The Catholic Counter-Reformation in the 21st Century
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THE WHOLE TRUTH ABOUT FATIMA

9. « I am our Lady of the Rosary »
(Saturday, October 13)

ON October 13 at noon, the hour of the apparition and the miracle, there were between fifty and seventy thousand people at the Cova da Iria. The whole population of Portugal was represented there. Many people among this multitude of witnesses gave their version of the prodigious events they contemplated that day. Their witness is an important historical fact from which we must draw all the consequences.

But the presence of these crowds, and the extraordinary reality of the solar miracle must not make us forget the apparition of Our Lady to the three little seers and the contents of Her last message. That is why, temporarily leaving aside the enormous mass of evidence that we have, in the present chapter we will content ourselves with explaining events from the viewpoint of our three seers and their usual entourage.

I. BEFORE THE APPARITION

“ A… PERSISTENT RAIN FELL. ” While long lines of pilgrims converged on Fatima from every direction, praying the Rosary and singing hymns, the rain fell with a gentle persistence. «  The whole night and morning  », a witness reports, «  a thin, persistent rain fell, wetting the fields, muddying the ground, and penetrating with its cold humidity the women and children, men and animals, who were hurriedly advancing along the muddy pathways towards the place of the miracle.  » 1
One had to be among the first to arrive at the Cova da Iria to be sure of having a place near the holm oak of the apparition.

«  Since the 12th (says Maria Carreira), there were so many people, so many people… God knows how many  ! All these people made so much noise they could be heard clear to our house. 2 They spent the night in the open air, without the slightest shelter.

«  Well before the break of dawn, they were praying, weeping and singing. I myself arrived at dawn, and I was able to get near the holm oak, of which only the trunk remained, which the night before I had decorated with flowers and silk ribbons… I was sad because it was the last time Our Lady was to appear, but at the same time it made me joyful to think of what the Most Holy Virgin was going to say, as we waited for the miracle She was going to work so that all the people might believe.  » 3

THE DEPARTURE OF THE SEERS

“ MY PARENTS WERE AFRAID. ” Meanwhile, at Aljustrel, for the first time it seems, Maria Rosa was disturbed at the thought of the tragedy that might follow… if the miracle predicted did not take place. «  With tears running down her cheeks she looked tenderly at Lucy who tried to comfort her mother while drying her tears. “ Don’t be afraid, mother, dear. Nothing will happen to us I’m sure. Our Lady will do what She promised  ! ”  » 4

«  My mother  », Lucy writes in her Memoirs, «  her heart torn with uncertainty as to what was going to happen, and fearing it would be the last day of my life, wanted to accompany me.  » 5 Elsewhere she writes  : «  My parents were very much afraid, and for the first time they wanted to accompany me, saying that if their daughter was going to die, they wanted to die by her side.  » 6

However, Maria Rosa was troubled at the thought of disobeying her parish priest, who once again had recommended that she not go to the Cova da Iria. It was only the grave danger her daughter was in that made her decide to go, she later confessed before the commission of inquiry. For greater safety, she came armed with holy water, as Bernadette did after the apparition of February 14, 1858.

TI MARTO  : AN UNSHAKEABLE TRUST. First they went to Ti Marto’s house. The crowd filled the whole house, for everybody, both the curious and the devout, wanted to speak to the seers. While Olimpia, who like her sister-in-law was impressed by so many priests “ who did not believe ”, feared the worst, Manuel Pedro remained supremely calm  : «  I am going because I have faith in it  », he declared. «  I’m not at all afraid and am quite sure that everything will go off all right  !  » The children, too, were quite calm  ; neither Jacinta nor Francisco were in the least perturbed. But what a trial for them with all this hustle and bustle  ! They were undoubtedly about to go through the most exhausting day of their life  !

Before they left, Ti Marto recalled, a lady from Pambalinho brought dresses for the girls and dressed them herself. Lucy’s was blue and Jacinta’s was white, and she put white wreaths on their heads so that they looked like the little angels in processions. 7

A PATH THROUGH THE CROWD. «  We left home quite early  », Lucy continues, «  expecting that we would be delayed along the way. Masses of people thronged the roads. The rain fell in torrents. On the way, the scenes of the previous month, still more numerous and moving, were repeated. Not even the muddy roads could prevent these people from kneeling in the most humble and suppliant of attitudes.  » 8 This caused Ti Marto to remark  :

«  “ Come on, ladies, none of that  ! ” For they seemed to think that they had the power of saints. After a lot of trouble and interruptions we at last arrived at the Cova da Iria.

«  The crowd was so thick that you couldn’t pass through. It was then that a chauffeur picked up my Jacinta and pushed and shoved his way to the lantern arch, shouting out  : “ Make way for the children who saw Our Lady  ! ” I went behind him, and Jacinta, who was frightened to see me among so many people, began to cry out  : “ Don’t push my father, don’t hurt him  ! ” The chauffeur at last put her down by the tree but there, too, the crush was so great that she began to cry. Then Lucy and Francisco made their way into the middle of it.

«  My Olimpia was somewhere else, I don’t know where, but Maria Rosa was quite close.  » 9

As for Antonio, who had led Lucy by the hand right up to the holm oak, he was separated from her by the movements of the crowd  : «  But from the moment of the apparition itself, I did not set eyes on him again until I was back home with the family that night.  » 10

AT THE COVA DA IRIA

“ SHUT YOUR UMBRELLAS  ! ” It was almost one o’clock in the afternoon and it was still raining. «  Once we arrived at the Cova da Iria, near the holm oak  », Lucy recalls, «  moved by an inner impulse, I asked the people to shut their umbrellas and say the Rosary.  » 11

Up on the road, sheltered in their automobiles, all those who did not have the courage to venture into the claylike mire of the Cova witnessed a stupefying spectacle  : «  At a given moment  », one of them writes, «  this confused and compact mass shuts the umbrellas, uncovering itself in a gesture either of humility or respect, but leaving me surprised and full of admiration, for the rain went on insistently, moistening everybody’s heads, soaking and flooding everything.  » 12 Avelino de Almeida, editor of O Seculo, writes for his part  : «  Lucy asks them, orders them to shut their umbrellas. The order is transmitted and executed right away, without resistance… groups of the faithful kneel in the mud.  » 13

II. THE SIXTH APPARITION OF OUR LADY

THE HOUR OF THE FINAL RENDEZVOUS. According to the watches, it is already almost one thirty in the afternoon, that is around noon by solar time. 14 Suddenly, Maria Carreira relates, «  Lucy looked in the direction of the east, and said to Jacinta  : “ Oh, Jacinta  ! Get on your knees, Our Lady’s coming  ! I already saw the lightning  ! ”  » 15

Maria Rosa, who had succeeded in remaining there, near her daughter, did not forget to give Lucy a motherly counsel  : «  Look carefully, Lucy, make no mistake  !  » But Our Lady was already appearing over the holm oak, placing Her feet over the silk ribbons and flowers piously laid there the night before by the faithful Maria Carreira.

This time Lucy seemed to fall into an ecstasy  : «  The child’s face, a witness recalls, became more and more beautiful and took on a rosy tint, and her lips became thinner.  » 16 Jacinta gave Lucy a poke and said  : “ Speak, Lucy, Our Lady is already here  ! ” Then Lucy came back to herself, breathed deeply two times, like someone out of breath, and began her conversation with Our Lady. 17

THE LAST MESSAGE OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN 18

What does Your Grace want of me  ?

I want a chapel to be built here in My honour.

I am Our Lady of the Rosary.

Continue to say the Rosary every day.

The war will end soon and the soldiers will return to their homes.

I have many things to ask of You  : to heal some sick people and to convert some sinners, etc.

Some, yes  ; others no. People must amend their lives and ask pardon for their sins.

