MESSAGE FROM EDITOR
Many books and pamphlets have been written about the story of Fátima. Sometimes, personal and rather subjective interpretation of the events in some publications tend to skew the meaning of the messages from Heaven. The following paper is comprised of the most important excerpts from a well researched book by William Thomas Walsh. It is intended to provide the reader with a quick, concise summary of the important facts with the emphasis on the experiences of three shepherd children and their communication with Heaven's messengers. Any interpretation of messages in this reprint was intentionally avoided.
There are two books I can sincerely recommend to those readers interested in a correct and in depth understanding of events concerning the three shepherd children which took place in Portugal between 1916 and 1920. One is Era uma Senhora mais brilhante que o sol by Father John M. de Marchi, I.M.C. The other is William Thomas Walsh, Our Lady of Fátima.
Father De Marchi spent several years in Fátima, questioning witnesses and interviewing one of the seers - Sister Lucia. He was also able to examine her manuscripts.
In 1946 Dr. Walsh also went to Fátima to do his research. He interviewed many witnesses, and spoke to Sister Lucia. He relied extensively on her four memoirs in writing his book.
It was not by coincidence that for an important message to the world, Heaven has chosen three innocent peasant children in Portugal one of the most Catholic countries in Europe, also called a terra de Santa Maria.
The eldest of the three children was Lucia Abóbora (baptized as Lucia de Jesus). Born March 22, 1907 she was the youngest of seven children of Antonio Abóbora, a small farmer and sheep grower, who owned pieces of land in various parts of the Serra da Aire. Among her friends most devoted to her were two of her numerous cousins Francisco and Jacinta (Hyacinthe) Marto born June 11, 1908 and March 11, 1910 respectively. They were the two youngest out of nine children of Lucia's father's sister, Olimpia de Jesus, and her second husband Manuel Pedro Marto. They all lived in Aljustrel, a hamlet in the township of Fátima.
The children would play together most of the time. When Lucia was seven,
she took over the father's flock of sheep from her older sister Caroline
thus becoming a shepherdess. Later, Francisco and Jacintha were allowed
to join Lucia with their flock. Since then, the children spent most of
the day together.
One sunny day, while grazing their sheep, the sky suddenly became overcast and rain began to fall. It stopped abruptly as it began. The children began to throw stones into a valley below for amusement. A strong wind suddenly began to blow across the tops of pines which swayed and moaned as never before. Startled by this, the children looked up for the cause of this when they saw a light over the tops of trees. It was moving east to west and coming in their direction. Lucia recognized a vision she had a year earlier with two other shepherd friends. It was entirely made up of white radiance. They saw the features of a human being. It was indescribably beautiful. When it drew close, it became distinguishable as a form of "a transparent young man" about 14 to 15 years of age. "More brilliant than a crystal, penetrated by the rays of the sun". As Lucia describes him "Like snow that sun shines through until it became crystalline". Stupefied, speechless they stood regarding him. "Don't be afraid" he said. "I am the angel of Peace. Pray with me". Kneeling on the ground, he prostrated himself until his forehead touched it, saying: "Meu Deus! Eu creio, adoro, espero e amos-vos; peço-vos perdão para os que não creem não adoram não esperam e vos não amam" ("My god, I believe, I adore, I hope, and I love you! I beg pardon of you for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love you!").
Three times he spoke the same words, while the children repeated after him. Then arising, he said: "Pray thus. The hearts of Jesus and Mary are attentive to the voice of your supplications." With that he disappeared as if dissolved in the sunlight.
The children remained kneeling and still repeating the prayer for a long time as though under the influence of some supernatural state of ecstasy or suspension of bodily powers. "It was so intense", wrote Lucia "that we were almost unaware of our own existence for a long space of time". After they finished, they were exhausted.
The second apparition happened on a hot summer day a few weeks later. When the children played under the fig trees behind Abóbora's house, suddenly he stood beside them. "What are you doing?" he demanded. "Pray! Pray a great deal! The hearts of Jesus and of Mary have merciful designs for you. Offer prayers and sacrifices constantly to the most high". "How must we sacrifice?" asked Lucia. "With all your power offer a sacrifice as an act of reparation for the sinners by whom He is offended, and of supplication for the conversion of sinners. Thus draw peace upon your country. I am its Guardian Angel, the Angel of Portugal. Above all accept and endure with submission the suffering which the Lord will send you." ("De tudo que podeis, oferecei um sacrificio em acto de reparacão pelos pecadores com que Ele é ofendido e de súplica pela conversão dos pecadores. Atrai assim sobre a vossa Patria a paz. Eu sou o Anjo da sua guarda, o Anjo de Portugal. Sobretudo aceitai e suportai com submissão o sofrimento que a Senhor vos enviar".)
