A troubling, curious point in the Third Secret of Fátima

Something was made known to me a while back that I have been pondering.  It involves the Third Secret of Our Lady of Fatima.  It really bothers me.

A refresher:

The three children who were the seers at Fatima, received three secrets on the 13 July apparition.  Carmelite nun Sister Lúcia, who as a little girl was one of the three children to whom Our Lady appeared, revealed two secrets in 1941.  She did not disclose the third secret until 1943 at the command of the bishop.  She wrote it down and sealed it in an envelope and said that it should be opened in 1960.  It was eventually sent to Rome in 1957 where it was stored away securely.    The text of the Third Secret was released by the Vatican in 2000.

There is controversy about the Third Secret.  Firstly, the timing of its release was a problem.  Also, the other secrets have explanations from Mary.  Where’s Mary’s explanation of the Third?

More in this book, CLICK.

Also, the Third Secret was kept in both the archive of the Holy Office and also in a safe in the papal apartments in the Apostolic Palace… so it was divided.  Also, there are indications that Popes read the Third Secret for “first time”… twice.  How do you do that if it is one thing?   Was one the text and the other the explanation?   In 2000 Card. Ratzinger gave a theological explanation.  Frankly, and with respect, that didn’t resolve a lot of the questions.

In any event, returning to the thing in the text of the Third Secret that was brought to my attention and that really bothers me.

Here is the whole text.  The part in question is in bold.

“I write in obedience to you, my God, who command me to do so through his Excellency the Bishop of Leiria and through your Most Holy Mother and mine. After the two parts which I have already explained, at the left of Our Lady and a little above, we saw an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but they died out in contact with the splendor that Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand: pointing to the earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice: “Penance, Penance, Penance!” And we saw in an immense light that is God: “something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it,” a bishop dressed in white. “We had the impression that 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 of rough-hewn trunks as of a cork-tree with the bark; before reaching there the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way; having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of the big 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. Beneath the two arms of the Cross there were two angels each with a crystal aspergillum in his hand, in which they gathered up the blood of the Martyrs and with it sprinkled the souls that were making their way to God.

What bothers me?  Not the part about persecution.  That’s a given.

Note that reference to seeing an image like to that of an image in a mirror.

When you see someone pass in front of a mirror, you see two of them, the real one and the image.  Two.

Hence, in this case, the vision involved seeing two figures dressed in white, one being the real one and the other being the image of the real one.  And, according to the description, Lúcia says she saw whom she took to be the Pope and a figure that was not the Pope but an image like the Pope.

One figure the Pope and the other, close by, as in a mirror, not the Pope but looking like the Pope.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. mysticalrose says:

    This has troubled me since the moment Francis was elected and Benedict chose to remain in papal white. It is one of the reasons why I lean towards “Benevacantism.” But until one of them passes, I don’t think we will have any solution to this tensive position that the Church has been in since 2013.

  2. scoot says:

    I can see some obvious parallels, but the thing that gets me is: what did any of this mean in 1960? I hesitate to draw a line to Vatican II being as I am a neophyte regarding what it is and (especially) what it isn’t.

    Were the first two secrets symbolic or pretty straight forward? Is there any benefit to thinking perhaps the Papacy will be made a shadow of its former self–diminished, perhaps, but not gone?

    I can see the obvious. I’m just playing devils advocate (if you’ll pardon the phrase). To what else could it refer?

  3. Ivan says:

    Words matters.
    Every word matters.

  4. In re Benevacantism: how do we deal with the fact that the Church universally acclaimed Francis as Pope upon his election? If the Pope is the touchstone of Christian unity, how is it possible for the entire Church to wrongly acclaim a false Pope?

  5. JamesA says:

    Yikes. I had not heard of this wrinkle. Very disturbing.

  6. Aquinas Gal says:

    I don’t think Lucia meant that there were two figures, because it says “a bishop” and “it was”–all singular. She could have just meant that the image was vague in some way. But even if she did she two figures, I wouldn’t read too much into it. Private revelations, even if approved by the Church, can still be off the mark in some things.

  7. abdiesus says:

    I have often pointed out that, in the past, prior to Benedict’s resignation/abdication, there would not have been a “bishop dressed in white” but now, for the first time, we do have a “bishop dressed in white”. That to me has seemed a clear reference to Benedict, or some future ex-Pope who follows the Benedict resignation/abdication protocol.

    What is new in this post from Fr. Z is the idea that perhaps Sr. Lucia was intentionally attempting to make reference not to having seen a single “bishop dressed in white” but rather to to having actually seen two different “bishops dressed in white” which, because they “looked” like mirror images of each other, she later ambiguously spoke of as if they were the same figure in the remainder of the text.

    That is a clearly new idea, at least to me, and I would need to do a lot more thinking on it to see if it seems to make sense. However, prima facia, it is true that we currently have two bishops who dress alike, almost identically, in papal white, in a way that I believe is unprecedented before Feb 2013.

  8. paulc0820 says:

    do you think Benedict is the bishop in white or Francis? Francis calls himself the Bishop of Rome.

  9. Gab says:

    Read in conjunction with the prophecies of Our Lady of Good Success … it is really quite chilling.

    But in the end, Her Immaculate Heart will triumph.

  10. KevinSymonds says:

    Fr. Z., I have sent you an E-mail about this post and your question, but found my login information as well.

