The three shepherd children

The Fourth Apparition of Our Lady of Fatima: A Day of Much Suffering

Part II[1]

I’d rather die!” (Jacinta, August 14, 1917)

We saw in yesterday’s article that the three children were kidnapped by the Administrator, thereby causing them to miss their appointed time with Our Lady. He thought that, as a result, nothing out of the ordinary would happen at the Cova da Iria and the people would then conclude that the reported series of apparitions were fake. But, on the contrary, Our Lady did come (though unseen) and provided several miraculous phenomena –observed by the multitude of pilgrims – that clearly demonstrated Her presence. The Administrator also intended to personally terrorize the children into revealing the Secret.

In Prison at Ourém

On the morning of August 14, the three children were taken from captivity in the Administrator’s home to the County House in Ourém. There they were forced to undergo nine interrogations, which occupied the entire day. They were interrogated separately and then all together. Several of the interrogations were also assisted by a doctor from Leiria, who was called in by the Administrator to accuse them of hysteria or hallucinations. Throughout this ordeal, strengthened by a special grace, they remained steadfast in their refusal to tell him the Secret, even when he threatened them with torture and death.

The Administrator was resolved to obtain from the children either the Secret or at least get them to say that they had not seen Our Lady, so he could use that to discredit the apparitions and so end the religious piety resurging in his county. But he could neither extract the Secret nor trick them into contradicting each other. Finally, determined to learn the Secret from them at any cost, he decided to use stronger weapons to terrorize the children into finally revealing the Secret given by Our Lady.

So he told them that death might be the penalty for not revealing the Secret. The children still refused to tell it; they could not disobey Our Lady. He then threatened that they were going to be put in jail and soon after be thrown into a cauldron of boiling oil. The children indeed believed the Administrator’s threat that they were soon to be killed; yet, they again refused to reveal the Secret.

So the children were put into the town jail, in a very badly lit and foul-smelling cell with “a great number of young thieves and other prisoners … [who] were polite”[2] to them. They were frightened and suffered very much – especially seven-year-old Jacinta, who felt that their parents had abandoned them and thought that she would never see her parents again; and Francisco, who was distressed because they had missed their rendezvous with Our Lady.

However, despite all this, the three children reassured one another, reminding each other of what Our Lady had told them about Heaven. They also offered up all their sufferings for the conversion of sinners, for the Holy Father, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The constant thought of these three intentions was the inexhaustible source from which these very young children found the courage to face death.

Boiled in Oil?

Then they were interrogated once more, separately. After this, the Administrator again threatened to boil them in oil if they still refused to divulge the Secret of Fatima. The children believed his threats and took them literally. The other prisoners tried to console the children, telling them: “But all you have to do is tell the Administrator the secret! What does it matter whether the Lady wants you to or not!” Jacinta vigorously replied, “I’d rather die![3] The children then prayed the Rosary, and the prisoners joined in the prayers.

The Rosary was interrupted by a guard, who brought the three children to the Administrator’s office in the County House, where the interrogations resumed. He had Jacinta (the youngest) brought into his office first, while Francisco and Lucia waited their turn outside. In his office, he made a final demand for her to reveal the Secret. Then, since Jacinta again refused to tell it, he ordered a guard to take her away and throw her into the cauldron of boiling oil. The guard seized the child and took her away.

The guard soon came back and led Francisco into the Administrator’s office. He ordered Francisco to reveal the Secret or be boiled in oil. Like Jacinta, he refused to tell the Secret and was taken away.

Finally, the guard came for Lucia. The Administrator then threatened Lucia with the same fate if she did not cooperate. Though she believed that her two cousins had been killed for not revealing the Secret, she too would rather die than reveal what the Blessed Virgin had entrusted to her as a secret. Lucia remained faithful, so she also was taken under the custody of the guard to what she thought was certain death.

However, none of the children were killed. It turned out that all three had simply been led to another room, and now they were all together again. It had just been a trick to frighten them into revealing the Secret. Years later, Sister Lucia, recalling the incident in her memoirs, informs us that she was certain, as were her two cousins, that they were about to be martyred at the hands of the Administrator.

After this, the Administrator made a third threat: all three of them would be boiled together; but this was to no avail. He still did not obtain the Secret or any other statement from them that he could use against either them or the apparitions. So, on the next morning (August 15, the Feast of the Assumption of Our Lady), after interrogating them one last time and still being unable to learn the Secret, the Administrator finally admitted defeat. Then, out of fear of what the enraged people might do, he himself brought the children back to Fatima.

The three children survived their horrific experience in Ourém, but they missed out on seeing Our Lady in August. Or did they? Find out in Part III of this article (to be posted later this week).


As I mentioned in an article two years ago, “Catholicism Is Under Attack Today!,” in many cities in which there continued – for more than two months, at that time! – riots, destruction and looting, we also saw persecution of the Catholic Church. What if this situation had worsened? What if we were ever to start seeing a parallel in the Administrator of Ourém, who was determined to suppress the religious piety resurging in his county, through whatever means necessary – intimidation, brute force, and even threats of death! 

Will we someday see similar persecution in our own country? Will persecution of the Catholic Church ever escalate to open attacks against the faithful themselves, beyond vandalism to churches, statues, and other images? Would we then be courageous and steadfast in the Faith as was Jacinta, Francisco and Lucia? 

Only Our Lady of Fatima can help us. We must heed the Message of Fatima given by Her on July 13, 1917, It is the only solution to the crises of our times!

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!

[1] Sources: The Devil’s Final Battle, Chapter 2, “The Long Opposition Begins”, p. 12 (for the single-book version vs. the online double-book, see pp. 16-17); Father John de Marchi, I.M.C., The True Story of Fatima, Chapter VII, “Fourth Apparition”, pp. 39-41; Mark Fellows, Sister Lucia: Apostle of Mary’s Immaculate Heart, Chapter 16, “Kidnapped – August 1917,” pp. 75-77; Frère Michel de la Sainte Trinité, The Whole Truth About Fatima, Vol. I: Science and the Facts, (Buffalo, Immaculate Heart Publications, 1989), pp. 225-233.

[2] Frère Michel, op. cit., p. 226.

[3] Frère Michel, op. cit., p. 228.

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