Around 1932, an uncompromising Catholic leader named Antonio Salazar, came to be Premier of Portugal. Salazar had been rising in the government since 1928. Salazar’s goal was to put into practice a Catholic program that was Counter-revolutionary. In fact, Salazar himself received a special blessing from Pope Pius XII for this work.
“I bless him with all my heart, and I cherish the most ardent desires that he be able to complete successfully his work of national restoration, both spiritual and material.”
As I said, Salazar’s program was a Catholic, Counter-revolutionary program. He called Communism “the greatest heresy of our time” and he strove with all his might to fight against it. He was a fierce opponent of socialism, liberalism, and to use his words he was opposed to “everything which diminishes, divides, or dissolves the family”.
Salazar said: “For me I have only one goal ... What I propose is to bring Portugal permanently to life!” He explains: “We want to preserve at any price, from this wave that is falling over the world, simplicity of life, purity of morals, gentleness of sentiments, the equilibrium of social relations, and this modest but noble family atmosphere which is proper to Portuguese life.”
Very simply, his goal was to establish Catholic Social Order, wherein the state, government and social institutions would base its laws of right and wrong on what the Gospels teach is right and wrong and on what the Church teaches is right and wrong. In this process, it seems that Salazar even dissolved Freemasonry in Portugal in 1935.
Salazar was keen to leave the Catholic Church complete and entire liberty of action. He permitted the Catholic religion to be taught in all schools, not just parochial schools. (Non-Catholic parents who did not wish their children to receive this instruction could have their children removed from these classes, as the Catholic Faith is never forced on anyone); but throughout Portugal, the Catholic education of the youth was greatly favored.
Another remarkable development at this time was Salazar’s legislation on marriage which read “The Portuguese state recognizes the civil effects of marriages celebrated according to canonical laws.” He then initiated into this legislation articles which frowned upon divorce. Article 24 reads, “In harmony with the essential properties of Catholic marriages, it is understood that by the very fact of the celebration of a canonical marriage, the spouses renounce the legal right to ask for a divorce.” This was a law of the state that said, if Catholics engage in a valid marriage, there is no way that they can even ask for a divorce.
The effect of this law was that the number of Catholic marriages did not go down, they went up. So that by 1960, nearly 91 percent of all marriages in the country were canonical marriages. Can you imagine living in a land where 91 percent of all marriages are proper, canonical, sacramental Catholic marriages, and that the couples going into these marriages completely accept the fact that divorce is out of the question? That is a civilization of love! — and it is nowhere to be found as we begin the Third Millennium.
So while so many other countries throughout the world were plagued with communism, humanism, socialism and revolution; Salazar stood practically alone in establishing a nation that was, for the most part, based on Catholic Social principles. In other words, with objective truth, with reality.
3) Miracle of Peace
The third miracle is the miracle of peace in that:1) Portugal was preserved from Communist terror,2) Portugal was preserved from the horrors of the Second World War.
It was well known at the time that Moscow’s plan was to plant Communism in Spain. Because if they did this, then Europe would be book-ended by Communism. It would have Communist Russia on one side, and Communist Spain on the other; therefore, Communism could close in on Europe from both sides.
Now the Portuguese bishops were watching this very closely. They were watching the events in Spain, and they were afraid for Portugal. So on May 13, 1936, the bishops met together and made a secret vow. They vowed that they (the bishops) would lead a national pilgrimage to Fatima in 1938 “to give solemn thanks to the Blessed Mother if She obtained for Portugal victory over Communism and the benefit of peace.” (Cardinal Cerejeira’s own words.)
On July 13, 1936, just two months after their vow, there was the assassination of the monarchist deputy Calvo Sotelo, which marked the beginning of the Spanish Civil War. As Frère Michel points out, the threat to Portugal was grave. Humanly speaking, it was practically inevitable that the revolutionary contagion would sweep right into Portugal.
But it never did.
