Matt C. Abbott
By Matt C. Abbott
September 9, 2009

This is my third, and most lengthy, installment of Peter B. Kelly's "factional" novel Cleansing Fire — and this time the featured chapters are about one of the most well-known Marian apparitions in the history of the Church: Our Lady of Fatima. (Incidentally, there is a new feature film on the apparitions — The 13th Day.)

First, I'd like to include some material that will be appearing on Mr. Kelly's forthcoming Web site. Mr. Kelly — a 52-year-old life-long Catholic and married father of five (with an additional 11 miscarried children the Lord has shown His love for) — has obtained degrees from Notre Dame, the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Marquette University, Ave Maria University and the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater; and he still remains a faithful Catholic!


    'Mr. Kelly was very active in local and state-wide pro-life organizations since his 1984 graduation from law school, including leadership in the local Republican Party, various community public service organizations and membership on the board of directors of the 'no compromise' right-to-life organization Pro-Life Wisconsin. At the same time, he was becoming increasingly active in his local parish, particularly valuing the importance of authentic catechetical instruction. He taught the Catholic faith to adolescents and adults in his parish but grew more alarmed about the apparent disbelief of some of the clergy in the traditional teachings of the Church.

    'In 1997 Mr. Kelly founded a Catholic radio apostolate dedicated to teaching the authentic Catholic faith to his local community. His partner in the radio show was Father Alfred Kunz, a priest who had been offering the only Traditional Latin Mass in the Diocese of Madison. Together, Mr. Kelly and Father Kunz began their radio teaching with a series of programs on the story of Our Lady of Fatima. On March 3, 1998, after a taping of the radio show, Father Kunz was mysteriously and brutally murdered after returning home to his parish. There have been no arrests made to date on that vicious crime.

    'The radio show continued with Mr. Kelly's new on-air partner, Father Charles Fiore, a former professor at the Dominican seminary (the Angelicum) in Rome, and a close friend of the late Father Kunz. Father Fiore and Mr. Kelly thereafter recorded up to 158 radio programs as the number of radio stations carrying the program steadily increased until it went global on Mother Angelica's WEWN short wave station in early 2000.

    'During the taping of their program, Father Fiore put up a heroic and valiant fight against several chronic health concerns. Father Fiore passed on to his reward in 2003, and the funeral Mass was offered by a priest of the Institute of Christ the King at Saint Mary's Shrine in Rockford, Illinois. That same day, Mr. Kelly and his family finally found their spiritual home and have regularly attended the Latin Mass offered at St. Mary's Oratory in Rockford ever since.'

Regarding his novel, Mr. Kelly writes:

    '...Before Modernism brings about the end of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, my book leaves no doubt that Modernism will be eradicated and the world will be cleansed through the arrival of God's long-prophesied 'fire from Heaven.' The gates of Hell shall not prevail against the Church and, in the end, the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin will triumph though this 'cleansing fire.'

    'Cleansing Fire is a genre-shifting book which alternates between chapters of factual essays on the history and declining condition of the Catholic Church and chapters of historical fiction or 'faction' where actual events and historical persons are presented in historically possible, but fictional, settings and dialogue. The book also contains a third kind of chapter: These are chapters of complete fiction involving, for the most part, imagined persons and significant events which did not happen but could have, and perhaps still will. It is in these 'truly fictional' chapters that possible future events and creative solutions to very real, current problems of the Church are suggested and explored. There are, in total, 48 of these either 'factual,' 'historical fiction' or 'truly fictional' kinds of chapters in this book....'

The following three reprinted chapters of Cleansing Fire (minus endnotes, but I decided to leave the citation numbers in the text) on the events at Fatima are factual, save for one small section which I omitted. Thank you to the readers who have expressed interest in purchasing Mr. Kelly's book. For those still interested in purchasing the book, please e-mail me and I will forward your inquiry to Mr. Kelly.

    Chapter 12
    'The Angel of Portugal'

    Four shepherdesses finished their noon-time meal among the rocks at the high ridge called the Cabeço. [1] It was about one kilometer from the hamlet of Aljustrel, Portugal. Lucia, Teresa, Maria Rosa and Maria Justino loved that ridge as it provided beautiful views from far above the innumerable gray green olive trees, the darker green evergreens and the many stocky holm oaks in the valley below. As they stood at the crest of the ridge near the old windmill, they could see for miles in all directions. It was a peaceful view for these young Catholic girls in a very troubled time for Catholics in that country. Seven years before, their Catholic King, Carlos I, was assassinated. Five years before, in 1910, a Masonic republican revolution expelled the papal nuncio — the Pope's ambassador, as Catholic seminaries and the residences of the Catholic bishops were confiscated throughout the country. Members of religious orders were dispersed and the government forbade religious processions and the wearing of clerical garb. Church services were regulated by government-appointed lay committees. Bishops and priests were tried, imprisoned and exiled. In this brutal way, the Church and state were forcibly separated. The Masons were pleased. But there at the Cabeço that afternoon the air was clean, fragrant and peaceful. Lucia and her friends began to say a Rosary.

    The view was clear and cloudless. It was a quiet day in a place of rural beauty. No one expected anything remarkable to happen this noon for this place was created for the ordinary. Nevertheless, as the girls prayed, they saw something extraordinary. In the otherwise clear heavens, a small solitary mist formed in the sky far above the pious girls. The mist grew into a small cloud. It was remarkably bright as it developed before their uplifted eyes. The girls watched it grow in wonder. Then the cloud revealed within it a glowing image that looked like a human form. They stared at it mesmerized. The form appeared like an unfinished statue of crystal ice that sunlight made transparent. The brilliant human image, without detailed features, was suspended in that shroud of misty air only momentarily above the praying girls and the motionless trees. And then it was gone. The girls stopped and asked each other what they had seen in the sky. They were at a complete loss to identify it. After a pause they finished their Rosary. Then the girls went home with the sheep and tried to describe to their parents what they saw drifting above them. Lucia's mother's response was probably typical: "children's nonsense" she called the account.

    A year later, in March, 1916, Portugal formally entered the World War. No one knew then to describe the conflict with a numerical suffix. Just days before, His Holiness Pope Benedict XV had begged the world for peace. Christ's Vicar on earth asked for all people of good will to pray and pursue spiritual mortification to avoid the ruin of the continent that he knew would come with this modern war. Unfortunately, the prince of this world was more convincing. The prince and its legions gleefully anticipated the rotting piles of an entire generation of Europe's young men who would die in mud and desperate confusion.

    The summer of 1916

    Summer came to the Cabeço and to the fields around Aljustrel. On one ordinary morning the sheep paused and nibbled on the field belonging to Lucia's father. There were three shepherds there to watch them. Lucia Santos's companions that summer day were her cousins, Francisco and Jacinta Marto. Lucia was nine years old. Jacinta was eight years and little Francisco was only six. These young, pious and illiterate friends amused themselves through the morning. Then the sky became suddenly overcast. Grey clouds rode in on a chilly breeze from an ocean hidden offstage beyond the northwestern horizon. The breeze grew misty and cold. The children remembered that among the rocks of the Cabeço above them there was a stone formation, like a half cave, near the rocky crest of the long slope where their sheep were gathered. The children prodded the sheep up the gradual incline toward some trees just below the half cave. With the sheep huddled peacefully in the protective grove, the children sought shelter in the shallow cave facing south, down the descending pasture. Although there was barely a stone roof to the cave, they were at least out of the cold, wet breeze. There the children passed the time with games and childlike conversation. Around noon they ate their lunch. As was their habit, after lunch they prayed their Rosary. When they had finished praying, the rain stopped unexpectedly and the sun reappeared to burn away the moisture from the land and clouds. The sky and the sheep and the children were at peace. The children threw some stones down into the valley below for no particular reason. They were just children.

