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Apparitions at Fatima
On 13 May 1917, three children, Lucia (aged 10) and her two cousins, Francisco and his sister Jacinta Marto (8 and 7 years old respectively), took their flocks out to pasture on the small area known as the Cova da Iria (Irene's Cove). After lunch and the rosary, they suddenly saw a bright flash of something like lightning, followed quickly by another flash in the clear blue sky. They looked up to see in Lucia's words, "a lady, clothed in white, brighter than the sun, radiating a light more clear and intense than a crystal cup filled with sparkling water, lit by burning sunlight."
The children stood there amazed, bathed in the light that surrounded the apparition, as the Lady smiled and said, "Do not be afraid, I will not harm you." Lucia, as the oldest, asked her where she came from. The Lady pointed to the sky and said, "I come from heaven." The apparition appeared on top of a stunted Holm-Oak tree.
Lucia then asked her what she wanted: "I have come to ask you to come here for six months on the 13th day of the month, at the same hour. Later I shall say who I am and what I desire. And I shall return here yet a seventh time."
The Lady then said, "Are you willing to offer yourselves to God and bear all the sufferings He wills to send you, as an act of reparation for the conversion of sinners?" Lucia, as spokesperson for all three readily agreed: "Then you are going to have much to suffer, but the grace of God will be your comfort." Lucia recounted that at the same moment as she said these words, the Lady opened her hands and streamed a "light" on the children which allowed them to see themselves in God. The Lady finished with a request: "Say the Rosary every day, to bring peace to the world and the end of the war." With that she began to rise into the air, moving towards the east until she disappeared. (3)
Later in subsequent meetings, the Lady entrusted the children with three secrets, the most famous communications ever received by witnesses of Marian Apparitions. Known as the Three Secrets of Fatima, the first two secrets were released in 1941, with the first on a vision of Hell, and the second on a prophecy of the end of World War I, beginning of World War II, and need for Russia to convert. The Third Secret, written in 1944, was only revealed in 2000. It is about the Holy Father being killed by bullets and arrows by soldiers at the foot of "a big Cross of rough-hewn trunks as of a cork-tree with the bark." In the same manner died many others. Two angels gathered their blood and sprinkled it on the souls making their way to God. Many criticised the Third Secret saying that is partial or untrue, and that the true secret has yet to be revealed. (4)
During her apparition at Fatima on July 13, 1917, the Blessed Virgin Mary was said to have requested us to use the following invocation, known as the Decade Prayer (5), at the end of the recitation of each mystery or decade of the Rosary: "O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those most in need of Thy mercy. Amen."
Reference: (1) Celebrating 100 Years of Fatima <https://www.ewtn.com/fatima/>; (2) The Meaning of Fatima: 100 Years Later <https://www.osv.com/OSVNewsweekly/Article/TabId/535/ArtMID/13567/ArticleID/21367/The-meaning-of-Fatima-100-years-later.aspx?utm_content=buffer36c05&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer>; (3) The apparitions of Fatima: <http://www.theotokos.org.uk/pages/approved/appariti/fatima.html>; (4) Apparition of Fatima - 1917: <http://www.cathetel.com/fatima.htm>; (5) Wikipedia, Fatima Prayers: <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fatima_Prayers>