The Second Memoir of Sister Lucia (1937)
- Lucia’s Childhood
- Popular Entertainments
- Lucia’s First Communion
- Our Lady Smiles At Lucia
- Eager Expectancy
- The Great Day
- Lucia’s Family
- In Retrospect
- Lucia the Shepherdess
- A Mysterious Presage in 1915
- Apparitions of the Angel in 1916
- Trouble At Home
- Apparitions of Our Lady
- Lucia’s Doubts and Temptations
- Encouragement from Jacinta and Francisco
- Lucia’s Mother Has Doubts
- The Administrators Threats
- Trouble in Lucia’s Family
- Lucia’s First Spiritual Director
- Imprisonment at Ourem
- Penances and Sufferings
- September 13th
- Lucia’s Spirit of Sacrifice
- A Tall Visitor
- October 13th
- Questioned by Priests
- After the Apparitions, Lucia Goes to School
- Lucia and the Parish
- Companions in Sympathy and in Sacrifice
- Government Opposition
- Lucia’s Mother Falls Seriously Ill
- Lucia’s Father Dies
- Serious Illness of Lucia’s Cousins
- Lucia In Poor Health
- Lucia’s First Meeting With The Bishop
- Farewell to Fatima
- Further Memories of Jacinta
- Lucia’s Magnetic Personality
- Lucia’s Excellent Memory
Here I am, pen in my hand, ready to do the will of my God. Since I have no other aim but this, I begin with the maxims which my holy Foundress has handed down to me and which after her example I shall repeat many times in the course of this account: “Oh Will of God, You are my paradise.”
Allow me, Your Excellency, to sound the depths contained in this maxim. Whenever repugnance or love for my secret makes me want to keep some things hidden, then this maxim will be my norm and my guide. I had a mind to ask, what use there could possibly be in my writing an account like this, since even my handwriting is scarcely presentable. But I am asking nothing.
I know that the perfection of obedience asks no reasons. Your Excellency’s words are enough for me, since they assure me that this is for the glory of Our Blessed Mother in Heaven. In the certainty that it is so, I implore the blessing and protection of Her Immaculate Heart and, humbly prostrate at Her feet, I use Her own most holy words to speak to my God: “I, the least of your handmaids, O my God, now come in full submission to Your Holy Will, to lift the veil from my secret, and reveal the story of Fatima just as it is. No longer will I savour the joy of sharing with You alone the secrets of Your Love; but henceforth, others too, will sing with me the greatness of Your Mercy!”
Your Excellency The Lord has looked upon His lowly handmaid, that is why all peoples will sing the greatness of His Mercy. It seems to me, Your Excellency, that our dear Lord deigned to favour me with the use of reason from my earliest childhood. I remember being conscious of my actions, even from my mother’s arms. I remember being rocked and falling a sleep to the sound of lullabies. Our Lord blessed my parents with five girls and one boy, of whom I was the youngest, and I remember how they used to squabble, because they all wanted to hold me in their arms and play with me. On such occasions none of them ever succeeded, because my mother used to take me away from them altogether.
If she was too busy to hold me herself, she would give me to my father and he also would fondle me and cover me with caresses. The first thing I learned was the Hail Mary. While holding me in her arms, my mother taught it to my sister Carolina, the second youngest, and five years older than myself. My two eldest sisters were already grown up. My mother, knowing that I repeated everything I heard like a parrot, wanted them to take me with them everywhere they went. They were, as we say in our locality, the leading lights among the young people. There was not a festival or dance that they did not attend. At Carnival time, on St. John’s Day and at Christmas, there was certain to be a dance. Besides this, there was the vintage. Then there was the olive picking, with a dance almost every day. When the big parish festivals came around such as the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Our Lady of the Rosary, St Anthony, and so on, we always raffled cakes: after that came a dance, without fail. We were invited to almost all the weddings for miles around, and if they did not invite my mother to be matron of honour, they were sure to need her for the cooking. At these weddings, the dancing went on from after the banquet until well into the next morning.
Since my sisters had to have me always with them, they took as much trouble in dressing me up as they were wont to do for themselves. As one of them was a dress maker, I was always decked out in a regional costume more elegant than that of any other girl around. I wore a pleated skirt, a shiny belt, a cashmere kerchief with the corners hanging down behind, and a hat decorated with gold beads and bright coloured feathers. You would have thought sometimes, that they were dressing a doll rather than a small child.
At the dances, they deposited me on top of a wooden chest or some other tall piece of furniture, to save me from being trampled underfoot. Once on my perch, I had to sing a number of songs to the music of the guitar or the concertina. My sisters had already taught me to sing, as well as to dance a few waltzes when there was a partner missing. The latter I performed with rare skill, thus attracting the attention and applause of everyone present. Some of them even rewarded me with gifts, in the hope of pleasing my sisters. On Sunday afternoons, all these young people used to gather in our yard, in the shade of three large fig trees in summer, and in winter in an open porch that we had where my sister Maria’s house now stands. There they spent the afternoons playing and chatting with my sisters. It was there that we used to raffle the sugared almonds at Easter time, and most of them used to find their way into my pocket, as some of the winners hoped to gain our good graces.
My mother would spend these afternoons seated at the kitchen door looking out on the yard, so that she could see all that was going on. Sometimes she held a book in her hand and so she would read for a while; at other times she chatted with my aunts or neighbours who sat beside her. She was always very serious and everybody knew that what she said was like Scripture and must be obeyed without more ado. I never knew anyone to say a disrespectful word in her presence, or show her any lack of consideration. It was the general opinion among them, that my mother was worth more than all her daughters put together, I often heard my mother say: “I don’t know how these people enjoy running about chattering from house to house! As for me there is nothing as good as just staying at home for a nice quiet read! These books are full of such wonderful things! And as for the lives of the Saints, they’re simply beautiful!”
It seems to me that I have already told Your Excellency how during the week, I used to spend the day surrounded by children from the neighbourhood. The mothers went out to work in the fields, so they used to ask my mother if they could leave the children with me. When I wrote to Your Excellency about my cousin, I think I also described our games and amusements, so I will not dwell on them here. Amid the warmth of such affectionate and tender caresses, I happily spent my first six years. To tell you the truth, the world was beginning to smile on me, and above all a passion for dancing was already sinking its roots deep into my heart. And I must confess that the devil would have used this to bring about my ruin, had not the good Lord shown His special mercy towards me.
If I am not mistaken, I have also told Your Excellency in the same account, how my mother was accustomed to teach catechism to her children during the summer at siesta time. In the winter we had our lesson after supper, at night, gathered round the fire side, as we sat roasting and eating chestnuts and a sweet variety of acorns.
Lucia’s First Communion
The day which the parish priest had appointed for the solemn First Communion of the children of the parish, was drawing near. In view of the fact that I knew my catechism and was already six years old, my mother thought that perhaps I could now make my First Communion. To this end, she sent me with my sister Carolina to the catechism instructions which the parish priest was giving to the children, in preparation for this great day. I went therefore radiant with joy, hoping soon to be able to receive my God for the first time. The priest gave his instructions, seated in a chair on a platform. He called me to his side, and when one or other of the children was unable to answer his question, he told me to give the answer instead just to shame them.
The eve of the great day arrived, and the priest sent word that all the children were to go to the church in the forenoon, so that he could make the final decision as to which ones were to receive their First Communion. What was not my disappointment when he called me up beside him, caressed me and said I was to wait till I was seven years old! I began to cry at once, and just as I would have done with my own mother, I laid my head on his knees and sobbed. It happened that another priest who had been called in to help with the confessions, entered the Church just at that moment. Seeing me in this position, he asked the reason for my tears. On being informed, he took me along to the sacristy and examined me on the catechism and the mystery of the Eucharist. After this he took me by the hand and brought me to the parish priest, saying: “Father Pena, you can let this child go to Communion. She understands what she is doing better than many of the others.” “But she is only six years old!” objected the good priest. “Never mind! I’ll take responsibility for that.” “Alright then”; the good priest said to me: Go and tell your mother that you are making your First Communion tomorrow.”
I could never express the joy I felt. Off I went, clapping my hands with delight, and running all the way home to give the good news to my mother. She at once set about preparing me for the Confession I was to make that afternoon. My mother took me to the church, and when we arrived, I told her I wanted to confess to the other priest. So we went to the sacristy, where he was sitting on a chair, hearing confessions. My mother knelt down in front of the high altar near the sacristy door, together with the other mothers who were waiting for their children to confess in turn. Right there before the Blessed Sacrament, my mother gave me her last recommendations.
Our Lady Of The Rosary Smiles At Lucia
When my turn came around, I went and knelt at the feet of Our dear Lord, represented there in the person of His minister, imploring forgiveness for my sins. When I had finished, I noticed that everyone was laughing.
My mother called me to her and said: “My child, don’t you know that confession is a secret matter and that it is made in a low voice? Everybody heard you! There was only one thing nobody heard: that is what you said at the end.” On the way home, my mother made several attempts to discover what she called the secret of my confession. But the only answer she obtained was complete silence. Now, however, I am going to reveal the secret of my first Confession. After listening to me, the good priest said these few words: “My child, your soul is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Keep it always pure, so that He will be able to carry on His divine action within it.”
On hearing these words, I felt myself filled with respect for my interior, and asked the kind confessor what I ought to do: “Kneel down there before Our Lady and ask Her, with great confidence, to take care of your heart, to prepare it to receive Her beloved Son worthily tomorrow, and to keep it for Him alone!” In the Church, there was more than one statue of Our Lady; but as my sisters took care of the altar of Our Lady of the Rosary, I usually went there to pray. That is why I went there on this occasion also, to ask Her with all the ardour of my soul, to keep my poor heart for God alone. As I repeated this humble prayer over and over again, with my eyes fixed on the statue, it seemed to me that She smiled and, with a loving look and a kindly gesture, assured me that She would. My heart was overflowing with joy, and I could scarcely utter a single word.
My sisters stayed that night making me a white dress and a wreath of flowers. As for me, I was so happy that I could not sleep, and it seemed as if the hours would never pass! I kept on getting up to ask them if the day had come, or if they wanted me to try on my dress or my wreath, and so forth.
The happy day dawned at last; but nine o’clock—how long it was in coming! I put on my white dress, and then my sister Maria took me into the kitchen to ask pardon of my parents, to kiss their hands and to ask their blessing. After this little ceremony, my mother gave me her last recommendations. She told me what she wanted me to ask Our Lord when I had received Him into my heart, and said good bye to me in these words: “Above all, ask Him to make you a saint.” Her words made such an indelible impression on my heart, that they were the very first that I said to Our Lord when I received Him. Even today, I seem to hear the echo of my mother’s voice repeating these words to me. I set out for the church with my sisters, and my brother carried me all the way in his arms, that so not a speck of dust from the road would touch me,. As soon as I arrived at the church, I ran to kneel before the altar of Our Lady to renew my petition. There I remained in contemplation of Our Lady’s smile of the previous day, until my sisters came in search of me and took me to my appointed place. There was a large number of children, arranged in four lines—two of boys and two of girls— from the back of the church right up to the altar rails. Being the smallest, it happened that I was the one nearest to the Angels on the step by the altar rails.
