 21 days of sacrifice displayed extreme sorrow and extraordinary penance. Unbeknownst to Daniel, the 21 days of his penance and reparation offered to God coincided with the angel’s battle with a powerfully resistant devil, the ‘prince of the kingdom of the Persians.’  However, it becomes clear that Daniel’s acts of reparation were accepted by God, for the angel spoke of Daniel’s sacrifices and also told him, almost in a confiding manner, of his own struggle against the ‘prince’ (meaning leader, one of a higher [hierarchical] order) demon of the Persians. Since angels of Heaven do not engage in idle gossip or expect human sympathy, it is also certain that God wished Daniel to know what had transpired and that, due to his own prayers and penances, St. Michael was sent by God to assist the good but lesser angel.”

“At the end of the same chapter, the good angel declares: ‘But I will tell thee what is set down in the scripture of truth: and none is my helper in all these things, but Michael your prince’ [16] …meaning the prince of the elect, those who belong to God’s kingdom on earth and follow His commandments. In the Old Testament, the chosen people were those of the earthly Israel, but this ancient nation was a living figure-type of the spiritual Israel (today known as the Roman Catholic Church) that would be established by the Messiah, Jesus Christ.” [17]

“Michael’s name is mentioned a third time in The Prophecy of Daniel, when the good angel speaks of the last events of the end times (the Novissimi), the time when anti-Christ shall appear and persecute God’s people: ‘But at that time shall Michael rise up, the great prince, who standeth for the children of thy people: and a time shall come such as never was from the time that nations began even until that time…' [18]

(Author’s Note: One sentence from the October 13, 1973 message of Our Lady of Akita is remarkably similar to this Scriptural prophecy. Given on the 56th anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima, it begins: “As I told you, if men do not repent and better themselves, the Father will inflict a terrible punishment on all humanity. It will be a punishment greater than the deluge, such as one will never have seen before…)

It is this same great archangel whom God sent to Fatima; Michael, Prince of the Heavenly Host, chosen to precede the “great sign” that would appear in heaven (the Church)−the “woman clothed with the sun.” [20] It is he who taught the children how to make acts of adoration and reparatory mortification to God. Like the prophet Daniel before them, who prayed and fasted for 21 days (again, thrice the usual time) after he saw a vision of the end days, the three Fatima children also developed the habits of heavy penance. Perhaps the 21 days between September 23 and the 100th anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun serve as a reminder for us to do the same.

Final Thoughts
Additionally, the date of September 23 is both the memorial of Pope St. Linus (pope-martyr and immediate successor of St. Peter) and of St. Pio of Pietrelcina (who for 50 years bore the stigmata of Christ’s Passion). These two events bring to our minds the Great Secret of Fatima, in particular “a bishop dressed in white ‘we had the impression that it was the Holy Father’” (sic) who is killed by soldiers with guns and arrows and, with the death of so many people from all walks of life, what appears to be the Passion of the entire Church.

Are we prepared for these events? In truth, wouldn’t we rather avoid them completely? Let’s not forget that Our Lady foretold two possible paths for the future, either one of them dependent upon the Church’s free-will response to her motherly commands. She told us that “God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart.” She made specific “requests” which even now, in this year of the Fatima Centennial, remain disregarded.  Because Fatima is constantly contradicted, she promised, “In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.”

The Immaculate Heart devotion has long been willed by Christ. Almost seven centuries ago, the Sacred Heart made clear to St. Mechtilde (Matilda) that He Himself is “the herald of this devotion [to His Mother’s Heart], which He teaches to us both by word and example.”  In modern times, Our Lord told Sr. Lucia the reason why the solemn, public collegial consecration of Russia to the Virgin’s Heart is His Will: “Because I want My whole Church to acknowledge that Consecration as a triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary so that it may extend its cult later on and put the devotion to this Immaculate Heart beside the devotion to My Sacred Heart…”

As we ponder this year’s celestial events, let’s also consider St. Ambrose’s commentary on St. Luke’s eschatological discourse of the great apostasy, wherein he interpreted the symbols of sun, moon and stars in this way:

“Many apostatizing from Christianity, the brightness of the Faith will be dimmed by this cloud of apostasy: since the heavenly Sun grows dim or shines in splendour according to my Faith. And as in its monthly eclipse the moon, by reason of the earth coming between it and the sun, disappears from view, so likewise the holy Church, when the vices of the flesh stand in the way of the celestial light, can no longer borrow the splendour of His divine light from the Sun of Christ. And in the persecutions, it was invariably the love of this life that stood in the path of the Divine Sun. Also the stars−that is, men surrounded by the praise of their fellow Christians−shall fall, as the bitterness of persecution mounts up; which must however come to pass, until the number of the faithful be made up; for so the good are proved and the weak made known.” [20]

About the Author
Marianna Bartold is the author of Fatima: The Signs and Secrets and Guadalupe: Secrets of the Image. The founding publisher of The Catholic Family’s Magnificat and editor of Sursum Corda (now Latin Mass) magazines, she also digitally publishes traditional Catholic classics on Kindle. (Click here to see the growing book list.)

Join Marianna on Facebook at Fatima 100: Our Lady and the Apostles of Our Times, a discussion group for those who understand the collegial consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart must be done.

Notes
[1] For examples, please see Heb. 2:3-4; Ps. 96:17, Judg. 6:17; Josh. 24: 15-17; Isa. 7:14; Exod. 3:12; Num. 17:20.
[2] Guadalupe, Fr. Miguel. The Seven Veils of Our Lady of Guadalupe [Goleta, CA: Queenship Publishing, 1999]: p. 266. [Emphasis added.]
[3] In 1944, Pope Pius XII instituted the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary to be celebrated on 22 August, coinciding with the traditional octave day of the Assumption. The date was changed after Vatican II, and the Queenship of Mary was instead instituted on August 22.
[4] The vision of Knock is explained in greater depth in my book, Fatima: The Signs and Secrets.
[5] Frère Michel de la Sainte Trinité, The Whole Truth about Fatima, Vol. III. [Buffalo, NY: Immaculate Heart Publications, Revised edition 2001]: p. 788.
[6] Septuagint: The ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures (i.e., the Old Testament), approved by the Catholic Church but rejected by orthodox Jews and Protestant sects.
[7] Kramer, Rev. Herman Bernard, editor. The Book of Destiny [Rockford, IL: TAN Books & Publishers, 1975. Originally published in 1955 by Buechler Publishing Co., Belleville, IL. Reprinted in 1972 by Apostolate of Christian Action, Fresno, CA from which the 1975 printing was made]: pp. 275- 276. [Emphasis added.]
[8] Bartold, Marianna. Fatima: The Signs and Secrets. [Lapeer, MI: KIC, 2014, available in paperback and Kindle editions]: p. 93.[Emphasis added.]
[9] Berry, Rev. E. Sylvester. The Apocalypse of St. John.  [Lapeer, MI: KIC, 2015. Amazon Kindle edition republished from the original 1921 edition.]
[10] Ibid.
[11] Dan. 8: 15-26; 9: 21-27.
[12] Dan. 10:1. [Emphasis added.]
[13] Dan. 10:2.
[14] Dan. 10:11. [Emphasis added.]
[15] Dan. 10:12.
[16] Dan.10:21.
[17] Bartold, op cit. Excerpted from Chapter 1.
[18] Dan. 12:1. [Emphasis added.]
[19] Apoc. 12:1.
[20] St. Ambrose, cited in The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers.
[http://books.google.com/books?id=MCX6nTwu8U8C]. Also see SS. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Mission. [http://www.saintspeterandpaulrcm.com/weekly_bulletin.htm] [Emphasis added.]

Friday, December 2, 2016

Three Ways to Obtain Plenary Indulgence During 100th Anniversary of Fatima

Announced on December 1, 2016: Pope Francis grants three opportunities to receive a plenary indulgence throughout the Jubilee Year of the Fatima Centennial, which recently began on the First Sunday of Advent, Nov. 27, 2016, and ends next year on Nov. 26, 2017.

André Pereira, rector of the Fatima Shrine in Portugal, outlined the three ways of obtaining the indulgence, detailed in a statement on the shrine’s website.

To obtain the plenary indulgence, the faithful must also fulfill the three ordinary conditions: Go to Confession and Communion, be interiorly detached from sin, and pray for the intentions of the Holy Father. (The latter means to pray for the Pope to lead the Church as God wills.)

1. Pilgrimage to the shrine
The first way to gain the plenary indulgence is for “the faithful to make a pilgrimage to the Fatima Shrine in Portugal and participate in a celebration or prayer dedicated to the Virgin.”

