Our Lady of Fatima, Portugal, 1916-1917

“Our Lady of Fatima”

Lucia Santos (9) and her two cousins, Francisco Marto (8) and Jacinta Marto (6), were herding sheep when what they thought was an early summer rainstorm caused them to seek shelter in a cave. A sudden stiff breeze whipped the tree branches and caused them to be afraid. Suddenly, in front of them, appeared a shining, young, incredibly handsome man who was “more brilliant than a crystal penetrated by rays of the sun.” He began walking toward them over the tops of the olive trees as if following the sun’s rays to the ground at the entrance of the cave. He told them he was the Angel of Peace and taught them a prayer of adoration.

The three visionaries: Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta in 1917.
The three visionaries: Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta in 1917.

“My God, I believe, I adore, I hope, and I love You! I ask pardon of You for all those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope, and do not love You. Pray thus; the Hearts of Jesus and Mary are attentive to the voice of your supplication.”

He saw them again later that summer and again in the autumn of 1916. They learned about praying frequently and sacrifices. He interrupted their play:

“What are you doing? Pray! Pray a great deal! The most Holy Hearts of Jesus and Mary have merciful designs for you. Offer prayers and sacrifices constantly to the Most High. This will 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.”

On another day, while pasturing their sheep, the children decided to pray near the cave as the angel had urged them to do. They became aware of an extraordinary light shining on them. When they looked up, the angel was standing over them. In his left hand, he held a chalice with a Host suspended above it. Drops of blood fell from the Host into the chalice. Leaving the chalice suspended in mid-air, the angel knelt down and made them repeat three times:

“Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I offer you the most precious Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for all 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.”

Then he took the chalice and Host with both hands, giving the Host to Lucia and sharing the chalice between Jacinta and Francisco. (from Lucia’s “Second Memoir”)

“Take and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, horribly outraged by ungrateful men. Make reparations for their crimes and console your God.”

But, wait a minute – only priests can convert the bread and wine into the Body and Blood. How can an angel do this? This question was raised in later apparitions, and the answer from Heaven was this: Yes, only priests can do this; Angels are borrowing the consecrated Host and wine from tabernacles of parishes. So, was any parish nearby missing anything?

The Angel of Portugal meets with the three children in 1916.
The Angel of Portugal meets with the three children in 1916.

Not well known until now is the fact that a local parish 18 miles away had their Host strangely missing from within the locked tabernacle about that same time. The chalice was present, but it had been moved to a different position inside the tabernacle. The priest was so dumbfounded — as he held the only key — that he never told anybody other than his bishop. It bothered him for years as he could not explain the disappearance of these precious items entrusted to his care and protection. Several months before he died, he confessed this inexplicable incident to others.

On Sunday, May 13, 1917, a flash of light from a clear blue sky interrupted their play. They ran down a slope toward a tree only to have another flash of dazzling light send them back 100 yards in another direction. Then they saw a large ball of light settling on the top of a small evergreen tree. Inside the glowing ball was the figure of a beautiful woman of all white, more brilliant than the sun, more clear and more intense. She defied gravity by standing on the top of this tender shrub. The intense light enveloped the children, just three feet away. They were terrified, but her soft voice calmed them and melted their fears away.

“Don’t be afraid. I won’t hurt you. I am from Heaven. I want to you to come here on the 13th of every month at the same hour for 6 months. Then I will tell you who I am and what I want. You will all go to heaven someday. Are you willing to suffer all that would happen to you as reparation for sins and for the conversion of sinners?”

Lucia answered “Yes” quickly for all three of them. Streams of light flowed from her hands to the soil of the Earth. They felt deeply connected and dropped to their knees, praying as they had been taught by the angel. Mary told them to say the Rosary to obtain peace for the world and the end of war. Then she glided away into the eastern sky until she was so small that they could no longer see her. Only Francisco was unable to hear her although he saw everything. Since the younger ones could not keep a secret easily, soon many knew what had happened. Lucia’s father dismissed it completely, and her mother was outraged by what she assumed was a great and shameful lie. All three children were saddened by the negativity and doubts of others.

