Today we celebrate the 100th Anniversary when water began to miraculously flow at the site where Our Lady of Fatima appeared. The miraculous water of Lourdes is quite well-known by Catholics, but the flowing of water at Fatima is not nearly as renowned, even among devotees of Our Lady. The first part of this essay narrates the event and several miracles. In the latter parts, we will reflect theologically upon why Our Lady chose water and why this particular date.
The Arid Countryside of Fatima
Fatima is in a very dry area. Even before the apparitions of Our Lady in 1917, water was hard to obtain in and around Fatima. This problem was aggravated by the nature of the terrain which made it unable to retain moisture. And then the apparitions began, drawing thousands of pilgrims – even tens of thousands – to witness the apparitions, thereby placing an unbearable demand on the little water available in Fatima. Once the little chapel (the Capelinha) was built in 1918 on the exact site of the apparitions, the pilgrims started numbering hundreds of thousands, making the water situation much worse.
Circumstances of the Miraculous Well
On September 12, 1921, His Excellency José Alves Correia da Silva, Bishop of Leiria, went to Fatima for the first time. After praying the Rosary at the Cova da Iria (where Our Lady appeared in 1917), he met some of the local peasants. Some of them had already donated lands for the future shrine. Yet, the local villagers were upset because their wells were running dry from constant use by pilgrims coming to Fatima.
This troubled the bishop. He immediately realized the urgent necessity of being able to provide large quantities of water for the pilgrims visiting the Cova da Iria. Thus, an effort was organized to dig a new well specifically for their needs. As Bishop da Silva later recounted:
“I asked the villagers how the pilgrims were managing to obtain water for their drinking and washing. They told me that it was a cause of disputes between the pilgrims and the villagers, because the villagers refused to allow their wells to be emptied. I told them, I do not want members of my diocese arguing among themselves, especially regarding the Most Holy Virgin. And I asked the ever devoted Mr. Carreira to dig out a well at the lowest part of the ground which forms the Cova.”
The bishop’s order could not be obeyed until November 9, 1921, when the digging began. But an unexpected solution was found to the difficult problem of water. Maria Carreira, one of the most important witnesses of the Fatima apparitions since the apparition of June 13, gave the following account, cited in the monumental work by Fatima scholar Frère Michel, The Whole Truth About Fatima:
“But, after only half a day of hard work, they were obstructed by stone. ‘Now what are we going to do?’ asked the priests. ‘Now, we will blow out the stone!… I will immediately get the necessary tools.’ Before they got their tools, all by itself, plenty of water appeared. But the well stayed unfinished and uncovered. It stayed like that until the next year.”
“‘Did the water come miraculously?’ asked Father de Marchi. This was in any case the impression of the local inhabitants and also of the pilgrims, who came in greater and greater numbers to draw water from the providential well. Certainly on this dry land no one could have expected to find water so easily.
“‘They would come here,’ relates the good José Alves, ‘with bottles and urns that were filled and brought back home for the sick to drink or to wash their wounds. Everybody had great confidence in that water, and Our Lady, as a reward, would make the pain disappear and their wounds heal. Never did Our Lady work so many miracles as at that time…’
“‘Many came here – it was pitiful – with pus running down their legs. They would wash themselves and leave their dressing [bandages] there, because Our Lady healed them. Others knelt down to drink this muddy water, and felt themselves healed of their internal pains.’
“One could say (comments Father de Marchi) that the Most Holy Virgin, in Her Motherly tenderness, was playfully making sport of men with their precepts of hygiene, accomplishing miraculous prodigies with means that, humanly speaking, could only have been a cause of infection and complications.”
Given how our current COVID-obsessed society has become so fearful of even just shaking hands, it is encouraging to hear a good priest speak in this manner.
Miracles Due to Fatima Water
Ever since then, Our Lady has blessed Her privileged shrine with easily-accessible ‘Fatima Water.’ The fountain of miraculous Fatima Water is located in the center of the pavilion of the Fatima Shrine, and built over the original well is a tall column which supports the Monument of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a golden bronze statue of Jesus Christ.
The fountain has a circular shape, about 10 yards in diameter and 2 yards high. Equally spaced along the perimeter are 15 taps – as many as the mysteries of the Rosary – which facilitate the supplying of the large amounts of water needed especially during the major monthly pilgrimages between May 13 and October 13, inclusive.
Our Lady of Fatima continues to work miracles through the Fatima water which is sent throughout the world. Following are a few examples of the many miracles which have occurred through the use of this water. Note that in each of these cases the miracle occurred as a result of the person making an act of faith AND drinking or externally applying the miraculous water.
First, there were those that were published in the Portuguese journal Voz da Fátima in the 1940’s.
