After the June 13 apparition, Maria Carreira paid more attention to the Cova da Iria:
“I began to clean up a bit round the tree, and make a little clearing. I took away the gorse and prickles and cut paths with a pruning saw. I took away some of the stones and hung a silk ribbon on one of the branches of the tree. It was I who put the first flowers there.”1
With her husband’s help Maria erected a monument: two squared off tree trunks attached to the ground, with another beam laid horizontally atop them. A cross was mounted on the horizontal beam, and two lanterns were suspended, which Maria kept lit. Finally, she built a short stone wall around the holm oak tree, with an opening that could be closed by a wooden gate.
Maria was an exception. Most people simply didn’t believe the Virgin Mary was visiting the Cova da Iria. The topic had entertainment value, however, and mockery of the children became commonplace. Maria Rosa joined in, complaining to her neighbors that Lucia “was nothing but a fake who is leading half the world astray.“2 Each apparition made Lucia’s mother more incensed. On the afternoon of June 13 she declared to Lucia:
“Tomorrow we’re going to Mass, the first thing in the morning. Then you are going to the Reverend Father’s house. Just let him compel you to tell the truth, no matter how he does it; let him punish you; let him do whatever he likes with you, just so long as he forces you to admit that you have lied; and then I’ll be satisfied.”3
The next morning Maria Rosa and Lucia walked to Mass in stony silence. During Mass Lucia offered her distress to God. Afterwards they walked up the steps to the priest’s rectory. Maria Rosa spun around to face Lucia:
“Don’t annoy me anymore! Tell the Reverend Father now that you lied, so on Sunday he can say in the church that it was all a lie, and that will be the end of the whole affair. A nice business this is! All this crowd running to the Cova da Iria, just to pray in front of a holm oak bush!”4
Father Manuel Marques Ferreira was a large, broad shouldered man, but Lucia would have been frightened if he were a midget. “I was trembling at the thought of what was going to happen,” she said later. But Father Ferreira was calm and kind, and put Lucia at ease - until the end of the interview. Although he was satisfied with Lucia’s sincerity, he was dubious about the apparitions.
“It doesn’t seem to me like a revelation from Heaven,” he told Lucia and Maria Rosa. “It is usual in such cases for Our Lord to tell the souls to whom he makes such communications to give their confessors or parish priest an account of what has happened. But this child, on the contrary, keeps it to herself as far as she can. This may also be a deceit of the devil. We shall see. The future will show us what we are to think about it all.”5
The possibility that the beautiful Lady could be “a deceit of the devil” threw Lucia into a confusion that not even the reassurances of Francisco and Jacinta could dispel. “I lost all enthusiasm for making sacrifices and acts of mortification, and ended up hesitating as to whether it wouldn’t be better to say that I had been lying, and so put an end to the whole thing.”6
A nightmare turned her confusion into an agony.
“I saw the devil laughing at having deceived me, as he tried to drag me down to hell. On finding myself in his clutches, I began to scream so loudly and call on Our Lady for help that I awakened my mother…I was so paralysed with fear that I couldn’t sleep any more that night.
“This dream left my soul clouded over with real fear and anguish. My one relief was to go off by myself to some solitary place, there to weep to my heart’s content. Even the company of my cousins began to seem burdensome, and for that reason, I began to hide from them as well.”
“The 13th of July was close at hand, and I was still doubtful as to whether I should go. I thought to myself, ‘If it’s the devil, why should I go to see him? If they ask me why I‘m not going, I‘ll say I‘m afraid it might be the devil who is appearing to us, and for that reason I‘m not going. Let Francisco and Jacinta do as they like. I‘m not going back to the Cova da Iria anymore.’ My decision made, I was firmly resolved to act on it.”7
Far from Lucia’s mind was the beautiful Lady’s assurance: “Do not lose heart. My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge…” Gone was the light the Lady revealed in Lucia‘s heart revealing the immensity of God, and his plans for Lucia and her cousins. Lucia was equal parts fear and dread as July 13 grew closer, and there was no adult to calm her or soothe her fears. Quite the opposite. When Maria Rosa found Lucia hiding from her friends, she ridiculed her.