The Great Day
Once the Missa Cantata began and the great moment drew near, my heart beat faster and faster, in expectation of the visit of the Great God who was about to descend from Heaven to unite Himself to my self. The parish priest came down and passed among the rows of children, distributing the Bread of Angels.
I had the good fortune to be the first one to receive. As the priest was coming down the altar steps, I felt as though my heart would leap from my breast. But he had no sooner placed the Divine Host on my tongue than I felt an unalterable serenity and peace. I felt myself bathed in such a supernatural atmosphere that the presence of our dear Lord became as clearly perceptible to me as if I had seen and heard Him with my bodily senses. Then I addressed my prayer to Him: “Oh Lord, make me a saint. Keep my heart always pure, for You alone.” Then it seemed that in the depths of my heart, our dear Lord distinctly spoke these words to me: “The grace granted to you this day will remain living in your soul, producing fruits of eternal life.” I felt as though transformed in God.
It was almost one o’clock before the ceremonies were over, on account of the late arrival of priests coming from a distance, the sermon and the renewal of baptismal promises. My mother came looking for me, quite distressed, thinking I might faint from weakness. But I, filled to overflowing with the Bread of the Angels, found it impossible to take any food whatsoever. After this, I lost the taste and attraction for the things of the world, and only felt at home in some solitary place where, all alone, I could recall the delights of my First Holy Communion.
Such moments of seclusion were rare indeed. As Your Excellency already knows, I had to look after the children whom the neighbours entrusted to our care; and besides this, my mother was in much demand thereabouts as a nurse. In cases of minor ills, people came to our house to seek her advice, but when the sick person was unable to go out, they asked my mother to go to their homes. She often spent entire days there and even nights. If the illness was prolonged, or the sick person’s condition required it, she occasionally sent my sisters to stay by the patients bedside at night, to give the family a chance to get some rest.
Whenever the sick person was the mother of a young family, or someone who could not stand the noise of children, my mother brought the little ones to our house and charged me with keeping them occupied. I kept the children amused, by teaching them how to prepare the yarn for weaving: they set the wooden winder spinning to wind it into balls; they rolled it into spools; they strung it on the skeiner to make it into skeins; and they guided the balls of yarn as the warp was prepared on the frame.
In this way we always had plenty to do. There were usually several girls working in our house, who had come to learn weaving and dress making. Usually these girls showed great affection for our family, and used to say that the best days of their lives were those spent in our house. At certain times of the year, my sisters had to go out working in the fields during the day time, so they did their weaving and sewing at night. Supper was folllowed by prayers led by my father, and then the work began.
Everyone had something to do. My sister Maria went to the loom; my father filled the spools; Teresa and Gloria went to their sewing; my mother took up her spinning; Carolina and I, after tidying up the kitchen, had to help with the sewing, taking out basting, sewing on buttons, and so forth: to keep drowsiness away, my brother played the concertina, and we joined in singing all kinds of songs. The neighbours often dropped in to keep us company, and although it meant loosing their sleep, they used to tell us that the very sound of our gaiety banished all their worries and filled them with happiness. I heard different women sometimes say to my mother: “How fortunate you are! what lovely children God has given you!” When the time came round to harvest the corn, we removed the husks by moonlight.
There was I sitting atop a heap of corn, and chosen to give a hug all round whenever a dark coloured corn cob appeared.
I don’t know whether the facts I have related above about my First Communion were a reality or a little child’s illusion. What I do know is that they always had, and still have today, a great influence in uniting me to God. What I don’t know either is why I am telling Your Excellency all about our family life. But it is God who inspires me to do so, and He knows the reason for it. Perhaps it is to let you see how, after having had so much affection lavished upon me. I would feel all the more deeply the suffering our dear Lord was going to ask of me. As Your Excellency has told me to give an account of all the sufferings that Our Lord has sent me, and all the graces which He has deigned, in His mercy, to grant me, I think it best to tell them just as they happened. Moreover, I feel quite at peace about it, because I know Your Excellency will put into the fire whatever you see does not further the glory of God and of Mary most Holy.
The Apparitions, Lucia the Shepherdess
This was how things were until I was seven years old. My mother then decided that I should take over the care of our sheep. My father did not agree, nor did my sisters. They were so fond of me, that they wanted an exception made in my case. My mother would not give in: “She’s just like the rest.” she said: “Carolina is already twelve years old. That means she can now begin to work in the fields, or else learn to be a weaver or a seamstress, whichever she prefers.” The care of our flock was then given to me. News that I was beginning my life as a shepherdess spread rapidly among the other shepherds: almost all of them came and offered to be my companions. I said Yes to everybody, and arranged with each one to meet on the slopes of the serra. Next day, the serra was a solid mass of sheep with their shepherds, as though a cloud had descended upon it.
But I felt ill at ease in the midst of such a hubbub. I therefore chose three companions from among the shepherds, and without saying a word to anyone, we arranged to pasture our sheep on the opposite slopes. These were the three I chose. Teresa Matias, her sister Maria Rosa and Maria Justino. On the following day, we set out in the direction of a hill known as the Cabeco. We went up the northern slope. Valinhos, a place that Your Excellency already knows by name, is on the southern side of the same hill. On the eastern slope is the cave I have already spoken of in my account of Jacinta. Together with our flocks, we climbed almost to the top of the hill. At our feet lay a wide expanse of trees—olives, oaks, pines, holmoaks, and so on, that stretched away down towards the level valley below.
A Mysterious Presage in 1915
Around midday, we ate our lunch. After this, I invited my companions to pray the Rosary with me, to which they eagerly agreed. We had hardly begun when, there before our eyes, we saw a figure poised in the air above the trees. It looked like a statue made of snow, rendered almost transparent by the rays of the sun. “What is that”? asked my companions, quite frightened. “I don’t know!” We went on praying, with our eyes fixed on the figure before us, and as we finished our prayer, the figure disappeared. As was usual with me, I resolved to say nothing: but my companions told their families what had happened the very moment they reached home. The news soon spread, and one day when I arrived home, my mother questioned me: “Look here! They say you’ve seen I don’t know what up there. What was it you saw? “I don’t know” as I could not explain it myself, I went on: “It looked like a person wrapped up in a sheet!”. As I meant to say that I couldn’t discern its features, I added: “You couldn’t make out any eyes, or hands, on it.” My mother put an end to the whole matter with a gesture of: “Childish nonsense!”
After some time, we returned to our flocks to the same place, and the very same thing happened again. My companions once more told the whole story. After a brief interval, the same thing was repeated. It was the third time that my mother heard all these things being talked about outside, without my having said a single word about them at home. She called me therefore, quite displeased, and demanded: “Now let us see what it is that you girls say you saw over there?” “I don’t know mother. I don’t know what it is!” Some people started making fun of us. My sisters recalling that for sometime after my First Communion I had been quite abstracted, used to ask me scornfully: “Do you see someone wrapped in a sheet?” I felt these contemptuous words and gestures very keenly, as up to now I had been used to nothing but caresses. But this was nothing really. You see, I did not know what the Good Lord had in store for me in the future.
Apparitions of the Angel in 1916
Around this time, as I have already related to Your Excellency, Francisco and Jacinta sought and obtained permission from their parents to start taking care of their own flock. So I left my good companions, and joined my cousins, Francisco and Jacinta, instead. To avoid going to the serra with all the other shepherds, we arranged to pasture our flocks on properties belonging to my uncle and aunt and my parents.
One fine day, we set out with our sheep for some land that my parents owned, which lay at the foot of the eastern side of the slope of the hill that I have already mentioned. This property was called Chousa Velha. Soon after our arrival, about mid-morning, a fine drizzle began to fall, so fine that it seemed like mist. We went up the hillside, followed by our flocks, looking for an overhanging boulder where we could take shelter. Thus it was for the first time that we entered this blessed hollow among the rocks. It stood in the middle of an olive grove belonging to my godfather Anastacio. From there you could see the little village where I was born, my parents home, and the hamlets of Casa Velha and Eira da Pedra. The olive grove, owned by several people, extended to within the confines of the hamlets themselves.
We spent the day there, among the rocks, in spite of the fact that the rain was over and the sun was shining bright and clear. We ate our lunch and said our Rosary. I am not sure whether we said it that day, in the way I have already described it to Your Excellency, saying the word Hail Mary, and Our Father on each bead, so great was our eagerness to play! Our prayer finished, we started to play Pebbles. We had enjoyed the game for a few moments only, when a strong wind began to shake the trees. We looked up startled, to see what was happening, for the day was unusually calm. Then we saw coming towards us, above the olive trees, the figure I have already spoken about. Jacinta and Francisco had never seen it before, nor had I ever mentioned it to them. As it drew closer, we were able to distinguish its features. It was a young man, about fourteen or fifteen years old, whiter than snow, transparent as crystal when the sun shines through it, and of great beauty. On reaching us, he said: “Do not be afraid! I am the Angel of Peace. Pray with me.”
Kneeling on the ground, he bowed down until his forehead touched the ground, and made us repeat these words three times: “My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love You! I ask pardon of You for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love You.” Then rising he said: “Pray thus. The Hearts of Jesus and Mary are attentive to the voice of your supplications.” His words engraved themselves so deeply on our minds that we could never forget them. From then on, we used to spend long periods of time, prostrate like the Angel, repeating his words, until sometimes we fell exhausted. I warned my companions, right away, that this must be kept secret and, thank God, they did what I wanted.
Some time passed, and summer came, when we had to go home for the siesta. One day, we were playing on the stone slabs of the well at the bottom of the garden belonging to my parents, which we called the Arneiro (I have already mentioned this well to Your Excellency in my account of Jacinta). Suddenly, we saw beside us the same figure, or rather, Angel, as it seemed to me. “What are you doing? he asked. “Pray, pray very much! The most Holy Hearts of Jesus and Mary have designs of mercy on you. Offer prayers and sacrifices constantly to the most High.” How are we to make sacrifices? I asked. “Make of everything you can a sacrifice, and offer it to God as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and in supplication for the conversion of sinners. You will thus draw down peace upon your country. I am its Guardian Angel, the Angel of Portugal. Above all, accept and bear with submission, the suffering which the Lord will send you.” A considerable time had elapsed, when one day we went to pasture our sheep on a property belonging to my parents, which lay on the slope of the hill I have mentioned, a little higher up than Valinhos. It is an olive grove called Pregueira. After our lunch, we decided to go and pray in the hollow among the rocks on the opposite side of the hill. To get there we went around the slope, and had to climb over some rocks above Pregueira. The sheep could only scramble over these rocks with great difficulty.