    As another small stone tumbled into the valley, the tops of the pine trees above them began to unexpectedly bend and moan from the force of the strongest wind of the day. The children dropped their stones and searched the sky above them for signs of a new storm. Then they discovered instead a concentrated light far above the tree tops. This light was approaching them slowly from the east over the valley. It was a white light that drew closer and, as they watched it come, Lucia could discern within the bright whiteness the form she described later as "somebody wrapped in a sheet." She had seen this before — last summer — with the three other girls there at the Cabeço. The figure within was not as clear back then. Here and now the form was whiter than new snow under a bright noon sun. It came closer and closer. Clearer and clearer. The light and the form within it soon halted above a square-ish rock above the front of the shallow cave. The figure within the light was so revealed at that moment that Lucia could describe him as "a transparent young man" — a youth of fourteen or fifteen years — "more brilliant than a crystal, penetrated by the rays of the sun." He looked, according to Lucia, "like snow that the sun shines through until it becomes crystalline." He had human features — yet he was inhuman in his indescribable beauty. He truly was inhuman. The children stared in unavoidable silence. The three speechless children gazed at him and he at the children. They were inhabitants of different dimensions, of different realms, of different ages with incomparably different origins.

    "Do not fear. I am the Angel of Peace. Pray with me." [2]

    The Angel knelt on the ground. He bent forward until his forehead touched the dirt.

    Then he continued:

    "My God, I believe, I adore, I hope, and I love you! I beg pardon of You for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love You!" [3]

    The Angel repeated this prayer three times as the dazed, kneeling children repeated the words after him. From that moment on the children could never forget these words. Nor would they ever wish to.

    The Angel rose and said:

    "Pray thus. The hearts of Jesus and Mary are attentive to the voice of your supplications." [4]

    After he said this he dissolved into the sunlight of the early afternoon.

    The children were captured and frozen, unable to rise from their knees. The saints have described this as a supernatural state of ecstasy. Lucia later wrote that they "were almost unaware of our own existence for a long space of time." They continued to repeat the unforgettable Angel's prayer. It was for them the only thing for them to do. Eventually their young bodies became exhausted by the kneeling on the hard ground. They rose and collected their sheep. Then they guided them silently back to Aljustrel. Before they parted to return to their homes for supper, Lucia warned the two younger cousins to remain silent of what they had seen and heard that day. She later explained her reason for the required confidentiality of the experience: "It seemed the right thing to do. It was just something you couldn't talk about."

    The Archangel Raphael advised Tobit and his son Tobias to always remember to praise God. (Tob 12:17) The Archangel Gabriel announced to the Virgin Mary that she was to be the Mother of the Redeemer (Lk 1:26) just as he had counseled Daniel that he might understand. (Dan 9:22) But in the Catholic liturgy, it is the Archangel Michael who is known as the Angelus Pacis.

    Michael — the Angel of Peace. Angelus pacis Michael.

    The Roman Breviary, Hymn for Lauds on his feast of September 29 recites:

    Angelus pacis Michael in aedes
    coelitus nostras veniat; serenae
    auctor ut pacis lacrymosa in orcrum
    bello releget.

    But the peace of Michael is kept with a fiery sword. Saint Michael, of the choir Seraphim with the title Archangel, is the highest general in the service of the heavenly Sovereign.

    It was Michael in the morning of time who cast out of heaven the followers of the light-bearer, Lucifer, who, like their fallen master, would not serve. (Apoc 12:7) It was Michael who stood with sword aflame before the closed gates of Eden (Gen 3:24).

    Legend has it that it is Michael who guards the body of Eve until the Day of Judgment and that it was Michael who stood in the way of Balaam (Num 23:23). It is believed that Michael hid the body of Moses to save God's People from the temptation to worship their dead leader. Still others say it was Michael who led the Hebrews to the Promised Land and shattered the army of Sennacherib, killing 185,000 soldiers (II Kings 19:35 (KJV); IV Kings 19:35 (DRV)). Could it have been Michael who, on the signal of the trumpets of Joshua, brought down, by God's command, the walls of Jericho? Quite likely. It would have been so like him.

    In the sixth century, Pope Saint Gregory the Great saw Michael sheathing his fiery blade above Hadrian's Tomb in Rome. It was a sign that the Almighty had accepted the penance of the Romans. The pestilence that scourged the people for their many sins would end and innumerable angel voices were heard above the image of the Blessed Mother which the Holy Pope bore at the head of the procession.

    It will also be Saint Michael the Archangel, according to the Book of Daniel 12:1, who will be the guardian of the people in the time unsurpassed in its distress. Some have even foretold that Michael will suffocate the Antichrist with a blast of his breath. But his protection was sought even earlier in the latter days. For it was this same St. Michael who was called upon by Pope Leo XIII and the Church to "defend us in battle" in our own days.

    This Pope Leo once had a vision during a gathering of other prelates. He was so taken up in the vision that the other prelates with him had thought he had died before them. In that vision he overheard a conversation between Lucifer and Almighty God. The evil one, as in the book of Job, challenged the Creator that he could defeat the Church in the twentieth century. For heavenly protection, Holy Pope Leo asked his Universal Church to close each low Mass with prayers that included the Prayer to Saint Michael.

    Prayer to Saint Michael

    Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.
    Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
    May God rebuke him, we humbly pray.
    And do thou, O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
    by the power of God,
    thrust into Hell Satan and the other evil spirits
    who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.

    Pope Leo was obeyed and the Church universally and regularly invoked the protection of this Heavenly Warrior at the close of every low Mass. Then, around the time of the Second Vatican Council, some high ranking clergymen, who did not desire this protection from Satan and the other evil spirits, were successful in their quest to terminate this daily and worldwide prayer of protection to Saint Michael. [5]

    In response to this clerical treachery, Saint Michael sheathed his flaming sword and withdrew. With the Universal Church so suddenly unprotected, the already encircling and infiltrating enemy took extra advantage. As Pope Paul VI later would admit in an allocution on June 29, 1972, "through some crack, the smoke of Satan has penetrated the Temple of God." [6]

    It may well have been Michael who appeared before and prayed with the four girls at Cabeço that day in 1915. But if that was Michael, that appearance was just his first of several visits. A few weeks later on one of the hottest days of that summer of 1916 he came again. [7] Lucia thought it was in July or perhaps August. She could not be certain for she had no calendar. The same three children had taken their sheep home at noon so that they could be in shade during the warmest hours of the siesta. The children were wasting time in idle play, as children do, in the shade of the fig trees by the well behind a cottage. Without any floating light or fierce wind in the trees he came to them. The children just looked up at one moment and he was there.

    This angelic intelligence knew of the exceedingly corrupt condition of the world in 1916 — a corruption that was profound even before the global cultural collapse that suddenly accelerated exponentially in the 1960s. He also knew the mind of God before whose throne he and the other six Seraphim stood in constant worship and service. His appearance was completely altered to save the children from the fatal effect of his truly overwhelming actual appearance. Yet his message could not be so concealed. He had still to reaffirm the urgency of their duties that he taught in his prior appearance.

    "What are you doing?" [8]

    His voice was demanding but restrained. It had to be, for his mere breath would one day suffocate the AntiChrist.

    "Pray! Pray a great deal! The hearts of Jesus and of Mary have merciful designs for you. Offer prayers and sacrifices constantly to the Most High." [9]

    Lucia, the elder, eventually found her voice: "How must we sacrifice?" she asked.

    "With all your power offer a sacrifice as an act of reparation for the sinners by whom He is offended, and of supplication for the conversion of sinners. Thus draw peace upon your country. I am its Guardian Angel, the Angel of Portugal. Above all, accept and endure with submission the suffering which the Lord will send you." [10]

    Then as suddenly as he arrived, he was gone. The children remained in that same experience of ecstasy or exultation of spirit. As their moods came back to normal, Lucia learned that Francisco had seen the Angel but heard nothing of his answer to Lucia's question to him. Jacinta, like Lucia, had both seen and heard the Angel. Perhaps the mischievous Francisco was not as pure as the other two girls or perhaps he was not yet of an intellect capable of properly understanding the Angelic message. Whatever the case, heaven chose to partially obscure this encounter from the young boy. The boy eventually received the message from the girls, however, and he joined with them in giving up little pleasures and satisfactions for the conversion of the world's sinners.

