Fatima, by Father Robert J Murphy

Our Lady of FatimaPeace on earth! We talk about it. We hope for it. And yet, in that deep core of our hearts where honesty finally confronts wishful thinking, we do not believe in it. We only wonder when, and how, our cold war will turn hot.

Nevertheless, we can have peace, if we are sincere enough to pay the price. A price that is puny compared to the ravages, the suffering, the degradation of war.

Russia can be stopped, without war. Not only stopped, but converted. Its mighty energies can be harnessed for decency and humanity. Again, if we are sincere enough to will to pay the price.

And we can have peace of mind. Peace of mind does not come from reading books about it. It will come as we pay out the price of peace, and of Russia’s conversion.

The things we are running away from are the very things that will tranquillize our lives.


It all began on Mother’s Day, 1917, in Portugal.

Three little children, who had been to early Mass, led their father’s sheep along a dusty, winding road in the hamlet of Aljustrel. The road soon escaped from the stone walls with which the people of Aljustrel had imprisoned it, and widened some as it ran off toward austere mountain meadows. When they had gone about two miles the children prodded the sheep through a few stony fields to a huge depression, somewhat like an amphitheatre or stadium, called the Cova da Iria. On the ample sides of this bowl there was more grass than there was on the level plateau round Adjustrel, and more than there was on the rocky mountainsides to the south and the east. The sheep grazed contentedly in the Cova, never wandering far away. And that was good, for it gave the children a chance to play the games they loved so well, or to sit in the shade of an olive tree and let their eyes dream toward the distant mountain peaks.

The three children were of the sturdy, simple peasantry of mountain Portugal. They were Lucy dos Santos, aged ten, and her cousins Francisco and Jacinta Marto, aged nine and seven. They were normal children in every way, who lived and grew in the great outdoors. They tended sheep because in that austere country everyone had to work, and watching sheep was work that a child could do.

When the church bells came pealing over the distances from Fatima, the parish church for Aljustrel, they knew it was time for lunch. So they gave over for a time the play-house they were making in a thicket, and sat down to munch the great slabs of dark bread that were the staple of their lunch, and drink from the jug of water that it was necessary to carry in that dry country.

After lunch came the Rosary. But it was an odd kind of rosary. Streamlined, we would call it in America. The two words “Our Father” sufficed for the large beads, and the greeting “Hail Mary” for the small ones. That way it was soon over, and they could get back to the matter of the “house” again.

Lucy’s mother, Maria Rosa, would have had something strong to say had she known. Maria Rosa took a stern and dutiful view of things.

Scarcely had the three finished the last crisp Hail Mary when there was a flash of strange light in the Cova. The children thought it was lightning, the first time. Lightning could be dangerous in this high table-land. They ran down the side of the Cova to round up the sheep which were grazing below. Perhaps they could get them home in the patio before the storm came over the mountain.

Their bare feet had not carried them far over the grass and the rocks when there was another flash of the strange light. This time it all seemed to gather toward the top of a small evergreen-oak tree. There was a whole ball of light in the tree; a globe of most beautiful light, somewhat larger than Lucy.

The children stood stock still and wide-eyed.

Gradually their frightened eyes could see that it was not a ball of light at all – but a Lady. A Lady who wore clothes that seemed made of white light. A Lady whose hands were folded in prayer, with rosary beads hanging down from the right hand.

The Lady stood easily and gracefully in the top branches of the little evergreen tree. Her face was utterly beautiful – “not sad, not happy, but serious.”

“Don’t be afraid,” she said in a low, gentle voice, “I won’t hurt you.” Her lovely voice put the children at their ease.

“Where do you come from?” Lucy asked.

“I am from heaven.”

“And what is it you want of me?”

“I come to ask you children to meet me here six times in succession, at this same time, on the thirteenth day of each month. Later I will tell you who I am and what I want.”

“Shall I go to heaven, too?” Lucy asked.

“Yes, you will come.”

“And Jacinta?”

“She, too.”

“And Francisco?”

“Yes, but he will have to say many rosaries.”

Then the Lady’s face grew more serious.

“Do you wish,” she asked, “to offer yourselves to God, to endure all the suffering He may choose to send you, in reparation for the sins by which He is ofended, and to obtain the conversion of sinners?”

Sin . . . suffering . . . conversion. . . . These were weighty topics to be proposing to children of ten, nine and seven. However, it was all simple enough to the children. This lovely Lady wanted something. They would give it.

