The History of Fatima
After July 13, the devil realized the importance of these apparitions so he started to attack them with open fury. Just how far he went in his attack even during the apparitions, you will see in this article. This account will help you understand that some people do violently oppose Our Lady of Fatima and Her Message of maternal love and concern for us.
At the end of the last installment we read how Artur Santos, the masonic Administrator of the nearby town of Ourem, after kidnaping the three children of Fatima tried by bribes and threats to get them to betray the sacred trust given them by Our Lady of Fatima. Mr. Santos then started to carry out his threat of boiling each child in oil until death. Already, at his orders, the guard had come to take away Jacinta, only 7 years old and Francisco, only 9. Both went away courageously to the place of execution. Lucy prayed as she was left in prison awaiting the return of the guard to take her away to be murdered too.
|Pictured is John, who ran to get his sister Jacinta for Our Lady's unexpected appearance in August. He lives today very modestly in Fatima and humbly receives the pilgrims to Fatima in his very poor family home. With John is Father Gruner on the occasion of the pilgrimage which he led to Fatima.|
The Fourth Visit
Even as Lucia offered this heartfelt prayer, the door opened once more and the ugly-faced guard appeared.
"All right," he sneered. "Now it's your turn."
The little girl was trembling like a leaf, but she did not cry out as the guard seized her in an iron grip and dragged her from the room. Her mind could hold no other thoughts than these: her beloved cousins were dead. They had given their lives rather than be false to the Lady. Now she must do the same.
Her lips moving in prayer, she let herself be pulled along the hall. Then suddenly the guard stopped before a door, unlocked it, and thrust her into a small room. Wonder of wonders! Here, white with fear but quite unharmed, were Francisco and Jacinta!
"Lucia!" cried the little boy, rushing forward eagerly. "They told us you were dead!"
Jacinta was close behind her brother. "They didn't put you in the boiling oil, either?"
As though in a daze, Lucia shook her head. "I … I guess there isn't any. The Administrator was only trying to frighten us."
Francisco's eyes shone. "Those men thought that we'd never really want to die for the Lady. But we were ready to do it. You were too, weren't you?"
Lucia nodded. Then she burst into happy tears. "I was dreadfully afraid, but I'd rather have died a thousand times than disobey the Lady!" she sobbed. "She's so kind and good!"
Of course the Administrator and his co-workers were bitterly disappointed that all their efforts to break down the children's story had been in vain. After some thought, it was decided to keep the youngsters prisoner for another twenty-four hours. Perhaps the promise of a good beating might change their minds. Or the sight of some oil that was really boiling ….
But on the morning of August 15, the Feast of the Assumption, the Administrator recognized the truth. If he kept the little shepherds any longer, he might have to deal with an angry mob from Fatima. Perhaps even now the parents were planning some kind of revenge.
"Stupid brats!" he exclaimed. "I've wasted enough time with you! Get back to your families!"
As the children stared in joyful amazement, the Administrator's car appeared and a policeman hustled them inside. There was no time to lose, he said. The Mass of Our Lady's Feast was being offered right now in Fatima. If the children were returned while everyone was in church, there would be less chance of a disturbance.
As the Administrator's car lurched along the winding road from Ourem to Fatima, the three youngsters began to readjust themselves to the everyday world. It was now August 15, and they had been in prison for two days. The Lady's visit (if She had come) was over and done with. But after the first stab of sorrow, they began to put the past behind and to look forward to what awaited them in Fatima. How good to be free! To be going home to families and to friends!
"I wonder if the Lady came while we were away," whispered Jacinta excitedly. "What do you think?"
Lucia shook her head. "l don't know."
"We can find out after we get home," declared Francisco. "Surely somebody went to the Cova on the thirteenth."
In just a few minutes, a somewhat uneasy policeman had deposited the three youngsters at the gate of the parish priest's house in Fatima, while the Administrator — pretending a carefree indifference — took himself off in his car to the marketplace.
Francisco looked about. There was not a soul in sight, for Mass was still in progress. "Lucia, let's go to church," he suggested. "After all, it's Our Lady's Feast."
But the policeman would not hear of it. "You stay with me," he muttered grimly. "I've been ordered to deliver you safely to your families and that's what I'm going to do."
However, the children were permitted to go up onto the rectory porch to play until Mass was over. And it was there that Manuel Marto presently found them.
What a joyful reunion! The father of Francisco and Jacinta could scarcely believe his eyes. For two whole days he had not known where Lucia and his own little ones had been taken. Now, here they were — safe and sound in his arms!
"Children … children …" he murmured, embracing first one and then another, while happy tears streamed down his face. "What happened? What did the Administrator do to you?"
Eagerly the three began to tell of their experiences, overjoyed to find themselves loved and cherished once again.
"Father, the Administrator told a lot of lies…"
"He said there was boiling oil, and there wasn't the least little drop…"
"He put us in jail, too…"
"And we all said the Rosary…"
"And there was singing and dancing…"
Even as the children told their story, there was an angry murmur from the direction of the church. Word had spread like wildfire among the people, now coming out from Mass, that the three had been returned, and that the Administrator was somewhere in the neighborhood. Looking up, Manuel Marto's eyes narrowed. A threatening group of men and boys, some armed with heavy clubs, was moving toward the rectory. Quickly he sprang to his feet.
"Friends, take it easy!" he begged. "No one is to blame here!"
"The Administrator! Where is he?"
"And the priest! He helped arrange the kidnaping!"
"Down with the two of them!"
Manuel held up his hand for order. "No, no! Don't you see that God permitted all this to happen? Let Him settle things."
Suddenly another roar went up. The Administrator, on his way home from market, had been sighted coming down the road in his car. Now thoroughly alarmed, Manuel made a second attempt to calm his friends and neighbors. Hadn't the children been returned safe and sound? Then what was the use of violence?
"Everything's all right," he insisted. "There's no need to hurt anyone."
As the Administrator stopped at the Rectory gate, he did not realize that the children's father was doing his best to prevent a disturbance that might end in bloodshed. Instead, he believed that an effort was being made to stir up the crowd against him. After a few heated words, however, he realized the truth and quickly adopted a friendly attitude.
"Sir, we took good care of the little ones," he declared. "How about coming with me for a drink of wine, and I'll tell you the whole story?"
Manuel shook his head grimly. "No, thanks."
"Oh, come on! It won't take a minute."
The good man hesitated. Well he knew that the crowd was in an angry mood, ready to fall upon the magistrate at his slightest word. But he also knew that there would be no trouble if he himself acted wisely.
"Very well," he replied. "Just one glass."
As her father turned to go, Jacinta grasped his sleeve. "Will it be all right to visit the Cova before we go home?" she whispered. "We want to thank the Lady for having brought us back."
Manuel gave his little daughter an affectionate embrace. "Of course, child. Run along." Then, assuming a friendliness which he certainly did not feel, he went with the Administrator to a nearby tavern.
"It's all right," he told the crowd again. "There's no need to get excited."
Of course there was great rejoicing when the children finally arrived home, although Antonio and Maria Rosa dos Santos were still unconvinced that Lucia's story about the Lady was true.
"Weren't you worried about me at all?" asked the little girl. "I… I thought about you so much!"
Maria Rosa smiled grimly. She loved her daughter, but hers was a stern nature. "Why, I thought as any sensible creature would think, Lucia. I said to myself: 'If these children have been telling lies, here's their punishment. If they've been telling the truth, Our Lady will take care of them'."