The article of the month

The Fatima Centennial by Father James M. Sullivan, o.p.

Mary, the New Prophetess

The secrets or prophecies of Fatima are perhaps the most mysterious parts of our Lady’s appearances there. The “third secret” of Fatima still hangs on in some circles, waiting to be fulfilled, even though numerous cardinals have pointed to the attempt on the life of Pope Saint John Paul II as its fulfillment. In this Centennial Year of Fatima, though, per­haps it will benefit us more to look back to the past than into the future.

Today we keep the feast of the Holy Name of Mary. Why did God choose this name for the Mother of his Son? It could be because there is another prophetess in the Scriptures with the same name. In Hebrew, it is Miriam. She was the older sister of Moses and Aaron. Miriam had led the Israelites in their song of thanksgiving after the death of the Egyptians at the Red Sea. But then Miriam had become filled with pride. The Book of Numbers tells us that when Moses mar­ried a Cushite woman, Miriam doubted Moses’ authority. Because of her pride, she asked her brother Aaron, “Has the Lord spoken only through Moses? Has he not spoken through us also?” Her punishment was leprosy and expul­sion from the camp. She was only allowed back in because of Moses’ intercession. But that was the last we ever hear of Miriam…until Mary.

God’s prophecies do not extend into the future alone; they also reach back into the past and make clean all that now belongs to him.

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!


(Father James M. Sullivan, o.p., serves as director of the Institute for Continuing Theological Education at the Pontifical North American College in Rome.