“Oh yes, yes we do,” answered Lucy.

“Then you will have much to suffer. But, thanks be to God, His grace will support you.”

Then the Lady opened her hands toward them, and from the palms came streams of light that flowed over and into the children. In this light, as Lucy said afterwards, they “saw themselves in God,” and fell to their knees, adoring the Trinity.

“Say the Rosary every day,” said the Lady, tenderly, “to bring peace to the world.”

The light and the Lady rose from the tree. They could be seen for a moment over the Cova da Iria, then in the hazy mountain distances, then not at all.

The first visit was over.


Vast, quiet peace was in the hearts of the shepherd children. They had seen a vision of loveliness; they had made acquaintance with profound mysteries; their eyes had looked upon another world.

It was a long time before they could talk. Then it was Francisco, who wanted to know if the Lady had said anything. Only then did the girls realize that he had seen the Lady, but had not heard her voice.

“She said that we are going to heaven. But you will have to say many rosaries first. She wants us to suffer for sinners. She wants us to say the Rosary every day to bring peace to the world.”

They did not play that afternoon. It was so much more pleasant to sit and think, and talk, about the beautiful Lady. They were to see her five more times. And then they were to go to heaven and be with her always – oh, what joy! Was she the Blessed Virgin? They all thought so, but Lucy said they couldn’t be sure, because she had not told them. Would they be very sick first was that what she meant about suffering? Well, they didn’t care, as long as it would help sinners, and the Lady wanted it. It wouldn’t be so hard to die, if you knew you were going to heaven. They would have to say the whole Rosary now, not just “Our Father” and “Hail Mary” – and for peace. And Francisco would have to say “many rosaries.” They would have many things to ask the Lady next time. They wished next time were tomorrow.

Lucy thought they had better tell nobody, not even their mothers. The others liked the idea of having a secret, and promised they would not tell. But Lucy had her doubts, especially about the vivacious Jacinta.

Lucy was right. Jacinta could not hold it in. The little girl had been only a little while at home that afternoon before the news came bursting out of her. “Mother, I saw our Lady at the Cova today!”

Then the children found that it was not necessary to get sick to suffer. Not all were as kind as Jacinta’s parents, who, after careful and separate questioning of Francisco and Jacinta, were willing to believe in their children. Aljustrel, as well as every other place on earth, had its scoffers, to whom this world and the other world are now tightly sealed against each other; who are willing to believe in miracles and visions if they happened long ago or far away, but not if they happen next door and now.

Lucy, in particular, was crucified. Maria Rosa could read (a rare accomplishment in those parts), and she had her holy books about the saints. The saints indeed had seen, and talked with, the Mother of God. One could believe that. But her daughter Lucy was no saint. Maria Rosa made up her mind that her daughter was a liar – a bold-faced, unholy liar. And she, Maria Rosa, was shamed by her before the whole neighborhood. It was not bad enough to have a husband who drank too much, now she had to have this.

Maria Rosa set about, in her heavy-footed way, to make Lucy deny that she had seen the Lady. She scolded her, she beat her, she took her to the parish-priest. Lucy cried, but she could not say she had not seen the Lady, for she had. It was the first, and perhaps the worst, of her sufferings – and she was only a child of ten.

Life was pleasant for the children now only when they had put their sheep together, and were away from everybody else in the meadows. Then they could remember, and talk about the Lady, and think that she was coming again, soon. Then they could say their Rosary, for peace. And plan what they would ask her next time.

They remembered the serious look on the Lady’s face when she had spoken about the sins which offend God, and the sinners who must be converted. Gradually this part of the Lady’s words began to seem more important even than her promise to take them to heaven. They must make up to God for sins, they must save the sinners.

The Lady had said this must be done by suffering. How could they suffer more?

Francisco had an idea. They could give their lunches to the sheep, and do without themselves. Jacinta thought it would be better to give them to poor children.

So they did this. And made their own lunch out of green acorns that were edible.

Some of these acorns were bitter. Jacinta chose the bitter ones.

“Don’t eat those Jacinta,” cried Lucy, “they are very bitter.”

“It is for the bitterness that I eat them,” said this little girl of seven. “I want to save sinners for the Lady.”

Another day – a hot day – they had a jug of water. Francisco refused to drink all day. “I want to suffer for sinners,” he said.

