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Leading their flock out from Aljustrel on the morning of the 13th of May, the feast of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament, the three children passed Fátima, where the parish church and cemetery could be found, and proceeded north to the slopes of the Cova. Here they allowed their sheep to graze as they played in the pasture land. After having had their lunch they decided to pray a rosary, although in a somewhat truncated fashion, saying only the first words of each prayer. Shortly, they were startled by what they later described as "lightening in a clear sky." Thinking that a storm might be approaching they debated whether they should take the sheep and go home. Preparing to do so they were again surprised bya strange light.
And we began to go down the slope driving the sheep towards the road. When we were half-way down, near a holm oak there [the large tree which today is encircled with an iron fence], we saw another flash of lightening, and after a few steps we saw on a holm oak [a small one lower on the hillside] a lady dressed in white, shining brighter than the sun, giving out rays of clear and intense light, just like a crystal goblet full of pure water when the fiery sun passes through it. We stopped astounded by the Apparition.
We were so near that we were in the light that encircled her, or which she radiated, perhaps a meter and a halfaway [4-5 feet].
Please don't be afraid of me, I'm not going to harm you.
Lucia responded for all three, as she would throughout the apparitions.
"Where are you from?"
I come from heaven.
The Lady wore a pure white mantle, edged with gold and which fell to her feet. In her hands, the beads of a rosary shone like stars, with its crucifix the most radiant gem of all. Still,Lucia felt no fear. The Lady's presence produced in her only gladnessand confident joy.
"And what do you want of me?"
I want you to return here on the thirteenth of each month for the next six months, and at the very same hour. Later I shall tell you who I am, and what it is that I most desire. And I shall return here yet a seventh time.
"And shall I go to heaven?"
Yes, you will.
She will go too.
Francisco, too, my dear, but he will first have many Rosaries to say.
For a few moments, the Lady looked at Francisco with compassion, tinged with a little sadness.
Will you offer yourselves to God, and bear all the sufferings He sends you? In atonement for all the sins that offend Him? And for the conversion of sinners? "Oh, we will, we will!" Then you will have a great deal to suffer, but the grace of God will be with you and will strengthen you. Lucia relates that as the Lady pronounced these words, she opened her hands, and:
we were bathed in a heavenly light that appeared to come directly from her hands. The light's reality cut into our hearts and our souls, and we knew somehow that this light was God, and we could see ourselves embraced in it. By an interior impulse of grace we fell to our knees, repeating in our hearts: "Oh, Holy Trinity, we adore You. My God, my God, I love You in the BlessedSacrament."
The children remained kneeling in the flood of this wondrous light, until the Lady spoke again, mentioning the war in Europe, of which they had little or no knowledge.
Say the Rosary every day, to bring peace to the world and an end to the war.
After that she began to rise slowly in the direction of the east, until she disappeared in the immense distance. The light that encircled Her seemed to make a way amidst the stars, and that is why we sometimes said we had seen theheavens open.
The days that followed were filled with excitement, though they had not intended it that way. Lucia had cautioned the others to keep their visitor a secret, correctly perceiving the difficulties they would experience if the events became known. However, the joy of seven year old Jacinta could not be contained, and she rather promptly forgot her promise and revealed all to her mother, who patiently listened but gave it little credence. Her brothers and sisters piped in with their questions and jokes. Among the interrogators onlyher father, "Ti" Marto, was inclined immediately to accept the tale as true. He believed in the honesty of his children, and had a simple appreciation of the workings of God, such that he became the first believer in the apparitions ofFátima.
When Lucia's mother, on the other hand, heard what had transpired, believed her own daughter to be the instigator of a fraud, if not a blasphemy. Lucia would quickly learn what the Lady meant when she said they would suffer a great deal. Maria Rosa was unable to get Lucia to recant, even under threats. Finally she hauled her before the parish priest, Fr. Ferreira, with no better success. On the other hand, Lucia's father, who was not especially religious, was practically indifferent, attributing all of it to the fancies of women. The next few weeks, as the children awaited their scheduled appointment with the lady in June, would reveal that they had few believers and many detractors in Aljustrel and Fátima.
