“If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace. If not…The good will be martyred …various nations will be annihilated…In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph…and a period of peace will be granted to the world.”
Thirty years after Pope Leo XIII composed the prayer to St. Michael, the Archangel, Europe was in turmoil. World War I had ravished most of Europe since July 28, 1914 and had been raging for almost three years, found Pope Benedict XV pleading for the intercession of the Mother of God.
During his public prayer on May 5, 1917 he invited the world to perform a nine-day novena of prayer, asking Mary for peace and a quick end to the war. On the ninth day, in a direct response to those pleas, Our Lady appeared to three children at the Cova da Ira in Fatima, Portugal. It was May 13, 1917.
Several years prior to this, in the summer of 1915, the children were in the fields near the village, caring for their flocks. They were shepherds from poor peasant families: the eldest being Lúcia Dos Santos, 9, her cousins, Francisco Marto, 8, and his sister, Jacinta, 6.
One afternoon that summer the children noticed a nearby cloud in the shape of a human form. It seemed strange but, inasmuch as they couldn’t make it out, they put the thought aside. Then, during spring of the following year, they again saw a globe of dazzlingly bright light, like a miniature sun; this time it was in the form of an angel, about 14 years old, gliding slowly toward them.
The angel appeared, “…more brilliant than crystal pierced by the rays of the sun!” He said to them: “Do not be afraid! I am the Angel of Peace. Pray with me.” Kneeling down, the angel invited the children to pray and, bowing so low that his forehead touched the ground, began to recite a prayer with great fervor: “My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love You! I ask pardon of You for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love You.”
He repeated this twice, then rising, the angel said: “Pray thus. The Hearts of Jesus and Mary are attentive to the voice of your supplications.” Then, he disappeared.
Somewhat later that same year – while the children were playing near the family well – the angel appeared to them again. He sternly questioned them: “What are you doing? Pray! You must pray very much! The Hearts of Jesus and Mary have designs of mercy on you. Offer prayers and sacrifices constantly to the Most High.”
When Lúcia asked him how they were to make sacrifices, he told them: “Make of everything you can a sacrifice, and offer it to God as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and in supplication for the conversion of sinners. You will thus draw peace upon your country. I am its Angel Guardian, the Angel of Portugal. Above all, accept and bear with submission, the suffering which the Lord will send you.”
Lúcia said he was preparing us for the appearances of Our Lady, adding: “The angel’s words were impressed upon our souls like a light that made us understand who God is, how much He loves us and wishes to be loved, the value of sacrifice and how it pleases God, and how He converts sinners because of it.”
Later, in September of the same year, the angel appeared to them for a third time “holding a chalice in his hands. A host was directly above it; some drops of blood were falling from the host into the sacred vessel. Leaving the chalice and the host suspended in the air, the angel prostrated himself on the ground and repeated this prayer three times:’
“Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore You profoundly, and 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 with which He Himself is offended. And, through the infinite merits of His most Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of You the conversion of poor sinners.”
Then, rising, he once more took the chalice and the host in his hands. He gave the host to me and the contents of 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.”
On May 13, 1917, the children were tending their flocks when they saw what they thought was a flash of lightning. Thinking it was about to rain they hurried toward home. Suddenly, there was another flash of light. Directly in front of them on a small holm oak they saw “a lady all dressed in white.”
The children were only a few feet from her and were bathed in the light which surrounded her. The light radiated from her. Lúcia said: “She was more brilliant then the sun, and radiated a light more clear and intense than a crystal glass filled with sparkling water, when the rays of the burning sun shine through it.”
She spoke to us: “Do not be afraid. I will do you no harm.” Lúcia inquired: “Where are you from? ‘I am from Heaven.’ What do you want of me?’”
Our Lady replied: “I have come to ask you to come here for six months in succession, on the 13th day, at the same hour. Later on I will tell you who I am and what I want. Afterwards, I will return here yet a seventh time.” Lúcia asked: “Shall I go to Heaven too? ‘Yes, you will.’ And Jacinta?’ She will go also.’ And, Francisco?’ He will go there too, but he must say many rosaries.’”
Remembering an older teenage friend named Amelia who died recently, Lúcia asked about her. Our Lady responded: “She will be in Purgatory until the end of the world.”
Then, she asked Lúcia: “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 sins by which He is offended, and of supplication for the conversion of sinners?” Lúcia answered: “Yes, we are willing,” to which Our Lady responded: “Then you will have much to suffer, but the grace of God will be your comfort.”
