For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places: all this is but the beginning of the birth-pangs (Mt. 24:7-8).
March 8, 2017
More than a year before the First World War ended the Lady of the Rosary was already warning the children of a second, and more terrible war if human beings did not repent from our evil and stupid ways. Here again is what she said, again from Volume IV of Sister Lucia’s memoirs translated in 1998’s Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words:
If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. The war is going to end; but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the pontificate of Pius XI. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this 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.
1) An unknown light
Well, those of us who live in 2017 know what this worse war was. She was speaking of the Second World War that was indeed far worse than the First. Nations for whom chivalry and Christian charity had once been their guiding principle for centuries were handed over to bloodthirsty former vagabond streetwalkers who reduced ancient cities to rubble and attempted to murder in a most savage fashion whole races of peoples. But was there a warning from Heaven before this happened? Was there an unknown light in the sky? Yes there was.
On the night of January 25-26, 1938 there was an incredible light show in the skies of Europe and the North Atlantic that left the heavens red. The link below is to a PDF of The New York Times article from January 26, 1938:
I will reproduce excerpts from the text of the article here:
LONDON, Jan. 25.-The most brilliant display of an aurora borealis in fifty years held Britons spellbound over a wide area of this country tonight. From 6:30 to 8:30 P.M. the people of London watched two magnificent arcs rising in the east and west, from which radiated pulsating beams like searchlights in dark red, greenish blue and purple.
During this period all transatlantic radio communication was interrupted… One of the novel features of tonight’s display was the vivid red glow… Police stations, fire brigades and newspaper offices all over the country were inundated by calls tonight asking “Where is the fire?”…
The lights were clearly seen in Italy, Spain, and even Gibraltar. The glow, bathing snow-clad mountaintops in Austria and Switzerland was a beautiful sight, but firemen turned out to chase non-existent fires.
Portuguese villagers rushed in fright from their homes, fearing the end of the world…
GRENOBLE, France, Jan. 25.-A huge blood-red beam of light which scientists said was an aurora borealis of exceptional amplitude tied up telephone systems in parts of France tongiht and spread anxiety in numerous Swiss Alpine villages.
Emblazoned in the northern sky the light brought thousands of telephone calls to Swiss and French authorities asking whether it was a fire, war, or the end of the world.
So the newspaper called it an aurora borealis. What else would they call it? When we see something strange and unprecedented we fall back on what we know even if what we know does us no good, and even makes things worse. Lucia was not instructed at this point to make the warning public either, but she would insist for the rest of her life that the events of the night of January 25-26, 1938 were God’s warning that the Blessed Mother had foretold.
Notice the blood red color of the light. Blood would shortly begin to flow in unprecedented rivers across the continent. Notice the resemblance to searchlights streaking across the night sky of London that would in two and a half years become a horrifyingly regular occurrence as German bombers attempted to raze the city from the air.
It should be noted that these lights shone on a night of peace in Europe, or at least it appeared so. The governments and peoples of Europe were as yet wholly ignorant of what would soon be unleashed on them. But that would soon change.
2) The Blomberg-Fritsch Affair
I am personally indebted to William L. Shirer’s work on Nazi Germany The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich to understand the significance of the days around the January 25-26 unknown light for the onset of the war which was soon to follow. The nature of these events was only discovered after the war when researchers had a chance to comb through the Nazi archives.
On November 5, 1937 Adolf Hitler held a meeting with the commanders of the German army and high officials in his government to inform them that he was planning an expansionist war in Europe and that he wanted everything to be gotten ready. The commanders of the German army were unenthusiastic. They had just gotten out from under the shackles of the Versailles Treaty and were not anxious to see their treasured Wehrmacht destroyed in this madman’s war.
Hitler’s two chief opponents inside Germany were War Minister Field Marshall Werner von Blomberg and Commander in Chief of the Army Colonel General Werner von Fritsch. The army was the only institution in Germany that still had the power to oppose the Nazi regime and if its commanders objected there would be no war.
On January 12, 1938 Blomberg married a woman, Erna Gruhn, and Hermann Goering served as his best man and Adolf Hitler was in attendance. Very soon after the Berlin police discovered that well, Blomberg’s wife (God rest her soul) had a past: prostitution and pornography and that sort of thing.
Now the Nazi regime was not necessarily high on moral scruples, several of Hitler’s supporters were active homosexuals, but Hitler now had his chance to get rid of the opposition since the Field Marshall had just violated the moral code for the German officer corps that he himself had put in place. Adolf Hitler and Herman Goering threatened his War Minister and told him to either annul the marriage, resign, or everything would become a public scandal and a court martial. Field Marshall Werner von Blomberg loved the woman, did not annul the marriage, and resigned as War Minister on January 27, 1938, one day after the unknown light in the sky.
After this Goering teamed up with Heinrich Himmler, chief of the SS, and Reinhard Heydrich (all three of these men would become infamous for mass murder in the not too distant future) his right hand man to destroy the reputation of General Fritsch by trumping up false accusations of homosexual acts against him which at this time were still regarded as barbarism throughout the world that still thought itself civilized. He was forced to resign on February 4, 1938 barely a week after the unknown light.
