John Mathias Haffert was born into a devout Catholic family on August 23, 1915. He was studying for the priesthood at Mt. Carmel College, a Carmelite seminary, when he realized God had another plan for him. After he completed his seminary studies, he became a journalist, author and lecturer within the spiritual apostolate in temporal society, and eventually married.
In 1940, John authored a book dedicated to the scapular, the first major move of his career. This publication led to John establishing The Scapular Society, an organization backed by the Carmelites that focused on providing men in the armed forces with the holy sacramental. Founded in 1941, just months before the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the society distributed hundreds of thousands of Scapulars to the military. The Society had over seven thousand members and a publication called simply, The Scapular.
In 1946, as a renowned Catholic journalist for his work with The Scapular, he met Don José, Bishop of Leiria, Portugal. Upon meeting John, the Bishop believed he had found the right person to spread the message of Our Lady of Fatima to entire world. The Bishop immediately made it possible for John to meet Sister Lucia, the surviving Fatima seer, face to face. By way of introduction, John took a letter signed by Bishop Don José, which read, “You are to receive this gentleman as if were the Bishop himself.”
During their visits together, John and Sister Lucia composed the March of Pledges: a simple consecration for those who wished to follow our Lady of Fatima’s message. This brief consecration was approved by the Bishop of Leiria and rapidly gained a following.
Inspired by Sister Lucia and her recounting of the Fatima Message, John returned to the United States and under the umbrella of the now greatly successful Scapular Apostolate campaign, enthusiastically dedicated his life to educating the public about the Fatima message.
During one his conferences, John met Msgr. Harold Colgan. They quickly became good friends and began to work together to establish a lay organization to more efficiently spread the message of Fatima: The “Blue Army of Our Lady of Fatima”. It became a spiritual force against the atheistic policies of the Soviet Union and their Red Army.
Under the leadership of Mr. Haffert, armed with the March of the Pledges, the Blue Army rapidly expanded. Chapters were founded all over the world, and the March of the Pledges, now called The Blue Army Pledge, soon accumulated over twenty-five million members. By 1960, the Blue Army had become a powerful Marian apostolate. With John’s quick intelligence and enthusiasm for spreading devotion to Our Lady, he founded Soul Magazine, hosted a television show, organized worldwide pilgrimages to major shrines, authored 32 books and numerous articles, and with his gift of speaking several languages, gave thousands of conferences all over the world.
John retired from the Blue Army in 1987 when he was 72 years old. However, he continued with the Blue Army, serving as an advisor and writer for Soul Magazine.
John was also instrumental in the Pilgrim Virgin Statue being crowned in Russia in 1992: 940 faithful pilgrims accompanied the statue on two personally chartered 747 planes. Among the several other organizations he founded to spread devotion to Our Lady of Fatima and bring souls to the Catholic Church, the crowning of the Pilgrim Virgin Statue in Russia remains one of John Haffert’s greatest spiritual victories. The International Pilgrim Statue continues to travel the world today, attracting millions of souls wherever she goes.
On November 23, 2000, John was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. He continued to work despite his devastating illness, finishing his 32nd book three days before his death.
On October 31, 2001, with his beloved wife, Patricia, and daughter near by, John died peacefully in the presence of the International Pilgrim Virgin Statue that he loved so greatly. The Daily Mass said at his bedside had just concluded.