This is how the “Memories” of Lucia begin:
"I remember being conscious of my actions, even from my mother's arms. I remember being racked, and falling asleep to the sound of lullabies. 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.
At six years old, my mother thought that perhaps I could now make my First Communion. I could never express the joy I felt. The happy day dawned at last. 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 poor soul. 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 c1early perceptible to me as if I had seen and heard Him with my bodily senses. I then addressed my prayer to Him:"O 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."
Filled to overflowing with the Bread of 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 Communion.
Before the happenings of 1917, apart from the ties of relationship that united us, no other particular affection led me to prefer the companionship of Jacinta and Francisco to that of any other child. I don 't know why, but Jacinta and her brother Francisco had a special liking for me, and almost always came in search of me when they wanted to play. They did not enjoy the company of the other children, and they used to ask me to go with them to the well down at the bottom of the garden belonging to my parents. Once we arrived there, Jacinta chose which games we were to play.
In the evenings my mother used to tell stories of the Passion, St. John the Baptist, the apparitions at Lourdes, and so on. That is how I came to know the story of Our Lord's Passion. As it was enough far me to have heard a story once, to be able to repeat it in all its details, I began to tell my cousins, word for word, what I used to call Our Lord's Story. When Jacinta heard me telling of the sufferings of Our Lord, she was moved to tears. From then on, she often asked me to tell it to her all aver again. She would weep and grieve, saying: "Our poor dear Lord! I’ll never sin again! I don't want Our Lord to suffer any more!"
I was old enough now to be sent out to mind our sheep, just as my mother had sent her other children at my age. My sister Carolina was then thirteen, and it was time for her to go out to work. My mother, therefore, put me in charge of our flock. My aunt, even though she knew the children were too small, handed over to them the care of their own flock. Radiant with joy, they ran to give me the news and talk over how we could put our flocks together every day. Each one was to open the pen, whenever their mother decided, and whoever reached the “Barreiro” first was to await the arrival of the other flock. Barreiro was the name of a pond at the bottom of the hill. As soon as we met at the pond, we decided where we would pasture the flock that day. Then off we'd go, as happy and content as if we were going to a festival.
We won over the sheep by sharing our lunch with them. This meant that when we reached the pasture, we could play at our ease, quite sure that they would not stray far away from us. Jacinta also loved to hold the little white lambs tightly in her arms, sitting with them on her lap, fondling them, kissing them, and carrying them home at night on her shoulders, so that they wouldn't get tired. One day on her way back, she walked along in the middle of the flock. "Jacinta, what are you doing there," I asked her, "in the middle of the sheep?" "I want to do the same as Our Lord in that holy picture they gave me. He's just like this, right in the middle of them all, and He's holding one of them in His arms."
Jacinta loved to hear her voice echoing down in the valleys. For this reason, one of our favourite amusements was to c1imb to the top of the hills, sit down on the biggest rock we could find, and call out different names at the top of our voices. The name that echoed back most c1early was 'Maria'. Sometimes Jacinta used to say the whole Hail Mary this way, only calling out the following word when the preceding one had stopped re-echoing. We loved to sing, too. Interspersed among the popular songs - of which, alas! we knew quite a number - were Jacinta's favourite hymns: 'Salve Nobre Padroeira' (Hail Noble Patroness), 'Virgem Pura', (Virgin Pure), 'Anjos, Cantai Comigo', (Angels, sing with me). Meanwhile Francisco's favorite thing was to sit down on the highest rock to play the fife or to sing. If his little sister and I went running down the slopes, he remain seated, absorbed taken by his music and his songs.
Jacinta al so loved going out at nightfall to the threshing floor situated dose to the house, there she watched the beautiful sunsets, and contemplated the starry skies. She was enraptured with the lovely moonlit nights. We vied with each other to see who could count the most stars. We called the stars Angels' lamps, the moon Our Lady's lamp and the sun Our Lord's. This led Jacinta to remark sometimes: "You know, I like Our Lady's lamp better; it doesn't burn us up or blind us, the way Our Lord's does."
Francisco came with us to play on the old threshing floor, while we watched for Our Lady and the Angels to light their lamps. He eagerly counted the stars with us, but nothing enchanted him as much as the beauty of sunrise or sunset. As long as he could still glimpse one last ray of the setting sun, he made no attempt to watch for the first lamp to be lit in the sky."No lamp is as beautiful as Our Lord's," he used to remark to Jacinta, who much preferred Our Lady's lamp because, as she explained, "it doesn't hurt our eyes." Enraptured, he watched the sun rays glinting on the window panes of the homes in the neighbouring villages, or glistening in the drops of water which spangled the trees and furze bushes of the serra, making them shine like so many stars; in his eyes these were a thousand times more beautiful than the Angels' lamps. On moonless nights, we used to say that there was no oil for Our Lady's lamp.
One fine day, we set out with our sheep for some land that my parents owned, which lay at the foot of the eastern slope of the hill that was called Cabeço. We went up the hillside, followed by our flocks, looking for an overhanging boulder where we could take shelter. 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. 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, 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. Some time passed, and summer came, when we had to go home for siesta. One day, we were playing on the stone slabs of the well down at the bottom of the garden belonging to my parents, which we called the Arneiro. 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 Angel Guardian, the Angel of Portugal. Above all, accept and bear with submission, the suffering which the Lord will send you».
Before the Angel disappear remarked his call for penitence and sacrifices: “The sacrifices of children are pleasant to the Lord: Are powerful for the conversion of sinners ”
These words were indelibly impressed upon our minds. They were like a light which made us understand who God is, how He loves us and desires to be loved, the value of sacrifice, how pleasing it is to Him and how, on account of it, He grants the grace of conversion to sinners. It was for this reason that we began, from then on, to offer to the Lord all that mortified us, without, however, seeking out other forms of mortification and penance, except that we remained for hours on end with our foreheads touching the ground, repeating the prayer the Angel had taught us.
At the second Apparition of the Angel, Francisco waited a few moments after it was over, then asked:"You spoke to the Angel. What did he say to you?" "Didn't you hear?""No, I could see that he was talking to you. I heard what you said to him; but what he said to you, I don't know." We told him all that the Angel had said at the first and second Apparitions.
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 Cabeço, 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. 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 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.The force of the presence of God was so intense that it absorbed us and almost completely annihilated us. It seemed to deprive us even of the use of our bodily senses for a considerable length of time. During those days, we performed all our exterior actions as though guided by that same supernatural being who was impelling us thereto. The peace and happiness which we felt were great, but wholly interior, for our souls were completely immersed in God. The physical exhaustion that came over us was also great.
Once the first few days were over and we had returned to normal, Francisco asked: "The Angel gave you Holy Communion, but what was it that he gave to Jacinta and me?" " It was Holy Communion, too" replied Jacinta, with inexpressible joy. "Didn't you see that it was the Blood that fell from the Host?" " I felt that God was within me, but I did not know how!"
