In 1916, nine-year-old Lucia Santos and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto were herding sheep at the Cova da Iria near their village of Fátima, Portugal. They were visited three times by an angel who identified himself as “The Angel of Peace”. He taught them to pray and make sacrifices. Then on 13 May 1917, the children saw a woman “brighter than the sun”, with a white mantle edged with gold and a rosary. She asked them to devote themselves to God and to pray the Rosary every day, to “bring peace to the world and an end to the war”. Jacinta told her family, and soon the whole village knew of the vision.
On 13 June, the lady revealed that Francisco and Jacinta would be taken to Heaven soon, but Lucia would live longer in order to spread her message and devotion to the Immaculate Heart. Among other things, they were to say the Rosary daily to obtain peace and the end of the Great War. In the following months, thousands flocked to Fatima. On 13 August 1917, the children were interrogated, and they saw the Virgin Mary on 19 August at nearby Valinhos. She asked them again to pray the rosary daily, spoke about the miracle coming in October, and asked them “to pray a lot for the sinners, and sacrifice a lot.” At the last apparition on 13 October 1917 in the presence of somewhere between 30,000 and 100,000, many witnessed a Miracle of the Sun, when it rotated or changed colour.
The three children claimed to have seen the Blessed Virgin Mary six times between 13 May and 13 October. Francisco and Jacinta died in 1919 and 1920, but Lucia lived until 2005. The reported visions at Fátima gathered widespread attention, as numerous pilgrims began to visit the site. The local Bishop declared the visions of Fátima as “worthy of belief” in 1930.
Such private revelations do not form part of the deposit of our faith and we are not bound to believe in any of them, however, many popes have voiced their acceptance of the supernatural origin of the Fátima events. In March 2017 it was announced that Pope Francis will canonise two of the visionaries,
Jacinta and Francisco, on 13 May at a Mass in Fatima during a two day visit.