One day in early fall while grazing their sheep near a cave at Cabeço, as they were saying their prayer in unison: "My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love You. I beg pardon of You for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope, and do not love You". They said their prayer just a few times when they saw the crystalline light come swiftly over the valley, and there he was, beautiful, resplendent, dazzling, hovering in the air before them. This time he held in one hand a Chalice, and in the other, a Host. These he left suspended in the air while he prostrated himself on the ground and said: "Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son, Holy Spirit, I adore You profoundly and offer You the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of earth, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges, and indifference with which He Himself is offended. And through the infinite merits of His Most Sacred Heart and of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of You the conversion of poor sinners". This he said three times. Then rising up, he took the Chalice and the Host, and kneeling on the flat rock, held the white disk before him saying: "Take and drink the Body and the Blood of Jesus Christ, horribly insulted by ungrateful men. Make reparation for their crimes and console your God."
They could see drops of blood falling from the host into the cup. He placed it on the tongue of Lucia. To Jacinta and Francisco, who had not received First Communion, he presented the Chalice, and they drank of it. At the end he once more prostrated himself on the ground and said the same prayer thrice. The children repeated with him, Francisco following the others for he had not heard the words. Then, for the last time, the Angel of Peace faded away into the shimmering sunlight.
The sense of the presence of God on that occasion was so intense, according to Lucia, that it left them weak and abstracted and almost with the sensation of being out of their bodies.
Such was the prelude to one of the most remarkable messages which would be given from Heaven to Earth less than a year later.
Soon after they arrived at the hill north of the depression called the Cova and had got the sheep contentedly cropping the furze, they decided to make a little thicket into a house by closing up the opening to it with a wall; and they began to lug some of the stones that were lying all about, and to set them one upon another. While absorbed in this labour, they were startled by a flash so brilliant that they took it to be lightening. Without stopping to ask how it could have come from that cloudless sky, they all dropped their stones and ran helter-skelter down the slope toward a certain holm-oak (carrasqueira), about a hundred yards or more southwest of where they had been playing. They have just found shelter under its thick wide-spreading foliage when there was a second flash of light. Again frightened, the children left the tree and darted toward the east, a distance of perhaps another hundred yards. Then they stopped in amazement. For just before them, on top of a small evergreen called the azinheira they saw a ball of light. And in the center of it stood a Lady. As Lucia describes her, she was "a Lady all of white, more brilliant than the sun dispensing light, clearer and more intense than a crystal cup full of crystalline water penetrated by rays of the most glaring sun". Her face was undescribably beautiful "not sad, not happy, but serious" perhaps somewhat reproachful, though benign; her hands together as in prayer at her breast, pointing up, with Rosary beads hanging down between the fingers of the right hand. Even her garments seemed made solely of the same white light; a simple tunic falling to her feet, and over it a mantle from her head to the same length, its edge made of a fiercer light that seemed to glitter like gold. Neither the hair nor the ears could be seen. The features? It was almost impossible to look steadily at the face; it dazzled, and hurt the eyes, and made one blink or look away.
The children stood, fascinated, within the radiance that surrounded her for a distance of perhaps a meter and a half.
"Don't be afraid" she said, in a low musical voice, never to be forgotten. "I won't hurt you!"
They felt no fear now, in fact, but only a great joy and peace. It was only the "lightning" really that had frightened them before. Lucia was self-possessed enough to ask a question:
"Where does your Excellency come from?"
"I am from heaven."
"And what is it you want of me?"
"I come to ask you to come here for six months in succession, on the thirteenth day at this same hour. Then I will tell you who I am, and what I want. And afterwards I will return here seventh time."
"And shall I go to heaven too?"
"Yes, you will."
"Also, But he will have to say many Rosaries!"
Heaven! Lucia suddenly remembered two girls who had died recently. They were friends of her family, and used to go to her house to learn weaving from her sister Maria.
"Is Maria da Neves now in heaven?" she asked.
"Yes, she is"
"She will be in purgatory until the end of world."
Purgatory! The end of world!
The Lady was speaking again:
"Do you wish to offer yourself to God, to endure all the suffering
that He may please to send you, as an act of reparation for the sins by
which he is offended, and to ask for the conversion of sinners?"
"Yes, we do."
"Then you will have much to suffer. But the grace of God will be your comfort".
