The Other Apparitions On The Mountain of Fatima
In the past week I have visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Ortiga three time, on July 1, 2003 because Pope Pius VII gave a plenary indulgence for a visit on that day, then on the First Sunday of July because that is the day of the Ortiga fiesta, Mass and procession, and then again on Tuesday, for the noon Mass and the last day of the three day fiesta. On Sunday they had Mass and then marched the miraculous statue around the Church followed by a band, peoples offerings of bread, candy and money, the priest with a relic of the shrine, and thousands of people.
This shrine is only a short walk east of the Church where the children of Fatima were baptized and where Lucia received her first communion. Then 15 minutes to the west of Fatima is another shrine to Our Lady called Our Lady of Fetal. These the two other apparitions of Our Lady on this mountain centuries before Our Lady appeared in Fatima. Like the Statue of Nazare, only 45 minutes from Fatima, these two shrines have something that Fatima does not have. They both have a permanent reminder of our Ladies visit. Our Lady left behind in both cases a statue of Herself and the Christ Child probably taken from the Holy Land and made in the first or second centuries. Local people believe the statues came from Heaven but the style is mid-east and at the time of the Early Church Fathers. More likely that the statues were lost or hidden in the holy land from the Moslems and that Our Lady recovered them and left them on the mountain of Fatima for proper veneration and honor.
I have already written about the apparitions of Mary and the angels to Blessed Nuno at the Cova of Fatima, and now adding these two makes me think that this mountain is the stairway to Heaven as seen in Jacob's dream.
Genesis 28,10-22. Then Jacob had a dream: a stairway rested on the ground, with its top reaching to the heavens; and God's messengers were going up and down on it.
OUR LADY OF ORTIGA
Village Of Mary (Fatima) Portugal
In the same way as Fatima and Fedal (below), the history of the Shrine of Our Lady of Ortiga involves shepherd children. The Shepherdess of Ortiga was both deaf and dumb. One day, while the child was tending her sheep outside Casal Santa Maria, a hamlet in the parish of Fatima, a beautiful' Lady suddenly appeared over a group of Ortiga bushes. Smiling pleasantly, the Lady asked the little girl if she might have one of her lambs. Unable to speak a moment before, and not knowing the sound
of words because of her deafness, the child nevertheless spoke as though she had always had the ability to do so. Her first words,
which the Virgin alone heard, were:
"I would have to have permission of my father."
The Lady continued to smile as the child ran off to get the necessary permission to fulfill the Lady's request. The child's father was overcome with emotion as the child related the details of the vision and the Lady's request for a lamb. Grateful that his child could now hear and speak, he told her to give the beautiful Lady whatever she desired.
News of the miraculous cure was spread quickly through Casal Santa Maria. Many came to see for themselves that the mute child had indeed been favored with a heavenly cure. After hearing from the child's own lips the great wonder that had taken place, the villagers followed 'the little shepherdess to the site of the apparition. There, to their amazement, they found, in the midst of the Ortiga bushes, a wooden statue of Our Lady holding the Child Jesus.
Filled with devotion and admiration, they carried the statue to the village. But that night another miracle occurred. The statue disappeared, only to be found the next morning in the Ortiga bushes at the place of the apparition.
There was no doubting that the Blessed Mother was indicating her preference for the site and her desire to have a chapel erected
there. The Lady's silent request could not be ignored, and a small chapel was soon built to enshrine the miraculous statue. This chapel was eventually replaced by the one that now stands. In 1801 Pope Pius VII granted a Plenary Indulgence to those who visited the shrine on July 1, the feast of Our Lady of Ortiga.
The miraculous statue is obviously of a venerable age and depicts a full-faced, crowned Madonna holding the Child Jesus on her
right arm. Her left hand holds a book which the Child touches with His right hand. With rosy cheeks and a straightforward stare,
the Virgin wears a light rose-colored robe and a light blue mantle. The Child wears a yellow-orange dress and leans close to His Mother.
