Our Lady’s requests
It was during the course of the apparition of the 13th of July 1917 that Our Lady spoke for the first time about the devotion regarding the first Saturdays of the month, by revealing to the little seers : « I am coming to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart and for the communion of reparation on the first Saturdays of the month. »
Note that the Holy Virgin speaks of the first Saturdays of the month in a general way without being precise about the number. It is not until the 10th of December 1925 that she does this at Pontevedra. Here are the words of Our Lady that Sister Lucia heard that day (taken from a letter to her confessor, Father Aparicio) :
See, my daughter, my heart surrounded by thorns which men constantly drive into it with their blasphemies and ingratitude. You, at least, try to comfort me and announce to all those who,
- for five months, on the first Saturday,
- receive Holy Communion,
- say a Rosary
- and keep me company for fifteen minutes while meditating on the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary
- with the intention of making reparation,
that I promise to assist them at the hour of their death, with all the graces necessary for the salvation of their souls.
The relaxation of these conditions by the Child Jesus
Two months later, on the 15th of February 1926, the Child Jesus appeared to Sister Lucia and relaxed the conditions laid down by Our Lady. Here is an extract of the dialogue which took place between them (taken from a letter to Mgr. Pereira Lopès, one of Sister Lucia’s former confessors) :
- My confessor said in his letter that this devotion already existed in the world, as many souls receive You every first Saturday, in honour of Our Lady and the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary.
- It is true, my daughter, that many souls begin, but few persist, and those who persevere do so in order to receive the graces promised by this. Souls who observe the five first Saturdays with fervour and with the intention of making reparation to the Heart of your Heavenly Mother, please me more than those who do fifteen which are indifferent and are lacking conviction.
- My Jesus ! Many souls have difficulty confessing on a Saturday. Could you allow confession within eight days to be valid ?
- Yes. It could even be made beyond that, as long as these souls are in a state of grace on the first Saturday that they receive me, and that, by this confession, they have the intention of making reparation to the Sacred Heart of Mary.
- My Jesus ! And those who forget to form this intention ?
- They can form it at the following confession, taking advantage of the first opportunity to do so.
Further details from Our Lord
Four years later, Father Gonçalvez who had replaced Father Aparicio as Sister Lucia’s confessor, asked her to reply in writing to five questions about the devotion to the first Saturdays of the month. Here are her replies (extract from the letter sent to Father Gonçalvez) :
1. When ? The 10th of December 1925.
How ? By an apparition of Our Lord and the Most Holy Virgin who showed me her Immaculate Heart surrounded by thorns and asking for reparation.
Where ? At Pontevedra (Isabelle II passageway). The first apparition took place in my room. The second, near the gate in the garden where I was working.
2. Requisite conditions ?
For five months, on the first Saturday, receive Holy Communion, say the Rosary, keep Our Lady company for fifteen minutes whilst meditating the mysteries of the Rosary, and confess with the same intention. The confession can be made another day on condition of being in a state of grace whilst receiving Holy Communion.
3. Benefits or promises.
« To souls who will seek to make reparation to me in this way (says Our Lady), I promise to help them at the hour of their death, with all the graces necessary for their salvation. »
4. Why five Saturdays and not nine, or seven in honour of the sorrows of Our Lady ?
Finding myself in the chapel with Our Lord for part of the night from the 29th to the 30th of this month of May, 1930, and speaking to Our Lord about questions four and five, I suddenly felt more intimately taken by the Divine Presence and, if I am not mistaken, here is what was revealed to me :
My daughter, the reason is simple. There are five different types of offenses and blasphemies made against the Immaculate Heart of Mary :
1) blasphemies against the Immaculate Conception,
2) blasphemies against Her Virginity,
3) blasphemies against Her Divine Maternity, at the same time refusing to recognize Her as the Mother of men,
4) blasphemies by those who openly try to instill in the hearts of children indifference or contempt, or even hatred, with regard to this Immaculate Mother,
5) offenses by those who directly insult Her through Her holy images.
There you have, my daughter, the reason for which the Immaculate Heart of Mary inspired me to ask for this little reparation, and in consideration of this, to show mercy for the pardon of souls who have had the misfortune to offend Her. As for you, always try, by your prayers and sacrifices, to appeal to my mercy regarding these poor souls.
5. For those who are unable to meet these conditions on the Saturday, can they fulfill them on the Sunday ?
The practice of this devotion will be equally accepted the Sunday following the first Saturday when for just reasons, my priests will allow it.
The spirit of this devotion
To fully understand the aim of the first Saturdays of the month, it is important to make note of the following point.
In the answer to the fourth question, Our Lord says to Sister Lucia that it is He who asks for this devotion : « the Immaculate Heart of Mary inspired Me to ask for this little reparation, and in consideration of this, to show My mercy ».
While the possibility of choosing a day other than the first Saturday for confession is left to everyone’s free choice, the possibility of receiving communion the next day can only be given by a priest. All the same, these are obviously exceptions. The general rule fixed by Heaven is to confess and receive communion on the Saturday. So, to do this on another day, there has to be a real impediment.
The most important point, and that which makes this devotion so effective, is the determination to make reparation for the offenses suffered by Our Lady because of sinners. This is one of the essential points of the message of Fatima : making reparation for the offenses committed against the sacred hearts of Jesus and Mary. In October 1928, Sister Lucia wrote in a letter to her bishop, Mgr. da Silva :
The good Lord, in His infinite mercy, warns about not being able to put up with the offenses committed against the Immaculate Conception, and the Most Holy Virgin, for much longer. He says that because of this sin, a great number of souls will fall into hell, and He promises to save them, as long as the following devotional practice [the first Saturdays of the month] is observed, with the intention of making reparation to the Immaculate Heart of our Most Holy Mother.
Sister Lucia also disclosed to Father Aparicio (letter of the 19th of March 1939) :
The practice of this devotion, together with the consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, determines whether the world will have peace or war. This is why I wanted its diffusion so much ; and also, above all, because this is the will of our good Lord and our very dear Heavenly Mother.
Later, Sister Lucia indicated that it was necessary to practice this devotion every first Saturday of the month, because on each occasion, we could obtain the conversion of a greater number of sinners :
Here is the way I meditate on the mysteries of the Rosary on the first Saturdays. First mystery : the Annunciation of the angel Gabriel to Our Lady. (…) [Here, Sister Lucia gives her method for meditating on a mystery.]
The second month, I do a meditation on the second Joyful Mystery. The third, on the third, and so on, following the same method for meditating. When I’ve finished the first five Saturdays I start over with five others and I meditate on the Sorrowful Mysteries, then the Glorious, and when I’ve finished them, I begin again with the Joyful Mysteries.
This precision from Sister Lucia shows that it is necessary to fulfill this devotion each first Saturday of the month, and not just five times, because this practice is above all for the purpose of saving souls. Moreover, it is the meaning of Our Lady’s first request on the 13th of July 1917 : « I will come to ask for (…) the communion of reparation on the first Saturdays of the month ».
The practice of five successive Saturdays gives an extra grace, that of Our Lady’s help at the moment of our death. However, there should be no confusion between usual practices and the extra grace accorded to those who observe the first five successive Saturdays. Such an extraordinay grace is, above all, the sign that Heaven itself attaches a very great importance to this devotion.