By: Brother Ernest, C.S.C.
Most Rev. Leo A. Pursley, D.D.
Bishop of Fort Wayne
On a hot May day in 1917, three little shepherds were watching their sheep in a hollow in the mountains of Portugal called Cova da Iria. The sky above them was a clear blue. Not the smallest cloud could be seen anywhere. The sun beat straight down, for it was noon. Then a familiar sound was heard. The bell in the village church was ringing for the Angelus.
Lucia Santos (age 10, pictured in the middle) and her two cousins: Francisco (age 9) and Jacinta Marto (age 7) holding their rosaries. Fatima, Portugual 1917 A.D.
The three children: Jacinta, a girl of seven; Francisco, her brother, a lad of nine; and Lucia, a girl of ten, at once knelt and began to say the rosary together.
But this was such a beautiful day, and the children did not want to take the time to say the rosary as they should. So they simply said: “Our Father, Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Glory be.” Then they were ready for the first decade. It took them just about two minutes to finish the whole rosary in this new style!
Suddenly, there was a great flash of light, brighter than lightning. The children looked up and all around them.
“Might be a big storm coming. Let’s get the sheep together and go home,” said Francisco. The girls agreed, and soon they and the sheep were scampering down the slope towards home. When they reached the foot of the hill they saw a second great flash. It was brighter than the first. They stopped; very much afraid.
“Look!” said Lucia, pointing toward a little oak tree.
There they saw a beautiful young lady. She was dressed in a white gown, gathered together at the neck by a gold cord. Over her head draped a fine white veil. The children were about to run when they heard a sweet voice say: “Be not afraid! I am not going to hurt you.”
Then the shepherds drew near. They noticed the lovely lady had her hands joined as in prayer, and a pearl rosary fell from her fingers.
“Where did you come from?” Asked Lucia.
“I came from heaven.”
Our Lady of Fatima, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary
“And why did you come here?”
“I came to ask you to come here for six successive months, on the thirteenth of each month, at this same time. In October I shall tell you who I am and what it is I wish.”
Lucia then asked the lady if they would go to heaven. They were happy when she told them they would.
“Children, always say the rosary with devotion.” said the lady, and then she left them.
“We must not tell anyone about the lady. No one will believe us.” Said Lucia.
To this the others agreed. Then they got their sheep together and went home, even though it was much too early.
Our Lady’s words to Jacinta Marto shortly before the little seer died:
“More souls go to Hell because of sins of the flesh than for any other reason.”
“Certain fashions will be introduced that will offend Our Lord very much.”
But Jacinta thought her mother would punish her for coming home, so she told about the lady!
“You are lying to me!” Shouted the mother.
Mrs. Marto, Jacinta’s mother, ran at once to Lucia’s home and reported all the children had told her. Lucia had not said a word to her mother, who seemed stunned at the story.
“Tell me, Lucia, are my children lying?”
“No, they are not. It’s all true!”
“Don’t you say another word about this, Lucia,” said her mother as she ran out the door.
Lucia’s mother, Maria, hurried to the pastor and told him the story. He tried to calm her, but the woman insisted her daughter was lying to her. She then hurried home and gave Lucia a sound thrashing. But that did not change Lucia’s mind.
June 13 was a fair day, but the children did not care about that. It was the day the lady promised to come to see them again, and so they went to the appointed spot. There were about sixty other people waiting.
The children knelt down and began to say the rosary. When it was finished, they stood and brushed the dust from their clothes.”The lady is coming!” cried Lucia and ran down the hill to the little oak. The others followed.
Yes, it was the lady. She was dressed just the same, and she seemed pleased to see them.
“What do you want me to do?” begged Lucia.
Lucia Santos became a Carmelite nun and devoted her entire life to spreading Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, as Our Lady of Fatima requested.
Sister Lucy died on February 13th, 2005 at the age of 97 years old.
“I want you to come here on the thirteenth of next month; to recite the rosary every day.” Then she added something the children had never heard before. “After the Gloria Patri of each decade, you will say, ‘O my Jesus, forgive us our sins! Deliver us from the fires of hell! Have pity on the souls in purgatory, especially the most abandoned’.”
“I want to ask you to take us to heaven,” said Lucia pleadingly.
“Francisco and Jacinta I will soon take. You must remain. Jesus wants you to make me known and loved. He wants to establish in the world the devotion to my Immaculate Heart.”
On July 13, the children were again waiting for the lady. This time there were about five thousand others waiting too. The lady told the children that she would work a great miracle in October so that all would believe she had appeared there. She also showed them a vision of hell, and it was so terrible that the children said they would have died of fear if the lady had not told them they were to go to heaven.