In addition, the faithful must pray the Our Father, recite the Apostles' Creed and invoke Our Lady of Fatima (i.e., "Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us" or "Virgin of Fatima, pray for us," etc.).

2. Prayer before any statue of Our Lady of Fatima on the 13th of the Month
The second way applies to “the pious faithful who visit with devotion a statue of Our Lady of Fatima solemnly exposed for public veneration in any church, oratory or proper place during the days of the anniversary of the apparitions, the 13th of each month from May to October (2017), and there devoutly participate in some celebration or prayer in honor of the Virgin Mary.”

The rector of the Fatima Shrine explained that the visit to the statue of the Virgin “does not necessarily have to be only at Fatima or exclusively in Portugal,” but can be done anywhere in the world.

Additionally, all those seeking an indulgence must also pray an Our Father, recite the Apostle’s Creed and invoke Our Lady of Fatima (i.e., “Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us” or “Holy Virgin of Fatima, pray for us”).

3. Conditions for the elderly and infirm (May 13, June 13, etc. through October 13)
The third way to obtain a plenary indulgence applies to people who, due to age, illness or other serious cause, are unable to get around well.

These faithful can pray in front of any statue of Our Lady of Fatima and must spiritually unite themselves to the jubilee celebrations on the days of the apparitions, the 13th of each month, between May and October 2017.

They also must “offer to merciful God with confidence, through Mary, their prayers and sufferings or the sacrifices they make in their own lives.”

Our Lady of Fatima, ora pro nobis!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

October 13: Fatima and the Martyrdom of St. Peter

“And we have the more firm prophetical word: whereunto you do well to attend, as to a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts.” —2 Peter 1:19.
October 13, 2017 is the 100th anniversary of the startling Miracle of the Sun (the “day star” of Holy Scripture) in Fatima, Portugal. October 13 also appears to be the true date of St. Peter’s martyrdom in Rome, occurring on the 10th anniversary of the tyrant Nero’s ascent to the imperial throne—Nero, one of the most infamous, historical figure-types of anti-Christ, “the son of perdition.”[1] Since there are no coincidences in God’s designs, did this discovery reveal anything more about the Miracle or the still-hidden Third Secret Message of Fatima?
In May 1952, Margherita Guarducci (+1999), a remarkable epigraphologist and archeologist, first participated in the study of excavations below St. Peter’s Basilica, ordered by Pope Pius XII on June 28, 1939. With Pope Pius XII’s permission, she went to see the graffito (inscription on a wall) found beneath the Vatican that stated “Peter is here, within.” But it was gone, and she found that a Jesuit priest had taken it out of its original setting and carried it away, which Guarducci said was “the first of a series of mysterious episodes which sought to obscure my successive discoveries about Saint Peter.”[3]
Not until October 1962 were particular relics examined. Eventually, Guarducci was the first to determine that certain bones, found behind a recessed wall, [4] were those of St. Peter, the first Pope. She also established the date of the martyred saint’s crucifixion to be October 13, 64 A.D. [5]