    The effect of the experience on Jacinta was shared by each of the children. Jacinta said that there was something about the Angel and his message that made her more thoughtful, more contemplative. For a time she no longer wanted to talk, sing or play. She had not the desire for those old amusements. Francisco, in his own way, could understand her preoccupations as he, too, sorted out his priorities. He likewise cared little for the old amusements. "But what of it?" he would say, "The Angel is more beautiful than all this. Let us think about him." And so they all did, as the sheep nibbled on the summer grass spreading out on the downward slope below the Cabeço.

    The summer of 1916 ended as the quiet, contemplative children kept up their secret sacrifices and their private daydreams of the Guardian Angel of Portugal. Then one day in late September or October of 1916, they were again around and about the ridge and the shallow cave. The sheep were gradually dispersing out on the slope as the children finished their Rosary.

    In unison they prayed:

    "My God, I believe, I adore, I hope, and I love You.
    I beg pardon of You for those who do not believe,
    do not adore, do not hope and do not love You."

    They repeated the prayer over several times, just as the Angel taught them. Then they saw again the same crystalline cloud coming toward them, now swiftly across the valley. The shimmering glow arrived above them and there he was — dazzling, beautiful beyond this world's chemistry, biology or physics will allow. Other-worldly. Inhuman. But made to appear human. He was as if his Maker made a perfect man but incomprehensibly superior to the original prototype. If this is what Angels looked like when they tried to appear human, what an image they must truly bear. For that matter, what incomprehensible ugliness must be their opposite in nature? The mind must melt before the appearance of such degradation in matter and form.

    The Angel held in one hand a Chalice, and over it, in the other, a Host.

    Angels — even the greatest among them — can not be sacramentally ordained. They cannot offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and they cannot consecrate bread and wine so that it changes into the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. Such an infinite privilege is reserved to the validly ordained priest of weak human flesh. Hence, angels gather in awe around the sanctuary of the adobe church, the straw-hut chapel, the clap-board parish or the great cathedral. They gather to witness, all around the world, this common miracle by God through man "In persona Christi" which they — like man — cannot fully comprehend.

    This consecrated Host and Wine was removed for this appearance from some altar, of some church, or chapel somewhere, anywhere. It was presented as a gift from a holy priest. The priest, though a weak man, had an awesome power. With a steady eye and holy, consecrated hands he gave to the waiting, humbled, Angel of Portugal the Host and the Chalice. The Angelic servant then suddenly disappeared from the candle-lit sanctuary only to reappear in the shimmering light above the valley beneath the Cabeço.

    The Angel left the Chalice and Host suspended in the air and prostrated himself before it on the ground. He spoke three times the following prayer: [11]

    "Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son, Holy Ghost, I adore You profoundly and offer You the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the earth, 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 through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of You the conversion of poor sinners."

    The Angel then arose and took again the suspended Chalice and the Host. Next he knelt on a flat rock, held the consecrated Host before him and said:

    "Take and drink the Body and the Blood of Jesus Christ, horribly insulted by ungrateful men. Make reparation for their crimes and console your God." [12]

    The children watched as drops of blood fell from the Host into the Chalice.

    The Angel gave the Host to Lucia by placing it on her tongue. Although neither Jacinta nor Francisco had yet received their first holy communion, the Angel gave each of them the Chalice to drink from.

    After he had given the children communion, he once more prostrated himself on the ground and repeated the earlier prayer three times. This time the children joined with him in praying. Francisco learned the prayer quickly from the girls for he once again did not hear the voice of the Angel despite his full vision of him.

    The Angel had completed his work for the Almighty. He would not return to these children but he would return again to earth on other missions for the Most High. For the last time, he faded into the golden autumn sunlight. He was gone, leaving the children with their most intense sense of the presence of God.

    Chapter 13
    'Our Lady of Fatima'

    Sunday, May 13, 1917

    May 13, 1917 was a Sunday. [1] Lucia with her family went to Mass in the morning as did Jacinta and Francisco with their parents. It was the morning of the Mass of the Poor Souls. The Mass was offered for the intention of the poor souls in purgatory. As II Maccabees 12:44-46 relates, it was good and proper to pray for the dead. This custom was still a sincere part of the Traditional Catholic piety of Portugal long after it was protested, edited out of Scripture, and rejected in the Protestant parts of Europe.

    All of the souls in Purgatory are bound for heaven. They are not enjoying what uninformed people believe to be a "second chance" at salvation. Those inhabitants of purgatory were the souls of people who died in the state of grace, that is, in possession of the sanctifying grace available from one or more of the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church. However, the place of purgatory is where the souls of the dead, bearing still the stain of their forgiven sins and their other sinful inclinations, are being cleansed in the fire of Divine love. Scripture says that nothing unclean can ever enter into heaven (Apoc 21:27). Thus, biblically, since it is not enough that sinful inclinations be merely covered, but should instead be completely purged from the soul, purgatory is that place where the purging is completed. There the Communion of Saints direct their prayers for the poor souls and thereby assist in the cleansing. Once prepared by the prayerful attention of the Church Triumphant already in heaven, and the Church Militant still on earth, the Church Suffering in purgatory — one cleansed and happy soul after another — enters into the beatific vision of the Almighty to finally see God as He really is.

    The year 1917 was the 200 year anniversary of the formation of the modern Masonic system in England. It was this Masonic system that had such an instigating effect on the persecution of the Church in Portugal that year. The year 1917 was also, and not just coincidentally, the 400 year anniversary of the first public rejection of this purgatorial teaching of the one, true Church of Jesus Christ. This original Christian belief in purgatory had been rejected formally by a German Catholic friar of the Augustinian Religious order named Martin Luther around 1517.

    Luther's own emotional, mental, and spiritual difficulties led him to first abandon prayer, and then other devotions as well. [2] Eventually, his Catholic faith, in turn, abandoned him. He then invented a new soteriology — the theology of how we are saved for heaven. Ironically, for this inventor of the "Bible Alone" pillar of Protestantism, his new misunderstandings conflicted with Holy Scripture generally and, with the Epistle of James (James 2:24) in particular. He first taught, as other "protestors" did after him, that for ultimate salvation it made no difference if one "sinned boldly" as Luther recommended, and repeatedly, as long as one had some kind of accepted personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior derived from the Bible alone. Neither Sacramental Confession nor purgatory was considered necessary by the Protestants. They believed that the mere professed acceptance of Christ's suffering and death would cover a man's sins — as Luther explained it: like fresh snow covered a dung pile.

    For Luther, the dung pile of man's sinful soul, covered by personal acceptance of Christ's atoning death on the cross, could enter into heaven. In contrast, the Catholic Church continued to insist, as taught in the Book of Revelation or Apocalypse 21:27, that nothing defiling or unclean can enter heaven. The Catholic Church taught that, although God reserves the right always to work outside of His sacramental system if He chooses to, ordinarily, if one dies having actually committed sins, leaving his or her soul without sacramental grace, hell was inevitable. If, however, through participation in the sacraments, sanctifying grace was possessed by the soul at death, heaven was assured although some purgation or cleansing of the soul usually must precede entry into heaven.

    Martin Luther knew that the only traditional and reasonable way to interpret the book of James conflicted unavoidably with his new theology. He could find no early Church Father that shared his novel and obviously un-Catholic teaching. Nor were there any Popes or recognized Doctors of the Church that supported him in this view as well. The uneducated peasants and worldly men who followed and supported Luther hated the Church and cared little for such authority anyway. They also were relieved that Luther taught it was no longer necessary to avoid sin to gain heaven. But the contradiction of his new theology by the Holy Bible was an obvious difficulty, especially since the other primary teaching of his new theology was the necessity of following the Bible alone. His advisors impressed upon him that he could not remove the contrary Epistle of James from the New Testament as the Protestants had removed the two books of Maccabees and several others books from the Old Testament which also contradicted his new theology. He decided, as the head "Protestor," to tell his "Protestant" followers not to follow James' "Epistle of Straw." [3] Rather, his followers were to reject James' book of the Bible in favor of Martin Luther's own sin-damaged, personal mis-interpretation of Scripture. It is no wonder that Portugal rejected this obvious error and still attended the Mass for the Poor Souls on May 13, 1917. The only real wonder is how any reasonable Christian of that day could so radically reject the historical and biblical teachings of Jesus Christ and follow Luther without returning to the true Catholic Church given that many of Luther's false teachings were soon abandoned by other self-proclaimed "reformers" even within Luther's own lifetime.