    The statement about a “mirror” is a not unfamiliar expression in Sr. Lucia’s repertoire elsewhere in her writings. It is a mystical expression that she uses to describe how we see clearly in God and His light. It is not to be interpreted here as a reference to “two popes.”

    I hope that this helps. For more information, I would like to refer you to my book “On the Third Part of the Secret of Fatima”

    -Kevin J. Symonds

    [Refer me? Send me the book. And the fact remains: that’s how she described it. Facts are stubborn.]

  11. Diana says:

    oh wow. do a search on “sister lucia’s letter third secret” and all sorts of bizarre things come up… it is a sad thing when there are so few one can trust, even in the Church, even about these things.

  12. MrsAnchor says:

    So glad its been gnawing on you enough to bring it up! I’ve been wondering about THAT very same thing from the moment I read it long ago. (Prior to the Abdication of Emeritus Benedict) It speaks volumes now. Funny how they take on 2 “personas” of the Church… The Spirit of Vat II and the implementation of Summorum Pontificum: The Old way and New way.

    “who fired bullets and arrows at him, and in the same way there died one after another the ••other bishops••”

    Other Bishops? Her wording is tricky … When read in full.

  13. iPadre says:

    It’s kind of how parents tell children a story. They don’t lie to them, but only tell them part of the story to satisfy their curiosity. I have never believe we have the whole story, and won’t until Our Lady Triumphs. A lot about it just doesn’t add up.

  14. deaconjohn1987 says:

    And we saw in an immense light that is God: “something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it,” could also refer to the coming “Illumination of Souls” or Divine Warning, prophetized by St. Faustina in her Diary and many other Saints. We will see ourselves as God sees us, our sins and also our good deeds. And we will be purified for the Coming of Christ who will reign in our hearts! This is also the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary! An era of peace will follow.

  15. MrsAnchor says:

    To say the least; the Amazonian Synod at the time caught my attention wondering if Pope Francis would be making his way there. Due to the Arrows and Bullets. As if a feud and where are there generally Arrows? … Perhaps when his writings wrap up he makes his way there and by that time something major has occured in the City.

    but given the Riots & Revolts throughout the world (France, Hong Kong, Ukraine, Argentina, Venezuela etc) The World feeds off or is impacted by the Tensions of another Country. Guatemala, Mexico and the U.S. are going at it with Immigration.

    Volcanoes and Stars showing their signs of change. Its all pretty interesting when Emeritus Benedict still wears White!! Delve into the Private Audiences addressing the 3rd Secret; even Pope John Paul II had some interesting things to say about it…

  16. Kathleen10 says:

    Everything about Fatima is fascinating. I can never read enough about it, and it consoles and inspires me whenever I do. I hope it’s alright if I mention a tangential point that I have never seen discussed. It’s the fact that the Angel of Peace prayed in the same position that Muslims do and encouraged the children to do that as well (I believe) and of course the town was Fatima, named for the favored daughter of Mohammad and the only Islamic-named town in Portugal. Coincidence?
    Fatima is so unbelievably credible and “proven” I find it hard to imagine anyone not believing it’s complete authenticity as what it appeared to be, a heavenly visit and warning. We can’t help but think of Fatima with the possibility of a big old chastisement looming. Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.

  17. Herman Joseph says:

    Even if it was as Kevin Symonds said, the thing is at one point Sr. Lucia says “a bishop dressed in white, we had the impression it was the Holy Father” and then she later says blatantly “The Holy Father passed through a city.” This sounds like two totally different descriptions, two totally different people. It also makes sense in our times, and that section would not have prior to 1960.

    And as Fr. Z said, however else Sr. Lucia thought of a mirror, what she said here has a certain resonance that is stubbornly contrary Kevin’s idea in that regard. To make it more disturbing–well, this is obvious actually–is that whatever is going to happen would have to happen while there are still these two men dressed in white, and one of them is very, very old now. Further, the fire falling from the sky, as Mary said at Akita, which is by trustworthy accounts part of the third secret, could conceivably be intertwined with that city in ruins. The way the world is, and from what Mary has said at other approved apparitions (e.g. San Nicholas), it seems that something very big is going to happen in the very near future. Now (it’s always “now” of course) is the best time to get right with God, develop a serious devotion to Our Lady, and pray the Rosary every day.

  18. sendero says:

    I was always bothered by that description of Lucia as it made no sense whatsoever when it was released to the public by Bertone. Much later, when Francis referred to himself as the “Bishop of Rome” and shunned the use of the title of Pope and Holiness, I thought it probable that Francis was the image of the pope in the vision as Benedict maintained the papal white. When Francis latter referred to himself as the “bishop dressed in white” during a Fatima visit, my confidence in the interpretation increased substantially. God exposes the truth even through men that have no intention of cooperating with grace.

  19. bourgja says:

    Kevin Symonds is among the world’s top scholarly researchers of the Fatima apparitions, and the words of Sr. Lucia seem to indicate that she is offering an analogy (“something like”) and not a literal description of a mirror. However, the description of a bishop in white who “appeared” to be the Holy Father does certainly suggest a question about whether the figure described was truly the pope.

  20. Ferretti says:

    My question would be what happens to the Sainthood of John XXIII, Paul VI, and John Paul II if Pope Francis is bogus? Not to mention many other things. St. Francis of Assisi said something about a future bad Pope “not Canonically” elected. It’s a mess, as some would like it to be so.