As soon as we arrived there, we knelt down, with our foreheads touching the ground, and began to repeat the prayer of the Angel: “My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love You, I ask pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love You.” I don’t know how many times we had repeated this prayer, when an extraordinary light shone upon us. We sprang up to see what was happening, and beheld the Angel. He was holding a Chalice in his left hand, with the Host suspended above it, from which some drops of Blood fell into the Chalice. Leaving the Chalice suspended in the air, the Angel knelt down beside us and made us repeat three times: “Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore You profoundly, and I offer You the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifference with which He Himself is offended. And through the infinite merits of His most Sacred Heart, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of You the conversion of poor sinners.” Then rising, he took the Chalice and the Host in his hands. He gave the Sacred Host to me, and shared the Blood from the Chalice between Jacinta and Francisco, saying as he did so: “Take and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, horribly outraged by ungrateful men! Make reparation for their crimes and console your God.” Once again, he prostrated on the ground and repeated with us, three times more, the same prayer, “Most Holy Trinity…” and then disappeared. We remained a long time in this position, repeating the same words over and over again. When at last we stood up, we noticed that it was already dark, and therefore time to return home.
Trouble At Home
Here I am Your Excellency, at the end of my three years as shepherdess, from the time I was seven until I was ten years old. During these three years, our home and, I would venture to say, our parish as well, underwent an almost total change. Reverend Father Pena was no longer our parish priest, and had been replaced by Reverend Father Boicinha. When this most zealous priest learned that such a pagan custom as endless dancing was only too common in the parish, he promptly began to preach against it from the pulpit in his Sunday sermons. In public and in private, he lost no opportunity of attacking this bad custom. As soon as my mother heard this good priest speak in this fashion, she forbade my sisters to attend such amusements. As my sisters’ example led others also to refrain from attending, this custom gradually died out. The same thing happened among the children, who used to get up their little dances apart, as I have already explained to Your Excellency, when writing about my cousin Jacinta.
Apropos of this, somebody remarked one day to my mother: “Up to now, it was no sin to go to dances, but just because we have a new parish priest, it is a sin. How could that be?” “I don’t know” my mother replied: “All I know is that the priest does not want dancing, so my daughters are not going to such gatherings any more. At most, I would let them dance a bit within the family, because the priest says there’s no harm in that.” During this period, my two eldest sisters left home, after receiving the sacrament of matrimony. My father had fallen into bad company, and let his weakness get the better of him, this meant the loss of some of our property. When my mother realized that our means of livelihood were diminishing, she resolved to send my two sisters. Gloria and Carolina, out to work as servants. At home, there remained only my brother, to look after our few remaining fields; my mother, took care of the house and myself, to take our sheep out to pasture. My poor mother seemed just drowned in the depths of distress. When we gathered around the fire at night time, waiting for my father to come into supper, my mother would look at her daughters’ empty places and exclaim with profound sadness: “My God, where has all of the joy of our home gone?” Then, resting her head on a little table beside her, she would burst into tears. My brother and I wept with her.
It was one of the saddest scenes I have ever witnessed. What with longing for my sisters, and seeing my mother so miserable, I felt my heart was just breaking. Although I was only a child, I understood perfectly the situation we were in. Then I remembered the Angels words: “Above all, accept submissively the sacrifices that the Lord will send you.” At such times, I used to withdraw to a solitary place, so as not to add to my mother’s suffering, by letting her see my own. This place was usually our well. There on my knees, leaning over the edge of the stone slabs that covered the well, my tears mingled with the waters below and I offered my suffering to God. Sometimes Jacinta and Francisco would come and find me like this, in bitter grief. As my voice was choked with sobs and I could not say a word, they shared my suffering to such a degree that they also wept copious tears. Then Jacinta made our offering aloud: “My God, it is an act of reparation, and for the conversion of sinners, that we offer you all these sufferings and sacrifices”. The formula of the offering was not always exact but the meaning was always the same.
So much suffering began to undermine my mother’s health. She was no longer able to work, so she sent for my sister Gloria to come and take care of her, and look after the house as well. All the surgeons and doctors around were consulted. We had recourse to every kind of remedy, but there was no improvement whatsoever. The good parish priest kindly offered to take my mother to Leiria in his mule cart, to consult the doctors there. Accompanied by my sister Teresa, she went to Leiria. But she arrived home half dead from such a journey, worn out after so many consultations, and having obtained no beneficial results of any kind. Finally a surgeon in S. Mamede was consulted. He declared that my mother had a cardiac lesion, a dislocated spinal vertebra and fallen kidneys. He perscribed for her a rigirius treatment of red-hot needles and various kinds of medication, and this brought about some improvement of her condition.
This is how things were with us when the 13th of May, 1917 arrived. It was around this time also that my brother reached the age for enlistment into the army. As his health was excellent, there was every reason to expect that he would be accepted. Besides, there was a war on, and it would be difficult to obtain his exemption from military service. My mother being afraid of being left alone with no one to look after the land, sent also for my sister Carolina to come home. Meanwhile, my brother’s godfather promised to obtain his exemption. He put in a word with the doctor responsible for his medical examination and thus the good Lord deigned to grant my mother this relief.
Apparitions of Our Lady
I will not delay now describing the Apparition of May 13th. It is well known to Your Excellency, and it would therefore be a waste of time for me to go into it here. You also know how my mother came to be aware of what happened, and how she spared no efforts to make me admit that I had lied. We agreed never to reveal to anyone the words Our Lady spoke to us that day. After having promised to take us to Heaven, she asked: “Are you willing to offer yourselves to God to bear all the sufferings He will send you, as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and of supplication for the conversion of sinners?” “Yes we are willing,” was our reply. “Then, you are going to have much to suffer, but the grace of God will be your comfort.”
The 13th of June, Feast of St Anthony, was always a day of great festivals in our parish. On that day, we usually let out the flocks very early in the morning, and at nine ‘oclock we shut them up in their pens again, and went off to the festa. My mother and my sisters, who knew how much I loved a festa, kept saying to me: “We’ve yet to see if you’ll leave the festa just to go to the Cova da Ira, and talk to that Lady!” On the day itself nobody said a single word to me. Insofar as I was concerned, they acted as if they were saying: “Leave her alone; and we’ll soon see what she’ll do!”
I let out my flock at daybreak, intending to put them back in the pen at nine, go to Mass at ten, and after that go to the Cova da Ira. But the sun was no sooner up than my brother came to call me. He told me to go back home, as there were several people there wanting to speak to me. He himself stayed with the flock, and I went to see what they wanted. I found some women, and men too, who had come from such places as Minde, from around Tomar, Carrascos, Boleiros, etc. They wished to accompany me to the Cova da Iria. I told them that it was early yet and invited them to the eight ‘o clock Mass. After that, I returned home. These good people waited for me out in the yard, in the shade of our fig trees. My mother and my sisters persisted in their contemptuos attitude, and this cut me to the heart, and was indeed as hurtful to me as insults. Around eleven o’clock, I left home and called at my uncle’s house, where Jacinta and Francisco were waiting for me. Then we sent off for the Cova da Iria, in expectation for the longed-for moment. All those people followed us, asking a thousand questions. On that day, I was overwhelmed with bitterness. I could see that my mother was deeply distressed, and that she wanted at all costs to compel me, as she put it, to admit that I had lied. I wanted so much to do as she wished, but the only way I could do so was to tell a lie. From the cradle, she had instilled into her children a great horror of lying, and she used to chastise severely anyone of us who told an untruth.
“I have seen to it,” she often said, “that my children always told the truth, and am I now to let the youngest get away with a thing like this? If it were a small just a small thing…! But a lie of such proportions, deceiving so many people and bringing them all the way here!” After these bitter complaints, she would turn to me, saying: “Make up your mind which you want! Either undo all this deception by telling these people that you’ve lied, or I’ll lock you up in a dark room where you won’t even see the light of the sun. After all the troubles I’ve been through, and now a thing like this to happen!” My sisters all sided with my mother, and all around me the atmosphere was one of utter scorn and contempt.
Then I would remember the old days, and ask myself: “Where is all that affection now, that my family had for me just such a short while ago?” My one relief was to weep before the Lord, as I offered Him this sacrifice. It was on this very day that in addition to what I have already narrated, Our Lady, as though guessing what was going on, said to me: “Are you suffering a great deal? Don’t loose heart. I will never forsake you. My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God.”
When Jacinta saw me in tears, she tried to console me, saying: “Don’t cry. Surely, these are the sacrifices which the Angel said that God was going to send us. That’s why you are suffering, so that you can make reparation to Him and convert sinners.”
Lucia’s Doubts and Temptatations
Around that time, our parish priest came to know of what was happening, and sent word to my mother to take me to his house. My mother felt she could breathe again, thinking the priest was going to take responsibility for these events on himself. She therefore said to me: “Tomorrow, we’re going to Mass, 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 them 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.”
My sisters took my mothers part and invented endless threats, just to frighten me about the interview with the parish priest. I told Jacinta and her brother all about it. “We’re going also,” they replied, “The Reverend Father told our mother to take us there too, but she didn’t say any of those things to us. Never Mind! If they beat us, we’ll suffer for love of Our Lord and for sinners.” Next day I walked behind my mother, who did not address a single word to me the whole way. I must admit that I was trembling at the thought of what was going to happen. During Mass, I offered my suffering to God. Afterwards, I followed my mother out of the church over the priest’s house, and started up the stairs leading to the verandah. We had climbed only a few steps, when my mother turned round and exclaimed: “Don’t annoy me any more! Tell the Reverend Father now that you have lied, so that 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 the crowd running to the Cove da Iria, just to pray in front of a holm oak bush!”
Without more ado, she knocked on the door. The good priest’s daughter opened the door and invited us to sit down on a bench and wait a while. At last, the parish priest appeared. He took us into his study, motioned my mother to take a seat, and beckoned me over to his desk. When I found that his Reverence was questioning me quite calmly, and with such a kindly manner, I was amazed. I was still fearful, however, of what was yet to come. The interrogation was very minute and, I would venture to say, tiresome. His Reverence concluded with this brief observation: “It doesn’t seem to me like a revelation from Heaven. It is usual in such cases for Our Lord to tell the souls to whom He makes such communications to give their confessor 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.”