Our Lady of Fatima showed the Children a Horrific Vision of the Souls of the Damned in Hell being Tormented by Frightful Demons
Picture of the three children of Fatima,
immediately after seeing the vision of Hell.
Our Lady [right after the vision] said to the Children:
“… if [people] do not stop offending God… 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.”
Sister Lucia tells Fr. Fuentes in an 1957
interview, that we are in the last times:
Sister Lucia to Fr. Fuentes, December 1957:
“… she [The Blessed Virgin] told me that the devil is in the mood for engaging in a decisive battle against the Virgin. And a decisive battle is the final battle where one side will be victorious and the other side will suffer defeat. Hence from now on we must choose sides. Either we are for God or we are for the devil. There is no other possibility.”
The Terrifying Vision of Hell
Our Lady told the Children, “Sacrifice yourselves for sinners and say many times, especially when you make some sacrifice: `O Jesus, it is for Thy love, for the conversion of sinners and in reparation for sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”
Lucia Santos then narrates what happened next:
“She opened Her hands once more, as She had done the two previous months. The rays [of light] appeared to penetrate the earth, and we saw, as it were, a vast sea of fire. Plunged in this fire, we saw the demons and the souls [of the damned]. The latter were like transparent burning embers, all blackened or burnished bronze, having human forms. They were floating about in that conflagration, now raised into the air by the flames which issued from within themselves, together with great clouds of smoke. Now they fell 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 fright (it must have been this sight which caused me to cry out, as people say they heard me). The demons were distinguished [from the souls of the damned] by their terrifying and repellent likeness to frightful and unknown animals, black and transparent like burning coals. That vision only lasted for a moment, thanks to our good Heavenly Mother, Who at the first apparition had promised to take us to Heaven. Without that, I think that we would have died of terror and fear.”
Our Lady then gravely spoke these words:
“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… But if they do not stop offending God… 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.”
Francisco Marto 1908-1919 (pictured in the middle) said: “How beautiful God is, how beautiful!
But He is sad because of the sins of men. I want to console Him, I want to suffer for love of Him.”
On August 15, the children were back home, safe and sound. They had been kept away over the thirteenth so they could not see the lady on that day. But they still believed in her. After Mass on the Sunday following, Lucia, Francisco and his brother John took the sheep out to the pasture. Suddenly Lucia felt the lady was coming. She sent John in haste to get Jacinta. Scarcely had she arrived then the lady appeared.
Our Lady of Fatima came to spread Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
She told us to pray the Rosary everyday and to always wear the Brown Scapular.
“Go to the Cova da Iria on the thirteenth of next month. Pray very hard. Make many sacrifices for sinners.” Then the lady was gone.
On September 13, more than 30,000 people were crowded into the Cova to see what would happen. Suddenly a white globe was seen moving through the sky toward them. Then a thin white vapor began to form above the little oak, and white flowers began to fall from the clear blue sky. The lady appeared to the children. All saw Lucia’s lips move, but no one heard a word she said!
During the late afternoon of October 12, a storm broke over Fatima. Soon all the roads were thick with mud. But through it and the heavy rain came 70,000 people to witness the great miracle the lady had promised for that day.
When Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta arrived at eleven-thirty, Lucia began the rosary aloud, and all of the others answered her.
Exactly at noon, Lucia stopped praying.
“Here she comes! She is coming!”
All saw a white vapor, like incense, form around the children and rise into the wet air. But they could not see the lady.
“I am the Lady of the Rosary. I want you to tell them to build a chapel here, and to continue to say the rosary every day.”
Then all saw the clouds part, and the sun appear like a great disk of white fire. But the children saw a vision of the Holy Family. Next Our Lady appeared as Our Lady of Sorrows, and beside her stood Jesus. He made the sign of the cross over the people. Finally, Our Lady came again as Our Lady of Mount Carmel. She was crowned, and the Infant Jesus stood on her knee.
The foretold Miracle of the Sun was witnessed by more than 70,000 people.
Additional photos from the Miracle of the Sun (Fatima, Portugal)
But while the children were enjoying the three wonderful visions, all of the others were seeing something they would never forget. The sun began to spin around as if it were a piece of fireworks. Then it stopped for a minute or so, only to begin again with more fury. Great streamers of various colors trailed from it. Then it plunged straight at the crowd!
Screams arose! Some shouted to Our Lady to save them. Others made acts of contrition out loud. For ten minutes the sun spun and danced. Then it began to ascend once more to its place, and shone brilliantly. The great miracle was over! No one now doubted the appearance of Our Lady of Fatima. Many began, from that day, to live more Christian lives.