Then, growing sadder  : – They must not offend Our Lord any more for He is already too much offended. 19

Do you want anything more of me  ?

No, I want nothing more of you.

Then neither will I ask anything more of You. 20

DURING THE APPARITION. While Our Lady was speaking with Lucy, just as on September 13 the crowd could see the same cloud forming around the holm oak, going up in the air before it disappeared.

Another prodigy, which took place for the second time  : when Our Lady went up into the sky, Lucy shouted  : «  She’s going  ! She’s going  !  » 21 At this moment, reports Maria dos Anjos, «  my mother smelled the same perfume as on August 19.  » 22 Then Lucy shouted  : «  Look at the sun  !  »

«  THE DANCE OF THE SUN  »

«  Then, opening Her hands (Lucy relates), Our Lady made them reflect on the sun, and as She ascended, the reflection of Her own light continued to be projected on the sun itself.

«  That is the reason why I cried out to the people to look at the sun. My aim was not to call their attention to the sun, because I was not even aware of their presence. I was moved to do so under the guidance of an inner impulse.  » 23

It was at this precise moment that the crowd could contemplate the extraordinary spectacle of the “ dance of the sun ”. The rain had suddenly stopped, the clouds were quickly dispersed and the sky was clear. Let us be content here to report the facts briefly, since later on, using the statements of numerous witnesses, we shall present each of the phases of this wonderful prodigy.

Here is Ti Marto’s account of the event to Father de Marchi  :

«  We looked easily at the sun, which did not blind us. It seemed to flicker on and off, first one way and then another. It shot rays in different directions and painted everything in different colours – the trees, the people, the air and the ground. What was most extraordinary was that the sun did not hurt our eyes at all.

«  Everything was still and quiet  ; everyone was looking upwards. At a certain moment the sun seemed to stop and then began to move and to dance until it seemed that it was being detached from the sky and was falling on us. It was a terrible moment  !…  » 24

Maria Carreira described the stupefying “ dance of the sun ” in the same terms  :

«  It turned everything different colours, yellow, blue, white, and it shook and trembled  ; it seemed like a wheel of fire which was going to fall on the people. They cried out  : “ We shall all be killed, we shall all be killed  ! ” Others called to Our Lady to save them and recited acts of contrition. One woman began to confess her sins aloud, saying that she had done this and that…

«  At last the sun stopped moving and we all breathed a sigh of relief. We were still alive and the miracle which the children had foretold had taken place.  » 25

The promise of Our Lady had been fulfilled to the letter  : all had seen it. Maria Rosa herself, who being docile to her parish priest, had still feared that it was a diabolical intervention, could throw out the holy water she was armed with  ! «  Now  », she declared, «  it is impossible not to believe, because nobody can touch the sun  !  » Here is a testimony that is as precious as the opposition of Maria Rosa had been tenacious and systematic from the beginning. 26

THREE VISIONS IN THE SKY

During the ten minutes that the crowd witnessed the spectacular cosmic miracle, the three seers enjoyed a still more beautiful spectacle. The Blessed Virgin fulfilled before their eyes Her promises of August 19 and September 13. It was given them to admire, right in the sky, three successive pictures whose symbolic significance we shall make clear.

THE VISION OF THE HOLY FAMILY. «  After Our Lady had disappeared into the immense distance of the firmament, we beheld St. Joseph with the Child Jesus and Our Lady robed in white with a blue mantle, beside the sun. St. Joseph and the Child Jesus appeared to bless the world, for they traced the Sign of the Cross with their hands.  »

THE VISION OF OUR LADY OF SORROWS. «  When, a little later, this apparition disappeared, I saw Our Lord and Our Lady  ; it seemed to me that it was Our Lady of Sorrows. Our Lord appeared to bless the world in the same manner as St. Joseph had done.  »

THE VISION OF OUR LADY OF MOUNT CARMEL. «  This apparition also vanished, and I saw Our Lady once more, this time resembling Our Lady of Carmel.  » 27

Before going on with the account of the events, and the end of this wonderful day, which was so trying for the three seers, let us pause a moment to comment on this final message of Our Lady at the Cova da Iria.

III. THE MESSAGE  : A PRESSING APPEAL FOR CONVERSION

During each of Her last three apparitions, Our Lady had solemnly announced Her message of October  : «  In October, I will say who I am and what I want.  » 28

What does Our Lady want  ? If we can believe the first accounts given, those of the parish priest, Father Ferreira, on October 16, as well as that of Father Lacerda on the 19th, or the written account of 1922, the Mother of God without any introduction declared right away as Her most pressing request  :

«  MEN MUST NOT OFFEND OUR LORD ANY MORE, FOR HE IS ALREADY TOO MUCH OFFENDED  !  »

Such is in effect the most express desire of the Blessed Virgin, the one which made the most impression on the three seers. 29 Let us heed Sister Lucy  :

«  Of all the words spoken at this apparition the words most deeply engraved upon my heart are those of the request made by our Heavenly Mother  : “ Do not offend Our Lord and God any more, for He is already so much offended. ”

«  How loving a complaint, how tender a request  ! Who will grant me to make it echo through the whole world, so that all the children of Our Mother in Heaven may hear the sound of Her voice  !  » 30

Lucy wrote these lines in 1937. Did she still remember the enthusiasm with which she proclaimed them right after the apparition  ? The fact was so remarkable, so obviously supernatural that several of the witnesses were visibly impressed  :

«  When the sun was back to normal, relates Mr. Carlos Mendes (this young lawyer we have already spoken of), I took Lucy in my arms to lead her to the road. Thus my shoulders were the first platform from which she would preach the message Our Lady had confided to her.

«  With great enthusiasm and great faith she shouted  : “ Do penance  ! Do penance  ! Our Lady wants you to do penance  ! If you do penance, the war will end… ” (In Portuguese, to do penance is equivalent to “ being converted, returning to God, fleeing sin ”, and not “ performing mortifications ”.) She appeared inspired. It was really impressive to hear her. Her voice had intonations like the voice of a great prophet (and Mr. Mendes is very insistent on this impression of the supernatural in the words and attitude of Lucy at this moment).

«  Once we emerged from the great crowd, I sent the child back to her family.  » 31

In the great light of grace, the little seer had well understood. The message of Fatima is first of all «  the complaint full of love  », the «  tender supplication  » that «  our Heavenly Mother  » addresses to us, with sorrow  : «  Do not offend the Lord our God any more, for He is already too much offended  !  » It is the call to conversion, the call of John the Baptist, repeated by Jesus Himself  : «  If you do not do penance, you will all perish  » 32 – the insistent echo of which is also found in the Apocalypse  : «  Those whom I love, I reprove and chasten  ; so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock  ; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with Me.  » (Apoc. 3  : 19)

Sister Lucy has often repeated that the principal mission that God confided to her was to proclaim unceasingly this vibrant appeal of Our Lady to conversion  : «  I consider then  », she wrote in 1941, «  that God willed only to make use of me to remind the world that it is necessary to avoid sin, and to make reparation to an offended God, by prayer and penance.  » 33

The second request of the Blessed Virgin is also very important and practical  ; moreover, it is inseparable from the first, as the means is inseparable from the end that it alone can procure.

«  RECITE THE ROSARY EVERY DAY  !  »

Sister Lucy takes pleasure in stressing this point  : in each of Her six apparitions, “ our Heavenly Mother ” made sure to repeat Her request, always in the same terms, with the same insistence  : «  Recite the Rosary every day  !  » This shows how much this beautiful prayer, so traditional in the Church, is supremely pleasing to Her motherly heart.

