Like the Fatima visionaries, we should meditate on hell

What are we to make of the vision of hell which was seen by the Fatima children on July 13, 1917?

The vision was revealed in Sister Lucia’s Third Memoir – which was written in the summer of 1941 – when she stated that she was going to reveal the first two parts of the Fatima secret, and that the first part of this secret was the vision of hell.

This is how she describes it:

“Our Lady showed us a great sea of fire which seemed to be under the earth. Plunged in this fire were demons and souls in human form, like transparent burning embers, all blackened or burnished bronze, floating about in the conflagration, now raised into the air by the flames that issued from within themselves together with great clouds of smoke, now falling back on every side like sparks in a huge fire, without weight or equilibrium, and amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear. The demons could be distinguished by their terrifying and repellent likeness to frightful and unknown animals, all black and transparent.”

After this horrifying vision, Sister Lucia went on to say:

“This vision lasted but an instant. How can we ever be grateful enough to our kind heavenly Mother, who had already prepared us by promising, in the first Apparition, to take us to heaven. Otherwise, I think we would have died of fear and terror.”

Clearly, this vision was very brief, but very powerful and indeed terrifying. Sr Lucia then says:

“We then looked up at Our Lady, who said to us so kindly and so sadly: ‘You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, 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.’ ”

Our Lady then went on to outline what needed to be done if souls would indeed be saved and peace given to the world – that is the second part of the secret.

The first point to make about this vision is that it strongly affirms the existence of hell, a fact which has been downplayed by some Catholics in recent years; the vision seen by the children, though, and the whole of Catholic tradition are opposed to that type of thinking. And in addition, Jesus mentions hell a number of times in the New Testament, and in quite graphic terms.

For example, in St Mark’s Gospel, after describing various sins that would make a person worthy of going to hell, such as corrupting little children, or using parts of the body for sinful purposes, he says: “And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.” (Mark 9:42-48)

In St Matthew’s Gospel, in the parable of the sower, Jesus uses the weeds and the wheat of the parable as symbolic of the lost and the saved, saying: “Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn” (Matthew 13:30).

There is a reference to the traditional concept of hell here in the fact that the weeds are burned.

Later on, Jesus explained the meaning of this parable to his disciples, saying:

“Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age. The Son of man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.” (Matt 13:40-42)

So from these and other scriptural passages we get a general picture of hell as a place of eternal punishment, a punishment involving fire, a never-ending fire, and also as a place of remorse and despair.

Thus the thought of hell is meant to be a sobering one for us, and one we should take seriously. The vision of hell certainly made a very strong impression on the Fatima seers, and particularly on Jacinta, as Sister Lucia further relates:

“The vision of hell filled her with horror to such a degree, that every penance and mortification was as nothing in her eyes, if it could only prevent souls from going there.”

In fact, hell became a preoccupation of young Jacinta. One time she exclaimed:

“Oh, hell! hell! How sorry I am for the souls who go to hell! And the people down there, burning alive, like wood in the fire!”

Lucia tells us that, she would then kneel down with her hands joined, and recite the prayer that Our Lady had taught them: “O my Jesus! Forgive us, save us from the fire of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those who are most in need.”

At other times, she asked her cousin: “Why doesn’t Our Lady show hell to sinners? If they saw it, they would not sin, so as to avoid going there! You must tell Our Lady to show hell to all the people. You’ll see how they will be converted.”

Before she died, Jacinta spent some time at an orphanage in Lisbon. The Sister in charge, who was known as Mother Godinho, was able to talk to Jacinta. In some cases, it seems that the things Jacinta spoke of came from Our Lady, but in others they resulted from the infused wisdom with which the little girl was gifted. In fact, Mother Godinho asked Jacinta about this, saying, ‘Who taught you these things?’ to which she responded, ‘Our Lady, but some of them I thought myself. I love to think.’

Jacinta reportedly told Mother Godinho that many people went to hell because of “sins of the flesh”. She also apparently said that certain fashions would be introduced which would be very offensive to Our Lord.

