Thursday, October 13, 2016

October 13: Fatima and the Martyrdom of St. Peter

“And we have the more firm prophetical word: whereunto you do well to attend, as to a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts.” —2 Peter 1:19.
October 13, 2017 is the 100th anniversary of the startling Miracle of the Sun (the “day star” of Holy Scripture) in Fatima, Portugal. October 13 also appears to be the true date of St. Peter’s martyrdom in Rome, occurring on the 10th anniversary of the tyrant Nero’s ascent to the imperial throne—Nero, one of the most infamous, historical figure-types of anti-Christ, “the son of perdition.”[1] Since there are no coincidences in God’s designs, did this discovery reveal anything more about the Miracle or the still-hidden Third Secret Message of Fatima?
In May 1952, Margherita Guarducci (+1999), a remarkable epigraphologist and archeologist, first participated in the study of excavations below St. Peter’s Basilica, ordered by Pope Pius XII on June 28, 1939. With Pope Pius XII’s permission, she went to see the graffito (inscription on a wall) found beneath the Vatican that stated “Peter is here, within.” But it was gone, and she found that a Jesuit priest had taken it out of its original setting and carried it away, which Guarducci said was “the first of a series of mysterious episodes which sought to obscure my successive discoveries about Saint Peter.”[3]
Not until October 1962 were particular relics examined. Eventually, Guarducci was the first to determine that certain bones, found behind a recessed wall, [4] were those of St. Peter, the first Pope. She also established the date of the martyred saint’s crucifixion to be October 13, 64 A.D. [5]

