Sunday, 23 April 2017

Our Fatima connection

We are now less than a month shy of the centenary of the first apparition of Our Lady of Fatima. To say that the Filipino devotion to Our Lady of Fatima is great is an oversimplification. While describing it in detail would be too monumental a task for us, we offer a simple expression of our devotion to Our Lady that is not so often highlighted.

Our Lady of Fatima

The 1945 Allied bombing during World War II saw the destruction of the cathedral of Manila, and that, through the efforts of Rufino Cardinal Santos (d. 3 September 1973), it was finally rebuilt in 1958. This incarnation of the cathedral, which still stands to this day, threatened by soil liquefaction in its foundations, bears a Latin inscription in the tympanum above its main portals.

Tympanum above the main portals of the Manila Cathedral

The inscription says:


The many translations of this inscription often come to us garbled and tentative. The syntax, plus the absence of punctuation marks, has led many to render it incorrectly. A tourism website provides a garish translation, dysmorphing noun declension (dative to vocative) and ignoring verb conjugation (indicative to imperative):
To thee in thy heart, oh immaculate, entrust and consecrate from us
Wikipedia reports a slightly better translation which likewise ignores the voice (active to passive), considering that the verb in the Latin is not deponent:
To your Immaculate Heart we are entrusted for safekeeping and consecrated
Most often fail to attribute the quotation to its correct source. At least one social media platform account knew who said the words: Pope Pius XII.

Pope Pius XII

The quotation comes from the Latin translation of the Italian redaction of the prayer pronounced by Pope Pius XII, consecrating the Church and the entire human race to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, in a radio message to the Portuguese faithful on Saturday, 31 October 1942, on the occasion of the first jubilee of Our Lady of Fatima, which the Portuguese faithful celebrated together with the first episcopal jubilee of the Pope.

The relevant quotation is below:
A Vós, ao vosso Coração Imaculado, nesta hora trágica da história humana, confiamos, entregamos, consagramos não só a Santa Igreja, corpo místico de vosso Jesus, que pena e sangra em tantas partes e por tantos modos atribulada, mas também todo o mundo, dilacerado por exiciais discórdias, abrasado em incêndios de ódio, vítima de sua próprias iniquidades.
The original Italian translation goes this way:
A Voi, al vostro Immacolato Cuore, in quest’ora tragica della storia umana, affidiamo, rimettiamo, consacriamo non solo la Santa Chiesa, corpo mistico del vostro Gesù, che soffre e sanguina in tante parti e in tanti modi tribolata, ma anche tutto il mondo straziato da feroci discordie, riarso in un incendio di odio, vittima delle proprie iniquità.
However, the formula, which became indulgenced on 17 November 1942, redacted the text by omitting rimettiamo and altering the wording:
A Voi, al vostro Cuore Immacolato, in quest’ora tragica della storia umana, ci affidiamo e ci consacriamo, non solo in unione con la Santa Chiesa, corpo mistico del vostro Gesù, che soffre e sanguina in tante parti, e in tanti modi tribolata, ma anche con tutto il mondo straziato da feroci discordie, riarso in un incendio di odio, vittima della propria iniquità.
The Latin translation of this text finally yields the text that appears in the tympanum of the cathedral of Manila:
Tibi, Cordi tuo Immaculáto, gravi hac hora de rebus hóminum gestis, concrédimus nos ac consecrámus, una non tantum cum Ecclésia sancta univérsa, mýstico tui Iesu córpore, quæ in tantis pártibus pátitur et sanguínat ac in tantis modis tribuláta, sed étiam cum univérso orbe terrárum atrócibus discórdiis laceráto, ódii incéndio combústo, suæ iniquitátis víctima constitúto.
And here, we begin to appreciate the importance of punctuation in clarifying the meaning and translation of quotations. The inscription in the tympanum above the main portals of the cathedral of Manila, therefore, reads in English:
To thee, to thy Immaculate Heart, we entrust and consecrate ourselves.
The consecration is not to the Immaculate Heart alone, but to the Blessed Virgin herself as well, evoking the consecration of the Philippines to the Immaculate Conception (who is the Blessed Virgin, when he introduced herself to Saint Bernadette Soubirous), which we renew each year on 8 December.

Renewal of the Consecration of the Philippines
to the Immaculate Conception on 8 December 2014

The tense is not past; it is present, indicating that the we daily seek to entrust ourselves to the Blessed Virgin and to her Immaculate Heart. The consecration did not happen in some remote past which we annually renew; it happens in the immediate present.

This is our overlooked Fatima connection. Let us now commit this to memory.

Ut in omnibus laudetur Dominus.

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