Little by little, the atmosphere of the supernatural faded away, we were playing with almost as much enjoyment and freedom of spirit as we had done before.
May 13th of 1917 high up on the slope in the Cova da Iria (the place were the Basilica was built), I was playing with Jacinta and Francisco at building a little stone wall around a clump of furze. Suddenly we saw what seemed to be a flash of lightning. "We'd better go home," I said to my cousins, "that's lightning; we may have a thunderstorm." "Yes, indeed!" they answered. We began to go down the slope, hurrying the sheep along towards the road. We were more or less half-way down the slope, and almost level with a large holmoak tree that stood there, when we saw another flash of lightning. We had only gone a few steps further when, there before us on a small holmoak, we beheld a Lady all dressed in white. She was more brilliant than the sun, and radiated a light more clear and intense than a crystal glass filled with sparkling water, when the rays of the burning sun shine through it. We stopped, astounded, before the Apparition. We were so close, just a few feet from her, that we were bathed in the light which surrounded her, or rather, which radiated from her. Then Our Lady spoke to us: "Do not be afraid. I will do you no harm."
"Where are you from?" "I am from Heaven." "What do you want of me?" "I have come to ask you to come here for six months in succession, on the 13th day, at this same hour. Later on, I will tell you who I am and what I want. Afterwards, I will return here yet a seventh time.""Shall I go to Heaven too?" "Yes, you will" "And Jacinta?" "She will go also." "And Francisco?" "He will go there too, but he must say many Rosaries."
Then I remembered to ask about two girls who had died recently. They were friends of mine and used to come to my home to learn weaving with my eldest sister. "Is Maria das Neves in Heaven?" "Yes, she is." (I think she was about 16 years old). "And Amélia?" "She will be in purgatory until the end of the world." Then she said: "Are you willing to offer yourselves to God and bear all the sufferings He wills to send you, as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and of supplication for the conversion of sinners?""Yes, we are willing." "Then you are going to have much to suffer, but the grace of God will be your comfort." As she pronounced these last words " ... the grace of God will be your comfort", Our Lady opened her hands for the first time, communicating to us a light so intense that, as it streamed from her hands, its rays penetrated our hearts and the innermost depths of our souls, making us see ourselves in God, Who was that light, more clearly than we see ourselves in the best of mirrors. Then, moved by an interior impulse that was also communicated to us, we fell on our knees, repeating in our hearts: "O most Holy Trinity, I adore You! My God, my God, I love You in the most Blessed Sacrament!" After a few moments, Our Lady spoke again: "Pray the Rosary every day, in order to obtain peace for the world, and the end of the war." Then she began to rise serenely, going up towards the east, until she disappeared in the immensity of space.
Jacinta unable to contain herself for joy, broke our agreement to keep the whole matter to ourselves. That very afternoon, while we remained thoughtful and rapt in wonder, Jacinta kept breaking into enthusiastic exclamations: "Oh, what a beautiful Lady!" " I can see what's going to happen," I said, "you'll end up saying that to somebody else." "No, I won't," she answered "don't worry." Next day, Francisco came running to tell me how she had told them everything at home the night before. Jacinta listened to the accusation without a word. "You see, that's just what I thought would happen." I said to her. "There was something within me that wouldn't let me keep quiet," she said, with tears in her eyes. 'Well, don't cry now, and don't tell anything else to anybody about what the Lady said to us." "But I've already told them." "And what did you say?" "I said that the Lady promised to take us to Heaven." "To think you told them that!" "Forgive me, I won't tell anybody anything ever again!"
Next day, when we reached the pasture, Jacinta sat thoughtfully on a rock. "Jacinta, come and play.""I don 't want to play today." "Why not?" "Because I’m thinking. That Lady told us to say the Rosary and to make sacrifices for the conversion of sinners. So from now on, when we say the Rosary we must say the whole Hail Mary and the whole Our Father!" That day on we began to pray the whole Rosary in the complete way.
The 13th of June, feast of St. Anthony, was always a day of great festivities in our parish. My mother and my sisters, who knew how much I loved the festas, kept saying to me: 'We've yet to see if you’ll leave the festa just to go to the Cova da Iria, and talk to that Lady!" My mother and my sisters persisted in their contemptuous attitude, and this cut me to the heart, and was indeed as hurtful to me as insults. Around 11 o'clock, I left home and called at my uncle's house, where Jacinta and Francisco were waiting for me. Then we set off for the Cova da Iria, in expectation of the longed-for moment. On that day, I was overwhelmed with bitterness. It was on this very day that, Our Lady, as though guessing what was going on, said to me to don't lose heart that she will never forsake me. As soon as Jacinta, Francisco and I had finished praying the Rosary, with a number of other people who were present, we saw once more the flash reflecting the light which was approaching (which we called lightning). The next moment, Our Lady was there on the holmoak, exactly the same as in May.
"What do you want of me?" I asked.
"I wish you to come here on the 13th of next month, to pray the Rosary every day, and to learn to read. Later, I will tell you what I want."
I asked for the cure of a sick person. " If he is converted, he will be cured during the year."
"I would like to ask you to take us to Heaven." "Yes. I will take Jacinta and Francisco soon. But you are to stay here some time longer. Jesus wishes to make use of you to make me known and loved. He wants to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart." "Am I to stay here alone?" I asked, sadly. "No, my daughter. Are you suffering a great deal? Don't lose heart. I will never forsake you. My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that wililead you to God."
As Our Lady spoke these last words, she opened her hands and for the second time, she communicated to us the rays of that same immense light. We saw ourselves in this light, as it were, immersed in God. Jacinta and Francisco seemed to be in that part of the light which rose towards Heaven, and I in that which was poured out on the earth. In front of the palm of Our Lady's right hand was a heart encircled by thorns which pierced it. We understood that this was the Immaculate Heart of Mary, outraged by the sins of humanity, and seeking reparation.
How my mother came to be aware of what happened, and how she spared no efforts to make me admit that I had lied.
My mother became more and more upset at the way things were progressing. This led her to make yet another attempt to force me to confess that I had lied. One morning early, she called me and told me she was taking me to see the parish priest, saying: "When you get there, go down on your knees, tell him that you've lied, and ask his pardon."
As we were going past my aunt's house, my mother went inside for a few minutes. This gave me a chance to tell Jacinta what was happening. Seeing me so upset, she shed some tears and said: "I’m going to get up and call Francisco. We'll go and pray for you at the well. When you get back, come and find us there."
On my return, I ran to the well, and there were the two of them on their knees, praying. As soon as they saw me, Jacinta ran to hug me, and then she said:
"You see! We must never be afraid of anything! The Lady will help us always. She's such a good friend of ours!"On a certain day, three gentlemen came to speak to us. After their 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 did really intend 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!"
