Our Lady’s Apparitions
May 13, 1917
Lucia Dosantos (age 10) and her cousins Fracisco and Jacinta (ages 9 and 7) where in the pasture with their sheep when suddenly they saw a bright flash of something like lightning, followed quickly by another flash in the clear blue sky.
The children said, “A lady, clothed in white, brighter than the sun, radiating a light more clearly and intense than a crystal cup filled with sparkling water, lit by burning sunlight.” They stood there bathed in the light that surrounded the apparition, as the Lady smiled and said: “Do not be afraid, I will not harm you.”
Lucia as the oldest asked her where she came from. The Lady pointed to the sky and said, “I come from heaven.” Lucia then asked her what she wanted: “I have come to ask you to come here for six months on the 13th day of the month, at this same hour. Later I shall say who I am and what I desire. And I shall return here yet a seventh time.”
Lucia then asked if they would go to heaven and she answered her “yes, she and Jacinta would go to heaven, but Francisco would need to say many rosaries first.” The Lady then said, “Are you willing to offer yourselves to God and bear all the sufferings He wills to send you, as an act of reparation for the conversion of sinners?” The children answered yes and the beautiful Lady said, “Then you are going to have much to suffer, but the grace of God will be your comfort.”
Lucia portrayed that at the same moment as she said these words the Lady opened her hands and streamed a “light” on the children, which allowed them to see themselves as God. The Lady finished with a request: “Say the Rosary every day, to bring peace to the world and the end of the war.” With that, she began to rise into the air, moving towards the east until she disappeared.
June 13, 1917
On June 13, Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta went to the Cova da Iria as the Lady had asked, near the holm oak tree where the Lady had first appeared. About fifty people followed them to the Cova. The children then saw a flash of light followed immediately by the apparition the beautiful Lady. She spoke to Lucia: “I want you to come on the 13th of next month, to pray the Rosary every day, and to learn to read. Later, I will tell you what I want.”
Lucia asked the Lady to take them to heaven and was reassured in this way: “I will take Jacinta and Francisco shortly; but you will stay here for some time to come. Jesus wants to use you to make Me known and loved. He wishes to establish the devotion to My Immaculate Heart throughout the world.”
Lucia, saddened ask Her, “Am I to stay here alone?” The Lady replied, “No, my daughter. Are you suffering a great deal? Don't lose heart. I will never forsake you. My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God.”
One of the witnesses to this apparition, Maria Carreira, described how Lucia then cried out and pointed as Mary departed. She herself heard a noise like, “a rocket, a long way off,” and looked to see a small cloud a few inches over the tree, rise, and move slowly towards the east until it disappeared. The crowd of pilgrims then returned to Fatima where they reported the amazing things they had seen, thus ensuring that there were between two and three thousand people present for the July apparition.
July 13, 1917
The three children again assembled at the Cova on July 13th as the beautiful Lady had asked and again She appeared over the holm oak tree. Lucia asked what she wanted, and Mary replied: “I want you to come here on the 13th of next month, to continue to pray the Rosary every day in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary, in order to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war, because only she can help you.“
Lucia then asked her who she was and for a miracle so everyone would believe: “Continue to come here every month. In October, I will tell you who I am and what I want and I will perform a miracle for all to see and believe.“
Lucia made some requests for sick people. Mary replied, some would be cured, but not others and that all must say the rosary to obtain such graces. She then continued saying “Sacrifice yourselves for sinners, and say many times, especially when you make some sacrifice: ‘O Jesus, it is for love of You, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”
The vision of hell
Lucia later revealed that as she spoke these words, Mary opened her hands and rays of light from them seemed to penetrate the earth so that they saw a terrifying vision of hell, full of demons and lost souls amidst indescribable horrors.
This vision of hell was the first part of the “secret” of Fatima, and revealed much later. The children looked up to the sad face of the Blessed Virgin, who spoke to them kindly:
“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. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. The war is going to end; but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the pontificate of Pius XI. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that he is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father.”
“To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays. If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred, 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 she will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.”
This ends the second part of the secret. In 2000, at the beatification ceremonies of Jacinta and Francisco Marto, St. Pope John Paul revealed the third part of the secret.
Mary specifically told Lucia not to tell anyone about the secret at this stage, apart from Francisco, before continuing: “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.” After assuring Lucia that there was nothing more, Mary disappeared off into the distance.
August 19, 1917
As August 13 approached, the stories of the apparitions had reached the anti-religious secular press, and while this ensured the whole country knew about Fatima, it meant many biased and negative reports were circulating.
On the morning of the 13th, the Mayor of Vila Nova de Ourem, Arturo Santos, kidnapped the children. He interrogated them about the secret; despite his threats and promises of money, they refused to divulge it. In the afternoon, they were moved to the local prison and threatened with death; the children were determined they would rather die than reveal the secret.
