Between May 13 and October 13, 1917, during World War I and the fomenting of the Bolshevik revolution, the Blessed Mother appeared six times to three shepherd children—Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta—near Fátima, Portugal. She delivered her warning of the spread of Communism and outlined her plan to “bring peace to the world and an end to war” through daily recitation of the rosary, worldwide devotion to her Immaculate Heart and penance.
In 1916, prior to Mother Mary’s appearances, the children received three visitations from an angel who spoke reassuringly to them. “Do not be afraid,” he said. “I am the Angel of Peace. Pray with me. “He knelt on the ground and repeated three times: “O my God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love thee. I beg pardon of you for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love thee.” Then he rose and said: “Pray thus. The hearts of Jesus and Mary are attentive to the voice of your supplications.”
From that day on, the children repeated this prayer for hours, kneeling and placing their foreheads on the ground as the angel had demonstrated. They were preparing themselves to receive the Blessed Mother.
On his second visit, the Angel of Peace asked the children to continually offer prayers and sacrifices to the Most High. When Lucia asked, “How are we to make sacrifices?” The angel replied: “Offer up everything within your power as a sacrifice to the Lord in reparation for the sins by which he is so much offended and in supplication for the conversion of sinners.”
Beginning on May 13 and continuing for five consecutive months on the thirteenth day of each month, Mother Mary came to the children and gave them messages and prophecies. For an end to war and the restoration of peace she requested the daily recitation of the rosary, worldwide devotion to her Immaculate Heart and penance.
Mother Mary repeated her request in each of her appearances that the children recite the rosary every day to obtain peace for the world. She also asked the children to offer themselves to God, to accept all the sufferings he would choose to give them and to pray for the conversion of sinners.
A secret in three parts
On her third visit, Mother Mary gave the children a “secret” in three parts. At that time they did not tell anyone the details of the secret and it was not until 1927 that Lucia revealed the first two parts of it.
The first part of the secret was a vision of hell. The children were terrified by a sea of fire that opened up in front of them: “Even the earth itself seemed to vanish, and we saw huge numbers of devils and lost souls in a vast and fiery ocean.”
In the second part of the secret, Mother Mary told the children: “You have seen 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 people do what I tell you, many souls will be saved and there will be peace.”
Mother Mary went on to say that World War I would end, but there would be another war if people did not stop offending God. In order to prevent this war, she said that she intended to return and ask for the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart and for the Communion of Reparation on the first Saturdays of the month.
The Blessed Mother stated that if her requests were fulfilled, Russia would be converted and there would be peace. “If not,” said Mary, “Russia will spread her errors throughout the entire world, provoking wars and persecution of the Church. The good will suffer martyrdom. The Holy Father will suffer much. Different nations will be annihilated.”
At first the appearances of Mother Mary to the three children were met with disbelief. Lucia’s mother was the most skeptical of the family members. She wanted her daughter to publicly recant what she considered to be a hoax. In an effort to get Lucia to admit that she was lying, she scolded the child harshly and treated her with scorn. Mrs. dos Santos would not be converted until she witnessed the “miracle of the sun,” which occurred during Mother Mary’s final visitation to the children.
The parish priest, after questioning Lucia about the first two visitations, thought the apparitions might be the work of the devil. Despite the increasing number of pilgrims who came daily to visit the site of the apparitions or to be present during the apparitions, the ecclesiastical authorities remained reserved and aloof. The Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon even went so far as to forbid the clergy from taking part in any of the events.
Journalists employed by the prevailing revolutionary government of Portugal, which had persecuted the Church since coming to power in 1910, ridiculed the apparitions. They claimed that they were an organized plot to incite the people against the government and they encouraged the civil authorities to intervene.
On August 13, the date set for Mother Mary’s fourth appearance, the administrator of the district of Fátima kidnapped the children and took them to his house, where he then interrogated and imprisoned them. When all three refused to divulge the secret message they had received, he became enraged and locked them in the public jail, threatening to kill them by boiling them in oil.
The administrator had the children led separately to their supposed death. He told each one that the child who had been led out previously had been killed. But throughout this persecution the children remained unshakable, and two days later the administrator returned them to their homes. Although the children did not expect to see the Blessed Virgin until the following month, she appeared to them on August 19 in a field about a mile from Fátima, where they were tending their sheep.
The two final apparitions
The people, if not the authorities, were now convinced that the children were telling the truth and the apparitions were genuine. The September 13 appearance was attended by thousands of pilgrims. Mother Mary again told the children to give the rosary daily to obtain an end to the war. She promised them that she would perform a miracle on her final visit in October.
When October 13 arrived, many more thousands came to see the expected miracle. The day was unseasonably cold and rainy. Many who waited for the approaching hour of the miracle had spent the night out in the rain and were drenched to the skin.
A little later than the promised hour of noon, the Blessed Mother appeared and spoke to the children. As she finished speaking, the miracle of the sun began. The sun grew pale, started to spin around in circles, turning on its axis like a “gigantic wheel of fire.” Three times it stopped and then resumed its spinning motion. Suddenly, it plunged toward the ground, causing the onlookers to cry out in terror, many falling to their knees in prayer.
About ten minutes later, the sun rose to its normal position in the sky and again became too bright to look upon. All the pilgrims noticed that their rain-soaked clothes had become completely dry. Comforted, at peace, yet convinced that they had truly witnessed a miracle, the crowds dispersed.
Five years after the apparitions, the Bishop of Leiria-Fátima appointed a commission to study them. In 1930, after a seven-year investigation, he confirmed the appearances of the Blessed Mother in a pastoral letter and said they were worthy of belief by the faithful.
The consecration of Russia
In 1929, Mother Mary appeared to Lucia and said it was time for the pope—in union with all the bishops of the world—to consecrate Russia to her Immaculate Heart. Despite Lucia’s appeal to two different popes, the consecration to Russia has never occurred exactly in the manner Mother Mary requested. And, as Mary prophesied, World War II became a reality.
As a result of this gross negligence, on March 22, 1978, Mother Mary delivered a dictation through the Messenger Elizabeth Clare Prophet in which she placed the spiritual mantle of bishop on all present, thereby elevating them for that service to the appropriate level of hierarchy, whereupon the Blessed Mother formally consecrated Russia to her Immaculate Heart. True to her Magnificat, she “put down the mighty from their seats and exalted them of low degree.” And Jesus’ rebuke to the Pharisees was not far from our ears: “If these should hold their peace the stones would immediately cry out.”
Mark L. Prophet and Elizabeth Clare Prophet, Lost Teachings on Keys to Spiritual Progress, pp. 304–06.
- William Thomas Walsh, Our Lady of Fátima (Garden City, N.Y.: Image Books, Doubleday and Co., 1954), pp. 36–37.
- William C. McGrath, “The Lady of the Rosary,” in A Woman Clothed with the Sun: Eight Great Appearances of Our Lady in Modern Times, ed. John J. Delaney (Garden City, N.Y.: Image Books, Doubleday and Co., 1961), p. 180.
- Ibid., p. 193.
- Ibid., p. 194.
- Ibid., p. 202.
- Luke 1:52.
- Luke 19:40.