Francis Phillips reviews Why Fatima? The True Secret,
by Leo Madigan

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Why Fatima? The True Secret by Leo Madigan, Ophel Books. Distributed by Family Publications: 0845 0500 879. £4.50.

It is said that a posse of bishops once visited Padre Pio, who was well known for his prophetic powers. ‘Please tell us the third secret of Fatima’, they begged. ‘All right’ replied the saintly friar. He paused dramatically. ‘The third secret is – beware of bishops!’

Leo Madigan is not concerned with conspiracy theories or the supposed date the world will end. His slim volume, essentially a long essay, is designed to show Fatima’s true place in the history of divine apparitions; as he says, ‘Fatima carries the weight of every prophecy conceived in heaven – gentle yet firm, simple yet epic, gracious in mercy yet uncompromising and absolute.’

Before discussing the events of 1917, the reader is given a concise history of Our Lady’s approved apparitions: they include Guadalupe, the Rue de Bac, La Salette and Lourdes, but the author is in no doubt that Fatima both contains and amplifies these earlier revelations – indeed, he sees it as the ultimate theophany.

His essay is a most stimulating reflection on the ways of God to man, written in invigorating prose that is the opposite of pious sentiment. There is nothing here of rosaries turning to gold, but much profound meditation on the dialogues between Our Lady and the seers, especially Lucia. There is also a thoughtful and cautionary appendix on false apparitions, which seem to be a gadfly of the modern age.

© 2004 Francis Phillips


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