The Apparition of Our Lady and the Child Jesus at Pontevedra

On July 13, 1917, Our Lady promised at Fatima:

“If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved … I shall come to ask for the Consecration of Russia to My Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays.”

As Fatima scholar Frère Michel de la Sainte Trinité tells us, this first secret of Our Lady “is a sure and easy way of tearing souls away from the danger of hell: first our own, then those of our neighbors, and even the souls of the greatest sinners, for the mercy and power of the Immaculate Heart of Mary are without limits.”[1]

Circumstances of the Apparition[2]

The promise of Our Lady to return was fulfilled in December 1925, when 18-year-old Lucia was a postulant at the Dorothean convent in Pontevedra, Spain. It was here, during an apparition of the Child Jesus and Our Lady, that She revealed the first part of God’s plan for the salvation of sinners: the reparatory Communion of the First Saturdays of the month.

Lucia narrated what happened, speaking of herself in the third person – perhaps, in humility, to divert attention from her role in the event:

“On December 10, 1925, the Most Holy Virgin appeared to her [Lucia], and by Her side, elevated on a luminous cloud, was the Child Jesus. The Most Holy Virgin rested Her hand on her shoulder, and as She did so, She showed her a heart encircled by thorns, which She was holding in Her other hand. At the same time, the Child said:

“‘Have compassion on the Heart of your Most Holy Mother, covered with thorns, with which ungrateful men pierce It at every moment, and there is no one to make an act of reparation to remove them.

“Then the Most Holy Virgin said:

“‘Look, My daughter, at My Heart, surrounded with thorns with which ungrateful men pierce Me at every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude. You at least try to console Me and announce in My name that I promise to assist at the moment of death, with all the graces necessary for salvation, all those who, on the first Saturday of five consecutive months, shall confess,[3] receive Holy Communion, recite five decades of the Rosary, and keep Me company for fifteen minutes while meditating on the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary, with the intention of making reparation to Me.’”

The Great Promise and Its Conditions

As Fatima author, Mark Fellows, noted:

“The Blessed Virgin did more than ask for reparatory Communion and devotions on five First Saturdays: She promised Heaven to those who practiced this devotion sincerely and with a spirit of reparation. Those who wonder whether it is Mary’s place to promise eternal salvation to anyone forget one of Her illustrious titles: Mediatrix of all Graces.”[4]

Our Lady promises the grace of final perseverance – the most sublime of all graces – to all those who devoutly practice this devotion. The disproportion between the little requested and the immense grace promised reveals the great power of intercession granted to the Blessed Virgin Mary for the salvation of souls. Furthermore, this promise also contains a missionary aspect. The devotion of reparation is recommended as a means of converting sinners in the greatest danger of being lost.

Much has been written on the Five First Saturdays devotion. Therefore, here I provide only a brief summary of the conditions. For more information, see The Magnificent Promise for the Five First Saturdays (Section III, pp. 8-16).[5]

  1. The First Saturday of five consecutive months: This request was the culmination of a whole movement of devotion, consistent with a series of papal decisions giving the forerunners of this new devotion:
    a. The 15 Saturdays in honor of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary (plenary indulgence granted by Pope Leo XIII, 1889).
    b. The 12 First Saturdays of the month (officially approved by Pope St. Pius X, 1905).
    c. The Devotion of Reparation on the First Saturdays of the month (new indulgences granted by Pius X, 1912).
    At Pontevedra we see two new elements: the reduction of the number of Saturdays required; and assurance of receiving at the moment of death “all the graces necessary for salvation,” instead of merely indulgences for the remission of punishment for sins already pardoned. Knowing our inconstancy, Our Lady asks for only five Saturdays – the number of decades on our Rosary.
  2. Confession: Though the confession is not required to be made on the First Saturday itself,[6] it is preferable – as far as possible – that it be made on a day close to the First Saturday.
  3. Communion of Reparation: Frère Michel tells us: “The Communion of Reparation, of course, is the most important act of the devotion of Reparation. All the other acts center around it. To understand its meaning and significance, it must be considered in relation with the miraculous Communion of autumn 1916; already this Communion was completely oriented to the idea of Reparation, thanks to the words of the Angel.”[7]
  4. Recitation of the Rosary: In each of the six apparitions of 1917, Our Lady asked the children to pray the Rosary every day.
  5. The 15-minute meditation on the 15 Mysteries of the Rosary: In addition to praying the Rosary, Our Lady asks for a separate 15 minutes of meditation on the Mysteries of the Rosary. But, as Sister Lucia has explained, not all 15 Mysteries need to be meditated upon each month. One may, by their choice, meditate on only some of the Mysteries each month.[8]
  6. The intention of making Reparation: As Sister Lucia has written, this condition is the principal one, and concerns the general intention with which all the other five conditions must be fulfilled. They must each be accomplished “in the spirit of Reparation” towards the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Without this general intention, without the desire to make Reparation to Our Lady to console Her, all these external acts are by themselves insufficient to obtain the magnificent promise of obtaining, at the moment of death, all the graces necessary for salvation.
    As Our Lady said in this apparition, the blasphemies and ingratitude of sinners are like so many thorns, which we can only remove by our acts of love and Reparation. It is a matter of consoling the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which is so outraged.