In Portugal, the 13th of June is a great feast, the feast of St. Anthony of Lisbon, known to most Catholics as St. Anthony of Padua. This Franciscan miracle-worker was born in Lisbon and had entered religious life as a Canon Regular of the Holy Cross, residing first in Lisbon and then Coimbra, before leaving the Portuguese order for the new Order of Friars Minor and a hope of martyrdom. It was, and is, THE children's feast in Portugal, Lucia's parents naturally thought that the festivities at the parish church in Fátima would distract her from the appointment at the Cova. However, undismayed by this tactic Lucia and the Marto children proceeded to the apparition site to keep their noon day rendezvous. When they arrived they found a smallcrowd awaiting them.
After having said the rosary with Jacinta and Francisco and other people who were present, we saw again the reflection of light nearing us, (we used to say it was lightening), and following, OurLady on the holm oak as in May.
"Please tell me, Madam, what it is thatyou want of me?"
I want you to come here on the thirteenth of next month. I want you to continue saying the Rosary every day. And after each one of the mysteries, my children, I want you to pray in this way:
O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fire of hell. Take all souls to heaven, especially those who are most in need.
I want you to learn to read and write, and later I will tell you what else I want of you.
"Will you take us to heaven?"
Yes, I shall take Jacinta and Francisco soon, but you will remain a little longer, since Jesus wishes you to make me known and loved on earth. He wishes also for you to establish devotion in the world to my Immaculate Heart. "Must I remain in the world alone?"
Not alone, my child, and you must not be sad. I will be with you always, and my Immaculate Heart will be your comfort and the way which will lead you to God.
The moment she said the last words, opening her hands, She transmitted to us, for the second time, the reflection of that intense light. In it we felt we were submerged in God. Jacinta and Francisco seemed to be in that part of the light which was rising to Heaven, and I in the part spreading over the earth. In front of the palm of Our Lady's right hand was a heart encircled with thorns which appeared to pierce it. We understood it was the Immaculate Heart of Mary offended by the sins of mankind, craving reparation.
The apparition then concluded as on the first occasion, with the Lady going off toward the east and disappearing in the "immensity of heaven."
Despite the joy of those precious moments the sorrows of the children continued in the following weeks, moderated by the belief of very many at the Cova that day. They knew that something unusual had occurred - they saw the "lightening," some perceived a certain dimming of the sun, others a little gray cloud that came and went as the apparition did and they believed. However, the difficulties with their families did not abate, especially with their mothers, who became genuinely alarmed that the events were not just continuing but expanding. To this was added the painful caution of the parish priest, that after all it might be real but of demonic origin.
As the July date approached, Lucia continued to be troubled by the words of her pastor that the devil might be behind the apparitions. Finally, she confided to Jacinta that she intended not to go. When the day finally dawned, however, her fears and anxieties disappeared, so that the noon hour found her in the Cova with Jacinta and Francisco, awai t i ng the arrival of the beautiful Lady.
The apparition of July 13th would prove to be, in many ways, the most controversial aspect of the message of Fátima, providing a secret in three parts which the children guarded zealously. The first two parts, the vision of hell and the prophecy of the future role of Russia and how to prevent it, would not be revealed until Sr. Lucia wrote them down in her third memoir, at the request of the bishop, in 1941. The third part, usually called the Third Secret, was only later communicated to the bishop, who sent it unread to PopePius XII.
A few moments after arriving at the Cova da Iria, near the holm oak, where a large number of people were praying the Rosary, we saw the flash of light once more, and a moment later Our Ladyappeared on the holm oak.
"Lucia," Jacinta said, "speak. Our Lady is talking to you."
"Yes?" said Lucia. She spoke humbly, asking pardon for her doubts with every gesture, and to the Lady: "What do youwant of me?"
I want you to come back here on the thirteenth of next month. Continue to say the Rosary every day in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary, to obtain the peace of the world and the end of the war, because only she can obtain it.
"I would like to ask who you are, and if you will do a miracle so that everyone will know for certain that you have appeared to us."
You must come here every month, and in October I will tell you who I am and what I want. I will then perform a miracle so that all may believe.
Thus assured, Lucia began to place before the Lady the petitions for help that so many had entrusted to her. The Lady said gently that she would cure some, but others she would not cure.
"And the crippled son of Maria da Capelinha?"
No, neither of his infirmity nor of his poverty would he be cured, and he must be certain to say the Rosary with his family every day.
Another case recommended by Lucia to the Lady's assistance was a sick woman from Atougia who asked to be taken to heaven.
