On the morning of July 13, 1917, about four thousand people had gathered at the Cova da Iria in anticipation of the visit from the heavenly Lady. Many were praying the rosary before the Lady arrived. Suddenly, the heavenly light appeared as it had done previously, and the Lady was again over the holm oak tree.

Just as she had done before, Lucia spoke up with her usual question: “What do you want of me?”

The Lady answered as she had in the past, but was now more explicit in her directions. “I want you to come here on the thirteenth of next month, to continue to pray the rosary every day in honor of Our Lady of the rosary, in order to obtain peace for the world and the end to the war, because only she can help you.”

Young Lucia wanted the Lady to give her some more answers and to even prove herself to the crowds. “I would like to ask you to tell us who you are, and to work a miracle so that everybody will believe that you are appearing to us.”

“Continue to come here every month,” the Lady replied. “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.” She added, “Sacrifice yourselves for sinners, and say many times, especially whenever you make some sacrifice: O Jesus, it is for love of You, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”

The First Secret

The Lady opened her hands as she was finishing the prayer, and rays of light came forth. But the light was not at all like the previous times. This time the light seemed to open the earth! The children immediately saw a great sea of fire and the most frightening scene unfold right before them. The First Secret of Fatima was a vision of hell.

The Second Secret

Completely terrified by the vision given them, Lucia and her cousins looked up at the Lady, as if to plead for succor.

With both great sadness and deep kindness, the Lady said,

“You have seen hell where souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate 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 in offending God, a worse one will break out during the pontificate of Pius XI. When you see a night illuminated 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 of the Church and of the Holy Father.”

The Lady continued to speak to the three children after showing them the vision of hell. She told about terrible things that could happen, including war, calamities, and sufferings.

“To prevent this,” the Lady continued, “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 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.”

It was a dire warning, but she also offered hope.

She said, “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.”

The Third Secret

The Third Secret was revealed to the children at the Cova on July 13, 1917. It was to be kept in the greatest confidence. When Sister Lucia was with the Dorothean Sisters in Tuy, Spain, she fell ill in mid-1943. Because it was feared that she could die before the Third Secret was revealed by her, the Bishop of Leiria requested that she write down the remainder of the Secret (or Third Secret) told to the children in 1917. Obediently, and in the midst of her painful sickness, Sister Lucia wrote it down on a single sheet of paper. She placed it in an envelope and sealed it.

Now let us look at what happened and what the three young shepherds witnessed:

“J.M.J. The third part of the secret revealed at the Cova da Iria-Fatima, on 13 July 1917.

“I write in obedience to you, my God, who commands me to do so through his Excellency the Bishop of Leiria and through your Most Holy Mother and mine.

“After the two parts which I have already explained, at the left of Our Lady and a little above, we saw an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but they died out in contact with the splendor that Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand: pointing to the earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice: “Penance, Penance, Penance!”

“And we saw in an immense light that is God, ‘something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it,’ a Bishop dressed in White, [and] ‘we had the impression that it was the Holy Father’. Other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious going up a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big Cross of rough-hewn trunks as of a cork-tree with the bark; before reaching there the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins and half trembling with halting steps, afficted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way; having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of the big Cross he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him, and in the same way there died one after another the other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious, and various lay people of different ranks and positions.

“Beneath the two arms of the Cross there were two Angels each with a crystal aspersorium in his hand, in which they gathered up the blood of the Martyrs and with it sprinkled the souls that were making their way to God.”

The Third Secret of Our Lady of Fatima was made public on May 13, 2000, at the beatification Mass of Francisco and Jacinta Marto. The Mass was held in the Cova da Iria, where Our Lady told the young shepherds the three secrets.

Excerpted from Our Lady of Fatima: 100 Years of Stories, Prayers, and Devotions, by Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle. Learn more and purchase the book here

Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle is an award-winning and best-selling author of more than twenty books including The Miraculous Medal: Stories, Prayers, and Devotions. She is a journalist, speaker, pilgrimage host, and the EWTN television host and creator of “Everyday Blessings for Catholic Moms” and “Catholic Mom’s Café.” Donna-Marie was blessed to know St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa), and received a special blessing from St. John Paul II for her work on this great saint. Donna-Marie is a frequent guest on national Catholic radio and television.