  21. Fr_Sotelo says:

    So, Lucia’s phrase of “how people appear in a mirror” may refer to two popes? One who is pope, and one who appears to be pope? This would be plausible, to me, if she followed that phrase with plural references.

    Instead, she uses only the singular pronoun to speak of the man in white: “he prayed,” “he met,” “he was killed.” She explicitly says “the Holy Father” and not “the Holy Fathers” or “the real Holy Father and the other man who appeared to be the Holy Father.”

    In my opinion, for Lucia to wish to communicate subtly that there are two men, a real pope and an apparent pope (vis a vis the mirror phrase) does not hold water, because there is no follow up. There is no later mention, at all, of the “two popes” reference.

    Also, Sister Lucia would have been very familiar with St. Paul’s use of this phrase in 1 Corinthians 13:12, “At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror…” That phrase meant that what is seen in the mirror of former times is not clear and easy to make out. This is why, I believe, she followed with the words, “We had the impression that it was the Holy Father.”

    She had an “impression,” not that there were two popes (one real and the other not so), but that the man in white could not be perceived clearly. In this prophecy, Lucia is not trying to tell us to be on the watch for two men who are seen as pope. Rather, she reinforces the phrase made earlier by Our Lady at Fatima, that “the Holy Father will have much to suffer for.” It is the suffering of the pope at the hands of such evil people, which makes the prophecy so impacting.

  22. Stepheno says:

    Recently it occurred to me that B16’s White cassock is a clear non-verbal message to the world. It’s so weird. The mirror image seems directed at the two popes. Not the clarity in God.

  23. arga says:

    I interpreted the reference to a mirror as referring to the way the bishop in white actually looked — as if his image were reflected in a mirror, not that there were two of them. On the other hand, what does a person look like in a mirror? Well, if it’s a modern mirror, exactly the same as he does normally. But in 1917, in Portugal, mirrors may not have been so reliable — maybe fuzzy or slightly distorted.

  24. monstrance says:

    Then why does Benedict wear white ?
    One of the more humble men to have served in the Vatican.
    Perhaps at the request of Francis.
    A good question for his next sit down interview.

  25. hilltop says:

    Father Zed,
    I like this reading of the difficult bold text. It helps to explain the mystery that Lucia seems also to have in communicating the vision – she seems to not understand it herself (she would not imagine a future 2 pope period I think ?)
    Others ask who is the real pope in this scenario. My sense is that IF it must be that one is not pope then it might be one “who was not legitimately elected” would be the false pope. IF one of our 2 popes was not legitimately elected the record seems to indicate it would be Francis as there is serious, volunteered information from St Gallen and from Mr McCarrick and others (they cannot keep themselves quiet) that indicate a heavily-lobbied election of Francis. These claims coupled with the LACK of such claims regarding Benedict’s election suggests any illegitimacy to be associated with Francis’ election.
    How that may bring Either Francis or to the mountaintop for slaughter at the door of the cross is beyond me, but Father’s reading of the mirror and popes in the mirror rings true.

  26. Cy says:

    Mirrors create a replica, a second.

    Mirrors also invert; right as left and left as right.

    Is the behavior of “the two popes” also inverted in ways bearing on fidelity, faith, and morals?

  27. roma247 says:

    Keep in mind that, during the era in which Sister Lucia was writing, mirrors were not as perfect and smooth and reflective as they came to be after the 1970s, when techniques for vacuum coating were perfected. Older mirrors were often slightly cloudy/splotchy/uneven and the glass sometimes not perfectly smooth; or they could be made from another reflective surface other than the glass we are accustomed to. So it was common to refer to what one saw in a mirror as being otherworldly, cloudy, dreamlike. I think it is safer to assume that this is what was meant by her usage of that phrase.

    A few more considerations:
    1. If Sister Lucia had meant to refer to seeing both an image and its reflection, she would most likely have been more explicit on this point in her description. Moreover, since she had Our Lady’s interpretation of the secret, if this were indeed important, surely she would have put more emphasis on the inherent dichotomy. But this is not the case.
    2. As with Bible passages, it is important to remember that the original was not written in English, thus to take things too literally is fraught with peril; what is the original Portuguese, and is there a recognizable idiom here?

    In short, while I can see why many would latch on to this interpretation, I don’t think the case here is very strong.

  28. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    I’ve always been puzzled at the question: Why the quotation marks? Lucia’s description seems to be borrowing words from somewhere, and I can’t fathom who might give her this expression”

  29. NB says:

    I really like JP2 (even though it gets me in a lot of trouble in Trad circles, and yes, I know he wasn’t perfect). I shared the Santo Subito sentiments at his death, but if his canonization should be declared invalid because it was performed by a non-Pope, I don’t mind one bit. Certainly doesn’t mean he isn’t in heaven. I would much rather this situation be resolved and clarity come to our Church in these matters of Fatima and this/these current pontificate(s).

    Father Z, I really do trust that you have your finger on what’s cooking here, and the fact that you continue to address this topic speaks volumes.

  30. OrdoMilitaris says:

    The ecstatic vision of the Divine Substance which is given immediately to Christ on account of the Hypostatic Union of the Divine Person with the perfect Humanity, as well as the mystical participation in this granted to the Saints and sometimes even to sinners, has long been described as a looking glass or mirror. For an example, see Saint Bonaventure’s Commentaries on the Third Book of Sentences and his Disputed Question on the Knowledge of Christ, a summary of which you can find on my Academia.edu page, in an article I published in an academic journal.