Hitler now took the opportunity to reorganize command of the Army in order to make it entirely his personal instrument. The same February 4, 1938 he created the OKW to which both the War Ministry and the German High Command were subject and he put his lackey General Wilhelm Keitel in command of it. Keitel would remain in that post and carry out Adolf Hitler’s orders without question until the German surrender in May, 1945, and was later hung by the Allies after the Nuremburg trials the following year, God rest his soul.
With the German army firmly in his grip, Adolf Hitler, the former vagrant who had been aimlessly wandering the streets of Vienna a few decades before now launched his assault on Europe and on civilization. The geopolitical situation across the continent began to deteriorate rapidly and on March 12, 1938, a bare six weeks after the unknown light, Nazi Germany annexed Austria. World War II had begun, though it would be a year and a half before the shooting would start.
3) The Pontificate of Pius XI
Our Lady prophesied in 1917 that the coming war would start under the pontificate of Pius XI. In 1917 the pope was Benedict XV, Pius XI would not become pope until 1922, five years after the Apparition. Pius was easily the most common name for a pope between 1775 and 1958 (no less than seven popes took that name during the period) but there was no guarantee that the successor to Benedict XV would take that name, nor how long he would reign, nor what would happen during that reign.
And there is the matter that we read in the history books that World War II did not start until Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. Since Pope Pius XI died on February 10, 1939 and Pius XII was pope when Germany invaded Poland how do we reconcile this?
Sister Lucia always insisted that the war started with the German occupation of Austria in March, 1938 under the Pontificate of Pius XI. And history shows that for the Germans Austria was just a step to surrounding Czechoslovakia on three sides. And once they got Czechoslovakia then Poland was surrounded on three sides. Sister Lucia’s judgement about when the war started seems sound and since the Blessed Virgin endorses it who am I to disagree?
4) Pope Benedict XV’s warning
Our Lady never instructed Lucia to warn anyone about any of this. In fact for Lucia this was all part of the Secret and she never told anyone about it until she wrote her memoir under obedience to the Bishop of Leira in 1941, long after the war had started. Why didn’t Our Lady want Lucia to inform the world of this?
I don’t know. But I do know that the Church and the Popes had been warning governments and their peoples at the top of their lungs since the days of Voltaire and the French Revolution in the eighteenth century that formerly Christian Europe was heading down a disastrous path which would lead them to ruin if they did not change their ways. They never listened. Why would they have listened to a nun with a story about a light in the sky?
But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if some one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.’ (Luke 16:29-31)”
Two and a half years before the Apparitions at Fatima during the first months of World War I Pope Benedict XV issued a stark and extremely prophetic warning of his own in his first encyclical Ad beatissimi Apostolorum published on November 1, 1914:
For what could prevent the soul of the common Father of all being most deeply distressed by the spectacle presented by Europe, nay, by the whole world, perhaps the saddest and most mournful spectacle of which there is any record. Certainly those days would seem to have come upon us of which Christ Our Lord foretold: “You shall hear of wars and rumours of wars-for nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (Matt. xxiv, 6, 7). On every side the dread phantom of war holds sway: there is scarce room for another thought in the minds of men. The combatants are the greatest and wealthiest nations of the earth; what wonder, then, if, well provided with the most awful weapons modern military science has devised, they strive to destroy one another with refinements of horror. There is no limit to the measure of ruin and of slaughter; day by day the earth is drenched with newly-shed blood, and is covered with the bodies of the wounded and of the slain.
Those lines were published on November 1, 1914. French and British and German soldiers had only a few weeks before begun to dig the first trenches that would scar the landscape of France and drench it with blood for the next three and a half years. When Pope Benedict XV was composing these words many people still harbored the illusion that the war could be short. Read his words again. Meditate on them. They were prophetic not only for the First World War, but for the Second as well, and for the massacres the Bolsheviks committed in Russia and the Nazis throughout occupied Europe and of the massive bombings of British, German, and Japanese cities.
The years 1914-45 were a hurricane and a vortex of death in Europe. And it didn’t stop there, and it hasn’t stopped yet. People had been warned and they didn’t want to listen. The light in the sky seems to have been meant for Lucia alone, though why I cannot say.
I would like to point to something else that Pope Benedict said. He made an extremely stark statement about what time it is with regard to the Second Coming of the Lord, and I have never heard anyone comment on this (italics mine): “Certainly those days would seem to have come upon us of which Christ Our Lord foretold: ‘You shall hear of wars and rumours of wars- for nation shall rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom.'”
Those words are taken from Our Lord’s discourse on his own Second Coming that He gave to Peter, James, John, and Andrew on the Mount of Olives, looking at the soon to be destroyed Jerusalem Temple, a few days before his Crucifixion. Jesus states that the time of nations rising against nations and kingdoms against kingdoms was only the beginning of the sorrows, or the beginning of the birth pangs.
And the Holy Father spoke with certainty about what time it was. This encyclical was written more than a hundred years ago now: if that was the beginning then, where are we at now? This explains the urgency of Fatima for right now, for this very moment. She prophesied World War II. There is no reason to expect that everything else she prophesied will not come to pass.
Go to Confession. And pray the Rosary every day.