As she spoke the words "a Graça de Deus" the lady opened her lovely hands, and from the palms came two streams of light so intense that it not only enveloped the children with its radiance, but seemed to penetrate their breasts and to reach the most intimate parts of their hearts and souls "making us see ourselves in God more clearly in that light than in the best of mirrors" - Lucia. An irresistible impulse forced them to their knees and made them say, fervently:
"O most holy Trinity, I adore You! My god, my God, I love You in the Most Blessed Sacrament!"
The Lady waited for them to finish this. Then she said, "Say the Rosary every day, to obtain peace for the world, and the end of the war."
Immediately after this, she began to rise serenely from the azinheira and to glide away toward the east "until she disappeared in the immensity of the distance". The children remained staring at the eastern sky even after they began to recover from the state of ecstasy which had come over them.
On the St. Anthony's Feast day June 13. 1917 after the mass at Fátima the three children were awaiting the arrival of Heaven's messenger at Cova da Iria together with about fifty other onlookers from near and far as the story of the May apparition spread throughout the mountains. At about noon Lucia cried "Jacinta, there comes Our Lady! There is the light!" A witness recalled "We knelt on the bushes and the gorse. Lucia raised her hands, as if in prayer and I heard her say: "Your Excellency told me to come here, please say what you want of me." Then we heard something like a very faint voice, but we could not understand what it was saying. It was like a buzzing of a bee. Some bystanders noticed that the light of the sun seemed dimmer during the following minutes, though the sky was cloudless. Others saw the top of the azinheira tree covered with new growth, appeared to bend and curve just before Lucia spoke, as if under a weight.
According to Lucia's own account she asked:
"What does your Excellency want of me?"
"I want you to come here on the thirteenth day of the coming month, to recite five decades of the Rosary every day, and to learn to read. I will tell you later what I want."
Lucia then asked for the cure of a certain sick person.
"If he is converted, he will be cured within the year."
"I should like to ask you to take us to heaven."
"Yes, Jacinta and Francisco I will take soon. But you remain here for some time more. Jesus wishes to make use of you to have me acknowledged and loved. He wishes to establish in the world the devotion to my Immaculate Heart."
"I stay here? Alone?"
"No daughter. And do you suffer a great deal? Don't be discouraged. I will never forsake you. My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the road that will conduct you to God."
With these words she opened her hands as she has done on the previous occasion, and again communicated to them the light that streamed in two rays from her palms, enveloping the children in heavenly radiance.
"In it we saw ourselves submerged in God. Jacinta and Francisco seemed to be in the part of this light that went up toward heaven, and I in that which spread itself over ground. Before the palm of the right hand of Our Lady was a heart encircled by thorns which seemed to have pierced it like nails. We understood that it was the Immaculate Heart of Mary outraged by the sins of humanity, for which there must be reparation."
As the revelation faded from their view, the Lady surrounded by the light emanating from her, arose without effort from the little tree and glided swiftly toward the east until she could no longer be visible. Some of the people standing around noticed that the new leaves on the top of azinheira were drawn to the same direction, as if the Lady's garments trailed across them. It took several hours before they returned to their original position.
The following July 13, 1917, close to 3000 pilgrims showed up at Cova da Iria for the third apparition of the Lady. The children knelt and prayed the rosary, when a small cloud descended upon the azinheira. The sunlight suddenly became dimmer, and a cool breeze began to blow over the hot Serra. As usual, Lucia asked:
"Vocemecê que me quere?" (What do you want of me?)
"I want you to come here on the thirteenth day of the coming month and to continue to say five decades of the Rosary to obtain the peace of the world and the end of the war, for she alone will be able to help."
"I wish to ask you to tell us who you are, and to perform a miracle so that everyone will have to believe that you have appeared to us!"
"Continue to come here every month, In October I will tell you who I am and what I wish, and will perform a miracle that everyone will have to believe."
Then Lucia remembers making some requests of various people including a cure for Maria Carreira's (a lady from neighbouring village 'Moita') crippled son. The Holy Lady's answer was that she would not cure him, but would give him a means of livelihood if he would say his Rosary every day. Lucia recalls her insistence on the daily use of the beads to gain graces during the year.
"Sacrifice yourselves for sinners, and say many times, especially when you make some sacrifice: O Jesus it is for your love, for the conversion of sinners and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary."
