Cottingley Fairies

From the BBC:

Pope Francis was greeted by crowds of hundreds of thousands as he made saints of two shepherd children at the Fatima shrine complex in Portugal.

Shepherd children?

It is 100 years since the two – and a third child – reported seeing the Virgin Mary while tending sheep.

The traditional skepticism of adults listening to tales of what children saw must have been set aside that day.

Two of the children – Jacinta and Francisco Marto – have been canonised for the miracles attributed to them. They died in the 1918-1919 European influenza pandemic.

I’m way outside my area of expertise here, but I thought saints had to perform miracles, not merely have visions.

The so-called three secrets of Fatima were written down by their cousin, Lucia dos Santos, who died in 2005 aged 97.

So we’re going off a secondhand account of what two kids say they saw?

They are prophecies written down by Lucia, years after the apparitions that the three said they had witnessed.

This is not helping.

The first two secrets in Lucia’s account were revealed in 1942.

The second is interpreted as Mary’s prediction that World War One would end and that World War Two would start during the papacy of Pius XI

This might carry more weight had it been revealed in 1917, not 1942.

Okay, fair enough. This is all about having faith, not believing that which can be proved, and I can understand that. But the whole thing does have a whiff of this about it:

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18 thoughts on “Cottingley Fairies

  1. I’m way outside my area of expertise here, but I thought saints had to perform miracles, not merely have visions.

    They did.

    The traditional skepticism of adults listening to tales of what children saw must have been set aside that day.

    Actually, no: they were thrown in prison by the mayor, who threatened to boil them alive if they didn’t recant. (One presumes he had no intention of following through on this threat, but he clearly didn’t believe them.)

    So we’re going off a secondhand account of what two kids say they saw?

    It’s not clear from the article, but Lucia was one of the three visionaries, along with Francisco and Jacinta. So, actually a first-hand account.

  2. The original Mr. X,

    Thanks for the clarifications. Not that it would change my overall point, but it shows what an awful job the BBC has made of covering the story.

  3. The official answer of the Roman Catholic Church to your rumination, Mr Newman, is “Martin Luther was a pig, so there!”

  4. About getting published

    Thanks for that, very informative. Happily it supports what I’ve already decided, thanks to the advice of others: self publish, and give established publishers a wide berth.

  5. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that the living and the dead can have no contact.

    It then teaches that the living can speak to the dead… actually use telepathy, they pray and in effect make a mental wish – cure my child’s cancer – and the dead pick this up and then arrange a physical intervention which can alter a Human body at the cellular level. This is called ‘a miracle’.

    It also teaches that the living can see the dead and receive spoken or telepathic messages… visions.

    Inconsistency is the hall mark of religion, but it is only when the magic word ‘religion’ is mentioned that what would normally be recognised as symptoms of psychiatric disorders are taken as reality and the patients nominated as prophets or saints.

  6. The definition of a saint is, a soul in heaven. So Francis was just definitively stating that they are in heaven.

  7. Whenever I come across such *cough* ‘incidents’ as Fátima , I recall the sage words of one of the greatest theologians of our modern age; Terry Pratchett.
    Here the quote (the voice in caps is that of the Death, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_(Discworld) )
    “WHAT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED IF YOU HADN’T SAVED HIM?
    “Yes! The sun would have risen just the same, yes?”
    NO
    “Oh, come on. You can’t expect me to believe that. It’s an astronomical fact.”
    THE SUN WOULD NOT HAVE RISEN.

    “Really? Then what would have happened, pray?”
    A MERE BALL OF FLAMING GAS WOULD HAVE ILLUMINATED THE WORLD.”
    ― Terry Pratchett, Hogfather

    So, personally speaking, I have no trouble believing that either 3 kids were out in the pastures playing games that their parents and priests would have disapproved of and came up with an incredible story to cover their absence, a story which to their own surprise sensible adults took far too seriously and thus it grew (a quick read of the wiki ‘facts’ confirms the pretty standard progression of such things) and became truth or that the Blessed Virgin, Mother Of God appeared and -as tradition demands-spoke in riddles to children whose untimely death (of 2 of them) she also prophesied.