Conveying the Message of Pontevedra

Following the apparition, Sister Lucia then did what she could to make known this new request from Our Lady. She immediately informed her superior, Mother Magalhaes – who was now a believer of the Fatima apparitions and also had a sincere respect for the seer – and her confessor at the convent about this apparition. She even wrote to her earlier confessor, for whom she wrote a detailed account of this event. It appears that despite Lucia’s efforts, not much progress was made in convincing either confessor of the need for propagation of this devotion – both had reservations and advised waiting.

Upon learning this, Sister Lucia was sad; but realizing immediately that the Blessed Virgin desired that she obey her superiors, she resigned herself to the Will of God. Even so, the days that followed were a time of continuous inner mortification. And as a consequence of the obstacles that she encountered in trying to promote the Five First Saturdays of Reparation, she stopped trying.

Then on February 15, 1926, about two months later, Our Lord returned to ask Sister Lucia what she was doing to promote the Five First Saturdays. Read The Magnificent Promise for the Five First Saturdays, pp. 6-8 (in The Magnificent Promise: The Forgotten Fatima Devotion, pp. 8-9), for her moving account of what occurred.

Significance of the Date of the Apparition

Our Lord and Our Lady chose to request this special devotion on December 10, 1925. Here we note several reasons why Divine Providence may have chosen this date – perhaps you can add other considerations.

December 10th is the liturgical feast of the Holy House of Loreto. On this day we pay special honor to the home in which Our Lady received the heavenly message from St. Gabriel that God had chosen Her to be the Mother of Our Lord. This is also the home in which the Holy Family lived and sanctified all family life. How appropriate that the Child Jesus and His Mother would thus appear to Sister Lucia on this particular date.

This day is also located squarely between two other very important Marian Feasts. December 8th is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception – and the connection to Her Immaculate Heart is readily obvious. December 12th is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe – and we know that the miracles of conversion which will occur after Russia is properly consecrated will dwarf the great conversions which took place in the Americas after Our Lady appeared at Tepeyac.

Of all its liturgical seasons, Holy Mother Church draws her children’s attention to Our Lady most during Advent. We could say Advent is the most “Marian” of all liturgical seasons. This makes sense since during Advent we prepare for the Coming of Our Lord,[9] and it is through Our Lady that Our Lord always comes. We know that the Communion of Reparation on First Saturdays is an essential element in promoting the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and a necessary precursor to the Reign of the Immaculate Heart and period of peace in which She will reign. Thus, it is eminently appropriate that this request was made during Advent when we are preparing for the Coming of Christ the King.

Finally, Pope Pius XI published his great encyclical establishing the Feast of Christ the King on December 11, 1925 – just one day after the anniversary of this apparition! This cannot possibly be a coincidence. Rather, it serves to highlight how central the Message of Christ’s Kingship is to the Message of Fatima and devotion to the Immaculate Heart.

Yes, Christ must reign, but He has chosen to do so only through and with His Mother. This must be acknowledged by every individual and every state, at every private and public level. As a whole, mankind has failed in this most solemn obligation and thus much reparation is necessary to appease Our Lord. Yet there is no sweeter, more merciful, and more glorious way to achieve such reparation than by devotedly practicing devotion to the Immaculate Heart and the Communion of Reparation on every First Saturday.[10]


The Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays is central to the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. We must make reparation and console our Mother. So let us fervently practice the devotion of the Five First Saturdays – not only for the salvation of our own soul, but then again for the wayward souls of loved ones!

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!


[1] Frère Michel de la Sainte Trinité, The Whole Truth About Fatima, Vol. II: The Secret and the Church, (Buffalo, Immaculate Heart Publications, 1989), p. 246.

[2] Sources: Frère Michel, Vol. II, pp. 246-249; Father John de Marchi, The True Story of Fatima, p. 87.

[3] That is, receive the sacrament of Confession.

[4] Mark Fellows, Sister Lucia: Apostle of Mary’s Immaculate Heart, p. 116.

[5] The Fatima Center recently revised and reprinted this popular 28-year-old booklet, which had been out of stock. In the new booklet, entitled The Magnificent Promise: The Forgotten Fatima Devotion, see Sections IV-VI, pp. 11-20. Copies may be purchased at our online shop.

[6] The confession can be made up to 8 days before or after the First Saturday, as long as the person is in the state of grace on the First Saturday. However, it can be fulfilled even beyond eight days if due to necessity, but there must at least be a monthly confession.

[7] A reference to the third apparition of the Angel of Portugal in 1916, during which he gave Holy Communion to the three child-seers of Fatima (see “The Feast of Corpus Christi and the Angel of Portugal”). This passage taken from The Magnificent Promise for the Five First Saturdays, pp. 12-13 (in the new booklet, The Magnificent Promise: The Forgotten Fatima Devotion, see p. 18).

[8] Ibid., pp. 27-28 (both booklets).

[9] Catholic Tradition speaks of three distinct comings of Our Lord. The first is the historical, when He was born in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago. The second is the future, Second Coming of Christ, when the world will end. Related to this is each person’s Particular Judgment, which is the moment a person dies and faces Christ his Eternal Judge. The Third Coming is in the present, for Christ comes to us now. This Coming of the Lord (Adventus Domini) is most profound at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and in Holy Communion. And in all three of these ‘comings,’ as St. Louis de Montfort teaches, Our Lord comes through the Blessed Virgin Mary.

[10] It is for this reason that our 2024 Fatima Center calendar invites all Catholics to fulfill this devotion every single First Saturday of the year and provides a page where to easily keep track of how one maintains fidelity to this devotion. You can order your copy of this beautiful calendar here. The 2024 also includes a timeline that sets out key Fatima events.