As she spoke the last words, she opened her lovely hands, and poured down from them the revealing and penetrating radiance that had warmed the hearts of the children on the previous occasions. But this time it seemed to pass into the earth, disclosing beneath "a sea of fire; and plunged in this fire the demons and the souls, as if they were red-hot coals, transparent and black or bronze-colored, with human forms which floated about in the conflagration borne by the flames which issued from it with clouds of smoke falling on all sides as sparks fall in great conflagrations without weight or equilibrium among shrieks and groans of sorrow and despair which horrify and cause to shudder with fear. The devils were distinguished by horrible and loathsome forms of animals frightful and unknown, but transparent like black coals that have turned red-hot." (Editor's note: This vision formed the first part of a secret which was not revealed until much later in Sister Dores' memoirs)
The frightened children raised their eyes as if in desperate appeal to the Lady who stood gazing down on them with sombre tenderness.
"You see hell, where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them God wishes to establish in the world the devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If they do what I will tell you, many souls will be saved, and there will be peace. The war is going to end. But if they do not stop offending God, another and worse one will begin in the reign of Pius XI. When you shall see a night illuminated by an unknown light, know that it is the great sign that God gives you that He is going to punish the world for its crimes by means of war, of hunger, and of persecution of the Church and of the Holy Father. To prevent this I come to ask the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart and the Communion of reparation on the first Saturdays. If they listen to my requests, Russia will be converted and there will be peace. If not she will scatter her errors through the world provoking wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyrized, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated. In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and it will be converted and a certain period of peace will be granted to the world. In Portugal the dogma of Faith will always be kept. Tell this to no one. Francisco, yes, you may tell him. When you say the Rosary, say after each mystery: 'O my Jesus, pardon us and deliver us from the fire of hell. Draw all souls to heaven, especially those in most need'." (Editor's note: This formed the second part of the secret)
The Lady then told the children a final secret which was written by sister Lucia, and forwarded as a letter to the Holy Office in 1944. The secret was not revealed by Vatican until much later, on June 26th, 2000. The complete document can be viewed at www.vatican.va; the highlights of the letter follow*:
" I write in obedience to you, my God, who command me to do so through his Excellency the Bishop of Leiria and through your Most Holy Mother and mine.
" After the two parts which I have already explained, at the left of Our Lady and a little above, we saw an angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but they died out in contact with the splendour that Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand: pointing to the earth with his right hand, the Angel cries out in a loud voice: 'Penance, Penance, Penance!'. And we saw in an immense light that is God: 'something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it a Bishop dressed in White 'we had the impression that it was the Holy Father'. Other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious going up a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big Cross of rough-hewn trunks as of a cork-tree with the bark; before reaching there the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way; having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of big Cross he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him, and in the same way there died one after another the other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious, and various lay people of different ranks and positions. Beneath the two arms of the Cross there were two Angels each with a crystal aspersorium in his hand, in which they gathered up the blood of the Martyrs and with it sprinkled the souls that were making their way to God."
In the long moment of silence that followed, the crowd seemed to sense the apocalyptic solemnity and tenseness of a communication on which hangs perhaps the fate of the entire human race. Not a sound could be heard anywhere. The children, the crowd, the wind, all were silent as death. Finally Lucia, as pale as a corpse ventured to ask in her high thin voice:
"Do you want nothing more of me?"
"No, today I want nothing of thee."
And with last affectionate but overpowering glance, the Lady passed as usual toward the east and disappeared in the immense distance of the firmament.
For the August 13, 1917 apparition of Our Lady, the children did not get to Cova da Iria where 6000 awaited them and the Mother of God for they were kidnapped and held by the administrator of Ourem, Arturo de Oliveira Santos. However, witnesses described what happened on that day at Cova. At about twelve o'clock, some of those around the azinheira began saying the rosary, and gradually all present joined in. Then a faint murmuring sound was heard, followed by what seemed to be a rumble of thunder. Many people were frightened and a few ran away. Those who stayed saw a flash of light and then far over their heads to the east something like a little cloud, frail, white, transparent, filmy that floated slowly down until it came to rest above the azinheira. A moment later it rose again and melted away into the blue sky.
As the people stared at one another in dismay, many noticed a strange fact. Their faces were richly tinted with various colours of the rainbow, and even their garments were red, yellow, blue, orange, and so on, while the foliage of the trees and bushes seemed like brilliant flowers instead of leaves, and dry earth itself was checkered with different gorgeous hues. "There is no doubt Our Lady had come" said Maria Carreira, "but she didn't find the children".
Next Sunday August 19, 1917, at about four o'clock, Lucia, Francisco and his brother John found themselves on a narrow wagon road in Valinhos, on the northern slope of Cabeço when Lucia and Francisco became aware of the familiar, mysterious intensity they always felt before any supernatural visitation. They sent off John to get Jacintha. A few minutes later there was a flash of light, exactly like those had always heralded the approach of the Lady. Meanwhile Jacinta arrived running frantically. Brilliant radiance now assembled at the breach in the wall just over a small azinheira very much like the one at Cova da Iria. And there in the midst of the unearthly glow was the lovely familiar figure, looking tenderly down at the young apostles who had suffered so much for love of her.
