History of Fatima
(Continued from Issue No. 19)
In a vain attempt to silence Our Lady of Fatima, the Masonic administrator of Ourem, Artur Santos, on August 13, 1917, kidnaped Jacinta, Francisco and Lucia. He tried at first to bribe the three children to say that they did not see Our Lady. Since that didn't work, he tried to discredit Our Lady's appearances by threatening the children with a very painful death if they did not deny seeing Our Lady. The children were jailed with common criminals and taken from there, one by one, to their place of execution. Each one of them was convinced that they would be killed. Rather than be unfaithful to Our Lady of Fatima, Her Message and Her Requests, they chose to die the death of a martyr.
Finally, due to the fear this man had of the people, he released the children two days later on August 15. Since the children were not at the site of the Apparitions on August 13 they missed seeing Our Lady. They were very sad about this and wanted to know what happened.
Here, Olimpia Marto, the mother of Francisco and Jacinta, explains to the children what took place at the Cova da Iria on the 13th of August in their absence.
However, Olimpia Marto lost no time in satisfying the little ones' curiosity as to what had happened on the thirteenth of August. On that dreadful day more than six thousand people had gone to the Cova da Iria for the expected apparition. A good many were ill at ease, for a rumor had spread that a small extinct volcano near the pasture was going to erupt through the Devil's power and burn everyone to death.
"Of course that was sheer nonsense, children. Nothing like that happened at all."
"What did happen, mother?" asked Jacinta, Her eyes shining. "The Lady came as usual?"
"Yes, child, I'm sure She did, although we didn't see Her. Oh, I'll never forget the wonder as long as I live!"
Lucia and Francisco looked up eagerly. "Tell us everything!" they begged.
Soon the whole story was out. Noon had come and gone at the Cova on the thirteenth, and nothing unusual had happened. Everyone was arguing and wondering what to do about the kidnaping when suddenly there was a clap of thunder. Then came a flash of lightning, so dazzling that it could be seen in spite of the sunshine. Some cried out that the volcano was about to erupt, and ran away as fast as they could. Then without any warning a cloud appeared in the sky - small, white and beautiful - and swiftly came to rest above the little tree.
"Did it stay long, mother?"
"No, just a minute or two. Then it rose into the air and melted away."
"The Lady was in that cloud!" exclaimed Francisco. "I just know She was!"
"Yes, son, I'm sure She was, too. But that's not all."
"No? What else, mother?"
"Suddenly it seemed as though a rainbow had come to rest in the Cova. The ground and people were tinted all colors - red, blue, yellow, orange. As for the trees and bushes - why, they didn't seem to have any leaves at all, only the most beautiful flowers!"
For a moment Lucia was silent. Then she raised shining eyes to her aunt's face. "Everyone believes in the Lady now?" she asked hopefully. "They say the Rosary with real love?"
Glancing at Maria Rosa and her husband, Olimpia hesitated. "Most people believe, child. I think there will be more pilgrims than ever for the Lady's September visit. But what a pity that She couldn't have come to you in August as She promised!"
Jacinta's eyes were solemn. "Yes, the Lady was to have paid us six visits, but now I guess there'll be only five."
Francisco sighed. "We lost the August visit when we had to go to jail," he said, and there was real sorrow in his voice.
But very soon this sorrow was turned into joy, and for all three little shepherds. Four days after their return, on the afternoon of August 19 while Lucia, Francisco and the latter's brother John were pasturing the flocks near a place called Valinhos, the little girl let out an excited cry.
"Francisco, the Lady's coming! And Jacinta's not here!"
"It's true. I just saw the light. And look! The sun's growing pale, like it always does..."
There was a hurried discussion as to what to do, and it was decided that John must run home as fast as he could for Jacinta.
"But there's not time!" objected the boy. "l want to stay here and see the Lady, too!"
Lucia was beside herself with distress. "John please go! Look - I'll give you two pennies..."
"Four pennies, then! Two now, and two when you get back!"
"Well... all right. I'll go for four pennies."
The minutes passed, and just as Jacinta came panting up the road, there was a second blinding flash. Lucia's heart gave a great leap. Yes, the Lady had come again! There She was, beautiful and shining, standing over a holm oak tree a few feet away...
"What do you want of me?" asked the child eagerly.
"I want you to continue to come to the Cova da Iria on the thirteenth and to continue to say the Rosary every day."
"Couldn't you please work a miracle so that everyone will believe in you?"
"Yes, in the last month, in October, I shall perform a miracle so that all may believe in My apparitions. But if you had not been taken to Ourem, the miracle would have been far greater."
Then the Lady briefly described part of what would happen in October. Saint Joseph would appear with the Child Jesus to give peace to the world. Our Lord also would come and bless the assembled crowd. Our Lady of the Rosary and Our Lady of Sorrows would be on hand, too.
Suddenly Lucia remembered a particularly troublesome matter. "What was to be done with the money which people were starting to leave in the Cova, on the little table which had been placed near the holm oak?"
"Two stretchers should be made. You and Jacinta are to carry one, with two other girls. All of you are to be dressed in white. Francisco and three other boys, also dressed in white, are to carry the other stretcher. The money is to be placed on the stretchers and used for the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. What is left over is for the support of the chapel which will be built."
"Please, there are some people who want to be cured ... "
"Yes, some of them I shall cure during the year."
But even as She made this last promise, the Lady impressed upon Lucia the fact that health of soul is far more important than health of body.
"Pray, pray a great deal, and make sacrifices for sinners," She urged. "Many souls go to hell because they have no one to sacrifice and to pray for them."
Then, as She had done on her previous visits, the Lady began to glide eastward from the top of the tree. In a moment She had disappeared into thin air, leaving the young shepherds gazing after Her with rapt faces.
"How beautiful She is!" sighed Jacinta after a moment's silence. "Lucia, whenever the Lady comes, I always feel so happy! Why, right now I feel I could walk on air!"
Her cousin nodded. "Yes, I know that feeling. And see that tree, Jacinta? The one where the Lady stood? Let's break off a branch and take it home. Maybe Mother will feel as happy as we do when she sees it. Maybe... why, maybe she'll even start to believe in the Lady, too!"