Apparitions of the Angel - 1916
Great preparations usually precede great events. This is what happened at Fatima. The apparitions of Our Lady in Fatima were preceded by three visions of the Angel of Portugal to Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta. Through their conversations with this Angel, Providence prepared the children for the moment when Our Lady would speak to them.
The First Apparition of the Angel
Between April and October of 1915, the apparitions of the Angel of Portugal were also preceded by some supernatural signs. Around a hill near Cova da Iria, called “Cabeço”, Lucia shepherded the flock with three other little girls. Her cousins, Francisco and Jacinta, were not present. At a certain moment, all four of them saw a sort of cloud, whiter than snow and in the shape of a human, floating above the trees in the valley. “It looked like a statue made of snow that became almost transparent by the rays of the sun,” according to Lucia’s description. This apparition occurred on two other occasions.
On a spring day in 1916, Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco were sheltering themselves from a fine drizzle at “Loca do Cabeço”, when the Angel clearly appeared for the first time.
After prayers, the children began to play. Suddenly, a strong wind shook the trees. Then they saw a resplendent youth of great beauty walking toward them, above the olive grove. He was about fifteen years old, and shone like a crystal struck by the rays of the sun. This is how Sister Lucia describes what followed:
“Once he drew near us, he said, ‘Fear not! I am the Angel of Peace. Pray with me.’
“Kneeling down, he bowed down until his forehead touched the ground. Led by a supernatural inspiration, we did the same and repeated the words we heard him say: ‘My God! I believe, I adore, I hope and I love thee! I ask pardon of Thee for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love Thee.’
“After repeating this prayer three times he rose and said: ‘Pray in this way. The Hearts of Jesus and Mary are attentive to the voice of your supplications.’”
Then he disappeared.
“The supernatural atmosphere that enveloped us,” continues Sister Lucia, “was so intense that we were almost unaware of our own existence. For a long time, we remained in the same position we were in when he left, repeating the same prayer. The presence of God was so intense and intimate that we dared not speak to each other. On the following day, we still felt enveloped in that atmosphere, which only gradually disappeared.”
The Second Apparition of the Angel
In the summer of 1916, while the three little shepherds played in the yard surrounding a well at Lucia’s parents’ house, the Angel appeared to them once again. This is how Sister Lucia narrates what the Angel said to them:
“What are you doing?” he asked. “Pray! Pray a great deal! The Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary have merciful designs concerning you. Offer prayers and sacrifices constantly to the Most High.”
“How are we to make sacrifices?” I asked.
“Offer sacrifices of whatever you can to God as an act of reparation for the sins with which He is offended, and as a supplication for the conversion of sinners. By doing this, you will bring peace to your country. I am its Guardian Angel, the Angel of Portugal. Above all, accept and endure with patience whatever suffering the Lord sends you.”
The Third Apparition of the Angel
The last apparition of the Angel occurred either at the end of the summer or the beginning of the autumn of 1916, again at Loca do Cabeço. According to Sister Lucia’s account, it took place as follows:
“After our lunch, we decided to go and pray in the grotto on the opposite side of the hill. … As soon as we arrived there, we knelt down, with our faces on the ground and began to repeat the Angel’s prayer: ‘My God! I believe, I adore, I hope and I love Thee. …’ I don’t know how many times we had said this prayer when we saw an extraordinary light shining upon us. We rose to see what was happening and beheld the Angel bearing a chalice in his left hand. Drops of Blood fell into the chalice from a Host suspended above it.”
Leaving the chalice and the Host suspended in the air, the Angel prostrated himself beside the children and said the following prayer three times:
“Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore Thee profoundly and I offer Thee the Most Precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all of the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the insults, sacrileges and indifference with which He is offended. And through the infinite merits of his Most Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of Thee the conversion of poor sinners.”
Then, rising, he gave the Host to Lucia, and the contents of the chalice to Jacinta and Francisco to drink, saying:
“Take and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, who is horribly insulted by ungrateful men! Make reparation for their crimes and console thy God.
“The Angel again prostrated himself on the ground and repeated with us the same prayer three more times: ‘Most Holy Trinity…’ and then disappeared.
“We remained in this position for a long time, repeating the same words over and over again. When we finally got up, we noticed it was already dark and therefore time to go home.”
The Angel’s words made a profound impression on the three children who, from then on, began to expiate for sinners through sacrifices and an assiduous life of prayer.
(Sister Lúcia, Memórias e Cartas, pp. 109-119; Fr. John De Marchi, Fatima ─ The Facts, pp. 34-37; Canon José Galamba de Oliveira, “Historia das Aparições” in Fátima, altar do mundo, vol. 2, pp. 51-59)