    The Protestant rejection of any devotional activity beyond simply believing what one decided for himself about God and salvation led to a Protestant contempt for what they would call an ineffectual Catholic "theology of works." The devotions of the three children, including their noon time Rosary, would be ridiculed by the Protestants. Such "works," the Protestants believe, would accomplish nothing. Any such devotion, in the mind of some Protestants, may even call into question the Catholic's Christianity for such devotions were a rejection of the "faith alone Gospel" as understood by the Protestants.

    These three children on May 13, 1917 did not share the Protestant contempt for such religious devotions as the Mass and the Rosary. Neither did their next visitor from heaven.

    The three children returned from the Mass of the Souls early in the morning. [4] They then decided to drive the sheep to the property belonging to Lucia's family — the Cova da Iria — a small parcel of land west of the village of Fatima. The Cova da Iria was also three kilometers northwest of the hamlet of Aljustrel and due north of the Cabeço where the children met the Angel of Peace, who was the Guardian of Portugal, three times the summer before. The route to the Cova was rugged, across uncultivated terrain. Lucia recalls: "We had to go slowly so that the sheep could eat on the road." The sheep and the children arrived at the Cova around noon. After lunch, in keeping with their daily custom, they prayed their Rosary. Then they drove the sheep a little higher up the hill around the Cova. There they amused themselves by building a little stone wall around a bush. It was a meaningless childlike activity for three youngsters who, in minutes, would become occupied in the most meaningful tasks ever granted to children.

    In her fourth Memoir of recollections on the events of that year, Lucia related how they next saw an unexpected flash that appeared as lightning. Thinking a sudden storm was approaching out of sight, they abruptly decided to return home. They began to drive the sheep back down the hill toward the road. Halfway down the slope stood a large holm oak. When they were above that tree on the higher elevation, at approximately the height of its upper branches, they were enveloped in another burst of light. That flash may have been the light immediately rushing in through the swinging door of heaven, instantly opened and suddenly shut. But the closing did not take place until after a Lady stepped through.

    At once before them, on a shorter holm oak beside the taller tree, stood a magnificent young Woman. She was dressed in an iridescent white. It was a white of another kind or specie of brightness than the crystal-clear sunlight on snow we know on earth. She wore a golden cord around her neck which hung as far as her chest. Her head was covered with a mantle of the same other-worldly form of white. Her hands were joined at the level of her heart and from her fingers hung a glimmering Rosary. Its beads shown like a string of stars leading to a brilliant golden crucifix. She was, according to Lucia, "incomparably superior to any human beauty." It was not accurate to just say she was all light. Her dress, Lucia recorded, was tailored "undulations of Light." The dress fell straight without pleats. The gold embroidering the mantle, wrote the child, was simply a line of more intense light. Her skin was "light the color of flesh." All of this different kind of illumination did not just shine — it sparkled and dazzled the human, earthly eye making it even hard to continuously observe.

    The great Doctor of the Church, Saint Alphonsus Liguori, once taught that the fire of hell was so much more intense than earthly fire that one could truthfully say that, compared to hell's fire, earthly fire was as cool and ineffective as a mere painting of fire. Perhaps one could say the same of the comparison between the light we know on earth and the light of heaven that this visitor brought with her from there. For people who only knew of candle flames, she was a thousand suns.

    As the children stopped in their tracks before her, they were surrounded in this light that came not from around her, but from her. They were about several meters apart when their eyes met. Hers were dark in the pupils but full and alive. They projected a love incomparably beyond that seen even in the eyes of their own mothers on their best days. The Lady's face was of an exquisitely pure and delicate line. Her small feet rested gently on a light cloud of white that brushed and tenderly bent the green branches of the little holm oak. Beneath her the branches bowed humbly under her slight, feminine weight. The Lady looked to be between eighteen and twenty years old.

    According to Lucia's own written memory, this is the English translation of what followed in the original Portuguese conversation: [5]

    "Then Our Lady said to us in a gentle and pleasant voice:

    'Do not be afraid. I will do you no harm.'

    "'Where is Your Grace from?' I asked her."

    "I am of heaven."

    "What does Your Grace want of me?'

    "I have come to ask you to come here for six months in succession, on the 13th day, at this same hour. Later on, I will tell you who I am and what I want. Afterwards, I will return here a seventh time."

    "Shall I go to heaven too?"

    "Yes, you will."

    "And Jacinta?"


    "And Francisco?"

    "Also, but he will have to say many Rosaries."

    (Lucia explained later: "I remembered then to ask about two girls who had died recently. They were friends of mine and they used to come to my home to learn weaving with my eldest sister.")

    "Is Maria das Neves already in heaven?

    "Yes, she is."

    "And Amelia?"

    "She will be in purgatory until the end of the world."

    Then the Lady asked:

    "Are you willing to offer yourselves to God to bear all the sufferings He wants to send you, as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and for the conversion of sinners?"

    "Yes, we are willing."

    "You are then going to have much to suffer, but the grace of God will be your comfort."

    Lucia writes further: [6] "It was in pronouncing those last words (about the grace of God, etc.) that Our Lady opened her hands for the first time, and communicated to us, as by a reflection which emanated from them, a light so intense that, penetrating our heart and even to the depths of our soul it made us see ourselves in God, who was this light, more clearly than we see ourselves in the best mirrors.

    "Then, moved by an interior impulse which was communicated to us, we fell on our knees and we repeated:

    O Most Holy Trinity, I adore Thee. My God, my God, I love Thee in the Most Holy Sacrament.

    A few moments passed in silence, and then Our Lady added:

    "Recite the Rosary every day in order to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war."

    "Can you tell me whether the war will still last a long time, or if it will soon end?"

    "I cannot tell you yet, as I have not yet told you what I want."

    Lucia concludes: "Then she began to rise serenely, going up towards the east until she disappeared in the immensity of the sky. The light which surrounded her seemed to open a path for her among the stars, and for this reason we said sometimes that we had seen heaven opening."

    In reflecting on this first experience, Lucia later wrote that the Lady appeared for only about ten minutes. However, it must be known that the actual dialogue quoted above was not complete. The Lady revealed at that first meeting many other things of great importance. But the children could not divulge those secrets yet.

    As with the Angel of the previous summer, the two girls heard and saw everything although young Francisco did not hear the Lady's words. The girls told the boy what the Lady had said. He committed to say the necessary Rosaries. Only Lucia spoke with the Lady. After this unexpected visit with the Lady the children felt a peace, an expansive joy. This peace was easier to recover from than what Lucia called the "annihilation in the Divine Presence" which physically drained them after the meeting with the Angel.

    The children, and particularly Lucia, began to experience the suffering the Lady foretold immediately.

    Ironically, the initial suffering came at the hands of those closest to her. Lucia related that her mother became very distressed by her announcement of the visit. She wanted Lucia to retract the entire apparition account as if it never happened. Lucia's mother tried to get her to confess the entire story was a lie. That parent used caresses, then threats and eventually, broom handles. Lucia was reduced to tears as she could not dispel her mother's conviction that she was a liar. Mrs. dos Santos would not tolerate a liar, particularly one who lies about the Blessed Mother. Still, Lucia would not, could not, recant. Because of all of the intense, personal pain this child suffered as a result of her testimony, there could only be one reason why she would dare stick to her account of the Apparition: It really happened as she said.

    The children were not enthusiastically embraced by the local parish priest for their testimony either. In fact, he even suggested it was all a work of the devil. The growing sensational attention to the Catholic faith of these children was not welcomed by Church officials. It was a time when the Church was suffering persecution from Masonic government officials. These officials needed few excuses to close down small enthusiastic rural parishes.

    In the month following the first apparition, the three children were providing more reasons to shut down the local Church as their story spread. There were few people of authority in the area that supported the children's unbelievable miracle. So in that treacherous time — why take the risk of spreading such an outrageous story? There would only be one reason — the outrageous story was true.