The days passed and on July 13th a few moments after arriving at the Cova da Iria, near the holmoak, where a large number of people were praying the Rosary, we saw the flash of light once more, and a moment later Our Lady appeared on the holmoak.
"What do you want of me?" I asked. "I want you to come here on the 13th of next month, to continue to pray the Rosary every day in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary, in order to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war, because only she can help you." "I would like to ask you to tell us who you are, and to work a miracle so that everybody will believe that you are appearing to us."
"Continue to come here every month. In October, I will tell you who I am and what I want, and I will perform a miracle for all to see and believe." And she continued: "Sacrifice yourselves for sinners, and say many times, especially whenever you make some sacrifice: O Jesus, it is for love of You, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary."
As Our Lady spoke these last words, she opened her hands once more, as she had done during the two previous months. The rays of light seemed to penetrate the earth, and we saw as it were a sea of fire. Plunged in this fire were demons and souls in human form, like transparent burning embers, all blackened or burnished bronze, floating about in the conflagration, now raised into the air by the flames that issued from within themselves together with great clouds of smoke now falling back on every side like sparks in huge fires, without weight or equilibrium, amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear. (It must have been this sight which caused me to cry out, as people say they heard me). The demons could be distinguished by their terrifying and repellent likeness to frightful and unknown animals, black and transparent like burning coals.
Terrified and as if to plead for succour, we looked up at Our Lady, who said to us, so kindly and so sadly: "You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. The war is going to end; but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the pontificate of Pius XI. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that he is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father. ''To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays. If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated. In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.
During the Apparition Our Lady confided a secret is expressly forbidden to reveal it to anyone. After the apparition, the crowd rushed upon us, bombarded with questions. I tried to fulfill as I could, they also asked me why suddenly I became so sad. I replied that it was a secret.
After this appearance often Jacinta began to say: "Many souls go to hell! And they never get out of there again?" "No!"
"Not even after many, many years?" "No! Hell never ends!"
"And Heaven never ends either?" "They're eternal, don't you see! They never end." We often made meditations on Hell and eternity. The vision of hell filled us with horror to such a degree, that every penance and mortification was as nothing in our eyes, if it could only prevent souls from going there.
Jacinta often sat thoughtfully on the ground or on a rock, and exclaimed: "Oh, Hell! Hell! How sorry I am for the souls who go to hell! And the people down there, burning alive, like wood in the fire!"
Then, shuddering, she knelt down with her hands joined, and recited the prayer that Our Lady had taught us: "O my Jesus! Forgive us, save us from the fire of hell. Lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who are most in need." From time to time, like someone awaking from sleep, she called out to her brother or myself:
"Francisco! Francisco! Are you praying with me? We must pray very much, to save souls from hell! So many go there! So many!" At other times, she asked: «Why doesn't Our Lady show hell to sinners? If they saw it, they would not sin, so as to avoid going there! You must tell Our Lady to show hell to all the people (referring to those who were in the Cova da Iria at the time of the Apparition). You'll see how they will be converted."
Two priests, who had come to question us, recommended that we pray for the Holy Father. Jacinta asked who the Holy Father was. The good priests explained who he was and how much he needed prayers. This gave Jacinta such love for the Holy Father that, every time she offered her sacrifices to Jesus, she added: "and for the Holy Father."
At the end of the Rosary, she always said three Hail Mary's for the Holy Father, and sometimes she would remark: "How I'd love to see the Holy Father! So many people come here, but the Holy Father never does!" In her childish simplicity, she supposed that the Holy Father could make this journey just like anybody else!
One day we spent our siesta down by my parents' well. Jacinta sat on the stone slabs on top of the well. Francisco and I climbed up a steep bank in search of wild honey among the brambles in a nearby thicket. After a little while, Jacinta called out to me: «Didn't you see the Holy Father?" "No." "I don't know how it was, but I saw the Holy Father in a very big house, kneeling by a table, with his head buried in his hands, and he was weeping. Outside the house, there were many people. Some of them were throwing stones, others were cursing him and using bad language. Poor Holy Father, we must pray very much for him."
At another time, we went to the cave called Lapa do Cabeço. As soon as we got there, we prostrated on the ground, saying the prayers the Angel had taught us. After some time, Jacinta stood up and called to me: "Can't you see all those highways and roads and fields full of people, who are crying with hunger and have nothing to eat? And the Holy Father in a church praying before the Immaculate Heart of Mary? And so many people praying with him?"
From that time on, there was not a prayer or sacrifice that we offered to God which did not include an invocation for His Holiness. We grew to love the Holy Father so deeply.
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 recommend their petitions to us, so that we could transmit 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 aunt's 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. Of whom they made us get on his carriage, saying it would take us to the Cova, and instead took us with him in Vila Nova de Ourem, where he had his home and the Government Palace with the prisons. We held him a bit 'at home, looking with new interrogations, with promises and threats to tear the secret. Seeing ruin all efforts, there he shut up in prison. When, we were put in prison, what made Jacinta suffer most, was to feel that their parents had abandoned them. With tears streaming down her cheeks, she would say: "Neither your parents nor mine have come to see us. They don't bother about us any more!""Don't cry," said Francisco, "we can offer this to Jesus for sinners."Then, raising his eyes and hands to heaven, he made the offering: "O my Jesus, this is for love of You, and for the conversion of sinners." Jacinta added: "And also for the Holy Father, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary."
After being separated for awhile, we were reunited in one of the other rooms of the prison. When they told us they were coming soon to take us away to be fried alive, Jacinta went aside and stood by a window overlooking the cattle market. I thought at first that she was trying to distract her thoughts with the view, but I soon realized that she was crying. I went over and drew her close to me, asking her why she was crying: "Because we are going to die," she replied, "without ever seeing our parents again, not even our mothers!" With tears running down her cheeks, she added: "I would like at least to see my mother." "Don't you want, then, to offer this sacrifice for the conversion of sinners?" "I do want to, I do!" With her face bathed in tears, she joined her hands, raised her eyes to heaven and made her offering: "O my Jesus! This is for love of You, for the conversion of sinners, for the Holy Father, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary!"
The prisoners who were present at this scene, sought to console us:"But all you have to do," they said, "is to tell the Administrator the secret! What does it matter whether the Lady wants you to or not!" "Never!" was Jacinta's vigorous reply, ''I'd rather die. "Next, we decided to say our Rosary. Jacinta took off a medal that she was wearing round her neck, and asked a prisoner to hang it up for her on a nail in the wall. Kneeling before this medal, we began to pray. The prisoners prayed with us, that is if they knew how to pray, but at least they were down on their knees. Once the Rosary was over, Jacinta went over to the window, and started crying again. "Jacinta," I asked, "don't you want to offer this sacrifice to Our Lord?" "Yes, I do, but I keep thinking about my mother, and I can't help crying." As the Blessed Virgin had told us to offer our prayers and sacrifices also in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary, we agreed that each of us would choose one of these intentions. One would offer for sinners, another for the Holy Father and yet another in reparation for the sins against the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Having decided on this, I told Jacinta to choose whichever intention she preferred. "I’m making the offering for all the intentions, because I love them all."
