THE FOURTH APPARITION OF THE MOTHER OF GOD
- Location: Valinhos
- Date: August 19, 1917
- People present: About 5000
Following the third apparition, the sufferings of the three children increased all the more to the point that the civil authority became aware and started inflicting torments upon them. Of all the torment, trial, and terror inflicted by the magistrate on the three children of Fatima – 9-year-old Francisco Marto and 7-year-old Jacinta Marto, along with their 10-year-old cousin Lucia dos Santos – the most egregious offense was keeping them imprisoned on August 13 so that they won’t go to Cova da Iria. They were heartbroken. Each of the three made a promise to the Lady to be at the Cova da Iria on the 13th of every month, and this month they were not there. With innocent, childlike reasoning they believed they had broken that promise and had disappointed her.
After their release, the following Sunday, August 19, the children went to the Cova as usual to pray the rosary. They returned home for lunch. Afterwards, Lucía decided to go to Valinhos, not far away, to spend the afternoon in prayer. Francisco and his older brother John went with her. (John lived in the family home until his death on April 28, 2000.) Around 4 p.m. the air cooled, the sun paled, and they saw the typical flash of light that usually preceded an appearance of Our Lady. John was excited to be there for this apparition, but Lucía ordered him to go home and return with Jacinta. After some coaxing and four pennies, John did just that. He found Jacinta at her godmother’s house. Taking her by the hand, he whispered the news to her. Together they raced to Valinhos. As soon as the two arrived, a second flash lit the area.
Now that the four children were together, on their knees and praying, the Lady in brilliant light appeared over a holm oak, slightly taller than the one at the Cova. Lucía would later recall that she had a sense that the Lady was rewarding them for their fidelity during their ordeal.
Usually, Lucia began by asking the Lady, “What do you want of me?” “I want you to continue to come to the Cova da Iria on the 13th and to continue to say the rosary every day”; replied the Lady. Lucia told Our Lady of her sorrow over all the people who did not believe she was appearing. Lucia asked for a miracle or a sign so that everyone would believe. “Yes,” Our Lady answered, “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 have been greater. St. Joseph will come with the Baby Jesus to give peace to the world. Our Lord also will come to bless the people…” The miracle Our Lady promised was intended for the people so that all would come to believe. The children had not asked for this sign so people would believe in them. Selflessly, they wanted everyone to believe so they could, too, could make reparations for sins against the Immaculate Heart and the Sacred Heart. The magistrate, the guards, the inquisitors, their collaborators, and the crowds of people who insulted and harmed the children would still have a sign of her presence. Had their hearts not been hardened, the sign would have been greater.
Lucía remembered Senhora da Capelinha’s request and said: “What do you wish us to do with the money and the offerings that the people leave at the Cova da Iria?” “Have two litters made. One is to be carried by you and Jacinta and two other girls dressed in white; Francisco is to carry the other with three boys also dressed in white robes. The money placed on the litters is for the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.” (A litter is a portable platform mounted on two poles and usually carried by four people. It is often used in religious processions to carry a statue or image of a saint, or as in Fatima, a statue of Mary.) Lucía then spoke to Our Lady of the sick who had been recommended to her. “Yes, I shall cure some of them within the year”, replied the Lady. But she went on, teaching them to pray rather for the health of souls than of bodies. “Pray! Pray a great deal and make sacrifices for sinners, for many souls go to hell for not having someone to pray and make sacrifices for them.”
The Lady’s apparition was not lengthy. She began to rise towards the east, as before, and was gone.
The children were consoled by this visit from the Lady. This visit was special because it was intimate. There were no large crowds like there were at the Cova da Iria. At the Cova, people had stripped off every branch and twig from the holm oak. The children were never able to return with even a simple leaf. They decided to break off a small branch which the robe of the Lady had touched. John and Lucía stayed at Valinhos with the sheep, while Francisco and Jacinta rushed home with the branch to tell their parents of the unexpected visit of Our Lady. The children’s desire for a sign from the Lady so that others might believe was, in a small way, answered by way of that branch. On the way to their house, Jacinta and Francisco passed by Lucía’s home. Lucía’s mother, sister, and several neighbours were at the door.
“Aunt Maria Rosa,” Jacinta cried out with joy, “we saw Our Lady again! It was at Valinhos! See here, Our Lady had one foot on this twig and the other on that one.” Jacinta gave the branch to Lucía’s mother. The mother’s face showed great surprise as she put the branch to her nose. “What does this smell of?” she asked. “It is not perfume, it’s not incense nor perfumed soap; it’s not the smell of roses nor anything I know, but it is a good smell.” The whole family gathered and each wanted to hold the branch and smell the beautiful scent. From that moment, Lucía’s mother and her whole family slowly turned away from their opposition and disbelief.
Through the intercession of Our Lady of Fatima, may Almighty God bless + you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen
Culled from “Memórias da Irmã Lúcia I. 14.ª ed. Fátima: Secretariado dos Pastorinhos, 2010”
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PS: Have you prayed your Rosary today?