Encouragement from Jacinta and Francisco
How much this reflection made me suffer, only God knows, for He alone can penetrate our inmost heart. I began then to have doubts as to whether these manifestations might be from the devil, who was seeking by these means to make me lose my soul. As I heard people say that the devil always brings conflict and disorder, I began to think that, truly, ever since I had started seeing these things, our home was no longer the same, for joy and peace had fled. What anguish I felt! I made known my doubts to my cousins. “No, it’s not the devil!” replied Jacinta, “not at all! They say that the devil is very ugly and that he is down under the ground in hell. But that Lady is so beautiful, and we saw Her go up to Heaven!”
Our Lord made use of this to allay somewhat the doubts I had. But during the course of that month, I lost all enthusiasm for making sacrifices and acts of mortification, and ended up hesitating as to whether it would be better to say that I had been lying, and so put an end to the whole thing. “Don’t do that!” exclaimed Jacinta and Francisco. “Don’t you see that now you are going to tell a lie, and to tell lies is a sin?” While in this state of mind, I had a dream which only increased the darkness of my spirit. 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. She called out to me in alarm, and asked me what was the matter. I can’t recall what I told her, but I do remember that I was so paralyzed with fear that I couldn’t sleep anymore 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 poor children! At times they would search for me, calling out my name and receiving no answer, but I was there all the while, hidden right close to them in some corner where they never thought of looking.
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 is the devil, why should I go to see him? If they ask me why I’m not going, I’ll say that I’m afraid it might be the devil who is appearing to us, and for that reason I’m not going back to the Cova da Iria anymore.” My decision made, I was firmly resolved to act on it.
By the evening of the 12th, the people were already gathering, in anticipation of the events of the following day. I therefore called Jacinta and Francisco, and told them of my resolution. “We’re going,” they answered: “The Lady said we were to go.” Jacinta volunteered to speak to the Lady, but she was so upset over my not going, that she started to cry. I asked her for the reason for her tears. “Because you don’t want to go!” “No, I’m not going. Listen! If the Lady asks for me, tell her I’m not going, because I am afraid that it may be the devil.” I left them then, to go and hide, and so avoid having to speak to all the people who came looking for me to ask questions. My mother thought I was playing with the children of the village, when all the time I was hidden behind the bramble bushes in a neighbors property which adjoined the Arneiro, a little to the east of the well which I have mentioned so many times already. She scolded me, as soon as I got home that night: “A fine little plaster saint aren’t you, 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!”
On the following day, when it was nearly time to leave, I suddenly felt I had to go, impelled by a strange force that I could hardly resist. Then I set out, and called at my uncle’s house to see if Jacinta was still there. I found her in her room, together with her brother Francisco, kneeling beside the bed, crying. “Aren’t you going then?” I asked. “Not without you! We don’t dare. Do come!” “Yes, I’m going,” I replied. Their faces lightened up with joy, and they set out with me. Crowds of people were waiting for us along the road, and only with difficulty did we finally get there. This was the day on which Our Lady deigned to reveal to us the Secret. After that, to revive my flagging fervor, She said to us: “Sacrifice yourselves for sinners, and say many times to Jesus, especially when 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.”
Lucia’s Mother Has Doubts
Thanks to Our good Lord, this apparition dispelled the clouds from my soul and my peace was restored. My poor mother worried more and more, as she saw the crowds who came flocking from all parts. “These poor people,” she said, “come here, taken in by your trickery, you can be sure of that, and I really don’t know what I can do to undeceive them.” A poor man who boasted of making fun of us, of insulting us, and even going so far as to beat us, asked my mother one day: “Well ma’am, what have you got to say about your daughter’s visions?” “I don’t know,” she answered, “It seems to me that she’s nothing but a fake, who is leading half the world astray.” “Don’t say that out loud, or somebody’s likely to kill her. I think there are people around here, who’d only be too glad to do so.” “Oh, I don’t care, just so long as they force her to confess the truth. As for me, I always tell the truth, whether against my children, or anybody else, or even against myself.”
And, truly, this was so. My mother always told the truth, even against herself. We, her children, are indebted to her for this good example. One day, she resolved to make a fresh attempt to compel me to retract all that I had said, as she put it. She made up her mind to take me back the very next day to the parish priest’s house. Once there, I was to confess that I had lied, to ask his pardon, and to perform whatever penance His Reverence thought fit or desired to impose on me. This time the attack was so strong, that I did not know what to do. On the way, as I passed my uncle’s house, I ran inside to tell Jacinta, who was still in bed, what was taking place. Then I hurried out and followed my mother. In my account about Jacinta, I have already told Your Excellency about the part played by her and her brother in this trial which the Lord had sent us, and how they prayed as they waited for me at the well, and so on. As we walked along, my mother preached me a fine sermon. At a certain point I said to her trembling: “But mother, how can I say that I did not see, when I did see?” My mother was silent. As we drew near the priest’s house, she declared: “Just you listen to me! What I want is that you should tell the truth. If you saw, say so! But if you didn’t see, admit you lied.”
Without another word, we climbed the stairs, and the good priest received us in his study with the greatest and even I might almost say, with affection. He questioned me seriously, but most courteously, and resorted to various stratagems to see if I would contradict myself, or be inconsistent in my statements. Finally he dismissed us, shrugging his shoulders, as if to imply: “I don’t know what to make of all this!”
The Administrators Threats
Not many days later, our parents were notified to the effect that all three of us, Jacinta, Francisco and myself, together with our fathers were to appear at a given hour on the following day before the Administration in Vils Nova Ourem. This meant that we had to make a journey of about nine miles, a considerable distance for three small children. The only means of transport in those days was either our own two feet or to ride on a donkey. My uncle sent word right away that he would appear himself but as for his children, he was not taking them. “They’d never stand the trip on foot, he said: “And not being used to riding, they could never manage to stay on the donkey. And anyway, there’s no sense in bringing two children like that before a court.” My parents thought the opposite: “My daughter is going. Let her answer for herself! As for me, I understand nothing of these things. If she is lying then it is a good thing that she should be punished for it.”
Very early the next morning, they put me on a donkey and off I went, accompanied by my father and my uncle. I fell off the donkey three times along the way. I think I have already told you Your Excellency, how much Jacinta and Francisco suffered that day thinking I was going to be killed. As for me, what hurt me most was the indifference shown me by my parents. This was all the more obvious, since I could see how affectionally my aunt and uncle treated their children. I remember thinking to myself as we went along: “How different my parents are from my uncle and aunt. They risk themselves to defend their children, while my parents hand me over with the greatest indifference, and let them do what they like with me! But I must be patient.” I reminded myself in my inmost heart: “since this means I have the happiness of suffering more for love of You, O my God, and for the conversion of sinners.” This reflection never failed to bring me consolation.
At the Administration office, I was interrogated by the Administrator, in the presence of my father, my uncle and several other gentlemen who were strangers to me. The Administrator was determined to force me to reveal the secret and to promise him never to return to the Cova da Iria. To attain his end, he spared neither promises nor even threats. Seeing he was getting nowhere, he dismissed me, protesting however, that he would achieve his end, even if it meant that he had to take my life. He then strongly reprimanded my uncle for not having carried out his orders, and finally let us go home.
Trouble in Lucia’s Family
In the intimacy of my own family, there was fresh trouble, and the blame for this was thrown on me. The Cova da Iria ws a piece of land belonging to my parents. In the hollow it was more fertile, and there we cultivated maize, greens, peas and other vegetables. On the slopes grew olive trees, oaks and holm oaks. Now, ever since the people began to go there, we had been unable to cultivate anything at all. Everything was trampled on. As the majority came mounted, their animals ate up all they could find and wrecked the whole place. My mother bewailed her loss: “You know,” she said to me, “when you want something to eat, go and ask the Lady for it!” My sisters chimed in with; “Yes, you can have what grows in the Cova da Iria!”
These remarks cut me to the heart, so much so that I hardly dared to take a piece of bread to eat. To force me to tell the truth, as she said, my mother, more often than not, beat me soundly with the broom-handle or a stick from the wood pile near the fireplace. But in spite of this, mother that she was, she then tried to revive my failing strength. She was full of concern when she saw me so thin and pale, and feared I might fall sick. Poor mother! Now, indeed, that I understand what her situation really was, how sorry I feel for her! Truly, she was right to judge me unworthy of such a favour, and therefore to think I was lying.
By a special grace from our Lord, I never experienced the slightest thought or feeling of resentment regarding her manner of acting towards me. As the Angel announced that God would send me sufferings, I always saw the hand of God in it all. The love, esteem and respect which I owed her, went on increasing, just as though I were most dearly cherished. And now, I am more grateful to her for having treated me like this, than if she had continued to surround me with endearments and caresses.
Lucia’s First Spiritual Director
It seems to me that it was in the course of this month that Rev. Dr. Formigao came for the first time to question me. His interrogation was serious and detailed. I liked him very much, for he spoke to me a great deal about the practice of virtue and taught me various ways of exercising myself in it. He showed me a holy picture of St. Agnes, told me about her martyrdom and encouraged me to imitate her. His Reverence continued to come every month for an interrogation, and always ended up giving me some good advice, which was of help to me spiritually. One day he said to me: “My child, you must love Our Lord very much, in return for so many favours and graces that He is granting you.”
These words made such an impression on my soul that, from then on, I acquired the habit of constantly saying, “My God, I love you, in thanksgiving for the graces which You have granted me.” I so loved this ejaculation, that I passed it on to Jacinta and her brother, who took it so much to heart that in the middle of the most exciting games, Jacinta would ask: “Have you been forgetting to tell Our Lord how much you love Him for the graces He has given us?”
Imprisonment at Ourem
Meanwhile the 13th day of August had dawned. Ever since the previous evening, crowds had been pouring in from all parts. They all wanted to see and question us, and recommended their petitions to us, so that we could submit them to the most Holy Virgin. In the middle of all that crowd, we were like a ball in the hands of boys at play. We were pulled hither and thither, everyone asking us questions without giving us a chance to answer anybody. In the midst of all this commotion, an order came from the Administrator, telling me to go to my aunts house, where he was awaiting me. My father got the notification and it was he who took me there. When I arrived, he was in a room with my cousins. He interrogated us there, and made fresh attempts to force us to reveal the secret and to promise that we would not go back to the Cova da Iria. As he achieved nothing, he gave orders to my father and my uncle to take us to the parish priest’s house.
I will not delay now to tell Your Excellency about everything else that happened during our imprisonment, for you already know it all. As I previously explained to Your Excellency, what I felt most deeply and what caused me most suffering on that occasion was my being completely abandoned by my family; and it was the same for my little cousins. After this journey of imprisonment, for I really don’t know what to call it, I returned home, as far as I can remember, on the 15th of August. To celebrate my arrival, they sent me right away to let out the sheep and take them off to pasture. My uncle and aunt wanted their children to stay with them at home, and therefore sent their brother John in their place. As it was already late, we stayed in the vicinity of our little hamlet, at a place called Valinhos.