But for Lucy it was her wretchedness at home that hurt most. There she became a kind of Cinderella. Her mother scolded and struck at her, her older sisters taunted her, the village children as they passed made mocking signs at her.

It would have been impossible to bear but for the thought of the thirteenth of June.


The light came to the evergreen tree again on the thirteenth of June. And once again it became the Lady. This time they were not frightened.

The Lady reminded them again of the Rosary, for peace. She taught them a new prayer, which she wished said ajter each decade of the beads: “O my Jesus, forgive us our sins! Save us from the fire of hell! Bring all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of Your mercy!”

Lucy asked her to take them to heaven.

“Yes, I will take Francisco and Jacinta soon. But you, Lucy, are to stay on earth a longer time. Jesus wishes to make use of you to make me known and loved. He wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart.”

With that, she again opened her palms toward them. There were the same streams of light. The light that humbled them, and strengthened them.

In the light, near the right palm of the Lady, they saw a heart, with thorns piercing it.

“We understood,” wrote Lucy later, “that this was the Immaculate Heart of Mary, outraged by the sins of humanity, and that there must be reparation.”

Then the Lady and the light vanished into the blue mountain distances. And so many of the questions that the children had meant to ask were unanswered. Somehow, they did not seem so important.

Thus the children, and through them the world, learned that in some way the sinner strikes at the Most Pure Heart of Mary as well as the Sacred Heart of Christ. Generous souls are needed to draw the thorns out of these two Hearts. These thorns are extracted by prayer and sacrifice.


But what has this story of Lucy dos Santos, aged ten, and Francisco and Jacinta Marto, aged nine and seven, to do with peace on earth? Where is the thread of connection between Aljustrel, a mountain hamlet near Fatima in Portugal, and Russia? What have this strange light and this beautiful, serious Lady to do with the ways, and the price, of peace of soul?

The Lady answered all these questions on the thirteenth of July, 1917.

Peace on earth will come from heaven. It is a shining gift which God will give, through Mary.

We could have had this gift before 1939. There need have been no blood-red Anzio. No War Department telegrams freezing the hearts of American mothers. No Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

We can have peace – tomorrow.

All that is necessary is for Christians to become Christian.

Peace will come when the friends of God stop making war on Him. When they stop sinning. When they stop crucifying God’s Son, and comfort Him instead. When they become devoted to the Immaculate Heart of God’s Mother. When they make reparation for past sins. When, by prayer and sacrifice, they take up God’s Cause in a great worldwide crusade to convert sinners and save them from hell.

Mary Immaculate will be the leader of this crusade. When she has gathered sufficient prayer and sacrifice from the four quarters of the earth, she will go before the throne of the Almighty. Then a startling thing will happen in Russia. And there will be on earth the quiet morning air of peace.

And it is in the very prayer and sacrifice by which souls come down on God’s and Mary’s side that they will find peace of mind. These will be the psychiatry of God.

At the basis of the astonishing and unprecedented mental anguish of this generation lie mainly two things:

The first of these is the headlong flight from the cross. The neurotics and other mental sufferers of this our day are largely men and women who are impatiently and wilfully demanding heaven on earth. They will not tolerate the least suffering or limitation in their lives. They are in revolt against a law of human life as inescapable as the law of gravity in nature. Those who revolt against the law of gravity, by jumping off high buildings, get hurt. Those who demand heaven on earth, by piling comfort on comfort, by running away from duties and situations that have an unpleasant side, also get hurt.

With each such flight they make themselves less capable of facing the next situation, the next duty. This way lies crack-up.

Fatima stands across the path of this flight, and seeks to check it. It nerves souls, it gives them a great motive, for sacrifice, and especially for those sacrifices connected with duty. If the men and women of this generation will listen to Mary Immaculate as she talks to the shepherd children on the thirteenth of July, 1917, they will find that “in the Cross is strength of mind, in the Cross is joy of spirit.”

The second great cause of mental distress is fear. Fear enters into nearly every mental complication. We do not feel “up to” a task that must be accomplished. We do not feel capable of handling a danger that threatens. We fear to let our boats go out on the stream of life, and so go round and round in some sickly pool of frustration.

Prayer – God-centred prayer – is the only all-round remedy for fear. For prayer – the right kind of prayer – introduces a new Element into the problems of life. It changes the situation. It is no longer the unequal battle of a man with tasks and dangers too great for him. An Ally has arrived, with Whom a man can go forth with courage and confidence to face whatever life demands of him. “They that hope in the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall take wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”

All this is as old as the Gospel, of course. But it is truer than the very latest volume on psychoanalysis. It is Rock-founded psychiatry.