Far from being a completely secondary and optional devotion, the Virgin of Fatima came to reveal to us that the Rosary is the most ordinary condition to infallibly obtain all the graces that we ask of Her. Yes, She is the Mediatrix of all graces, by the good pleasure of Her Son. But this outpouring of favours which She holds in Her Heart, She can only release on each of our souls, our families, our countries and the world, in response to the humble and suppliant imploring of innumerable Rosaries. If, just as at Lourdes, She willed to appear at the Cova da Iria holding in Her hand this blessed instrument, guide of our prayers, it was to show us that it is the surest means, because it is the easiest and the humblest, of winning Her Heart and obtaining Her graces. Such is indeed the message of Fatima, which on this point is only repeating and developing that of Lourdes, but with even more vigour.

We recall that on May 13, Lucy asked the apparition  : «  And will Francisco go to Heaven  ?  » And Our Lady answered by laying down Her condition  : «  Yes, he will go, but he will have to say many Rosaries  !  » On July 13, on the subject of John, the crippled son of Maria Carreira, the Blessed Virgin expressed the same requirement, as a condition for Her favour  : «  … But he must recite the Rosary every day with his family, and he will be able to make a living.  » In this conversation alone, Our Lady spoke at least three times of the Rosary. «  I made some requests that I don’t remember  », recalls Sister Lucy. «  What I do remember is that Our Lady said that they must recite the Rosary to obtain these graces during the year.  »

In 1970, Sister Lucy wrote several admirable letters to exhort the faithful to the practice of the daily Rosary. They are rich in doctrine and precise recommendations for meditating fruitfully on the mysteries of the Rosary. Let us recall here only one phrase  : «  The Rosary is, for the great part of souls who are living in the world, as it were their daily spiritual bread.  » To deprive them of it, inciting them to neglect or ignore this prayer, is to snatch from their mouth the bread of grace. 34

THE LOVE OF A FIRM AND PRUDENT MOTHER

“ ALL THE MISERIES OF POOR HUMANITY. ” Since June 13, when sixty of the faithful came to attend the apparition, until this day of October 13, when there were perhaps sixty thousand – a little more or less, we are not sure – Lucy arrived at the feet of the Most Holy Virgin entrusted with an impressive list of requests  : On this last day, she relates, «  there were so many of them, so many  ! I was anxious to remember the innumerable graces that I had to ask of Our Lady…  » 35

AN EXTRAORDINARY FIRMNESS. What strikes us at the outset, if we consider the replies of Our Lady to all these requests, is their tone of extraordinary firmness. In all these responses, there is not an ounce of sentimentalism.

Our Lady here speaks the language of a mother who knows her children and what their true good is, while they themselves, poor and blind as they are, very often delude themselves, mostly desiring what would contribute to their ruin  : material favours, the suppression of all crosses, and in short, the immediate satisfaction of all their desires.

On June 13  : «  I asked for the healing of a sick person  », Lucy recalls. «  If he is converted, he will be healed during the year.  » On July 13  : Maria Carreira, this exemplary Christian, animated by such a great love for the Most Holy Virgin, asked for the healing of John, her crippled son. «  He will not be healed and he will remain poor. But he must recite the Rosary every day with his family and he will be able to make a living.  » And so John Carreira kept his infirmities, but he nevertheless became sacristan of the “ Capelinha ”, and thus spent the whole of his long life in the shadow of Our Lady’s sanctuary. Rather than healing him, Our Lady had chosen for him a life full of suffering, prayer and service.

On August 19  : «  I would like to ask You for the healing of some sick people.  » «  Yes, I will heal some of them during the year.  » And on September 13  : «  I will heal some, but others, no, because Our Lord does not trust Himself to them.  » These words may seem harsh, but their tonality is so much in line with the Gospel  : «  Many believed in His name, seeing His signs which He did  ; but Jesus did not trust Himself unto them, for that He knew all men, and because He needed not that any should give testimony of man  ; for He knew what was in man.  » (Jn. 2  : 23-25) No, Our Lady of Fatima does not have “ confidence in men ” any more than Her Divine Son  ! And if She said, «  Our Lord does not trust Himself to them  », of those who prayed to Her with their lips, but whose heart was far from Her, what would She say, a fortiori, of Her declared enemies who glory in their impiety  ?

“ THEY MUST AMEND THEIR LIVES… ” Finally, on October 13, Our Lady made the same response, full of sadness. Certainly, sickness is an evil, but She insists so that we finally understand  : sin is a much greater evil of a completely different order, since it leads souls to eternal ruin  ! And just as Jesus said to the sick people that He healed, «  Go, and sin no more  », His Mother wishes us to be much more concerned with eternal salvation than the mere healing of the body  : «  I have many things to ask You  : to heal some sick people and to convert some sinners, etc.  » «  Some, yes  ; others, no. They must amend their lives and ask pardon of their sins.  » And taking on a sadder expression  : «  They must no longer offend God, Our Lord, for He is already too much offended  !  »

“ TO OBTAIN THESE GRACES DURING THE YEAR. ” Our Lady also wishes to recall to our minds another lesson of the Gospel, which is as important as it is little known. To obtain a grace, it is not enough to ask for it once in passing… We must desire it ardently and ask for it insistently, with confidence, without ever giving up. This is undoubtedly why the Blessed Virgin, responding to the requests Lucy had made to Her, promised to hear them, but not immediately. On June 13 She said, regarding a sick person  : «  If he is converted, he will be healed during the year.  » She said the same thing on July 13  : it is necessary to recite the Rosary every day «  to obtain these graces during the year.  » Finally, on September 13, regarding a little deaf mute Lucy was interceding for  : «  In a year from now, she will be better.  » And on October 13, Our Lady responded to all the requests of Lucy by saying that «  She would grant certain graces during the year.  » 36 What an eloquent lesson to encourage us to pray with greater perseverance  !

“ I WILL SAY WHAT I WANT. ” To cease offending God, to amend our lives, to be converted, to faithfully recite the Rosary every day and ask Her with perseverance for the graces we need, and first of all the grace of our conversion – this is what Our Lady asks of us, as She reminded us for the last time on this October 13. But She had made another promise  : «  I will say who I am.  »

«  I AM OUR LADY OF THE ROSARY  »

Just as at Lourdes, although Her confidants had of course recognized Her right away, She did not wish to reveal Her name at once. Why this delay, why this mystery, if not to draw our attention still more to a name which, as is always the case in the Bible, is the concrete expression and effective evocation of the very mystery of the person  ? At Massabielle, Our Lady had not revealed Her name until March 25, at the sixteenth apparition  : «  I am the Immaculate Conception.  » And, observed Bernadette, «  these are the last words She spoke to me.  » 37 At Fatima as well, She did not reveal Her name until the last of Her appearances  : «  I am Our Lady of the Rosary.  » This name calls to mind a whole mystery which we shall explore little by little.

“ A CHAPEL IN MY HONOUR. ” For the first time, in one simple phrase, but in the most explicit and formal manner, She asked for the creation of a pilgrimage in the place where She had visited the earth  : 38 «  I want a chapel to be built here in My honour. I am Our Lady of the Rosary.  »

Let us admire the immense modesty of these words, which established the pilgrimage. Canon Formigao himself is astonished at them… On the evening of October 13, he asks Lucy  : «  Did Our Lady say She wanted many people to come, from everywhere  ?  » «  No, She didn’t order anyone to come here  », 39 is the answer. «  Go tell the priests to have a chapel built here  », the Immaculate had asked Bernadette on March 2, 1858. At Fatima it is the same request, marked by the same charming discretion, without there even being any mention of the clergy  : «  I want a chapel to be built here in My honour.  » And that is all  ! What modesty… but also what power  ! To draw the crowds to the place She had chosen, She has other means, much more divine and efficacious than grandiose, wordy appeals  : Her irresistible attractions, which in a few years would lead the whole good Portuguese people to Her feet, in spite of the opposition of the government and indifference of the priests, are the prodigies and graces that flow profusively from Her motherly hands, on all the pilgrims at the Cova da Iria.

