The First Saturday devotion preceded Fatima

By Catherine Moran, Ph.D. –

The request of Our Lady for the First Saturdays was not a new devotion. Its practice began 25 years earlier and continued to develop until Our Lady and Our Lord defined its purpose at Fatima.

In 1892, Pope Leo XIII granted to all the faithful a plenary indulgence to those who devoted 15 consecutive Saturdays in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary. Later, St. Pius X granted a plenary indulgence to all who would perform the 12 First Saturdays in honor of Our Lady. Then, on June 13, 1912, St. Pius X granted new indulgences to the faithful who performed the devotion of reparation to Our Lady on the first Saturdays of the month. Five years later to the day—June 13, 1917—Our Lady showed the three children her Immaculate Heart, “surrounded by thorns that seemed to pierce it,” which not only gave us the reason for this reparation, but demanded it. In July, she explained further how this devotion could prevent wars and save souls.

When our heavenly Mother requested the First Saturday Communions of Reparation on Dec. 10, 1925, she took a traditional devotion, simplified it and gave it a greater efficacy. She said to Lucia, then an 18-year-old postulant in Pontevedra, Spain: “Look, my daughter, at my Heart surrounded with thorns with which ungrateful men pierce me at every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude. You at least try to console me and say that I promise to assist at the moment of death, with all the graces necessary for salvation, all those who on the first Saturday of five consecutive months, shall confess, receive Holy Communion, pray the Rosary, and keep me company for 15 minutes while meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary, with the intention of making reparation to my Immaculate Heart.”

When later the Child Jesus appeared to Sister Lucia asking if she had spread this devotion to His most holy Mother throughout the world, Sister Lucia said:

‘But my confessor said in the letter that this devotion was not lacking in the world, because there are many souls who receive You on the first Saturday in honor of Our Lady and of the 15 mysteries of the Rosary.’

Our Lord replied: It is true, My daughter, that many souls begin them, but few finish them, and those who do finish them, do so to receive the graces that are promised. It would please me more if they did five with fervor and with the intention of making reparation to the Heart of their heavenly Mother, than if they did fifteen in a tepid and indifferent matter.’’

Later, Our Lord made known to Sister Lucia the five blasphemies against the Immaculate Heart, which further focused this devotion for the Church: ‘There, My daughter, is the reason why the Immaculate Heart of Mary asked Me to request this small act of reparation, and in consideration of it, to move My mercy to forgive souls who have had the misfortune to offend her. As for you, seek unceasingly, through your prayers and sacrifices, to move My mercy with regard to these poor souls.”

Finally, regarding this devotion, on May 13, 1962, Cardinal Larrona, the papal legate for St. John XXIII, said at Fatima:

It is urgent for us to establish devotion in the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. God wishes it! Our Lady told us! Our efforts must therefore multiply – we must be assiduous in practicing the five First Saturdays of reparation, not once, but continually, for those who do not or will heed Our Lady’s plea!”


This article appeared in the Fall 2017 issue of Soul Magazine.

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  1. I am a little confused. The bishop at Fatima only approved what happened during the original 6 apparitions. Why are we focusing then on unapproved messages out side this stated time period. Is there something I don’t know?

    • During the July 13 apparition, when Our Lady revealed the 3-part secret, including the vision of hell and that Russia would spread her errors and be the cause of wars, persecution, famine, etc, she said she would “come to ask for the Communions of Reparation on the first Saturdays and the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart.” These two foretold events happened on Dec. 10, 1925, when she appeared to Sister Lucia and asked for the First Saturday devotion, (the Child Jesus appeared to her again on Feb. 15, 1926 to ask for this). Then, on June 13, 1929, Sister Lucia had a vision of the Holy Trinity and was given insights into the mysteries of the Triune God. Our Lady appeared and said, “The moment has come when God asks the Holy Father, in union with the bishops of the world, to make the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart….”
      The Church recognizes that the Fatima apparitions are unique in that the Blessed Mother carried on a conversation with humanity for 87 years through the mission given to Lucia dos Santos. In the 2nd apparition, Our Lady told Lucia, “Jesus wants to use you to make me known and loved. He wants to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart.” This mission that carried on after the apparitions, is part of the reason for the apparitions. The Church itself propagated the First Saturday devotions, starting with Sister Lucia’s own spiritual director. And of course, St. John Paul II, fulfilled (at least inasmuch as it was accepted) the request for the consecration of Russia 55 years later in 1984. So the Fatima apparitions its prophecies, devotional requests, and the spread of devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary throughout the world, must be looked at as a whole. It is all one, and certainly the prophecies from these apparitions are still unfolding, according to Pope Benedict XVI. When the church approved the apparitions themselves, that means they are “worthy of belief” and can be propagated. After WWII, it took seriously the prophecy Our Lady had made about a 2nd worse world war, and blessed the traveling Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Fatima, which set out from Fatima in 1947 in order to spread the messages. Both the Bishop of Fatima and Pope Pius XII blessed this statue for this purpose.

      The practice of the First Saturday devotion has a great promise associated with it from Our Lady because it is an act of mercy toward souls in danger of hell and for the continued conversion of Russia. It is no different then the request made of Our Lord to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque for the spread of devotion to the Sacred Heart and the 9 first Fridays. Even though the apparitions are over, this devotion lives on in the Church and there are great promises associated with it.

      I hope that answers your question. Thank you.

      • Barb-

        I know all this, but only one extra apparition would have approval according to the original Bishops approval.


        • Hi Greg: Are you saying we should not promote the First Saturday devotion? I’m not understanding what you think is not approved. Can you explain?

  2. Hi Barbara, thanks for all your great information on this site. My question is…. what if one was to begin the 5 First Saturdays and completed one or two, then for reasons of illness, could not do #3? I have Multiple Sclerosis and it’s a day-to-day thing. Would watching the televised Mass and offering a spiritual Communion be acceptable.? Honestly, though, I think it makes way more sense to simply make the 1st Saturdays a standard devotion in one’s life, rather than worrying about which month this is. . Thanks & God bless.

    • I agree 100% with you, to make 1st Saturday a standard devotion in one’s life each month. The five in a row was requested to make up for the five blasphemies, but I’m sure Our Lady accepts gratefully all of your efforts to honor her in this devotion each month. Offering a spiritual Communion would be acceptable.

      This last first Saturday, I was only able to get the rosary and Communion, and the Communion was at the Sat. evening Mass. I will go to confession this weekend, but the point is, some months there are things going on in life and you can’t get it all in. Other months I might spend 1/2 hour in meditation after Mass, rosary and confession. I’m certain Our Lord and Our Lady are pleased with our efforts and what’s in our hearts.

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