"Que é que Vocemecê me quere?" asked Lucia almost
"I want you to continue to go to Cova da Iria on the thirteenth day and to continue to recite the Rosary every day. In the last month I will perform the miracle so that all shall believe".
"What do you want me to do with the money that the crowd left in the Cova da Iria?"
"Make two pedestals; one, carry it you with Jacintha and two other girls dressed in white, and the other let Francisco carry with three other boys. The money on the pedestals is for the feast of the Lady of the Rosary, and that which is left over is for the support of the chapel which they are going to have built".
"I want to ask you to cure some sick people".
"Yes, some I will cure during the year".
The Lady paused, and then continued very earnestly:
"Pray, pray a great deal, and make sacrifices for sinners, for many souls go to hell because they have no one to sacrifice and pray for them."
With that she receded toward the east and vanished.
Once standing on a road Lucia noticed a heavy piece of rope. The shaggy coil had scratched her arm. "Look! This hurts! We can make a girdle of it and offer this sacrifice to God." Dividing it forthwith, each one wore a piece of it wrapped around the body next to skin. Day and night they hugged this improvised hair shirt even though it pricked, chafed, and itched until it was hardly tolerable. It troubled their rest at night, and sometimes would not allow them to sleep at all. What was health compared to saving souls from hell? And what was comfort to the joys of an eternal heaven?
On September 13, 1917 nearly 20 000 pilgrims showed up at Cova. "At midday a complete silence, save for the whisper of prayers fell over the crowd" Monsignor João Quaresma recalls. "Suddenly there were shouts of rejoicing...voices praising Our lady. Arms went up to point at something above. 'Look, don't you see?'...'Yes, now I see!'... There was not a cloud in the azure sky. To my great astonishment I saw clearly and distinctly a luminous globe that moved from east to west, slowly and majestically gliding down across the distance. Suddenly the globe with its extraordinary light vanished before our eyes... The little shepherds looked on the Mother of God herself; to us was granted the grace to see the carriage which had transported her from heaven to the barren inhospitable heath of the Serra da Aire. "We felt that we were very fortunate. How enthusiastically my colleague went about from group to group in the Cova da Iria and afterwards on the highway outside finding out what they had seen. The persons interrogated were of various social classes; all unanimously affirmed the reality of the phenomena which we ourselves had witnessed".
Meanwhile the Lady had revealed herself to the three children in the briefest of her apparitions.
"Continue to say the Rosary to bring about the end of the war."
she said, "In October Our Lord will come also, and Our Lady of the Sorrows
of Carmel, and Saint Joseph with the Child Jesus to bless the world. God
is content with your sacrifices, but does not wish you to sleep with the
rope-wear it only during the day."
"They have begged me to ask you many things: the cure of some sick persons...of a deaf mute."
"Yes," answered the Lady, "Some I will cure, others not. In October I will perform the miracle so that all will believe."
And she disappeared in the same manner as before.
The night before October 13, 1917 darkness fell swiftly with heavy dark clouds rolling in from the northeast accompanied with fog drifting along the mountain sides. As drizzle thickened to a fine, cold, slanting rain, the wind whipped to a gale, bent under it the waving and moaning plumes of pine forests near Leira. The rain fell steadily and pitilessly.
Yet there were thousands of human beings and many beasts on the roads of the little republic that night. Devout Catholics in every village had heard by this time that Our Lady had promised to return to Cova da Iria to perform a miracle on October 13. Fathers and mothers carrying their sick or lame children, peasant families, fishermen, sailors, factory workers, serranas, ladies and gentlemen, scrubwomen, waiters, young and old, rich and poor (but most of them humble, most of them barefoot, most of them workers and their families) in saturated trousers or skirts sloshed around their tired legs as their bare feet plowed the mud or spattered the puddles of bad roads travelling great distances and converging on Fátima.
Fully 70 000 men, women and children, people of all ages and condition were standing patiently in the rain. Nearly all people now were saying the Rosary. "Avé Maria, cheia de graça...Santa Maria, Mãi de Deus, rogai por nos pecadores..."
"Put down the umbrellas!" cried Lucia. One after another obeyed, although the rain was still falling. "Put down the umbrellas!" said one after another. They all stood patiently in the rain. As time passed disappointed murmurs and grumbling began to be heard among the bystanders. Then of a sudden, Lucia looked toward the east and cried:
"Jacinta, kneel down, for now I see Our Lady there. I can see the flash!"
