The 3 Secrets of Our Lady of Fátima

The 3 Secrets of Our Lady of Fátima.
The 3 Secrets of Our Lady of Fátima.

Our Lady of Fátima

The story of Our Lady of Fátima (Nossa Senhora de Fátima) begins in a small Portuguese town by the same name. In 1916, three small children, Lúcia dos Santos and her cousins Francisco and Jacinta Marto were tending their sheep in the fields when they witnessed three apparitions of an Angel in Valinhos, on the outskirts of Fátima.

Monument of the Guardian Angel of Portugal apparition to the three little shepherd children of Fátima.
Monument of the Guardian Angel of Portugal apparition to the three little shepherd children of Fátima.

These events went mostly unnoticed. What changed their lives occurred the following year.

On May 13, 1917, the same three children claimed to have seen a mysterious appearance. They are said to have witnessed a glowing lady, beautiful and flawless, shining like a pearl, clad in a white robe trimmed with gold, and carrying a rosary.

The three children of Fátima: Lúcia Santos (age 10, pictured in the middle) and her two cousins: Francisco (age 9) and Jacinta Marto (age 7) holding their rosaries
Portuguese shepherd children Lucia dos Santos (age 10, pictured in the middle), centre, and her cousins, Jacinta (age 7) and Francisco Marto (age 9), are seen in a file photo taken around the time of the 1917 apparitions of Mary at Fatima. (CNS photo/EPA) See VATICAN-LETTER-FATIMA March 30, 2017.

The children described her as “brighter than the sun, shedding rays of light clearer and stronger than a crystal goblet filled with the most sparkling water and pierced by the burning rays of the sun.”

The apparition, believed to be the Virgin Mary, requested that the children devote themselves to the Holy Trinity and pray and recite the Holy Rosary every day to bring peace to the world and end the war.

She invited them to return to the same location on the 13th day of each month, which they did. The lone exception occurred in August when the youngsters were imprisoned by the local authorities who believed the prophecies were politically motivated in opposition to the officially secular First Portuguese Republic established in 1910.

The Marian Apparitions of Fátima

Jacinta Marto told her family about seeing the brightly lit woman, and in turn, the mother told the whole village as she thought the children were joking. In the following months, thousands of people flocked to Fátima drawn by reports of visions and miracles.

The second appearance occurred on 13 June. Lúcia would later report that on this occasion, the lady revealed that Francisco and Jacinta would be taken to Heaven soon, but Lúcia would live longer in order to spread her message and devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

The apparitions became known across the region. The Virgin told the children that God had sent her with a message for every man, woman, and child living in the century. She vowed that if her requests for prayer, penance, and consecration were heard and followed, God would provide peace to the entire globe.

While many people thought the children had seen the Virgin, many others dismissed the children’s claims, mocking and ridiculing them.

The Miracle of The Sun

When it was announced that the Lady would visit the children for the final time on October 13, 1917, and had promised a sign that would convince the world she had appeared, many pilgrims made preparations to attend.

Almost 70,000 people trekked through torrential rain and mud to the site of the previous apparitions to see the anticipated miracle. Many were arrogant, deniers whose primary goal was to disprove the children’s stories.

Page from Ilustração Portuguesa, 29 October 1917, showing the people looking at the Sun during the Fátima apparitions attributed to the Virgin Mary
Page from Ilustração Portuguesa, 29 October 1917, showing the people looking at the Sun during the Fátima apparitions attributed to the Virgin Mary

There have been many claims as to what happened that day. Some say that Lucia shouted out and pointed skyward as if moved by an external force. The children would later claim to have seen panoramic visions of Our Lady of Fátima, Jesus, Our Lady of Sorrows, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and Saint Joseph blessing the people.

The crowd, on the other hand, witnessed something entirely different. They stood there as the clouds broke to reveal a whirling silver disc spewing coloured light in all directions. The brightness faded to the point where spectators could see stars in the sky. The disc eventually stopped spinning and dropped to the ground in a zig-zag pattern, similar to a falling leaf. Before the disc reversed direction and rejoined the sun, the spectators went to their knees in repentance, believing it was the end of the world.

Witnesses reported that their previously wet clothes became “suddenly and completely dry, as well as the wet and muddy ground that had been previously soaked because of the rain that had been falling.” Not all witnesses reported seeing the Sun “dance”. Some people only saw the radiant colours, and others, including some believers, saw nothing at all.

The Three Secrets of Lady Fátima

Our lady Fatima appeared to shepherd children six times between May and October but it was the visit on the 13th of July 1917 where she entrusted the children with three secrets.