Clearly we are living in a time when sexual immorality and immodest fashions are widespread, so these points very much apply to our age.

We are not likely to see either heaven or hell in this life, but in the first part of the Fatima secret we have been given a clear reiteration of hell’s existence and horror. Like Jacinta, we need to mediate on hell – in our case so as to ensure that we don’t end up going there.




  1. Tom Rafferty Reply

    “What are we to make of the vision of hell which was seen by the Fatima children on July 13, 1917?”

    The most reasonable conclusion is that these “visions” were generated by over-activity of the brains of indoctrinated children in a culture saturated in Catholicism during troubled times.

    “Lucia’s Third Memoir gave the first secret as a vision of hell. The second was a statement that World War I would end, “but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the pontificate of Pius XI” (who was pope from 1922 to 1939). However, since the Third Memoir was penned in August 1941, the so-called predictions were actually written after the fact (Zimdars-Swartz 1991, 198—199).”

  2. Patrick Gannon Reply

    I sometimes think it would be good if there was a Hell, so that people who psychologically abuse children with this lie, could be punished for their horrific crime. Unlike Yahweh, I would never wish eternal torment on anyone, as nothing could further epitomize evil than an all-powerful being who would punish His creation in such a way, particularly when He knew their fate before they were born. It would be better to burn in moral superiority to such a horrific being, than to worship Him.
    More to the point – which of the four Hell’s is the author referring to? There are four words from the bible, that the Church translated to the pagan word “Hell” when the bible was translated to English:
    Sheol – referred to extensively in the OT, the word means “grave,” “dead” or permanent unconsciousness depending on how it is used. It was not a place of eternal punishment in the OT. For some Jews it was a permanent condition, for others it was a holding pen till the end of times when you would be wakened, and judged not so much for what you believed as for what you did, and if found wanting, you would simply be destroyed. For the hell of eternal torment – for that “good news” -we had to wait for Jesus.
    Gehenna is the Hell that Jesus referred to and is the Hell the author refers to in quoting the Mark gospel. Gehenna was a real place – the Jerusalem town dump. It burned all the time with the refuse of the city, as well as all the sacrificial remains from the Tabernacle, where Yahweh enjoyed the smell of burning meat, and the “turning worm” of smoke drifted continuously through the valley. Jesus was clearly speaking in allegorical terms, to an audience that understood his point. For a Jew, to be thrown in the dump instead of being afforded a proper Jewish burial was the ultimate insult. Jesus mentioned Gehenna 11 times, and you really have to want him to be a monster to insist that he was speaking literally. Gehenna has been closed down for a very long time, so you’re not going there.
    Hades was the next Hell and if you know anything of Greek mythology you know that Hades was the brother of Zeus and Poseidon – yes, there you go, paganism right there in the NT. As the message spread west, they used terms that the westerners would have been familiar with, but Hades is pagan. It doesn’t exist – unless Zeus and Poseidon also exist. The word referred to a mythical place, run by a mythical god.
    Tartarus was the lowest level of Hades, which seems to be reserved for Satan and his demons, depending on interpretation. That word is only used once, I think.
    Have you ever heard a priest get up for his homily and explain that these four words were translated to Hell (paganism in northern Europe), and then explain how a town dump translates to an eternal torment? By the way, they also translated the word ‘aionion’ to mean “eternal” when it really means, “of an age,” and ages always end, so the original idea of punishment was that it would be invoked and after a little scorching, be over and done with – but that wasn’t good enough for the celibate virgins dressed in robes. They had to make it really scary so they turned to Dante’s “Inferno” and Milton’s “Paradise Lost” and it is from these sources and not the bible that people have delusional visions, such as those described here.
    Don’t trust me – go look this up yourself. Then demand that your priest explain why the Church misled their congregants, and ask why you should trust anything the RCC has to say, given their propagation of such evil nonsense, intended only to provide fear as a tool for control. And to teach such things to children? To tell children they will go to Hell if they are bad – far better such a person had never been born, for they should have a millstone tied around their neck and be thrown into the deepest of oceans.
    How can one respect a person who worships a god who would do what the Hell vision describes? How does such a horrific being ever come to be called “good,” “fair,” and “just?” What a mockery of those words to assign them to such evil beings as Yahweh and Jesus, if they actually sent people to this imaginary Hell? You do realize that those who are aborted, miscarried or die before baptism are in those flames too, right? How could anyone worship a god who would do such evil? I mean Yahweh is no saint – He’s about as messed up a tyrant as anyone could ask for, but to send people who live but a handful of decades to be thrown in a place of eternal torment… what kind of sick mind would call that a “good” God?