Those near her noticed that her face had become flushed and transparently beautiful. She was gazing rapturously now at the Lady herself, who stood in a flood of white light on the flowers that Maria Carreira had draped on the stump of the azinheira. Jacinta and Francisco on either side of her stared likewise, both radiant both quite oblivious of the multitude around them.
"What do you want of me?" asked Lucia; the fine rain falling
on her upturned face.
"I want to tell you to have them build a chapel here in my honor. I am the Lady of the Rosary. Let them continue to say the Rosary every day. The war is going to end, and the soldiers will soon return to their homes."
"I have many things to ask from you", said Lucia "The cure of some sick persons, the conversion of some sinners..."
"Some yes, others no. It is necessary that they amend their lives, and ask pardon for their sins."
Her face became graver as she continued, "Let them offend Our Lord God no more, for He is already much offended."
With this the Lady of the Rosary opened her white hands as always, and it seemed to Lucia that the light emerging from them ascended to where the sun ought to be, directly overhead. Perhaps it was at this moment that the crowd saw the clouds separate like two vast curtains rolled apart, and the sun appear between them in the clear blue, like a disk of white fire. Certainly many heard Lucia cry, "Look at the sun!" but she said this in ecstasy and has no recollection of it for she was absorbed in something else where sun must have been.
As Our Lady disappeared in the very radiance that came from her outstretched hands, there stood out in the zenith above three tableaus which symbolized, one after another, the Joyous, the Sorrowful and the Glorious mysteries of the Rosary. The first was a distinct representation of the Holy Family: Our Lady herself in her traditional dress of white with a blue mantle, and Saint Joseph beside her holding the Child Jesus on his arm-Saint Joseph in white, the Infant in bright red.
Lucia was heard to say, "Saint Joseph is going to bless us!". All the three children saw this first vision, and saw the Saint make the sign of the cross three times over the crowd. The Holy Child did likewise.
The next vision seen by Lucia alone was one of Our Lady of Sorrows in the sombre garb assigned to her by tradition, the Mater Dolorosa of Good Friday but without the sword in her breast; and beside her stood her divine Son grieving as when he met her on the way to Calvary. Lucia saw only the upper part of His figure. He looked pityingly on the crowd for whom He had died, and raised hand to make the sign of the cross over them.
Our Lady then appeared in a third vision of glory, as Our Lady of Mount Carmel, crowned as queen of heaven and of the world. Her infant Son upon her knee.
The crowd saw nothing of all this. What they all did see however, was something stupendous, unheard of, almost apocalyptic. The sun stood forth in the clear zenith like a great silver disk which though bright as any sun they had never seen, they could look straight at without blinking, and with a unique and delightful satisfaction. This lasted but a moment. While they gazed, the huge ball began to "dance". Now it was whirling rapidly like a gigantic fire-wheel. After doing this for some time, it stopped. Then it rotated again, with dizzy, sickening speed. Finally there appeared on the rim a border of crimson, which flung across the sky as from a hellish vortex, blood-red streamers of flame reflecting to the earth to the trees and shrubs to the upturned faces and the clothes all sorts of brilliant colours in succession: green, red, orange, blue, violet, the whole spectrum in fact. Madly gyrating in this manner three times, the fiery orb seemed to treble, to shudder, and then to plunge precipitately in a mighty zigzag toward the crowd. Some said that the air became warmer at that instant.
A fearful cry broke from the lips of thousands of terrified persons as they fell upon their knees thinking the end of the world had come.
"Ai Jesús, we are all going to die here!"
"Save us, Jesus! Our Lady save us!"
"Oh, my God, I am sorry-" And one began the Act of Contrition.
Some who had come to jeer fell on their faces and broke into sobs and abject prayers.
The Marques do Cruz said, "Oh my God, how great is thy power!"
This had lasted about ten minutes, perhaps. Then all saw the sun begin to climb in the zigzag manner to where it had appeared before. It became tranquil, then dazzling. No one could look at it any longer. It was the sun of every day. Witnesses reported seeing this phenomenon as far as forty kilometers away. The people stared at one another in joy and amazement. "Miracle! Miracle! The children were right! Our Lady made the miracle! Blessed be God! Blessed be Our Lady!" The shouts were taken up all over the Cova da Iria. Some were laughing, others weeping with joy. Many were making the discovery that their drenched clothes had in some unexpected manner become perfectly dry.