    Wednesday, June 13, 1917

    On the morning of June 13 the children drove their flock to a place called "Valinhos" because the grass was thick there. Then they attended Mass at the Church in Fatima. From there they left for their second audience with the Queen of Heaven at the Cova da Iria. The children were joined at the cova by fifty other observers. Everyone prayed the Rosary beside the short tree and waited until Lucia cried out when she saw the lightning. Those fifty observers never saw the flash, nor had they heard the Lady clearly speak. However, some closer to the short holm oak did observe a mist about the branches of the tree that bent down before their eyes under an invisible weight. Others claimed to hear only a faint sound in response to Lucia's conversation — like the buzzing of a bee or an unintelligible murmur.

    Lucia later wrote that the conversation was as follows: [7]

    "What does Your Grace want of me?" Lucia asked.

    "I wish you to come here on the 13th of next month, to pray the Rosary every day, and to learn how to read. Later I will tell you what I want."

    Lucia then asked for the cure of a sick person. The Lady responded:

    "If he is converted, he will be cured within the year."

    "I would like to ask you to take us to heaven."

    "Yes, I will take Jacinta and Francisco soon, but you, Lucia, are to stay here some time longer. Jesus wishes to make use of you in order to make me known and loved. He wishes to establish in the world devotion to My Immaculate Heart. To whoever embraces this devotion, I promise salvation; those souls will be cherished by God, as flowers placed by me to adorn His throne."

    Lucia asked painfully if she was to remain all alone. The Lady responded:

    "No, My daughter. Are you suffering a great deal? Do not lose heart, I will never forsake you! My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God."

    Lucia then wrote that as the Lady said these last words, she opened her hands and immersed the three children in a penetrating light. The children saw themselves in this light as being submerged in God. Then, in the palm of the Lady's right hand there appeared a heart, surrounded by thorns which appeared to pierce it. Lucia understood that as a representation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, outraged by the sins of humanity, which demanded reparation.

    The second visitation ended then and the Lady departed with the sound of a distant clap of thunder that even the other people gathered could hear. The people then also saw the small, gathered mist leave the short tree and drift away until it eventually disappeared. Lucia told the crowd: "She has returned to heaven; the doors are closed again."

    Friday, July 13, 1917

    The noonday sun was torrid on July 13. Despite the heat, the people gathered with the three children still finished their Rosary — some in the shade of umbrellas. Then, suddenly, Lucy called out for the umbrellas to be closed because "Our Lady is arriving!" Once again, the heavenly visitor was not seen by anyone but the three seers. As before, there were those present who perceived an "unintelligible murmur" as the Lady spoke with Lucia. But something felt different about this time. When the Lady arrived, the brightness of the day dimmed noticeably, like an eclipse. The temperature dipped with the sunlight. The noontime atmosphere faded to a slight, yellowish-golden color. Then a soft, fresh breeze unexpectedly arose. The faithful people gathered there no longer suffered from the heat. While in the mysterious presence of the God-created Mother of The Second Person of the Holy Trinity, the gathered faithful experienced cool refreshment.

    Lucia asked the Lady: [8] "What does Your Grace want of me?"

    "I want you to come here on the 13th of next month, to continue reciting the Rosary every day in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary, in order to obtain peace in the world and the end of the war, because only she can help you."

    "I should like to ask You to tell us who you are, and to work a miracle so that everyone will believe that Your Grace is appearing to us."

    "Continue to come here every month. In October, I will say who I am and what I want and I will perform a miracle so that all might see in order to believe. Sacrifice yourselves for sinners, and say often to Jesus, especially whenever you make a sacrifice:

    Oh Jesus, it is for love of Thee, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary."

    As this visitor spoke these words above, Lucia related the following in detail: [9]

    The Lady opened her hands once more, as she had during the two prior visits. Rays of light from her hands appeared to penetrate the earth and what it revealed shocked the children:

    Through the penetrated earth the children saw a sea of fire. There plunged in this fire were demons and lost souls, as if they were red-hot coals, transparent and black or burnished bronze, in human form, which floated about in the conflagration, now raised into the air by the flames that issued from within themselves together with great clouds of smoke, now falling back on every side like sparks in huge fires. They appeared without weight or equilibrium, amid shrieks and groans of sorrow and despair that horrified us and made us tremble with fear.

    (Lucia added: "It must have been this sight which caused me to cry out, as people say they heard me").

    The demons could be distinguished by their terrifying and repellent likeness to frightful and unknown animals, black and transparent like burning coals.

    In her Third Memoir, Lucia wrote of the unexpected vision of hell: "That vision lasted only a moment. Thanks to our Good Mother of heaven, who, at the first apparition, had promised to bring us to heaven. Without that, I think we would have died of terror and fear."

    Afterward the Lady commented on the vision of hell as follows: [10]

    "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.

    "lf 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 reign of Pius XI."

    Here it must be said that this vision took place during the pontificate of Pope Benedict XV. No one on earth knew at that time, or could know, if in the future there would ever even exist a Pope Pius XI, much less when that papacy would take place. But heaven knew.

    The Lady continued, in what time and history reveals to be a new, spoken paragraph on another topic: [11]

    "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. (HERE FOLLOWED THE FAMOUS AND CONTROVERSIAL THIRD SECRET OF FATIMA)

    "Do not tell this to anybody. Francisco, yes, you may tell him."

    It should be remembered that in the second half of the twentieth century, the world at large did not suffer from famine and the Church and the Holy Father did not suffer from persecution. By the end of World War II the Catholic Church was remarkably healthy spiritually, statistically and politically. Although the Church and the Holy Father have suffered a statistically measurable and obvious loss of influence and prestige after the Second Vatican Council, that damage was self- inflicted and the gradual collapse was not the result of persecution, but rather its own auto-demolition. To date no nations have been annihilated. Even the nations that have lost the Second World War were repaired by the victors and are now healthier than they had been before the Second World War. These facts lead one to understand that the Lady's prophesies pertain to the twenty first century, not the twentieth.

    The Lady then ended the third visit with these words: [12] "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 [of thy mercy]."

    (It is interesting also to consider that in the post conciliar period of Church decline, Pope John Paul II did not publicly include this prayer in a released cassette tape of him praying the Rosary in Latin. [13] This omission clearly is not because he disapproved of Rosary augmentation; he will add five new mysteries to the Rosary himself. Presumably, then, he must have had some doubt or theological reason for not complying with this request of the Queen of Heaven.)

    After the Lady taught this Fatima Decade Prayer to the children, she began to ascend towards the east, until she finally disappeared into the sky.

    It is generally believed that of all of the visits from May through September, 1917, it was this July visit that was the most important. Not only was the critical Third Secret given, but there was the vision of hell presented, and the essential Consecration of Russia mandated. These three points, along with the alluded to loss of faith — "except in Portugal," will overshadow the Church and be the haunting focus of controversy even into the twenty first century. But there was something even more remarkable and improbable among the miracles that occurred that July afternoon.

    There was a particular message from the Lady that will serve as yet another means of self-authentication of the truth of the entire season of apparitions and the testimony of Lucia as to the Lady's messages. For the first time in the history of human kind, a miracle from heaven was promised and the location, date and time were all revealed months in advance so as to facilitate the gathering of thousands of witnesses, and even government officials and the media, to document the event. The promise of the October miracle was made public in July, 1917.

    Naturally, the subsequent publication of the promise of the future miracle would gain phenomenal attention. This promised miracle could not have been a hoax promoted by three illiterate children. How could the girls dare publicize a future supernatural miracle if it was the product merely of their own childish imagination? Their fraud would be surely discovered and the ridicule — and broomstick beatings — would surely follow. No. A hoax miracle prediction was improbable given the stern but unsuccessful pressure already applied by the local priest, their neighbors, and their parents for the children to admit that the whole series of visitation events were lies.

    Monday, August 13 — and Sunday, August 19, 1917

    On August 13 there gathered between ten and twenty thousand believers at the Cova. Even before the three children were scheduled to arrive, the crowd encircled the short holm oak to pray and sing hymns. The children were late. In fact, they would not appear at all that day. But their absence was not for their lack of a desire to be there.

    They were mislead and retained by Arthur de Oliveira Santos, the government administrator of the district of Ourem. He was also the president-founder of the Masonic Lodge of Vila Nova de Ourem.