In addition to many other published works detailing her investigation, she wrote “The Date of Peter’s Martyrdom” (1968), [6] of which this essay contains generous excerpts, featured in a 1996 summary extensively quoting Guarducci’s latter work. [7]
“The most authoritative text informing us of Peter’s martyrdom in Rome is the first letter of Saint Clement the Roman to the Corinthians, generally dated at about 96 AD. In its turn, Clement’s letter cannot be read apart from one famed passage of Tacitus’ ‘Annales’ (XV, 38-45), in which the historian speaks of the famous fire that flared in Rome on the night of July 18-19, 64 and of its consequences. A comparison of these two testimonies seems to show that Peter was martyred during the anti-Christian persecution campaign unleashed by Nero after the fire and that the place of his martyrdom was the Vatican's ‘horti.’[8] The information Tacitus provides is undoubtedly very authoritative because the author of the ‘Annales’ was writing not long after the events and he was able to quote eyewitnesses as well as from first-hand documents, such as the ‘Acta senatus’ and the ‘Acta diurna’—respectively the minutes of Senate sessions and the official diaries of the Roman State.
“According to Tacitus, then, the Christians whom he—as others do—describes as a ‘considerable multitude’ (‘multitudo ingens’), were condemned to death not so much for causing the fire but because they were guilty of ‘hatred towards the human race’ (‘odium human,’ generic). This was a serious charge because the identification of the human race with the empire itself meant that anyone so charged was considered an enemy of the empire.”
[N.B. When Guarducci wrote those words in 1968, and even when the 1996 summary was published, it could not be foreseen that, by the early part of the 21st century, there would arise in our contemporary lexicon the malevolent phrase “hate crime,” a resurrection of Nero’s arrogant judgment against Christians of “hatred towards the human race,” which resulted in the subsequent penalty of a cruel death.]
“The execution of the condemned, according to Tacitus’ information, took place during grandiose circus spectacles (‘circense ludicrum’), for which Nero made available his own circus in the Vatican that was the principal adornment of his ‘horti.’” Due to fire damage, the Circus Maximus—the usual site for Nero’s celebratory atrocities—was impossible. The venue had to be the Vatican circus, the only area in Rome unharmed by the infamous inferno.
Tacitus established 64 A.D. as the year of these particular events. By reviewing his chronology of events between the fire of Rome (July 18-19) and the end of the year, Guarducci determined that “the Vatican spectacles took place in the first half of October. Nor is it difficult to prove that between the end of 64 and Nero’s death on June 9, 68, there are no other periods in which there was anti-Christian persecution of the type that Tacitus and Clement describe. It is also useful to note that the period between the end of September 66 and the beginning of 68 can be excluded without doubt since that was the period of Nero’s travels in Greece.”
The First Pope’s Martyrdom:
What It Signified for Nero, an Antichrist Figure
As Guarducci explained, “But, confirming the dating proposed for the circus spectacles and, therefore, for Peter’s martyrdom, are two other important, anonymous, texts in Greek contained in a papyrus conserved in Vienna today. They are the Apocalypse of Peter and the Ascension of Isaiah. I believe that these texts (belonging to the so-called ‘apocryphal literature,’ a very common category between the end of the first century and the first half of the second which used prophetic and symbolic language to interpret historical events of the time) are so well informed on the history of the Neronian period that they must have been written not long after events in 64…After addressing Nero’s infamies, the authors of the two texts announce his punishment as imminent. According to the author of the Apocalypse [of Peter], it would be none other than Peter’s martyrdom that would mark the beginning of the emperor's end. This statement is echoed in the Ascension [of Isaiah] text which affirms that Nero’s kingdom would last for ‘three years, seven months and 27 days’ after the apostle’s death. If we calculate three years, seven months and 27 days from Nero’s death (June 9, 68), we arrive at the year 64 and October 13 to be precise: this date falls perfectly within the period in which, according to the Tacitus passage, we have set the unleashing of Nero’s persecutions.”
 “…October 13 was not just any ordinary day. It was the anniversary of Nero’s ascent to the throne, his dies imperii. Moreover, October 13, 64 was the tenth anniversary of his reign (decennalia, October 13, 54/October 13, 64).
“The dies imperii was an important date in the Romans’ official calendar at the time of the empire. Numerous sources certify that between the first and fourth centuries, it was celebrated more or less solemnly with sacrifices, feasts, contests and donations to the public by the emperor…in Rome the most important feasts concerning the person of the emperor—birthdays (dies natalis) for example, and anniversaries of his ascent to the throne—often coincided with exhibitions of bloodletting, gladiator fights, displays of the condemned (venationes)…[it was] on the occasion of these anniversaries that Jews and Christians would often be sacrificed. Thus, for example, Jews of Alexandria were sacrificed on Caligula’s dies natalis. Saint Polycarp’s martyrdom coincides with the dies imperii of Antoninus Pius and that of the Christians of Lyons with the dies imperii of Marcus Aurelius. It is highly likely, then, that the Emperor Nero…would have promoted cruel spectacles for his decennalia…he would have organized the execution of Christians who were already condemned on charges of being enemies of the empire.
“From a study of this whole series of testimonies, we can draw two significant conclusions. Firstly the hypothesis, founded on Tacitus’ testimony that Nero’s persecution in which Peter also suffered martyrdom happened in October 64, is confirmed. Secondly, it appears extremely likely that we must set the date of the martyrdom of the Prince of the Apostles at October 13 that year.”
A Second Proof
Margherita Guarducci made another stunning connection, wherein she noted “a singular coincidence” in the two apocryphal works, the Apocalypse of Peter and the Ascension of Isaiah:

“This latter work deals with the Emperor Nero. In language which is symbolic but sufficiently clear, he is portrayed as possessed by the devil and resolved to persecute the Twelve Apostles of Christ, one of whom (Peter) will eventually fall into his hands. There are other allusions to the misdeeds suggested by Lucifer to the Emperor, and finally two little sentences appear…
And he will set up his image in the sight of all the cities. And he will rule for three years, seven months and twenty-seven days.’
Guarducci wondered, “What could be the meaning of this particular indication of three years, seven months and twenty-seven days?” She simultaneously recalled: “The images set up in every city are certainly the statues of the Emperor customarily erected in the various cities of the Empire.” [9]

“And so the Ascension of Isaiah led me back to the first half of October 64, the very same when, according to my other research, the Vatican spectacle and Peter’s martyrdom would have taken place. But what is the significance of this date of October 13, which is presented as the day of the Apostle’s martyrdom? In the other prophetic book, the Apocalypse of Peter, this martyrdom is regarded as the beginning of the ruin of Nero. ‘There we have it,’ I said to myself, ‘the beginning and the end of the three year, seven month and twenty-seven day period of calamities! It opens with the martyrdom of Peter, the culminating point of the persecution, and closes with the death of the tyrant.’” [10]
Comparisons
In considering these remarkable “coincidences” about the first Pope and October 13, what might they mean in light of the Great Miracle and the Third Secret still hidden?
Decades before the rediscovery of St. Peter’s relic, Our Lady of the Rosary promised (on July 13, 1917) a sign for the date of October 13 of that year. [11] She also gave the Fatima children the “Great Secret” (in three distinct parts). The First Secret was a terrifying glimpse of hell. The Second Secret explained it and provided the spiritual remedy of our times to save poor sinners from hell. It also contained Our Lady’s commands and prophesied the results, dependent upon the Church’s response to them. [12]
The Third Secret’s Vision revealed an angel with a flaming sword “as if to set the world on fire,” a big city “half in ruins” (which might represent Rome or the visible Church on earth), “a Bishop dressed in white [we had the impression it was the Holy Father]. Other Bishops, priests, men and women Religious going up a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big Cross…Before reaching there, the Holy Father…prayed for the souls of the corpses he met” as he made his way “half trembling with halting step.” Upon kneeling at the foot of the Cross, “he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him, and in the same way there died one after another the other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious, and various lay people of different ranks and positions, and a countless number of people who are killed in the same manner…” [13]
• First to be recognized is, at the least, one startling similarity between the Third Secret Vision and the Christians’ fates in pagan Rome, then the founding city of an empire of many gods before it became the center of God’s kingdom on earth (the Church).  Like the Third Secret with the death of “a bishop dressed in white,” St. Peter’s martyrdom, preceded by many others, was followed by an even a greater number after him.
—Quo Vadis, Petri? Is the bishop dressed in white (who may be the Pope) trying to escape persecution? If so, this is similar to the tradition regarding St. Peter who, in fleeing Rome, suddenly encountered at the city’s gates Our Lord. Falling to his knees, Peter asked Jesus; “Domine, quo vadis?” (“Lord, whither goest Thou?”). Jesus answered; “I am coming to Rome to be again crucified.” Peter exclaimed, “Lord, wilt Thou again be crucified?” And the Lord said to him, “Even so, I will again be crucified.” At this, Peter said, “Lord, I will return and will follow Thee.” With those words, the Lord ascended into Heaven and Peter understood that it was of his own passion that was spoken, because in it the Lord would suffer.[14]