Barely one year later, Her request will be fulfilled  ; but ever so modestly, and without the help of the parish priest  ! It was due purely to the initiative of a humble peasant, Maria Carreira. On August 6, 1918, construction was begun on a small commemorative chapel, the “ Capelinha ”, built on the very spot of the apparitions. Since that time, at Aljustrel, Maria Carreira was known by the charming and well merited nickname of “ Maria de Capelinha ”. And on May 13, 1928, the cornerstone of the great basilica of the Rosary was laid by the Archbishop of Evora.

THREE LIVING IMAGES OF THE MYSTERIES OF THE ROSARY. Undoubtedly, the title «  Our Lady of the Rosary  », chosen by the Virgin of Fatima, most clearly explains the astonishing multiform vision that the seers enjoyed while the crowd witnessed the great miracle of the sun. Do not the three successive visions that passed before their dazzled eyes remind us of the joyful, sorrowful, and glorious mysteries of our Rosary  ?

To illustrate the joyful mysteries, first appears the Holy Family  : St. Joseph and the Child Jesus blessing the world, and on the left, Our Lady, such as She appeared on the holm oak.

Then «  the light changed and suddenly the Virgin appeared as Our Lady of Sorrows. St. Joseph was replaced by Our Lord, who blessed the multitude.  » 40 On the evening of October 13, Lucy declared to Canon Formigao  : «  Our Lady appeared dressed like Our Lady of Sorrows, but without the sword in Her heart.  » 41 Our Lord appeared in His adulthood, dressed in red, no doubt to remind us of the purple mantle in which He was dressed in the praetorium, during the scene of the outrages and the crowning with thorns. 42

Finally, corresponding to the glorious mysteries, Lucy could see Our Lady of Mount Carmel. «  Why did you say that the Lady at one moment seemed to be dressed like Our Lady of Mount Carmel  ?  » Canon Formigao asked Lucy on the evening of October 13. «  Because She had something hanging from Her hand  », she answered. Thus She was holding the scapular in Her hand, just as She had held the Rosary in all Her previous apparitions. We will return later to this important detail.

OUR LADY OF THE ROSARY, QUEEN OF PEACE. If the title chosen by Our Lady of Fatima is reminiscent of the three sets of mysteries in Her life, the joyful, sorrowful and glorious mysteries, it also reminds us of Her powerful intervention in the life of the Church and defence of Christendom. Surely this is even the most specific character of this Marian title. Since the time of St. Dominic, since the time of St. Pius and the victory of Lepanto, on October 7, 1571, which was miraculously repeated in 1716 at the walls of Vienna, Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary is invoked as the rampart of Christendom under assault, the final recourse in the greatest perils. At Fatima, Our Lady came to reveal that She is the only dispensatrix of the gift of peace. We will see that this is even one of the essential points of Her great secret.

Our Lady wills that we obtain this peace, which She alone can grant, through the Rosary. On May 13, She said to the shepherds  : «  Recite the Rosary every day to obtain peace for the world, and the end of the war.  » On July 13  : «  Continue to recite the Rosary every day in honour of Our Lady of the Rosary, to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war, because She alone can help you.  » Again on September 13  : «  Continue to recite the Rosary to obtain the end of the war.  » Finally on October 13, Our Lady once again associates the obtaining of peace with the recitation of the Rosary, as one of its essential conditions. «  Continue to recite the Rosary every day. The war will end and the soldiers will return home soon.  »

Here is an important lesson that we must remember  : Heaven cannot grant true peace to the impious nations in revolt against it, to a proud world which refuses to implore Mary, the universal Mediatrix of God’s graces. More concretely, the conversion of hearts and the daily recitation of the Rosary are essential conditions for peace, imposed by God in His just Mercy. This is the essence of the message of October 13 which Lucy recalled again in 1940, at the moment when the world was suffering the horrible chastisement of the Second World War  :

«  It would be good if we could inculcate in people at the same time as a great confidence in the Mercy of Our Good God and in the protection of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the necessity of prayer accompanied by sacrifices, especially those which are necessary to avoid sin.

«  This is the request of Our Good Mother in Heaven since 1917. This request came from Her Immaculate Heart with an inexpressible sadness and tenderness  : “  Do not offend the Lord our God any more, for He is already too much offended  !  ” What a pity that nobody has meditated on these words, and grasped their whole significance  !  » 43

October 1917 : The three seers, in the company of pilgrims

October 1917  : The three seers, in the company of pilgrims from Vila Nova de Ourem, under the porch built by the Carreira family to mark the location of the apparition.
«  Almost every day, people went to the Cova da Iria to implore the protection of our heavenly Mother. Everyone wanted to see the seers, to put questions to them, and to recite the Rosary with them.
«  At times, I was so tired of saying the same thing over and over again, and also of praying, that I looked for any pretext for excusing myself and making my escape. But those poor people were so insistent, that I had to make an effort, and indeed no small effort, in order to satisfy them. I then repeated my usual prayer deep down in my heart  : “ O my God, it is for love of You, in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary, for the conversion of sinners, and for the Holy Father ”.  » (II, p. 82-83).

APPENDIX I
THE MULTIFORM VISION

On the evening of October 13, Canon Formigao wished to interrogate the three seers separately. He managed to do so, once he was able to drag them away from the crowds of curious people, not without difficulty.

One episode of this interrogation, concerning the threefold vision in the sky enjoyed by the seers during the dance of the sun, deserves to be quoted.

«  “ All these apparitions came at the same time, did they not  ? ” asked the Canon, setting a trap for Lucy.

«  From the beginning I had had a presentiment that the apparitions were true, he recounts. Thus I confess that I was almost trembling when I asked this question, and that I had to make an effort to state my question in an affirmative tone. Although it would not have been, strictly speaking, impossible for the children to have had a simultaneous vision of the three Images of the Blessed Virgin, it would clearly have created a serious difficulty.

«  “ No ”, Lucy answered. “ First I saw Our Lady of the Rosary, then St. Joseph and the Holy Child. After that I saw Our Lord, then Our Lady of Sorrows, and at the end what I think was Our Lady of Mount j Carmel. ”  » 1

The threefold vision promised by Our Lady on August 19 and September 13 is thus firmly attested on the evening of the apparition. However, again according to the Formigao interrogations of October 13 and 19, although the majority of authors pass over this fact in silence, it seems that Jacinta and Francisco only saw the first phase of this heavenly apparition, that of the Holy Family. The last two were contemplated by Lucy alone. This difference would not be astonishing and would not surprise us, since we already know that Francisco did not hear the voice of Our Lady at any of Her apparitions, and that from June 13 to September 13, many pilgrims had not been able to see the striking signs observed by the others. 2

The adversaries of Fatima have not failed to stress – no doubt to divert attention from their total disarray when faced with the unquestionable fact of the miracle of the sun – that the descriptions of the vision seen by the three children present numerous variations, and even several doubts or contradictions on details. Thus in the vision of the Holy Family, according to Lucy, the Child Jesus was «  in the arms of St. Joseph  », while according to Jacinta and Francisco He was «  standing next to him  ». But in such a case the contradiction can only be apparent, and can only come from the misunderstanding of such and such an expression of the interrogator, or an inability of the children to explain themselves with precision.

If the Child Jesus was next to St. Joseph, but was nevertheless «  supported by him  », we understand why Lucy could answer that He was «  in his arms  », and Jacinta could say on the contrary that He was «  standing next to him  », to signify that He was not «  around his neck  », like a child in the bosom of his mother. 3 Moreover Jacinta herself, although she says that the Child Jesus was standing, declared that she did not see St. Joseph’s right arm. 4

We may hope that the great critical study of Father Alonso, in confronting all the sources and also using the replies of Lucy to new, more precise interrogations, will unquestionably permit us to clarify the majority of difficulties of this kind.

