Circumstances and Dialogue of the 1917 Apparitions

May 13, 1917

By May of 1917 several months had passed since the final apparition of the Angel to the three children. They had continued their task of shepherding their flocks, and had resumed their former vivaciousness and playfulness. On the thirteenth of May, after Sunday morning Mass, they chose to lead their sheep to a property of Lucy’s parents called Cova da Iria. After eating their meal at noon and praying the Rosary, the children began to play. Suddenly they saw a kind of lightning, making them believe that a storm was approaching, and they began to descend the hill to make for home.

When about halfway down the slope there was another flash of light, and a Lady appeared above a holm-oak tree. Lucy says that the Lady was "all dressed in white, more brilliant than the sun, radiating a light clearer and more intense than a crystal glass filled with clear water pierced by the most burning rays of the sun." The children stopped and found themselves in the light that emanated from Her.

Lucy describes the apparition in this way:

Then Our Lady said to us: ‘Do not be afraid. I will do you no harm.’

‘Where is Your Grace from?’ I asked Her.

‘I am of Heaven.’

‘What does Your Grace want of me?’

‘I have come to ask you to come here for six months in succession, on the 13th day, at this same hour. Later on, I will tell you who I am and what I want. Afterwards, I will return here yet a seventh time.’

‘Shall I go to Heaven too?’

‘Yes, you will.’

‘And Jacinta?’


‘And Francisco?’

‘Also, but he will have to say many Rosaries.’

I remembered then to ask about two girls who had died recently. They were friends of mine and they used to come to my home to learn weaving with my eldest sister.

‘Is Maria das Neves already in Heaven?’

‘Yes, she is.’

It seems to me that she was about sixteen years old.

‘And Amelia?’

‘She will be in Purgatory until the end of the world.’

It seems to me that she must have been between eighteen and twenty years old.

‘Are you willing to offer yourselves to God to bear all the sufferings He wants to send you, as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and for the conversion of sinners?’

‘Yes, we are willing.’

‘You are then going to have much to suffer, but the grace of God will be your comfort.’

It was in pronouncing those last words (the grace of God, etc.) that Our Lady opened Her hands for the first time, and communicated to us, as by a reflection which emanated from them, a light so intense that, penetrating our heart and even to the depths of our soul, it made us see ourselves in God, Who was this light, more clearly than we see ourselves in the best mirrors.

Then, moved by an interior impulse which was communicated to us, we fell on our knees and said repeatedly: ‘O Most Holy Trinity, I adore Thee. My God, my God, I love Thee in the Most Holy Sacrament.’

The first moments passed, and Our Lady added:

‘Recite the Rosary every day in order to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war.’

‘Can You tell me whether the war will still last a long time, or if it will soon end?’

‘I cannot tell you yet, as I have not yet told you what I want.’

Then She began to rise serenely, going up towards the east until She disappeared in the immensity of the sky.

During the apparitions, each child’s part was distinct: Lucy was the only one who spoke to Our Lady; Jacinta saw and heard Her but did not speak; and Francisco saw Her but could not hear Her, and had to be told afterward what She said.

In the Divine light that had shone forth from Our Lady’s hands in this apparition, the most profound impression the children received, especially Francisco, was the sadness of God. In fact, consoling the sadness of God would afterward become Francisco’s particular vocation. The children understood that God is very much offended by the sins of humanity. Another important theme that would be reaffirmed in each apparition was the necessity and power of the Rosary. Our Lady always held a Rosary in Her hands when She appeared, and in each apparition reminded the children to say the Rosary to obtain peace.

Lucy explains the experience: "The apparition of Our Lady came once again to plunge us into the supernatural, but in a much milder manner [than the apparitions of the Angel]. Instead of this annihilation in the Divine Presence, which prostrated us, even physically, this last apparition left us a peace, an expansive joy which prevented us from speaking afterwards about what had happened."

Since Our Lady did not ask them to make known what they had been told, the children decided that it would be best to remain silent about the apparition. Little Jacinta, however, could not contain her joy for long and, prompted by a special grace, immediately gave an enthusiastic account of the apparition to her parents. As a result, the news spread quickly.

June 13, 1917

The children went to the Cova da Iria on June 13 as they had promised Our Lady, even though it meant missing all of the festivities for the Feast of St. Anthony, who was Patron Saint of their parish and of Portugal. When they arrived at the Cova that morning there were already several dozen people gathered there, mostly from the neighboring hamlets, where word of the apparition had spread.

