On May 13, 1917, a beautiful Lady who said she came from Heaven, appeared to three shepherd children, Jacinta, Francisco, and Lucia in Fatima, Portugal. This was during WWI, and it was the first of six apparitions which took place always on the same day of the six consecutive months.
The children had been visited three times by an angel in 1916 before Our Lady’s visit. In the spring of 1916, an angel appeared to the three children as they looked after their sheep. The angel said, “Fear not, I am the Angel of Peace. Pray with me.” He, then, knelt on the ground and said this prayer three times as the children repeated it after him, “O my God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love Thee. I ask pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love Thee.”
In the summer of that same year, the angel appeared again and said, “Pray, pray a great deal. The Hearts of Jesus and Mary have merciful designs on you. Offer prayers and sacrifices continually to the Most High. Make everything you do a sacrifice, and offer it as an act of reparation for the sins by which God is offended, and as a petition for the conversion of sinners. Bring peace to your country in this way … I am the Guardian Angel of Portugal. Accept and bear with submission all the sufferings the Lord will send you.”
Once more, in the fall of 1916, the angel appeared to the children and prostrated himself on the ground before a vision of a chalice and host and said, “Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore Thee profoundly. I offer you the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the Tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifference by which He is offended. And through the infinite merits of His most Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of the conversion of poor sinners.”
In 1917, near the village of Fatima on the 13th day of May, the Mother of God appeared to the young shepherd children: Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta; ages 10, 9 and 7, at the place called Cova da Iria. The children were tending their family’s sheep when “a Lady all in white, more brilliant than the sun… indescribably beautiful,” standing above a small Holm Oak tree, appeared to the children. She asked them to return on the 13th of each month and at the same hour for the next six months, from May through October 1917. Later on she revealed herself as “Our Lady of the Rosary”, and requested a church be built on the spot of the apparitions. She said to the children that God wants to establish on earth devotion to her Immaculate Heart.
Reports of the apparitions spread throughout the region. The Virgin told the children that God had sent her with a message for the whole world. God would grant peace to the entire world if her requests for prayer, reparation and consecration were taken to heart and observed. She also foretold that if her requests were not obeyed, “Russia would spread her errors and there would be another more devastating war.” She was speaking about World War II. Many people believed the children, but many others did not, subjecting the children to much ridicule, scorn and suffering.
The news that Our Lady would visit the children for the last time on October 13, 1917, and would show a sign that would prove to the world that she had indeed appeared, spread thought the region and beyond. Many people planned to attend; among them skeptics as well as devout believers.
On that predicted day of October 13 1917, despite the region having beforehand suffered three days of torrential rains, nearly 70,000 people travelled through the downpour and mud to the place of the apparitions to observe the predicted miracle. Among them there were cynics, skeptics and atheists who only wanted to humiliate the children and discredit their story.
As told by eyewitnesses, suddenly the “clouds parted…and the sun appeared in the clear blue, like a silver disk.” The people could look at the sun without blinking and while they stared at it, the sun began to spin in the sky, spreading rays of multicolored light and illuminating the entire countryside. The sun whirled for three minutes, stopped and then, resumed again a second and third time lasting a total of twelve minutes. The sun spun faster each time and at the end seemed to tear itself from the sky and began plunging in a powerful zigzag course toward the earth. The crowd was horrified, fearing this was the end of the world.
However, the sun reversed course and, retracing its zigzagging course, returned to its normal place in the sky. After realizing they were not doomed, the crowd began excitedly laughing, crying, shouting and weeping. Their previously drenched clothing was totally dry. It was remarkable that one could fix one’s eyes on this brazier of heat and light without any blinding or damage to the eyes.
The children were questioned many times, about what they had seen and been told of the message given them by Our Lady. Their story never changed.
<a href=”http://www.mysticgames.com/articles/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/fatimachildren.jpg”></a>These are the three shepherd children Our Lady appeared to: from left to right Jacinta, Francisco and Lucia. Jacinta died at age 10 and Francisco at age 11. They were beatified by Pope John Paul II in the year 2000. Lucia became a Carmelite nun. She died at the age of 97 in 2005.
The heart of Our Lady’s message to the world has become known as the “Secret,” which she confided to the children in July 1917. The “Secret” actually consists of three parts. The first part of the “Secret” was a terrifying vision of hell, “where the souls of poor sinners go,” and contained an urgent plea from Our Lady for prayers and sacrifices to save souls, specially praying the rosary and devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
The second part of the “Secret”, predicted World War II if people did not heed her call and continued on their sinful ways.
The third part was revealed in the year 2000. It came about with the beatification of Francisco and Jacinta Marto, the two youngest visionaries. The vision affirmed the immense suffering endured by witnesses of the faith in the last century. Sister Lucia, the last surviving member of the Fatima visionaries, confirmed that in the vision “the Bishop clothed in white,” who prays for all the faithful, is the Pope. As he makes his way with great difficulty towards the Cross amid the corpses of those who were martyred (bishops, priests, men and women religious and many lay people), he too falls to the ground, apparently dead, under a hail of gunfire. It is possible that the vision predicted the 1981 attack on Pope John Paul II’s life. The Pope has always credited the Virgin for saving his life. It is also a portrayal of the Church’s continued struggle against secularism, atheism and anti-Christian activities and an ongoing call to prayer, sacrifice and devotion to Our Lady of Fatima.
The message of Our Lady of Fatima is more relevant than ever today, as we see a resurgence of atheism in the world.