    For that reason I do not think she was speaking of seeing one pope outside of the mirror and another in the mirror. Internal characteristics of her text make it implausible that she is speaking about the same individual of whom she has the impression of being the Holy Father and of whom she speaks without hesitation as the Holy Father, who is martyred. I think the sound interpretation looks also at what Bl. Catherine Emmerich said in 1820, of two popes, one which is intent on founding a church of evil with idolatry, another who is aged, isolated in a small house, and who is paralyzed by inaction. Together, it appears that Sr. Lucia might be referring to the martyrdom of Pope Benedict, if we take the imagery literally. It could however refer to a white martyrdom or the persecution of those who remain faithful to the true pope and to the call to penance which came to the world at Fatima, in the land of cork trees (Portugal).

    Br. Alexis Bugnolo

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  32. dbonneville says:

    And if St. Malachi was right, and Peter is the last pope, maybe we have the real Peter going back to Rome having fled for fear of the wolves(f) in the mirror.

    Can a pope who is no longer pope become pope again, though he already is, but currently isn’t?

  33. MrsAnchor says:

    As others have highlighted: Blessed Catherine Emmerich and St Francis’s words of an illegitimate pope that would cloud even the Elect…. we can also turn to Akita which happened at a crucial time when the 3rd secret was already supposed to be revealed but was instead suppressed.

    If we were to observe the Quito Apparition which had the Approval of Bishops for some time before it seems that it too had suppression in the 50’s (funny that) In light of Bella Dodd and all the other issues in the last 100 years. Its at fever pitch whats about to happen. Trump was no happenstance occurrence…
    The passage where she states “two angels each with a crystal aspergillum in his hand, in which they gathered up the blood of the Martyrs and with it sprinkled the souls that were making their way to God.”
    Given Benedict still wears white that may be the man she speaks of as having been Martyred along with everyone on the Mountain. But how he leaves his Mater Ecclesiae Monastery residence is just another loose end. Which brings the other point: He’s on THE same Ground as the Vatican Gardens. Hes within Vatican City. The compounds to which he has used is interesting in and of itself.
    I encourage the sleuthing of the Private Audiences of Pope Emeritus Benedict and of Pope St John Paul II on the specific matter of the Fatima 3rd Secret. Its not what they revealed in public.

    “Unveiling the Apocalypse” by Emmett O’ Regan was a pretty interesting read of observations/apparitions and the eschatological.

  34. Amerikaner says:

    Father Dollinger claimed that Cardinal Ratzinger told him that there is more to the secret that was never published.

    I also remember that Cardinal Ratzinger also made a comment that the third secret could still portend something in the future. If true, that would be interesting in light of him keeping the papal white cassock KNOWING the Fatima reference. As if it was a deliberate action somehow tied into the Fatima secret from the moment of his resignation. What more does he know that is tied to him that is unknown??

  35. Jean-Luc says:

    And what if “how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it” alluded to a screen? A TV or computer screen. If a 1917 child had seen a TV or a computer, how would he have described it? Maybe the scene mentioned in the vision will be seen alive by the whole world?

  36. Suburbanbanshee says:

    1. Lucia’s use of non-speech quotation marks seems to denote an aside from her narration. She narrates what she saw (more or less objectively), and then she gives personal observations or notes or similes in quotation marks.

    2. The description seems to show God’s light, ie, Lucia looking toward God, as the “projection” surface for the vision image. The images are floating inside God’s light, much as mirror images float inside a mirror.

    E vimos n’uma luz imensa que é Deus:
    And we saw in an immense light that is God:

    “algo semelhante
    something resembling

    a como

    se vêem as pessoas
    people see themselves

    n’um espelho
    in a mirror

    quando lhe passam
    when they pass you (singular 2nd person, object)

    por diante”
    going on, going forward, going in front of something

    um Bispo vestido de Branco
    a Bishop dressed in White

    “tivemos o pressentimento de que era o Santo Padre”.
    “We had a hunch/feeling that he was the Holy Father”.

    So they looked into God, and saw an image of a bishop dressed in white. It’s the surrounding description that makes it sound confusing. We see images floating on light all the time, on our TV and computer screens.

    It’s common for speakers of Indo-European languages to shift back and forth from singular to plural, or even first person to second person, when shifting from narration to figures of speech. I think it just sounds like a colloquialism. Otherwise, Lucia would have said, “We had a feeling they were popes.”

    (And geez, can you think of a more Mutt and Jeff, less similar-looking pair of people than Francis and Benedict? A skinny tall guy does not look like a short thick guy, unless you have a funhouse mirror.)

    Moving along, I have to say it’s kinda weird that “e varias pessoas seculares, cavalheiros e senhoras de varias classes e posições” is always translated into English as just “various lay people of different ranks and positions.” It’s more like “and various laypersons, gentlemen and ladies of various classes and positions.” Not a big deal, but sheesh, way to take the flavor out of Lucia’s narration.

  37. Suburbanbanshee says:

    I’m going to disagree with any dreamlike or hard-to-see interpretations of an image in God being like an image in a mirror.