What happened next is also known to Your Excellency: therefore I will not delay here to describe this either. Once again the Blessed Virgin recommended to us the practice of mortification, and ended up by saying: “Pray, pray very much, and make sacrifices for sinners; for many souls go to hell, because there are none to sacrifice themselves and to pray for them.”
Penances and Sufferings
Some days later, as we were walking along the road with our sheep, I found a piece of rope that had fallen off a cart. I picked it up and, just for fun, I tied it around my arm. Before long, I noticed that the rope was hurting me. “Look, this hurts!” I said to my cousins. “We could tie it round our waist and offer this sacrifice to God.” The poor children promptly fell in with my suggestion. We then set about dividing it between the three of us, by placing it across a stone and striking it with the sharp edge of another one that served as a knife. Either because of the thickness or roughness of the rope, or sometimes we tied it too tightly, this instrument of penance often caused us terrible suffering. Now and then, Jacinta could not keep back her tears, so great was the discomfort this caused her. Whenever I urged her to remove it, she replied: “No! I want to offer this sacrifice to Our Lord in reparation, and for the conversion of sinners.”
Another day we were playing, picking little plants off the wall and pressing them in our hands to hear them crack. While Jacinta was plucking these plants, she happened to catch hold of some nettles and stung herself. She no sooner felt the pain than she squeezed them more tightly in her hands, and said to us: “Look! Look! Here is something else with which we can mortify ourselves!” From that time on, we used to hit our legs occasionally with nettles, so as to offer to God yet another sacrifice. If I am not mistaken, it was also during this month that we acquired the habit of giving our lunch to our little poor children, as I have already described to Your Excellency in the account about Jacinta. It was during this month too, that my mother began to feel a little more at peace. She would say: “If there were just one more person who had seen something, why then, I might believe! But among all those people, they’re the only ones who saw anything!”
Now, during this past month, various people were saying that they had seen different things. Some had seen Our Lady, others, various signs in the sun, and so on. My mother declared: “I used to think before, that if there were just one other person who saw anything, then I’d believe; but now, so many people say they have seen something, and I still don’t believe!” My father also began, about then, to come to my defense, and to silence those who started scolding me; as he used to say: “We don’t know if it’s true, but neither do we know if it’s a lie.” Then it was my uncle and aunt, wearied out by the troublesome demands of all these outsiders who were continually wanting to see us and speak to us, began to send their son John out to pasture the flock, and they themselves remained home with Jacinta and Francisco. Shortly afterwards, they ended by selling the sheep altogether.
As I did not enjoy any other company, I started to go out alone with my sheep. As I’ve already told Your Excellency, whenever I happened to be nearby, Jacinta and her brother would come to join me; and when the pasture was at a distance they would be waiting for me on the way home. I can truly say that these were really happy days. Alone, in the midst of my sheep, whether on the tops of the hills or in the depths of the valleys below, I contemplated the beauty of the Heavens and thanked the good God for all the graces He had bestowed on me. When the voice of one of my sisters broke in on my solitude, calling me to go back home to talk to some person or other who had come looking for me, I felt a keen displeasure, and my only consolation was to be able to offer up to our dear Lord yet another sacrifice. On a certain day, three gentlemen came to speak to us. After questioning, which was anything but pleasant, they took their leave with this remark: “See that you decide to tell that secret of yours. If you don’t, the Administrator has every intention of taking your lives!” Jacinta, her face lighting up with a joy that she made no effort to hide, said: “How wonderful! I so love Our Lord and Our Lady, and this way we’ll be seeing them soon!” The rumor got round that the Administrator had every intention to kill us. This led my aunt, who was married and lived in Casais, to come to our house with the express purpose of taking us home with her, for, as she explained: “I live in another district and, therefore, this Administrator cannot lay hands on you there.” But her plan was never carried out, because we were unwilling to go, and replied: “If they kill us, it’s all the same! We’ll go to heaven!”
Now the 13th of September was drawing near, in addition to what I have already related. Our Lady said to us on this day: “God is pleased with your sacrifices, but He does not want you to sleep with the rope on; only wear it during the day.” Needless to say, we promptly obeyed His orders. Since it seemed Our Lord had a month before, He wished to give some visible sign out of the ordinary, my mother eagerly hoped that, on this day, such signs would be still more clear and evident. The good Lord, however, perhaps to give us the opportunity to offer Him yet another sacrifice, permitted that no ray of His glory should appear on this day. My mother lost heart once more, and the persecution at home began all over again.
She had indeed many reasons to be so upset. The Cova da Iria was now a total loss, not only as a fine pasture for our flock, but even as regards the eatables we had grown there. Added to this was my mother’s almost certain conviction, as she expressed it, that the events themselves were nothing but foolish fancies and mere childish imaginings. One of my sisters did scarcely anything else but go and call me, and take my place with the flock, while I went to speak to the people who were asking to see me and talk with me.
This waste of time would have meant nothing to a wealthy family, but for ourselves who had to live by our work, it meant a great deal. After some time, my mother found herself obliged to sell our flock, and this made no small difference to the support of the family. I was blamed for the whole thing, and at critical moments, it was all flung in my face. I hope Our dear Lord has accepted it all from me, for I offered it to Him always happy to be able to sacrifice myself for Him and for sinners. On her part, my mother endured everything with heroic patience and resignation: and if she reprimanded me and punished me it was because she really thought that I was lying. She was completely resigned to the crosses which Our Lord was sending her, and at times she would say: “Could it be that all this is God’s work, in punishment for my sins? If so, then blessed be God!”
Lucia’s Spirit of Sacrifice
A neighbour took it on herself one day, why I do not know, to remark that some gentleman had given me some money, though I cannot remember how much. Without more ado, my mother called me and asked for it. When I told her I hadn’t received any, she wanted to force me to hand it over to her, and to this end, had recourse to the broom-handle. When the dust had been well beaten out of my clothes, Carolina, one of my sisters, intervened, along with a girl from our neighbourhood, called Virginia. They said they had been present at the interrogation, and they had seen that the gentleman had actually given me nothing at all. Thanks to their defending me, I was able to slip away to my beloved well, and there offer another sacrifice to Our Good Lord.
A Tall Visitor
If I am not mistaken, it was also during this month that a young man made his appearance at our home. He was of such tall stature that I trembled with fear. when I saw he had to bend down in order to come through the doorway in search of me. I thought I must be in the presence of a German. At that time we were at war, and grown ups would try to frighten children by saying: “Here comes a German to kill you.” I thought, therefore, that my last hour had come. My fright did not pass unnoticed, by the young man, who sought to calm me; he made me sit on his knee and questioned me with great kindness. His interrogation over, he asked my mother to let me go and show him the site of the apparitions, and pray with him there. He obtained the desired permission and off we went. But all along the way, I trembled with fear at finding myself alone with a stranger. Then I began to feel tranquil again at the thought that if he killed me, I would go and see Our Lord and Lady. On arriving at the place, he knelt down and asked me to pray the Rosary with Him to obtain a special grace from Our Lady that he greatly desired; that a certain young lady would consent to receive him in the sacrament of matrimony. I wondered at such a request, and thought to myself, “If she has as much fear of him as I, she will never say yes!” When the Rosary was over, the good young man accompanied me most of the way home, and then bade me a friendly farewell, recommending his request to me again. I ran off helter skelter to my aunt’s house, still afraid he might turn around and come back!
What was my surprise then, on the 13th of October, when I suddenly found myself after the apparitions, in the arms of this same person, sailing along over the heads of people. It actually served to satisfy the curiosity of everybody who wanted to see me! After a little while, the good man, who was unable to see where he was going, stumbled and fell. I didn’t fall, as I was caught in the crush of people who pressed around me. Right away, others took hold of me, and this gentleman disappeared. It was not until sometime later that he appeared again, this time accompanied by the aforesaid girl, who was now his wife! He came to thank the Blessed Virgin for the grace received, and to ask Her copious blessings on their future. This young man is today Dr. Carlos Mendes of Torres Novas.
Now Your Excellency, here we are at the 13th October. You already know all that happened on that day. Of all the words spoken at this Apparition, the ones most deeply engraved upon my heart were those of the request made by our Heavenly Mother: “Do not offend Our Lord and God any more, because He is already so much offended!” How loving a complaint, how tender a request! Who will grant me to make it echo through the whole world, so that all the children of Our Mother in Heaven may hear the sound of her voice!
The rumour had spread that the authorities intended to explode a bomb quite close to the Apparition. This did not frighten me in the least. I spoke of it to my cousins. “How wonderful!” We exclaimed: “If we were granted the grace of going up to Heaven from there, together with Our Lady!” My parents, however, were very much afraid, and for the first time they wished to accompany me, saying that if their daughter was going to die, they wanted to die by her side. My father then took me by the hand to the place of the Apparitions. But from the moment of the Apparition itself, I did not set eyes on him again until I was back home with the family that night.
I spent the afternoon of that day with my cousins. We were like some curious creature that the multitudes wanted to see and observe. By night time I was really exhausted after so many questions and interrogations. These did not even end with nightfall. Several people, who had been unable to question me, remained over till the following day, awaiting their turn. Some of them even tried to talk to me that night, but, overcome by weariness, I just dropped down and fell asleep on the floor. Thank God, human respect and self-love were, at the time, still unknown to me. For that reason, I was as much at ease with any person at all, as I was with my parents.
On the following days, or rather, to be accurate, on the following days, the questionings continued. Almost every day, from then on, people went to the Cova da Iria to implore the protection of our heavenly Mother. Everybody wanted to see the seers, to put questions to them, and to recite the Rosary with them. At times, I was so tired of saying the same thing over and over again, and also of praying, that I looked for any pretext for excusing myself, and making my escape. But those poor people were so insistent, that I had to make an effort, and indeed no small effort, in order to satisfy them. I then repeated my usual prayer deep down in my heart: “O my God, it is for love of You, in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary, for the conversion of sinners, and for the Holy Father!”
Questioned by Priests
In the account that I have written about my cousin, I have already told Your Excellency how two holy priests came and spoke to us about His Holiness, and told us of his great need of prayers. From that time on, there was not a prayer or a sacrifice that we offered God which did not include an invocation for His Holiness. We grew to love the Holy Father so deeply, that when the parish priest told my mother I would probably have to go to Rome to be interrogated by His Holiness, I clapped my hands with joy and said to my cousins: “Won’t it be wonderful if I can go and see the Holy Father!” They burst into tears and said: “We can’t go, but we can offer this sacrifice for him.”