Let us also point out that the rapid succession of these living images which replaced each other, one after the other, in the dazzling light, partly explains the difficulty Lucy experienced in making a firm and precise description. Let us not forget, after all, that she was only ten  ! Even with her usual good memory, the means of expression of a child of that age, who was still illiterate, were limited. The three seers were also in a state of extreme fatigue, both on the evening of October 13 and during the whole following week, which diminished the usual firmness and precision of their replies. We will return to this point in the context of another difficulty raised by their statements.

APPENDIX II
THE PROMISE OF PEACE ON OCTOBER 13

I. «  THE WAR WILL END TODAY  »

On the evening of October 13, Father Formigao asked Lucy  : «  What did Our Lady say  ?  » «  She said the war will end today.  » 1

On October 16, to the parish priest of Fatima, Lucy declared again  : «  She said… the war will end today.  » 2 When Canon Formigao came back on October 19 to interrogate the seers, he did not obtain any new element which could shed light on this thorny question. On the contrary… «  Interrogation of Lucy  : “ On the 13th of this month, did Our Lady say the war would end  ? What are the words She used  ? ” “  This is what She said  : ‘The war will end today; the soldiers will be home soon.’ ” ” “ But the war is going on. The papers announced that there were battles after the 13th. How can that be explained, if Our Lady said that the war would end today  ? ” “ I don’t know. I only know that I heard that the war would end on the 13th. I don’t know anything else. ”  » 3

And on that day, the responses of Jacinta, which we will quote later on, were not any more satisfying… The interrogation of Father Lacerda, which was also on October 13, carries the same puzzling affirmation  : «  The war will end today  », which Jacinta repeated on November 2. 4

Such are the facts. According to Canon Martins dos Reis, they raise «  what is certainly the most difficult and serious objection in all the problems associated with Fatima.  » 5 How could Our Lady have said, «  the war will end today  », when the armistice would not be signed until November 11, 1918, thirteen months later  ?

An historian of Fatima believes he has a plausible explanation…

A SECRET DIPLOMATIC ACCORD IN OCTOBER 1917  ? Such might indeed be the first, the easiest, and the most satisfying solution, since in this eventuality there would be no error in the testimony of the seers. This is the thesis maintained by Canon S. Martins dos Reis  : 6 «  It is a well known fact in all wars that their conclusion is tacitly decided and fixed by the chancelleries before it is known officially. The formal cessation of a war always precedes and determines its material cessation. War can continue, even when peace has been declared or decided upon…  »

And our author concludes  : «  Since it has not been shown with certainty that on October 13, 1917, there was no decision or determinant fact in favour of peace in the chancelleries or military high commands… one cannot invoke the material reality of the continuation of the war against the veracity of the seer and the apparition.  » 7

This explanation would indeed be the simplest… But is it not in fact too easy  ? Not without reason has this argument been turned around against its author  : As long as this supposed secret accord has not been discovered, its purely theoretical possibility does not explain the disconcerting declaration of the seers  : «  The war will end today.  » Moreover, is it not logical to believe that if an agreement of such decisive importance had taken place that day, it would have been known for a long time  ? More than seventy years have passed since the events, and the author does not supply any concrete decisive fact in favour of his hypothesis.

So the difficulty remains… To clear it up, it is better to leave this hypothesis aside and advance step by step, using more certain data. First of all let us examine the other version of the words of Our Lady, which is quoted by Sister Lucy in her Memoirs.

II. «  THE WAR WILL END  »

«  The war will end and the soldiers will return home soon.  » This is the formula retained by Lucy as the most certain  ; nor can she be accused of inventing it later on to tidy up the affair. It is just as well attested as the other expression  : «  the war will end today  ».

Many direct witnesses who interrogated Lucy on the afternoon of the 13th report this version. Thus for example Joaquin dos Reis  : «  The war will end soon  ». The baron of Alvaiazere, responding to an inquiry, wrote on December 30, 1917  : «  Lucy said to me (on October 13) that the war would end soon.  » Several versions appearing in the press adopt the same formula  : The Diario de Noticias, in its article of October 15  : «  The Lady told them that peace would come soon, and that it would not be long before the soldiers returned.  » The Primeiro de Janeiro, on October 16  : The seer «  announced that the end of the war and the return of the soldiers was near, which filled the multitude with joy.  » 8

As for Lucy, she remembers very well having announced  : «  The war will end.  » 9 And her testimony is corroborated by that of Dr. Carlos Mendez, who carried her in his arms to the road. He reports her as saying  : «  Our Lady wants you to do penance. If you do penance, the war will end  !  » 10 Avelina de Almeida, who was present at this scene, also reports her words in this way in his article in O Seculo of October 15  : «  Lucy, with theatrical gestures (sic), on the shoulders of a man who carries her from group to group, announces that the war will end and our soldiers will return home.  » 11

We have then for this version a whole series of certain testimonies, confirmed by other affirmations of Our Lady, from previous apparitions, which are exactly identical. We know that in the great secret of July 13, Our Lady had already announced  : «  The war will end  », and on September 13 she had repeated the same prophecy. «  The war is to end  », says the report of the pastor, Father Ferreira, dated September 15.

THE PROPHECY FULFILLED. This announcement of the approaching end of the war was verified by the events, first for Portugal and then for the other belligerents.

Even if, as in the majority of biblical prophecies, the diverse plans are not clearly distinguished, a whole part of the message of Fatima concerns first of all the “ land of Holy Mary ”. In 1916 it was first for their own nation that the “ Angel of Portugal ” had invited the three shepherds to sacrifice themselves  : «  In this way you will draw down peace on your homeland.  » The definite reference of Our Lady to the approaching return of the soldiers («  Soon the soldiers will go home  ») shows that Her words, «  the war will end  », concerned first of all Portugal and its expeditionary corps.

We will show at length in Volume II that it was effectively in the autumn of 1917, and even precisely in the municipal elections of October 14, that the political turnaround which would determine the future of the nation began. Portugal had been involved in the war since March 9, 1916, and the 40, 000 men sent to the French front had begun fighting in the spring of 1917. Yet, after the coup d’État of Sidonio Pais on December 8, 1917, the Portuguese participation in the war would be ended earlier than expected. Indeed in April 1918, the new government decided to recall its expeditionary corps and only a contingent of volunteers continued the war on the French front.

More generally speaking, in spite of the entrance of the United States into the conflict, which rendered the final victory of the Allies certain, the bitterness and uncertainty of the battles of 1918 showed that in October 1917, the date of the end of the war remained completely uncertain. A collapse of the French front before one of the terrible German offensives of 1918 could have notably prolonged the duration of the hostilities. This means that even as far as the world war is concerned, the words of Our Lady, «  the war shall end soon  », retain all their prophetic value. We shall return to this point later on.

III. LUCY’S ERROR

The other words that the seers attributed to Our Lady on the evening of October 13 remain to be explained. Even before looking to determine the precise phrase pronounced by the apparition, we can definitely affirm that Lucy and Jacinta certainly misunderstood Her words in believing that the battles would cease that very day. Sister Lucy herself recognized it quite simply. However, the explanations she gives us are very valuable for understanding the psychological reasons as well as the limits of her error.