“My condition was extremely serious, and having received the last rites I was close to death. Then with the liveliest faith I drank the wonderful water of Our Lady of Fatima that a pious lady gave me. I felt a great relief at the first spoonful that I ingested. A novena to Our Lady of Fatima followed. When it ended I had entirely recovered. My gratitude to Our Lady will be eternal.” – Arminda dos Anjos
“For 12 years I had been suffering severe pain in my stomach and intestines. With the greatest possible devotion I said a novena to Our Lady of Fatima, drank her miraculous water for three days and soon found a quick recovery; the pains never came back. I thank Our Lady of Fatima with all my heart for such a great grace.” – Fernanda Franco
“I was suffering terribly…consulted some specialists…to no avail…until I remembered to make a novena to Our Lady of Fatima and applied a few drops of her miraculous water every day of the novena. When it ended I was entirely cured… Infinite thanks to the Blessed Mother of God.” – Evandra C. Ferreira
In addition, we have the testimony of Father John de Marchi, I.M.C., author of The True Story of Fatima (1947) and Fatima from the Beginning (1950). Because he lived in Fatima from 1943 until 1950, Father de Marchi made it clear that he was personally present at just about any kind of physical cure that occurred there.
“We who have had the privilege of living close beside the Cova da Iria do not face the problem of merely believing in Mary’s powers of intercession,” he said of eye-witnessing them himself.
Father de Marchi explained:
“There is clinical certainty that at Fatima the blind have had sight restored, while men and women stretcher-borne have risen from their litters to cry hosannas to the Power that can in one moment banish cancer, loosen the fist of the tightest paralysis, or render whole and clean the shrunken lungs of abandoned tuberculars. More than a hundred contradictions of the natural physical law have been registered at Fatima, and held to be valid only after the most exhaustive and scrupulous examination of all available evidence.”
A More Recent and Well-Documented Fatima Water Miracle
More recently, we have the following testimony from “My Miracle Cure at Fatima Portugal 1992,” Dec. 21, 1993.
Anthony Medeiros of Taunton, Massachusetts says “he was miraculously cured of recurring bacterial meningitis after a trip to Fatima, Portugal. And he’s got the medical records to back up his claim. It all started one night when [someone] punched him in the face without warning or provocation.
His doctors suspect that this punch “was the cause of a hole in his sinuses that has resulted in his getting spinal meningitis 13 times since May of 1970,” during which time he “suffered seizures six times, and has had over 60 spinal taps to check spinal fluid for disease.” Each attack of meningitis required hospitalization for 10-14 days.
“Since 1970, Mr. Medeiros had undergone several surgeries to try and repair the leak that makes him susceptible to the illness. For many years, Mr. Medeiros has sought traditional medicine. He has undergone four operations in which doctors have tried to plug the microscopic hole in his sinuses with tissue. None have worked.”
Then in the summer of 1991, Anthony decided to make a pilgrimage the following year to Lourdes, France (for the miraculous healing waters) and Fatima, Portugal.
At Lourdes, on Easter Sunday 1992, “he went to faucets outside the basilica that contain the ‘miraculous waters.’ He took care to splash the water on his face and up his nose and even took a bath in the waters. He didn’t feel anything physically at Lourdes …”
The next day Anthony went to Fatima. When he got to the Fatima Water fountain at the Shrine, he vigorously splashed his face with the water and snorted it up his nostrils.
“‘Nothing special happened …,’ Mr. Medeiros said. He filled up a jug with the water and headed back to his hotel room. ‘As I settled down, I once again snorted some of this Fatima water and suddenly I sensed a weird feeling. My sinuses went numb for the next 15-20 minutes…’
“When he got home, he told many people about what had happened to him at Fatima, but put off going for medical tests to see whether he had been healed. He felt something had happened, but after 23 years of searching for a cure, he was apprehensive about whether he had been cured. But when he went to see his doctor, tests showed no sign of the microscopic hole that had been the cause of so many problems. The news filled him with ‘a tremendous sense of joy and thanksgiving to God.’”
May we all make use of sacramentals – such as Fatima Water – as fervently and devoutly as those people did who were mentioned in the testimonials related here.
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!
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 This section based on Frère Michel de la Sainte Trinité (Brother Michael of the Holy Trinity), The Whole Truth About Fatima, Vol. II: The Secret and the Church, pp. 355-357.
 Fr. Martin Scott, S.J., “The Miraculous Springs of Fatima,” November 7, 2016. Adapted for English from the book Novos Esplendores de Fátima (New Splendors of Fatima), by Father Valentim Armas, CMF, published by Editora Ave Maria, São Paulo, 1944, pp. 209-212.
 Taken from Joseph Pronechen, “Fatima’s Little-Known Miracles with Earth and Water,” September 6, 2017.