By noon the number of spectators had risen to about fifty. The crowd had just finished praying the Rosary when Lucy cried out, "There is the lightning! ... Our Lady is arriving!" The crowd saw neither the lightning nor Our Lady, but one witness observed that "the branches of the tree gave way on all sides, as if the weight of Our Lady had really been supported on them." This observation demonstrates that Our Lady was in fact physically present, in Her glorified body, and that the children were not merely "seeing" a vision of questionable authenticity. Others present related that they had heard something like the sound of a very light voice, though they could not make out what was being said. Also observed was that the bright noontime sun had dimmed considerably.

Lucy gives an account of the second apparition of Our Lady in her Fourth Memoir:

... we saw Our Lady, on the holm-oak, just as in the month of May.

‘What does Your Grace want of me?’ I asked.

‘I wish you to come here on the 13th of next month, to pray the Rosary every day, and to learn how to read. Later I will tell you what I want.’

I asked for the cure of a sick person.

‘If he is converted, he will be cured within the year.’

‘I would like to ask You to take us to Heaven.’

‘Yes, I will take Jacinta and Francisco soon, but you, Lucy, are to stay here some time longer. Jesus wishes to make use of you in order to make Me known and loved. He wishes to establish in the world devotion to My Immaculate Heart. To whoever embraces this devotion, I promise salvation; those souls will be cherished by God, as flowers placed by Me to adorn His throne.’

‘Am I to stay here alone?’ I asked painfully.

‘No, My daughter. Are you suffering a great deal? Do not lose heart, I will never forsake you! My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God.’

It was at the moment when She pronounced those last words that She opened Her hands and communicated to us, for the second time, the reflection of that immense light. In it we saw ourselves as submerged in God. Jacinta and Francisco appeared to be in the part of that light which elevated itself to Heaven, and I in the part which spread itself on the earth.

In the palm of the right hand of Our Lady there was a Heart, surrounded by thorns which seemed to pierce it. We understood that it was the Immaculate Heart of Mary, outraged by the sins of humanity, which demanded reparation.

Then, as Our Lady left them, the crowd heard a sound like a firecracker in the distance. Lucy rose quickly and pointing, cried, "See, She is going, She is going!" The crowd did not see Her, but did note a small cloud that rose from above the tree and, moving toward the east, gradually disappeared. The holm-oak tree, on which Our Lady had stood, had its branches bent slightly toward the east.

 In this apparition Our Lady had once again conveyed to them the reflection of that Divine light, through which they were given a special knowledge of and increased love for the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Lucy writes,

It seems to me that on that day, that reflection of light had as a principal goal to instill in us a knowledge and a special love towards the Immaculate Heart of Mary; in the same way as the other two times, it had that same goal, but with respect to God and to the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. Since that day, we felt in our hearts a more ardent love for the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

July 13, 1917

The third apparition brought to the Cova da Iria a crowd of 5,000 people. Lucy led the Rosary and the crowd answered. At noon she rose and looked toward the east, crying, "Close the umbrellas! Close the umbrellas! (They used umbrellas to protect themselves from the intense noontime sun) ... Our Lady is arriving!"

The apparition then began in the usual way, with a flash of something like lightning and the appearance of Our Lady atop the holm-oak. Lucy relates the apparition in her memoirs:

‘‘What does Your Grace want of me?’ I asked.

‘I want you to come here on the 13th of next month, to continue reciting the Rosary every day in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary, in order to obtain peace in the world and the end of the war, because only She can help you.’

‘I should like to ask You to tell us who You are, and to work a miracle so that everyone will believe that Your Grace is appearing to us.’

‘Continue to come here every month. In October, I will say who I am and what I want, and I will perform a miracle so that all might see and believe.’

Here I made some requests which I do not remember. What I do remember, is that Our Lady said it was necessary to say the Rosary in order to obtain these graces throughout the year.

Our Lady continued: ‘Sacrifice yourselves for sinners, and say often to Jesus, especially whenever you make a sacrifice: O Jesus, it is for love of Thee, 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, 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. (It must have been this sight which caused me to cry out, as people say they heard me). The demons could be distinguished by their terrifying and repellent likeness to frightful and unknown animals, black and transparent like burning coals. That vision lasted only a moment, thanks to our good Mother of Heaven, Who, at the first apparition, had promised to bring us to Heaven. Without that, I think we would have died of terror and fear.

Terrified and as if to plead for succor, 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 reign 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. Do not tell this to anybody. Francisco, yes, you may tell him.