DURING THE APPARITION. On May 18, 1941, in a letter to her confessor who had questioned her on this point, Sister Lucy explains  : «  On the subject of the war, I remember Our Lady expressing Herself in this way  : “ The war will end and the soldiers will come home soon. ”  » This is in fact the formula she retains in her Memoirs. «  But (she continues) what perhaps prevented me from giving my full attention at that moment was my concern to remember the requests I had been asked to present  ; at that precise moment I wished to remember them, and that is why I was slightly distracted. Then, anxious to make these requests, I almost interrupted what Our Lady was saying…  » 12

On July 8, 1924, she had already given this response before the commission of inquiry  : «  Preoccupied by all the requests which had been confided to me to present to Our Lady, I had not given my whole attention to Her words.  » 13 In her Fourth Memoir, in 1941, she writes again  : «  It was possibly because I was so anxious to remember the innumerable graces that I had to ask of Our Lady that I was mistaken when I understood that the war would end on that very 13th.  » 14

OCTOBER 13  : THE TERRIBLE TRIAL OF THE INTERROGATIONS. Along with this insufficient attention at the very moment of the apparition, we must also take into account another important psychological factor  : the extreme fatigue of the seers on October 13, as well as in following days.

Before the apparition we have already seen how Jacinta, frightened by this great crowd that pressed her from every side, began to cry. Right after the great miracle, the enthusiastic witnesses harried the seers again with innumerable questions. Avelino de Almeida, the editor of O Seculo, would write  : «  One of the little seers, Jacinta, is closer to passing out than dancing.  » The crowd of curious people was packed so tightly around the three seers that Lucy was deprived of her braids… without even being able to find the perpetrator of the larceny  ! 15

If we remember that all this commotion around them, this haranguing with questions had begun in the morning and had not stopped since then, without leaving them the slightest respite, we can easily understand why they were exhausted with fatigue in the evening. «  I spent the afternoon of that day with my cousins  », Lucy reports. «  We were like some curious creature that the multitudes wanted to see and observe. By night time I was really exhausted with so many questions and interrogations.  » 16

RUMOURS OF THE END OF THE WAR. And during this afternoon of October 13, Lucy was probably influenced by the ideas of some overenthusiastic pilgrims who imagined that the miracle of the sun would be accompanied by the immediate end of the war.

In effect, since Our Lady in Her messages had often requested prayers to end the war, many journalists, going beyond the exact sense of Her words, dared to present the cessation of combat on October 13 as a prophecy of the apparition.

Thus for example in O Mundo of August 19, José do Vale affirmed that the Vision had promised to return on October 13 to «  end the war  ». A proof that this idea was widely believed among the crowd is that Avelino de Almeida alludes to it in his article in O Seculo, published the very morning of October 13  : «  Some pious people cherish the hope that the Virgin Mary will tell them something about the end of the war, and even, in Her goodness, go so far as to tell them when a peace treaty will be concluded.  » 17 Another revealing detail about this state of mind  : at the Cova da Iria on October 13, images of the Virgin were being sold with the title  : “ Our Lady of Peace ”. 18

There is no question that in the enthusiasm of the great miracle observed by all, the seers were assailed with questions on the precise date of the end of the war. There is an additional proof in a recollection of Sister Lucy which she reports to her confessor in the letter already quoted  : «  I did not say “ the war is over ”  », she explains. «  I said  : “ the war will end ”, and when I was asked  : “ When  ? Today  ? ” to free myself from so many questions and without attaching great importance to it, or reflecting at all on what Our Lady had said, I answered, “ Yes, today. ”  » 19

This gives us a good insight into the psychological causes of Lucy’s error  : during the apparition, her attention was distracted by her concern for all the requests to be passed on  ; and right after, there were continuous questions on the date of the end of the war, suggesting the erroneous response of an immediate peace. Finally on the evening of October 13, in her extreme fatigue, Lucy was convinced Our Lady had announced that the war would end that very day.

«  Even in the evening the interrogations did not let up  », 20 she writes in her Memoirs. It was around seven o’clock in the evening when Canon Formigao arrived to interrogate the seers. Lucy had to respond to all his questions, and it was then perhaps that she pronounced for the first time the incomplete and therefore unfortunate phrase  : «  Our Lady said… that the war would end today.  » She no longer made any mention either of the condition («  they must convert  !  ») or the delay («  the war will end.  »). The investigator, who understood her response as an affirmation by Our Lady of an immediate and miraculous suspension of the fighting, was troubled by it… Perhaps this was the main reason why he decided to come back on the 19th for new interrogations, hoping no doubt to complete them under better conditions. Alas, this would not be the case  !

AFTER THE INTERROGATIONS OF OCTOBER 13-19. In the days following the apparition, Lucy had neither the time nor the necessary liberty of spirit to reflect on and clarify her recollections… «  Several persons who had not been able to interrogate me  », she writes, «  stayed until the following day to wait their turn. Some of them even tried to talk to me that night, but, overcome by weariness, I just dropped down and fell asleep on the floor…

«  On the following day, or rather, on the following days, the questioning continued. Almost every day, from then on, people went to the Cova da Iria to implore the protection of Our Lady. Everybody wanted to see the seers, to put questions to them, and to recite the Rosary with them.  » 21

Unfortunately, it was in these exceedingly unfavourable circumstances that the interrogations which have come down to us took place  : on October 16, that of the pastor Father Ferreira and on the 19th those of Father Lacerda and Canon Formigao. We must remember this context, and keep it in mind.

On October 17, «  a veritable demon in human form, the arsonist of the church of Alcanena, came to interrogate and threaten the children.  » When Father Formigao arrived at Aljustrel on October 19, around three in the afternoon, the seers were already in the middle of an interrogation by Father Lacerda, then military chaplain of the expeditionary corps in France, accompanied by the parish priest of Fatima and a priest of Leiria. At the end of his own interrogation which followed immediately after (poor children  !), Canon Formigao himself noticed the extreme physical and moral fatigue of the seers. He learned «  that Lucy, on the night of the 18-19th, had not returned to her house to sleep, but had remained in her uncle’s house, certainly because she had had to answer insidious and prolonged questions during the night.  »

With clear perception, he summed up the situation  : «  Lucy especially, because she was interrogated the longest, could not be more fatigued, and her state of exhaustion causes her to respond to the questions put to her without attention and the desirable reflection. She responds sometimes almost mechanically and she comes to the point that often she cannot well recall certain circumstances of the apparitions. This is contrary to what she did before October 13th.

«  Unless somebody is careful to spare the children the fatigue of too frequent and prolonged interrogations, their health runs the risk of being profoundly shaken. In truth, it would be prudent to remove the three shepherds of Aljustrel, and send them somewhere they are not known, if we do not want to see them disappear soon, especially since the parents do not have sufficient authority to prevent any visitor from interrogating them whenever he pleases.  » 22

This excessive fatigue and its consequences – the lack of desirable attention and reflection – do they sufficiently explain the stubbornness of Lucy in believing that Our Lady had announced the immediate end of the war  ? We may think so. Or was she possibly led into error by the very words of the apparition which she may have remembered, but simply misunderstood  ?

IV. PEACE ON A CONDITION

Indeed, it is not impossible that the Virgin Mary Herself pronounced the contentious phrase that Lucy and Jacinta attributed to Her so firmly. Yes, She might have said, «  The war will end today  », but in a context that would have made its precise meaning clear.

This is the solution proposed by one of the best historians of Fatima, Father Messias Dias Coelho, in his masterly work O que falta para a conversâo da Russia. 23 The Most Holy Virgin may have said  : «  Let men amend their lives and the war will end today.  » With the two prophecies linked to one another in this way, the words of Our Lady would not be a prophecy of a sudden and miraculous end of the hostilities, but a conditional promise to grant peace when men conform to Her desires.

We could then perfectly understand where Lucy’s error lay  : she literally reported the words pronounced by Our Lady, but separating the two propositions which were linked  : «  Let men amend their lives and the war will end today  », entirely transforming the character of the second proposition, removing its conditional character. 24 A twofold series of solid arguments can be advanced in favour of this solution.

