In 1916 an angel appeared to three Portuguese children Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco. Jacinta and Francisco were brother and sister and Lucia was their cousin. The angel who said that he was the Angel of Portugal taught them how to pray and make sacrifices to God for sinners. The children said the prayers over and over for the conversion of sinners and to make reparation for sins.
On May 13, 1917, while the children were pasturing their sheep at the Cova da Iria, a flash of lightening appeared across the sky. Thinking it was about to rain they decided to return home, so they rounded up the sheep. Suddenly a lady appeared to them standing on top of a holm oak tree. She told them not to be afraid. She was beautiful. The lady was dressed in a long white robe and holding a rosary in her hand. Lucia asked the lady where she was from and the lady answered that she was from heaven. Lucia was the only child who spoke during the apparitions. Jacinta could hear Mary but she never spoke at that moment. Francisco could not hear Mary but he could hear what Lucia said. All three children could see the Blessed Mother.
The lady then asked them to come to the Cova for the next six months on the thirteenth day and at that time she would then tell them her name and what they should do. They did go every month, however in August, because the children were not believed, and because many people started following the children to the Cova, the mayor took the children away for questioning. They repeated what the lady had told them about doing penance for sinners and praying and they stuck to their story. They were not able to be at the Cova on the thirteenth of that month but while they were tending their flocks on the nineteenth of the month the lady again appeared to them and asked them to make sacrifices and offer prayers. The lady showed them the place in hell where sinners would go because there is no one to pray for them. After August, no one tried to prevent them from going to the Cova da Iria again.
On October 13, 1917, 70,000 people were present in that muddy field because they had heard about the visions of the children. The lady told the children her name. “I am the Lady of the Rosary.” All of a sudden the sun shone very brightly and began to twirl and show may colors. It was spinning and spinning. It got very big and then became small. Then it started to come down towards the earth. The people were very afraid and started to pray to God for help. All the people, even those who did not believe in God or believe the children’s visions called on God for help and cried for mercy to be saved from harm. It seemed that the fiery sun was about to hit the earth when, in an instant, it began to go up to the sky and return to its place.
That day, the children did not see the miracle of the sun, but all of the people saw it. While the sun was still swirling in the sky, the children saw the Virgin Mary slowly rising to the right of the sun and Saint Joseph at its left. St. Joseph was holding the infant Jesus, who appeared as a child about a year old. The Virgin Mary now wore a blue mantle over her white dress. Saint Joseph and Jesus were clothed in red. When this vision vanished the children now saw Jesus as a grown man at the base of the sun. He blessed the people and disappeared. Next the children saw Our Lady appear as Mother of Sorrows. And then, finally Mary appeared as Our Lady of Mount Carmel holding the brown scapular in her hand.
Our Lady asked the children to “tell people to pray, pray, pray, and to do penance for the conversion of Russia.” She asked that the Pope consecrate Russia to her Immaculate Heart so that wars would not continue and nations would not suffer. If not, she said, that there would be a lack of peace in the world and that the Holy Father and the Church would suffer.
Our Lady of the Rosary asked that we would receive Holy Communion and pray for the conversion of sinners and for the conversion of Russia, on the first Saturday for five months. She asked that this be done for these intentions and that the rosary would be prayed every day.
The Blessed Virgin Mary revealed three secrets to the children.
The first part of the secret was seeing that many souls would be lost in hell if we do not pray for them.
The second part of the secret was that even though there was a war at that time, that there would be an even worse one if the world did not pray. And so World War II happened. The third part of the secret was regarding the Pope that he would suffer much…and many nations would be destroyed.
Our Lady told the children to pray for the conversion of sinners and that if her words were listened to that Russia would be converted and that there would be a time of peace.
The first two secrets have come about. In the third secret we are asked to pray the rosary each day and on the first Saturdays of five months, one following the other, to pray to her Immaculate Heart for the conversion of sinners and for the conversion of Russia. If not there will be much suffering for the Church and many nations.
When Our Lady of Fatima appeared to the children Lucia was ten years old, Francisco was almost nine years old and Jacinta was seven years of age.
Francisco Marto died on April 4, 1919 almost eleven years old
Jacinta Marto died on February 20, 1920 at the age of nine
Lucia dos Santos died February 13, 2005 at the age of 97
Francisco and Jacinta Marto will be canonized on May 13, 2017 by Pope Francis, at Fatima, Portugal.
Prayer to Saints Jacinta and Francisco
Saints Jacinta and Francisco, how wonderful it must have been to see Mary, the Mother of God! It took a lot of courage for you to be her messengers, especially when people refused to believe you.
Help me to pray for the peace that our world needs so badly. Help me to offer my own acts of love and sacrifice to make up in some small way for the sins that offend God.
You are the two youngest children ever to be considered for sainthood. Remind me that even though I’m young, my love and my efforts to be like Jesus can make a real difference in the world. Amen.
by Sr Barbara Gerace, FSP