    Anybody who has seen divine light, or anything lit by it, will agree that it is clearer and more real than normal light, and that there is no problem seeing details. It etches things in the memory.

    So if you were confronted by God Himself, you’d be seeing things as clearly as Dante (or Dante’s character in the poem). Anything shown to you within His light would be unmistakable and clear, with nothing shadowy or doubtful about it.

    The other thing is that, when you see things in divine light, you see their goodness, their place in the plan. I think that is why the children were shown the persecution deaths within God’s light and presence — so that they would not be too disheartened, and so that they would understand the beauty and courage of the martyrs in the light of eternity.

    So the idea of some kind of deception or hidden implication connected with such a vision is weird to me.

    Also, if the bishop was mirror-twinned, it would seem that all the other persons in the vision would also be, and the kids would have been seeing twice the destruction and persecution, twice the ruined city, twice the corpses, twice the crosses, and so on.

  38. JakeMC says:

    I was puzzled when this was published as the Third Secret. I had read a book about the Fatima apparitions in the late 1980s or early 1990s; I THINK it was “Fatima in Her Own Words,” but I can’t swear to it. At any rate, in this book, this particular vision was clearly described. It was after describing this vision that the description ended, citing matters pertaining to the final part of the Secret. The minute I read that this vision had been published and proclaimed to be the entire Third Secret, I knew it wasn’t, simply because if it had been, Lucia would never have made it public. I’m with Mother Angelica on this: “We didn’t get the whole thing.”

  39. Leo D. Lion says:

    i think Fr Z is onto something regarding the
    “something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it,” a bishop dressed in white. “We had the impression that it was the Holy Father.”

    this part is self explanatory:
    “he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him,”

    I believe this would refer to an attack by a militant organizations and their target would be the Vatican. Several hundred men with small arms and bow & arrows would be what she is refering to. These militant organizations (not an untrained group or bunch) use asymmetrical methods and plans in being successful.
    And are very successful avoiding detection by law enforcement and are well financed.

    What is super scarey is:
    at the left of Our Lady and a little above, we saw an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire;

    This refers to what was revealed to prophets in ancient time and not to be understood until now..
    References to these types of events are on the bible. Such as Noahs Time, Sodom and Gamorah, Jonah, Joshusa long day and more.
    Now its our turn but Mary has been successful in holding all this back…

    This will come from the Heavens and will pass between the moon and earth and alot will occurr such as worldwide earthquakes, volcanoes becoming very active, and pole shifts and oceans raging on to the shorelines…

    Jesus I Trust in You

  40. Lurker 59 says:

    Mirrors are interesting because they don’t really show an image but a reflection – everything is reversed. Cognitively, the human brain doesn’t have issues when you show it an image of a well-known thing, but it will when you show it a reflection. The reflection is hard to process, things look off, and some people, due to the way that their brains deal with geometric space, cannot readily (or at all) turn the reflection around in their mind. That the reflection is somehow off, is fascinating, especially for children, who can spend hours fascinated by reflections in mirrors. There is an unsettling spookiness to reflections. Idioms and superstitions involving mirrors and reflections further indicate this.

    When St. Paul talks about seeing in a mirror darkly, he is not just saying that we have a lack of understanding, but rather that we see both unclearly and wrongly. It is a problem of both light (lack of wisdom) and disorder to what we do see (damage from sin / lacking the mind/Logos of God). It is not just Plato’s Cave where we see dim images (shadows), but rather we are navigating this life dimly and in a manner where our own senses see things wrongly (the tendency to confuse lesser goods for higher goods) and even our senses can be at war with us.

    Therefore, when I look at “something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it,” a bishop dressed in white. “We had the impression that it was the Holy Father.” , I have never taken this to be speaking of Object and Reflection (two popes) but rather pointing towards the “off-keyness” that comes from looking at a reflection. The brain is saying “this is wrong but I don’t know why this is wrong”, hence the ‘it was like looking in a mirror’. The question really then is the “we had the impression…” coming from their own minds or something that is infused as part of the vision. I take the later as this language of “impression” is common in mystical experiences for describing how one came about knowing what a thing in a vision is. First, there is unease in seeing the “reflection”, followed by external reassurance through an impression that that interprets what was seen.

    Thus a very long-winded way of voting against there being two figures (pope and reflection (which is not an image)).

    Additionally, let me say that a mold is not a casting but is equivalent to object/mirror reflection so that what was said could also be “something similar to how a casting appears in its mold,” a bishop dressed in white. “We had the impression that it was the Holy Father.”

    Anyway, let me say that I have more interest in “he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him” as arrows are not contemporary to the vision armaments, nor are modern armaments. Then and now, you would not see a group of soldiers (not groups so these belong to a singular faction) so what appeared as arrows is beyond the comprehension/experience of Sr. so her intellect equated it with arrows or the vision contains time-dilation so that there is a certain passage of time in these events (they are sequential but not immediately sequential) so that the faction’s soldiers start off with modern armament and are reduced to primitive armament.

    Either that or what is being seen by “killed by bullets and arrows” is not literal but rather a vision of the faction patch/flag of the soldiers. There are tons of patches/flags that have bullets and arrows — the US having many patches/flags matching this. Of course, other countries do as well.

  41. Titus says:

    * The reading of the passage that construes the language in question as akin to “through a glass darkly” seems more plausible on its face.