Among the prisoners, there was one who played the concertina. To divert our attention, he began to play and they all started singing. They asked us if we knew how to dance. We said we knew the 'fandango' and the 'vira'. Jacinta's partner was a poor thief who, finding her so tiny, picked her up and went on dancing with her in his arms! We only hope that Our Lady has had pity on his soul and converted him!
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 or imprisonment, on the 15th of August. (This is a mistake; the day of her return from Ourém was certain/y the 15th of August, but the apparition occurred on the following Sunday, 19th of August, 1917.)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. I was accompanied by Francisco and his brother John. We were with the sheep in a place called Valinhos, when we felt something supernatural approaching and enveloping us. Suspecting that Our Lady was about to appear to us, and feeling sorry lest Jacinta might miss seeing her, we asked her brother to go and call her. As he was unwilling to go, I offered him two small coins, and off he ran. Meanwhile, Francisco and I saw the flash of light, which we called lightning. Jacinta arrived, and a moment later, we saw Our Lady on a holmoak tree.
"What do you want of me?" "I want you to continue going to the Cova da Iria on the 13th, and to continue praying the Rosary every day. In the last month, I will perform a miracle so that all may believe." "What do you want done with the money that the people leave in the Cova da Iria?" "Have two litters made. One is to be carried by you and Jacinta and two other girls dressed in white; the other one is to be carried by Francisco and three other boys. The money from the litters is for the "festa" of Our Lady of the Rosary, and what is left over will help towards the construction of a chapel that is to be built here." "I would like to ask you to cure some sick persons." "Yes, I will cure some of them during the year." Then, looking very sad, Our Lady said: "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." And She began to ascend as usual towards the east. Since that day, as the Blessed Virgin had asked us, we decided to commit ourselves to make sacrifices for sinners.
Jacinta said, "the sacrifices how we have to make them?"Right away, Francisco thought of a good sacrifice: "Let's give our lunch to the sheep, and make the sacrifice of doing without it." In a couple of minutes, the contents of our lunchbag had been divided among the sheep. So that day, we fasted as strictly as the most austere Carthusian! There were two families in Moita whose children used to go round begging from door to door. We met them one day, as we were going along with our sheep. As soon as she saw them, Jacinta said to us: "Let's give our lunch to those poor children, for the conversion of sinners."And she ran to take it to them any time we had something to suffer, or agreed to make a sacrifice, Jacinta asked: "Did you already tell Jesus that it's for love of Him?" If I said I hadn't, she answered: "Then I’ll tell Him," and joining her hands, she raised her eyes to heaven and said: "Oh Jesus, it is for love of You, and for the conversion of sinners!"
Th3 13th September 1917, as the hour approached, I set out with Jacinta and Francisco, but owing to the crowds around us we could only advance with difficulty. The roads were packed with people, and everyone wanted to see us and speak to us. There was no human respect whatsoever. Simple folk, and even ladies and gentlemen, struggled to break through the crowd that pressed around us. No sooner had they reached us than they threw themselves on their knees before us, begging us to place their petitions before Our Lady. Others who could not get close to us shouted from a distance:"For the love of God, ask Our Lady to cure my son who is a cripple!" Yet another cried out: "And to cure mine who is blind .. To cure mine who is deaf .. To bring back my husband, my son, who has gone to the war .. To convert a sinner .. To give me back my health as I have tuberculosis!" and so on. All the afflictions of poor humanity were assembled there. Some climbed up to the tops of trees and walls to see us go by.
Now, when I read in the New Testament about those enchanting scenes of Our Lord's passing thraugh Palestine, I think of those which Our Lord allowed me to witness, while yet a child. At last, we arrived at the Cova da Iria, and on reaching the holmoak we began to say the Rosary with the people. Shortly afterwards, we saw the flash of light, and then Our Lady appeared on the holmoak. "Continue to pray the Rosary in order to obtain the end of the war. In October Our Lord will come, as well as Our Lady of Dolours and Our Lady of Carmel. Saint Joseph will appear with the Child Jesus to bless the world. God is pleased with your sacrifices. He does not want you to sleep with the rape on, but only to wear it during the daytime." "I was told to ask you many things, the cure of some sick people, of a deaf-mute ... " "Yes,1 will cure some, but not others. In October I will perform a miracle so that all may believe." Then Our Lady began to rise as usual, and disappeared.
We commit ourselves so much to make sacrifices for sinners, that we will not miss the slightest opportunity. Jacinta's thirst for making sacrifices seemed insatiable. One day a neighbor offered my mother a good pasture for our sheep. Though it was quite far away and we were at the height of summer, my mother accepted the offer made so generously, and sent me there. It was a lovely day, but the sun was blazing, and in that arid, stony wasteland, it seemed as though it would burn everything up. We were parched with thirst, and there wasn't a single drop of water for us to drink! At first, we offered the sacrifice generously for the conversion of sinners, but after midday, we could hold out no longer. As there was a house quite near, I suggested to my companions that I should go and ask for a little water. They agreed to this, so I went and knocked on the door. A little old woman gave me not only a pitcher of water, but also some bread, which I accepted gratefully. I ran to share it with my little companions, and then offered the pitcher to Francisco, and told him to take a drink. " I don't want to." he replied. "Why?" "I want to suffer for the conversion of sinners." "You have a drink, Jacinta!" "But I want to offer this sacrifice for sinners too." Then I poured the water into a hollow in the rock, so that the sheep could drink it, and went to return the pitcher to its owner. Occasionally also, we were in the habit of offering to 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 heat was suffocating. Another time, my aunt called us to come and eat some figs which she had brought home, and indeed they would have given anybody an appetite. Jacinta sat down happily next to the basket, with the rest of us, and picked up the first fig. She was just about to eat it, when she suddenly remembered, and said: "It's true! Today we haven't yet made a single sacrifice for sinners! We'll have to make this one." She put the fig back in the basket, and made the offering; and we, too, left our figs in the basket for the conversion of sinners.
