On this day three children in Portugal experienced the first in a series of apparitions that became famous in the world. The oldest child was 10-year-old girl Lúcia dos Santos, and with her were her relatives: 7-year-old Blessed Jacinta Marto and 8-year-old Francisco Marto. The apparition happened when the children were herding sheep in a place called Cova da Iria, near their village of Fatima. They saw a woman “brighter than the sun, shedding rays of light clearer and stronger than a crystal goblet filled with the most sparkling water and pierced by the burning rays of the sun”.
The children experienced repeated apparitions on the 13th day of each month, over the next five months (i.e., six times in total). It was said that the Virgin Mary promised to the children that on 13 October, during the last apparition, a miracle will happen that will convince all the people in truthfulness of the apparition. Indeed, on 13 October 1917, somewhere between 30,000 and 100,000 people in Fatima and the surrounding area experienced what is known today as the “Miracle of the Sun” (Portuguese: Milagre do Sol). Even one anticlerical communist wrote: “the sun trembled, made sudden incredible movements outside all cosmic laws.” The phenomenon lasted for about 10 minutes and was visible up to forty kilometers away from Fatima. Scientists to this day do not have an explanation for what happened.
It is said that, during these apparitions, the Blessed Virgin Mary confided three secrets to the children, which are today called the Three Secrets of Fatima and are the subject of great curiosity. Particularly interesting is the Third Secret of Fatima, which sparked much debate. According to the official opinion of the Vatican, the Third Secret of Fatima refers to the assassination of Pope Saint John Paul II, for which he himself felt that he survived it thanks to the help of Our Lady of Fatima.