Despite great interest in the Message of Fatima, many people still have only a confused or sketchy understanding of this Message. To better understand the most important of all Marian apparitions and the greatest supernatural event of the last hundred years, we focus on the essential facts as recounted by Lucia dos Santos, the visionary who spoke to Our Lady.
Before the apparitions of Our Lady in 1917, at Cova da Iria, Fatima, Lucia dos Santos and her cousins, Francisco and Jacinta Marto, who lived in the village of Aljustrel in the township of Fatima, had three visions of the Angel of Portugal, also called the Angel of Peace. These apparitions took place between spring and autumn 1916.
The angel first appeared either in the spring or summer of 1916 at Loca do Cabeço, a rocky outcrop near the top of a knoll called Cabeço, not far from Aljustrel. This is Sister Lucia’s account of the apparition:
“We had been playing for a while when a strong wind shook the trees. Since it was a calm day, we looked up to see what was happening. Then we began to see, well above the trees that covered the stretch of land to the east, a light whiter than snow in the shape of a transparent young man who was more brilliant than a crystal struck by the rays of the sun.
“As he approached, we began to see his features. He was a young man of great beauty about fourteen or fifteen years old. We were surprised and ecstatic. We did not utter a word.
“Once he drew near us, he said: ‘Fear not. I am the Angel of Peace. Pray with me.’ “Kneeling down, he bowed until his forehead touched the ground.
Led by a supernatural inspiration, we imitated him, and repeated the words we heard him say:
‘My God, I believe, I adore, I hope, and I love Thee. I beg Thee forgiveness for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope, and do not love Thee.’
“After he had repeated this twice, he rose and said: ‘Pray thus. The Hearts of Jesus and Mary are attentive to the voice of your supplications.’ Then he disappeared.
“The supernatural atmosphere that enveloped us was so intense that we were almost unaware of our own existence. For a long time, we remained in the same position repeating the same prayer. The presence of God was so intense and intimate that we dared not speak to each other. On the following day, we felt our spirits still enveloped in that atmosphere, which was but slowly disappearing.
“None of us thought of talking about this apparition or of recommending secrecy, for the incident itself demanded it. It was so intimate that it was difficult to utter a word about it. This might well have been the apparition that impressed us the most, because it was the first one thus manifested.”
The second apparition of the Angel of Portugal occurred in the summer of 1916 over the well at the house of Lucia’s parents, next to which the three children were playing.
This is how Sister Lucia narrates what the angel said to them:
“‘What are you doing? Pray! Pray a great deal! The Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary have merciful designs concerning you. Offer prayers and sacrifices constantly to the Most High!’
“‘How must we sacrifice?’ I asked.
“‘Offer God a sacrifice of anything you can as an act of reparation for the sins with which He is offended and as a supplication for the conversion of sinners.
Draw peace upon your country by doing this. I am its guardian angel – the Angel of Portugal.
Above all, accept and endure with submission whatever suffering the Lord sends you.’ Then he disappeared.
“The angel’s words were impressed upon our souls like a light that made us understand Who God is, how much He loves us and wishes to be loved, the value of sacrifice and how sacrifice pleases God, and how He converts sinners because of it.
The third apparition occurred either at the end of the summer or the beginning of the fall of 1916, once again at Loca do Cabeço. According to Sister Lucia’s account, it took place as follows:
“As soon as we arrived there, we began to say the angel’s prayer on our knees, with our faces to the ground.
‘My God, I believe, I adore, I hope, and I love Thee….’ I do not know how many times we had said this prayer when we saw an unknown light shining over our heads.
We rose to see what was happening, and we saw the angel bearing a chalice in his left hand. Drops of blood fell into the chalice from a Host suspended over it.
Leaving the chalice and the Host suspended in the air, the angel prostrated himself beside us and said the following prayer three times:
“‘Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, I adore Thee profoundly and offer Thee the most precious Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the earth, in reparation for the insults, sacrileges, and indifference with which He is offended. And through the infinite merits of His Most Sacred Heart and of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg Thee for the conversion of poor sinners.’
“After this, rising up, he again took the chalice and the Host in his hand; he gave the Host to me and the contents of the chalice to Jacinta and Francisco to drink, saying:
‘Take and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, who is horribly insulted by ungrateful men. Make reparation for their crimes and console your God.’
“He again prostrated himself on the ground and repeated with us the same prayer three more times. ‘Most Holy Trinity….’ Then he disappeared.”
After this vision the children remained a long time prostrated and repeating the angel’s prayer.
The apparitions of the angel had an “annihilating” effect on the children in that they so communicated to them something supernatural that it fatigued them.
In Lucia’s words, “It seemed to deprive us even of the use of our bodily senses for a long period of time.” At the same time, they felt a great peace and happiness, their souls as if immersed in God.