The three little shepherds were subsequently questioned concerning their experiences by a priest Dr. Formigão. All three children had seen Our Lady standing on the stump of the tree. All agreed as to the colour of garments and other details. Lucia and Jacinta heard her speak. Francisco as usual had seen her, but did not hear her voice. All three had seen the vision of the Holy Family near the sun. Only Lucia had seen the two succeeding tableaus of Our Lady of Sorrows and Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Further, there were some important discrepancies concerning the Infant Jesus. Lucia believed it was in the arm of Saint Joseph, while both Jacinta and Francisco saw him standing beside him on the right side, and he did not come up to the waist of Saint Joseph. To Lucia he seemed about one year old. To Jacinta and Francisco he was about two.
The questioner concluded that all three had answered honestly. He had seen the miracle of the sun, and became a defender of the children and their story of apparitions despite persistent disbelief and persecution.
In October 1918 the great epidemic of influenza struck Aljustrel the village where our three heroes lived. Jacinta became ill a few days after Francisco. One day Lucia found her strangely elated. "Look, Lucia!" she said. "Our Lady came to see us here, and she said that she is coming very soon to take Francisco to heaven. And she asked me if I still wanted to convert more sinners and I said yes. Our Lady wants me to go to two hospitals. But not to be cured. It is to suffer more for the love of God, for the conversion of sinners and in reparation for the offenses committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary". "She said you were not going," she continued, as Lucia perhaps began to look hopeful. "She said my mother is going to take me, and then I will stay there alone."
After much suffering, Francisco had died on April 4, 1919. Meanwhile, Jacinta was getting steadily worse. In July 1919 her father brought her to a hospital in Ourem. However it was to no avail. After her family had spent what they could afford, Jacinta with an open wound in her chest had to be brought back home in Aljustrel. It was only Lucia that she revealed what a terrible pain she had in her chest. But it was to honor the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
"Tell all the people that God gives them graces through her," she said. "If I could only put in the heart of everybody that light that I have here in my breast to burn me and make me love the heart of Jesus and the heart of Mary so much!...I don't know how it is, I feel Our Lord inside of me, I understand what He says and I don't see or hear him! But it is so good to be with him... Look, do you know what? Our Lord is sad because Our Lady told us not to offend Him any more because He is much offended and nobody pays any attention. They keep right on doing the same sins."
Three times during the year Jacinta saw her "little Mother of Heaven" standing by her bed encouraging her. The last of these visions was late in December 1919.
"Our Lady came to see me last night", she reported joyfully. "She told me that I am going to Lisboa to another hospital. She said that after I suffer a great deal I will die. I will die all alone. But she told me not to be afraid, for she will come and find me and take me to heaven."
In January 1920 Jacinta's mother Olimpia took her to Chão de Maçás, where they boarded a train for Lisboa. Before she was admitted to the hospital, she stayed for a while in an orphanage headed by a Franciscan nun Dona Maria da Purificação Godinho. Jacinta was happy. She liked living in a convent. It seemed heavenly to think that the hidden Lord was there all the time, and that she could visit Him every day and receive Him at Mass every morning. She could never understand how visitors could laugh and gossip in the chapel, and she asked Mother Godinho to remind them to have more respect for the One Who was there. When the reproof had little effect, she said positively, "Then the Cardinal will have to be told about it. Our Lady doesn't want people to talk in the church". Jacinta spoke with such authority! Mother Godinho was convinced she had a saint under her roof. Often she would sit with little Jacinta by the window and draw her into conversation.
"Wars", remarked Jacinta, "are nothing but punishments for the sins
of the world. Our Lady can no longer hold up the arm of her beloved Son
over the world. It is necessary to do penance. If people reform, Our Lord
will save the world. But if they do not reform, He is going to punish it.
"Dear little Our Lady! Ai! I am so sorry for Our Lady! She is so sad.
"Pray much, my little mother for sinners. Pray much for priests. Pray much for the religious. Priests should occupy themselves with the affairs of the Church. Priests should be pure, very pure. The disobedience of priests and religious to their superiors and to the Holy Father offends Our Lord very greatly.
"My little mother, pray for those who govern. Alas for those who persecute the religion of Our Lord! If the Government leaves the Church in peace and gives liberty to the holy Faith it will be blessed by God.
"My little mother do not walk in the midst of luxury. Flee from riches. Be very friendly to holy poverty and to silence. Have great charity even for the wicked. Speak ill of no one and flee from those who do. Be very patient for patience carries us to heaven. Mortification and sacrifices please Our Lord a great deal.
"Confession is a sacrament of mercy. For this reason it is necessary to approach the confessional with confidence and joy. Without confession there is no salvation.