Lúcia said: “Our Lady opened her hands for the first time, communicating to us a light so intense that, as it streamed from her hands, its rays penetrated our hearts and the innermost depths of our souls, making us see ourselves in God – Who was that light – more clearly than we see ourselves in the best of mirrors.
“Then, moved by an interior impulse that was also communicated to us, we fell on our knees, repeating in our hearts, ‘O most Holy Trinity, I adore You! My God, my God, I love You in the most Blessed Sacrament.’
“After a few moments, Our Lady spoke again: ‘Pray the rosary every day, in order to obtain peace in the world, and the end of the war.’” Lúcia said: “ Then, she began to rise serenely, going up towards the East until she disappeared in the immensity of space.
“The light that surrounded her seemed to open up a path before her in the firmament, and for this reason we sometimes said that we saw Heaven opening. The door to Heaven closed so fast we thought her feet would be caught outside.”
Lúcia reminisced about this feeling: “The peace and happiness we felt were great, but intimate, as our souls were entirely concentrated on God. The physical weariness that overwhelmed us was also great. I do not know why, but the fact is that the apparitions of Our Lady had a very different effect on us.
There was the same intimate gladness, the same peace and happiness. But instead of physical weariness, we felt a certain expansive liveliness, a sense of glee instead of that annihilation in the Divine Presence, a certain communicative enthusiasm instead of that difficulty in speaking.”
The following month, on the 13th of June, the children went to the Cova da Iria. This time they were accompanied by several hundred people. After praying for a while, Mary appeared to the children and Lúcia told her: “I would like to ask you to take us to Heaven.”
Mary told them: “Yes, I will take Francisco and Jacinta soon. But you are to stay here for some time longer. Jesus wishes to make use of you to make me known and loved. He wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart.”
Our Lady then told Lúcia: “I promise salvation to those who embrace it and these souls will be loved by God, like flowers placed by me to adorn His throne.” Lúcia asked: “Am I to stay here alone?” And, Our Lady responded: “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.”
In July, 1917, Our Lady showed them a vision of hell and 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. In Portugal, the dogma of the faith will always be preserved; etc. [the third part of the (secret) message].
“Do not tell this to anybody. ‘Francisco?’ Francisco, yes, you may tell him. 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.”
Lúcia noted: “This vision lasted but an instant. How can we ever be grateful enough to our kind heavenly Mother who had already prepared us by promising, in the first apparition, to take us to Heaven? Otherwise, I think we would have died of fright.”
The following month, on the 13th of August, about 18,000 people were at the Cova, They saw the usual phenomena of thunder and lightning that was encountered previously; however, Our Lady did not appear. The children were nowhere to be seen! The administrator, Mayor Artur de Oliveira Santos, kidnapped them!
Claiming they were a disturbance to public order, he took them to Ourém where he threatened them with death by “boiling them in oil” if they would not reveal the secret; however, they did not reveal it, nor would they deny seeing Our Lady.
Because of their stubbornness, they were placed in the local jail with the common criminals but, eventually, were released after several days.
On Sunday, the 19th of August, the Virgin appeared to the children for the fourth time, asking them to continue to pray and promising them that at her last apparition at the Cova she would accomplish a Miracle “…for all to see and believe.”
Looking very sad, Our Lady said: “Pray, pray very much, and make sacrifices for sinners, for many souls go to Hell because there are none to sacrifice themselves and to pray for them.”
On the 13th of September there were about 30,000 people present; some were begging the three children to implore their succor to heal the sick. During this appearance, Mary told Lúcia that on the following month the Holy Family would appear and bless the crowd, followed by Our Lady of Sorrows, then, as Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. Our Lady added: “Continue to pray the rosary in order to obtain the end of the war.”
The roads into Fátima began filling with people all through the afternoon and throughout the night on the 12th of October; by the morning of the 13th a crowd of about seventy thousand had gathered. The rains pounded the Cova da Iria, turning the ground into mud; it was everywhere.
Then, just about noon, Lúcia told the crowd to close their umbrellas despite the fact it was still raining. When Mary appeared at the appointed time, she said: “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 say the rosary every day. The war is going to end and the soldiers will soon return to their homes.”
Lúcia asked her to heal several of the sick and convert sinners. Our Lady responded: “Some, yes, but not others. They must amend their lives and ask forgiveness for their sins.” Looking very sad, she added: “Do not offend the Lord our God anymore, because He is already too much offended.”
