After the publication of my article on Our Lady of Fatima and the Holy Eucharist in the July 2017 issue of Adoremus Bulletin, I discovered that I had made an error that I wish to correct. I wrote that the “Angel of Peace” had given the seers of Fatima, Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco their First Holy Communion in the course of his third apparition to them. In fact, Lucia had already received her first Holy Communion approximately four years before the apparitions of the Angel and Our Lady. The parish priest allowed her to receive the Eucharist at the age of 6 (the normal age then was 10) because of her precocious ability to articulate the doctrine of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. This spiritual understanding was evident in the mystagogic catechesis she gave Jacinta and Francisco after their first Holy Communion from the hands of the Angel. Surely that reception of the Eucharist from the Angel had special significance in Lucia’s spiritual formation. Lucia’s ability to explain the mystery to her younger cousins confirms my point that Lucia will someday be recognized as the catechist of the Fatima Message in all of its dimensions.
In the same article, I opined that the three children might have received the Sacrament of Confirmation before their first Holy Communion. When I wrote the article, I did not have the resources available to prove or disprove this hypothesis. Shortly after the article was submitted, I spent two grace-filled weeks in Fatima and had a chance to speak to one of the officials of the sanctuary. He told me that there are records attesting to the Confirmation of Lucia several years after the apparitions. He also said that there are no records indicating that Jacinta or Francisco had ever received Confirmation. My point, though, stands secure: the three children’s fortitude and witness to the truth indicate that they received a grace analogous to the grace of Confirmation through their reception of the Body and Blood of Christ and their adoration of the mystery. In the six apparitions at the Cova d’Iria, the Blessed Mother helped the children to allow the Eucharistic grace to permeate every facet of their spiritual lives.
Father Frederick L. Miller, a priest of the Archdiocese of Newark, holds a doctorate in sacred theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome. He has served in three parishes of the Archdiocese of Newark, He was the Executive Director of the World Apostolate of Fatima and Rector of the Shrine of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Washington, NJ. He has taught at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Overbrook, PA, St. Joseph’s Seminary, Dunwoodie, NY, Mount St. Mary's Seminary, Emmitsburg, MD and the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome. He is presently spiritual director at the College Seminary of the Immaculate Conception and adjunct professor at Immaculate Conception School of Theology (Seminary) at Seton Hall University, South Orange, NJ. Father Miller’s latest book, <em>The Grace of Ars</em>, published by Ignatius Press, is on the spirituality of the diocesan priest.