of 13 May 1917
Leading their flock out from Aljustrel on
the morning of the 13th of May, the feast of Our Lady of the Blessed
Sacrament, the three children passed Fátima, where the parish church
and cemetery could be found, and
proceeded a kilometer or so north to the slopes of the Cova. Here they
allowed their sheep to graze as they played in the pasture land
sprinkled with the occasional oak tree. After having had their lunch
about noon they decided to pray a rosary, although
in a somewhat truncated fashion, saying only the first words of each
prayer. Shortly, they were startled by what they later described as
"lightening in a clear sky." Thinking that a storm
might be approaching they debated whether they should take the sheep
and go home. Preparing to do so they were again surprised by a strange
And we began to go down the slope
driving the sheep towards the road. When we were half-way down, near
a holm oak there [the large tree which today is encircled
with an iron fence], we saw another flash of lightening, and after a
few steps we saw on a holm oak [a small one lower on the hillside] a
lady dressed in white, shining
brighter than the sun, giving out rays of clear and intense light,
just like a crystal goblet full of pure water when the fiery sun
passes through it. We stopped astounded by the Apparition. We were
so near that we were in the light that encircled her, or which she
radiated, perhaps a meter and a half away [4-5 feet].
Please don't be afraid of me, I'm
not going to harm you.
Lucia responded for all three, as she
would throughout the apparitions.
"Where are you from?"
I come from heaven.
The Lady wore a pure white mantle,
edged with gold and which fell to her feet. In her hands the beads of
a rosary shone like stars, with its crucifix the most radiant gem of
all. Still, Lucia felt no fear. The Lady's presence produced in her
only gladness and confident joy.
"And what do you want of
I want you to return here on the
thirteenth of each month for the next six months, and at the very
same hour. Later I shall tell you who I am, and what it is that I
most desire. And I shall return here yet a seventh time.
"And shall I go to heaven?"
Yes, you will.
She will go too.
Francisco, too, my dear, but he
will first have many Rosaries to say.
For a few moments the Lady looked at
Francisco with compassion, tinged with a little sadness. Lucia then
remembered some friends who had died.
"Is Maria Neves in
Yes, she is.
She is in purgatory.
Will you offer yourselves to God,
and bear all the sufferings He sends you? In atonement for all the
sins that offend Him? And for the conversion of sinners?
"Oh, we will, we will!"
Then you will have a great deal to
suffer, but the grace of God will be with you and will strengthen
Lucia relates that as the Lady
pronounced these words, she opened her hands, and
we were bathed in a heavenly light
that appeared to come directly from her hands. The light's reality
cut into our hearts and our souls, and we knew somehow that this
light was God, and we could see ourselves embraced in it. By an
interior impulse of grace we fell to our knees, repeating in our
hearts: "Oh, Holy Trinity, we adore You. My God, my God, I
love You in the Blessed Sacrament."
The children remained kneeling in the
flood of this wondrous light, until the Lady spoke again, mentioning
the war in Europe, of which they had little or no knowledge.
Say the Rosary every day, to bring
peace to the world and an end to the war.
After that she began to rise slowly
in the direction of the east, until she disappeared in the immense
distance. The light that encircles Her seemed to make a way amidst
the stars, and that is why we sometimes said we had seen the heavens
The days that followed
were filled with excitement, though they had not intended it that
way. Lucia had cautioned the others to keep their visitor a secret,
correctly perceiving the difficulties they would experience if the
events became known. However, the joy of seven year old Jacinta
could not be contained, and she rather promptly forgot her promise
and revealed all to her mother, who patiently listened but gave it
little credence. Her brothers and sisters piped in with their
questions and jokes. Among the interrogators only her father,
"Ti" Marto, was inclined immediately to accept the tale as
true. He believed in the honesty of his children, and had a simple
appreciation of the workings of God, such that he became the first
believer in the apparitions of Fátima.
Lucia's mother, on the
other hand, when at last she heard what had transpired, believed her
own daughter to be the instigator of a fraud, if not a blasphemy.
Lucia would quickly learn what the Lady meant when she said they
would suffer a great deal. Maria Rosa was unable to get Lucia to
recant, event under threats. Finally she hauled her before the
parish priest, Fr. Ferreira, with no better success. On the other
hand, Lucia's father, who was not especially religious, was
practically indifferent, attributing all of it to the fancies of
women. The next few weeks, as the children awaited their scheduled
appointment with the lady in June, would reveal that they had few believers,
and many detractors, in Aljustrel and Fátima.