One day we were at a place full of holm-oaks and oak trees. The acorns were still quite green. However, I told her we could eat them. Francisco climbed up a holm-oak to fill his pockets, but Jacinta remembered that we could eat the ones on the oak trees instead, and thus make a sacrifice by eating the bitter kind. So it was there, that afternoon, that we enjoyed this delicious repast! Jacinta made this one of her usual sacrifices, and often picked the acorns off the oaks or the olives off the trees. One day I said to her: "Jacinta, don't eat that; it's too bitter!" "But it's because it's bitter that I’m eating it, for the conversion of sinners." These were not the only times we fasted. We had agreed that whenever we met any poor children like these, we would give them our lunch. They were only too happy to receive such an alms, and they took good care to meet us; they used to wait for us along the road. We no sooner saw them than Jacinta ran to give them all the food we had for that day, as happy as if she had no need of it herself. We were walking along the road with our sheep, I found a piece of rape that had fallen off a cart. I picked it up and, just far fun, I tied it round my arm. Before long, I noticed that the rape was hurting me. "Look, this hurts!" I said to my cousins. "We could tie it round our waists 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 because we sometimes 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."
The 13 October 1917 we left home quite early, expecting that we would be delayed along the way. Masses of people thronged the roads. The rain fell in torrents. My mother, her heart torn with uncertainty as to what was going to happen, and fearing it would be the last day of my life, wanted to accompany me. On the way, the scenes of the previous month, still more numerous and moving, were repeated. Not even the muddy roads could prevent these people from kneeling in the most humble and suppliant of attitudes. We reached the holmoak in the Cova da Iria. Once there, moved by an interior impulse, I asked the people to shut their umbrellas and say the Rosary. A little later, we saw the flash of light, and then Our Lady appeared on the holmoak:
«"What do you want of me?" "I want to tell you that a chapel is to be built here in my honor. I am the Lady of the Rosary. Continue always to pray the Rosary every day. The war is going to end, and the soldiers will soon return to their homes." "I have many things to ask you: the cure of some sick persons, the conversion of sinners, and other things ... " "Some yes, but not others. They must amend their lives and ask forgiveness for their sins." Looking very sad, Our Lady said: "Do not offend the Lord our God any more, because He is already so much offended." Then, opening her hands, she made them reflect on the sun, and as she ascended, the reflection of her own light continued to be projected on the sun itself.Here, is the reason why I cried out to the people to look at the sun.
My aim was not to call their attention to the sun, because I was not even aware of their presence. I was moved to do so under the guidance of an interior impulse. After Our Lady had disappeared into the immense distance of the firmament, we beheld St. Joseph with the Child Jesus and Our Lady robed in white with a blue mantle, beside the sun. St. Joseph and the Child Jesus appeared to bless the world, for they traced the Sign of the Cross with their hands. When, a little later, this apparition disappeared, I saw Our Lord and Our Lady; it seemed to me that it was Our Lady of Dolours. Our Lord appeared to bless the world in the same manner as St. Joseph had done. This apparition also vanished, and I saw Our Lady once more, this to me resembling Our Lady of Carmel.
Here is the story of apparitions of the Virgin in Cova da Iria. 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!”.
LLUCIA TELLS THE STORY 0F THE LITTLE SHEPHERDS AFTER THE APPARITIONS
I'll begin to write what the good Lord wants me to remind of Jacinta. Her demeanour was always serious and reserved, but friendly. All her actions seemed to reflect the presence of God in the way proper to people of mature age and great virtue. I never noticed in her that excessive frivolity or childish enthusiasm for games and pretty things, so typical of small children. This, of course, was after the Apparitions; before then, she was the personification of enthusiasm and caprice!
Her fondness for dancing was such, that the sound of some shepherd playing his instrument was enough to set her dancing all by herself. In spite of this, when Carnival time or St. John's Day festivities came round, she announced: "I’m not going to dance any more." "And why not?" "Because I want to offer this sacrifice to Our Lord." And because we were the ones who leaded the party of the children,the dances which used to be on those occasions ended.
One day my mother, in agreement with my aunt, decided to sell the lot and to send us off to school. At playtime, Jacinta loved to make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament. "They seem to guess," she would say. "We are no sooner inside the church than a crowd of people come asking us questions! I wanted so much to be alone for a long time with the Hidden Jesus and talk to Him, but they never let us."
She was so dear to Our Lady's Heart that any grace she asked for was obtained. One day, a poor woman afflicted with a terrible disease met us one day. Weeping, she knelt before Jacinta and begged her to ask Our Lady to cure her. Jacinta was distressed to see a woman kneeling before her, and caught hold of her with trembling hands to lift her up. But seeing this was beyond her strength, she, too, knelt down and said three Hail Mary's with the woman. She then asked her to get up, and assured her that Our Lady would cure her. After that, she continued to pray daily far that woman, until she returned some time later to thank Our Lady far her cure.
On another occasion, there was a soldier who wept like a child. He had been ordered to leave for the front, although his wife was sick in bed and he had three small children. He pleaded that either his wife would be cured or that the order would be revoked. Jacinta invited him to say the Rosary with her, and then said to him: "Don't cry. Our Lady is so good! She will certainly grant you the grace you are asking." From then on, she never forgot her soldier. At the end of the Rosary, she always said one Hail Mary for him. Some months later, he appeared with his wife and his three small children, to thank Our Lady for the two graces he had received. Having gone down with fever on the eve of his departure, he had been released from military service, and as for his wife, he said she had been miraculously cured by Our Lady.
The other favour was received by an aunt of mine called Vitoria, who had a son who had left his father's house, and no one knew what had become of him. In her distress, my aunt came to Aljustrel one day to ask me to pray to Our Lady for this son of hers. Not finding me, she asked Jacinta instead, who promised to pray far him. A few days later, he suddenly returned home, asked his parents' forgiveness, and then went to Aljustrel to relate his sorry story. He told us that, after having spent all that he had stolen from his parents, he wandered about for quite a while like a tramp until, for some reason I have now forgotten, he was put in jail at Torres Novas. After he had been there for some time, he succeeded in escaping one night and fled to the remote hills and unfamiliar pine groves. Realizing he had completely lost his way, and torn between the fear of being captured and the darkness of a stormy night, he found that his on/y recourse was prayer. Falling on his knees, he began to pray. Some minutes had passed, he affirmed, when Jacinta appeared to him, took him by the hand and led him to the main road which runs from Alqueidao to Reguengo, making a sign for him to continue in that direction. When morning dawned, he found himself on the road to Boleiros. Recognizing the place where he was, he was overcome with emotion and directed his steps straight home to his parents. I asked Jacinta if it was true that she had gone there to guide him. She answered that she had not, that she had no idea at all of the location of the pine woods and hills where he had been lost. "I only prayed and pleaded very much with Our Lady for him, because I felt so sorry for Aunt Vitoria." That was how she answered me. How, then, did it happen? I don't know. Only God knows.