Yet, when June 13th came around, the three children and a number of bystanders returned to the site for Mary’s 2nd visit — and they were not disappointed. As only the children saw the light approach, bystanders noted that the sun seemed to dim in the cloudless sky. And, although the adults could not see Mary, they did witness a wispy pillar of smoke next to the holm oak. They could not clearly hear Mary’s voice, but they did report a small sound – “like the buzzing of a bee.”

The Virgin Mary appears on May 13, 1917 to the three kids.
The Virgin Mary appears on May 13, 1917 to the three kids.

This time when the Lady appeared, she said that she would be taking Jacinta and Francisco with her to heaven rather soon, but that Lucia would remain on Earth “for some time longer” to help promote her Immaculate Heart to the world. The rays of light extended from her hands again, and they felt the connection along with a vision of the Immaculate Heart – “a heart encircled by thorns that pierced it, in front of Our Lady’s right palm.” A crowd of about 50 witnesses observed the little cloud (that Mary had stood upon) rise slowly and retreat toward the east. The top branches and leaves of the holm oak were also bent as if a weight had just been on top (where Mary had appeared).

Again the doubts, ridicule, and abrasive comments soured the children’s desire to return in July, but, at the last moment they all decided to keep their rendezvous with the Lady. Two to three thousand people were already waiting for them there! Mary again insisted that they pray the Rosary fervently. Mary called herself the Lady of the Rosary. Then, the Lady did something entirely different — her rays of light poured through the children into the earth below them, opening up a view of Hell:

“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 falling 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. The demons could be distinguished by their terrifying and repellent likeness to frightful and unknown animals, black and transparent like burning coals.”

The Lady then shared some prophecies if offenses against God did not stop.

“You have seen Hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world a 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 (World War I) is going to end; but if the people do not cease offending God, a worse one (World War II) will break out during the pontificate of Pius XI (whom nobody had heard of at this date). When you see a night, illuminated by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given to 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.”

Blessed Mary meets the three shepherd children again on June 13.
Blessed Mary meets the three shepherd children again on June 13.

And if Russia was not consecrated to her, many terrible things would happen throughout the world. One awful event would involve a pope. Another vision showed tall buildings being destroyed. A final secret was to be kept to themselves. The publicity toward the children was endless on every day. Lucia later reported the details of these visions:

“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 in contact with the splendor that Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand. Pointing to the earth with his right hand, the angel cried 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, were 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 the big cross, he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him. And, in the same manner, 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.”

The Virgin Mary concluded with this:

“When you pray the Rosary, say, after each mystery: O my Jesus, forgive us, save us from the fires of Hell. Lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who are most in need.”

Arturo Santos, the administrator or mayor of Ourem, arrived on the much anticipated August 13 apparition date in a carriage drawn by two black horses. Pacing and acting nervously, he offered to protect the children from the growing crowds and escort them to the site in his carriage. Although they refused, he changed tactics and said they needed to visit the priest, Father Ferreira, in Fatima before the event. The three children and their two fathers agreed to go, and the children were indeed questioned by the priest. But then Santos suddenly urged them to hurry up — and quickly loaded them back into the carriage, taking off before the two fathers could react and catch up. According to Lucia, it was masterfully orchestrated.

Jacinta, Lucia, and Francisco ready to meet Mary again on July 13.
Jacinta, Lucia, and Francisco ready to meet Mary again on July 13.

News of the abduction reached the 18,000 waiting for the children, nearly inciting a riot among those who had gathered at the apparition site with great anticipation. But these many thousands were not to be disappointed as Mary did give them a number of signs that she had kept her promise to be present. There were two loud explosions – like cannon fire – that came from the holm oak where she had always appeared. People began to flee in fear. But then, strangely, the people were pulled toward the tree as if by an electric current. Some fainted – others were afraid. The clouds took on a fantastic sequence of colors: blood red to pink to blue to indigo. There were flashes like lightning. A wispy pillar of smoke rose next to the tree. Some spoke of a falling of roses! Every person had some level of experience that day and came away feeling great awe and inspiration.

Lucia later reported that the children were ushered off to Ourem where they were locked in a room and told that they would not be let out until they revealed the secret that Our Lady had entrusted in them. This caused them to miss their August 13th rendezvous with Mary. An elderly lady tried to squeeze the secret from them but failed. The authorities offered a bribe of gold coins and jewelry – which also failed. So they were then locked in the prison area of the council building. They were shown a cauldron of oil placed over a fire and told that if they had not revealed the secret by the time the oil boiled, then they would be either hung or have their heads chopped off.

