Friday, May 12, 2017

Reagan, St. John Paul, and Fatima

From Crisis:
It was June 6, 1987. Ronald Reagan was on his way to Rome to meet with Pope John Paul II. Their first meeting at the Vatican had taken place five years earlier, June 7, 1982, whereupon the two men shared their mutual convictions that they believed God had spared their lives from assassination attempts the previous year for a special purpose—to defeat atheistic Soviet communism. For John Paul II, that near-death experience had occurred on May 13, 1981, the Feast Day of Our Lady of Fatima, whose intercession he credited with saving his life.

Now, on June 6, 1987, Ronald Reagan, en route to seeing the Holy Father again, was hearing all about Fatima. He heard it from Frank Shakespeare, his ambassador to the Vatican. That moment most assuredly wasn’t captured by journalists. I learned about it only a few years ago when Shakespeare’s words via cell phone one afternoon compelled me to pull off the highway to start writing notes as quickly as I could muster. As for the 87-year-old former ambassador, he likewise was surprised by the focus of our conversation. He wasn’t accustomed to historians calling him to ask about Ronald Reagan, John Paul II, and Fatima. I figured, however, that Shakespeare, having the distinctly unusual background of having first served as ambassador to Portugal prior to the Vatican, might uniquely be able to answer my unusual questions. He didn’t disappoint. (Read more.)

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