In addition to many other published works detailing her investigation, she wrote “The Date of Peter’s Martyrdom” (1968), [6] of which this essay contains generous excerpts, featured in a 1996 summary extensively quoting Guarducci’s latter work. [7]
“The most authoritative text informing us of Peter’s martyrdom in Rome is the first letter of Saint Clement the Roman to the Corinthians, generally dated at about 96 AD. In its turn, Clement’s letter cannot be read apart from one famed passage of Tacitus’ ‘Annales’ (XV, 38-45), in which the historian speaks of the famous fire that flared in Rome on the night of July 18-19, 64 and of its consequences. A comparison of these two testimonies seems to show that Peter was martyred during the anti-Christian persecution campaign unleashed by Nero after the fire and that the place of his martyrdom was the Vatican's ‘horti.’[8] The information Tacitus provides is undoubtedly very authoritative because the author of the ‘Annales’ was writing not long after the events and he was able to quote eyewitnesses as well as from first-hand documents, such as the ‘Acta senatus’ and the ‘Acta diurna’—respectively the minutes of Senate sessions and the official diaries of the Roman State.
“According to Tacitus, then, the Christians whom he—as others do—describes as a ‘considerable multitude’ (‘multitudo ingens’), were condemned to death not so much for causing the fire but because they were guilty of ‘hatred towards the human race’ (‘odium human,’ generic). This was a serious charge because the identification of the human race with the empire itself meant that anyone so charged was considered an enemy of the empire.”
[N.B. When Guarducci wrote those words in 1968, and even when the 1996 summary was published, it could not be foreseen that, by the early part of the 21st century, there would arise in our contemporary lexicon the malevolent phrase “hate crime,” a resurrection of Nero’s arrogant judgment against Christians of “hatred towards the human race,” which resulted in the subsequent penalty of a cruel death.]
“The execution of the condemned, according to Tacitus’ information, took place during grandiose circus spectacles (‘circense ludicrum’), for which Nero made available his own circus in the Vatican that was the principal adornment of his ‘horti.’” Due to fire damage, the Circus Maximus—the usual site for Nero’s celebratory atrocities—was impossible. The venue had to be the Vatican circus, the only area in Rome unharmed by the infamous inferno.
Tacitus established 64 A.D. as the year of these particular events. By reviewing his chronology of events between the fire of Rome (July 18-19) and the end of the year, Guarducci determined that “the Vatican spectacles took place in the first half of October. Nor is it difficult to prove that between the end of 64 and Nero’s death on June 9, 68, there are no other periods in which there was anti-Christian persecution of the type that Tacitus and Clement describe. It is also useful to note that the period between the end of September 66 and the beginning of 68 can be excluded without doubt since that was the period of Nero’s travels in Greece.”
The First Pope’s Martyrdom:
What It Signified for Nero, an Antichrist Figure
As Guarducci explained, “But, confirming the dating proposed for the circus spectacles and, therefore, for Peter’s martyrdom, are two other important, anonymous, texts in Greek contained in a papyrus conserved in Vienna today. They are the Apocalypse of Peter and the Ascension of Isaiah. I believe that these texts (belonging to the so-called ‘apocryphal literature,’ a very common category between the end of the first century and the first half of the second which used prophetic and symbolic language to interpret historical events of the time) are so well informed on the history of the Neronian period that they must have been written not long after events in 64…After addressing Nero’s infamies, the authors of the two texts announce his punishment as imminent. According to the author of the Apocalypse [of Peter], it would be none other than Peter’s martyrdom that would mark the beginning of the emperor's end. This statement is echoed in the Ascension [of Isaiah] text which affirms that Nero’s kingdom would last for ‘three years, seven months and 27 days’ after the apostle’s death. If we calculate three years, seven months and 27 days from Nero’s death (June 9, 68), we arrive at the year 64 and October 13 to be precise: this date falls perfectly within the period in which, according to the Tacitus passage, we have set the unleashing of Nero’s persecutions.”
 “…October 13 was not just any ordinary day. It was the anniversary of Nero’s ascent to the throne, his dies imperii. Moreover, October 13, 64 was the tenth anniversary of his reign (decennalia, October 13, 54/October 13, 64).
“The dies imperii was an important date in the Romans’ official calendar at the time of the empire. Numerous sources certify that between the first and fourth centuries, it was celebrated more or less solemnly with sacrifices, feasts, contests and donations to the public by the emperor…in Rome the most important feasts concerning the person of the emperor—birthdays (dies natalis) for example, and anniversaries of his ascent to the throne—often coincided with exhibitions of bloodletting, gladiator fights, displays of the condemned (venationes)…[it was] on the occasion of these anniversaries that Jews and Christians would often be sacrificed. Thus, for example, Jews of Alexandria were sacrificed on Caligula’s dies natalis. Saint Polycarp’s martyrdom coincides with the dies imperii of Antoninus Pius and that of the Christians of Lyons with the dies imperii of Marcus Aurelius. It is highly likely, then, that the Emperor Nero…would have promoted cruel spectacles for his decennalia…he would have organized the execution of Christians who were already condemned on charges of being enemies of the empire.
“From a study of this whole series of testimonies, we can draw two significant conclusions. Firstly the hypothesis, founded on Tacitus’ testimony that Nero’s persecution in which Peter also suffered martyrdom happened in October 64, is confirmed. Secondly, it appears extremely likely that we must set the date of the martyrdom of the Prince of the Apostles at October 13 that year.”
A Second Proof
Margherita Guarducci made another stunning connection, wherein she noted “a singular coincidence” in the two apocryphal works, the Apocalypse of Peter and the Ascension of Isaiah:

“This latter work deals with the Emperor Nero. In language which is symbolic but sufficiently clear, he is portrayed as possessed by the devil and resolved to persecute the Twelve Apostles of Christ, one of whom (Peter) will eventually fall into his hands. There are other allusions to the misdeeds suggested by Lucifer to the Emperor, and finally two little sentences appear…
And he will set up his image in the sight of all the cities. And he will rule for three years, seven months and twenty-seven days.’
Guarducci wondered, “What could be the meaning of this particular indication of three years, seven months and twenty-seven days?” She simultaneously recalled: “The images set up in every city are certainly the statues of the Emperor customarily erected in the various cities of the Empire.” [9]