    1. Tom Rafferty Reply

      Brilliant, Patrick. You write with knowledge, authority and compassion, as you are telling the truth to those on his page who are either ignorant or deluded regarding the truth. I enjoy your comments!!!

      1. Patrick Gannon Reply

        Thanks Tom. I wish someone had presented me with these facts when I was much, much younger. It took reading the bible cover to cover to learn what this religion is really all about. I was already stunned at what a vicious fellow this Yahweh character was, when they had told me as a child that God was good. That was certainly not reflected in the pages I was reading! I was reading the bible and a family friend whose father was a minister, gave me a Scofield study bible, and I referred to it as I went along. There was a footnote for the word “Hell” and it said the word was “Sheol.” Sheol? What the heck is Sheol? I had heard the word, but didn’t really know what it was. A little research then led to Gehenna, Hades and Tartarus. I specifically read the bible the first time looking for Hell because the concept had tortured me as a child. Surprise! No Hell. Certainly not the Hell I had been indoctrinated with. Learning this gave me my life back. I lost decades of mental anguish to the RCC, but no more, and if I can prevent that for any child, I will do so. One day we will take children away from parents who teach them of a literal Hell and threaten them with it for not behaving.

  3. Constance Chapman Reply

    Hell is actually a mercy. God permits sinners to depart from Him. They are less miserable there than being in the Presence they despise and cannot stand.
    It won’t be fun however. Not at all.

    1. Tom Rafferty Reply

      How do you know that there IS a Hell instead of the concept being a human attempt to control people?

    2. Patrick Gannon Reply

      Constance Chapman, I don’t understand your comment. Christianity tells us that all men are sinners (women too), so do you really mean sinners, or do you mean believers?
      Usually non-believers are accused of hating something that they don’t think exists. It’s kind of like hating unicorns. If believers knew your god existed, then you might have a valid point, but It’s hard to hate something that one doesn’t think exists. As we all know, there’s no objective evidence for gods or afterlives, so your god is hiding himself and still expecting us to believe in him, kind of like unicorns hiding themselves, but still expecting us to believe in them.
      You also used the term “permit” as though one would “choose” to go to Hell. Christians like to tell non-believers that they are choosing to go to Hell, but belief isn’t something one chooses. One either has it or not based on their experiences and knowledge. I could choose to say out loud that I believe this or that, but if your god is all-knowing, he could look into my mind and know I’m lying. There’s no way to “choose” belief. Let’s say we could though; is it really a choice, or is it extortion?
      Let’s say you own a small shop and Tuesday afternoon a mafia goon walks in with a baseball bat and informs you that you can give him 20% of your proceeds for the day, or you can “choose” to have your kneecaps broken with the bat. If you fail to give him the money, have you “chosen” to be knee-capped, or were you extorted? How is this any different from being told that you must believe this or that, or you are “choosing” to spend eternity being tortured?
      Do you really think your god, if such exists, would be as evil as the Catholic Church has made him out to be? A god who sends helpless babies who die before being baptized to Hell? How could anyone worship a god so evil that he would send a mere mortal human who lives but a handful of decades to trillions of years of endless torture, and particularly when he knew your destination before you were even born, but permitted it to happen anyway? Who could worship such an evil god? Fear him, yes, but worship? Better to burn in moral superiority.

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