All those who are interested in the message of Fatima know our Lady’s words: ‘In the end, my immaculate Heart will triumph’. But what exactly will she triumph over? Immediately before these words, she explained what would happen if Russia were not consecrated as she would request: ‘The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated’. It seems quite likely that what Mary is describing here is the rise and brief reign of antichrist.
People often imagine that the overthrow of antichrist will be the work of Christ alone at His second coming. In fact, Scripture apparently indicates that the two events will not be simultaneous:-
From the time when the continual sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination unto desolation shall be set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days. Blessed is he that waits and comes unto a thousand three hundred and thirty-five days (Dan. 12:11-12).
The angel does not explain this riddle, and so we cannot say what will take place on the one thousand three hundred and thirty fifth day. St Jerome thought it would be the second coming. Cornelius a Lapide thought it would be a great triumph of the Church, though still within this present world, the scattered remnant having collected themselves together during the previous forty five days. But whatever it will be, it will apparently take place forty five days after the continual sacrifice will have been restored and the abomination cast down; which seems to mean after the destruction of the antichrist.
So the overthrow of antichrist will not be exactly simultaneous with the Second Coming. Still, they will be close, relatively speaking. Bellarmine says that the time between the two events will be so small as to be reputed as nothing – compared, I take him to mean, to the entire history of the world. St Paul, after all, says that our Lord will destroy him ‘with the epiphany of His coming’ (2 Thess. 2:8). This suggests that the first event is almost the beginning of the second, as first light is the epiphany of sunrise.
But given that the destruction of antichrist will take place at some point before, however soon before, the end of the world, there is place to suppose that it will in a special way be the work of our Lady. There are several reasons to think this.
First, our Lord wishes to associate the blessed Virgin Mary with His own victory to the highest degree. She has already shared in this victory in her own person, by her bodily assumption into glory. It would seem very appropriate that she should share in it in this other way, intervening in history to bring the last persecution to an end.
Secondly, Christ is the head of the city of God, as the devil is the head of the opposite city. The man of sin is not the devil, but the one in whom that fallen spirit is most completely active. It seems therefore appropriate that his adversary should be our Lady, the one in whom Christ’s Holy Spirit is most active.
Again, St Paul says that our Lord will destroy the man of sin ‘with the breath of his mouth’ (2 Thess 2:8). The Book of Wisdom describes wisdom as being, among other things, ‘a breath of the power of God’ (Wis. 7:25). This is significant because the Church’s liturgy applies the Old Testament encomia of wisdom to Mary. The word for breath, admittedly, is not the same in each case: πνεῦμα in St Paul and ἀτμίς in Wisdom; the former may also be translated as ‘spirit’ and the latter as ‘vapour’. Still, it is interesting, all the same.
A lesser known part of the Fatima message is Mary’s promise of a seventh apparition. Sr Lucia described her first conversation with the Queen of heaven in this way:-
Our Lady said to us: ‘Do not be afraid. I will do you no harm.’
‘Where is Your Grace from?’ I asked Her.
‘I am of Heaven.’
‘What does Your Grace want of me?’
‘I have come to ask you to come here for six months in succession, on the 13th day, at this same hour. Later on, I will tell you who I am and what I want. Afterwards, I will return here yet a seventh time.’
That seventh apparition has not yet occurred. The promise of it must be intended to console and strengthen the faithful during some exceptionally dark time.