Opening her hands, Our Lady made them reflect on the sun and, as she ascended near the sun, the reflection of her own light continued to be projected onto the sun itself. Lúcia then commanded the people: “Look at the sun!” At that exact moment the rain stopped completely and, as the clouds parted, the sky cleared directly overhead.
Let Dr. Almedia Garrett, a professor at the University of Coimbra, describe what happened next: ”The sun…was shining clearly and intensely…It was possible for us to look at the sun, a blaze of light and burning heat, without any pain to the eyes or blinding of the retina.
“This lasted…about ten minutes. The sun…was rotating upon itself with exceedingly great speed. Suddenly, the people broke out with a cry of extreme anguish. The sun, still rotating, had loosened 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.”
It repeated this action three times, causing many of the people to fall onto their knees, certain the sun would crash into the earth each time. Believing they were going to die, the people began to beg for mercy, screaming out in terror and beseeching Heaven: “God, forgive me; don’t let me die in my sins!”
Lúcia would later relate: “After Our Lady had disappeared into the immense distance of the firmament we beheld St. Joseph with the Child Jesus, and Our Lady robed in white with a blue mantle, beside the sun. Saint Joseph and the Child Jesus appeared to bless the world, for they traced the sign of the cross with their hands.
When, a little later, this apparition disappeared, I saw Our Lord and Our Lady; it seemed to me that it was Our Lady of Dolores (Sorrows). Our Lord appeared to bless the world in the same manner as St. Joseph had done. This apparition also vanished, and I saw Our Lady once more, this time resembling Our Lady of [Mt] Carmel.”
After these visions witnessed by the three children ended, the sun returned to its proper place in the heavens. Then, the people noticed for the first time that their clothes, which had previously been soaking wet and muddy, were completely dry. The ground that had been caked with mud was now thoroughly dry.
Portugal and Spain were both spared participation in World War II; however, by July 13, 1917, the scourge of atheistic Socialism [Communism] that Our Lady warned about as a punishment for sin, was now on the march.
Its prime objective was to expand out from Portugal and Russia, meeting in the middle of Europe; then, on toward world domination. However, owing to a renewal of the faith in Portugal since the miracle of the sun, it never progressed northward of the capitol. Yet, to this day, some evidence of Communism remains further south of Lisbon.
Eight years later, on December 10, 1925, Our Lady appeared again to Sr. Lúcia in the convent in Pontevedra, Spain. This time, Mary was elevated on a luminous cloud; by her side was a Child. Mary rested her hand on Lúcia’s shoulder, then, showed her a heart, encircled by thorns, which she was holding in her other hand.
At the same time, the Child said: “Have compassion on the Heart of your most holy Mother, covered with thorns, with which ungrateful men pierce It at every moment and there is no one to make an act of reparation to remove them.” Then, Our Lady said, “Look, my daughter, at my Heart, surrounded with thorns, with which ungrateful men pierce me at every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude.
“You, at least, try to console me and say that I promise to assist at the hour of death with the graces necessary for salvation all those who on the first Saturday of five consecutive months will confess, receive Holy Communion, recite five decades of the rosary, and keep me company for fifteen minutes while meditating on the fifteen mysteries of the rosary with the intention of making reparation to me.”
On February 25, 1926, Jesus again appeared to Lúcia as a Child and further clarified that anyone who missed confession within the required time could do that at their first opportunity. Also, if the intention of making reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary was forgotten, one could mention that in their next confession.
Two years later, in 1928, Lúcia Dos Santos took her vows as a Carmelite nun. The following year, on June 13th, she received an additional apparition of Our Lady in the chapel in Tuy, Spain. Lúcia wrote: “I had sought and obtained permission from my superiors and confessor to make a Holy Hour from 11:00 o’clock until midnight, every Thursday to Friday night.
Being alone one night, I knelt near the altar rails in the middle of the chapel and, prostrate, I prayed the prayers of the angel. Feeling tired, I then stood up and continued to say the prayers with my arms in the form of a cross. The only light was that of the sanctuary lamp.
“Suddenly the whole chapel was illuminated by a supernatural light, and above the altar appeared a cross of light, reaching to the ceiling. In a brighter light on the upper part of the cross, could be seen the face of a man and his body as far as the waist; upon his breast was a dove of light; nailed to the cross was the body of another man.
“A little below the waist, I could see a chalice and a large host suspended in the air, onto which drops of blood were falling from the face of Jesus Crucified and from the wound in his side. These drops ran down onto the host and fell into the chalice. Beneath the right arm of the cross was Our Lady, and in her hand was her Immaculate Heart.”