They were taken to a foul-smelling detention cell and thrown in with adult male prisoners. The other prisoners became impressed – even inspired – by the strong religious conviction of the young visionaries and their lack of fear in the face of death threats. The children decided to recite prayers, recognize their suffering as necessary, and get the other prisoners on their knees to pray with them. Afterwards, the prisoners decided to cheer up the children with songs, harmonica music, and dancing.

The Virgin Mary shares many predictions and visions on September 13.
The Virgin Mary shares many predictions and visions on September 13.

The children realized that if they were put to death, it would be the ultimate sacrifice, and they could go to heaven sooner! When they faced the authorities at the crucial moment of decision — as the oil finally had boiled, they were filled with sweet peace, fearless conviction, and steadfast devotion to Mary’s wishes. Santos had lost his advantage over the children since they had decided to become joyous martyrs, so he drove them back home on August 15. A crowd cheered their return, but others were gathering to assault Mr. Santos – so he left rather quickly. (He was removed from office on December 8 of that same year.)

Blessed Mary met the children instead on the 19th of August in Valinhos. Lucia was with Francisco and her older brother John when she became aware of the signs that a supernatural visit was coming: a sudden cooling of the air, the paling of the sun, and a flash of light. She had to bribe her excited brother with two pennies to leave and go find Jacinta quickly. Just as they returned to the field, a second flash of light occurred and the “brilliant Lady” appeared over another holm oak tree.

“I want you to continue to come on the thirteenth and to continue to say the Rosary every day. In the last month, in October, I shall perform a miracle so that all may believe in My apparitions. If they had not taken you to the village, the miracle would have been greater. St. Joseph will come with the baby Jesus to give peace to the world. Our Lord also will come to bless the people. Besides, Our Lady of the Rosary and Our Lady of Sorrows will come. (Lucia asks about the donations that have been left at the site) Have two litters made. One is to be carried by you and Jacinta and two other girls dressed in white. The other one is to be carried by Francisco and three other boys. The litters are for the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, and the money that is left over will help towards the construction of a chapel that is to be built. Pray! Pray a great deal and make sacrifices for sinners, for many souls go to Hell for not having someone to pray and make sacrifices for them.”

 A huge crowd gathers to see the miracle on October 13, 1917.
A huge crowd gathers to see the miracle on October 13, 1917.

Lucia’s brother John was frustrated that he could not see or hear the Blessed Mary, but he was satisfied with hearing “a clap of thunder similar to the firing of a gun” as Mary departed. Jacinta broke off a small branch that Our Lady had rested her feet upon, which had been touched by her magnificent robe, and took it home. On the way, Lucia’s mother demanded, skeptically, to hold the branch. She was shocked to behold a “magnificent fragrance” that she could not identify – and was a changed woman from this point forward.

With the dawn of September 13th, crowds of people surrounded the children’s homes, overflowing on the roads, immobilizing movement, and demanding the children pray to Mary for certain things. As the children finally made their way to the apparition site, it is estimated that as many as 30,000 awaited them. Lucia was almost finished reciting the Rosary when the flash of light came. Then a globe of light appeared before the crowd – but this time, thousands could witness it, including three priests: Vicar General of Leiria, Monsignor John Quaresma, and Father Manuel do Carmo Gois. Here is the Monsignor’s detailed eyewitness account:

“At noontime, silence fell on the crowd, and a low whispering of prayers could be heard. Suddenly, cries of joy filled the air, many voices praising the Blessed Virgin. Arms were raised to point to something above, ‘Look! Don’t you see?’ I, too, raised my eyes to probe the amplitude of the skies, hoping to see what the other fortunate eyes were seeing before me. There was not a single cloud in the whole blue sky, yet to my great astonishment, I saw clearly and distinctly a luminous globe, coming from the east to the west, gliding slowly and majestically through space. My friend also looked up and had the happiness of enjoying the same unexpected but enchanting apparition. Suddenly, the globe with its extraordinary light disappeared before our eyes. There was a little girl near us, about the same age as Lucia. She was excited with joy and kept saying, ‘I still see Her … now She is coming down to the foot of the hill.’