“A fine plaster saint you are, to be sure! All the time you have left from minding the sheep, you do nothing but play, and what’s more you have to do it in such a way that nobody can find you!”8
Her trial ended on the morning of July 13. Lucia suddenly felt a strong urge to go to the Cova. “Impelled by a strange force that I could hardly resist,” she went to see Francisco and Jacinta. They were kneeling beside a bed, crying. Lucia’s two cousins had gone through a separate ordeal. Although they had told Lucia they would go to the Cova without her, when it came down to it they were too afraid to go there all alone with Lucia, their leader. They had been up most of the night praying she would change her mind and take them to the Cova with her.
“Aren’t you going?” asked Lucia.
“Not without you,” they replied. “Do come.”
“Yes,” said Lucia. “I’m going.”
* * *
“What a crowd of people were there that day,“ remembered Ti Marto, the father of Francisco and Jacinta.1 He had believed his children from the first, but July 13 was the first time he went to the Cova.
Now he couldn’t see his children over the crush of people trampling the Cova. Many had their umbrellas open against the scorching sun. It was a blistering hot day. There hadn‘t been rain in days, and trees and plants withered. The air was dry and dusty and hard to breathe.
Working his way closer, Ti Marto saw two men trying to protect the children from the crowd. One of the men recognized him and called out: “Here is the father. Let him through.” Soon Ti Marto was next to Jacinta.
“Lucia, I could see a little way off,” Ti Marto said. “She was saying the Rosary and the people were responding aloud. When the beads were finished, she jumped up suddenly. ‘Close your umbrellas,” she called out. “Our Lady is coming. She was looking to the east, and I was too, but I could not see anything at first. But then I saw what looked like a little grayish cloud resting on the oak tree, and the sun‘s heat lessened and there was a delicious fresh breeze. It hardly seemed like the height of summer.”2
Lucia had a kerchief on her head, as if she was in church. Francisco and Jacinta knelt on either side of her, entranced by the sight of the beautiful Lady. After they had adored her in silence for some time, Jacinta shot a look at Lucia: “Come Lucia, speak! Don’t you see that she is there already and that she wants you to speak to her?”3
Now it was Lucia who was tongue tied. Here she was again, face to face with the beautiful Lady from heaven, whom Lucia had been convinced just a day ago was a deceit from the devil. Now the scales fell from her eyes, and Lucia was completely mortified and appalled with herself. She dare not say anything to the Lady after betraying her. Perhaps she strove to apologize, or perhaps the look in the Lady’s eyes told her all was forgiven. Whatever happened during that silence, Lucia would later say, “Thanks to our good Lord, this apparition dispelled the clouds from my soul and my peace was restored.“4
Finally Lucia said what she always said: “What does Your Excellency want from me?”
“I want you to come here on the 13th of next month,” the Lady replied, “to continue to pray the Rosary every day in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary, in order to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war, because only she can help you.”
Reassured by the beauty and heavenly presence of the Lady, Lucia once more felt grounded in reality. “I would like to ask you to tell us who your are, and to work a miracle so that everybody will believe that you are appearing to us.” Given the mockery and incredulity of family and friends, this was a heartfelt request.5
“Continue to come here every month,” the Lady answered. “In October I will tell you who I am and what I want, and I will perform a miracle for all to see and believe.”6
Lucia asked the Lady to heal Maria Carreira’s crippled son, John. The Lady replied that he would remain crippled, and live in poverty, and added a requirement that he pray the Rosary with his family every day.7 Lucia then inquired about a sick woman who wanted to be taken to heaven. The Lady answered, “Tell her not to be in a hurry. Tell her I know very well when I shall come to fetch her.”8
The Lady told Lucia “it was necessary for such people to pray the Rosary in order to obtain these graces during the year.” She continued:
“Sacrifice yourselves for sinners, and say many times, especially whenever you make some sacrifice: ‘O Jesus, it is for love of You, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”
“As Our Lady spoke these last words (Lucia said), she opened her hands once more, as she had done during the two previous months. The rays of light seemed to penetrate the earth, and we saw as it were a sea of fire. Plunged in this fire were demons and souls in human form, like transparent burning embers, all blackened or burnished bronze, floating about in the conflagration, now raised into the air by the flames that issued from within themselves together with great clouds of smoke, now falling back on every side like sparks in huge fires, without weight or equilibrium, amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear. The demons could be distinguished by their terrifying and repellent likeness to frightful and unknown animals, black and transparent like burning coals.”9
At this moment Ti Marto observed that “Lucia took a deep breath, went pale as death, and we heard her cry out in terror to Our Lady, calling her by name.”10
Lucy continued: “Terrified and as if to plead for succour, we looked up at Our Lady, who said to us, so kindly and so sadly:
‘You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. The war is going to end, but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the pontificate of Pius XI. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that he is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father.
