On May 13, 1917, three children — Lucia dos Santos and her cousins, Blessed Jacinta and Francisco Marto — experienced the first of six reported visions of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Blessed Mother appeared to the shepherd children in a field near Fatima, Portugal. These visions of Mary have since come to be known as Our Lady of Fatima. Since Mary encouraged the children to pray the rosary, all images of Mary as Our Lady of Fatima hold a rosary.
Besides praying the familiar rosary, there is another set of prayers linked to these visions — said using either with a rosary or a special set of beads — known as the Fatima Chaplet.
A chaplet — coming from the French word chapelet (meaning “a wreath” or “garland” and, later, “prayer beads”) — is a string of knots or beads used as an aid in the repetition of various prayers. Technically, a rosary is a chaplet.
While the familiar Dominican rosary consists of 59 beads, in groupings of five sets of 10 beads (called a decade) and nine additional prayer beads, chaplets come in varying lengths. While many incorporate the Ave (the “Hail Mary” prayer) and the Lord’s Prayer, many have special prayers. The various lengths of the chain of beads usually have special meanings. For example, the Chaplet of the Five Wounds has five sets of five beads, one set for each wound of Christ on the cross. The Angelic Crown chaplet has nine groups of three beads each, because tradition says there are nine choirs of angels.
Other chaplets are connected with various religious orders who promote these chaplets. So there is the Franciscan Crown, a seven-decade rosary focused on the seven joys of Mary, as well as the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows, which is associated with the Servite community. (The Passionist Fathers promote the Five Wounds chaplet.)
The chaplet of Our Lady of Fatima can be either prayed using a five-decade rosary or with a set of prayer beads consisting of 10 beads with six additional beads and a cross.
The prayers used for this chaplet are those taught to Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco by an angel who appeared to them in 1916, by Our Lady in 1917, or in later visions of Our Lord. These final visions were reported by Sr. Lucia in Rianjo, Spain, in 1931, while she was still a member of the Sisters of St. Dorothy.
Using a five-decade rosary, the Fatima chaplet is prayed in this fashion:
- Holding the cross, pray the Sacrifice Prayer, which was taught to the children by Mary in the summer of 1917:
“Oh Jesus, it is for love of you, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary that I pray.”
- On the first large bead, pray the Pardon Prayer. This was taught to the children by the angel (Angel of Peace of Fatima) in spring of 1916:
“My God, I believe, I adore, I trust and I love you. I beg pardon for all those that do not believe, do not adore, do not trust and do not love you.”
- On the first small bead, pray the Eucharistic Adoration Prayer. This prayer dates to May 13, 1917, and was taught by Mary to the three children:
“Oh Most Holy Trinity, I adore you! My God, my God, I love you in the Most Blessed Sacrament.”!
- The next small bead is for the Conversion Prayer. Sr. Lucia reported that Jesus asked for this prayer when he appeared to her in 1931:
“By your pure and Immaculate Conception, oh Mary, obtain the conversion of Russia, Spain, Portugal, Europe and the entire world.”
- On the third small bead, pray the Salvation Prayer. This was also taught to Sr. Lucia in 1931:
“Sweet Heart of Mary, be the salvation of Russia, Spain, Portugal, Europe and the entire world.”
- Moving into the beads of a decade, use the large bead (Our Father bead) to again pray the Pardon Prayer.
- Use each of the 10 small beads to pray the Eucharistic Adoration Prayer.
- On the chain link between the beads, pray the Rosary Decade Prayer. This was taught to the children by Mary in summer of 1917:
“Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, and help especially those most in need of your mercy.”
(The children also reported that Mary asked that this prayer be offered at the end of each decade when praying a normal rosary sequence.)
- At this point, you can return to the clasp (medallion) of the rosary and pray the Angel’s Prayer. This was taught to the children by the Angel of Peace in autumn of 1916:
“Oh Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore you profoundly. I offer you the most precious Body, Blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifferences by which he is offended. By the infinite merits of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg the conversion of poor sinners.”
If you are using a regular rosary, it is not necessary to use all five decades to pray a complete Fatima chaplet.
Whether we use the rosary or the Fatima chaplet, we join ourselves with the heart of Mary. And by doing so, we remember what Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said about the Fatima visions at a Mass at the Church of the Most Holy Trinity in Fatima on May 13, 2010:
“God … has the power to come to us, particularly through our inner senses, so that the soul can receive the gentle touch of a reality which is beyond the senses and which enables us to reach what is not accessible or visible to the senses. … Yes! God can come to us, and show himself to the eyes of our heart.”
Sources: catholiccompany.com; the “Catholic Encyclopedia”; aquinasandmore.com; sistersofcarmel.com; rosary-prayers.eu; liturgies.net; piercedhearts.org; ewtn.com; catholic.org; and fatima.org