Why this day? Because Lucia dos Santos and her cousins
Francisco and Jacinta had been receiving apparitions
from "the Lady" on the thirteenth of each month
since the previous May. The Lady had been appearing to them above a holm-oak tree in the Cova, and with each apparition the crowds had grown. But doubts about the veracity of the seershad also grown, as well as mockery and persecution of the seers and their families at a time when Portugal was under the control of an atheistic and Masonic political regime.
And then, on July 13, 1917, the Lady had shown them
something which would terrify them and change them forever, making them into saints who would spend their lives
(in the case of Francisco and Jacinta, very brief lives)
praying and making sacrifices for sinners.
As Lucy recounts in testimony the Catholic Church has deemed worthy of belief, the Lady showed them hell:
You have seen Hell, where the souls of poor sinners go.To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immacuolate Heart.If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved
and there will be peace.
The war is going to end; but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the reign of Pius XI. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that He is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions against the Church and of the Holy Father. To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the Consecration of Russia to My Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays. If My requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing 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 she will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world. In Portugal the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved etc. Do not tell this to anybody. Francisco, yes, you may tell him."
Having received from Heaven itself a message
with obviously profound importance
for the Church and all humanity,
Lucy knew that she and her cousins needed
a divine credential if they were to be believed.
During the apparition on July 13, Sister Lucy asked the Lady
"to tell us who You are, and to work a miracle,
so that everybody will believe that You are appearing to us."
And the Lady replied:
"Continue to come here every month. In October I will tell you who I am and what I want, and I will perform a miracle for all to see and believe."
In comparing the numerous accounts of witnesses,
we can distinguish the diverse aspects and the result
of the astounding phenomena seen by all.
Here is the first marvelous fact described by Dr. Almeida Garrett:
It must have been 1:30 p.m. when there arose at the exact spot
where the children were, a column of smoke, thin, fine and bluish,
which extended up to perhaps two meters above their heads,
and evaporated at that height. This phenomenon, perfectly visible
to the naked eye, lasted for a few seconds. Not having noted how
long it had lasted, I cannot say whether it was more or less than a
minute. The smoke dissipated abruptly, and after some time,
it came back to occur a second time, then a third time ..
Whereas "the low and heavy sky had a very dark color, laden with moisture, [which] released an abundant and long lasting rain,"
during the time of the apparition, the rain stopped totally.
Abruptly the sky cleared: "The sun triumphantly pierced the thick
bed of clouds hiding it until then, and shone intensely."
- Dr. Almeida Garrett
This abrupt change of weather took all the eyewitnesses by surprise: "It was a day of heavy and continuous rain. But a few minutes beforethe miracle, it stopped raining." - Alfredo da Silva Santos
"Suddenly I heard the uproar of thousands of voices, and I saw
the whole multitude spread out in that vast space at my feet .
..turn their backs to that spot where, until then, all their expectations focused, and look at the sun on the other side ... I turned around, too, toward the point commanding their gazes, and I could see the sun, like a very clear disc, with its sharp edge, which gleamed without hurting the sight ...It could not be confused with the sun seen through a fog (there was no fog at that moment), for it was neither veiled, nor dim. At Fatima, it kept its light and heat, and stood out clearly in the sky , with a sharp edge, like a large gaming table. The most astonishing thing was to be able to stare at the solar disc for a long time, brilliant with light and heat, without hurting the eyes, or damaging the retina." -Dr . Almeida Garret
In the same vein this testimony by the editor-in-chief of O Seculo:
"And then we witnessed a unique spectacle, an incredible
spectacle, unbelievable if you did not witness it. From above
the road ...We see the immense crowd turn towards the sun,
which appeared at its zenith, clear of the clouds. It looked like
a plate of dull silver, and it was possible to stare at it without the
least discomfort. It did not burn the eyes. It did not blind.
(Article of October 15, 1917)
And likewise: "The people could look at the sun as we look
at the moon." -Maria do Carmo
"It shook and trembled; it seemed like a wheel of fire."
- Maria da Capelinha
"The sun turned like a fire wheel, taking on all the colors of the rainbow. - Maria do Carmo
"It appeared like a globe of snow turning on itself."
- Father Lourenco
"The pearl-like disc had a giddy motion. This was not the twinkling
of a star in all its brilliance. It turned on itself with impetuous speed."
- Dr. Almeida Garrett
"At a certain moment, the sun stopped and then began again
to dance, to spin; it stopped again, and began again to dance."
"The sun took on all the colors of the rainbow. Everything assumed
those same colors: our faces, our clothes, the earth itself.
- Maria do Carmo
A light, whose colors changed from one moment to the next,
was reflected on the people and on things." - Dr. Pereira Gens