Our Lady of Fatima and the “Angel of Portugal”

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Four shepherdesses finished their noon-time meal among the rocks at the high ridge called the Cabeço. [1] It was about one kilometer from the hamlet of Aljustrel, Portugal. Lucia, Teresa, Maria Rosa and Maria Justino loved that ridge as it provided beautiful views from far above the innumerable gray green olive trees, the darker green evergreens and the many stocky holm oaks in the valley below. As they stood at the crest of the ridge near the old windmill, they could see for miles in all directions. It was a peaceful view for these young Catholic girls in a very troubled time for Catholics in that country. Seven years before, their Catholic King, Carlos I, was assassinated. Five years before, in 1910, a Masonic republican revolution expelled the papal nuncio — the Pope’s ambassador, as Catholic seminaries and the residences of the Catholic bishops were confiscated throughout the country. Members of religious orders were dispersed and the government forbade religious processions and the wearing of clerical garb. Church services were regulated by government-appointed lay committees. Bishops and priests were tried, imprisoned and exiled. In this brutal way, the Church and state were forcibly separated. The Masons were pleased. But there at the Cabeço that afternoon the air was clean, fragrant and peaceful. Lucia and her friends began to say a Rosary.

The view was clear and cloudless. It was a quiet day in a place of rural beauty. No one expected anything remarkable to happen this noon for this place was created for the ordinary. Nevertheless, as the girls prayed, they saw something extraordinary. In the otherwise clear heavens, a small solitary mist formed in the sky far above the pious girls. The mist grew into a small cloud. It was remarkably bright as it developed before their uplifted eyes. The girls watched it grow in wonder. Then the cloud revealed within it a glowing image that looked like a human form. They stared at it mesmerized. The form appeared like an unfinished statue of crystal ice that sunlight made transparent. The brilliant human image, without detailed features, was suspended in that shroud of misty air only momentarily above the praying girls and the motionless trees. And then it was gone. The girls stopped and asked each other what they had seen in the sky. They were at a complete loss to identify it. After a pause they finished their Rosary. Then the girls went home with the sheep and tried to describe to their parents what they saw drifting above them. Lucia’s mother’s response was probably typical: “children’s nonsense” she called the account.

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Submitted by Nancy W.