    * Prophecies contained in private revelations—or heck, in public revelations—are generally not terribly clear or literal. So it is not necessarily the case that we should expect a bishop dressed in white to walk through a ruined city, climb a hill, and be shot with bullets and arrows.

    * Moreover, prophecies in private revelations have generally been said to be shadows of things that May be, not of things that Will be. Several apparitions have involved statements along the lines of “such and such a thing will happen unless God’s anger is averted in such and such a way.” So the prophecy in a private revelation, even if literal, may not ever come to pass in the way it was set out.

    * This is a good topic on which to apply St. Pio’s maxim: pray, hope, and don’t worry.

  42. kmcaghon says:

    Please investigate the fromrome.info website for additional information regarding 2 pipes.

    [A smoking hot idea. I hope, however, that it isn’t a puff piece.]

  43. kmcaghon says:

    Correction …2 pipes.

    [Really?   o{]:¬)  ]

  44. kmcaghon says:

    Correction …2 popes – no puff piece.

  45. Ave Maria says:

    Our Lady gave us a peace plan from and we still have not fulfilled it adequately. In addition to the prayer and penance spoken of is the devotion of the FIVE FIRST SATURDAYS: if anyone has not made this (and satisfying one of her requests) then I have good news as this Saturday, February 1st is a First Saturday. Let us all get with it!

    She also asked for the consecration of Russia and that has only been partially done as no mention of Russia has yet been uttered so that request is not fulfilled wither.

    I do recall Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich writing about 2 popes. While the man is a pope who the cardinals say is pope and certainly Francis has the power. But I firmly believe he does NOT have the keys! I do not see the charism in him as he does not uphold and clarify the truths of the faith for the most part but rather is in league with the world (think U.N.) and even with intrinsic evils as seen with those who support them such as an abortionist, heretics, sodomites, and etc.

  46. gretta says:

    Just to add one other possible wrinkle, there are bishops and cardinals in tropical countries that wear white cassocks. For example, there is a photo on the Wiki entry “Cassock” of Card. Tarcisio Bertone wearing a white cassock with red piping when he was in the Dominican Republic. So…while it makes sense to associate a bishop in a white cassock as the Pope, there are other legitimate options.

  47. monstrance says:

    Speaking of mirrors –
    I’m reminded of the eyes of Our Blessed Mother on St Juan Diego’s tilma.
    A fascinating microscopic portrait of everyone present in the room when the Saint revealed the miraculous image.
    A mirror image if you will.

  48. Cy says:

    Unless “the two popes” preceded (or caused) the mayhem and carnage.

  49. khouri says:

    “Benevacantism”, references to various visionaries, opinions abounding as to what “messages” mean…why not simply ask the Virgin’s powerful intercession and follow the way of her Son?

    Is all this speculation and energy spent really going to lead many closer to Christ God? Maybe. There are those who do not accept this private revelation or that private revelation but pray with faith and deep devotion to the Mother of God and are her children.

    So many of the private revelations add nothing to the spiritual lives of many Catholics. These Catholics are not “poorly formed” or “infected with the “spirit of Vatican II.” Indeed, in some ways these nonessential oracles detract from the glory of the most glorious and profound title given by the Church the Virgin; Theotokos, “She who have birth to the one who is God”. All the other titles, devotions and theology, save the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption might be signs of love for the Mother of God; but they add nothing though to the Tradition of the Church or Deposit of Faith. A Catholic can love the Blessed Virgin without accepting alleged private revelations.

    The Orthodox, great devotees of the Mother of God, do not rely on these private revelations but many attribute their deliverance from the godless ones to the Virgin.

  50. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Um… guys, an angel with a flaming sword or “sword of fire” (espada de fogo) is a pretty obvious reference to the cherubim and the “sword of flame” (lahat ha-hereb) in Gen. 3:24.

  51. JesusFreak84 says:

    I’m firmly of the belief that we HAVE to interpret this as if if had actually been revealed in 1960 per Our Lady’s orders. So, bluntly, if that message is calling into question anyone’s papacy, it’s John XXIII. If the line means what some are speculating that it does, Our Lady “confirmed” the “Siri Thesis” before it’s time. That’s obviously not what she meant. (That interpretation would go farther than even the CMRI go, and that’s generally a bad sign.)

    The note above about the poor quality of mirrors of that time period interested me, though. However, the only reason it’s worth noting is if we’re reading the text as it would have been read in 1960. The image of the text is otherwise lost on those of us who have only ever seen a modern mirror.

  52. THREEHEARTS says:

    mike hurcum writes
    Do you Fr see any relationship in this ancient prophecy to Bl. Mary of Fatima?


  53. DeeEmm says:

    Father Z, what a brilliant observation!! For my part I don’t believe this vision is to be understood literally in its entirety and your words give us a good example. This is why we need the Blessed Virgin’s explanation as you quite rightly pointed out. When the children saw Hell in the first vision even though it seemed obvious what was being shown the Blessed Virgin still gave a verbal explanation. This last vision is more complex and I’m certain she would have given an explanation to the children who barely understood what they were seeing. Her explanation was indispensable for the rest of the world beyond the little seers. Obviously, her explanation as written by Sr. Lucia have been withheld by Rome. Dr. Taylor Marshall has some fantastic videos on Fatima and in one of them he mentions that arrows in the bible have an additional meaning other than a means for mortal wounding. Your insight on the section about a mirror is fascinating because if you were to visually represent a Pope situation that is not quite right (current state of affairs) the mirror/reflection produces a symbolism that has many layers. Clearly we are to be alerted to something regarding a Pope and your interpretation is a clever one. Anyway, the long and short of it is we need the explanation given by Mary.