The “Secrets,” which Our Lady revealed to the children in July 1917, contains the heart of Our Lady’s message to the world. The “secrets” are divided into three parts or mysteries.

Two of the secrets were revealed in 1941, in a document written by Lucia to help with the canonization of her cousins.

The first portion of the “Secret” was a terrifying picture of hell, with an urgent plea from The Virgin Mary for acts of prayer and sacrifice to rescue souls, with special emphasis on rosary praying and devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Our Lady showed us a great sea of fire that seemed to be under the earth.
Immersed in this fire the demons and the souls, as if they were transparent and black or bronzed embers with human form, which floated in the fire carried by the flames that came out of them, together with clouds of smoke, falling in all sides, similar to the falling of the sparks in the great fires, without weight or balance, between screams and groans of pain and despair that horrified and made them shudder with fear. The demons were distinguished by horrible and disgusting forms of frightening and unknown animals, but transparent and black.
This sight was a moment, and thanks to our good Mother in Heaven, who had previously warned us with the promise to take us to Heaven (in the first apparition)! If it were not so, I believe we would have died of fright and dread.

English Translation

Nossa Senhora mostrou-nos um grande mar de fogo que parecia estar debaixo da terra.

Mergulhados neste fogo os demónios e as almas, como se fossem brasas transparentes e negras ou bronzeadas com forma humana, que flutuavam no incêndio levadas pelas chamas que delas mesmas saíam, juntamente com nuvens de fumo, caindo para todos os lados, semelhante ao cair das faúlhas em os grandes incêndios, sem peso nem equilíbrio, entre gritos e gemidos de dor e desespero que horrorizava e fazia estremecer de pavor. Os demónios distinguiam-se por formas horríveis e asquerosas de animais espantosos e desconhecidos, mas transparentes e negros.
Esta vista foi um momento, e graças à nossa boa Mãe do Céu, que antes nos tinha prevenido com a promessa de nos levar para o Céu (na primeira aparição)! Se assim não fosse, creio que teríamos morrido de susto e pavor.

Original Portuguese

The second mystery included instructions on how to save souls from Hell and convert the world back to Christianity. This message affirmed that Russia should consecrate itself to the Immaculate Heart and that for this reason a time of peace would be granted to the world.

Then we raised our eyes to Our Lady who said to us with kindness and sadness:
you have seen Hell, where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wants to establish devotion to my Immaculate Heart in the world. If you do what I say, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. The war will end, but if they do not stop offending God, in the reign of Pius XI a worse one will begin. When you see a night, illuminated by an unknown light, know that it is the great sign that God gives you that he is going to punish the world for its crimes, through war, hunger and persecution of the Church and the Holy Father. To prevent it, I will 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, it will spread its errors throughout the world, promoting wars and persecutions of the Church, the good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated, finally my Immaculate Heart will triumph.

The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, which will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.

English Translation

Em seguida, levantamos os olhos para Nossa Senhora que nos disse com bondade e tristeza:
vistes o Inferno, para onde vão as almas dos pobres pecadores. Para as salvar, Deus quer estabelecer no mundo a devoção a meu Imaculado Coração. Se fizerem o que eu disser salvar-se-ão muitas almas e terão paz. A guerra vai acabar, mas se não deixarem de ofender a Deus, no reinado de Pio XI começará outra pior. Quando virdes uma noite, alumiada por uma luz desconhecida, sabei que é o grande sinal que Deus vos dá de que vai punir o mundo pelos seus crimes, por meio da guerra, da fome e de perseguições à Igreja e ao Santo Padre. Para a impedir virei pedir a consagração da Rússia a meu Imaculado Coração e a Comunhão Reparadora nos Primeiros Sábados. Se atenderem a meus pedidos, a Rússia se converterá e terão paz, se não, espalhará seus erros pelo mundo, promovendo guerras e perseguições à Igreja, os bons serão martirizados, o Santo Padre terá muito que sofrer, várias nações serão aniquiladas, por fim o meu Imaculado Coração triunfará.

O Santo Padre consagrar-me-á a Rússia, que se converterá, e será concedido ao mundo algum tempo de paz.

Original Portuguese

The third part of the secret was revealed in 1944 in a letter written by Lucia Dos Santos, the last living Fatima seer. It was given to the Holy See with the instruction that no one read it until 1960. According to most educated sources, this section of the Secret predicts widespread apostasy and loss of faith in the Catholic Church beginning in the 1970s. However, it is now thought to have foreshadowed Pope John Paul II’s murder attempt in 1981.