“It was Our Lady of Fátima with her Immaculate Heart in her left hand, without sword or roses, but with a crown of thorns and flames. Under the left arm of the cross, large letters – as if of crystal clear water which ran down upon the altar – formed these words: Gratia et Misericordia [Grace and Mercy]. I understood that it was the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity which was shown to me, and I received lights about this mystery which I am not permitted to reveal.”
Then, Our Lady said: “The moment has come in which God asks the Holy Father, in union with all the bishops of the world, to make the consecration of Russia to My Immaculate Heart, promising to save it by this means. There are so many souls whom the Justice of God condemns for sins committed against me, that I have come to ask reparation: sacrifice yourself for this intention and pray.”
Later, in August, 1931, during an intimate conversation with Our Lord in Rianjo, Spain, He complained to Sr. Lúcia: “They did not wish to heed My request! …Like the King of France [Louis XIV], in delaying the execution of My command, they will repent and do it, but it will be late. Russia will have already spread her errors throughout the world, provoking wars, and persecutions of the Church; the Holy Father will have much to suffer.”
In a letter dated May 18, 1936, Lúcia noted she asked Our Lord why He would not convert Russia without the Church and, specifically, the Holy Father saying the consecration. Christ replied: “Because I want My whole Church to acknowledge that consecration as a triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, so that it may extend its cult later on and put the devotion to the Immaculate Heart beside the devotion to My Sacred Heart.”
When Lúcia again asked if the pope personally had to do the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Christ advised her: “The Holy Father! Pray very much for the Holy Father. He will do it but it will be late. Nevertheless, the Immaculate Heart of Mary will save Russia. It has been entrusted to her.”
Those first two parts of the secret would become publicly known on October 7, 1941. Two months later, on December 8, the entire world would be at war. It was that Second Great War Our Lady predicted would occur if certain conditions were not met.
On January 3, 1944, Lúcia wrote the third part of the secret ”by order of His Excellency, the bishop of Leiria, and the Most Holy Mother.” It was then placed in an envelope. The sealed envelope was given to the bishop of Leiria; however, he informed Sr. Lúcia he did not read it. Many years later, on April 4, 1957, the envelope was placed in the Archives of the Holy Office at the Vatican.
On August 17, 1959, Alfredo Cardinal Ottaviani brought the envelope to Pope St. John XXIII. After some hesitation, His Holiness said: “We will wait. I shall pray. I shall let you know what I decide.” Later, the pope returned the sealed envelope to the Holy Office, choosing not to reveal it at that time.
Lúcia had previously stated that the secret could be revealed either upon her death, or after 1960, whichever occurred first. Many of the faithful who had waited for so long misunderstood, for they believed it must be revealed in 1960. Yet, this did not happen and many people were quite dismayed that nothing further was forthcoming!
However, following the attempt to assassinate John Paul II on May 13, 1981, the pope, convinced it was the Blessed Virgin who had saved his life, asked for the envelope containing the secret. After reading it, he returned it to the Archives of the Holy Office. Soon, thereafter he composed a prayer for what he called an Act of Entrustment which was to be celebrated in the Basilica of Saint Mary Major on June 7, 1981, the Solemnity of Pentecost.
John Paul II attempted to fulfill Our Lady’s request in 1982 by making a formal consecration of the world, especially Russia, to her Immaculate Heart. However, in response to the pope’s inquiry, Sr. Lúcia informed him that the consecration had not been accepted by Heaven.
When she reminded him that Our Lady previously said: “The moment has come in which God asks the Holy Father, in union with all the bishops of the world.” The pope then performed another consecration on March 25, 1984 “…in spiritual union with the bishops of the world who had been convoked beforehand, entrusting men and women and all peoples to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”
Later, Sr. Lúcia personally confirmed that this solemn and universal act of consecration corresponded to what Our Lady requested, writing: “Yes, it has been done, just as Our Lady asked, on March 25, 1984.”
Shortly before his death, Francisco told Lúcia: “I am going to Heaven soon, but you must stay here to make known God’s wish to establish in the world devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Do not be afraid to tell it. Tell everyone that God gives us all graces through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, so that everyone may ask her.
“Make it known that the Sacred Heart of Jesus wishes that the Immaculate Heart of Mary be honored with Him. People must ask for peace through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, for God has confided the peace of the world to her.”