The stunning Miracle of the Sun brings the crowd to their knees.
The stunning Miracle of the Sun brings the crowd to their knees.

Lucia then asked the vision of Mary, hovering over the holm oak tree, “What do you want of me?”

“Let the people continue to say the Rosary every day to obtain the end of the war. In October, I will perform a miracle so that all may believe. (When Lucia offered two letters and a bottle of cologne as gifts from the people, Mary said:) None of that is necessary for Heaven.”

Lucia shouted to the people as Mary rose to leave, “If you want to see Our Lady, look that way (to the East).” When the crowd looked, hundreds or more saw the luminous globe ascending towards Heaven. But thousands who were present also witnessed other supernatural details: a sudden cooling of the air, a dimming of the sun – so much so that thousands could see the stars at mid-day, a white mist surrounding the holm oak and the children, and a shower of white, iridescent flower petals that vanished upon reaching the ground.

Visionary Jacinta.
Visionary Jacinta.

October 13 was rainy and windy, but more than 70,000-100,000 were present to see the miracle that Mary had promised. Finally there would be proof of either a divine presence or a hoax. So skeptics as well as believers were all present together. Reporters were sent from even the most skeptical newspapers.

Promptly at noon, Mary arrived with the usual flash of light. Her snow-white feet rested upon the flowers and ribbons which adorned the tree. The faces of the children assumed an unworldly expression, their features more delicate, their color mellow, their eyes intent upon the Lady. And they were strangely dry in the pouring rain.

“I want a chapel to be built here in My honor. I am Our Lady of the Rosary. Continue to say the Rosary every day. The war will end soon and the soldiers will return to their homes. 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.”

The Blessed Virgin opened Her hands, which emitted a flood of light. While she was rising, she pointed them toward the sun, and the light gleaming from her hands brightened the sun itself.

“Look at the sun!” cried out Lucia. The rainclouds rolled back to reveal a dimmer sun — like a white disc that people could stare at without hurting their eyes. The huge crowds watched the sun bob up and down like a bright silver top. Then, it began spinning, rotating upon itself with exceedingly great speed, shooting off every imaginable color, then plunged toward the earth in a zigzag fashion. Many of the 70,000 witnesses thought they were going to die and dropped to their knees, but the sun stopped abruptly and returned to its normal position and brightness. All rain-soaked clothing was suddenly dry on every drenched person, and mud puddles were completely gone. Here are six eyewitness accounts (the last one is from Jacinta’s father):

The incorrupt body of Jacinta 15 years after her death.
The incorrupt body of Jacinta 15 years after her death.

“Suddenly the people broke out with a cry of extreme anguish. The sun, still rotating, had unloosened itself from the skies and came hurtling towards the earth. This huge, fiery millstone threatened to crush us with its weight. It was a dreadful sensation. During this solar occurrence, the air took on successive different colors. While looking at the sun, I noticed that everything around me darkened. Everything had the color of an amethyst – the sky, the air, everything and everybody. A little oak nearby was casting a heavy purple shadow on the ground. This did not give the impression of being an eclipse. While still looking at the sun, I noticed that the air had cleared. Everything far and near had changed now. Now everybody and everything looked yellow!”

“The sun was sometimes surrounded by blood-red flames. At other times it was aureoled with yellow and soft purple. Again, it seemed possessor of the swiftest rotation and then seemed to detach itself from the heavens, come near the earth, and give forth a tremendous heat.”

“The sun came out with a well-defined rim and seemed to come down to the height of the clouds. It started to rotate intermittently around itself like a wheel of fireworks for about eight minutes. Everything became almost dark, and the people’s features became yellow. All were kneeling in mud.”

“It looked to me as a luminous disc, with a bright, well-defined rim. It did not hurt the eyes. It looked like a small, brightly polished wheel of iridescent mother-of-pearl. The sun was not opaque, veiled, or diffused. It gave light and heat and was brightly outlined by a beveled rim.”

“The sun cast different colors, yellow, blue, and white. It trembled constantly. It looked like a revolving ball of fire falling upon the people. As the sun hurled itself towards the earth in a mighty zigzag motion, the multitude cried out in terror, ‘We are all going to die here.’ At last the sun swerved back to its orbit and rested in the sky. Everyone gave a sigh of relief. We were still alive.”