The text of the third secret was revealed by Pope John Paul II on June 26, 2000.

I write, in an act of obedience to You, my God, that You send me, through Your Most Reverend Excellency, Mr. Bishop of Leiria, and of your and my Most Holy Mother.
After the two parts that I have already explained, we saw on the left side of Our Lady, a little higher, an angel with a sword of fire in his left hand. When it flickered, it sent out flames that seemed to set the world on fire. But they were extinguished with the contact of the glow that Our Lady sent out to meet them from her right hand. The angel, pointing with his right hand to the earth, in a strong voice said: “Penance, Penance, Penance”.
And we saw in an immense light, which is God, something similar to how people look in the mirror, when a bishop dressed in white passes in front of them. We had the feeling it was the Holy Father. We saw several other bishops, priests, men and women religious climb a steep mountain, on top of which was a large cross, with a rough trunk, as if it had been made from a cork oak tree like the bark. The Holy Father, before arriving there, crossed a large city, half in ruins and half trembling, with a tottering gait, overwhelmed by pain and sorrow. He was praying for the souls of the corpses he found along the way.
Arriving at the top of the hill, prostrate, on his knees, at the foot of the cross, he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired several shots and arrows at him and even so, the bishops, priests, religious men and women died one after the other. and various secular people. Gentlemen and ladies of various ranks and ranks. Under the two arms of the cross were two angels.

Each one with a crystal watering can in their hands, collecting in them the blood of the martyrs and with them irrigating the souls that approached God.

English Translation

Escrevo, em ato de obediência a Vós meu Deus, que me mandais por meio de Sua Excelência Reverendíssima o Sr. Bispo de Leiria, e da Vossa e minha Santíssima Mãe.

Depois das duas partes que já expus, vimos ao lado esquerdo de Nossa Senhora, um pouco mais alto, um anjo com uma espada de fogo na mão esquerda. Ao cintilar despedia chamas que pareciam incendiar o mundo. Mas, apagavam-se com o contato do brilho que da mão direita expedia Nossa Senhora ao seu encontro. O anjo, apontando com a mão direita para a terra, com voz forte dizia: “Penitência, penitência, penitência”.
E vimos numa luz imensa, que é Deus, algo semelhante a como se vêem as pessoas no espelho, quando lhe diante passa um bispo vestido de branco. Tivemos o pressentimento de que era o Santo Padre. Vimos vários outros bispos, sacerdotes, religiosos e religiosas subir uma escabrosa montanha, no cimo da qual estava uma grande cruz, de tronco tosco, como se fora de sobreiro como a casca. O Santo Padre, antes de chegar aí, atravessou uma grande cidade, meia em ruínas e meio trêmulo, com andar vacilante, acabrunhado de dor e pena. Ia orando pelas almas dos cadáveres que encontrava pelo caminho.
A chegar ao cimo do monte, prostrado, de joelhos, aos pés da cruz, foi morto por um grupo de soldados que lhe disparavam vários tiros e setas e assim mesmo foram morrendo uns após os outros, os bispos, os sacerdotes, religiosos, religiosas e várias pessoas seculares. Cavalheiros e senhoras de várias classes e posições. Sob os dois braços da cruz, estavam dois anjos.Cada um com um regador de cristal nas mãos recolhendo neles o sangue dos mártires e com eles irrigando as almas que se aproximavam de Deus.

Original Portuguese

The Aftermath

As the lady Fatima desired, the Church and local community utilized pilgrims’ offerings to erect a chapel on the spot of the apparitions. Some witnesses experienced “miraculous” healings following the apparitions, and a well dug at the site in the years since has been widely proved to be a source of healing water.

The Virgin’s prophesies were hazy and difficult to evaluate, but it’s worth noting that both Jacinta and Francisco died young, as she said, in the flu epidemic that ended World War I. Lucia’s survival was interpreted as a sign of God’s favour.

Lucia became a nun and spent the remainder of her life in various convents around Spain and Portugal. She claimed to have received numerous further visits from Our Lady of Fatima in succeeding years.

In the early 1920s, the Bishop of Leiria started a canonical investigation into the incidents. In 1930, he proclaimed that the apparitions of the lady, presumed to be Mother Mary, were credible and that the Church would formally recognize the Fatima cult. 

Pope Paul VI holds the hand of Sister Lucia dos Santos  as they stand at the base of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima in the Basilica at Fatima, Portugal.
Pope Paul VI holds the hand of Sister Lucia dos Santos as they stand at the base of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima in the Basilica at Fatima, Portugal.

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