Tell her not to be in a hurry. Tell her I know very well when I shall come to fetch her. Make sacrifices for sinners, and say often, especially while making a sacrifice: O Jesus, this is for love of Thee, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for offences committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
As Our Lady spoke these words she opened her hands once more, as she had during the two previous months. The rays of light seemed to penetrate the earth, and we saw as it were a sea of fire. 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 following back on every side like sparks in huge fires, without weight or equilibrium, amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear. (it must have been this sight which caused me to cry out, as people say they heard me do). The demons could be distinguished by their terrifying and repellent likeness to frightful and unknown animals, black and transparent like burning coals. Terrified and as if to plead for succor, we 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. It is to save them that God wants to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If you do what I tell you, many souls will be saved, and there will be peace. This war will end, but if men do not refrain from offending God, another and more terrible war will begin during the pontificate of Pius XI. When you see a night that is lit by a strange and unknown light [this occurred on January 28, 1938], you will know it is the sign God gives you that He is about to punish the world with war and with hunger, and by the persecution of the Church and the Holy Father.
To prevent this, I shall come to the world to ask that Russia be consecrated to my Immaculate Heart, and I shall ask that on the First Saturday of every month Communions of reparation be made in atonement for the sins-of the world. If my wishes are fulfilled, Russia will be converted and there will be peace; if not, then Russia will spread her errors throughout the world, bringing new wars and persecution of the Church; the good will be martyred and the Holy Father will have much to suffer; certain nations will be annihilated. But in the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she will be converted, and the world will enjoy a period of peace. In Portugal the faith will always be preserved...
[Here belongs the part of the Secret of which Cardinal Sodano spoke at the Mass of Beatification, and which the Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith published with commentary.]
Remember, you must not tell this to anyone except Francisco. When you pray the Rosary, say after each mystery: O my Jesus, forgive us, save us from the fire of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those who are most in need.
"Is there anything more that you want of me?"
No, I do not want anything more of you today.
Then, as before, Our Lady began to ascend towards the east, until she finally disappeared in the immense darkness ofthe firmament.
The possession of the Secret proved to be a very great trial for the three young ones. Family, neighbors, followers of the apparitions, even the clergy, tried unsuccessfully to get them to reveal it. Finally, as the day of the August apparition approached, even the civil government, which was secular and virulently anti-clerical, alarmed by the numbers of people taking an interest in the Fátima events, attempted to wrest it from them and in the process expose the Church as a collaborator in a fraud.
Under the pretext of providing his personal automobile so that the children could travel safely through the crowds pressing around their homes, the civil Administrator (or Mayor) of the district in which Fátima was located arrived in Aljustrel on the morning of August 13th. A previous attempt on August 11 th to obtain the "truth" from the children having been unsuccessful, Artur Santos, an apostate Catholic and high Mason, had devised a scheme by which he would take them into custody and force them to reveal all. With a show of good will, he now offered to take the three and their parents to see the parish priest, whom he claimed wished to see them, and then to the Cova. At the parish house he abandoned this ruse and the parents, taking the children alone from there to the district headquarters in Vila Nova de Ourem, some nine miles away. Here he tried bribes, threats of death and locking them in a cell with other "criminals" in order to get them to recant their story. It was to no avail. Despite their ages, their belief in the Lady and their courage was unshakeable.
Meanwhile, in the Cova at noon on the 13th the characteristic external signs of the Apparition appeared for the benefit of the crowd, the greatest crowd to that time. After they endedthe crowd dispersed, as yet unaware of the trickery of the government.
The "trial" of the children, however, continued for two days. Finally, on the Feast of the Assumption, August 15, the Administrator had them driven back to Fátima and deposited on the steps of the rectory. Here they were seen just as the people, who had come from Mass, were trying to determine from Ti Marto where the children were. Their anger was poured out on the driver, and on the Mayor when he arrived a little later. It would effectively be the only serious effort of the civil authorities to interfere with the Ladyof Fátima.
As it was, the Lady's plans were delayed slightly. On Sunday the 19th, Lucia, her brother John, and Francisco, were grazing the sheep at a place known as Valinhos. It was located on the side of the same hillock opposite Aljustrel where the angel appeared twice, though a little farther north. At about 4 o'clock, sensing that Our Lady was about to appear, Lucia tried unsuccessfully to get John to fetch Jacinta, until she offered him a couple pennies for the errand. As she and Francisco waited they saw the characteristic light. The momentJacinta arrived the Lady appeared.
"What do you want of me?"
Come again to the Cova da Iria on the thirteenth of next month, my child, and continue to say the Rosary every day. In the last month I will perform a miracle so that all may believe.
