On May 13, 1917, Lucia dos Santos, Francisco, and Jacinta Marto were, respectively, ten, nine, and seven years old. The three children lived in Aljustrel, a hamlet of the township of Fatima. However, many people do not realize that the children were visited by an angel before the miraculous apparitions. The Society of Saint Pius X contains the following narrative.
“In 1916, the children received three apparitions of an angel. Just as every person has a guardian angel, so every country has a guardian angel. The Guardian Angel of Portugal appeared several times to Lucia and her two cousins Francesco and Jacinta to prepare them for the visit of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They understood that something miraculous had happened, but they could not imagine that the Most High God was predisposing them to later receive his plan of mercy. Unbeknownst to them they were being prepared for something even more astonishing than what they had just experienced. The Angel taught the children to pray like this: “O my God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love Thee, I ask pardon for all those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love Thee.”
After repeating it three times, he said: “Pray thus. The Hearts of Jesus and Mary are attentive to the voice of your supplications.” The apparitions took place on a small property belonging to Lucia's parents called Cova da Iria, about a mile and a half from Fatima.
Later, the three children were playing at Cova da Iria on May 13, 1917 when they saw two flashes like lightning, after which they saw the Mother of God above a holm oak. She was, according to the description of Lucia, "a Lady dressed in white, more brilliant than the sun…" Her face, indescribably beautiful, was "neither sad nor happy, but serious," with an air of mild reproach. Her hands, joined together as if she were praying, were resting at her breast and pointing upward. A rosary hung from her right hand. The seers were so close to Our Lady – about a yard and a half away – that they stood within the light that radiated from her.
The conversation developed in the following manner:
Our Lady: Do not be afraid; I will not harm you.
Lucia: Where is Your Grace from
Our Lady: I am from heaven–pointing to the sky.
Lucia: And what does Your Grace wish of me?
Our Lady: I have come to ask you to come here for six months in succession on the thirteenth day of each month at this same hour. Later I will tell you who I am and what I want. Afterward, I will return here a seventh time
Lucia: And will I go to heaven, too?
Our Lady: Yes, you will.
Lucia: And Jacinta?
Our Lady: Also.
Lucia: And Francisco?
Our Lady: Also, but he must say many rosaries.
Lucia: Is Maria das Neves already in heaven?
Our Lady: Yes, she is.
Lucia: And Amélia?
Our Lady: She will be in purgatory until the end of the world. Do you wish to offer yourselves to God to endure all the sufferings that He may be pleased to send you, as both an act of reparation for the sins with which He is offended and an act of supplication for the conversion of sinners?
Lucia: Yes, we do.
Our Lady: Well then, you will have much to suffer. But the grace of God will be your comfort.
In the words of the children; "It was upon saying these last words, 'the grace of God...' that for the first time she opened her hands, which emitted a most intense light that penetrated our breasts, reaching the innermost part of our souls and making us see ourselves in God, Who was that light, more clearly than we can see ourselves in the best of mirrors. Then, driven by a deep inspiration, we knelt down and repeated inwardly: 'O Most Holy Trinity, I adore Thee! My God, my God, I love Thee in the Most Blessed Sacrament.'”
"A moment later, Our Lady added, 'Pray the rosary every day to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war.' She immediately began to rise serenely toward the east until she disappeared far into the distance.
The light that surrounded her was, so to speak, opening her way through the starry firmament.
In the subsequent visits, Mary shows herself to have power over nature and to know what will occur in the future. She affirms the words of Padre Pio, who called the Rosary a weapon for these times. He saw the Rosary as that which wins wars. He, and Pope Pius X, understood the power that was contained therein. They saw the Rosary as an invincible weapon and avenue of grace. Mary’s words about the world and the end of the war, World War I, is applicable to our current situation as it was in 1917. The war in Ukraine, which has sent the world into tumult, will proceed until we ask Our Holy Mother to intervene. The Rosary is the weapon that will crush the instruments of war and Mary, the one who unties the knots is humankind’s lives, can untangle the horrific mess we, ourselves, have made. HAIL MARY.