‘To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays. If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated.
‘In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world. In Portugal, the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved; etc…’”11
(Sister Lucia’s account of the Third Secret is contained in her Third and Fourth Memoirs. The two accounts are identical - word for word - except for the addition of this last sentence in the Fourth Memoir: “In Portugal, the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved; etc…” This is regarded as the beginning of the third part of the Fatima Secret, and its most logical placement seems to be after the sentence ending with the words “various nations will be annihilated”, and before the paragraph beginning with “In the end My Immaculate Heart will triumph…”)
“Do not tell this to anybody,” the Lady told the children. Then, in answer to Lucia‘s question, she said, “Francisco, yes, you may tell him.” Then she taught them a prayer:
“When you pray the Rosary, say after each mystery: O my Jesus, forgive us and deliver us from the fire of hell. Take all souls to Heaven, especially those who are most in need.12
After a silence, Lucia asked: “Is there anything more that you want of me?” The Lady said: “No, I do not want anything more of you today.”13
“After Lucia interrogated the vision for the last time,” said Ti Marto, “we heard a large clap of thunder and the little arch that had been put up to hang the two lanterns on, trembled as if in an earthquake. Lucia, who was still kneeling, got up so quickly that her skirts ballooned around her, and pointing to the sky she cried out: ’There she goes! There she goes!’”14
Or as Lucia would put it later, “Our Lady began to ascend towards the east, until she finally disappeared in the immense distance of the firmament.”15
The apparition over, the heat returned with a stifling vengeance. With the departure of the Lady, human nature also returned with a vengeance. Only a few minutes earlier the large crowd had been silent, praying, weeping, and watching. Now the children were accosted with questions, requests, and demands. Ti Marto and another man carried Jacinta and Lucia away from what now seemed like a mob. The children were exhausted when they made it home.
1. TWTAF, Vol. I, op. cit., p. 178.
2. Second Memoir, p. 71.
3. The meeting was actually Father Ferreira’s idea. He suggested it to Maria Rosa on June 13, after the apparition. Second Memoir, p. 68.
4. Second Memoir, p. 68.
5. Ibid., pp. 68-69.
6. Ibid., p. 69.
7. Ibid., pp. 69-70.
8. Ibid., p. 70.
The estimates of the crowd ranged from 2,000 to 5,000.
2. De Marchi, op. cit., p. 73; TWTAF, Vol. I, op. cit., p. 184.
3. Barthas, op. cit., p. 29. This exchange was witnessed by Lucia’s sister, Teresa, who was at the Cova that day.
4. Second Memoir, p. 71.
5. At Lourdes, Bernadette Soubirous asked the Blessed Virgin to make a rosebush in the grotto bloom. Our Lady smiled. When Lucia requested a miracle, Our Lady promised one three months in advance. (TWTAF, Vol. I, p. 186.)
6. Fourth Memoir, p. 161.
7. John grew up to be the sacristan of the Chapel of the Apparitions in the Cova da Iria. (De Marchi, op. cit., p. 74, fn 1)
8. De Marchi, op. cit., p. 75.
9. Fourth Memoir, p. 162.
10. TWTAF, Vol. I, p. 190.
11. Fourth Memoir, p. 162.
12 Father de Marchi writes: “By Lucia’s interpretation, this refers to the souls in the greatest danger of condemnation. The prayer itself, in Portuguese, is: O meu Jesus, perdoai-nos, livrai-nos do fogo do inferno; levai todas as almas para o ceu, especialmente as que mais predisarem.” (Op. cit., p. 62, fn 1.)
13Fourth Memoir, p. 166.
14TWTAF, Vol. I, op. cit., p. 184.
15Fourth Memoir, p. 166.