The Fatima Prayer

Worshipers pray the rosary at a Catholic church in Baghdad, Iraq. (Wathiq Khuzaie/Getty Images)
(Photo by Wathiq Khuzaie/Getty Images)

A favorite devotional practice in Roman Catholicism is praying the Rosary, which involves using a set of rosary beads as a counting device for the highly stylized components of the prayer. The Rosary is divided into sets of components, known as decades. 

Various prayers can be added after each decade in the Rosary, and among the most common of these prayers is the Fatima prayer, also known as the Decade Prayer.

According to Roman Catholic tradition, the Decade Prayer for the rosary, commonly known as the Fatima Prayer, was revealed by Our Lady of Fatima on July 13, 1917 to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal.  It is best known of five Fatima prayers said to have been revealed that day.  Tradition states the three shepherd children, Francisco, Jacinta, and Lucia, were asked to recite this prayer at the end of each decade of the rosary. It was approved for public use in 1930, and has since become a common (though optional) part of the Rosary.

The Fatima Prayer

O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, and lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of Thy mercy.

History of the Fatima Prayer

In the Roman Catholic Church, supernatural appearances by the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus, are known as Marian Apparitions. Although there are dozens of alleged events of this type, there only ten that have been recognized officially by the Roman Catholic Church as genuine miracles.

One such officially sanctioned miracle is Our Lady of Fatima. On May 13 of 1917 at Cova da Iria, located in the city of Fatima, Portugal, a supernatural event occurred in which the Virgin Mary appeared to three children as they were tending sheep. In the well water on property owned by the family of one of the children, they saw an apparition of a beautiful woman holding a rosary in her hand. As a storm broke and the children ran for cover, they again saw the vision of the woman in the air just above an oak tree, who reassured them not to be afraid, saying "I come from heaven." In the following days, this apparition appeared to them six more times, the last being in October of 1917, during which she instructed them to pray the Rosary in order to end World War I. During the course of these visits, the apparition is said to have given the children five different prayers, one of which would later become known as the Decade Prayer. 

Soon, devout believers began visiting Fatima to pay homage to the miracle, and a small chapel was built at the site in the 1920s. In October of 1930, the bishop approved the reported apparitions as a genuine miracle. Use of the Fatima Prayer in the Rosary began around this time. 

In the years since Fatima has become an important center of pilgrimage for Roman Catholics. Our Lady of Fatima has been very important to several popes, among them John Paul II, who credits her with saving his life after he was shot in Rome in May 1981. He donated the bullet that wounded him on that day to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima.



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Richert, Scott P. "The Fatima Prayer." Learn Religions, Aug. 25, 2020, Richert, Scott P. (2020, August 25). The Fatima Prayer. Retrieved from Richert, Scott P. "The Fatima Prayer." Learn Religions. (accessed June 3, 2023).