The Angel of Peace did her job in preparing the young children Lucy (10), Francisco (9), and Jacinta (7) to meet the Queen of Heaven. It was Sunday May 13; the kids already went to the early Mass in the village church; their families would not miss Sunday Mass for anything. April showers had brought May flowers to the Cova da Iria field where the children watched the sheep while playing games.
Suddenly, there was a bright shaft of light from Heaven and its most precious and indescribably beautiful queen appeared on a very small holm oak tree, just three feet tall. God sent the most beautiful flower ever, the ultimate missionary through the ages, on a special mission of mercy during the carnage of World War I, the bloodiest in history, a grave consequence of sin. “Do not be afraid”, the Lady said; “I will not harm you”. In answer to their questions she said: “I am from heaven…….I have come to ask you to come here for six months in succession on the thirteenth day of each month at this same hour. Later I will tell you who I am and what I want. Afterward, I will return here a seventh time.
Lucia then asked if they and their friends will go to Heaven. Yes they would, but Francisco would have to say many Rosaries. Their friend Maria is there, but for Amelia, it would be different. “She will be in purgatory until the end of the world. Do you wish to offer yourselves to God to endure all the sufferings that He may be pleased to send you, as both an act of reparation for the sins with which He is offended and an act of supplication for the conversion of sinners? The children gave their fiat: “Yes we do”. That was the first step in their road to canonization. Our Lady answered: “Well then, you will have much to suffer. But the grace of God will be your comfort.”
Lucy continued: "It was upon saying these last words, 'the grace of God...' that for the first time she opened her hands, which emitted a most intense light that penetrated our breasts, reaching the innermost part of our souls and making us see ourselves in God, Who was that light, more clearly than we can see ourselves in the best of mirrors. Then, driven by a deep inspiration, we knelt down and repeated inwardly: 'O Most Holy Trinity, I adore Thee! My God, my God, I love Thee in the Most Blessed Sacrament'”, as the Angel of Peace taught them.
Before parting, Our Lady said: “Pray the Rosary every day to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war.” Lucia continued: "She immediately began to rise serenely toward the east until she disappeared far into the distance. The light that surrounded her was, so to speak, opening her way through the starry firmament."
The children were very joyful, but not for long. Knowing that they would be subject to ridicule, the children agreed to keep it a secret. However, little Jacinta forgot her promise and had to tell her mother. Then the ridicule and incredulity started, but as Mary promised, the grace of God would be their comfort. The parents gave them little or no support nor did their pastor. However, the Marto parents believed that the children would not lie. Ti Marto left it up to the will of God. At this point, the children could not affirm that the beautiful lady was Mary, the Mother of God. Lucia had a more difficult time with her family. Her mother tried to get Lucia to admit that she lied about the vision and her sisters also opposed her. The news quickly spread throughout the town and the children encountered jeering and verbal abuse.
June 13. The children offered up the ridicule and more for sinners……..giving up lunches, singing, and dancing. Lucia invited some friends and a number of others, including Lucia’s mother followed the children to the Cova da Iria on the 13th when the lady promised to appear. The 50 or so spectators prayed the rosary while waiting. Near noon on a hot day the seers saw a brilliant approaching light. Some spectators observed that the top of the budding holm oak bent down, as if under the weight of something. During Our Lady’s conversations with the children, the bystanders heard nothing except a gentle whispering like the humming of a bee.
Our Lady made a request: “I want you to come here on the thirteenth of next month, to pray the Rosary every day, inserting between the mysteries the following ejaculation: ‘O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who have most need of your mercy.’ I want you to learn to read and write and later I shall say what I desire.”
Lucia asked that Mary take them to Heaven. “Yes, I shall take Jacinta and Francisco soon, but you will remain here for a longer time yet. Jesus wishes to use you in order to make me known and loved. He wishes to establish devotion to my Immaculate Heart in the world. I promise salvation to those who embrace it; and these souls will be loved by God like flowers placed by me to adorn His throne.
Lucia apprehensively asked if she would be alone. “No, daughter. Does that make you suffer much? Do not be dismayed. I will never forsake you. My Immaculate Heart shall be your refuge and the road that shall lead you to God.” Again we see the classic refrain: “To Jesus through Mary”.
Lucia related, "As she said these last words, she opened her hands, and for the second time she communicated to us the reflection of the intense light that enveloped her. We could see ourselves in it, as if immersed in the Divine presence. Jacinta and Francisco seemed to be in the part of this light that was ascending toward Heaven, and I was in the part that was cast toward the ground. In front of Our Lady's right hand there was a heart encircled by thorns that seemed to pierce it. We understood that this was the Immaculate Heart of Mary, so offended by the sins of mankind and pleading for reparation."
The Lady, still surrounded by the light that she radiated, rose from the little tree and glided toward the east until she disappeared completely. Several persons who were closer noticed that the buds at the top of the holm oak were inclined towards the east, as if they had been trod upon. They returned to their usual position only some hours later. The people saw nothing except a slight cloud, rising towards the east. The spectators departed, saying the Rosary on their way home.
Jacinta was already a little apostle, repeating: “She said it is necessary to say the Rosary……..she will return and she told us a secret that we cannot tell”. That aroused the curiosity of everyone, many of whom tried to extract the secret from the children. “If they beat us, we will suffer it for the love of Our Lord and for sinners.” Their pastor speculated that the visions might be a trick of the devil and so, even the children had periods of doubt. Lucia even felt tormented by the devil with a terrifying dream of him laughing. This mental and emotional anguish was all part of what the children had to suffer and offer up for sinners.to repent and come back to God. We can do the same when suffering comes our way and make sacrifices for others as by helping and other works of charity.