    Dr. Marshall said something recently that chilled me. He was asked once why the Blessed Virgin would have bothered to appear and provide these warnings if she knew they would not be shared fully in the end. Dr. Marshall explained that he believed Mary appeared anyway because events would expose the profound disobedience by Popes and by many in Rome. It looks like they have been disobedient in the greatest of things – a direct order from heaven. Is that not what we have seen play out since these apparitions? We see among some clergy an increasing toxic disobedience in ALL things; liturgy, dogma, morality, tradition and even now celebrating sins like pride. Obedience to God requires humility. Let’s all pray every day for priests (and ourselves) to grow in humility before it is too late.

  54. Fr_Sotelo says:


    Thank you for providing the original Portuguese. Your two posts above are an excellent explanation of the phrasing that Sister Lucia wrote. I hope others take the time to read your words.

  55. Benedictus says:

    At first, I thought that our shepherds had our best interest and would not lie to us. I took what the hierarchy said about Fatima and that was the end of it. With the lies, manipulations, half-truths and the McCarrick scandal, the hierarchy canNOT be trusted.

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  57. templariidvm says:

    I have always had trouble/struggled with the Blessed Mother as oracle or soothsayer. I’ll be honest, I tend to avoid trying to interpret these things. Clear things like “you shall be tested” ok, I’m fine with that. Beyond that I am not sure if I am coming home on my shield.

  58. khouri says:

    The Mother of God’s greatest honor and greatest title is just that, “Mother of God”. The Church at the Council of Ephesus gave the title “Theotokos” (literally, “She who gave birth to the One who is God”) to the Lord’s mother to confound the Arians and other heretics. It is a statement about the divine humanity of Our Lord as well as a dogmatic title that is part of Holy Tradition.
    Through Christ she became our mother and through the Virgin and He our brother.
    To me any other title or role pales in comparison to “Theotokos”.
    Did the Virgin share in our Lord’s salvific work? Yes she did. But is it necessary to add another title to the Virgin’s list? Does it cause more confusion in the minds of the faithful? For some yes. Does it add anything to who she is or what she has done? No.
    Better to pray to her, asking her powerful help than heap more titles in her. The Virgin always points to her son not to herself, on this at least the pope is correct.
    Regarding Fatima and other “private revelations,” one can be a good, faithful Catholic and not accept them.
    To use the “apparitions” at Fatima to prove a point of theology or say the “messages” add something to the Faith is not correct since these are not binding on the faithful.
    Lofty titles given to Blessed Mary in the writings of the Fathers and the saints are expressions of love, not doctrinal or dogmatic statements.

    [That’s all good. However, nothing here really deals with the issue.]

  59. TRW says:

    Many good points made. I do think that the images appearing as “something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it” is simply Sr. Lucia attempting to describe the mode of how the vision appeared. Before t.v. or cinema, images appearing and coming into view would have not had many other parallels. It’s as if a movie is being projected. The substrate upon which the images appear is described only as being analogous to a mirror. It is similar to how reflections appear in a mirror when things passing in front of them come suddenly into view. The ambiguity concerning the bishop in white, who the children have the impression is the Holy Father, is noteworthy. It seems like it could easily be interpreted as being Benedict. The rest of the vision is either a depiction of the actual martyrdom of the pope, clergy and laity alike, or a symbolic vision of the white martyrdom and persecution of those who remain faithful to the teachings of the Church. There is certainly no shortage of symbolism. The city “half in ruins ” could clearly be a reference to the Church. The mountain has often been a symbol for Our Blessed Lord Himself and more generally a symbol of the spiritual journey/battle. The Church’s passion is perhaps being portrayed symbolically. If indeed there was an accompanying text (the words of Our Lady describing the vision) it would make sense that She would be explaining the deeper meaning; The vision was depicting an event that would have relevance for the period around or immediately following 1960 when the Third Secret was supposed to have been revealed. If the vision was entirely symbolic, then perhaps it was predicting the widespread dissent and ubiquitous attacks upon the papacy and the teaching authority of the Church in the aftermath of the council. Whatever words of Our Lady might have accompanied the vision, they certainly would not have left any doubt about the significance of the vision.
    Our Lady didn’t appear just to remind us to say the rosary. There had to have been an explicit message. The fact that it was a private revelation doesn’t change the fact that it was meant to be conveyed to the Holy See. It was a warning. In all probability the second portion of the Third Secret, containing the words of Our Lady, was hidden away somewhere. What would be the value of just communicating the contents of the vision alone to the Holy See? Clearly the point of conveying a message is to allow the recipient to ACT upon the message. Was it a warning about a future loss of faith? Widespread apostasy?

  60. GregB says:

    There are several verses in the Bible that refer to mirrors. Some of the more interesting ones are:
    Proverbs 27:19
    As in water face answers to face,
    so the mind of man reflects the man.
    James 1:23-25
    23 For if any one is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who observes his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer that forgets but a doer that acts, he shall be blessed in his doing.
    1 Corinthians 13:12
    12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood.
    2 Corinthians 3:18
    18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding[a] the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
    footnote a. 2 Corinthians 3:18 Or reflecting
    The James passage is of particular interest. It links the perfect law with the doer that acts. In the modernist wing of the Church there is an increasing gap between doctrine and practice. With all the talk of “rigid legalism” it would appear that there are those who have little use for the perfect law.

