Mary promised to meet Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta (from left to right in the above photo) on August 13, but the children were no shows. Could it be that they stood Mary up? What happened?
Portugal was caught up in the same secularism or unbelief that is rapidly taking over America today and already has much of Europe in its clutches. The Chief Magistrate of Ourem County, Arthur Oliveira Santos, was the most powerful political leader in the area. Although brought up in the faith, he rejected the Church at the age of 20 and joined the Freemasons, known to be vehemently anti-Catholic at the time. He also owned a newspaper that did everything possible to undermine the faith of the people and attack the clergy. The Magistrate would be scorned by his fellow Freemasons if the Marian revival were to flourish and strengthen the Church on his watch.
Ti Marto, the father of Francisco and Jacinta as well as Lucia's father were summoned to appear with the children at the county courthouse. Lucia expected the worst, but comforted herself: “I expect to have to suffer more for Thy love, O my God, and it is for the conversion of sinners”. After questioning, Lucia was dismissed and warned that she must reveal the secret or else......death.
On August 13 the Magistrate showed up at the Marto home and said: “I want to see the miracle too”. He urged the reluctant children to get into his carriage which stopped at the rectory for further questions. The Pastor, believing the apparitions were made up, tried to impress the Magistrate that he had no responsibility for the situation. Lucia emphasized: “I will not go to Hell for I don't lie”. Then the Magistrate tricked the children to go back into the carriage to go to his house in the county seat. Some people, realizing the children were kidnapped, threw stones at the carriage. Upon arriving at his home, the Magistrate locked up the children: “You won't leave this room until you tell me the secret”. Jacinta consoled the others: “If they kill us, it doesn't matter. We'll go straight to Heaven”.
The crowd at the Cova was larger than ever. Realizing that the children were kidnapped, they were on the point of rioting. Suddenly, there was thunder and a flash. As in previous apparitions, a little white cloud, beautiful and bright, stayed over the holm oak. After a few minutes, the cloud rose towards the heavens and disappeared. Apparently, Mary did come, but left. However, everyone's face glowed. The trees seemed to be covered with flowers. The people left frustrated and clamored against those responsible for the arrest of the children. The inspired Ti Marto intervened: “Be calm, men, be calm. Don't hurt anyone. Whoever deserves punishment will get it. All of this is by the power of the One above”. The Pastor was grateful for his life.
The children spent the night of the 13th in prayer, asking for strength to remain faithful to Mary. The next day the Magistrate tried everything to obtain the secret.......bribes, threats, etc. He deposited them in the jail with hardened criminals, who consoled and entertained them. Soon the children had them all praying the rosary.
|Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta|
The next morning the Magistrate threatened the children one by one for supposedly a final last chance before “being thrown into a tank of boiling oil”. With each refusal, he sent each child alone to their supposed fate. The thought of dying for Our Lady made them all the happier. The interrogation became a matter of official record and thus documentation for incredulous historians a century later.
Finally, on August 15, the Feast of the Assumption, the Magistrate, realizing that he was getting nowhere and fearing the enraged people, took the children back to Fatima and let them go. With tears of joy running down his face, Ti Marto told the people who were angry at the Magistrate as well as their pastor: “No one is to blame. The blame lies with lack of faith all has been allowed by the One above”. He even accepted a glass of wine from the Magistrate in order to pacify the crowd and save him from harm.
On Sunday, the 19th, Lucia, her family, and Francisco went for an outing to nearby Valinhos. At 4 pm, Lucia noticed the signs that Our Lady was coming (the sudden cooling of the air, the paling of the sun, and a flash), but Jacinta was not there. Lucia sent her brother John to quickly fetch Jacinta. Just as she arrived, there was another flash and Mary appeared on a different holm oak tree. Mary waited! “I want you to continue to come to the Cova da Iria on the 13th and to continue to say the Rosary every day”. Dismayed that so many did not believe in the reality of her appearances, Lucia asked for a miraculous sign so that they would believe. “In the last month, in October, I shall perform a miracle so that all may believe in my apparitions. If they had not taken you to the village, the miracle would be greater”........Our Lord will also come to bless the people.” She instructed Lucia to use the donated money “for the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, and the money that is left over will help towards the construction of a chapel that is to be built”. Lucia then spoke about the sick who had been recommended to her. “Yes, I shall cure some of them within the year.” But Mary went on teaching them to pray rather for the health of soul than of bodies: “Pray! Pray a great deal and make sacrifices for sinners, for many souls go to Hell because they have no one to pray and make sacrifices for them.”
The children cut off a branch upon which Mary stood. It had a heavenly fragrance that they had not experienced before. From then on, Lucia's family began to believe that Mary did indeed appear to the children. What will Mary have to say in her next to last appearance on September 13?