In the early times of Christianity, a statue of Our Lady of Nazareth was venerated. However, during the iconoclast heresy when statues were being destroyed, this ancient statue was brought to Spain to be protected.
In 714, King Rodrigo fled to Portugal to escape the ravages of the Saracens and took the small statue with him, hiding it in a cave located in a coastal town which was later known as Nazare. Here it remained until 1179, when a shepherd rediscovered it. Three years later, Dom Fuas Roupinho, a knight in the court of King Alphonse Henriques, was hunting deer.
Suddenly his prey tumbled off a seaside cliff and he was miraculously saved from the same end by calling out to Our Lady of Nazareth. In thanksgiving for his life, Dom Fuas built a small chapel over the cave in which she had resided for so many years. Soon, word of the miracle reached far and wide, bringing countless graces to the many pilgrims who came to venerate this ancient relic.
What do we see about the ways of Divine Providence in this beautiful account? Our Lady is venerated in Nazareth for some seven centuries. Then, when it is not safe for her to be there, God intervenes and she is taken to Spain where she remains for another 450 years until a King finds it necessary to protect Our Lady once again and takes her to Portugal where she is found by a shepherd. Devotion to her was waning, about to disappear and then, she performs a miracle which ignites a new and vibrant devotion which would then spread throughout the land and then to Belem in Brazil.
Is this not how the rhythm of history flows? At this moment, it seems as though all is lost for the triumph of good. But Our Lady promised that when it appears that all is lost, she will then intervene and bring the victory. In a parallel way, when we experience an apparent failure in our spiritual life, we know to pray and to confide in Our Lady and she will not only help us to persevere but to reach new heights that were not possible before.
Therefore, we have every reason to trust and to believe that the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is certain as she promised at Fatima.