  61. Rob83 says:

    This image calls to mind something else. When the angel cries penance is when the image of the bishop dressed in white appears – almost as if he is the object of the angel’s cry. Unlike in the next sentence, where the Holy Father is indicated without qualifier, here the man is identified only as a bishop dressed in white who appears like the Holy Father. It’s uncertain the bishop in white is the same man as the Holy Father climbing the mountain to his death.

    Since 2013 there has with been a bishop living in Rome dressed in white who is not the pope.

  62. ChrisP says:

    “Now we see Him indistinct, as if in a mirror; then, we shall see Him face to face”

    I think this could be candidate topic for self licking ice cream, but suffice to suggest the space between object and mirror is less important than what side you are on.

  63. robtbrown says:

    First, it is not apparent to me–nor, as far as I know–what the authority of an emeritus bishop (including the pope) is. An ordinarius loci has jurisdiction over a geographical area, an auxiliary has jurisdiction over a titular diocese, which still has juridical status. What is the jurisdiction of a emeritus bishop? BTW, a bishop in my home state retired but still I wanted to work. He became an auxiliary in the archdiocese and had a titular see.

    Second, I see nothing strange about Lucia saying comparing what she saw to an image in a mirror. There are two ways to see a thing: In itself and in God, the source of all being. They are not two things but one.

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  65. KevinSymonds says:

    Good morning, Fr. Z.!

    I wanted to inform you that I have published a reply to your post about Fatima and the third part of the secret:

    My response is only partial as it treats specifically the phrase about the mirror that you raised for discussion. Your other remarks are not considered as my book “On the Third Part of the Secret of Fatima” has much for consideration in this regard.

    I invite any response that you wish to give to the present essay.

    Oremus pro invicem,
    -Kevin J. Symonds

  66. gaudiumcumpace says:

    It isn’t the first time in history where there were two popes at the same time or even a vacant seat of Peter.
    St Vincent Ferrer and Catherine of Siena who were contemporaries supported opposite popes. Only time will tell.

  67. Barnacle says:

    …” a bishop dressed in white. “We had the impression that it was the Holy Father.”
    Lucia implies, ‘…but we were not sure.’ In her deposition following she either: – goes with her hunch that the bishop in white might be the Holy Father, and calls him that from then on, or, she recognises the true Holy Father and he is – someone else.

    For me, the bishop in white is Francis. I don’t know if he’s the Pope or not. Like Lucia, I’ll call him ‘Holy Father’ until it’s formally proven to be wrong -(it hasn’t been, yet.) In the vision he either becomes a martyr, presumably after having seen the error of his ways, (and gone to confession?) Or he disappears from the narrative and the real Holy Father is martyred.

    I’m surprised no-one has yet mentioned the ISIS command written in their magazine ‘Rumiyah’ (which means ‘Rome,’) where they instruct Muslims to arm themselves with bows and arrows because they are not illegal, and take down the Catholic Church in Rome.

    Why won’t they let us see the Holy Virgin’s explanation? Then we’d know! Show us the explanation, please, Vatican people! Stop all this speculation! Sigh.

  68. seeker says:

    What language was the original letter written in? Are there other translations and/or do you think this one is accurate?

  69. Zephyrinus says:

    The answer, with respect, is simple.
    The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, is not, and CANNOT, be wrong
    Our Blessed Virgin Mother said: “In the end, My Immaculate Heart will triumph”.
    Her Son, Jesus, is not, and CANNOT, be wrong.
    Therefore, do not be afraid.
    Pray, CONTINUOUSLY, and, as Julian of Norwich said: “All will be well. All manner of things shall be well”.
    “Do not let your hearts be troubled: I am with you until The End of The World”. “And The Gates of Hell will not prevail against you.”

  70. Carl1 says:

    What I find intriguing in that text is “men and women religious”. For in the past century “priest and nuns” would have been the accurate term. Now as the priests has been used in the Fatima text, the only other meaning is that its precise and correct with our present time with lay people now participating in church liturgical activities – meaning we could well be in this final phase.

  71. Therese says:

    Salvete! A most interesting discussion. Many thanks.

    The use of the singular does not puzzle me in the least. When Sr. Lucia wrote this, surely she was confused by the sight–the notion of two Popes reigning at the same time was unthinkable!

  72. RosaryRose says:

    When this vision happens, we will recognize it. Thank you Father for bringing attention to it.

    The crucial part is that it is avoidable. If Russia is consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary as she requested, the vision will not happen. Many souls will be converted! I pray for it in every rosary.

    “Penance” is directed at all of us. That’s a common message to us. We don’t seem to get it, so it has to be repeated.

    This is a First Saturday! If you haven’t made a Five First Saturday devotion, it’s great time to start.

    My question has always been, the Popes have read the Third Secret, they know the instruction, what are they afraid of? Why won’t they consecrate Russia?

    Soldier on. Have situational awareness, but don’t let this stop you. God has a plan, and it’s a great one. We just have to fulfill our part: daily rosary, five first Saturdays, penance.

    God bless you Father Z!

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