This was how Jacinta spent her days:
On December 23rd 1918 the influenza that confined her to bed, and her brother Francisco as we. The evening before she fell sick, she said: "I've a terrible headache and I’m so thirsty! But I won't take a drink, because I want to suffer for sinners." Apart from school or the small tasks I was given to do, I spent every free moment with my little companions. One day, when I called in on my way to school, Jacinta said to me: "Listen! Tell the Hidden Jesus that I like Him very much, that I really love Him very much indeed." At other times, she said: "Tell Jesus that I send Him my love, and long to see Him." Whenever I visited her room first, she used to say: "Now go and see Francisco. I’ll make the sacrifice of staying here alone."
On another occasion, her mother brought her a cup of milk and told her to take it. "I don't want it, mother," she answered, pushing the cup away with her little hand. My aunt insisted a little, and then left the room, saying: "I don't know how to make her take anything; she has no appetite." As soon as we were alone, I asked her: "How can you disobey your mother like that, and not offer this sacrifice to Our Lord?" When she heard this, she shed a few tears which I had the happiness of drying, and said: "I forgot this time."
She called her mother, asked her forgiveness, and said she'd take whatever she wanted. Her mother brought back the cup of milk, and Jacinta drank it down without the slightest sign of repugnance. Later, she told me: "If you only knew how hard it was to drink that!"
Another time, she said to me: "It's becoming harder and harder for me to take milk and broth, but I don't say anything. I drink it all for love of Our Lord and of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, our dear heavenly Mother." Again, I asked her: "Are you better?" "You know I’m not getting better," she replied, and added: "I've such pains in my chest! But I don't say anything. I’m suffering for the conversion of sinners."
On one occasion, she sent for me to come and see her at once. I ran right over. "Our Lady came to see us," Jacinta said. "She told us she would come to take Francisco to heaven very soon, and she asked me if I still wanted to convert more sinners. I said I did. She told me I would be going to a hospital where I would suffer a great deal; and that I am to suffer for the conversion of sinners, in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and for love of Jesus. I asked if you would go with me. She said you wouldn't, and that is what I find hardest. She said my mother would take me, and then I would have to stay there all alone!" After this, she was thoughtful for awhile, and then added: "If only you could be with me! The hardest part is to go without you.
When the moment arrived for her brother to go to Heaven, she confided to him these last messages: "Give all my love to Our Lord and Our Lady, and tell them that I’ll suffer as much as they want, for the conversion of sinners and in reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary."
Jacinta suffered keenly when her brother died. She remained a long time buried in thought, and if anyone asked her what she was thinking about, she answered: "About Francisco. I'd give anything to see him again!" Then her eyes brimmed over with tears.
On July 1st 1919 the day came for Jacinta to go to hospital. There indeed she was to suffer a great deal. When her mother went to see her, she took me with her. I asked her if she was suffering a lot. "Yes, I am. But I am glad to suffer for the love of our Good God and of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, for sinners and the Holy Father." that was her ideal, and she could speak of nothing else.
She returned home to her parents for yet a while. She had a large open wound in her chest which had to be treated every day, but she bore this without complaint and without the least sign of irritation. What distressed her most were the frequent visits and questionings on the part of many people who wanted to see her, and whom she could no longer avoid by running off to hide." I am offering this sacrifice too, for the conversion of sinners," she said resignedly.
Once again, the Blessed Virgin deigned to visit Jacinta, to tell her of new crosses and sacrifices awaiting her. She gave me the news saying: "She told me that I am going to Lisbon to another hospital; that I will not see you again, nor my parents either, and after suffering a great deal, I shall die alone. But she said I must not be afraid, since she herself is coming to take me to heaven." She hugged me and wept: " I will never see you again! You won't be coming to visit me there. Oh please, pray hard for me, because I am going to die alone!" "Don't think about it," I advised her one day. "Let me think about it," she replied, "for the more I think the more I suffer, and I want to suffer for love of Our Lord and for sinners. Anyway, I don't mind! Our Lady will come to me there and take me to heaven."
From time to time, she asked me: "Am I going to die without receiving the Hidden Jesus? If only Our Lady would bring Him to me, when she comes to fetch me!"
When her mother looked sad at seeing the child so ill, Jacinta used to say: "Don't worry, mother. I’m going to Heaven, and there I’ll be praying so much for you." Or again: "Don't cry. I’m alright." If they asked her if she needed anything, she answered: "No, I don't, thank you." Then when they had left the room, she said: "I’m so thirsty, but 1 don't want to take a drink. I’m offering it to Jesus for sinners."
The day came at last when she was to leave for Lisbon, the 21st January 1920. It was a heartrending farewell. For a long time, she c1ung to me with her arms around my neck, and sobbed: "We shall never see each other again! Pray a lot for me, until I go to Heaven. Then I will pray a lot for you. Never tell the Secret to anyone, even if they kill you. Love Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary very much, and make many sacrifices for sinners."
From Lisbon, she sent me word that Our Lady had come to see her there; she had told her death was going to be the 20 February at 22:30. Finally Jacinta reminded me to be very good.
And now, I have finished telling what I remember about Jacinta's life. I ask our Good God to deign to accept this act of obedience, that it may kindle in souls a fire of love for the Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
The friendship which bound me to Francisco was just one of kinship, and which increased with the graces Heaven deigned to grant us.
Apart from his features and his practice of virtue, Francisco did not seem at all to be Jacinta's brother. Unlike her, he was neither capricious nor vivacious. On the contrary, he was quiet and submissive by nature.
When we were at play and he won the game, if anyone made a point of denying him his rights as winner, he yielded without more ado and merely said: "You think you won? That's alright! I don't mind!"
He was always friendly and smiling, playing with all the children without distinction. He did not rebuke anybody. All he did was to go aside, whenever he saw anything that was not as it should be.
After te apparitions of Our Lady he become lover of loneliness. The first Apparition of Our Lady left us filled with peace and expansive joy, which did not prevent us from speaking afterwards of what had happened. Afterwards, we told Francisco all that Our Lady had said. He was overjoyed and expressed the happiness he felt when he heard of the promise that he would go to Heaven. Crossing his hands on his breast, he exclaimed, "Oh, my dear Our Lady! I’ll say as many rosaries as you want!" And from then on, he made a habit of moving away from us, as though going for a walk. When we called him and asked him what he was doing, he raised his hand and showed me his rosary. If we told him to come and play, and say the rosary with us afterwards, he replied: "I’ll pray then as well. Don't you remember that Our Lady said 1 must pray many rosaries?"
He prayed so much even when we were taken to jail. In prison, he was quite courageous, and tried to cheer up Jacinta when she felt most homesick. While we were saying the Rosary in prison, he noticed that one of the prisoners was on his knees with his cap still on his head. Francisco went up to him and said: "If you wish to pray, you should take your capott." Right away, the poor man handed it to him and he went over and put it on the bench on top of his own.