    Same way as I am quite happy to believe that Our Blessed Lady Of Snows appeared to a village in Cuba and caused the tobacco plants to flourish (attagirl!).

  8. Better than your last fisk, Tim.

    Allow me to compete.
    Shakespeare
    TO BE OR NOT TO BE
    Get on with it man, it’s five hours long and the half time drinks cost a fortune and the queue for the bogs is endless.

    ROMEO, ROMEO, WHEREFORE ART THOU
    Underneath your bedroom window you silly trollop. Open your eyes

    Bible
    AND ON THE SEVENTH DAY GOD RESTED
    You lazy blighter, you told us that not a sparrow falls without your notice. So no sparrows fall on a Sunday. Sparrowhawks must be really pissed off and hungry.

    Advice: fisk stuff that is interesting / trad / going viral. Some BS from a democratic weekly magazine, who cares.

  9. @ James
    “ROMEO, ROMEO, WHEREFORE ART THOU
    Underneath your bedroom window you silly trollop. Open your eyes”

    You are aware that that joke doesn’t actually ‘work’? “Wherefore art thou ?” doesn’t mean ‘where are you?’.
    At least, back in the day, according to my English teacher at Secondary Modern who it was rumoured had actually read the bloody thing (back when being literate was still a prerequisite for the teaching profession).

  10. A late aside to self-publishing, Mr Tim.

    A friend of mine wrote a romantic book and was immediately accepted by a publisher. Oh, the joy! Off she went on a long holiday only to return and find that she had in fact was being fleeced by a vanity publisher (despite my warning of this possibility) She told me her and her partner had managed to get back the £700 (yes, really!) they had already paid because they wouldn’t be paying the £2,500 they ‘owed.’

    Bit of a minefield, this publishing business.

  11. Meh. Anti- religion’s not my thing.

    It’s not mine either, TBH. I wasn’t so much bashing religion as just wondering how on Earth anyone believed these kids in the first place.

  12. @ John B:

    The Roman Catholic Church teaches that the living and the dead can have no contact.

    Obviously not, since it quite clearly teaches that the living and the dead can communicate (as you say yourself in the rest of your post).

    Inconsistency is the hall mark of religion,

    Or, more likely, you’re just wrong about the whole “the Roman Catholic Church teaches that the living and the dead can have no contact” things.

    @ Tim:

    I wasn’t so much bashing religion as just wondering how on Earth anyone believed these kids in the first place.

    Because they supposedly predicted this (which, for some reason, the BBC article managed to entirely leave out).

  13. Because they supposedly predicted this
    which as miracles go falls squarely in the ‘self fulfilling prophecy’ category or , more precisely, is filed under ‘mass hysteria’.
    Even for a denomination that has more than it’s fair share of dodgy miracles , the ‘Miracle Of The Sun’ is particularly lame.
    You convince a bunch of fairly devout people to expect a miracle at a certain time and a certain place and I’d be surprised if they weren’t just seeing the sun dance around but visions, portents and a neon sign in the heavens declaring ‘Beware Ye The Kool-Aid’ in Enochian.

    And I say that as a Xian myself.

  14. which as miracles go falls squarely in the ‘self fulfilling prophecy’ category or , more precisely, is filed under ‘mass hysteria’.

    The miracle, or phenomenon, or whatever it was, was visible to people over twenty miles away, who not being part of the mass wouldn’t have been susceptible to mass hysteria.

  15. Same time too – we’re getting near the 100th anniversary of the Cottingley fairies (as an aside I’ve been their local councillor for nearly 25 years and they definitely vote for me – we even got the streets in the new estate by Cottingley Beck named for the fairies in Midsummer Night’s Dream). The photos are still in Bradford and Cottingley itself has a load of fairy themed stuff too!

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