‘When you pray the Rosary, say after each mystery: O my Jesus, forgive us, save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who are most in need.’

After this, there was a moment of silence, and then I asked, ‘Is there anything more that You want of me?’

‘No, I do not want anything more of you today.’

Then, as before, Our Lady began to ascend towards the east, until She finally disappeared.

In the cycle of the apparitions, the apparition of July 13 is decidedly the most important. It was in this third apparition of Our Lady that the Secret was given to the seers. Also, the announcement of the October miracle was made for the first time, clearly indicating its date, time and place. Our Lady would reiterate the coming miracle in the August and September apparitions as well.

August 13 & 19, 1917

On August 13, between 10,000 and 20,000 people gathered at the Cova da Iria to await the arrival of Our Lady. The three little seers, however, were not present. The administrator of the district, Artur de Oliveira Santos, a prominent Freemason, had imprisoned the children on August 13, and for two days he used many means, including the threat of boiling them in oil, to pry from them either the Secret itself, or a confession that they were lying. Courageously the children refused to betray their confidence and remained steadfast under every tactic used. In fact, believing that they were soon to be killed, they were full of joy at the thought of soon being in Heaven. This willingness to suffer martyrdom is another proof of the truthfulness of the Message. Realizing that he was getting nowhere, after two days the administrator released the children.

While the seers were being held on August 13, Our Lady still came to the Cova da Iria and manifested Her presence to the large crowd. One faithful woman described the scene:

On the afternoon of August 19, Lucy and Francisco, accompanied by Francisco’s older brother John, went to put their sheep to pasture. This is the account that Sister Lucy gave of what occurred:

However John wished to stay and see Our Lady. Lucy, therefore, gave John one coin to fetch Jacinta, and promised him another when he brought her back. While he ran to get her, Lucy and Francisco saw the characteristic flash of light, and just as Jacinta arrived, Our Lady appeared above a holm-oak tree. Lucy’s account continues:

After the apparition of August 19, the three children looked for ways to make more sacrifices to offer to Jesus, "for His love, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the offenses against the Immaculate Heart of Mary."

Lucy describes one example:

Some days after [the apparition of August 19], we were following a path with our sheep and I found a piece of rope which had fallen from a cart. I took it and amused myself by attaching it to one of my arms. I did not take long to notice that the rope hurt me. I then said to my cousins: ‘Look, that hurts! We could attach it around our waist and offer this sacrifice to God.’ The poor children accepted my idea immediately and we then decided to share that rope among the three of us. A sharp stone, rubbing on another, served as a knife. Whether because of the size and roughness of the rope, or because sometimes we squeezed it too much, that instrument made us suffer horribly. Sometimes Jacinta shed some tears because of the discomfort which the rope caused her. I told her on several occasions to take it off, and she replied, ‘No! I want to offer this sacrifice to Our Lord in reparation and for the conversion of sinners.’

September 13, 1917

On September 13 as many as thirty thousand people gathered at the Cova da Iria. While waiting for noon to arrive, Lucy led the Rosary for the crowd. At noon, a certain phenomenon announced the arrival of Our Lady to many in the crowd. As one witness relates,

The light of the sun then dimmed, and the atmosphere became a yellow-gold color, like it had during the former apparitions. Some reported that they could see the stars, the sky had darkened to such an extent. Lucy then spoke to Our Lady, asking, "What does Your Grace want of me?"

Lucy then offered Her two letters and a small flask of water with a fragrance, which had been given her by a man of the parish of Olival. In offering them to Our Lady, she said to Her: "They gave me that. Does Your Grace want it?"

"That is not suitable for Heaven," Our Lady replied. "In October I will perform the miracle so that all may believe."

Our Lady then ascended toward the east and disappeared as usual. The crowd once again saw the luminous globe, which had accompanied Her upon Her arrival, rise up toward the east and disappear.

October 13, 1917

There were about 70,000 people present at the Cova da Iria for the October 13 apparition and Miracle of the Sun. Beginning the night before and persisting throughout the morning of the 13th, a cold rain fell on the crowd. The ground was muddy and the rain soaked everything. At the time when Our Lady was due to arrive, Lucy begged the people to close their umbrellas, which they did at once.