“We could look at the sun with ease. It seemed to be continually fading and glowing in one fashion, then another. It threw shafts of light one way and another, painting everything in different colors – the people, the trees, the earth, even the air. Everybody stood still and quiet, gazing at the sun. At a certain point, the sun stopped its play of light and then started dancing. It stopped once more and again started dancing until it seemed to loosen itself from the skies and fall upon the people. It was a moment of terrible suspense.”

Visionary Lucia becomes a nun in the early 1920's.
Visionary Lucia becomes a nun in the early 1920’s.

The Miracle of the Sun was also witnessed from other nearby cities within 600 square miles. This account comes from a priest who vividly recalls that day as a nine-year old boy, living in the village of Alburitel, ten miles away from Fatima:

“About noon, we were startled by the cries and exclamations of the people going by our school. The teacher was the first to run outside to the street with all the children following her. The people cried and wept on the street; they were all pointing towards the sun. It was the Miracle promised by Our Lady. I feel unable to describe it as I saw it and felt it at the time. I was gazing at the sun; it looked so pale to me – it did not blind. It was like a ball of snow, rotating upon itself. All of a sudden, it seemed to be falling, zigzag, threatening the earth. Seized with fear, I hid myself amidst the people. Everyone was crying, waiting for the end of the world. Nearby, there was a godless man who had spent the morning making fun of the simpletons who had gone to Fatima just to see a girl. I looked at him, and he was numbed, his eyes riveted on the sun. I saw him tremble from head to foot. Then he raised his hands towards Heaven, as he was kneeling there in the mud, and cried out, ‘Our Lady, Our Lady.’ During the minutes that the miracle lasted, everything around us reflected all the colors of the rainbow. We looked at each other, and one seemed blue, another yellow, red, and so on. After ten minutes, the sun resumed its place as pale and without splendor.”

While this was going on, the three children were treated to their own private visions. To the left of the pale sun appeared St. Joseph, holding the Child Jesus in his left arm. Both he and Jesus raised their right hands and made the Sign of the Cross three times over the world. Our Lady stood in all of her brilliance to the right of the sun, dressed in her blue and white robes of Our Lady of the Rosary. Only Lucia was privileged to gaze upon Jesus, dressed in red as the Divine Redeemer, blessing the world as foretold by Mary. Beside Him stood Our Lady, dressed now in the purple robes of Our Lady of Sorrows, but without the sword. Finally, the Blessed Virgin appeared again to Lucia in all of her ethereal brightness, clothed in the simple brown robes of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

Sister Lucia receives another visit on December 10, 1925.
Sister Lucia receives another visit on December 10, 1925.

After a long study and careful interrogation of many witnesses, the Bishop of Leiria made the following proclamation:

“The children long before set the day and hour at which it was to take place. The news spread quickly over the whole of Portugal, and although the day was chilly and pouring rain, many thousands of people gathered. They saw the different manifestations of the sun paying homage to the Queen of Heaven and Earth, who is more radiant than the sun in all its splendor. This phenomenon, which no astronomical observatory registered, was not natural. It was seen by people of all classes, members of the Church and non-Catholics. It was seen by reporters of the principal newspapers and by people many miles away.”

After the last apparition on October 13, 1917, the three children tried to return to their ordinary routine life. But the general public continued to seek them out and ask a thousand questions. Francisco and Jacinta’s parents sold their flocks and kept the children closer to home so that they would be more available to speak with inquisitive visitors. The two children would escape whenever possible, often hiding in the rock area where the angel first met with them. Lucia would join them there, when possible, as she was still shepherding her family’s sheep. Together they would recite the Rosary and reminisce about the many things Our Lady had shared with them. They continued to keep the “secrets” to themselves, although Mary’s mention of the “conversion of Russia” was confusing. Lucia thought Russia might be the name of a wicked woman!

Francisco knew that he would be taken to heaven relatively soon, so school studies seemed pointless. Praying the Rosary became his primary activity. He told people,

“I liked to see the Angel so much, but I liked Our Lady much more. What I liked best about the apparitions was seeing Our Lord in that light that the Blessed Virgin put into our hearts. I love God very much. He is so sad because of so many sins. We must not commit even the smallest sin.”