“And so the Ascension of Isaiah led me back to the first half of October 64, the very same when, according to my other research, the Vatican spectacle and Peter’s martyrdom would have taken place. But what is the significance of this date of October 13, which is presented as the day of the Apostle’s martyrdom? In the other prophetic book, the Apocalypse of Peter, this martyrdom is regarded as the beginning of the ruin of Nero. ‘There we have it,’ I said to myself, ‘the beginning and the end of the three year, seven month and twenty-seven day period of calamities! It opens with the martyrdom of Peter, the culminating point of the persecution, and closes with the death of the tyrant.’” [10]
In considering these remarkable “coincidences” about the first Pope and October 13, what might they mean in light of the Great Miracle and the Third Secret still hidden?
Decades before the rediscovery of St. Peter’s relic, Our Lady of the Rosary promised (on July 13, 1917) a sign for the date of October 13 of that year. [11] She also gave the Fatima children the “Great Secret” (in three distinct parts). The First Secret was a terrifying glimpse of hell. The Second Secret explained it and provided the spiritual remedy of our times to save poor sinners from hell. It also contained Our Lady’s commands and prophesied the results, dependent upon the Church’s response to them. [12]
The Third Secret’s Vision revealed an angel with a flaming sword “as if to set the world on fire,” a big city “half in ruins” (which might represent Rome or the visible Church on earth), “a Bishop dressed in white [we had the impression 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…Before reaching there, the Holy Father…prayed for the souls of the corpses he met” as he made his way “half trembling with halting step.” Upon kneeling at the foot of the 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, and a countless number of people who are killed in the same manner…” [13]
• First to be recognized is, at the least, one startling similarity between the Third Secret Vision and the Christians’ fates in pagan Rome, then the founding city of an empire of many gods before it became the center of God’s kingdom on earth (the Church).  Like the Third Secret with the death of “a bishop dressed in white,” St. Peter’s martyrdom, preceded by many others, was followed by an even a greater number after him.
—Quo Vadis, Petri? Is the bishop dressed in white (who may be the Pope) trying to escape persecution? If so, this is similar to the tradition regarding St. Peter who, in fleeing Rome, suddenly encountered at the city’s gates Our Lord. Falling to his knees, Peter asked Jesus; “Domine, quo vadis?” (“Lord, whither goest Thou?”). Jesus answered; “I am coming to Rome to be again crucified.” Peter exclaimed, “Lord, wilt Thou again be crucified?” And the Lord said to him, “Even so, I will again be crucified.” At this, Peter said, “Lord, I will return and will follow Thee.” With those words, the Lord ascended into Heaven and Peter understood that it was of his own passion that was spoken, because in it the Lord would suffer.[14]

