This is part of a series about the Fatima centennial.
By the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
On the beautiful spring morning of May 13, 1917, the three Fatima children – Jacinta, Francisco and Lucia, ages 7, 9 and 10 –were shepherding their sheep on Lucia’s parents’ property, the Cova de Iria, near the Portuguese village of Fatima. The children saw a flash of what they thought was lightning.
Lucia thought it would be best if they were to go home to avoid the thunderstorm. They began to head home, climbing down a rocky slope, when more “lightning flashes” appeared in front of them. As they hurried the sheep along, they realized the “flashes” were not lightning.
Suddenly, the leaves of the trees began to rustle, and upon one of the limbs a beautiful, brilliant light – a light that cannot be described, brighter than the sun – shone forth. In the midst of the light a beautiful lady appeared dressed in white. Astounded, they stopped beneath the holm oak tree and were encompassed in the light. The beautiful lady gently told the children, “Do not be afraid, I will do you no harm.”
Lucia asked, “Where are you from?” and the Lady replied, “I am from Heaven. ” Lucia implored, “What do you want of me?” The Lady from Heaven replied, “I wish you to come here for six months on the 13th day at the same hour. Later, I will tell you who I am and what I want. Afterwards I will return here yet a seventh time. ”“Shall I go to Heaven?” Lucia asked. The Lady responded, “Yes, you will. ” Lucia asked, “And Jacinta?” The Lady responded, “She will go also.” Lucia asked, “Francisco?” The Lady from Heaven responded, “Also, but he must say many rosaries.” This was not because Francisco was naughty but rather this was a request for him to pray many rosaries.
Curious, and a little impetuous, Lucia inquired about two girls from their village who had recently died, Maria who was about 16 and Amelia who was about 19. The Lady from Heaven told Lucia that Maria was in Heaven and Amelia would be in Purgatory until the end of the world.
The Lady from Heaven then asked, “Are you willing to offer yourselves to God and bear all the sufferings he wills to send you, as an act of reparation for the sins by which he is offended and in supplication for the conversion of sinners?” The children answered, “Yes, we are willing.” The Lady from Heaven replied, “Then you will have much to suffer, but the grace of God will be your comfort.”
As the Lady spoke these last words, Lucia described the experience as follows: “Our Lady opened her hands for the first time, communicating to us a light so intense that, as it streamed from her hands, its rays penetrated our hearts and the innermost depths of our souls, making us see ourselves in God, who was that light, more clearly than we see ourselves in the best of mirrors. ”
The impulse was so intense the children fell to their knees, and repeating in their hearts, began to pray the Eucharistic Prayer: “Most Holy Trinity, I adore You! My God, my God, I love You in the Most Blessed Sacrament.”
The Lady from Heaven, instructed the children, “Pray the rosary every day to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war. ”As she finished speaking, she began to rise toward the east, cutting a path in the sky as if the heavens were opening.
Afterwards, Jacinta and Lucia recounted to Francisco what the lady had said because he had been unable to hear. Upon learning what the Lady from Heaven said, Francisco declared, “Oh, my dear lady, I’ll say as many rosaries as you want,” adding, “Oh, what a beautiful lady!”
The children promised complete secrecy to one another. Even as Lucia sternly said to Francisco, “I know you will tell,” he promised he would not.
At dusk the children returned to their homes, showing their parents no outward signs of what had transpired. But Jacinta could not contain the secret. She danced and described the lady and her beautiful rosary and showed her parents how the lady held her hands. The parents questioned Francisco, and he reluctantly confirmed all that his sister had said. Mr. Marto believed his children; they said their evening prayers and slept in peace.
The next day, Francisco told Lucia that Jacinta had told their parents about the events. Lucia knew that from this day forward their trials and tribulations would begin, but she was comforted by the inner joy and strength the lady from Heaven had given them.
When Lucia’s mother, Maria Rosa, heard the news from the village, she was very upset that her daughter had not mentioned anything to her. She forbade Lucia from talking about such nonsense.
As more villagers came to their door to reprove Lucia, the more her mother suffered. The village people were divided – some were encouraging but others mocked and made insults. Maria Rosa insisted Lucia confess to lying about the apparition.
Seeing the suffering and bitterness of her mother, Lucia suffered too. She drew comfort from the words of the lady from Heaven, remembering what it felt like to be in her presence and the feelings of joy and the security of a mother’s love.

Fatima/Lourdes trip reception May 24
Father Michael Schemm will host a reception from 6 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 24, in the Pius X Room at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception for those interested in a trip to Lourdes and Fatima. Father Schemm will be the spiritual advisor for the trip. (See ad on page 10 of the print edition.)
The 12-day pilgrimage to the shrines of Spain and Lourdes and Fatima is scheduled from Oct. 4-15. The pilgrimage is special because it will end on the special feast day of Oct. 13 in Fatima.
Scheduled to be visited are Lourdes; the Shrine of Our Lady of Pillar, where the Blessed Mother appeared to St. James; several sites in Madrid; Avila, St. Theresa’s birthplace; Alba de Tormes, where St. Theresa’s body is located; Santiago de Compostela, the cathedral built in honor of St. James; Pontevedra, the largest Marian shrine in Spain; and Fatima on Oct. 13, the Feast Day of Our Lady of Fatima.
Those interested in attending may send an email to, or call 316-269-3965.