During Jacinta's interrogation, he confided to me with boundless joy and peace: "If they kill us as they say, we'll soon be in Heaven! How wonderful! Nothing else matters!" Then after a moment's silence he added: "God grant that Jacinta won't be afraid. I’m going to say a Hail Mary for her!"
Always showed a much greater maturity of his age. One day, going with him and Jacinta near the house of godmother Teresa, she called us and began to make a festa. The other children gathered in her house then my kind godmother heaped delicacies upon us, and wanted to see us sing and dance. The women of the neighbourhood no sooner heard the lively singing than they came over to join us, and at the end they asked us to sing it through again.
Francisco, however, came up to me and said: "Let's not sing that song any more. Our Lord certainly does not want us to sing things like that now." We therefore slipped away among the other children, and ran off to our favourite well.
It was getting near Carnival time, in 1918. The children under fourteen had their own celebration in another house. Several of the girls came to ask me to help them organize our "festa". At first, I refused. But finally, I gave in like a coward, especially after hearing the pleading some of them. As soon as I met Jacinta and Francisco, I told them what had happened."A re you going back again to those parties and games?" Francisco asked me sternly. "Have you already forgotten that we promised never to do that any more?" " I didn't want to go at all. But you can see how they never stopped begging me to go; and now I don't know what to do!" "Do you know how you could do it? Everybody knows that Our Lady has appeared to you. Therefore, you can say that you have promised her not to dance any more, and for this reason you are not going! Then, on such days, we can run away and hide in the cave on the Cabeço. Up there nobody will find us!"
I accepted his proposal, and once I had made my decision, nobody else thought of organizing any such gathering. God's blessing was with us. Those friends of mine, who until then sought me out to have me join in their amusements, now followed my example, and came to my home on Sunday afternoons to ask me to go with them to pray the Rosary in the Cova da Iria.
Francisco was a boy of few words. Whenever he prayed or offered sacrifices, he preferred to go apart and hide, even from Jacinta and myself. Quite often, we surprised him hidden behind a wall or a clump of blackberry bushes, whither he had ingeniously slipped away to kneel and pray, or "think", as he said, "of Our Lord, Who is sad on account of so many sins." If I asked him: "Francisco, why don't you tell me to pray with you, and Jacinta too?" " I prefer praying by myself," he answered, "so that I can think and console Our Lord, Who is so sad!"
I asked him one day: "Francisco, which do you like better - to console Our Lord, or to convert sinners, so that no more souls will go to hell?" "I would rather console Our Lord. Didn't you notice how sad Our Lady was that last month, when she said that people must not offend Our Lord any more, for He is already much offended? I would like to console Our Lord, and after that convert sinners so that they won't offend Him any more."
Sometimes on our way to school, as soon as we reached Fatima, he would say to me: "Listen! You go to school, and I’ll stay here in the church, close to the Hidden Jesus. It's not worth my while learning to read, as I’ll be going to Heaven very soon. On your way home, come here and call me."
On another occasion I noticed, as we left the house, that Francisco was walking very slowly:
"What's the matter?" I asked him. "You seem unable to walk!" "I've such a bad headache, and I feel as though I’m going to fall." "Then don't come. Stay at home!" "I don't want to. I'd rather stay in the church with the Hidden Jesus, while you go to school."
With his prayer he obtained so many graces from Jesus. I will tell you some: Before his sickness he came out of the house one day and met me with my sister Teresa, who was already married and living in Lomba. Another woman from a nearby hamlet had asked her to come to me about her son who had been accused of some crime which I no longer remember, and if he could not prove his innocence he was to be condemned, either to exile or to a term of some years imprisonment. Teresa asked me insistently, in the name of the poor woman for whom she wished to do such a favour, to plead for this grace with Our Lady. Having received the message, I set out for school, and on the way, I told my cousins all about it. When we reached Fatima, Francisco said to me: "Listen! While you go to school, I'll stay with the Hidden Jesus, and I'll ask Him for that grace." When I came out of school, I went to call him and asked: "Did you pray to Our Lord to grant that grace?" "Yes, I did. Tell your Teresa that he'll be home in a few days' time." And indeed, a few days later, the poor boy returned home. On the 13th, he and his entire family came to thank Our Lady for the grace they had received.
There was also a woman from Alqueidao, who wanted the cure of a sick person and the conversion of a sinner. "I’ll pray for that woman, and you pray for the others, there's such a lot of them." Shortly after Francisco's death, this woman came to see us, and asked me to show her his grave. She wished to go there and thank him for the two graces for which she had asked him to pray.
A poor woman and her son, seeing that they could not manage to speak to us personally, as they wished, went and knelt down in front of Francisco. They begged him to obtain from Our Lady the grace that the father of the family would be cured and that he would not have to go to the war. Francisco knelt down also, took off his cap and asked if they would like to pray the Rosary with him. They said they would, and began to pray. Very soon, all those people stopped asking curious questions, and al so went down on their knees to pray. After that, they went with us to the Cova da Iria, reciting a Rosary along the way. Once there, we said another Rosary, and then they went away, quite happy.
The poor woman promised to come back and thank Our Lady for the graces she had asked for, if they were granted. She came back several times, accompanied not only by her son but also her husband, who had by now recovered.
On December 23, 1918 along with Jacinta, Francisco got sick with Spanish flu, which led him to death in just a few months.
While he was ill, Francisco always appeared joyful and content. I asked him sometimes: "A re you suffering a lot, Francisco?" "Quite a lot, but never mind! I am suffering to console Our Lord, and afterwards, within a short time, I am going to Heaven!"
He often told me, when I called in to see him on my way to school: "Look! Go to the church and give my lave to the Hidden Jesus. What hurts me most is that I cannot go there myself and stay awhile with the Hidden Jesus."
On another occasion, I asked him: "Francisco, do you feel very sick?" "I do, but I’m suffering to console Our Lord."
When Jacinta and I went into his room one day, he said to us: "Don't talk much today, as my head aches so badly." "Don't forget to make the offering far sinners," Jacinta reminded him. "Yes. But first I make it to console Our Lord and Our Lady, and then, afterwards, far sinners and far the Holy Father."
On another occasion, I found him very happy when I arrived. "A re you better?""No. I feel worse. It won't be long now till I go to Heaven. When I’m there, I’m going to console Our Lord and Our Lady very much. Jacinta is going to pray a lot far sinners, far the Holy Father and far you. You will stay here, because Our Lady wants it that way. Listen, you must do everything that she tells you."
While Jacinta seemed to be solely concerned with the one thought of converting sinners and saving souls from going to hell, Francisco appeared to think only of consoling Our Lord and Our Lady, who had seemed to him to be so sad.