    Arthur exercised a tyrannical power over the whole district and he had no use for the Church. On the slightest pretext — or almost no pretext at all — Arthur Santos would dare to arrest a parish priest and forbid all acts of worship outside of churches or after sunset. He would not permit stained glass windows to glow with the light of faith behind them as God's beacon into the dark nights of Portugal. He even stopped the innocuous ringing of the church bells for bells reminded the people of what the Masons in the government wanted the people to forget. His goal that Monday was to put an end to this series of troublesome rallies in the Cova in support of the old mythology.

    By July 23 the republican and Masonic press began to run articles about the apparitions at Fatima. Even the large liberal daily newspaper of Lisbon, "O Seculo," covered the story although, naturally, the events at the Cova were described as ridiculous. The reason for any publicity for the apparitions in the anti-Catholic press was evident from this typical line from one Masonic newspaper: "The authorities have certainly heard about that, and if they still did not know anything about it, our information could serve as a cry of warning." [14]

    Arthur Santos was determined that his district would not become the source of jokes and derision among the Masonic leadership of the government and the press. He was determined to have these three children brought before him so that their lies could, after certain persuasive pressures were applied, be exposed to the community. He accomplished this by innocently offering the children a ride to the Cova only to immediately redirect the driver to the local jail house for intimidation and brief imprisonment. The children would not recant their consistent account even when they were separated from each other and led to believe that they were each to be boiled in oil for not denying the events at the Cova. Eventually they found themselves placed in a common jail cell with incarcerated men surrounding them. The power of God was evident even there. In short order, the fearless children drew their fellow prisoners to their knees in a rare jailhouse session of sincere, if rather out-of-practice, prayer by the other prisoners.

    As the children were being taken against their will to the jailhouse to begin nine stressful hours of interrogation, the faithful gathered at the Cova began to grow impatient when the little ones did not arrive. The word eventually reached the Cova that the Administrator had taken the children into custody. As the crowd was beginning to understand why the three seers could not be present, a clap of thunder of uncertain origin was heard. The people became frightened and the crowd began to back away from the little holm oak. Then followed a flash of lightning and immediately thereafter a small, but very pretty white cloud appeared and hovered for some moments over the small tree.

    Although the crowd could not see the Lady, the cloud-like pedestal that had previously accompanied her, was evident. The people understood that she had kept her appointment. Then, mysteriously, as the cloud rose and melted into the sky, all the colors of the rainbow: pink, red, yellow, purple and blue became reflected on the faces of the gathered faithful. Like a heavenly message of faith and support, the trees in the immediate vicinity of the crowd then appeared to no longer have leaves and branches, but only flowers, as every leaf became a blossom. The ground became a patchwork of color and everyone's drab peasant dress became clothing woven from rainbow fabric. Heaven, it was understood, chose to reward the faith of the throng even if the children were kept from attending by the Masonic treachery of the local Administrator.

    The Administrator eventually had to admit defeat. Every means of psychological torture he attempted could not break these children from their testimony. These children could say, without exaggeration, that they truly would rather die than deny. With the promise of heaven before them already spoken by its Queen, death was welcomed anyway instead of feared. The children were released.

    On Sunday, August 19 the three children assisted at the parish Mass and left for the Cova to say a Rosary. Later that afternoon, Lucy, Francisco and his older brother John took the road of Valinhos to graze the flock on the thick grass there midway between Aljustrel and the top of the Cabeço. As they walked, Lucia began to feel that something supernatural was approaching and enveloping them. Lucia believed that the Lady was about to make an unscheduled appearance and so she asked John to run and fetch Jacinta who was back home. The excited older boy was reluctant to go for he did not want to miss anything. However, reasoning perhaps that nothing would happen without Jacinta anyway, and further convinced by Lucia's offered payment of two coins, one in advance and the second when he arrived with the girl, John was off in a sprint.

    At about 4 o'clock in the afternoon Lucia and Francisco saw the flash of light. Jacinta came running and arrived a moment later. Then the Lady appeared upon a tree much like the usual one she used back at the Cova.

    Lucia spoke. [15]

    "What does Your Grace want of me?"

    "I want you to continue going to the Cova da Iria on the 13th, that you continue praying the Rosary every day.

    "On the last month, I will perform a miracle so that all may believe. If they had not taken you to the town, the miracle would have been greater.

    "Saint Joseph will come with the child Jesus, to give peace to the world. Our Lord will come to bless the people. Our Lady of the Rosary and Our Lady of Sorrows will come also.

    "What do you want them to do with the money the people leave at the Cova da Iria?"

    "Have two litters made. You will carry one with Jacinta and two other girls dressed in white; the other one Francisco is to carry, with three boys, like him dressed in white. It will be for the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. What is left over will help towards the construction of a chapel that is to be built."

    "I should like to ask you to cure some sick persons."

    "Yes, I will cure some of them during the year."

    Then, wrote Lucia, looking much sadder, Our Lady said:

    "Pray, pray very much, and make sacrifices for sinners, for many souls go to hell because they have no one to make sacrifices and pray for them."

    The Lady began to ascend toward the east, then Lucia said "There she goes. Look, Jacinta." And she was gone.

    Although John did not see the Lady, he reported later that he had noticed the change in the sunlight and heard the quick clap of thunder when the Lady departed. The children continued to pray, do penance and offer sacrifices for the grace to be granted to sinners for their salvation. Lucy found a coarse rope that had fallen from a cart. The roughness of the rope gave them the idea that they could divide it in three pieces and wear it, like a penitential hair shirt, around each of their waists. They cut the rope in three parts with a sharp stone and wore it like a belt under their clothing to offer up their sufferings as they heard Jesus and so many of the saints had done.

    Thursday, September 13, 1917

    By September 13 there was a need for crowd control. The scourge of celebrity had afflicted the humble, prayerful children. All the roads to Fatima were crowded with people seeking the spiritual help they were convinced the Lady could bring. Some pilgrims were merely curious. Some were more convinced. Well-to-do ladies and gentlemen dropped to their knees before the poor, illiterate children. They begged the seers to present their needs to the Lady. Everyone recited the Rosary on the road to the Cova. By noon on September 13 there were twenty-five to thirty thousand souls waiting on the land surrounding the Cova for the visitation.

    The people shouted to the children from amidst the crowd: "For the Love of God, ask Our Lady to cure my son who is ill." Another voice: "May she cure mine who is blind." "And mine who is deaf." "May she bring my husband back to me." "May she protect my son who is at war!" The intentions shouted from the throng were as varied as their faces but all the miseries the human race has suffered through were represented in one form or another on the matted pasture grass that day. Some even shouted from tree tops, climbed by some Portuguese Zacchaeus, to assist in a better view of God's workings on earth.

    The children graced their way through the crowd to the holm oak. Upon arrival Lucia began to loudly recite the Rosary. The people answered her with the second half of each prayer she began. A Monsignor Quaresma recalled later how, at solar noon, the crowd fell silent but for a few murmured prayers. Then shouts of joy were pushed to the sky by a forest of raised, pointing arms.

    "Look!" "See there!" "Yes! I see it!"

    All faces were turned to the blue, cloudless sky. The Monsignor then, to his extreme astonishment, saw clearly and distinctly a luminous globe approaching from the east. It glided slowly and majestically west through space toward the little holm oak. Then the sunlight dimmed and the firmament took on a yellow-gold atmosphere. Some pilgrims recalled that in the dim light even a few stars could be seen. Everyone knew then, though they could not see her face, that the Lady had arrived.

    Lucia questioned the lady seen only by the three children: [16]

    "What does Your Grace want of me?"

    "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 Sorrows and Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and Saint Joseph will appear with the Child Jesus in order to bless the world. ..."

    "God is satisfied with your sacrifices, but He does not want you to sleep with the rope. Wear it only during the day."

    Lucia said "There is a little girl here who is a deaf — mute. Would not Your Grace wish to cure her?"

    The Lady replied that in a year she would be better.

    "I have many other requests, some for conversion, others for a cure."

    "I shall cure some, but others no, because Our Lord does not trust them."