Often while the girls played among the rocks, Francisco would go off by himself and pray alone. One day the girls heard him shouting in distress – so uncharacteristic of his nature! The cries were electric with fear and shocked the girls. They came upon him, trembling with fright, and unable to rise from his knees. His voice shaking, he told them,

“It was one of those huge beasts that we saw in Hell. He was right there, breathing out flames!”

Sister Lucia is given an important vision on June 13, 1929.
Sister Lucia is given an important vision on June 13, 1929.

The girls encouraged him not to ever think again about what they had seen in Hell.

Many people asked for the children to pray for them. One peasant woman and her son knelt before Francisco, asking Our Lady to cure her husband’s illness and keep him home and from going to war. Francisco asked them to pray the Rosary with him. Much later, the lady happily returned to report that Our Lady had granted both of her requests!

Jacinta also had several miracles attributed to her. One day, a woman with a foul disease fell to her knees before Jacinta. Jacinta knelt beside her, said three Hail Mary’s, and assured her with an unusual certainty that she would be healed. And the woman was indeed cured.

On another occasion, Aunt Vitoria’son had left their Fatima home and had not been heard from in some time. The woman sought Lucia but found Jacinta instead. Jacinta pleaded very much to Our Lady to help him find his way back home. The man had been jailed in Torres Novas until he managed to escape, fleeing to the hills where he had become lost. Fearful, he fell to his knees and prayed. A few minutes later, the image of Jacinta appeared to him, took him by the hand, and led him to the main road and gave him directions. Then she vanished before his eyes. By morning he had found his way home, thanks to her good directions. But, Jacinta had never been to that area, nor had she actually been with this man in person, according to her.

On another occasion, a soldier about to leave for the war had a sick wife at home and three small children. He wept like a child, begging Jacinta for either a cure for his sick wife or a change in his military orders. She told him to pray the Rosary with her and then assured him that Our Lady would grant his requests. Several months later, he brought his wife and children back with him, happily reporting that his orders were changed at the last moment and his wife had been healed as promised.

As Francisco became gravely ill and unable to move from his bed, Our Lady appeared to both Francisco and Jacinta again. She stated that she would be coming for Francisco very soon and Jacinta would follow not long after. Jacinta eagerly confided in her cousin,

“Our Lady asked me if I still wanted to convert more sinners. I said yes. She wants me to go to two hospitals, but it is not to cure me. It is to suffer more for the love of God, the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the offenses committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary. My mother will take me there, and afterwards, I am to be left there alone – and will die alone.”

The Third Secret: A pope may be killed in the future.
The Third Secret: A pope may be killed in the future.

A woman visited Francisco’s sick room one day to ask him to pray that her husband and her son might be reconciled. Her husband had banished the son from their home, greatly upsetting the mother. Francisco reassured her, telling her not to worry because he would be going to heaven soon – and would ask Our Lady for that grace when he arrived. Sure enough, it was later learned that the father and son were reconciled on the very day that Francisco went to heaven!

After much suffering but no complaining, Francisco died quietly before age 11 from pneumonia on April 4, 1919. His skeletal remains were transferred from the Fatima cemetery to the great Fatima basilica on March 13, 1952.

Jacinta spent two months in St. Augustine’s hospital, and then returned home from September through December, 1919. She had many visits from Lucia during that last period of time at home. By mid-January she was sent to a second hospital – this time in Lisbon (as predicted by Mary), where she suffered through February with the foul-smelling rotting of her own body from purulent pleurisy and two infected ribs. She sent word to Lucia that Our Lady had appeared again to her, telling her of the exact day and hour that she would be taken to heaven. She also foretold some other matters. One doctor asked for her prayers, and she prayed for him – but told him that he would die soon – and he did. She told another one of her doctors that he and his daughter would die soon, and they did, shortly after her death. She also confided to Mother Godinho that a well-liked, young, dynamic priest “will turn out badly” – and later, he indeed abandoned the priesthood and took up living in open scandal.

Father De Marchi lists a number of teachings from Blessed Mary that Jacinta shared with Mother Godinho during her stay:

“The sins which cause most souls to go to hell are the sins of the flesh.”