The parish priest questioned me for the last time. The events had duly come to an end at the appointed time, and still His Reverence did not know what to say about the whole affair. He was also beginning to show his displeasure. “Why are all those people going to prostrate themselves in prayer in a deserted spot like that, while here the living God of our altars, in the Blessed Sacrament, is left all alone, abandoned, in the Tabernacle? What’s all the money for, the money they leave under the holm oak, while the church, which is under repairs, cannot be completed for lack of funds?” I understood perfectly why he spoke like that, but what could I do! If I had been given the authority over the hearts of those people, I would certainly have lead them to the parish church, but as I had not, I offered God yet another sacrifice.
As Jacinta was in the habit of putting her head down, keeping her eyes fixed on the ground and scarcely uttering a word during the interrogations, I was usually called upon to satisfy the curiosity of the pilgrims. For that reason, I was continually being summoned to the house of the parish priest. On one occasion, a priest from Torres Novas came to question me. When he did so, he went into such minute details, and tried so hard to trip me up, that afterwards I felt some scruples about having concealed certain things from him. I consulted my cousin on the matter: “I don’t know,” I asked them, “if we are doing wrong by not telling them everything, when they ask us if Our Lady told us anything else, when we just say that She told us a secret. I don’t know whether we are lying or not, by saying nothing about the rest.” “I don’t know,” replied Jacinta. “That is up to you! You’re the one who does not want us to say anything.” “Of course I don’t want you to say anything.” I answered. “Why, they’ll start asking us what sort of mortifications we are practicing! And that would be the last straw! Listen! If you had kept quiet, and not said a word, nobody would have known by now that we saw Our Lady, or spoke to Her, or to the Angel, and nobody needed to know it anyway!”
The poor child had no sooner heard my arguments than she started to cry. Just as she did in May, she asked for my forgiveness in the way I have already described in my account of her life. So I was left with my scruple, and had no idea how I was to resolve my doubt. A while later, another priest appeared: he was from Santarem. He looked like a brother of the first I’ve just spoken of, or at least they seemed to have rehearsed things together, asking the same questions, making the same attempts to trip me up, laughing and making fun of me in the same way; in fact their very height and features were almost identical. After the interrogation, my doubt was stronger than ever, and I really did not know what course of action to follow. I constantly pleaded with Our Lord and Our Lady to tell me what to do. “O my God and my dearest Mother in Heaven, you know that I do not want to offend You by telling lies, but you know that it would not be right to tell them all that you told me!”
In the midst of this perplexity, I had the happiness of speaking to the Vicar of Olival. I do not know why, but His Reverence inspired me with confidence, and I confided my doubt to him. I have already explained, in my account of Jacinta, how he taught us to keep our secret. He also gave us some further instructions on the spiritual life. Above all, he taught us to give pleasure to Our Lord in everything, and how to offer Him countless little sacrifices. “If you feel like eating something my children,” he would say: “leave it and eat something else instead: and thus offer a sacrifice to God. If you feel inclined to play, do not do so, and offer to God another sacrifice. If people question you, and you cannot avoid answering them, it is God who wills it so: offer this sacrifice too.”
This holy priest spoke a language that I could really understand, and I loved him dearly. From then on, he never lost sight of my soul. Now and then, he called in to see me, or kept in touch with me through a pious widow called Sonora Emillia, who lived in a little hamlet near Olival! She was very devout and often went to pray at the Cova de Iria. After that, she used to come to our house and ask them to let me go and spend a few days with her. Then we paid a visit to the Reverend Vicar who was kind enough to invite me to remain for two or three days as company for one of his sisters. At such times, he was patient enough to spend whole hours alone with me, teaching me the practice of virtue and guiding me with his own wise counsels. Even at the time I did not understand anything about spiritual direction, I can truly say, that he was my first spiritual director. I cherish, therefore, grateful and holy memories of this saintly priest.
After the Apparitions, Lucia Goes to School
Oh dear, here I am writing about rhyme or reason, as we say, and already leaving various things that I should have said! But I am doing as Your Excellency told me: writing just what I remember and in all simplicity. That is what I want to do without worrying about order or style. In that way, I think my obedience is more perfect, and therefore more pleasing to Our Lord and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. I will go back, then, to my parents’ home. I have told Your Excellency that my mother had to sell our flock. We kept only three sheep, which we took along with us when we went to the fields. Whenever we stayed at home, we kept them in the pen and fed them there. My mother then sent me to school, and in my free time, she wanted me to learn weaving and sewing. In this way, she had me safe in the house, and didn’t have to waste time looking for me.
One fine day, my sisters were asked to go with some other girls to help with the vintage on the property of a wealthy man of Pe de Cao. My mother decided to let them go, as long as I could go, too. I have already said earlier on, that my mother never allowed them to go anywhere, unless they took me with them.
Lucia and the Parish
At that time also, the parish priest began preparing the children for a solemn Communion. Since the age of six, I had repeated my solemn Communion every year, but this year my mother decided I would not do so. For this reason I did not attend the Catechism classes. After school, the other children went to the parish priest’s verandah, while I went home to get on with my sewing or weaving. The good priest did not take kindly to my absence from the Catechism classes.
One day on my way home from school, his sister sent another child after me. She caught up with me on the road to Aljustrel, near the house of a poor man who was nick-named Snail. She told me that the parish priest’s sister wanted me, and that I was to go straight back. Thinking that I was just wanted for questioning. I excused myself saying that my mother had told me to go home right after school. Without further ado, I took to my heels across the fields like a mad thing, in search of a hiding place where no one could find me. But this time the prank cost me dear. Some days later there was a big feast in the parish, and several priests came from all around to sing the Mass. When it was over, the parish priest sent for me, and in front of all those priests, reprimanded me severely for not attending the Catechism lessons, and for not running back to his sister when she had sent for me. In short all my faults and failings were brought to light, and the sermon went on for quite a long while. At last, though I don’t know how, a holy priest appeared on the scene, and sought to plead my cause. He tried to excuse me saying that perhaps my mother had not given me permission. But the good priest replied: “Her mother! Why, she is a saint! But as for this one, it remains to be seen what she’ll turn out to be!”
The good priest, who later became Vicar of Torres Novas, then asked me very kindly why I had not been to the Catechism classes. I therefore told him of my mother’s decision. His Reverence did not seem to believe me and sent for my sister Gloria, who was over by the church, to find out the truth of the matter. Having found that indeed things were just as I had said, he came to this conclusion: “Well then! Either the child is going to attend the Catechism classes for the days still remaining and afterwards come to me for confession, and then make her solemn Communion with all of the rest of the children, or she’s never going to receive Communion again in this parish!” When my sister heard this proposal, she pointed out that I was due to leave with my sisters five days beforehand, and such arrangements would be most inconvenient. She added that, if His Reverence so desired, I could go to Confession and Communion some other day, before we left. The good priest paid no attention to her request, and stood firm by his decision.
When we reached home, we told my mother all about it. She also went to the Reverend Father to ask him to hear my confession and give me Holy Communion on another day. But it was all in vain. My mother then decided that, after the solemn Communion day, my brother would make the journey with me, in spite of the long distance and the difficulties caused by the extremely bad roads, winding up and down the hills and highlands. I think I must have sweated ink at the mere idea of having to go to confession to the parish priest! I was so upset that I cried.
On the day before the solemn Communion, His Reverence sent for all the children to go to church in the afternoon to make their confession. As I went, anguish gripped my heart as in a vice. As I entered the church I saw that there were several priests hearing confessions. There at the end of the church was Reverend Father Cruz from Lisbon. I had spoken to his Reverence before, and I liked him very much indeed. Without noticing that the parish priest was in an open confessional half way up the church, I thought to myself: “First I’ll go and make my confession to Father Cruz and ask him what I am to do, and then I’ll go to the parish priest.” Dr. Cruz received me with the greatest kindness.
After hearing my confession, he gave me some advice, telling me that if I do not want to go to the parish priest, I should not do so; and that he could not refuse me Communion for something like that. I was radiant with joy on hearing this advice and said my penance. Then I made good my escape from the church, for fear lest somebody might call me back. Next day, I went to the church all dressed in white, still afraid that I might be refused Communion. But His Reverence contented himself with letting me know that my lack of obedience in going to confession with another priest, had not gone unnoticed. The good priest grew more and more displeased and perplexed concerning these events until, one day he left the parish. The news then went round that His Reverence had left on account of me, because he did not want to assume responsibility for these events. He was a zealous priest and much beloved among the people, and so I had much to suffer as a result. Several pious women, whenever they met me, gave vent to their displeasure by insulting me, and sometimes sent me on my way with a couple of blows or kicks.
Companions in Sympathy and in Sacrifice
These heaven-sent caresses were rarely meted out to Jacinta and Francisco, for their parents would not allow anyone to lay their hands on them. But they suffered when they saw me suffering, and many a time tears ran down their cheeks whenever they saw me distressed or humiliated. One day, Jacinta said to me: “If only my parents were like yours, so that those people would beat me too, then I’d have more sacrifices to offer Our Lord.” However she knew how to make the most of opportunities for mortifying herself. Occasionally also, we were in the habit of offering God the sacrifice of spending nine days or a month without taking a drink. Once we made this sacrifice even in the month of August, when the weather was suffocating.
As we were returning one day from the Cova da Iria where we had been praying our Rosary, we came to a pond beside the road, and Jacinta said to me: “Oh I’m so thirsty, and my head aches so! I’m going to drink a little drop of this water.” “Not that water” I answered: “My mother doesn’t want us to drink it, because it is not good for us. We’ll go and ask Maria dos Anjos for some.” (She was a neighbour of ours, who had been recently married and was living near there in a small house). “No! I don’t want good water. I’d rather drink this, because instead of offering Our Lord our thirst, I could offer Him the sacrifice of drinking this dirty water.” As a matter of fact, this water was filthy. People washed their clothes in it, and the animals came there to drink and waded right into it. That was why my mother warned her children not to drink this water.
At other times, Jacinta would say: “Our Lord must be pleased with our sacrifices, because I am so thirsty, so thirsty! Yet I do not want to take a drink. I want to suffer for love of Him.” One day, we were sitting in the doorway of my uncle’s house, when we noticed several people approaching. Not having time to do anything else, Francisco and I ran inside to hide under the beds, he in one room and I in another. Jacinta said: “I’m not going to hide. I am going to offer this sacrifice to Our Lord.” These people came up and talked to her, waiting around quite a long time until I could be found. Finally they went away. I slipped out of my hiding place and asked Jacinta: “What did you answer when they asked if you knew where we were?” “I said nothing at all. I put my head down, kept my eyes fixed on the ground, and said nothing. I always do that, when I don’t want to tell the truth; and I don’t want to tell a lie either, because lying is a sin.”