    "The people would indeed like to have a chapel here."

    "With half of the money received so far, they should make litters and carry them on the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary; the other half can be used to build the chapel."

    Lucia then offered the Lady two letters and a small flask of perfumed water that was given to her by a man of the parish of Olival.

    She asked the Lady if she wanted it but the Lady replied: "That is not suitable for heaven."

    The Lady then promised again: [17]

    "In October I will perform the miracle, so that all may believe."

    Then she began to ascend until she disappeared in the usual manner.

    For God's own impeccable reasons, no one but the three children could see the Lady. However, to aid in the belief of the crowds, He permitted most of the pilgrims to enjoy the marvelous spectacle of a shower of white petals descending slowly from the sky like brilliant snow flakes only to disappear once they touched the earth. While that shower continued, others watched a beautiful cloud form around the rustic arch built months before above the shrub-like tree to designate the particular significance of that holm oak. The people watched the cloud rise as Lucia spoke and the cloud grew larger as it ascended into the air to the altitude of five or six meters. At that point it vanished like smoke in the wind only to reform about the arch to begin to ascend again. As incense from an immense thurifer, this cloud formed and dispersed three times over the ten to fifteen minutes of the apparition.

    When the Lady began to depart, Lucia cried out while pointing to the east:

    "If you want to see her, look over there!"

    Then everyone saw the luminous globe in an oval form ascend gracefully into the air moving away from the Cova. Monsignor Quaresma later wrote: [18] "The little shepherds had seen the Mother of God Herself. To us, it had been given to see the vehicle which had transported her from heaven to the inhospitable moor of the Serra de Aire."

    However, it must be noted that among the crowd, not every last person there even believed in God, much less in the special position in heaven granted the Ever-Virgin Mother of the God-man Jesus Christ. For this reason and others, there were some in the crowd who saw absolutely nothing that day.

    Chapter 14
    'The Miracle of October 13, 1917'

    The events of August 13 and September 13 caused an increase in religious fervor and devotion across Portugal which the government could not suppress. [1] The word was out and traveling fast about the scheduled miracle of October 13, 1917. The attending crowds would be enormous. The strategy of the government was to temporarily reduce the harsh treatment of the Fatima events in the Masonic and anti-clerical newspapers. By waiting until the inevitable failure of the well-attended October miracle fiasco to release the avalanche of cynical "I told you so's," the adverse press could almost appear fair, reasonable and balanced as it gleefully publicized the Church's superstitious self-destruction. The government and the Masonic, anti-Catholic press would allow the Church the rope. These and other enemies of the Church looked forward to the suicidal hanging.

    The stress was growing in the families of the children. The pasture at the Cova da Iria and the crops in the nearby fields belonging to Lucia's family were destroyed by the crowds. The flocks were also sold for it became too difficult for the children to tend to them with all the visitors asking for meetings with the seers. The financial position of the families inevitably suffered.

    But in the hearts and minds of the children there was no desire to turn away from the Divine plan, even if that was possible. The children were confident. At one point before the October miracle, a family friend said to the two little girls: [2] "My children, if the miracle which you are announcing does not happen, these people are capable of burning you alive!" The respectful and faithful children calmly responded: "We are not afraid, because Our Lady does not deceive us. She said that there would be a great miracle and that the whole world would be compelled to believe."

    On Saturday, October 13, 1917, at noon solar time there were between fifty and seventy thousand pilgrims gathered in the Cova. They moved in like an army out of uniform. The crowds descending on the pasture could be heard from a distance across the countryside and they arrived in a downpour of rain that even was noted to have caused great difficulties for the drenched and trenched troops fighting the First World War to their northeast. All of the pilgrims — men, women, and children, with their carts and animals — were weary, soaked and covered in mud from the dreadful roads. If they moved like muddy regiments in plain clothes, they at least moved well to the march of hymns and the Rosary. The pilgrims spent the night of October 12 sleeping or waiting outside in the rain. Lucia's mother never had developed confidence in her daughter's account of the Virgin's visits. She was certain that her daughter would be killed the afternoon of the 13th when nothing miraculous happened for the tired, cold and wet masses. She lovingly decided to accompany her daughter so that she, too, would die embracing her little Lucia when the bitterly disappointed mob of fifty to seventy thousand angrily turned on the children.

    A wealthy baroness brought two dresses for the girls to wear to the Cova that morning: a blue dress for Lucia and a white one for Jacinta. The baroness also brought two little crowns of artificial flowers for the girls to wear on their heads. When they left the house dressed and ready, the rain was still blowing down in sheets. The crowd was impossible to drive through. Passage was made even more difficult by the overly devoted who, out of a misdirected piety, would kneel before the children, as they tried to proceed. Fortunately, a dedicated chauffeur took Jacinta in his arms and forced open a road for Francisco and Lucia to follow up to the holm oak. Francisco and Lucia secured Jacinta between them and Lucia's mother found a place close by.

    It was almost 1:00 pm and still it was raining. Lucia asked the crowd to close their umbrellas for she was about to begin the Rosary. The word spread and umbrellas began to collapse starting from the vicinity of the children and expanding outward throughout the tens of thousands who obediently exposed themselves to the downpour. Some groups of pilgrims even dropped to their knees in the mud. Many of the rest prayerfully stood barefoot in the puddles.

    As the Rosary was ending, it was approaching 1:30 pm legal time or around noon solar time. Lucia watched the eastern sky. Eventually, she excitedly told Jacinta to kneel for the older cousin had just seen the lightning. The Queen of Heaven was coming.

    As Lucia later wrote: "Our Lady soon appeared above the holm oak and she placed her feet on the ribbons of silk and the flowers that were used to decorate the tree the day before." This final visit had a particular impact on Lucia for she immediately fell into a kind of trance or spiritual ecstasy. Her face became increasingly more beautiful as her lips became more slender and her complexion, rosier. After a few too many silent moments, Jacinta gave Lucia a nudge with her elbow and said: "Speak Lucia, Our Lady is already there!" Lucia came back to herself and took two deep breaths. Then she began: [3]

    "What does Your Grace want of me?"

    "I want to tell you that a chapel is to be built here in my honor. I am The Lady of the Rosary. May you continue always to pray the Rosary every day. The war is going to end and the soldiers will soon return to their homes."

    "I had many things to ask You: to cure some sick people, to convert some sinners, ..."

    "Some yes, others no. They must amend their lives and ask pardon for their sins."

    Then the Lady looked sorrowful and said: [4]

    "Do not offend the Lord Our God any more, for He is already too much offended!"

    "You want nothing more from me?"

    "No, I want nothing more from you."

    "Then I do not ask anything more of you either."

    Just as the crowd in September could see a small cloud of smoke repeatedly ascend from the little tree before dissipating, the same thing was observed by the crowd this month. When the Lady began to ascend to the east, some people in the crowd also began to smell perfume.

    It was at the moment of departure that Lucia shouted:

    "Look at the sun!"

    Although direct unprotected viewing of the sun would usually cause serious eye damage, the people gathered could then turn and stare at the sun without the least difficulty. The sun seemed to extinguish itself and relight in irregular ways. It began to throw out or launch clusters of fiery, colored light and it painted everyone and everything at the Cova in different colors. The people, the trees, the sky and the ground were a fabulous mosaic of colors. Everyone could watch the sun serve as a waterfall of flinging, exploding beams of color.

    The crowd was motionless, transfixed in silence. The pilgrims watched the sun as it painted and repainted everything in the Cova da Iria. At one moment the sun trembled with strange and abrupt movements. Then, appearing like a silver disk, it froze in stillness. Next it began to dance again. It would spin, then halt, then tremble and dance while casting out more colors. Finally, the spinning and the dancing ceased altogether. Then, a second or two later, the silver disk appeared as if it detached itself from the hook holding it in the sky. It began to move again but forward this time, not fixed and spinning. Rather it was falling, falling like fire from heaven. On a horrific, catastrophic collision course with the pilgrims at the Cova — it was actually drawing closer to impact. This flaming silver disk was careening in like a burning torch from heaven to destroy the earth and its sinful inhabitants. The flaming disk was getting bigger as it approached the planet.

