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Our Lady of Fatima Falsely Discredited

Edmund J. Grant
Book review of Celestial Secrets: The Hidden History of the Fatima Incident by Joachim Fernandes and Fina D'Armada Anomalist Books LLC, 2007, 276 pp..
Celestial Secrets book cover
Celestial Secrets: The Hidden History of the Fatima Incident is the second volume of a trilogy of books (in English) whose primary author is Portuguese professor/writer Joachim Fernandes, with some volumes co-authored by Fina D'Armada. These two writers have been among Portugal's most prominent UFOlogists for close to the last 30 years. The other books of the trilogy series are Heavenly Lights: The Apparitions of Fatima and the UFO Phenomenon and Fatima Revisited: The Apparition Phenomenon in UFOlogy, Psychology and Science. These three books represent the relatively recent English translations of the producers' long-term work in this UFO/Fatima area, with additional material from other authors, editors and translators.

The primary sponsor, editor and main promoter of this trilogy for the American market is the highly controversial amateur scientist, UFOlogist Andrew D. Basiago. He has been heavily involved in various writings focusing mainly on "uncovering the cover-ups," including his version of NASA's "secret" space programs. So it is no surprise to find that he is a main driving force behind the production of this particular "Fatima debunked" enterprise in America.

The core theme of all three volumes seeks to make the case that the well-known Fatima, Portugal visionary occurrences of 1917, were in reality a prime example of a visit to Earth by an extraterrestrial(s) aboard a UFO(s) during that year. This position strongly contradicts the Roman Catholic Church's studied conclusion that these events of 1917 were in fact heavenly visits that are worthy of belief (with no requirement for the faithful to believe), and that these miraculous occurrences were supernatural apparitions of the Holy Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ.

The authors and promoters of Celestial Secrets (CS) have tried to build up interest and credibility for this particular book series by emphasizing their visit to the Fatima Shrine archives in 1978, and then copiously displaying all of their so-called meticulous research activity (that in the final analysis is nothing but a sham).

 Photograph of the crowds witnessing the Miracle of the sun, 1917

A crowd of 70,000 witnessed the spectacular miracle of the sun

Photograph of the Miracle of the sun, 1917

First, a brief background summary of these apparitions: At the village of Fatima, Portugal, in 1917, there were six major apparitions by the Virgin Mary on a small holm-oak tree witnessed by three shepherd children, Lucia 10, Francisco 9 and Jacinta 7. These visions began on May 13, 1917 and ended on October 13, 1917. In the July 13th apparition, the children were told that the Lady would perform a miracle at noon for all to see and believe on October 13 (first noted in the archived notes of parish priest Fr. Ferreira, dated October 7, 1917, in SCDF-Vol. I, p. 15).

On that date there was a 15 minute display of a spectacular series of cosmic and solar phenomena, that was reported by the secular and religious press of the day as the "Miracle of the Sun." Approximately 70,000 people, from up to 40 miles away, witnessed these events.

When advertising Celestial Secrets, the writers try to impress and convince the reader of their research prowess by the fact of their visit to the secured Fatima Shrine archives in 1978. During it, they were permitted to view the largely unknown personal notes of the local priests of that year of 1917, the ones who had interviewed the children. Very significantly, since then the Shrine authorities have produced several volumes of this same archived Fatima apparition documentation; the first one published in 1992 titled Documentação de Fatima: Vol. I, Interrogatorios aos Videntes – 1917 (DCDF-Vol. I). The authors of Celestial Secrets use this Volume I as a frequent reference in support of their own postulations. I also possess a copy of this same particular book, which I have used extensively for my own research and reference.

Moving along into the heart of CS, its writers incredibly attempt to make their case that the Fatima events of 1917 were in reality a UFO(s) visit. The authors accuse the Catholic Church of manipulative and conspiratorial behavior to concoct and promulgate a false scenario of these apparitions. However, they do not make a compelling case, failing to provide any solid evidence to support these reckless allegations.

Duplicity & lies to ‘prove’ the Lady wore a short skirt

Most deplorably, the writers impugn the moral character of Fatima's heavenly figure herself. This is done chiefly by narrowly focusing on a few bewildering and confusing entries of the initially skeptical local priest's private notes reproduced in DCDF-Vol I. These opening documents contain some text indicating that the two female seers gave accounts of a skirt/dress that was knee-length worn by the visionary figure in the earlier apparitions. (This initial heavenly figure was described to be the size of a local 12-yr. old child). The descriptions of Lucia and Jacinta are contrasted with Francisco's descriptions, where the only knee-length clothing that he mentioned was the mantle).