On August 19, late in the afternoon, the children together at a place called Valinhos, near Fatima, saw the beautiful Lady again. She spoke to Lucia, “Go again to the Cova da Iria on the 13th and continue to say the Rosary every day.” She also said she would perform a miracle so all would believe and that if they had not been kidnapped it would have been even greater.
Looking very sad, Mary then said, “Pray, pray very much, and make sacrifices for sinners; for many souls go to hell, because there are none to sacrifice themselves and pray for them.” With that, she rose into the air and moved towards the east before disappearing.
By now the children had thoroughly absorbed Mary's plea for prayer and penance, and did everything they could to answer it. They prayed for hours while lying prostrate on the ground and went as long as they could without drinking, in the burning heat of the Portuguese summer. They also went without food, as a sacrifice for sinners, to save them from hell, the vision of which had so profoundly affected them. They even knotted some pieces of old rope around their waists as a form of mortification, not removing them day or night.
September 13, 1917
On September 13, very large crowds began to converge on Fatima from all directions. Around noon, the children then arrived, and after the customary flash of light, they saw Mary on the holm oak tree. She spoke to Lucia: “Continue to pray the Rosary in order to obtain the end of the war. In October Our Lord will come, as well as Our Lady of Dolours and Our Lady of Carmel. Saint Joseph will appear with the Child Jesus to bless the world. God is pleased with your sacrifices. He does not want you to sleep with the rope on, but only to wear it during the daytime.”
Lucia then began to put forward the petitions for cures, to be told: “Yes, I will cure some, but not others. In October I will perform a miracle so that all may believe.” With that, she rose, moved to the east, and disappeared.
October 13, 1917The proclamation of a public miracle caused the most intense speculation throughout Portugal, and the journalist Avelino de Almeida, published a satirical article regarding this in the anti-religious newspaper O Seculo. People from other parts of the country descended, in their tens of thousands, on the Cova, despite the terrible storm that lashed the mountain country around Fatima, on the eve of the 13th. Many pilgrims went barefooted, reciting the rosary as they went, all crowding into the area around the Cova, as by midmorning the weather again turned bad and heavy rain began to fall. The children reached the holm oak around noon, and then saw the flash of light as Mary appeared before them. For the last time, Lucia asked what she wanted: “I want to tell you that a chapel is to be built here in my honor. I am the Lady of the Rosary. Continue always to pray the Rosary every day. The war is going to end, and the soldiers will soon return to their homes.” Again, Lucia made her requests, Our Lady informed her people must amend their lives, and ask forgiveness of their sins, if they wanted healings or conversions. She reported too, that Mary grew very sad and said, “Do not offend the Lord our God anymore, because He is already so much offended.” Then rising into the air and opening her hands towards the sun, growing more brilliant as she did, she disappeared, being replaced by various visions seen only by the children. The Miracle of the Sun
At the same time, the vast crowd saw a true miracle. The black clouds parted, the sun became visible, looking like a dull grey disc that could be looked at directly quite easily. In O Seculo Avelino de Almeida would adopt a very different tone from his earlier satirical article on Fatima:
“…one could see the immense multitude turn towards the sun, which appeared free from clouds and at its zenith. It looked like a plaque of dull silver and it was possible to look at it without the least discomfort. It might have been an eclipse, which was taking place. But at that moment a great shout went up and one could hear the spectators nearest at hand shouting: “A miracle! A miracle!” Before the astonished eyes of the crowd, whose aspect was Biblical as they stood bareheaded, eagerly searching the sky, the sun trembled, made sudden incredible movements outside all cosmic laws - the sun danced” according to the typical expression of the people. … “People then began to ask each other what they had seen. The great majority admitted to having seen the trembling and dancing of the sun; others affirmed that they saw the face of the Blessed Virgin; others, again, swore that the sun whirled on itself like a giant Catherine wheel and that it lowered itself to the earth as if to burn it with its rays. Some said they saw it change colors successively. …”Other witnesses too, such as Maria Carreira, testified to the terrifying nature of the solar miracle: “It turned everything different colors, yellow, blue, white, and it shook and trembled; it seemed like a wheel of fire which was going to fall on the people. They cried out: 'We shall all be killed, we shall all be killed!' … At last the sun stopped moving and we all breathed a sigh of relief. We were still alive and the miracle which the children had foretold had taken place.” Other people witnessed the solar miracle from a distance thus ruling out the possibility of any type of collective hallucination. A final intriguing, and important, point was that the heat of the sun, as it descended on the people, also had the effect of drying their clothes and the ground, so that they went from being completely soaked to being dry in about ten minutes.