As Our Lady predicted, Francisco died in 1919; Jacinta, in 1920.
In 1917, Our Lady of Fátima had stated with great clarity that, if men did not cease offending her Son, the world would be punished, ”by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father.”
Indeed, all too soon – from 1917 through the beginning of World War II – the elements for these scenarios were being fulfilled. Communism, under the theories of Marx, Engels, and Lenin raised its ugly head: first in Portugal, then in Russia. When economic depression began to engulf the world, Hitler began his meteoric ascent to power in Germany.
On October 13, 1942, Cardinal Cerejeira, Patriarch of Lisbon, stated: “The mystery is now becoming clear. Fatima now speaks not only to Portugal, but to the whole world. We believe that the apparitions of Fatima are the beginning of a new epoch, that of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. What has happened in Portugal proclaims the miracle. It is the presage of what the Immaculate Heart of the Mother of God has prepared for the world.”
By 1953, about eight years after the war’s end, much discussion began in the media about the possible revelation in 1960 of the third part of the secret of Fátima. Cardinal Ottaviani said he had talked to Sr. Lúcia in Coimbra in 1955, asking her why it could not be disclosed before the date she previously specified and she answered: “Because then it will appear clearer.”
Still, some members of the Church doubted it would be revealed by then, if ever. Unfortunately, many individuals begun to speculate on the contents of the message; many of their pronouncements ranged from the banal to the far-out fringe.
Sr. Lúcia stated she understood that, “prior to God’s chastising the world – after He had offered us every means to save us – He gave us His mother.” Lúcia added: “Our Lady is our last hope and it is through devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the rosary that this can be accomplished.” Lúcia had stated earlier that “only a limited portion would be saved.”
Later, she confirmed that, saying Our Lady told her: “…many, many are lost!” She said that “Mary was sad because so few heeded her words,” adding that, “Our Lady was engaged in a decisive battle with Satan for the salvation of the world and, at the end of this present era, one would be, ‘…either of God, or of the evil one.’”
There would be no more straddling fences in the future. Recall Jesus’ stern warning: “I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth” (Rv 3:15-16).
On May 12-13, 2000, eighty-three years after the miracle of the sun at Fatima, the Beatification of Francisco and Jacinta took place. With Lúcia at his side at the site of the apparitions, Pope St. John Paul II finally permitted the third part of the message to be revealed, the secret she had written a half-century earlier!
He read as follows: “’A woman, clothed with the sun…’ (Rv 12:1) came down from Heaven to this earth to visit these privileged children of the Father…Francisco exclaimed earlier that, ‘We were burning in that light which is God and we were not consumed. What is God like? It is impossible to say. In fact we will never be able to tell people.”
John Paul II continued: “What most impressed and entirely absorbed Blessed Francisco was God in that immense light which penetrated the inmost depths of the three children. But God told only Francisco ‘how sad’
He was…One night his father heard him sobbing and asked him why he was crying; his son answered: ‘I was thinking of Jesus who is so sad because of the sins that are committed against Him.’ He was motivated by one desire – so expressive of how children think – to console Jesus and make Him happy. He died on April 4, 1919.
“Little Jacinta personally felt and personally experienced Our Lady’s anguish, offering herself heroically as a victim for sinners. One day, when she and Francisco had already contracted the illness that forced them to bed, the Virgin Mary came to visit them at home, as the little one recounts: ‘Our Lady came to see us and said that soon she would come and take Francisco to Heaven.
And she asked me if I still wanted to convert more sinners. I told her, “Yes.” And when the time came for Francisco to leave, the little girl tells him: “Give my greetings to Our Lord and to Our Lady and tell them that I am enduring everything they want for the conversion of sinners.
“Jacinta had been so deeply moved by the vision of Hell during the apparition of July 13 that no mortification or penance seemed too great to save sinners. She could well exclaim with St. Paul: ‘Now, I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the Church’ (Col 1:24).”
Less than a year before her death on February 20, 1920, Jacinta received many revelations from Our Lady regarding morality and the future. On April 4, 1919, Our Lady told her: “Certain fads [fashions] will be introduced that will offend Our Lord very much; many marriages are not good; they do not please Our Lord and are not of God; most people go to Hell because of sins of the flesh.” She died on February 20, 1920.
Lúcia learned to read and write and was able to author several books about the apparitions. Seventy-five years later, after a full lifetime of service to Our Lord and Our Lady, Sr. Lúcia died on February 14, 2005. She was 97 years old.