THE STATEMENTS OF THE SEERS. Lucy herself, immediately after the apparition, seems to have repeated the words of Our Lady in their conditional form. Doctor Carlos Mendes reports that, while he carried her in his arms towards the road, she shouted  : «  Do penance  ! Do penance  ! Our Lady wants you to do penance  ! If you do penance, the war will end  !  » 25 But very quickly, under the influence of fatigue and incessant questions, Lucy forgot the link between these two propositions and when she was asked about the end of the war, she answered with the only phrase that mentioned war  : «  the war will end  », or «  the war will end today  ».

But we have a proof that Jacinta retained a better recollection of the words of Our Lady and their conditional meaning. In her account of the apparitions written in 1922 Lucy writes  : «  Then I understood that Our Lady had said to me  : “ When I go back to Heaven, the war will end today. ” But my cousin Jacinta said that this is what She had said  : “  If the people amend their lives, the war will end today. ” This is why I cannot affirm how She pronounced these words.  » 26 This important text, of which Father Messias Dias Coelho was unaware, confirms his hypothesis.

What is more, we find a trace of this divergence of interpretation between the two seers in the Formigao interrogation of October 19, 1917. The Canon asked Jacinta  : «  What did Our Lady say this last time  ?  » Jacinta answered  : «  I come here to tell you not to offend Our Lord any more, for He is already too much offended. If the people amend their lives, the war will end; if they do not amend their lives, the world will end.  » 27 Jacinta then had grasped the conditional meaning of the promise.

But the humble girl, who was used to trusting her older cousin, went on  : «  But Lucy heard what Our Lady said better than I did.  » What is important is this  : if, in the first three days following the apparition, Lucy and she had not even had time to consult each other, 28 they were surely able to do so before the 19th.

And then, after having given her own recollection, Jacinta repeats word for word the interpretation of Lucy  : «  “ Did She say that the war would end that very day, or that it would end soon  ? ” “ Our Lady said that the war would end when She arrived in Heaven. ” “ But the war has not ended. ” “ But it will end, it will. ”  »

Note that these two replies only repeat those of Lucy. And when the Canon insists  : «  When will it end  ?  » Jacinta, obviously bewildered, answers  : «  I think it will end on Sunday.  » 29 We must observe however that she does not attribute this childish expression to the apparition. Her replies in which she blindly follows Lucy’s interpretation – whom she thought had surely better understood  ! – must not make us forget her original testimony, which in this case turned out to be more precise than her cousin’s  : «  If the people amend their lives, the war will end.  »

THE GENERAL CONTEXT OF THE MESSAGE. In addition to Jacinta’s testimony we can put forward in favour of the conditional version («  Let men amend their lives and the war will end today  ») another weighty argument which is practically decisive – the consideration of the general context of the message.

Indeed an expression pronounced by the Blessed Virgin on May 13 sheds much light on Her requests of October 13. Already Lucy had asked Her then  : «  Can You tell me if the war will go on long, or will it end soon  ?  » And Our Lady answered  : «  I cannot tell you yet, because I have not yet told you what I want.  » 30 From the beginning, then, Our Lady had announced that obtaining peace would depend on whether men obeyed Her requests. She had also made clear that only on October 13 would She solemnly express Her desires  : «  In October, I will tell you who I am and what I want.  » Thus it becomes clearer how Her final message corresponds to this twofold announcement.

On October 13, Our Lady of the Rosary in effect solemnly redoubled all Her requests. We have every reason to believe that She proposed them as necessary preliminaries for peace. To the question that was then on everybody’s lips, «  When will the war end  ? Today  ?  » the Blessed Virgin responds  : “ Men must do «  what I want  », they must be converted and say the Rosary, and then «  the war will end, even today.  » Mercifully, the chastisement will not last one day longer than the refusal of men to conform to My requests. ” This is undoubtedly the most probable meaning of the words pronounced by Our Lady, at least to the extent they can be reconstructed using the oldest testimonies of the seers and later declarations of Sister Lucy, as well as in the light of the general context of the message.

FROM THE PROMISE OF OCTOBER 13… TO THE GREAT SECRET. This promise of peace in response to the accomplishment of Her requests is found in the great secret of July 13  : «  If men do what I tell you… there will be peace.  » Far from being banal or utopian because the conditions could not be fulfilled, we will soon see the unprecedented and eschatological character of this offer of peace made to the world. This means that as of this day the divine decision had been declared  : God in His mercy would expect nothing more than the fulfilment of the few requests in honour of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, to immediately (and miraculously) grant the gift of peace to humanity  : «  The war will end today  » or as Lucy said  : «  I understood that Our Lady had said  : “ When I arrive in Heaven, the war will end today. ”  » «  … and a certain period of peace will be granted to the world.  » These are the last words of the Secret.

CONCLUSION ON THE ERROR OF THE THREE SEERS. With great probability we can believe that  :

  1. They forgot the exact order of the words of Our Lady.
  2. Lucy did not grasp the link between the promise of peace and the requests for conversion, which in effect were preliminary conditions for peace. 31
  3. Given their extreme fatigue and the questions that suggested to them an erroneous response, on the evening of October 13, Lucy believed in the imminent end of the war.

All these errors can easily be understood when we consider that the children were exhausted with fatigue, and in a sense they even prove the veracity of their witness  : their stubbornness in reporting such baffling words clearly shows – yet another proof  ! – that nobody was dictating the message to them, but, on the contrary they had it from Our Lady and Her alone  ! Now after having manifested Her power by the prodigious “ dance of the sun ”, She allowed Her messengers to make this error in the transmission of Her message. For that matter, do we not find analogous difficulties in the Gospel accounts of the resurrection of Our Lord  ?

As Pascal said regarding the difficulties of the Gospel  : «  All the most apparent weaknesses are in reality strengths.  » 32


Endnotes

(1) Account of Maria Madalena de Martel Patricio, which appeared in O Dia of October 19, 1917. Quoted by De Marchi, p. 130.

(2) Maria Carreira lived at Moita, a neighbouring village.

(3) Quoted by De Marchi, p. 132.

(4) P. 133.

(5) IV, p. 172.

(6) II, p. 82.

(7) De Marchi, p. 134. Lucy relates, in her Memoirs, that she does not remember putting on these dresses  : «  I seem to recall that a lady did indeed appear and she wished to dress us up like that, but we refused.  » (Memoirs, p. 182.) In any case, there still exists a photograph of a soldier carrying Jacinta in his arms right after the apparitions, where she does indeed have a crown of flowers.

(8) IV, p. 172.

(9) Quoted by De Marchi, p. 134.

(10) II, p. 82.

(11) IV, p. 172.

(12) Testimony of Dr. Almeida Garrett, professor at the University of Coimbra. Quoted by Barthas, Fatima 1917-1968, p. 344.

(13) O Seculo, article of October 15, 1917. Quoted by Barthas, Fatima, Unprecedented Miracle, p. 296.

(14) Indeed, to be in the same time zone as the belligerents, the Portuguese governments had imposed a legal time 90 minutes ahead of the solar time.

(15) De Marchi, p. 133.

(16) Statement of Maria Rosa Pereira to the parish priest of Fatima on November 13, 1918. Quoted by Barthas, Fatima 1917-1968, p. 128.

(17) Quoted by Dom Jean-Nesmy, p. 101.

(18) We follow the account given in the Fourth Memoir (p. 172-173), which for that matter corresponds quite closely with Father Ferreira’s report, although the words of Our Lady are not given in the same order.

(19) II, p. 82.

(20) Father Ferreira’s report. See Documentos, p. 501.

(21) Ferreira Report.

