|Our Lady of Fatima and the Seers|
In 711, the Moors invaded the country. It was nearly three centuries before Alfonso VI, King of Castile and Leon called upon the French for help. They were able to free the northern part of the country. In 1139, Alfonso Henriques consolidated the independence of Portugal by his victory over the Moors at Ourica. Portugal was born. This new king chose the Mother of God as Patroness of the country.
In subsequent battles with the Moors, the Crusaders carried with them the statue of Our Lady with the standard of Santa Maria of Alcobaca. This statue was venerated until the 18th centuryin the church of Our Lady of the Martyrs, at Lisbon.
|Lucia dos Santos, |
eldest Fatima Seer, 10 years old
Lucia was the youngest of five daughters and one son, by Lucy’s memoirs she states that all of her family doted on her and gave her much love. She was an intelligent child, her mother taught her the whole catechism before she was 6 years old.
|Jacinta youngest Seer of Fatima|
Above all she had a heart of gold, capable of immense affection. She also had an astonishingly pure heart, completely docile to the baptismal grace, which already guided her thoughts and her childish actions.
She loved to dance and sing. She was very exuberant. . . a marvelous dancer.
She was out-spoken, “She had her wits about her and she calls a spade a spade” comments Dom Jean-Nesmy
The three children playing a game of forfeits, the rule of the game is that the loser has to do whatever the winner tells him. Lucy relates, “. . . I won, so this time it was I who told her what to do. My brother was sitting at a table writing. I told her to give him a hug and a kiss but she protested. . . Why don’t you tell me to go and kiss Our Lord over there? There was a crucifix hanging on the wall. . . (Lucy said) kneel down and give Him three hugs and three kisses; one for Francisco, one for me and one for yourself.” Jacinta replied, “To Our Lord, yes, I’ll give as many as you like. . . She kissed it and hugged it with such devotion that I have never forgotten.”
“. . .Looking attentively at Our Lord, she asked, ‘Why is Our Lord nailed to a cross like that?’ Lucy relates after she explained to Jacinta the Passion of Our Lord, “In hearing of His sufferings, the little girl was moved and began to cry. Many times later she wold come and ask me to tell the story again. She would weep and grieve, saying ,
I don’t want
to suffer more!”
|Francisco Marto, Fatima seer 9 yrs old|
Unlike his sister Jacinta, “He was neither capricious nor vivacious. On the contrary, he was quiet and submissive by nature.”
Like his father, he was gentle, humble and patient. Always having a joyful countenance, he was invariably polite and accommodating to all, even at the cost of considerable sacrifices. “If one of the other children insisted on taking away something belonging to him, he said: ‘Let them have it! What do I care?’
He was a robust and lively boy. . . He could be mischievous, he too could become capricious.
Manuel Pedro said, “Once Francisco refused to say his prayers and hid in the out-kitchen. I went out to him and when he say me coming he cried out at once that he would pray! That was before Our Lady appeared. After that he never failed to say them. In fact he and Jacinta would almost force us to say the Rosary. . .”
“He was anything but fearful. He’d go anywhere in the dark alone at night, without the slightest hesitation. . .”
Francisco was a meditative soul. He had little taste for noisy games and the shouts of his companions. . .
His passion was music and song, “He showed no love for dancing, as Jacinta did; he much preferred playing the flute while the others danced. What Francisco enjoyed most, when we were out on the mountain together, was to perch on top of the highest rock, and sing or play his flute. . .”
I love the sheep on the mountains.
In the midst of my flock, I am like the sun at noon.
Together with my lampkins, I learn to skip and jump,
I am the joy of the serra, And the lily of the vale.”
+ + + + + +
an Angel Comes
The Apparitions of the Angel all began in 1915. . .
Lucy was entrusted with taking care of the family flock. At this time Jacinta would have been 5 years old and Francisco 7 years old, they were not as yet given permission to go with their cousin. Lucy had chosen three companions: Teresa Matias, her sister Maria Rosa and Maria Justino.
“. . . little by little this impression disappeared and I believe that with time I would have completely forgotten it had it not been for the events which followed.”
“Around this time 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 I 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.”
We 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 torwards 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.”
|Angel teaching the children to pray|
“‘Do not be afraid! I am the Angel
After repeated these words three times, he rose and said, ‘Pray thus. The Hearts of Jesus and Mary are attentive to the voice of your supplications.’” “The supernatural atmosphere which enveloped us, was so intense that for a long time we were scarcely aware of our own existence, remaining in the same posture in which he had left us, and continuing repeating the same prayer. The presence of God made itself so intimately and so intensely that we did not even venture to speak to one another. . . It did not occur to us to speak about this Apparition, nor did we think of recommending that it be kept a secret. The very Apparition itself imposed secrecy. . .”
“. . . at the height of summer when the heat of the day was so intense that we had to take the sheep home before noon and only let them out again in the early evening. We went to spend the siesta hours in the shade of the trees which surrounded the well. . .”
“Suddenly, we saw the same Angel right beside us. ‘What are you doing? Pray, pray very much!
by which He is offended,
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
“The third apparition must have taken place in October, or towards the end of September, as we were no longer returning for siesta. . . 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. . . .
I don’t know how many times we repeated this prayer, when an extraordinary light shone upon us. We sprang up to see what was happening, and beheld the Angel.
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
|Receiving the Eucharist|
“In the third apparition, the presence of the Angel was still more intense. For several days, even Francisco did not dare to talk. He said later on, ‘I love to see the Angel, but the trouble is that later one, we are incapable of doing anything. I could not even walk any more, I didn’t know what as the matter!’”
A quick note here: In 1916, Jacinta had just turned six and a half and her brother Francisco eight, and Father Ferreira still did not want to admit either one to the Holy Table. In the spring of 1918, he would refuse to admit Francisco, on the pretext that he did not know the answer to a catechism question. But heaven had already judged otherwise; Jacinta and Francisco, without the knowledge of their parish priest, had already made their First Communion! A real Communion. In fact, although they had never dared to go to Communion in Church without the authorization of the parish priest, Jacinta and Francisco were sure that they had truly received Communion from the hand of the Angel, at the Cabeco. Although extraordinary and miraculous, their Communion was none the less real, as Lucy has always affirmed without hesitation.
". . .we used to spend long periods of time, prostrate like the Angel, repeating his words, until sometimes we fell, exhausted. . ."
". . . we imitated the Angel in everything, that is, we prostrated as he did and repeated the words he said. . . we remained a long time in this position, repeating the same words over and over again. . ."
This was the beginning of many trials and sorrows for Lucy for her family would not believe in the apparitions. They would scorn her, ridicule her and her mother even beat her. She offered all up to God. “. . . My poor mother seemed just drowned in the depths of distress. . . My God , where has all the joy of our home gone?”
By an infused grace, the words of the Angel had penetrated very profoundly into their souls. "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 gives 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. . ."