On May 13, 1917 a luminous Apparition of the Virgin Mary appeared to three peasant children and delivered a prophecy that would change the world.
Investigations into the Fatima event have proved that the miracle of October 13, 1917 was seen over an area of 32 miles by 20. An area of over 600 square miles.
The three children - Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco took their flock of sheep to a natural hollow in the ground known as the Cova da Iria to graze, just outside the town of Fatima in Portugal. While the sheep were grazing the children began to play. Suddenly there was a flash of lightening. The children looked up, bewildered into the sky. The day was quiet pleasent and there was no sign of a storm. They started to gather the sheep thinking a storm was brewing in the distance when there was a second flash that caused total concern.
A few metres away stood a Lady of dazzling light. Their eyes were unable to comprehend the lady's brilliance and beauty .
The children smelled rose.
"Where are you from?" Lucy managed to ask.
"I am from Heaven".
"What do you want of us?" asked Lucia.
"I came to ask you to come here on the thirteenth day for six months at the same time, and then I will return here a seventh time."
After several other messages the lady asked finally for them to resite the Rosary daily before she rose in a cloud of light and glided away into the eastern sky. Lucia warned her cousins to say nothing of what they had seen out of fear of disbelief, but Jacinta was too excited. Predictably Jacinta told her parents about the Apparition and there was a general reaction of disbelief. Lucia`s mother was convinced that her child was lying and punished her continually when she refused to deny her story. Other children laugthed at them and even spat at them.
But the visions of Mary -- and her series of prophecies remained apparent to the three children.
At first, Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta had great difficulty trying to share what they had seen, because the government of Portugal was heavily opposed to religion at that time.
Francisco and Jacinta died in an influenza pandemic within three years of the 1917 "dance of the sun."
Lucia went on to become a nun. She told the church the details of Fatima prophecies, the first parts of which have common public knowledge for many years.
A short time later another vision appeared.
Witnesses reported –
"I looked at the sun and saw it spinning like a disc, rolling on itself. I saw people changing colour. They were stained with the colours of the rainbow. The sun seemed to fall down from the sky . . . The people said that the world was going to end . . . They were afraid and screaming." Antonio de Oliveiro, Farmer.
"Suddenly the rain stopped and a great splendour appeared and the children cried: 'Look at the sun!' I saw the sun coming down, feeling that it was falling to the ground. At that moment, I collapsed." Maria Candida da Silva.
"I looked and saw that the people were in various colours - yellow, white, blue. At the same time, I beheld the sun spinning at great speed and very near me. I at once thought: I am going to die." Rev. Joao Menitra.
"Before the astonished eyes of the crowd, whose aspect was biblical as they stood bareheaded, pale with fright, eagerly searching the sky, the sun trembled, made sudden incredible movements outside all cosmic laws - the sun 'danced' according to the typical expression of the people. Standing at the step of the Torres Novas bus was an old man, whose appearance in face and figure reminded one of Paul Deroulede. With his face turned towards the sun he recited the Creed in a loud voice . . . Afterwards, I saw him going up to those around him who still had their hats on, and vehemently imploring them to uncover their heads before such an extraordinary demonstration of the existence of God. Identical scenes were repeated elsewhere, and in one place, a woman cried out in a gasp of surprise: 'How dreadful that there are some men who do not even bare their heads before such a stupendous miracle!' People then began to ask each other what they had seen. The great majority admitted to having seen the trembling and the dancing of the sun. Others affirmed that they saw the face of the Blessed Virgin, while others swore that the sun whirled on itself to the earth as if to burn it with its rays. Some said they saw it change colours successively."
"It was almost three o'clock in the afternoon. The sky was swept clear of clouds and the sun followed its course in its usual splendour, so that no one ventured to gaze at it directly. What about the little shepherds? Lucia, who had spoken to Our Lady, was announcing with expressive gestures, as she was carried along shoulder-high by a man and passed from group to group, that the war would end and that the soldiers would return . . . But news like that, however, did nothing to increase the jubilation of those who heard it. The heavenly sign was sufficient for them: it was everything.
"Intense curiosity prevailed to see the two little girls in their wreaths of roses, and to kiss the hands of these 'little saints', one of whom, Jacinta, seemed nearer to fainting than dancing. They had so longed to see the sign from Heaven: they had seen and were satisfied and radiated burning faith . . . The crowd dispersed rapidly, without any difficulty, without any sign of disorder, without any need for policemen to regulate them. Those who were the first to arrive were also the first to depart, running out on the roadway, travelling on foot with their footwear in a bundle on their heads or strung from their staffs. They went, with hearts overflowing with joy, to bring the good news to their hamlets that had not been wholly depopulated for the time being.
"And what of the priests? Some turned up at the place, mingling more among the curious spectators rather than among the pilgrims avid for heavenly signs and favours. Perhaps neither one nor the other succeeded in concealing their happiness, which so often transpired in triumphant guise . . . It only remains for those competent to do justice to the bewildering dance of the sun which, on this day in Fatima, caused Hosannas to resound from the hearts of all the faithful present, and naturally made a great impression, as people worthy of belief assured me, on the freethinkers and others without any religious conviction who had come to this now famous spot located on the poor pastureland high up on the serra. Avelino de Almeida."
"The sun started to roll from one place to another and changed to blue, yellow - all colours. Then we see the sun coming towards the children. Everyone was crying out. Some started to confess their sins because there was no priest around there . . . My mother grabbed me to her and started to cry, saying 'It is the end of the world!' And then we see the sun come right into the trees . . ." Dominic Reis, in an American TV interview, 1960.
This sounds much like a UFO / ET experience - holographic projections for many to see. It included spiritual messages to be read at the appropriate times. Two of the messages have come to pass. The third is known by certain members of the clergy.
Lucia said the first secret shown to them by Mary began with a terrifying vision of hell. Mary then indicated that the war would soon end, as World War I did in the following year.
But Mary foresaw that a "night illuminated by an unknown light" would precede a "worse war" in which "The good will be martyred" and "The Holy Father will have much to suffer." On January 25, 1938, a remarkable display of aurora borealis was visible across Europe, the year before World War II began.
The second secret involved the future of Russia. Lucia says Mary revealed that Russia would "spread her errors throughout the world, promoting wars," and that "Various nations will be annihilated." Many believe this is a direct prophecy of the spread of communism. "I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to My Immaculate Heart," continues the account of Mary's revelation. "If people attend to My requests, Russia will be converted and the world will have peace." Some interpret Pope John Paul II's 1984 consecration of Russia as fulfilling the prophecy, and paving the way for the subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union as the "conversion" of Russia.
Lucia wrote down the third secret, sealed it, and entrusted it to Portugal's Bishop of Leiria, with instructions that it was not to be read until 1960. The Bishop turned the envelope over to the Vatican. Pope John XXIII reportedly opened the envelope when 1960 arrived, but refused to divulge its contents, saying, "This prophecy does not relate to my time." Pope John Paul II is said to have also read it, and refuses to reveal it on the grounds that its true spiritual message has been obscured by sensationalism.