In today’s political climate, we may reasonably deduct of what pagan nation(s) are the soldiers of the Third Secret. Today, however, the Roman situation is inversed, with recent Popes scandalously promoting the “common ground” of false religions and, by pastoral practices, turning the visible Church into the ancient Pantheon of the gods.
Though surrounded with relics of martyred saints, Rome seems to have forgotten that the first Catholics died because they, who would neither deny Christ and the true faith nor pay homage to false gods, had fallen into the hands of an insane ruler abiding in that same city, a man recognized as possessed of the devil, and who has ever since been viewed as an anti-Christ figure. For Nero and for all of ancient Rome, the first Pope’s death was—or so they thought—the decisive victory, the seeming death knell for that odious sect called “Christians,” who were everywhere hunted for their alleged “hate crimes”— a term, we must remember, is two thousand years later resurrected.
• Second, although the Madonna’s words explaining this Secret remain suppressed, we know from Sr. Lucia that the Third Secret is “in the Gospel and the Apocalypse. Read them!” [15]
Fr. Sylvester Berry’s examination of the entire Apocalypse interprets a chilling scenario which appears to describe our own times. In explaining Chapter 12, he wrote, in part:
“…St. John outlines the history of the Church from the coming of Antichrist until the end of the world…In this chapter, he shows us the true nature of the conflict. It shall be a war unto death between the Church and the powers of darkness in a final effort to destroy the Church and thus prevent the universal reign of Christ on earth.
“Satan will first attempt to destroy the power of the Papacy and bring about the downfall of the Church through heresies, schisms and persecutions that must surely follow…he will raise up Antichrist and his prophet to lead the faithful into error and destroy those who remain steadfast…The Church, the faithful spouse of Jesus Christ, is represented as a woman clothed with the sun.
“…In this passage there is an evident allusion to some particular son of the Church whose power and influence shall be such that Satan will seek his destruction at any cost. This person can be none other than the Pope to be elected in those days. The Papacy will be attacked by all the powers of hell. In consequence the Church will suffer great trials and afflictions in securing a successor upon the throne of Peter.
“The words of St. Paul to the Thessalonians may be a reference to the Papacy as the obstacle to the coming of Antichrist: ‘You know what withholdeth, that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity already worketh; only that he who now holdeth, do hold until he be taken out of the way. And then that wicked one shall be revealed.’” [16]
• Third, the October 13, 1917 Miracle of Fatima was, as witnesses testified, the “dance of the sun” and repeated three times, with many likening its movements to a “a wheel of fire, “a bicycle wheel,” a “captive ball of fire,” etc. For ten to twelve minutes, the people stood transfixed in wonder, before their amazement turned to terror as the sun suddenly crashed toward the earth. The thousands gathered there, expecting the end of the world, cried out to God and the Virgin Mother.  Then, as the people wept and prayed aloud, the sun returned to its place in the heavens.
Like the Great Secret and the Miracle of Fatima, the Great Revolt of modern times is “one” in three parts: 1517 (Protestant Revolt), 1717 (birth of Masonry, which led to the French Revolt), and 1917 (Bolshevik Revolt). The Third Secret of Fatima, “in its known contents” as Cardinal Ratzinger phrased it in 1984, allows us to reasonably deduce that the Virgin came to warn the Church that mankind had entered a critical juncture in history−specifically, the “revolt” [literally, “apostasy”] that must come first, as foretold by St. Paul. [17]
Thus we see that October 13, the day of the great Miracle of the Sun (occurring on St. Peter’s martyrdom), was a sign of God’s justice and mercy. The Miracle is described as a sign “that reveals the saving victory of the 12th chapter of the Apocalypse…the great eschatological sign given by God to our times, so that we will not deserve the rebuke that Our Lord made to the Jews: ‘You know how to read the face of the sky, but you cannot read the signs of the times’ (Matt. 16:4).” [18

Copyright Marianna Bartold 2016. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. This article was published in the October 2016 issue of Catholic Family News.
About the Author: Marianna Bartold is the author of Fatima: The Signs and Secrets and Guadalupe: Secrets of the Image. The founding publisher of The Catholic Family’s Magnificat and editor of Sursum Corda (now Latin Mass) magazines, she also digitally publishes traditional Catholic classics for Kindle. Readers are invited to visit her main Facebook page, Keeping It Catholic.
Notes