"The Mother of God wants more virgin souls which bind themselves to her by the vow of chastity.
"To be a religious it is necessary to be very pure in soul and body".
Mother Godinho asked, "and do you know what it means to be pure?"
"I do, I do. To be pure in body is to keep chastity. To be pure in soul
is not to commit sins, not to look at what one should not see, not to steal,
never lie, always to tell the truth whatever it costs us.
"Those who do not keep their promises they make to Our Lady will never be happy in their affairs.
"Doctors don't have light to cure the sick because they don't have love of God."
"Who taught you all these things?" asked Mother Godinho. "It was Our Lady. But some I think of myself. I like very much to think."
On February 2, 1920 Jacinta was admitted to the Hospital of Dona Estefânia in Lisbon. Diagnosed with purulent pleurisy she was operated on February 10. Finally, after several days of excruciating pains she died on Friday, February 20, 1920 at 22:30 hours. She died all alone.
On June 18, 1921 Lucia Abóbora left her native Aljustrel to enter school of the Sisters of Saint Dorothy near Porto. Shortly after she entered convent she was renamed as Sister Maria das Dores. In 1925 she joined convent of Saint Dorothy in Tuy. It was in Tuy that Sister Maria das Dores had two visions in 1927. Christ Himself appeared to her confirming the requests of His Mother concerning the devotion to her Immaculate Heart, and giving her permission to reveal the first two parts of the secret the children were told by Our Lady during her July 13, 1917 apparition.
The night of January 25, 1938 the young Sister Maria of Sorrows looked out of the window of her cell. She saw the sky aflame. The strange illumination of the entire sky lasted from nine o'clock that night till two o'clock next morning. The strange glare was seen throughout Europe from the North Sea to the Adriatic, and it was reported in newspapers all over Europe the next day. Designated by astronomers as Aurora Borealis, Sister Maria of Sorrows was convinced at once that this was the strange light predicted by Our Lady at Cova da Iria on July 13, 1917 ("When you shall see a night illuminated by an unknown light, know that it is a great sign that God gives you that He is going to punish the world for its crimes by means of war, hunger, and of persecution of the Church and of the Holy Father...").
Adolf Hitler invaded Austria thus starting World War II in April 1938.
It was in the convent of the Dorothean Sisters at Vilar, near Porto that Dr. Walsh had the priviledge of conversing with Sister Maria das Dores on Monday, July 15, 1946. The following are some clips from their conversation.
"When the angel of Peace gave you Holy Communion at Cabeço, did it seem to you like a dream or a vision, or was it like the reality of receiving Holy Communion in a church?"
She hesitated for the right word. "I cannot be absolutely sure of that, because I was not in any ordinary state of mind during such an experience, and there was something so intimate, so interior, so intense about the apparition of the Angel and what he said and did. But I believe it was like the real experience of receiving in a church, for I felt the contact of the Host."
"Did you see Our Lord in the year 1927?"
"Twice." The answer was prompt and matter-of-fact. Dr. Walsh was not permitted to question her what He said however, nor was he allowed to ask about the conversations she has had with Our Lady since 1917.
"When you reported the words of the Angel and of Our Lady, did you give the exact words as they were spoken, or only the general sense?"
"The Angel's words had an intense and overpowering quality, a supernatural reality, that could not be forgotten. They seemed to engrave themselves exactly and indelibly upon the memory. It was different with the words of Our Lady. I could not be sure that every word was exact. It was rather the sense that came to me, and I put what I understood into words. It is not easy to explain this."
She explained the different effects of the apparitions of the angel and of Our Lady in terms very similar to those she had used in her memoirs. She seemed very fond of such words as "intimo" and "intenso". Her recollections were clear and precise. "The Angel left us feeling exhausted, helpless, overpowered, and we remained lost to everything for hours. Our Lady always made us feel light and joyous".
"Have you had any revelation from Our Lady about the end of the world?"
"I cannot answer that question."
"Some persons believe that Jacinta's vision of a persecuted Pope referred to some particular Pointiff. Some believe the present Holy Father was the one she saw."
"Jacinta said it was a Pope. There was nothing to indicate any particular
De Marchi, I.M.C., Rev. John. Era uma Senhora mais brilhante que o sol...3rd ed. Cova da Iria, Portugal: Seminário das Missoes de N. Sra. De Fátima
Walsh William Thomas, 1947. Our Lady of Fátima. 4th printing,
Macmillan Company, New York.
* The contents of Sister Lucia's letter describing the third secret was taken from Virgin of Fatima Association Newsletter, Vol. 1, No. 3