But now to return to the Lady, and the message of the thirteenth of July, 1917, upon which I have based all the foregoing.

“Sacrifice yourselves for sinners,” she told the children that day. “Say many times, especially when you make some sacrifice: O Jesus, it is for love of You, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”

Then the light of vision poured from her lovely hands, and the young eyes of these children saw terrifying sights of hell, and their ears heard shrieks and cries of despair. They would have died of this experience had not the Lady promised them she would take them to heaven.

“You see hell,” she said, “where the souls of poor sinners go.

“To save them God wishes to establish in the world the devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If they do what I will tell you, many souls will be saved, and there will be peace.

“The war (World War I) is going to end. But if they do not stop offending God another and worse one will begin. . . .

“When you see a night illuminated by an unknown light, know that it is the great sign God gives you that He is going to punish the world for its crimes by means of war, of hunger, and of persecution of the Church and of the Holy Father. (On January 26, 1938 the newspapers all over Europe described a great crimson light which had appeared in the skies the night before. It was seen from the North Sea to the Adriatic. Lucy recognized this as “The Great Sign”, and reported it to the proper ecclesiastical authorities.)

“To prevent this I come to ask the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart and the Communion of reparation on the first Saturdays.

“If they listen to my requests, Russia will be converted and there will be peace. If not she will scatter her errors through the world, provoking wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated.

“In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and it will be converted and a certain period of peace will be granted to the world.”

This was in July, 1917. Russia was then a beaten, disorganized country. Its revolutionaries had yet to show they could remain in power, much less scatter their errors over the world, and provoke wars and persecutions.

All that the Lady predicted has come true. Her dark foreboding about Russia has been more than justified.

The remainder, too, will come true. Russia will be converted. There will be peace.

When “they listen.” When they stop offending God. When Christians live as Christians, and not as halfpagans. When there is a great surge of devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. When there is the daily Rosary in Christian homes. When, like God and God’s Mother, they become serious about the countless souls whose sins are hastening them to hell, and draw them back by the Christian charities of prayer and sacrifice. Particularly, says Lucy, now a Carmelite nun, by those sacrifices which are connected with duty.

Does this seem like very much? Is this an inflation price for peace on earth and peace of mind?

If it does seem much, we have not sufficiently imagined the price of another war. Nor have we counted the blessings that a converted Russia could bring to the world.


Arturo de Oliveira Santos was president of the town administration of Ourem. Also, he was leader of the town’s Masonic Lodge.

Arturo was a power in the whole district round Ourem, in which lie Fatima and Aljustrel.

Arturo’s star had risen with the revolution of 1910. The Lodge had fared well in that upheaval.

The Catholic Church, on the other hand, had been dealt what Arturo fondly hoped was a mortal blow. Church property had been confiscated. Hundreds of priests and nuns had been exiled. Many of the more “enlightened,” especially in the cities, had been won over to “democracy.”

When Arturo heard that almost three thousand people had accompanied the children to the Cova da Iria on July 17, Arturo was annoyed. Here, in his very own district, was a shameful resurrection of “superstition” and “idolatry.”

Arthuro felt that a man in his position should do something about it.

Accordingly, on the thirteenth of August, while thousands of people waited at the Cova, Arturo kidnaped the children. He wanted to “examine” them.

Of course, a man with Arturo’s philosophy and enlightenment should have seen in this a violation of human rights. But Arturo, like so many who prate about human rights, had his blind spots. Perhaps this was not all his own fault.

However it may be, Arturo kidnaped the three peasant children. It was very easy to do. They believed him when he told them he would drive them in his carriage to the Cova. In their simplicity they believed that so great a man as the president of Ourem told the truth. Instead, Arturo drove them to Ourem.

There he threw these three little children into the town jail, into a common cell with thieves and drunkards.

Perhaps this was part of “the enlightenment.”

Perhaps, though, it was one of the strange ways of Divine Providence. God’s irony has ways of making even men like Arturo serve His purpose. Before it was over, the children’s piety had these riffraff on their knees, praying the Rosary. Was there a Good Thief that day?

Later, Arturo summoned them. His black looks frightened them. He threatened them with death by “boiling oil.” But nothing could make them say, as he wished, that they had not seen a Lady at all. Nor could he get them, together or separately, to reveal the Secret she had told them at the July meeting.