Our Lady of Fetal
Nine centuries (Twelfth Century). before Our Lady appeared at Fatima to three shepherd children, she appeared to a single little shepherdess at Reguengo do Fetal at a time when the villagers were enduring the hardships of a severe drought. Not only were the people suffering, but the sheep were suffering as well, since their once-rounded bodies were now gaunt and almost wasted. Accustomed to the lush greenery of the meadows, the sheep now had to search hard for a few blades of grass. It was the condition of a certain small herd, and her own sad state, that made the little shepherdess cry when she was pasturing her sheep outside the village of Reguengo on the slope of a hill.
Suddenly the little shepherdess felt a presence. Looking up with tear-filled eyes she saw to her surprise, in the midst of a cluster
of ferns, a Lady who spoke gently.
"Why are you crying, my child?"
"I am hungry."
"You must go and ask your mother for some bread."
"I did ask her already, but she hasn't any."
"Go home," the Lady insisted, "and ask your mother again to give you some bread. Tell her that a Lady ordered you to tell her that there is bread in the chest."
The shepherdess ran home to tell of the vision and convey the message of the Lady. The child's vision of the mysterious Lady
was believed without a single doubt when, true to the Lady's word, bread was found in the chest. Indeed, a great deal of bread was
found - this of such texture and sweetness that it seemed as if it had been baked by angels.
After eating as much as she wanted, the little girl ran back to the hill. There she again saw the Lady, who gave her the following
"Tell the people of your village that I am the Mother of God, and that I wish them to build a shrine for me on this spot of the ferns, a shrine wherein I may be praised and honored."
After the villagers were told of the apparitions and the mysterious supply of delicious bread, they hurried to the place of the
ferns and found there a small statue of Our Lady. Nearby they discovered a spring where no spring had been before. It seemed
that Our Lady had consecrated the place when miracles were effected by means of this water's application to the bodies of the sick.
After the rains came to end the drought, the building of a shrine was immediately begun. It was here, probably at the beginning
of the twelfth century, that the miraculous image was exposed for the veneration of the faithful. Unfortunately, it is not known in what year the apparitions took place, when the primitive shrine of Our Lady of Fetal was erected, nor do we know the name of the little shepherdess.
We do know that in 1585 a larger and more elegant church was built. It was to this shrine that countless pilgrims made their way,
as they still do today (especially during Lent) for the recitation of the Rosary and, during the month of May, to offer flowers.
Also popular are the days between the end of September until the first Sunday of October. During this time a solemn novena of preparation is held for the traditional feast of Our Lady of Fetal. This festivity is noted for a most unusual attraction known as "the illumination of the snails;' when shells of snails are used as little lamps. Many persons of distinction have recognized the shrine. King Edward confirmed an ancient privilege of the sanctuary's Brotherhood whereby the members were given the right to collect alms for the maintenance of the shrine. Don John II provided a largess to the members and steward of the Brotherhood. Donna Maria I, by a provision of 1791, authorized a Free Fair on the first Sunday of October. Don Manuel de Aguiar, a former Bishop of Leiria, sent two artistic altars with retables of carved wood and twisted pillars.
During a national drought in May, 1896, Don Joseph II, the Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon, asked for public prayers to be recited
to Our Lady of Fetal for an abundant rainfall. In gratitude for Our Lady's prompt answer to their prayers, and as a memorial,
the Cardinal Patriarch granted indulgences to those who recited a Salve Regina before the image of Our Lady of Fetal. The shrine
became better known throughout Portugal as a result of this appeal for prayers, but more so because of the almost immediate answer to the appeal.
The miraculous statue, which is kept in a niche above the main altar, depicts the Blessed Mother in a seated position with the Child
Jesus on her left knee. As a reminder of the miracle that took place the day of the apparition so many years earlier when bread
was miraculously provided in a chest, the Child Jesus holds in each hand a rounded loaf of bread, one of which He places into
the hand of His Mother, who smiles pleasantly.
This statue reminds me of the Lilies of the Field parable of Our Lord, and was probably made to show that not only did Our Lord take care of His Mother but will take care of you if you Honor Her and Her Son.
Stories taken from the book by Jan Carroll Cruz and published by
Tan Book and Publishers, Inc. Rockford, Ill. 61105
MIRACULOUS IMAGES OF OUR LADY