In spring of 1916, nine year old Lucia dos Santos and her two cousins Francisco and Jacinta Marto were tending to a flock of sheep when they suddenly saw a young man, described as being made of light who told the three that he was the Angel of Peace. He invited the children to sit and pray with him. He appeared again later that year in the summer, praying and encouraging them to make sacrifices for peace in the country. Finally, in the Autumn of the same year, he appeared again, this time holding a chalice in his hands. Above the chalice was suspended a host dripping blood into it. He taught the children a prayer of Eucharistic reparation. He then handed Lucia the host and the chalice to Francisco and Jacinta saying
“Take and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, horribly outraged by ungrateful men. Repair their crimes and console your God.”
At the time, the children did not tell anyone else of the visits by the Angel, describing a feeling of necessity to keep quiet.
May 13 1917
On May 13th, all three children were tending to their flock near Cova da Iria (Cove of Peace). After lunch, all three reported seeing a flash of bright light with another flash immediately after. Looking up, they could see in Lucia's writings:
“A lady, clothed in white, brighter than the sun, radiating a light more clear and intense than a crystal cup filled with sparkling water lit by burning sunlight.”
The Lady then spoke to them saying
“Do not be afraid, I will not harm you.”
Lucia quickly asked where the Lady had come from. The reply was :
“I come from heaven. “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.”
The Lady continued, telling them that Lucia and Jacinta would go to heaven, but Francisco needed to say many rosaries first. Her final request to the children was
"Say the Rosary every day to bring peace to the world and the end of the war.”
The children returned home and explained what happened. They were met with various responses - most were skeptic, some angry and some accusatory of lies.
The following month, about 50 people came with the three children to Cova da Iria. The children reported seeing another flash of light before Mary appeared. She spoke to Lucia, saying
“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 then asked Mary if they could come with her to heaven. Mary said to them
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 devotion to my Immaculate Heart throughout the world. I promise salvation to whoever embraces it. These souls will be dear to God, like flowers put by me to adorn his throne.”
Maria Carreira, a witness on this day, described that Lucia cried out and pointed as Mary departed from the children. Word spread very quickly following June.
On July 13, a large crowd had gathered with the three children. When Mary appeared to the three children, Lucia asked her for a miracle and her name so that others would believe them. The reply was:
“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. 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.”
Mary then opened her hands and shot rays of light out from her, penetrating the earth. The children could now see a vision of hell, full of demons, lost souls and horrors. Mary then said:
“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.”
Mary told Lucia that the three were not to tell anyone of the this vision and to keep it secret. Before disappearing into the distance, she said to the children:
“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.”
By now, word of the apparitions and the children's stories had reached far across the country. That morning, the provincial administrator Artur Santos had the children arrested and jailed before they could reach the Cova da Iria. Believing these events to be disruptive to the country, he had them interrogated and asked the children to reveal the secrets that the apparition had told them. All three children refused to give the secrets up, declaring that they would rather be put to death then reveal them. Lucia's mother tried convincing the children to end the entire situation and admit they had made it all up, but all three refused, swearing it to be true. All three in seperate interrogations told the exact same story.
Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta were walking together near Valinhos outside of Fatima when Mary again appeared to them. She spoke to Lucia saying
“Go again to the Cova da Iria on the 13th and continue to say the Rosary every day. 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.”
The children began taking on extreme penances including praying for hours, going without drink in the summer heat, and tied pieces of old rope around their waists as tight as possible.
At noon, surrounded by a massive crowd , the children arrived. After a flash of light, Mary appeared and said the following 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.”
The prediction of a miracle had caused extremely large crowds to gather during an intense rainstorm on the hill. A reporter, Avelino de Almeida had written an article in an anti-religion paper, causing even more people to come and witness the predicted miracle. Mary came in a flash of light at noon again and toll Lucia:
“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.”
Her final words were
“Do not offend the Lord our God any more, because He is already so much offended.”
As she opened her hands, the sunlight reflected off of them and she began to ascend into the sky with the light from her hands reflecting on to the sun. The "Miracle of the Sun" then happened.
Miracle of the Sun
The crowd (numbering between 30,000 and 100,000) reported several different claims during this miracle. The three children reported seeing visions of Jesus, Our Lady of Sorrows, Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Saint Joseph blessing the crowd. When the clouds broke from the rain, the sun appeared as a spinning disk in the sky and began careering towards the Earth before zig-zagging across the sky. Wet clothes were suddenly completely dry on people, and the muddy ground turned back into dry earth. Reports of the sun dancing came in from witnesses 25 miles away. Some of the crowd intense flashes of light coming from the sun while others saw it dance across the sky. The reporter Avelino de Almeida confirmed the miracle in his anti-religion paper. A cameraman took pictures of the event as it unfolded.
In 1918, the flu pandemic swept across the globe killing many. Unfortunately, Francisco and Jacinta joined the untold number of victims. Francisco died at his home on April 4th, 1919 at the age of 10. Jacinta died in Queen Stephanie's Children's Hospital in Lisbon on February 20th, 1920 at the age of 9. After their deaths, their parents both confirmed that the two children had frequently predicted their own deaths.
Lucia joined the Sisters of Saint Dorthy in Portugal, becoming a postulant at the Convent of the Sisters of Saint Dorthy in 1928. She reported many more visions of Mary over the following years and died at the monastery in Coimbra, Portugal in 2005 at the age of 97.
The Three Secrets of Fatima
The First Secret
The first secret was the vision of Hell the three children experienced on July 13, 1917
The Second Secret
The second secret prediceted an end to the first world war but a second, worse war would soon begin if people did not stop offending God. Mary told Lucia the second war would be presaged by a night illuminated by a unknown light to be used as a sign. Mary explained that if Russia was consecrated to the Immaculate Heart the war could be avoided but if not Russia would spread her errors through the world causing wars and persecutions.
It is believed that the extreme aurora borealis that happened on January 25th, 1938 is that illuminated sign. It was the widest occurrence of the aurora since 1709 and was so bright that some in Paris believed to be buildings on fire and had called the fire departments. Only a month later, Hitler seized Austria.
The Third Secret
Lucia wrote the third secret as:
"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 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, Religious men and women 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 way there died one after another the other Bishops, Priests, Religious men and women, 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."