Now, it could have, and it almost did.
For instance, on September 8, 1936, two Portuguese ships mutinied to join the Communists in Spain. As soon as Salazar heard this, he gave the order that the ships be bombarded until they either surrendered or sank.
When Salazar did this, he received the full backing of the bishops of Portugal. So it wasn’t long before the mutineers came to their senses. Afterward, the bishops themselves wrote about the event. They said that “a revolutionary movement got under way, which was quickly snuffed out. Thus Portugal could continue in tranquility on the path of work and progress.”
That was one major danger averted. Almost a year later, another, there was an attempt on Salazar’s life.
On July 4, 1937, Salazar was on his way to Mass at a private chapel of a friend’s house. Just as he stepped out of the car, a bomb exploded only 10 feet away (the bomb had been hidden in an iron case). But the bomb-blast left Salazar untouched and it also left his chauffeur untouched (even though the poor chauffeur was rendered deaf). Rather than being all shaken up, Salazar simply said to those around him, “Calm down,” and then he turned to his friend and said “Let’s go to Mass.” He just picked up where he left off.
Had Salazar been assassinated, it would have thrown the country into incredible turmoil, which is fertile breeding ground for Communism. And the bishops acknowledged in a collective letter in 1938, that it was an act of God that preserved Salazar’s life in this attempted assassination.
Anyway, by 1938, General Franco in Spain was on his way to victory, and the danger for Portugal had finally been averted. So, on May 13, 1938, when the bishops of Portugal fulfilled their vow and renewed the National Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Cardinal Cerejeira acknowledged publicly that Our Lady of Fatima had spared Portugal the scourge of Communism.
“Since Our Lady of Fatima appeared in 1917 ... a special blessing of God has descended on the land of Portugal ... Especially if we review the two years which have gone by since our vow, one cannot fail to recognize that the invisible hand of God has protected Portugal, sparing it the scourge of war and the leprosy of atheistic Communism.”
Even Pope Pius XII was amazed that Portugal had been spared from Communism. In an address to the Portuguese people the Pope spoke about “the Red Peril, so menacing and so close to you, and yet avoided in such an unexpected manner”.
World War II
Now, for Portugal at this time, one danger had passed, but another was staring them right in the face. They had escaped the contagion of Communism from Spain, but now the Second World War was about to break out. On February 6, 1939, seven months before the declaration of war, Sister Lucy wrote to her bishop, Msgr. da Silva. She told him that war was imminent, but then she told him of a magnificent and miraculous promise. She said, “in this horrible war, Portugal would be spared because of the national consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary made by the bishops.”
And Portugal was spared the horrors of war, the details of which are too numerous to go into right now. (You can read about it in Volume II of Frère Michel’s Whole Truth About Fatima.)
On December 2, 1940, Sister Lucy wrote to Pope Pius XII and told him that Portugal is receiving special protection during the war that other nations would have received if the bishops would consecrate their nations to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
“Most Holy Father, Our Lord promises a special protection to our country in this war, due to the consecration of the nation by the Portuguese Prelates to the Immaculate Heart of Mary; as proof of the graces that would have been granted to other nations, had they also consecrated themselves to Her.”
So this is why Frère Michel of the Holy Trinity calls Portugal at this time, the “Showcase of Our Lady.”
When the bishops consecrated Portugal to Her Immaculate Heart, there was the threefold miracle:
1) There was a magnificent Catholic Renaissance, a great rebirth of Catholic life.
2) There was a miracle of political and social reform,
3) There was a miracle of peace, in that Portugal was preserved from the Communist terror, especially the Spanish Civil War which was raging right next door. And also, Portugal was preserved from the devastations of the Second World War.
This threefold miracle that Our Lady accomplished on a national scale in Portugal is something which She wants to do worldwide in an even more magnificent manner. But it will not happen until the Pope in union with all the bishops of the world, consecrate Russia to Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart as Our Lady of Fatima requested.