(22) De Marchi, (Orig.) p. 153. Maria Rosa declared the same thing herself during the canonical investigation.

(23) IV, p. 173.

(24) De Marchi, p. 135-136.

(25) De Marchi, p. 136.

(26) The Truth About Fatima, p. 111-112.

(27) IV, p. 173.

(28) Message of July 13..

(29) The priority given to this request in all the other versions of the message at least proves its primordial importance. However, it is uncertain whether it conforms to the real order of the dialogue, for the order proposed in the Fourth Memoir seems more logical.

(30) II, p. 82.

(31) On the evening of the 13th, Lucy explained to Canon Formigao that Our Lady did not use the word “ penance ”  : “ Did she say that the people were to do penance  ? ” “ Yes. ” “ Did she use the word penance  ? ” “ No. She said we were to say the Rosary and amend our lives and ask pardon of Our Lord, but She did not use the word penance. ” (De Marchi, p. 144.) Quoted by Barthas, Fatima, Great Miracle of the Twentieth Century, p. 324.

(32) Lk. 13  : 3.

(33) III, p. 115.

(34) Letter of April 12, 1970, published by S. Martins dos Reis, Uma Vida, p. 372. When, at the conclusion, we will make a synthetic commentary on all the requests of Our Lady, we will quote these important letters at length  : they combine mysticism and the deepest theological insights with numerous polemical points against the “ wave of diabolical folly ” sweeping over the world and even invading the Church.

(35) IV, p. 173.

(36) Letter of Sister Lucy to Father Gonçalves, May 18, 1941. Memorias e Cartas, p. 443.

(37) The last two apparitions of April 7 and July 16 were silent.

(38) On September 13, she simply agreed to the request of Maria Carreira, whose request was simply an anticipation of the will of the Blessed Virgin. Thus when Canon Formigao interrogated her on September 27  : “ Where does Our Lady want the chapel built  ? In the Cova da Iria  ? ” Lucy could only answer  : “ I don’t know, She didn’t say. ” (De Marchi, p 120.)

(39) Quoted by De Marchi, p. 145.

(40) Account of Sister Lucy given to John Haffert in 1946. Quoted by Barthas, Fatima 1917-1968, p. 135-136.

(41) De Marchi, p. 143.

(42) Jn. 19  : 2. See also Apoc. 19  : 13  : «  He is clad in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God.  »

The account of 1922 adds  : «  Our Lord appeared on the right of the sun, but we only saw the bust of His Head. On the other side was Our Lady of Sorrows, dressed in violet. They were surrounded by a light which seemed to blind us.  » S. Martins dos Reis, Uma Vida, p. 319.

(43) Letter to Father Gonçalves, August 18, 1940. Memorias e Cartas, p. 427.

Appendix I

(1) De Marchi, p. 143. Undoubtedly we have here an example of an error committed by the investigator, for according to other sources, Our Lord continued to appear at the same time as Our Lady of Sorrows.

(2) Does this disparity have a symbolic meaning  ? Does it evoke the different vocations of the three seers, as in the apparition of June 13  ? It is not impossible.

(3) A simple hypothesis  : the expression ao colo, which literally means «  around the neck of  », but more generally «  in the arms  », may have been behind the misunderstanding.

(4) See the account of the apparition which Sister Lucy gave to John Haffert in 1946, where she says that she saw «  Saint Joseph holding the Child Jesus in the light…  »

Appendix II

(1) Documentos, p. 508, 510.

(2) «  A guerra acaba ainda hoje.  » Documentos, p. 501.

(3) Documentos, p. 512.

(4) Documentos, p. 515.

(5) Sintese Critica, p. 75-76.

(6) In Na Orbita de Fatima, p. 159-182 (1958), and again in Sintese Critica, p. 75-76 (1968).

(7) Sintese Critica, p. 75-76.

(8) Cf. Barthas, Fatima 1917-1968, p. 138-139. In his interrogation of October 19, Canon Formigao echoes these initial statements of Lucy right after the apparition  : «  Some people declare that they heard you say that Our Lady had said the war would end shortly. Is that true  ? ” “ I said exactly what Our Lady had said. ” (De Marchi, p. 150.)

Canon Martins dos Reis himself recognizes that this version, «  the war will end  », is equally attested by written documents dating back to October 13 1917. Sintese Critica, p. 75.

(9) Memorias e Cartas, p. 445.

(10) Quoted by Barthas, Fatima, Great Miracle of the Twentieth Century, p. 324. As we will see, this last formula is no doubt the key to the understanding of the whole question. For if it is proven that Our Lady spoke in this manner, promising peace under a condition, it is no longer of any great importance whether she spoke in the present or future tense, or whether she said “ today ” or not, for then all the expressions would be equivalent. We will return to this point.

(11) Quoted by Barthas, Fatima 1917-1968, p. 138. The original text is in Fatima 50, October 1967, p. 14.

(12) A. M. Martins dos Reis, Memorias e Cartas, p. 443-444.

(13) Quoted by De Marchi, (Fr. Ed.), p. 221.

(14) IV, p. 173.

(15) IV, p. 182. «  What I do remember well about that particular day is that I arrived home without my plaits, which I wore down to my waist, and that my mother was most upset when she saw that I had even less hair than Francisco. Who stole my plaits  ? I don’t know. Amid the crush of such a multitude, there was no lack of scissors or thieving hands… Nothing is my own, so what of it  ? Everything belongs to God. May He dispose all as best pleases Him  !  »

(16) II, p. 82.

(17) Quoted by Barthas, Fatima, Unprecedented Miracle, p. 294.

(18) Cf. the article by Msgr. A. Borges, Fatima 50, October-November 1968.

(19) Letter of May 18, 1941 to Father Gonçalves, Memorias e Cartas, p. 443-445.

(20) II, p. 82.

(21) Ibid.

(22) De Marchi, p. 149-150. A simple reading over of the replies of Lucy to the interrogation of October 19 will show how well-founded the remarks of Canon Formigao were. Lucy hesitates in speaking not only about certain words of the apparition, but even about her own facts and gestures, which she no longer remembers. Here are two examples  : «  “ On the 13th did you tell the people to look at the sun  ? ” “ I don’t remember doing that. ” “ Did you tell them to shut their umbrellas  ? ” “ In the other months I did  ; I don’t remember about this last time. ”  » (De Marchi, p 150-151).

(23) P. 111 to 133 (Fundao, 1959).

(24) Eventually Father Simonin and Dom Jean-Nesmy (p. 229) rallied to this solution, which is as simple as it is judicious.

(25) Quoted by Barthas, Fatima, Great Miracle of the Twentieth Century, p. 324.

(26) S. Martins dos Reis, Uma Vida, p. 317.

(27) This last phrase should not mislead us. Undoubtedly it is the echo of the great secret announcing terrible chastisements on humanity if it is not converted  : “ Several nations will be annihilated. ” Although the expression is clumsy, it supplies one more proof that the eschatological character of the secret was not invented twenty years later by Sister Lucy.

(28) «  During these three days, there were so many people who wanted to speak to us, waiting their turn from one day to the next, that Jacinta spoke to some and I to others, both of us at our own house.  » (Letter of May 8, 1941, to Father Gonçalves. Memorias e Cartas, p. 443-444.)

(29) Quoted by De Marchi, p. 154.

(30) Ferreira Report.

(31) It is sufficient to add the conjunction AND to the response Sister Lucy made to Canon Formigao on the evening of October 13, for the formula to be perfect and remove all difficulties  : «  Our Lady said we were to amend our lives and not offend Our Lord any more because He was too much offended already, and that we were to pray the Rosary and ask pardon for our sins [AND in this case), that the war would end today, and that we could expect our soldiers home shortly.  » De Marchi, p. 144.

(32) Pensées, Br. 578.

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