“Fatima: 100 Questions and Answers about the Marian Apparitions,” by Paul Senz. Ignatius Press, San Francisco. 2020. ISBN 9781621644378. 123 pages.
“Fatima: 100 Questions and Answers about the Marian Apparitions,” by Paul Senz. Ignatius Press, San Francisco. 2020. ISBN 9781621644378. 123 pages.
Senz, a Mount Angel resident who holds undergraduate and graduate theology degrees from the University of Portland, has done the church a service by fact-checking the Fatima apparitions of 1917. Everyone has heard of the Marian appearances to Portuguese shepherd children, but few know details.

For example, local authorities jailed the young visionaries and threatened to boil them in oil unless they recanted. And a skeptical secular journalist reported the miracle of the sun in the same way as believers.

Helpful background explains the context of war and growing atheism on the Iberian Peninsula in 1917.

The book is nicely timed to be of help for those who will see the new film “Fatima.”

The Q and A format makes the book a fascinating read. It’s like an exploration. The setup leads to a bit of redundance, but the benefit is high.

The dramatic first paragraphs alone are worth the price of admission. They have to do with St. John Paul’s amazing interpretation of one of the secrets the apparition gave the children.

Skeptics may be inched toward belief. Maybe not. But Senz makes it clear that good Catholics need not believe in private revelations like Fatima. He does note that most popes from Pius XII to Francis have embraced the apparitions, which the local bishop declared worthy of belief in 1930. Wisely, the church neither forces nor rushes such matters.

This book is designed for believers and non-believers alike. It explains just what an apparition is and how the visions fit into overall belief.