Let us begin by listing just a noteworthy historical events and how they correlate to the Virgin Mary, the number “13,” and Fatima:
- First and foremost, May 13 was originally dedicated to Our Lady of the Martyrs. On May 13, 609 A.D., Pope St. Boniface IV (608-615), who had converted the Roman Pantheon into a basilica, dedicated the edifice to Our Lady under her title, St. Mary of the Martyrs.
In 1561, this basilica, built in very heart of the Baths of Diocletian, “received its official name, St. Mary of the Angels and the Martyrs. “The Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels and the Martyrs."
Correlation: Both the date and place of Our Lady’s first Fatima appearance silently emphasized her title as St. Mary of the Martyrs, for the Cova da Iria (The Cove of Irene, in Fatima) appears to be named for the virgin martyr, St. Irene of Tomar, Portugal. [Frère Michel de la Sainte Trinité. The Whole Truth about Fatima, Vol. 1. (Buffalo, NY: Immaculate Heart Publications, Revised edition 2003): p. 123] It was also at Fatima that Our Lady warned that if her requests were not heeded, “the good will be martyred, various nations will be annihilated.” [The Message of Fatima, issued by The Congregration for the Doctrine of the Faith. Vatican website: June 26, 2000)
The Third Secret of Fatima – of which only the vision itself was revealed but not Our Lady’s subsequent words – includes a description of two angels who gather the blood of martyrs. (Ibid.)
There is another striking link between this basilica named in honor of Our Lady of the Angels and the Martyrs and the appearances of Our Lady at Fatima, which have to do with the sun. Almost one thousand years after the basilica’s dedication, Pope Clement XI (1700-1721), the same Vicar of Christ who declared the Feast of the Immaculate Conception as a holy day of obligation, commissioned Francesco Bianchini – an astronomer, mathematician, archeologist, historian and philosopher - to build inside the church a “meridian line” for the city of Rome.
To track the path of the sun, Bianchini made careful calculations, then created a small hole in the southern wall of the basilica, and laid into the marble floor the meridian line, which runs exactly north to south. The result is that, when the sun reaches its zenith (called solar noon or solar time), light shines through the hole on the wall, casting its light on the meridian line. By the clock, however, this event takes place near 12:15 p.m. (1:15 p.m. in the summer).
The meridian lines’ purpose was to check the parameters of the solar-based “Gregorian Calendar,” so named after Pope Gregory XIII, who advanced the Catholic Restoration after the Protestant Revolt. To exactly predict Easter, which is based on the vernal equinox, Pope Gregory XIII also revised the Julian solar-based calendar. However, the Gregorian calendar is “so nearly exact that there will be an error of one day only in 35 centuries.” (Fr. Laux, Church History. [Rockford, IL: Tan Books and Publishers]: p. 486) Pope Gregory officially promulgated the solar-based calendar, which took effect on October 4, 1582, thus immediately advancing the calendar date by 11 days. In defiance of the pope's rightful use of his authority, the Protestant nations would at first not comply - but Christendom immediately did so.
Correlation: The first basilica ever named after Our Lady of the Martyrs also tracks the sun, which is a symbol of the Sun of Justice, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Our Lady always appeared at Fatima at the noon hour, and this hour is of great significance, since it the time on which Our Lord was actually crucified and hung on the Cross. The noon hour was also symbolic of how much time was left before the world's sunset. That Sr. Lucia died 40 minutes before sunset, on February 13, 2005 - in the Hebrew month of Adar, is another sign. (For more information on the significance of Sr. Lucia's date of death, please see my article, recently published in Catholic Family News, and also placed on this blog: "Hidden Revelations: The Star of Esther and the Secrets of Fatima.")
On October 13th, the day of the Miracle of the Sun, witnesses stated that Our Lady appeared exactly at solar noon – not by the clock’s time but by the sun’s time. Both the adjusted Gregorian calendar dates and the time of the Virgin's appearances at solar noon prove that heaven acknowledged Pope Gregory’s authority in the calendar reform. This acknowledgement also underscores the pope's authority, as the Vicar of Christ, to command the collegial consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. That heaven acknowledged the Gregorian calendar is also proven by the next fact.
-Centuries earlier, on May 13, 1391 (before the Gregorian reform of the calendar) Pope Boniface IX (who reigned 1389-1404) acquiesced to the request of King John I of Portugal and ordered that all Portuguese cathedrals should be named in honor of the Virgin. (Felix Just, S.J., PhD., An Overview of Christian History) The Virgin had already granted the King’s request, made at Fatima, for his smaller army to reign victorious against a much larger force; now the King wished to further honor the Virgin throughout all of Portugal.
Correlation: Exactly 526 years later, the Virgin first appeared at Fatima on May 13, 1917 - on the "new" May 13 of the Gregorian calendar. Coincidentally, the length of time in years (526) equals “13” when the numbers are added as individual digits – i.e., 5+2+6 =13).
-May 13 is also the Feast of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament. This salutatory title of the Blessed Mother's became more well-known due to St. Peter Julian Eymard and a mission given to him by the Virgin Mary. She made him aware that no religious order was named in honor of Her Divine Son’s Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament. With the subsequent encouragement of Pope Pius IX, the saint founded the Congregation of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Paris, France on May 13, 1856. In 1921, the Sacred Congregation of Rites authorized May 13 as the annual solemn commemoration of The Feast of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament. [History of the Title of Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament]
Correlation: Before Our Lady appeared at Fatima, the children were granted visions of an angel who taught them special prayers of adoration and supplication to the Holy Trinity and the Blessed Sacrament. The first adoration prayer is as follows:
“O most Holy Trinity, I adore Thee! My God, my God, I love Thee in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the altar.”
The supplication prayer invokes the Holy Trinity again, as well as the Blessed Sacrament and the infinite merits of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary:
“O Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, I adore Thee profoundly. I offer Thee the Most Precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Thy dearly Beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifferences by which He Himself is offended. And by the infinite merits of His Most Sacred Heart, and those of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of thee the conversion of all poor sinners.”
Thus we recognize themes in regard to May 13: First, the month and date signifies Our Lady as Queen of Martyrs and of Angels, a most telling sign that underscores the Virgin's message in regard to her words at Fatima, especially that "the good will be martyred;" May 13 reminds us of the True Presence of Jesus - Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity - in the Blessed Sacrament and in Holy Eucharist; and finally, it recalls to our minds the intercessory role of the Virgin before God, and highlights our obligation of charity to God and neighbor - of which the latter two sum up the Great Commandments.