In the end, Arturo de Oliveira Santos had to send them back home again. The only effect was to make the people round Fatima believe more in the children.

Innocent children, especially when they are in the Lady’s care, have a way of baffling men like Arturo Santos.


Arturo did not prevent the August meeting of the Lady and the children. She came to them on Sunday, August the nineteenth, in another hollow, called Valinhos.

When Lucy wept because so many would not yet believe, the Lady consoled her. “In the last month, in October, I shall perform a miracle, so that all will believe. . . . And Saint Joseph will come with the baby Jesus to give peace to the world. Our Lord will also come to bless the world. Besides, Our Lady of the Rosary and Our Lady of Sorrows will come.

“Pray!” she said, “pray very much, and make sacrifices for sinners. Many souls go to hell because there is no one to make sacrifices for them.”


There were nearly 30,000 people at the Cova da Iria on the thirteenth of September. Probably Arturo Santos was in part responsible for this. His high-handed and inglorious kidnaping had stirred up much sympathy for them.

The light and the Lady did not fail the children. The little evergreen-oak was by this time almost stripped bare by reverent and irreverent souvenir-hunters, but the Lady stood upon it, graceful and beautiful. She was still “not sad, not happy, but serious.” Her voice was liquid and gentle.

“Continue saying the Rosary every day, for peace,” she said. “In October I will perform the miracle.”

There were a number of priests, this time, in the crowd of pilgrims. One of them was Monsignor John Quaresma, a man of great learning. He felt kindly toward the children, but was hardly prepared to believe. He was asking himself, “Have the little shepherds been the victims of a beautiful mirage?”

“At noontime,” he writes, “silence fell on the crowd, and a low whispering of prayers could be heard. Suddenly, cries of joy rent the air, many voices praising the Blessed Virgin. Arms were raised to point to something above. ‘Look! don’t you see? … Yes, I see it!’

“I, too, raised my eyes to probe the immensity of the skies, hoping to see what other more fortunate eyes were seeing before me. There was not a single cloud in the whole blue sky. Yet to my astonishment I saw clearly and distinctly a luminous globe, coming from the east to the west, gliding slowly and majestically through space. My friend looked up and had the happiness of beholding the same unexpected but enchanting apparition. Suddenly the globe with its extraordinary light disappeared before our eyes.

“I asked my friend, who was enthusiastic over what he had seen, ‘what do you think of the globe?’ Without hesitation he replied, ‘That was Our Lady.’ That was also my belief. The three little shepherds had seen the Mother of God herself ; to us had been given the grace to see the chariot which had borne her from heaven. … It must be said that everyone around had seen the same as we.”


“Hail Mary, full of grace . . . pray for us sinners . . . Hail Mary, full of grace . . . pray for us sinners . . . Hail Mary, full of grace . . . pray for us sinners . . .”

The timeless words of Mary’s Rosary rumbled through a crowd of nearly 60,000 drenched and shivering people, standing or kneeling in the red mire of the Cova da Iria. For nearly twenty four hours a relentless rain had lashed down from black night skies and gray day skies. It was vile weather.

This – the thirteenth of October, 1917 – was to be the Day of the Miracle.

The day on which, as most in that crowd hoped, the Lady would triumph over the skeptics.

The day on which, as others in that crowd hoped, new mockery might be heaped on superstitious piety. On which these peasant children who had stirred up all Portugal would be shown up as the dreamers and deceivers that they were.

Noon came. The dreary skies were an expressionless gray. The rain was pitiless. Enthusiasm had dulled down almost to apathy.

Suddenly, the rain ceased. It was almost as if someone had turned off a faucet. In the heavens, some celestial stagehand rolled back the gray curtains, to reveal a great field of gentle blue sky.

Against the blue was the sun. But it was a strange sun – silver instead of gold. It shed a sort of noonday moonlight. You could look straight at it without hurting your eyes.

And then it began to dance – this sun. “To dance,” yes, that is the word they all used later to describe it. It made odd movements’ from place to place. It whirled round on itself. It flung off flashes of colored light – orange and purple, green and red. The Cova and its multitude became a changing, technicolor world.

A cry of “Miracle! Miracle!” rose from thousands of throats. This was man’s testimony. “Miracle! Miracle!” came back from distant mountain walls. This was nature’s witness.