The miracle announced by Our Lady then took place: the sky abruptly cleared and the sun "danced". The people were able to look at the bright sun directly, without it bothering their eyes at all. A physician, Dr. Almeida Garrett, testified:

The testimony of Avelino de Almeida, editor-in-chief of O Seculo, Lisbon’s anticlerical and Masonic daily newspaper, is similar:

Others also testified:

The most terrifying aspect of the Miracle of the Sun then took place:

Yet another astonishing aspect of the Miracle was that all of the thousands of people, most of whom were soaked to the bone and dirty from the mud, suddenly found that their clothes were dry and clean.

In one aspect, this is the most astonishing effect of the miracle and an indisputable proof of its authenticity: The amount of energy needed to accomplish this process of drying in a natural way and in such a short a time, would have incinerated everyone present at the Cova at that time. As this aspect of the miracle contradicts the laws of nature radically, no demon could ever have achieved it.

Finally, many miracles of conversion, the greatest miracle God can bestow, also occurred. Here are two examples:

A number of other cases of cures and conversions are documented in, among other places, the following books: Documentação Crítica de Fátima and Fatima from the Beginning.15

The great Miracle of the Sun lasted for ten minutes. Many more accounts of the miracle have been taken and recorded from the masses of people present, which verify this incredible manifestation of the authenticity of the entire Fatima Message. (For more accounts, see Chapter 1 of The Devil’s Final Battle.)

During the Miracle of the Sun, the three children were witnessing something else: the beautiful spectacle promised by Our Lady. Lucy writes:

These three successive visions are connected to one of the dominant messages of Fatima: the Rosary. In each of Her six apparitions, Our Lady asked that the Rosary be prayed and here, in these visions granted to the three children, the mysteries of the Holy Rosary were represented. With the vision of the Holy Family we find the Joyful mysteries; the Sorrowful mysteries are represented by the vision of Our Lord and Our Lady of Sorrows; and the Glorious mysteries are represented in the vision of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.

When the visions had disappeared and the sun was again normal, Lucy was placed on the shoulder of a man in the crowd and carried safely through the masses to the road. As she was moving past the people, she cried out to them, pleading one of the important themes in the Fatima Message: to convert, return to God and to flee sin. Her exact words were: "Do penance! Do penance! Our Lady wants you to do penance!" but Frère Michel states that in Portuguese this does not mean "performing mortifications", but rather "being converted, returning to God, fleeing sin." Through this plea Lucy was reiterating the sorrowful request Our Lady had made of humanity in Her final apparition: "Do not offend the Lord our God any more, because He is already too much offended."

Thus the Miracle of the Sun, witnessed by 70,000 people, concluded the cycle of the apparitions at Fatima. Yet the Message of Fatima, with its great depth and scope, was to continue to be unfolded to the eldest of the three seers, Lucy. In the years to come Heaven’s Messenger would be visited and, as promised by Our Lady in the July 13 apparition, would be instructed to reveal Heaven’s plan for peace for a turbulent world: the Reparatory devotion of the Five First Saturdays and the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Related Articles:

Chapter 1 of The Devil’s Final Battle


  1. Frère François de Marie des Anges, Fatima: Intimate Joy World Event, Book One: The Astonishing Truth, (English edition, Immaculate Heart Publications, Buffalo, New York, 1993) pp. 172-173.
  2. O Seculo, article of October 15, 1917.
  3. Frère Michel de la Sainte Trinité, The Whole Truth About Fatima, Volume I: Science and the Facts, (Immaculate Heart Publications, Buffalo, New York, U.S.A., 1989) p. 337.
  4. Frère François de Marie des Anges, Fatima: The Astonishing Truth, p. 178.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid, pp. 178-179.
  8. Frère Michel de la Sainte Trinité, The Whole Truth About Fatima, Volume I, p. 340.
  9. Frère François de Marie des Anges, Fatima: The Astonishing Truth, p, 179.
  10. Ibid.
  11. Ibid.
  12. Frère Michel de la Sainte Trinité, The Whole Truth About Fatima, Volume I, p. 340. See also Father John de Marchi, I.M.C., Fatima From the Beginning, (Missoes Consolata, Fatima, Portugal, 1981, third edition, first published in 1950) p. 141; and Joseph A Pelletier, A.A., The Sun Dances at Fatima, (Doubleday, New York, 1983) pp. 129-130.
  13. John M. Haffert, Meet the Witnesses, (AMI International Press, Fatima, Portugal, 1961) p. 62.
  14. Ibid., p. 65.
  15. Documentaçáo Crítica de Fátima, Volume II, (Santuário de Fátima, 1999) 17 cases documented on pp. 277-372; and Father John de Marchi, I.M.C., Fatima From the Beginning.