Between May 13 and October 13, 1917, three Portuguese children received apparitions of Our Lady at Cova da Iria, near Fatima, a city 110 miles north of Lisbon. Mary asked the children to pray the rosary for world peace, for the end of World War I, for sinners and for the conversion of Russia. The third visionary, Lucia dos Santos, became a Carmelite nun and died in 2005 at the age of 97.
On May 13, 1917, Lúcia described seeing a lady “brighter than the sun, shedding rays of light clearer and stronger than a crystal goblet filled with the most sparkling water and pierced by the burning rays of the sun”. What happened then became known as the “Miracle of the Sun”. A huge crowd, variously estimated between 30,000 and 100,000, including newspaper reporters and photographers, gathered at the Cova da Iria. The incessant rain had ceased and there was a thin layer of cloud. Lúcia, seeing light rising from the lady’s hands and the sun appearing as a silver disk, called out “look at the sun”. She later had no memory of saying this. Witnesses later spoke of the sun appearing to change colors and rotate like a wheel.
Mary gave the children three secrets. Since Francisco died in 1919 and Jacinta the following year, Lucia revealed the first secret in 1927, concerning devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The second secret was a vision of hell.
Pope John Paul II directed the Holy See’s Secretary of State to reveal the third secret in 2000; it spoke of a “bishop in white” who was shot by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows into him. Many people linked this to the assassination attempt against Saint John Paul II in St. Peter’s Square on May 13, 1981. John Paul II credited Our Lady of Fátima with saving his life following an assassination attempt on the Feast of Our Lady of Fátima, 1981. He donated the bullet that wounded him to the Roman Catholic sanctuary at Fatima,. Portugal and it was placed in the crown of the Virgin’s statue.
The Fatima Prayer
O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, and lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of Thy mercy.