Dear father Angelo:
Every once in a while I enjoy writing to you because I find your answers clear, informative, reassuring and authoritative.
In Fatima Our Lady showed hell to the three little shepherds… you know that story well.
I’ve read that Our Lady said: “In order to save them (the souls in hell?) God wants the devotion to my Immaculate Heart to be established.
I ask for clarification on these issues:
1-Is it right what I read? Has Our Lady said those words?
2-If all that is correct, should we assume that the souls in hell can be saved through sacrifices in honour of the Immaculate Heart of Mary?
I thank you in advance for your answer and ask for your holy blessing and prayers.
1. You have fallen in a big misunderstanding. Our Lady wasn’t talking about the souls of hell and their possible liberation: instead, She was referring to all the souls in danger of going to hell.
These are the exact words sister Lucia used when she was describing the apparition to her bishop:
“Well, the secret is made up of three distinct parts, two of which I am now going to reveal.
The first part is the vision of hell.
Our Lady showed us a great sea of fire which seemed to be under the earth. Plunged in this fire were demons and souls in human form, like transparent burning embers, all blackened or burnished bronze, floating about in the conflagration, now raised into the air by the flames that issued from within themselves together with great clouds of smoke, now falling back on every side like sparks in a huge fire, without weight or equilibrium, and amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear. The demons could be distinguished by their terrifying and repulsive likeness to frightful and unknown animals, all black and transparent. This vision lasted but an instant. How can we ever be grateful enough to our kind heavenly Mother, who had already prepared us by promising, in the first Apparition, to take us to heaven? Otherwise, I think we would have died of fear and terror.
We then looked up at Our Lady, who said to us so kindly and so sadly:
“You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart.” (First and second part of the “secret”, as presented by sister Lucia in the “Third Memoir” of 31 august 1941 for the bishop of Leiria-Fatima: https://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20000626_message-fatima_en.html)
2. When Our Lady uses the words “to save them”, she does not refer to the possibility of freeing souls from hell, simply because the very condition of hell is irretrievable. In fact, this is what Jesus affirms in the Gospel: “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Matthew 25,41)
And also: “He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (Matthew 25, 45-46)
“To save them” actually means to avoid that souls end up in hell.
3. This is certainly how the three little shepherds interpreted Our Lady’s words. Sister Lucia, while referring to the vision of Hell, writes in her memoirs that Giacinta “sometimes sat on the ground or upon a rock, and exclaimed thoughtfully: ‘Hell! Hell! I have so much compassion for the souls which are going to hell! And of the people who are there, alive, burning like wood into the flames!’
And, all trembling,she would kneel down with folded hands to say the prayer that Our Lady had taught us: O my Jesus, forgive us, save us from the fire of hell. Lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who are most in need.
Now His Excellency the bishop will understand why I believe that the last words of this prayer refer to the souls which are in the greatest and more imminent danger of damnation.
And she [Giacinta] used to stay on her knees for a long time, saying that same prayer. Every once in a while she called me and my brother (as if she was awakening from a dream): -Francesco, Francesco! Are you praying with me? We must pray a lot to free the souls from hell! So many of them go there!” (Memorie di Suor Lucia, segretariado dos pastorinhos, Fatima, p.108).
I wish you well, bless you and assure you of remembrance to the Lord.