A woman called Mariana, from Casa Velha, came one day into Francisco's room. She was most upset because her husband had driven their son out of the house, and she was asking for the grace that her son would be reconciled with his father. Francisco said to her in reply: "Don't worry. I’m going to Heaven very soon, and when I get there I will ask Our Lady for that grace." I do not recall just how many days remained before he took his flight to Heaven, but what I do remember is that, on the very afternoon of Francisco's death, the son went for the very last time to ask pardon of his father, who had previously refused it because his son would not submit to the conditions imposed.
The day before he died, he said to me: "Look! I am very ill; it won't be long now before I go to Heaven." One day, early in the morning, his sister Teresa came looking for me. "Come quickly to our house! Francisco is very bad, and says he wants to tell you something." I dressed as fast as I could and went over there. He asked his mother and brothers and sisters to leave the room, saying that he wanted to ask me a secret. They went out, and he said to me: " I am going to confession so that I can receive Holy Communion, and then die. I want you to tell me if you have seen me commit any sin, and then go and ask Jacinta if she has seen me commit any." "You disobeyed your mother a few times," I answered, "when she told you to stay at home, and you ran oft to be with me or to go and hide." "That's true. I remember that. Now go and ask Jacinta if she remembers anything else." I went, and Jacinta thought for a while, then answered: "Well, tell him that, before Our Lady appeared to us, he stole a coin from our father to buy a music box from José Marto of Casa Velha; and when the boys from Aljustrel threw stones at those from Boleiros he threw some too!"
When I gave him this message from his sister, he answered: "I've already confessed those, but I’ll do so again. Maybe, it is because of these sins that I committed that Our Lord is so sad! But even if I don't die, I’ll never commit them again. I’m heartily sorry for them now." Then I left them, and went off to my usual daily tasks of lessons and work.
When I came home at night, I found him radiant with joy. He had made his confession, and the parish priest had promised to bring him Holy Communion next day.
On the following day, after receiving Holy Communion, he said to his sister: " I am happier than you are, because I have the Hidden Jesus within my heart." Jacinta and I spent almost the whole of that day at his bedside. As he was already unable to pray, he asked us to pray the Rosary for him. That night I said goodbye to him. "Goodbye, Francisco! If you go to Heaven tonight, don't forget me when you get there, do you hear me?""No, I wont forget. Be sure of that." Then, seizing my right hand, he held it tightly for a long time, looking at me with tears in his eyes. "Do you want anything more?" I asked him, with tears running down my cheeks too. "No!" he answered in a low voice, quite overcome. As the scene was becoming so moving, my aunt told me to leave the room. "Goodbye then, Francisco! Till we meet in Heaven, goodbye... "
Heaven was drawing near. He took his flight to Heaven the following day Friday, April 4, 1919 in the arms of the heavenly Mother.
My mother, after the apparitions, found herself forced to sell our flock, because so many people kept asking to see me and talk to me. I mean this was not a small loss for the maintenance 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, if my mother reprimanded me and punished me, it was because she really thought that I was lying.
In the intimacy of my own family, there was fresh trouble, and the blame for this was thrown on me. The Cova da Iria was 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. Now, ever since the people began to go there, we had been unable to cultivate anything at all. Everything was trampled on. My mother bewailed her loss: "You, now should eat 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, more often than not, beat me soundly with the broom-handle or a stick from the woodpile near the fireplace.
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 last. When my poor mother saw me, she brightened a little, f1ung her arms around my neck. 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've 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.
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 al so cut down the holmoak 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. Iran 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 holmoak, 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 in 1918 or 1919, news went round at dawn that cavalrymen 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 that 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 a 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. News kept coming in that the troops were trying in vain to keep 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 tram pie us all underfoot. The women ran in all directions and, a moment later, I found myself alone with the two cavalrymen. They then asked me my name, and I gave it without hesitation. They next asked if I were the seer, and I said I was. They ordered me to step out on to 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. 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. They ordered me to keep on 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 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 gave orders for me to stay indoors for the rest of the day. Then they mounted the horses 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.
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. He 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 into eternity. My sorrow was so great that I thought I would die as well."My God! My God!" I exclaimed in the privacy of my 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."
In short time our good Lord took in Heaven Francisco (April 4, 1919), my dear father (July 31, 1919) and permitted to be separated from Jacinta who departed to the hospital in Lisbon (January 21, 1920).
How sad I was to find myself alone! In such a short space of time. As soon as I could, I slipped away to the Cabeço, and hid within our cave among the rocks. There, alone with God, I poured forth my grief and shed tears in abundance.
Shortly afterwards, news arrived that Jacinta had taken flight to Heaven. Her body was then brought back to Vila Nova de Ourém. 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 seemed only 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. Thanks God, the sister of Or.Formigao, promised to arrange 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.
Finally, the day of my departure was settled (June 16, 1921). The evening before, I went to bid farewell to all the familiar places so dear to us. I was sure I would never set foot again on the Cabeço, 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.
Without saying farewell to anyone, I left the next day at two o'c1ock in the morning, accompanied by my mother and a poor labourer called Manuel Correia, who was going to Leiria.I carried my secret with me, inviolate. We went by way of the Cova da Iria, so that 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 a last goodbye. We arrived at Leiria at nine o'c1ock in the morning. There I met Dona Filomena Miranda, whom was charged to accompany me. This lady was later to be my godmother at Confirmation. The train left at two o'c1ock 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.
* * *
In boarding-school “Asilo do Vilar”, in Oporto, directed by the Dorothean Sisters, Lucia heard the voice of the Lord that was calling her to religious life, and on October the 2nd 1926 she went to Tuy, Spain, and entered the Noviciate of the Dorothean Sisters, with the name of Sister Maria of the Dolorous.
Our Holy Mother continues to use Lucia to prepare the world for the triumph of her Immaculate Heart.
His old desire to enter the Carmel was finally satisfied: on March 25th, 1948,(Holy Thursday) it arrived the permission of Pope Pius XII, who allowed her to enter the Carmel of St. Teresa in Coimbra. She took the name Sister Mary of the Immaculate Heart.
On December 10th, 1925, the most holy Virgin appeared to her, and the most holy Virgin rested her hand on her shoulder, and as she did so, she showed her a heart encircled by thorns, which she was holding in her other hand. At the same time, the Child said: "Have compassion on the Heart of your most holy Mother, covered with thorns, with which ungrateful men pierce it at every moment, and there is no one to make an act of reparation to remove them. Look, my daughter, at my Heart, surrounded with thorns with which ungrateful men pierce me every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude. You at least try to console me and say that I promise to assist at the hour of death, with the graces necessary for salvation, all those who, on the first Saturday of five consecutive months, shall confess, receive Holy Communion, recite five decades of the Rosary, and keep me company for fifteen minutes while meditating on the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary, with the intention of making reparation to me."
Lucia finally met her two cousins in Heaven on February 13, 2005 at the age of 95 years.