On May 13th, 1917, hope for the heavily Catholic country of Portugal, held under Freemason authority, made herself known with a flash of lightning. Our Lady appeared to three shepherd children in the field of Cova da Iria outside of Fatima – Lúcia, Jacinta, and Francisco. She said, firstly, that they would be rewarded in Heaven for their earthly sufferings; secondly, she requested that they pray the Rosary daily for world peace; and thirdly, Our Lady wished to meet the children in the field on the thirteenth of each month for six months.
Lúcia, Jacinta and Francisco obeyed and, as news of apparitions and rumored miracles began to circulate, gathered a following of hopeful Catholics and wary Freemason authorities. Mary’s messages consistently asked for fervent prayer for worldwide peace, for the end to World War I, for the conversion of sinners and the conversion of Russia, who would “spread her errors throughout the world, raising wars and persecutions of the Church”. In a single summer, the children received a vision of hell, predictions of their own returns to Heaven, and a prediction that their prayers for the end of World War I would be answered – but there would be more wars to come.
The Freemasons had had enough by August; the mayor of Fatima imprisoned the visionaries on August 13th in the hopes that it would stop their rendezvous with Our Lady. But she simply appeared six days later with another request: “Pray, pray very much and make sacrifices for sinners. For many souls go to Hell because there is no one to pray for them.”
As the apparitions continued, Freemasonry’s hold started to crumble; bold faith began to permeate the citizens of Portugal, and thousands upon thousands flocked to Fatima to join the children as Our Lady spoke to them.
Seventy thousand pilgrims met a cold, rainy October 13th with songs to the Blessed Mother as they awaited her appearance. The skies cleared at noon as Our Lady revealed herself by another name: Our Lady of the Rosary. She re-emphasized her call to prayer, and then the sun spun three times. Each rotation lasted almost four minutes and bathed the crowd in a rainbow of colors; the sun zigzagged across the sky, descended to the crowd, and miraculously returned to the clouds as if nothing happened. Every pilgrim left with dry clothes.
That “unexplained phenomenon” (as many secular papers wrote) was the last spark for the rekindling of the powerful Catholic presence in Portugal. Within weeks, bishops returned from exile, military chaplaincy was reinstated, and relations with the Vatican resumed. A Catholic statesman was elected just nine years after the concluding apparition, Freemasonry fell out of favor, and Portugal settled into profound peace after a decade of conflict.
Since then, over four million pilgrims visit Fatima annually to pray for peace in our world and their own lives. Four popes have visited the site – one with Sister Lúcia herself – and three have consecrated the world to Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart, the most recent having been March 25th, 2022. With her timeless message of future hope, Our Lady reminds us that, no matter what may happen in our lives, “my Immaculate Heart will triumph”.
Our Lady is celebrated under many names, from popular apparitions to small-town titles. Each reveal something different about the Blessed Mother to us – and affirms what we already know of her love and intercessory power! Deepen your devotion to Our Lady with Miracles, Mysteries, & Mary, a monthly collection of stories, Church teaching, reflections, and so much more – guaranteed to expand your knowledge of Our Blessed Mother. Sign up today to receive this Marian content, right to your inbox, and check out our archive page to catch up on our year of Our Lady!