“The world is perishing because the people do not meditate.”

“Many marriages are not of God and do not please Our Lord.”

“Wars are punishment for sin.”

“Priests must be very, very pure.”

“Confession is a Sacrament of Mercy, and we must confess with joy and trust. There can be no salvation without confession.”

“The Mother of God wants more virgin souls bound by a vow of chastity.”

Pope John Paul II visits Lucia after the Virgin saved his life.
Pope John Paul II visits Lucia after the Virgin saved his life.

Jacinta died at 10:30 p.m., alone, in her hospital bed, on February 20, 1920. A nun swore that tears of dried blood were on her face, suggesting that she shared something of her Savior’s agony. Doctors were amazed that after three days, her body smelled “as sweet as a bouquet of roses.” This was a surprising and drastic change in fragrance from the horrible, repulsive stench of her illness. She still looked alive in her coffin with cheeks and lips of a beautiful pink color. A number of witnesses testified to the extraordinary sweet odor emanating from her body. It was clearly the fragrance of flowers!

On September 12, 1935, her body was transferred to a memorial where people could honor her life. When the coffin was opened for positive identification, her parents, medics, clerics and a few others were stunned that her body had not yet decayed in 15 years! During her transfer to the final resting place in the great basilica in 1951, her coffin was opened again – and her body was still incorrupt with very little decay after 31 years.

After these two young visionaries died, a small chapel was built at the site of the apparitions in the Cova da Iria. But on March 6, 1922, two bombs were placed at the site – one in the chapel and one by the holm oak tree. The bomb in the chapel blew the roof off, but the one by the tree, where Mary had appeared, failed to explode. This attack enraged people, leading to a rebuilding of the chapel, and a grand procession of 60,000 faithful followers on May 13, 1923 to return the preserved statue of Our Lady to its home in the chapel.

Lucia became a nun and joined the Dorothean Convent in Tuy, Spain. On December 10, 1925, Blessed Mary appeared to Lucia in her room at the convent. The Child Jesus was at Mary’s side, elevated upon a luminous cloud of light. Our Lady placed one hand on Lucia’s shoulder while in the other hand she held a heart surrounded by sharp thorns. The Child Jesus spoke first:

“Have pity on the Heart of your Most Holy Mother. It is covered with thorns with which ungrateful men pierce It at every moment, and there is no one to remove them with an act of reparation.”

Then Blessed Mary added,

“My daughter, look at My Heart encircled with the thorns with which ungrateful men pierce It at every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude. Do you at least try to console Me and announce in My name that I promise to assist at the hour of death with the graces necessary for salvation for all those who, on the first Saturday of five consecutive months, go to Confession and receive Holy Communion, recite the Rosary and keep Me company for a quarter of an hour while meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary with the intention of making reparation to Me?”

Lucia could never forget this vision of Mary’s bleeding heart. She could not get her confessor or superior to spread this devotion. Two months passed, and on February 15, 1926, the Child Jesus appeared again to Lucia, inquiring if she had spread this devotion. Lucia explained the complications that her superior had had in trying to promote this by herself. The Child Jesus replied,

“It is true that your superior alone can do nothing, but with My grace, she can do all.”

While praying in the convent in 1927, Lucia received permission from Heaven to reveal the first two parts of the Secret: the vision of Hell, and the urgent need for devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Mary then explained further to Lucia,

“You have seen Hell, where the souls of sinners go. To save them, God wants to establish throughout the world the devotion to My Immaculate Heart. … I shall come later to ask for the Consecration of Russia to My Immaculate Heart.”

True to her word, the Virgin Mary appeared again to Lucia on June 13, 1929, while she was praying in the convent at Tuy, Spain, during the Holy Hour of Adoration and Reparation. In her own words, Sister Lucia writes:

“Suddenly, a supernatural light illuminated the whole chapel, and on the altar appeared a cross of light which reached to the ceiling. In a brighter part on the upper part of the cross, could be seen the face of a man and his body to the waist. On his breast was an equally luminous dove, and nailed to the cross, the body of another man.

Pope John Paul II meets Lucia in 2000; Luminous Mysteries in 2002.
Pope John Paul II meets Lucia in 2000; Luminous Mysteries in 2002.