Then came the terrifying thing, that changed these cries of wonder to hoarse prayer, or to paralyzed silence.

The sun began to fall, swiftly, toward the earth! It came in a zig-zag course, but it came … it came. . . .

Nearer . . . nearer . . . hotter . . . hotter. . . .

Was this then the end of the world? “Christ, save us!” “O my God, have mercy.” “Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known . . .” One woman began to confess her sins aloud.

Suddenly the great silver disc stopped. It hung over them for a moment – so near it dried their clothes – suspended only on the Will of God. Then, slowly, it began to climb – back, back into the high heavens. There it changed from silver to gold. No one could look straight at it any longer. It was the normal, everyday sun.

“In October, I will perform the Miracle.”


It was all so evident, so objective that people in villages many miles away saw it. Reporters from the liberal, anticlerical press, creditably loyal to the facts, described it to their readers. And then there was the matter of the dry clothes.

Dr Almeida Garret, professor at the University of Combra, writes: “The sun had an eccentricity of movement…. It was rotating upon itself with exceedingly great speed. Suddenly, the people broke out with a cry of extreme anguish. The sun, still rotating on itself, had unloosened itself from the skies and came hurtling toward the earth. This huge, fiery millstone threatened to crush us with its weight. It was a dreadful sensation.”

Then, too, there are the miracles which the Lady has been working ever since at Aljustrel, near Fatima. This of 1917 was a miracle of power, “that they may all believe.” The others have been deeds of mercy, that they may love.


The three children, however, hardly looked at the miracle of the sun. They had greater things to see.

Our Lord appeared to them, a little child nestling in the arms of Saint Joseph. Jesus and Joseph each blessed the children and the crowd with a triple sign of the cross. Our Lady stood beside them, dressed in blue and white – Our Lady of the Rosary.

Then Lucy alone saw the head and shoulders of the Suffering Christ. Beside Him was Mary dressed in purple, anguishing. This was Our Lady of Sorrows.

Finally, Lucy saw Mary in glory, shining with the brightness which had surrounded her in the evergreen tree. It seemed to Lucy she was dressed like, and looked like, the figure of her that is seen on the brown scapular – Our Lady of Mount Carmel.


Before the visions, the Lady had spoken to them, as before, from the evergreen-oak.

“I am the Lady of the Rosary,” she had told them. Then, looking at the crowd, she had said: “Let them continue to say the Rosary every day. . . . They must amend their lives, and ask pardon for their sins. . . . Let them offend our Lord God no longer, for He is already much offended.”


So the Miracle happened, and was seen by nearly 60,000 people, of whom some were skeptics until that day.

The Prophecies, likewise, have come true, and many times 60,000 can testify to this. Millions of people have heart-scars which will never let them forget.

The children themselves were the first to learn why the Lady looked “serious.” They had “much to suffer.” Francisco and Jacinta wasted away with the influenza which scourged the world in 1918. They communed with pain, and with the Lady. “I love to suffer for our Lord and our Lady,” Jacinta said. “They love very much those who suffer for the conversion of sinners.” “Look, Mother,” said Francisco, “what a pretty light there, near the door!” Jacinta asked a visitor to her hospital room not to stand in a particular place, “because that is where our Lady stands when she comes.” “Don’t you see,” she asked one day, “very many highways and roads and fields full of people weeping and starving for want of food?”

Francisco died on April 4, 1919. On February 16, 1920 the Mother of God came to Jacinta and told her that now she would have no more pain, and that “she was coming for me very soon.” She died on the twentieth of February.

These children suffered and died like saints. It was all “Jesus, for love of You, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”

Lucy has lived on. This is also according to the Lady’s words. “But you, Lucy, are to stay on earth a longer time. Jesus wishes to make use of you to make me known and loved. He wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart.” Through Lucy’s personal influence, and through the memoirs she has written of the apparitions, she has become a center from which has fanned out over a world a remarkable growth of devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The Holy Father has consecrated not only Russia, but all the world, to Mary’s Pure Heart. For some years Lucy was a Sister of Saint Dorothy; just recently she has undertaken the penitential life of a Carmelite nun. She, too, has had pain, and our Lady. Not the least of these pains was to know in advance the great catastrophe toward which the world moved by its needless, heedless sin, to see, on January 25, 1938, “a night illuminated by an unknown light . . . the great sign God gives you that He is going to punish the world for its crimes by means of war, of hunger, of persecution of the Church and of the Holy Father.”