In today’s political climate, we may reasonably deduct of what pagan nation(s) are the soldiers of the Third Secret. Today, however, the Roman situation is inversed, with recent Popes scandalously promoting the “common ground” of false religions and, by pastoral practices, turning the visible Church into the ancient Pantheon of the gods.
Though surrounded with relics of martyred saints, Rome seems to have forgotten that the first Catholics died because they, who would neither deny Christ and the true faith nor pay homage to false gods, had fallen into the hands of an insane ruler abiding in that same city, a man recognized as possessed of the devil, and who has ever since been viewed as an anti-Christ figure. For Nero and for all of ancient Rome, the first Pope’s death was—or so they thought—the decisive victory, the seeming death knell for that odious sect called “Christians,” who were everywhere hunted for their alleged “hate crimes”— a term, we must remember, is two thousand years later resurrected.
• Second, although the Madonna’s words explaining this Secret remain suppressed, we know from Sr. Lucia that the Third Secret is “in the Gospel and the Apocalypse. Read them!” [15]
Fr. Sylvester Berry’s examination of the entire Apocalypse interprets a chilling scenario which appears to describe our own times. In explaining Chapter 12, he wrote, in part:
“…St. John outlines the history of the Church from the coming of Antichrist until the end of the world…In this chapter, he shows us the true nature of the conflict. It shall be a war unto death between the Church and the powers of darkness in a final effort to destroy the Church and thus prevent the universal reign of Christ on earth.
“Satan will first attempt to destroy the power of the Papacy and bring about the downfall of the Church through heresies, schisms and persecutions that must surely follow…he will raise up Antichrist and his prophet to lead the faithful into error and destroy those who remain steadfast…The Church, the faithful spouse of Jesus Christ, is represented as a woman clothed with the sun.
“…In this passage there is an evident allusion to some particular son of the Church whose power and influence shall be such that Satan will seek his destruction at any cost. This person can be none other than the Pope to be elected in those days. The Papacy will be attacked by all the powers of hell. In consequence the Church will suffer great trials and afflictions in securing a successor upon the throne of Peter.
“The words of St. Paul to the Thessalonians may be a reference to the Papacy as the obstacle to the coming of Antichrist: ‘You know what withholdeth, that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity already worketh; only that he who now holdeth, do hold until he be taken out of the way. And then that wicked one shall be revealed.’” [16]
• Third, the October 13, 1917 Miracle of Fatima was, as witnesses testified, the “dance of the sun” and repeated three times, with many likening its movements to a “a wheel of fire, “a bicycle wheel,” a “captive ball of fire,” etc. For ten to twelve minutes, the people stood transfixed in wonder, before their amazement turned to terror as the sun suddenly crashed toward the earth. The thousands gathered there, expecting the end of the world, cried out to God and the Virgin Mother.  Then, as the people wept and prayed aloud, the sun returned to its place in the heavens.
Like the Great Secret and the Miracle of Fatima, the Great Revolt of modern times is “one” in three parts: 1517 (Protestant Revolt), 1717 (birth of Masonry, which led to the French Revolt), and 1917 (Bolshevik Revolt). The Third Secret of Fatima, “in its known contents” as Cardinal Ratzinger phrased it in 1984, allows us to reasonably deduce that the Virgin came to warn the Church that mankind had entered a critical juncture in history−specifically, the “revolt” [literally, “apostasy”] that must come first, as foretold by St. Paul. [17]
Thus we see that October 13, the day of the great Miracle of the Sun (occurring on St. Peter’s martyrdom), was a sign of God’s justice and mercy. The Miracle is described as a sign “that reveals the saving victory of the 12th chapter of the Apocalypse…the great eschatological sign given by God to our times, so that we will not deserve the rebuke that Our Lord made to the Jews: ‘You know how to read the face of the sky, but you cannot read the signs of the times’ (Matt. 16:4).” [18

Copyright Marianna Bartold 2016. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. This article was published in the October 2016 issue of Catholic Family News.
About the Author: Marianna Bartold is the author of Fatima: The Signs and Secrets and Guadalupe: Secrets of the Image. The founding publisher of The Catholic Family’s Magnificat and editor of Sursum Corda (now Latin Mass) magazines, she also digitally publishes traditional Catholic classics for Kindle. Readers are invited to visit her main Facebook page, Keeping It Catholic.