    The moment of colorful amazement became one of complete terror for the faithful gathered there below the flaming disk. This object that one could look at directly, as one could never look at the sun, was now spinning and falling. It was a deadly wheel of color-spitting fire, about to crush the crowd. The masses dropped to their knees certain of impending death. But it would be not just death. Rather, it would be impending total obliteration of everything they knew. It would be extreme intra-galactic violence with nothing remaining after the collision of two crushing planetary objects.

    Panic screams to Jesus rose from the crowd. Some begged for the Lady to come back and help. Some recited their assumed final Act of Contrition. Others spoke aloud any prayer one could imagine that was suitable at the moment of death. Another woman began to confess aloud her sins, whether or not any priest, facing his own end, was nearby or listening. Then, at the moment appointed by God, the disk ceased its downward movement. It regained the position where the sun was placed before.

    The people stood or knelt for a moment, stunned and shocked, struggling to process what had just happened. Moods shifted hard and fast in the emotional gears of the exhausted minds of the pilgrims there, from forward to reverse to forward again. In a moment it settled-in that they would live. It also began to dawn on them that their once soaked and muddy clothes were miraculously made perfectly clean and dry by the terror. Then they noticed that the ground upon which they stood no longer was muddy, nor even damp.

    The people thanked God for sparing their lives although they surely struggled with why, given their pious appearance there in the first place, their lives should have been threatened at all in such a fashion. They had certainly seen their miracle. But that horrific light show was not what the three children were watching. While the crowds of between fifty to seventy thousand were being enthralled by the spinning disk of color, the three seers alone were lost in the splendid spectacle of the Holy Family. The children were favored with a vision of the Lady in blue with a mantle of white. Beside her stood Saint Joseph holding the child Jesus while Jesus and Joseph blessed the world making the sign of the cross with their hands.

    The vision of the Holy Family faded and, as the crowd was watching the celestial disk detach itself and begin to plunge to earth, the three children looked upon a vision of Our Lord and Our Lady — He in red and She dressed as the Lady of Sorrows. The Lord appeared to be blessing the world with his hand as had St. Joseph and the Child Jesus in the previous vision. Then as the people began to scream and offer up their last Acts of Contrition, Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco were taking in a vision of Our Lady wearing the brown habit of Mt. Carmel. She was holding a brown scapular that dangled from her right hand.

    The differences in the experiences that day, including the heavenly selection of who could see the beautiful visions and who were to be first dazzled and then horrified, must contain a message. There would seem to be no understandable purpose behind scaring the saintly into repentance. It could only mean that Almighty God chose to prod the crowd into a greater awareness of their sins and their need to repent and lead holier lives. The children, on the other hand, were being rewarded and encouraged in their spreading the message of the Lady.

    Once the sun had retaken its proper place in the firmament, a friend of the family, Dr. Carlos Mendes, took Lucia in his arms and carried her back through the crowd as far as the road. He later reported that, as he carried her: "With great enthusiasm and great faith, she shouted: [5] 'Do penance! Do penance! Our Lady wants you to do penance. If you do penance, the war will end ..." This phrase in Portuguese can be translated as a request to convert yourself, flee sin and return to God. The message of the Lady clearly was a plea to cease offending God or else the chastisement, a preview of which was provided, would surely come.

    We know of the details of this miracle, in part, because the actual event was reported in the Portuguese newspapers. At least two of the major Masonic and anti-Catholic newspapers of Lisbon, "O Dies" and "O Seculo," were there at the Cova to cover the story of the anticipated non-miracle the children had predicted. [6] One reporter at the Cova was Avelino de Almeida, the chief editor of "O Seculo," the large daily of Lisbon. Almeida was a journalist, not a believer. He was an agnostic and pragmatic reporter. He was willing to stand in the rain beside a miserable muddy pasture only if it helped advance his paper. If the story he wrote came at the great expense of the Catholic Church and its foolish, peasant-pleasing devotions, so be it. Confident in the fiasco that was to come, and ready to cover the disappointed and angry pilgrims who would have soaked and dirtied themselves for nothing, he knew this would be a productive day. But later that evening of October 13, 1917, as he nursed his wounded anti-church prejudices and preconceptions, he uncharacteristically realized that his first responsibility was to the truth.

    He had proved by the following report that the facts and lights before his eyes overwhelmed the dissent and darkness expected by his Masonic and prejudiced readers. In the October 15, 1917 edition of "O Seculo," Chief Editor Avelino de Almeida [7] wrote:

    "From the road, where the carriages were crowded together and where hundreds of persons had stayed for want of sufficient courage to advance across the muddy ground, we saw the huge crowd turn towards the sun which appeared at its zenith, clear of the clouds. It resembled a flat plate of silver, and it was possible to stare at it without the least discomfort. It did not burn the eyes. It did not blind. We would say that it produced an eclipse. Then a tremendous cry rang out, and the crowd nearest us were heard to shout: 'Miracle! Miracle! ... Marvel!...Marvel!' Before the dazzled eyes of the people, whose attitude transported us to biblical times, and who, dumbfounded, heads uncovered, contemplated the blue of the sky, the sun trembled, it made strange and abrupt movements, outside of all cosmic laws, 'the sun danced', according to the typical expression of the peasants ..." [8]

    As a matter of basic scientific facts, we know that the celestial body that caused the terror throughout the crowd did not have the properties of the sun for our world. The sun is basically an enormous fixed body, fortunately quite distant, which our planet revolves around. We cannot look at it with the naked eye. It does not paint the planet with color unless its light is refracted. It does not spin. It does not dance. One day in its dying process, our sun will expand, as stars do, consuming our world into what is called a red giant before collapsing back into a more moribund state. That would take millions, or billions of years if it follows the natural course. One thing is certain: human beings are not going to ever see our sun come crashing into our earth. Although the sun may well consume our world one day, it will do this from a distance. No. If that terrifying event at the Cova da Iria was a divine warning or premonition of some future chastisement, it will not be the sun designated to carry out God's will.

    A destructive and cleansing fire from the sky was what the miracle depicted. That is not unheard of. Both science and Scripture tell of it. Such an event was referred to in the biblical book of the Apocalypse (Revelations) Chapter 8 and in many other visions of holy men and women through the ages. [9]

    But this fire from the sky would, in actuality, be of some natural non-solar phenomenon. An earthly collision with an asteroid or comet possibly, but not our sun. The sun would be too final, too complete an assassin. Besides, the sun would be needed by the earth and its creatures to start again when the faithful, whom the good God permitted to survive, would eventually emerge from their blessed and battered shelters.

    This preview of fire from heaven was not a random act of divine mischief. Nor was it some insignificant, accidental, thoughtless pyrotechnics from the Lord of infinite wisdom. Heaven does not engage in practical jokes or publicity stunts.

    This miracle was selected for its clear suggestion of the nature and kind of global destruction such an ordained collision would bring.

    It would be worse than in the days of Noah for a deluge of fire is worse than a deluge of water, and too fast to allow repentance.

    It would be the destruction of Sodom and Gormorrah on a grand scale, calibrated much higher so as to engage the entire planet and burn out its impurities like a sanctifying smelter in the foundry of God's justice.

    Only the message told to these three small children could save us all and turn away the approaching celestial assassin: convert yourself, flee sin, and seek God.

© Matt C. Abbott


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, media, and theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He also has an Associate in Applied Science degree in business management from Triton College. Abbott has been interviewed on HLN, MSNBC, Bill Martinez Live, WOSU Radio in Ohio, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's 2019 ‘Unsolved’ podcast about the unsolved murder of Father Alfred Kunz, Alex Shuman's 'Smoke Screen: Fake Priest' podcast, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) and WISC-TV (CBS) in Madison, Wisconsin. He’s been quoted in The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune and other media outlets. He’s mentioned in the 2020 Report on the Holy See's Institutional Knowledge and Decision-Making Related to Former Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick (1930 to 2017), which can be found on the Vatican's website. He can be reached at

(Note: I welcome and appreciate thoughtful feedback. Insults will be ignored. Only in very select cases will I honor a request to have a telephone conversation about a topic in my column. Email is much preferred. God bless you and please keep me in your prayers!)


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