But souls generally, unlike the three children, did not listen. They did not stop offending the God Who was already much offended. Only relatively few could be found who would say the daily Rosary for peace and sinners, and make the Communion of Reparation on the first Saturdays. Fewer yet took seriously the Lady’s “Pray, pray very much, and make sacrifices for sinners.”

And so cause and effect worked itself out in the moral world, as in the physical. There was “another and a worse” war.

They did not listen. Consequently, the Russia which could have been brought to the feet of Christ, became a great atheistic nation, a persecutor of the Church, a saboteur of human rights and human hopes, a storm-cloud in the sky of peace. “If not she will scatter her errors through the world, provoking wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated.”

There is one more Prophecy of the Lady which has to come true. This is the sunrise behind the black mountain.

‘In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and it will be converted and a certain period of peace will be granted the world.”

Peace on earth.

A Catholic Russia.

Peace of mind.

These will be shining gifts of God. They will come, when they come, through Mary. They will come when Christians have become Christian again. They will come from the Mary Plan, brought by a beautiful Ambassadress from the councils of the United Nations of heaven. A Plan not drawn up in the subtle phrases of the diplomats, but in the words of a kindly Lady speaking to Lucy, aged ten, to Francisco, aged nine, to Jacinta, aged seven. It is a Plan that will work, if we will work.

This is the Mary Plan, summarized:

1. Stop offending God – now. Draw away from the paganism around you, and act like the child of God that you are. “Let them offend our Lord God no more, for He is already much offended.”

2. Say the Rosary daily – for peace. As a family, if at all possible. After each decade add: “O my Jesus, forgive us our sins! Save us from the fires of hell! Bring all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of Your mercy.”

3. Receive Holy Communion – in reparation – on each first Saturday. The same day spend fifteen minutes in quiet thought on the mysteries of the Rosary.

4. Be concerned, with God and Mary, about sinners. Realize that, unless you do something about it, immortal souls in your cities and towns, in your office, in your factory, in your home, will plunge themselves into eternal fire! “Pray, pray very much, and make sacrifices for sinners. Many souls go to hell because there is no one to make sacrifices for them ” When you make such sacrifices, say: “O my Jesus, it is for love of You, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”

5. Consecrate yourself, and your dear ones, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Often think of, and do something about, the thorns of sin fixed in this All-Pure Heart. “He wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart.” Be, like Jesus Christ, a child of Mary. Treat her as a mother; confide in her, depend upon her, love her.

This is the Mary Plan for peace on earth, for a Catholic Russia, for peace of mind. It does not need to wait for an Act of Congress. You can start today.

Innocence, prayer, sacrifice – the things we are running away from – are the very things that will tranquillize our lives.

How You Can “Make Sacrifices for Sinners”

Take hold of, and fulfill, that unpleasant duty you have been shirking. . . . Tell the truth, even though there may be unwelcome consequences for you. . . . Face issues instead of running away from them, especially when they concern souls you are responsible for. … Do things at the time others have the right to expect you to do them, not just when you choose to do them. . . .

Quit using “moods” and “nerves” as excuses to make life unpleasant for others. … Be as pleasant at home or in the office as you are in other places. . . . Forgive, and speak to, the one who has hurt you. . . . Make an effort to see the good in those you dislike. . . . Choke back that unkind word, that wounding piece of gossip. . . . Take time and trouble to be considerate of others. . . .

Don’t buy that too-expensive car, that unnecessary coat. . . . Smoke only half the cigarettes, use only half the cosmetics, you do now. . . . Don’t take that expensive vacation; trim it in half. . . . Send the money you save in these and other ways to Europe and Asia, to rescue brothers and sisters of yours from starvation and disease.

Accept some pain without at once running to the aspirin bottle or the clinic. . . . Keep the fast-days of the Church. . . . Get up a little earlier and go to Mass on weekdays. . . . Sacrifice a better-paying job in order to take one in which you can serve the Church, or be a good influence on souls, to win them to Christ. . . . Take time and trouble to bring non-Catholics to Church.

These are only a few ways in which you can answer Mary’s call and win graces for souls who are perishing of sin. With good will, you will be able to think of many more, and perhaps better, ways.

– from Fatima: These Things Are Possible, by Father Robert J Murphy, CSP; imprimatur from Cardinal Francis Spellman, Archbishop of New York, 23 August 1948; printed by the Missionary Society of Saint Paul the Apostle