[1] 2 Thess. 2:3. (Douay-Rheims translation of the Holy Bible, wherein St. Paul infallibly states: “Let no man deceive you by any means, for unless there come a revolt first, and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition,” and which includes this explanatory note: “A revolt: This revolt, or falling off, is generally understood, by the ancient fathers, of a revolt from the Roman empire, which was first to be destroyed, before the coming of Antichrist. It may, perhaps, be understood also of a revolt of many nations from the Catholic Church; which has, in part, happened already, by means of Mahomet, Luther, etc., and it may be supposed, will be more general in the days of the Antichrist.”)
[2] An epigraphologist is an expert in deciphering ancient inscriptions.
[3] 30 Days magazine, February 1990, p. 51. Cited by Fr. Georges de Nantes, “The Truth about St. Peter’s Tomb,” The Catholic Counter-Reformation in the 21st Century website []
[4] I could find only one source that claims St. Peter’s bones were unearthed—incredibly—on October 13, 1941, but other sources only say that the year was 1942, giving no specific month and date. Piotrowski, Fr. M. “Did the Apostle Peter Die in Rome?” Excerpts published on Catholic Bridge []. Originally published in Love One Another magazine (Spring, 2003 Edition). N.B. For the first time, the relics were publicly displayed, in Rome, on November 24, 2013.
[5] Guarducci, Margherita as quoted by Ricciardi, Giovanni. “Peter’s Martyrdom—A.D. 67 or 64?,” 30 Days magazine, Issue No. 3 (1996). Guarducci was careful to point out, “The traditional date of Peter’s martyrdom is the year 67. This is in contrast with information that Peter was martyred during the great wave of persecution under Nero which can only have happened in the year 64.” In the article, she is again directly quoted when she proceeded to explain why.
[6] Guarducci, Margherita. “La data del martirio di san Pietro,” in La Parola del passato: Rivista di studi antichi, No. 267, Naples, Italy,1968. (The Date of Peter’s Martyrdom, in Words from the Past. Antiquity Studies Review).
[7] Ricciardi, Giovanni. “Peter’s Martyrdom—A.D. 67 or 64?,” 30 Days magazine, Issue No. 3 (1996). []
[8] “Horti” (from whence comes the English word “horticulture”) were, in the main, expansive and attractive areas, originally intended for rest and recreation, in ancient Rome. However, Guarducci noted: “It would be an error to think that this vast area was completely covered by true and proper gardens with rows of flowers, fountains, statues, and cages full of vari-colored birds. The region near the Tiber may have looked something like that, but the rest of the plain and the montes vaticani must have included large stretches of fields, forests and even sterile, uncultivated patches.” Guraduccci, The Tomb of St. Peter, St. Peter’s Basilica website [].
[9] Guarducci, Margherita. The Tomb of St. Peter [Hawthorn, 1960]. The work first appeared in Rome in 1958 in three massive volumes under the title of I graffiti sotto la Confessione di san Pietro in Vaticano. Cited by Fr. Georges de Nantes, “The Truth about St. Peter’s Tomb,” The Catholic Counter-Reformation in the 21st Century website []
[10] Guarducci, cited by Ricciardi, op. cit.
[11] Sister Maria Lucia of the Immaculate Heart. Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words: Sister Lucia’s Memoirs [Fatima, Portugal: Postulation Centre, 1976 edition]: p. 165.
N.B. At the child Lucia’s request for a sign, Our Lady promised: “In October, I will tell you who I am and what I want, and I will perform a miracle so that all may believe.”
[12] Ibid., p.167. “You have seen hell, where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them [poor sinners], God wishes to establish in the world devotion to My Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace.”
“The war [WWI] is going to end; but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the reign of Pius XI. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that He is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father.” 
“To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to My Immaculate Heart and the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays. If My requests are heeded, Russia will be converted and there will be peace. If not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated.
“In the end, My Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to Me, and she will be converted, and a period of peace [era of peace, in another translation] will be granted to the world. In Portugal, the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved; etc.” (The last line is the opening paragraph to the Third Secret Message, wherein Our Lady explains the Vision, which was released by the Vatican in June, 2000.)
[13] The Message of Fatima, as issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Vatican website.
[14] Edmundson, George. The Church in Rome in the First Century (London, 1913).
[15] Fellows, Mark. Fatima in Twilight. [Niagara Falls, U.S. and Canada: Marmion Publications, 2003]: p. 295.
[16] Berry, Rev. E. Sylvester. The Apocalypse of St. John.  [Lapeer, MI: KIC, 2015. Kindle edition republished from the original 1921 edition.]
[17] 2 Thess. 2. 
[18] Kondor, S.V.D, Fr. Louis, Seers of Fatima bulletin, July-August 1975. [Emphasis added.]

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