[1] 2 Thess. 2:3. (Douay-Rheims translation of the Holy Bible, wherein St. Paul infallibly states: “Let no man deceive you by any means, for unless there come a revolt first, and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition,” and which includes this explanatory note: “A revolt: This revolt, or falling off, is generally understood, by the ancient fathers, of a revolt from the Roman empire, which was first to be destroyed, before the coming of Antichrist. It may, perhaps, be understood also of a revolt of many nations from the Catholic Church; which has, in part, happened already, by means of Mahomet, Luther, etc., and it may be supposed, will be more general in the days of the Antichrist.”)
[2] An epigraphologist is an expert in deciphering ancient inscriptions.
[3] 30 Days magazine, February 1990, p. 51. Cited by Fr. Georges de Nantes, “The Truth about St. Peter’s Tomb,” The Catholic Counter-Reformation in the 21st Century website [http://crc-internet.org/our-doctrine/catholic-counter-reformation/truth-saint-peter-tomb/]
[4] I could find only one source that claims St. Peter’s bones were unearthed—incredibly—on October 13, 1941, but other sources only say that the year was 1942, giving no specific month and date. Piotrowski, Fr. M. “Did the Apostle Peter Die in Rome?” Excerpts published on Catholic Bridge [http://catholicbridge.com/catholic/did_peter_die_in_rome.php]. Originally published in Love One Another magazine (Spring, 2003 Edition). N.B. For the first time, the relics were publicly displayed, in Rome, on November 24, 2013.
[5] Guarducci, Margherita as quoted by Ricciardi, Giovanni. “Peter’s Martyrdom—A.D. 67 or 64?,” 30 Days magazine, Issue No. 3 (1996). Guarducci was careful to point out, “The traditional date of Peter’s martyrdom is the year 67. This is in contrast with information that Peter was martyred during the great wave of persecution under Nero which can only have happened in the year 64.” In the article, she is again directly quoted when she proceeded to explain why.
[6] Guarducci, Margherita. “La data del martirio di san Pietro,” in La Parola del passato: Rivista di studi antichi, No. 267, Naples, Italy,1968. (The Date of Peter’s Martyrdom, in Words from the Past. Antiquity Studies Review).
[7] Ricciardi, Giovanni. “Peter’s Martyrdom—A.D. 67 or 64?,” 30 Days magazine, Issue No. 3 (1996). [https://www.ewtn.com/library/MARY/PETEMART.HTM]
[8] “Horti” (from whence comes the English word “horticulture”) were, in the main, expansive and attractive areas, originally intended for rest and recreation, in ancient Rome. However, Guarducci noted: “It would be an error to think that this vast area was completely covered by true and proper gardens with rows of flowers, fountains, statues, and cages full of vari-colored birds. The region near the Tiber may have looked something like that, but the rest of the plain and the montes vaticani must have included large stretches of fields, forests and even sterile, uncultivated patches.” Guraduccci, The Tomb of St. Peter, St. Peter’s Basilica website [http://stpetersbasilica.info/Necropolis/MG/TheTombofStPeter-3.htm].
[9] Guarducci, Margherita. The Tomb of St. Peter [Hawthorn, 1960]. The work first appeared in Rome in 1958 in three massive volumes under the title of I graffiti sotto la Confessione di san Pietro in Vaticano. Cited by Fr. Georges de Nantes, “The Truth about St. Peter’s Tomb,” The Catholic Counter-Reformation in the 21st Century website [http://crc-internet.org/our-doctrine/catholic-counter-reformation/truth-saint-peter-tomb/]
[10] Guarducci, cited by Ricciardi, op. cit.
[11] Sister Maria Lucia of the Immaculate Heart. Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words: Sister Lucia’s Memoirs [Fatima, Portugal: Postulation Centre, 1976 edition]: p. 165.
N.B. At the child Lucia’s request for a sign, Our Lady promised: “In October, I will tell you who I am and what I want, and I will perform a miracle so that all may believe.”
[12] Ibid., p.167. “You have seen hell, where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them [poor sinners], God wishes to establish in the world devotion to My Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace.”
“The war [WWI] is going to end; but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the reign of Pius XI. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that He is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father.” 
“To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to My Immaculate Heart and the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays. If My requests are heeded, Russia will be converted and there will be peace. If not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated.
“In the end, My Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to Me, and she will be converted, and a period of peace [era of peace, in another translation] will be granted to the world. In Portugal, the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved; etc.” (The last line is the opening paragraph to the Third Secret Message, wherein Our Lady explains the Vision, which was released by the Vatican in June, 2000.)
[13] The Message of Fatima, as issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Vatican website.
[14] Edmundson, George. The Church in Rome in the First Century (London, 1913).
[15] Fellows, Mark. Fatima in Twilight. [Niagara Falls, U.S. and Canada: Marmion Publications, 2003]: p. 295.
[16] Berry, Rev. E. Sylvester. The Apocalypse of St. John.  [Lapeer, MI: KIC, 2015. Kindle edition republished from the original 1921 edition.]
[17] 2 Thess. 2. 
[18] Kondor, S.V.D, Fr. Louis, Seers of Fatima bulletin, July-August 1975. [Emphasis added.]