"What are we to do with the offerings of money that people leave at theCova da Iria?"
I want you to have two ardors made, for the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. I want you and Jacinta to carry one of them with two other girls. You will both dress in white. And then I want Francisco, with three boys helping him, to carry the other one. The boys, too, will be dressed in white. What is left over will help towards the construction of a chapel that is to be built here.
Lucia then asked for the cure ofsome sick people.
Some I will cure during the year. (looking sadly at them) Pray, pray very much. Make sacrifices for sinners. Many souls go to hell, because no one is willing to help them with sacrifice.
Having said that she departed asshe had on the other occasions.
Despite the ridicule and jokes of the secular, atheistic press, more than 30,000 people gathered in the Cova for the September apparition. Whether drawn by devotion or curiosity, they prayed the rosary while awaiting the arrival of the visionaries and their vision. When at last the time camethey could hear Lucia say,
"What do you want of me?"
Continue the Rosary, my children. Say it every day that the war may end. In October Our Lord will come, as well as Our Lady of Sorrows and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. Saint Joseph will appear with the Child Jesus to bless the world. God is pleased with your sacrifices, but He does not want you to wear the cords to bed. Keep them on during the day.
"I have the petitions of many for your help. Will you assist a little girl who is deafand dumb?"
She will improve within the year.
"And the conversions that some have asked to have brought about? Thecures of the sick ones?"
Some I will cure, and some I will not. In October I will perform a miracle so that all may believe.
With these last words still ringing in their ears, the Lady rose and disappeared in the heavens, as Lucia called to the crowd, "If you wish to see her—look! Look!"
During the night of October 12-13, it had rained throughout, soaking the ground and the pilgrims who made their way to Fátima from all directions by the thousands. By foot, by cart and even by car they came, entering the bowl of the Cova from the FátimaLeiria road, which today still passes in front of the large square of the Basilica. From there they made their way down the gently slope to the place where a trestle had been erected over the little holm oak of the apparitions. Today on the site is the modern glass and steel Capelhina (little chapel), enclosing the first chapel built there and the statue of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fátima where the holm oakhad stood.
As for the children, they made their way to the Cova amid the adulation and skepticism which had followed them since May. When they arrived they found critics who questioned their veracity and the punctuality of the Lady, who had promised to arrive at noon. It was well passed noon by the official time of the country. However, when the sun arrived at its zenith the Lady appeared as she had said shewould.
"What do you want of me?"
I want a chapel built here in my honor. I want you to continue saying the Rosary every day. The war will end soon, and the soldiers will return to their homes.
"Yes. Yes. Will you tell me your name?"
I am the Lady of the Rosary.
"I have many petitions from many people. Will you grant them?"
Some I shall grant, and others I must deny. People must amend their lives and ask pardon for their sins. They must not offend our Lord any more, for He is already too much offended!
"And is that all you have to ask?"
There is nothing more.
As the Lady of the Rosary rose toward the east she turned the palms of her hands toward the dark sky. While the rain had stopped, dark clouds continued to obscure the sun, which suddenly burst through them and was seen to be a soft spinning disk of silver.
"Look at the sun!"
From this point, two distinct apparitions were seen, that of the phenomenon of the sun seen by the 70,000 or so spectators and that beheld by the children alone. Lucia describes the latter in her memoirs.
After our Lady had disappeared into the immense distance of the firmament, we beheld St. Joseph with the Child Jesus and Our Lady robed in white with a blue mantle, beside the sun. St. Joseph and the Child Jesus seemed to bless the world, for they traced the Sign of the Cross with their hands. When, a little later, this apparition disappeared, I saw Our Lord and Our Lady; it seemed to me that it was Our Lady of Sorrows (Dolors). Our Lord appeared to bless the world in the same manner as St. Joseph had done. This apparition also vanished, and I saw Our Lady once more, this time resembling Our Lady of Carmel. [Only Lucia would see the later, presaging her entrance into Carmel some years later.]
This would be the last of the apparitions of Fátima for Jacinta and Francisco. However, for Lucia, Our Lady would return a seventh time, in 1920, as she had promised the previous May. At that time Lucia would be praying in the Cova before leaving Fátima for a girls boarding school. The Lady would come to urge her to dedicate herself wholly to God.
As the children viewed the various apparitions of Jesus, Mary and Joseph the crowd witnessed a different prodigy, the now famous miracle of the sun.BACK TO LIST