Sister Lucia standing beside a statue of Our Lady

Sister Lucia oriented this first statue of Our Lady sculpted by Jose Thedim
Continuing this character assassination, the producers then employ a well-known fallacious method of evidence presentation called "cherry picking." In this particular example, after seizing on these few muddled early notes of knee-length dress descriptions, they proceed to totally ignore all of the more numerous descriptions of the longer dress contained in the remainder of those same archives (DCDF-Vol. I). …

For example, in the same personal notes of Fr. Ferreira, the priest describes Lucia as saying that during the last vision of the holy Lady, she was wearing a long white skirt that reached her feet. (DCDF...Vol. I, p. 25). This memory of how "The Lady of the Rosary" appeared to the seers is what Lucia related to sculptor Jose Thedim, who made one of the early devotional statues of "Our Lady of Fatima."

This "long skirt" entry above, which contradicts the focal centerpiece of CS, is tellingly ignored and is totally disregarded by the authors, who omit or pass over anything other than their poison-pen, so-called scandalous skirt lengths.

Also, a shameful situation of outright fabrication: Contrary to the authors' statements on p. 151 of CS, there is really no entry in DCDF-Vol. I among Fr. Lacerda's rough notes of any knee-length skirt or dress. … Finally and disgracefully, the authors have completely omitted any mention of phrases that contradict their short-skirt affirmation that are in the same original paragraph. (DCDF-Vol. I, p. 66). To illustrate, the original archival statement shows Fr. Formigão musing that Jacinta affirms that Our Lady's dress fell only to the knees. But a few sentences further, he notes that Lucia and Jacinta declared that the dress went to the ankles. The priest then points this out as a point of confusion. But the CS authors deliberately "cherry-pick" only Jacinta's first words, and leave out the other possibly explanatory ones. This results in a falsified account of the Fr. Formigao's written archival record. …

our lady of fatima original statue

This is one of the first statues donated by the same sculptor to the Carmel when Lucia entered in 1948
One can only surmise on these earlier discrepancies. Could there have been communications problems or some semantic confusion between the young illiterate children and the note-taking priests, particularly the skeptical, confused and somewhat unsympathetic local parish priest Fr. Manuel Marques Ferreira (mixed-up by some authors with Fr. Jose Ferreira de Lacerda)? I think that it is a distinct possibility, but to say for certain is really not possible. … Some part of the incoherence of his total records appears to me to be a sign of possible careless record keeping, perhaps caused by inattentiveness or irritability aggravated by his initial skepticism of these events and the unplanned, very undesired public role that he was thrust into.

To summarize the results of my research [which you can read here in the full review] on this fallacious short-skirt issue of Celestial Secrets, I conclude that there exists many reasonable possibilities for those few early knee-length skirt entries (that are in the minority), but unless or until further evidence is forthcoming (which is unlikely), these postulations will have to remain as academic speculations.

More important, however, is that for certain ... these authors' have NOT produced any valid "smoking-gun" evidence that the heavenly figure in the May through October apparitions at Fatima in 1917, was anyone other than Mary, the Mother of Jesus. The celestial figure herself is recorded to have stated in the final vision that she was "The Lady of the Rosary," (DCDF..Vol. I, p. 129), and there should be little mystery to most people as to who was bestowed with that title.

To encapsulate what the writers have obviously attempted to do in their C.S. publication:
  • They have cleverly but invalidly juxtaposed the few "cherry picked," confusing, shorter skirt/dress descriptions of a child-sized apparition onto the final majestic figure well known to Roman Catholics throughout the world as "The Lady of Fatima," who was standing alongside St. Joseph and the Child Jesus during the final apparition on October 13, 1917. (DCDF-Vol. I, p.128).
  • By shamelessly trying to attach this fabricated scandalous fashion garb onto the heavenly figure, (in their words "not even `ladies of the night' wore anything so provocative," CS, p. 151), the authors have obviously hoped to block any further consideration of the visions being that of Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Then, using this calumnious, distorted evidence-producing process, the writers of this fantasized scenario have attempted to steal the show from this miraculous event and place on it center stage their own theoretical extra-terrestrial figure that came from a UFO.
Sadly, the authors of CS have made extensive use of free association in their case to support all of their UFO theories. Against the Catholic Church and the Fatima visions, they have employed a form of classical sophistic argument method, where a few murky details serve as the base for distorted, misleading statements and out-of-context phrases are selected a legitimate reference source. This has generated a work that is too clever-by-half, a deceiving story package disguised as a serious research effort. In the final analysis, it has resulted in a sloppy, overwrought and fallacious product, in my humble opinion.

In closing, Celestial Secrets decisively fails the test of trying to make a serious attempt to effectively discredit the Roman Catholic Church's studied conclusions and pronouncements on what she calls "Our Lady of Fatima and her Message."


Blason de Charlemagne
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Posted October 26, 2012

Edmund J. Grant first published this review on the

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