She was indeed accustomed to do just this, and it was useless to question her if those who did so obtained no response whatsoever. If escape were at all possible, we normally felt little inclined to offer this kind of sacrifice. Another day, we were sitting in the shade of two fig trees overhanging the road that runs by my cousin’s house. Francisco began to play a little way off. He saw several ladies coming towards us and ran back to warn us. We promptly climbed up the fig trees. In those days it was the fashion to wear hats with brims as wide as a sieve, and we were sure with such head gear, those people would never catch sight of us up there. As soon as the ladies had gone by, we came down as fast as we could, took to our heels and hid in the cornfield.
This habit we had of making good our escape, whenever possible, was yet another cause for complaint on the part of the parish priest. He bitterly complained of the way we tried to avoid priests in particular. His Reverence was certainly right. It was priests especially who put us through the most rigorous cross-examinations, and then returned to question us all over again. Whenever we found ourselves in the presence of a priest, we prepared to offer to God one of our greatest sacrifices!
Meanwhile, the Government showed disapproval of the way affairs were progressing. At the place of the Apparitions some people had erected poles to form an arch, hung with lanterns which they were careful to keep always burning. One night orders were given for some men to pull down these poles, and also cut down the holm oak on which the Apparitions had taken place, and drag it away with them behind a car. In the morning, news of what had happened spread like wildfire. I ran to the place to see if it were true. But what was my delight to find that the poor men had made a mistake, and that instead of cutting down the holm oak, they had carried off one of the others growing nearby! I then asked Our Lady to forgive these poor men and I prayed for their conversion.
Some time later, on the 13th of May, I don’t remember whether it was 1918 or 1919, news went round at dawn that cavalry men were in Fatima to prevent the people from going to the Cova da Iria. Everybody was alarmed, and came to give me the news, assuring me without any doubt this was to be the last day of my life. Without taking this news too seriously, I set out for the church. When I reached Fatima, I passed between the horses which were all over the church grounds, and went into the church. I heard Mass celebrated by a priest I did not know, received Holy Communion, made my thanksgiving and went back home without anyone saying a single word to me, or that they did not think me worthy of notice. News kept coming in that the troops were trying in vain to keep the people away from the Cova da Iria. In spite of this, I went there too to recite the Rosary. On the way I was joined by a group of women who had come from a distance. As we drew near the place, two cavalrymen gave their horses a smart crack of the whip and advanced at full speed towards the group. They pulled up beside us and asked where we were going. The women boldly replied that it was none of their business. They whipped the horses again as though they meant to charge forward and trample us underfoot. The women ran in all directions and a moment later I found myself alone with the cavalry men. Then they asked me my name, and I gave it without hesitation. They next asked me if I was the seer, and I said I was. They ordered me to step out onto the middle of the road between the two horses, and proceed in the direction of Fatima.
As we reached the pond I spoke of earlier, a poor woman who lived there and whom I have also mentioned, seeing me coming in the distance between the two horses, ran out as I approached, into the middle of the road, like another Veronica. The soldiers lost no time in getting her out of the way, and the poor woman burst into a flood of tears, loudly bewailing my misfortune. A few paces further on, they stopped and asked me if the woman was my mother. I said she was not. They did not believe me and asked if that house was my home. I again said “No!” Still apparently not believing me, they ordered me to walk a little ahead until I arrived at my parents house.
When we reached a plot of ground that lies on the outskirts of Aljustrel, where there was a small spring, and some trenches dug for planting vines, they called a halt and said to one another, probably in order to frighten me: “Here are some open trenches. Let’s cut off her head with one of our swords, and leave her here dead and buried. Then we’ll be finished with this business once and for all.” When I heard these words, I thought that my last moment had really come, but I was as much at peace as if it did not concern me at all. After a minute or two during which they seemed to be thinking it over, the other replied: “No. We have no authority to do such a thing.” They ordered me to keep going. So I went straight through our little village, until I arrived at my parents house. All the neighbours were at the windows and doors of their houses to see what was going on. Some were laughing and making fun of me, others were lamenting my sorry plight . When we reached my home, they ordered me to call my parents, but they were not at home. One of them dismounted and went to see if my parents were hiding inside. He searched the house but found no one; whereupon he gave orders for me to stay in doors for the rest of the day. Then he mounted his horse and they both rode off.
Late in the afternoon, news went round that the troops had withdrawn, defeated by the people. At sunset I was praying my Rosary in the Cova da Iria, accompanied by hundreds of people. While I was under arrest, according to what we heard later, some persons went to tell my mother what was happening, and she replied: “If it is true that she saw Our Lady, Our Lady will defend her; and if she is lying, it will serve her right to be punished.” And she remained in peace as before. Now someone will ask me: And where were your little companions, while all this was going on?” I don’t know. I can recall nothing at all of their whereabouts at that time. Perhaps in view of the news that got abroad, their parents did not allow them at all to leave the house that day.
Lucia’s Mother Falls Seriously Ill
Such suffering on my part must have been pleasing to Our Lord, because He was about to prepare a most bitter chalice for me which He was soon to give me to drink. My mother fell so seriously ill that, at one stage, we thought she was dying. All her children gathered around her bed to receive her last blessing, and to kiss the hand of their dying mother. As I was the youngest my turn came at last. When my mother saw me she brightened up a little, flung her arms around my neck and with a deep sigh, exclaimed: “My poor daughter, what will become of you without your mother! I am dying with my heart pieced through because of you.” Then bursting into tears and sobbing bitterly, she clasped me more and more tightly in her arms. My eldest sister forcibly pulled me away from my mother, took me to the kitchen and forbade me to go back to the sick room, saying: “Mother is going to die of grief because of all the trouble you have given her!” I knelt down, put my head on a bench, and in a distress more bitter than any I had ever known before, I made the offering of my sacrifice to our dear Lord. A few minutes later, my two older sisters, thinking the case was hopeless, came to me and said: “Lucia! If it is true that you saw Our Lady, go right now to the Cova da Iria and ask Her to cure our mother. Promise Her whatever you wish, and we’ll do it; and then we’ll believe.”
Without losing a moment, I set out. So as not to be seen, I made my way across the fields along some bypaths, reciting the Rosary all the way. Once there, I placed my request before Our Lady and unburdened myself of all my sorrow, shedding copious tears. I then went home, comforted by the hope that my beloved Mother in Heaven would hear my prayer and restore health to my mother on earth. When I reached home my mother was already feeling somewhat better. Three days later she was able to resume her work around the house. I had promised the Most Blessed Virgin that, if She granted me what I asked, I would go there for nine days in succession, together with my sisters, pray the Rosary and go on our knees from the roadway to the holmoak tree; and on the ninth day we would take nine poor children with us, and afterwards give them a meal. We went then to fulfill my promise and my mother came with us. “How strange!” she said: “Our Lady cured me and somehow I still don’t believe! I don’t know how this can be!”
Lucia’s Father Dies
Our good Lord gave me this consolation, but once again He came knocking on my door to ask yet another sacrifice, and not a small one either. My father was a healthy man, and robust; he said he had never known what it was to have a headache. But in less than twenty four hours, an attack of double pneumonia carried him off to eternity. My sorrow was so great that I thought I would die as well.
He was the only one who never failed to show himself to be my friend, and the only one who defended me when disputes arose at home on account of me. “My God! My God!” I exclaimed in the privacy of my own room: “I never thought You had so much suffering in store for me! But I suffer for love of You, in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary, for the Holy Father and for the conversion of sinners.”
Serious Illness of Lucia’s Cousins
Around that time, Jacinta and Francisco also began to grow worse. Jacinta used to tell me sometimes: “My chest hurts so much, but I am not saying anything to my mother! I want to suffer for Our Lord, in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary, for the Holy Father and for the conversion of sinners.” One morning when I went to see her, she asked me: “How many sacrifices did you offer to Our Lord last night?” “Three. I got up three times to recite the Angels prayers.” “Well, I offered Him many many sacrifices. I don’t know how many there were, but I had a lot of pain, and I made no complaint.”
Francisco spoke very little. He usually did everything he saw us doing, and rarely suggested anything himself. During his illness, he suffered with heroic patience, without ever letting the slightest moan or the least complaint escape his lips. One day shortly before his death, I asked him: “Are you suffering a lot, Francisco?” “Yes, but I suffer it all for love of Our Lord and Our Lady.” One day he gave me the rope that I have already spoken about, saying: “Take it away before my mother sees it. I don’t feel able to wear it anymore around my waist.” He took everything his mother offered him, and she could never discover which things he disliked. He went on like this until the day came for him to go to Heaven. The day before his death, he said to Jacinta and myself: “I am going to Heaven, but when I am there, I will pray a great deal to Our Lord and Our Lady, asking them to bring you there too, very soon.”
I think I have already described, in my account of Jacinta, what suffering this separation caused us. For this reason, I do not repeat it here. Jacinta was already sick, and was gradually growing worse. There is no need to describe it now, as I have already done so. I shall simply relate one or two acts of virtue, which I saw her practice, and which I do not think I have described before. Her mother knew how hard it was for her to take milk. So, one day, she brought her a fine bunch of grapes with her cup of milk, saying: “Jacinta, take this. If you can’t take the milk, leave it there, and eat the grapes.” “No mother. I don’t want the grapes; take them away and give me the milk instead. I’ll take that.” Then without showing the least sign of repugnance, she took it. My aunt went happily away, thinking her little girl’s appetite was returning. She had no sooner gone than Jacinta turned to me and said: “I had such a longing for those grapes and it was hard to drink the milk! But I wanted to offer this sacrifice to Our Lord.”
One morning I found her looking dreadful, and I asked her if she felt worse. “Last night,” she answered: “I had so much pain, and I wanted to offer Our Lord the sacrifice of not turning over in bed, therefore I didn’t sleep at all.” On another occasion, she told me: “When I’m alone, I get out of bed to recite the angel’s prayer. But now I’m not able to touch the ground any more with my head, because I fall over, so I only pray on my knees.”
One day, I had the opportunity of speaking to the Vicar. His Reverence asked me about Jacinta and how she was. I told him what I thought about her condition, and afterwards related what she had said to me about being unable to touch the ground when she prayed. His Reverence sent me to tell her that she was not to get out of bed to pray, but that she was to pray lying down, and then only as long as she could do so without getting tired. I delivered the message at the very first opportunity. “And will Our Lord be pleased?” she asked. “He is pleased,” I replied. Our Lord wants us to do whatever the Reverend Vicar says.” “That’s alright, then I won’t get up any more.”
Whenever I could, I loved to go to the Cabeco to pray in our favourite cave. Jacinta was very fond of flowers, and coming down the hillside on the way home, I used to pick a bunch of irises and peonies, when there were any to be found, and then take them to her saying: “Look! These are from the Cabeco!” She would take them eagerly and sometimes with tears running down her cheeks, she would say “To think I’ll never go there again! Nor Valinhos, nor Cova da Iria! I miss them all so much!” “But what does it matter, if you’re going to Heaven to see Our Lord and Our Lady?” “That’s true,” she replied. Then she lay there contentedly, plucking off the petals and counting them one by one.