A little below the waist, suspended in mid-air, was to be seen a Chalice and a large Host onto which fell some drops of Blood from the face of the Crucified and from a wound on His breast. These drops ran down over the Host and fell into the Chalice. Under the right arm of the Cross was Our Lady. Under the left arm of the Cross were some big letters, as if it were crystal-clear water running down over the altar, formed these words: Grace and Mercy.” Then Mary stated:

“The moment has come in which God asks the Holy Father to make, in union with all the bishops of the world, the Consecration of Russia to My Immaculate Heart, promising to save it by this means.”

Both Pope Pius XI and Pope Pius XII ignored her requests. On May 18, 1936, Father Goncalves, her confessor, challenged Lucia as to whether she should persist in this request. Lucia replied,

“I do not know. Recently, I was speaking with Our Lord and asked Him why He would not convert Russia without the Pope doing that consecration. Jesus replied, ‘Because I want My whole Church to recognize that consecration as a Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, so that later on it will put the devotion to the Immaculate Heart beside the devotion to My Sacred Heart’.”

On October 24, 1940, Sister Lucia was ordered by the Bishop of Gurza to write to the Pope and simply ask for the consecration of the world with only a “special mention” of Russia. She knew this was NOT what Mary had requested, so she prayed to Jesus. He responded that if the Pope were to respond to this favorably, He would reward that act by shortening the days of World War II – but that it would not bring about world peace until the consecration was specific to Russia. On December 2, 1940, Lucia made the request.

Pope Pius XII consecrated the world (with an oblique mention of Russia) on both October 31, 1942 and again on December 8, 1942. Winston Churchill notes in his writings on World War II that in early 1943 (almost immediately after the Pope’s act), “the hinges of fate” turned in favor of the Allies, and that thereafter the Allies won almost every battle, whereas before they had almost always lost. And Jesus confirmed his promise to Lucia again in early 1943 that “the present distress would be shortened.”

Sister Lucia finally wrote down the third part of the Fatima Secret on January 9, 1944.

During one of Our Blessed Mary’s apparitions in Montichiari, Italy, on Dec. 7, 1947, she appeared with two young children. Mary made a reference to one of her messages in Fatima. The visionary, Pierina Gilli, asked who the children were, and Mary replied, “Francisco and Jacinta.”

The Virgin Mary finally appeared to Lucia in May of 1952, and stated again,

“Make it known to the Holy Father that I am always awaiting the Consecration of Russia to My Immaculate Heart. Without the Consecration, Russia will not be able to convert, nor will the world have peace.”

On May 13, 1981, Pope John Paul II almost died from an attack by a would-be assassin. He traveled to meet Sister Lucia one year later on May 13, 1982 and thanked her for being saved by Our Lady of Fatima. The third secret had described a man clothed in white falling to the ground as though dead from gunshots. Doctors said that the bullet should have killed him but had traveled an odd, zigzag path to miss vital organs. That bullet fit neatly and permanently into the crown of Our Lady of Fatima’s statue when the Pope visited the Fatima shrine. The Pope had a statue of Fatima placed, facing Russia from his Poland, and on March 25, 1984, he consecrated the world to Mary’s Immaculate Heart in a joint effort with the world’s bishops in Rome. Within 5 years the Soviet Union was peacefully breaking apart and the Berlin Wall came down without a fight.

The Fatima, Portugal Basilica today.
The Fatima, Portugal Basilica today.

Sister Lucia was still adamant about what Mary had asked for back in 1917. Pope John Paul II had renewed the same prior consecration to the world both on May 13, 1982 and March 25, 1984 – but both efforts failed to target Russia specifically, and the bishops involved did not organize a ceremony of reparation in their dioceses. Sister Lucia continued to insist on the specific conversion of Russia to the Catholic faith.

Jacinto Marto and Francisco Marto were beatified before a million pilgrims at Fatima by Pope John Paul II on May 13, 2000.

She did live “somewhat longer” — to the age of 97, dying on February 13, 2005. Her cause for sainthood was formally opened on February 13, 2008.

Today, millions visit the shrine at Fatima in Portugal every year. Pope Benedict XVI has stated that the message of Fatima is the most prophetic message of the 20th Century.