A few days after falling ill, she gave me the rope she had been wearing and said: “Keep it for me; I’m afraid my mother may see it. If I get better I want it back again!” This cord had three knots, and was somewhat stained with blood. I kept it hidden until finally I left my mother’s home. Then not knowing what to do with it, I burned it, and Francisco’s as well.
Lucia In Poor Health
Several people who came from a distance to see us, noticing that I looked very pale and anemic, asked my mother to let me go and spend a few days in their homes, saying the change of air would do me good. With this end in view, my mother gave her consent and they took me with them, now to one place, now to another. When away from home like this, I did not always meet with esteem or affection. While there were some who admired me and considered me a saint, there were also others who heaped abuse upon me and called me a hypocrite, a visionary and a sorceress. This was the good Lord’s way of throwing salt into the water to prevent it from going bad. Thanks to this Divine Providence, I went through the fire without being burned, or without becoming acquainted with the little worm, vanity, which has the habit of gnawing its way into everything. On such occasions, I used to think to myself: “They are all mistaken. I’m not a saint, as some say, and I’m not a liar either, as others say. Only God knows what I am.” When I got home I would run to see Jacinta, who said: “Listen! Don’t go away again. I have been so lonely for you! Since you went away, I have not spoken to anyone. I don’t know how to talk to other people.”
The time finally came for Jacinta to leave for Lisbon. I have already described our leave taking, and therefore I won’t repeat it here. How sad I was to find myself alone! In such a short space of time Our dear Lord had taken to Heaven my beloved father, and then Francisco; and now He was taking Jacinta, who I was never to see again in this world. As soon as I could, I slipped away to the Cabeco, and hid within our cave among the rocks. There, alone with God, I poured forth my grief and shed tears in abundance. Coming back down the slope, everything reminded me of my dear companions; the stones on which we had so often sat, the flowers I no longer picked, not having anyone to take them to; Valinhos, where the three of us had enjoyed the delights of paradise! As though I had lost all sense of reality, and still half abstracted, I went to my aunts house one day, and made for Jacinta’s room, calling out to her. Her sister Teresa, seeing me like that, barred the way and reminded me that Jacinta was no longer there!
Shortly afterwards, news arrived that she had taken flight to Heaven. Her body was then brought back to Vila Nova de Ourem. My aunt took me there one day, to pray beside the mortal remains of her little daughter, in the hope of thus distracting me. But for a long time after, my sorrow only seemed to grow ever greater. Whenever I found the cemetery open, I went and sat by Francisco’s grave, or beside my father’s and there I spent long hours. My mother, thank God, decided some time later after this to go to Lisbon, and to take me with her. Through the kindness of Dr. Formigao a good lady received us into her house, and offered to pay for my education in a boarding school, if I was willing to remain. My mother, after consulting doctors, found that she needed an operation for kidneys and spinal column; but the doctors would not be responsible for her life, since she also suffered from a cardiac lesion. She therefore went home, leaving me in the care of this lady. When everything was ready and the day arranged for my entering boarding school, I was informed that the Government was aware that I was in Lisbon and was seeking my whereabouts. They, therefore, took me to Santarem to Dr. Formigao’s house, and for some days I remained hidden, without even being allowed out to Mass.
Finally, His Reverence’s sister arrived to take me home to my mother, promising to arrange for my admittance to a boarding school that the Dorothean Sisters had in Spain, and assuring us that as soon as everything was settled, she would come and fetch me. All these happenings distracted me somewhat, and so the oppressive sadness began to disappear.
Lucia’s First Meeting With The Bishop
It was about this time that Your Excellency was installed as Bishop of Leiria, and your dear Lord confided to your care this poor flock that had been so many years without a shepherd. There was not wanting people who tried to frighten me about Your Excellency’s arrival, just as they had done before about another holy priest. They told me that Your Excellency knew everything, that you could read hearts and penetrate the depths of consciences and that now you were going to discover all my deception. Far from frightening me, it made me earnestly desire to speak to you, and I thought to myself: “If it is true that he knows everything, he will know that I am speaking the truth.” For this reason as soon as a kind lady from Leiria offered to take me to see Your Excellency, I accepted her suggestion with joy. There was I, full of hope, in expectation of this happy moment.
At last the day came, and the lady and I went to the Palace. We were invited to enter, and shown to a room, where we were asked to wait for a little while. A few moments later, Your Excellency’s secretary came in and spoke kindly with Dona Gilda who accompanied me. From time to time, he asked me some questions. As I had already been twice to confession to His Reverence, I already knew him, and it was therefore a pleasure to talk to him. A little later, Rev. Dr. Marques dos Santos came in wearing shoes with buckles, and wrapped in a great big cloak. As it was the first time that I had seen a priest dressed like this, it caught my attention. He then embarked on a whole repertoire of questions that seemed unending. Now and again, he laughed, as though making fun of my replies, and it seemed as if the moment when I could speak to Your Excellency would never come. At last, Your Secretary returned to speak to the lady who was with me. He told her that when Your Excellency arrived, she was to make her apologies and take her leave, saying that she had to go elsewhere, since Your Excellency may want to speak to me in private. I was delighted when I heard this message, and I thought to myself: “As His Excellency knows everything, he won’t ask me many questions, and he will be alone with me! What a blessing!”
When Your Excellency arrived, the good lady played her part very well, and so I had the happiness of speaking with you alone. I am not going to describe now what happened during this interview, because Your Excellency certainly remembers it better than I do. To tell the truth, when I saw Your Excellency receive me with such kindness, without the least attempting to ask me any useless or curious questions, being concerned solely for the good of this poor little lamb that the Lord had just entrusted to you, then I was more convinced than ever that Your Excellency did indeed know everything; and I did not hesitate for a moment to give myself completely in your hands. Thereupon, Your Excellency imposed certain conditions which, because of my nature, I found easy that is to keep completely secret all that Your Excellency had said to me, and to be good. I kept my secret to myself, until the day when Your Excellency asked my mother’s consent.
Farewell to Fatima
Finally, the day of my departure was settled. The evening before I went to bid farewell to all the familiar places so dear to us. My heart was torn with loneliness and longing, for I was sure I would never set foot on the Cabeco, the Rock, Valinhos, or in the parish church where Our dear Lord had begun His work of mercy, and the cemetery, where rested the mortal remains of my beloved Father and of Francisco, whom I could still never forget. I said goodbye to our well, already illumined by the pale rays of the moon, and to the old threshing floor where I had so often spent long hours contemplating the beauty of the starlit heavens, and the wonders of sunrise and sunset which so enraptured me. I loved to watch the rays of the sun reflected in the dew drops, so that the mountains seemed covered with pearls in the morning sunshine; and in the evening, after a snowfall, to see the snowflakes sparkling on the pine trees was like a foretaste of the beauties of paradise.
Without saying farewell to anyone, I left the next day at two o’clock in the morning, accompanied by my mother and a poor laborer called Manuel Correia who was going to Leiria. I carried my secret with me, inviolate. We went by the way of the Cova da Iria, so I could bid it my last farewell. There for the last time I prayed my Rosary. As long as this place was still in sight, I kept turning round to say my last good bye. We arrived at Leiria at nine o’clock in the morning. There I met Dona Filomena Miranda, whom Your Excellency had charged to accompany me. This lady was later to be my godmother at Confirmation. The train left at two o’clock in the afternoon, and there I was at the station, giving my poor mother a last embrace, leaving her overwhelmed with sorrow and shedding abundant tears. The train moved out, and with it went my poor heart plunged in an ocean of loneliness and filled with memories that I could never forget.
I think, Your Excellency, that I have just picked the most beautiful flower and the most delicious fruit from my little garden, and I now place it in the merciful hands of the Good Lord, whom you represent, praying that He will make it yield a plentiful harvest of souls for eternal life. And since Our dear Lord takes pleasure in the humble obedience of the least of His creatures, I end with the words of Her whom He, in His infinite mercy, has given me as Mother, Protectress and Model, the very same words with which I began: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord! May He continue to make use of her, as He thinks best.”
Further Memories of Jacinta
P.S. I forgot to say that when Jacinta went to the hospital in Vila Nova de Ourem and again in Lisbon, she knew she was not going to be cured, but only to suffer. Long before anybody spoke to her of the possibility of her entering the hospital of Vila Nova de Ourem, she said one day: “Our Lady wants me to go to two hospitals, not to be cured, but to suffer more for the love of Our Lord and for sinners.” I do not know Our Lady’s exact words in these apparitions to Jacinta alone, for I never asked her what they were. I confined myself to merely listening to what she occasionally confided to me. In this account, I have tried not to repeat what I have written in the previous one, so as not to make it too long.
Lucia’s Magnetic Personality
It may seem from this account that, in my village, nobody showed me any love or tenderness. But this is not so. There was a dear chosen portion of the Lord’s flock, who showed me singular affection. These were the little children. They ran up to me bubbling over with joy, and when they knew I was pasturing my sheep in the neighbourhood of our little village, whole groups of them used to come and spend the day with me. My mother used to say: “I don’t know what attraction you have for children! They run after you as if they were going to a feast!” As for myself, I did not feel at ease in the midst of such merriment, and for that reason I tried to keep out of their way.
The same thing happened to me with my companions in Vilar, and I would almost venture to say that it is happening to me now with my Sisters in religion. A few years ago, I was told by my Mother Mistress, who is now Rev. Mother Provincial: “You have such an influence over the Sisters that if you want to you can do them a great deal of good.” And quite recently, Rev. Mother Superior in Pontevedra said to me: “To a certain degree, you are responsible to Our Lord for the state of fervour or negligence in observance, on the part of the other Sisters, because their fervour is increased or diminished at recreation; whatever the others see you doing at that time, they do as well. Certain topics you brought up at recreation helped other Sisters to understand the Rule better, and made them resolve to observe it more faithfully.” Why is this? I don’t know. Perhaps it is a talent which the Lord has given me, and for which He will hold me to account. Would that I knew how to trade with it, that I might restore it to Him a thousand fold.
Lucia’s Excellent Memory
Maybe someone will want to ask: How can you remember all this? How? I don’t know. Our dear Lord, Who shares out His gifts as He thinks fit, has allotted to me this little portion—my memory. He alone knows why. And besides as far as I can see, there is this difference between natural and supernatural things: When we are talking to a mere creature, even while we are speaking, we tend to forget what is being said; whereas these supernatural things are ever more deeply engraved on the soul, even as we are seeing and hearing them, so that it is not easy to forget them.