Fatima Apparitions. Part 1: Apparitions of The Angel
Most Catholics know at least something about the six apparitions of Virgin Mary in Fatima that took place on 1917. However only some are aware that these apparitions were preceded by the three apparitions of the Guardian Angel of Portugal on 1916 that played a major role in the spiritual preparation of the three children (Jacinta, Francisco and Lucia) for the apparitions of Mary. I will give a short presentation of these three apparitions of the Angel today.
It is quite unusual to read about a country having its own guardian angel whose role is to protect and guide that country. But for Portuguese people devotion to the Guardian Angel of their country has been part of their Catholic faith for hundreds of years. This devotion was officially approved by the pope in sixteenth century. It includes a liturgical feast and special prayers to the Angel.
First Apparition Of The Angel
It was a rainy spring morning in 1916 when the three children – Jacinta, Francisco and Lucia were tending sheep in a place called Chousa Velha near Aljustrel village when unexpectedly a very strong wind started and they saw (in Lucia’s word’s)
“a young man about fourteen or fifteen years old, whiter than snow, transparent as crystal when the sun shines through it, and of great beauty. On reaching us he said: “Do not be afraid! I am the Angel of Peace. Pray with me”. Kneeling on the ground, he bowed down until his forehead touched the ground, and made us repeat these words three times: “My God! I believe, I adore, I hope, and I love you. I ask pardon of You for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love You.” Then, rising he said: “Pray thus. The Hearts of Jesus and Mary are attentive to the voice of your supplications.” (Fatima In Lucia’s Words. Sister Lucia’s Memoirs. Published by Fundacao Francisco E Jacinta Marto. 19th Edition, May 2014. P. 78.)
The Angel then disappeared but children remained on their knees with their foreheads touching the ground for a long time repeating the prayer that the Angel had just taught them. In the following days and months they will spend a lot of time praying the prayer that they had learned during this apparition of the Angel.
Second Apparition Of The Angel
In July of 1916 the same angel appeared to the three children again, this time in the yard of Lucia’s parents and here is how Lucia describes what happened then:
“Suddenly we saw beside us the same figure, or rather Angel, as it seemed to me. “What are you doing?” he asked. “Pray, pray very much! The most holy Hearts of Jesus and Mary have designs of mercy on you. Offer prayers and sacrifices constantly to the Most High.” How are we to make sacrifices?” I asked. “Make of everything you can a sacrifice, and offer it to God as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and in supplication for the conversion of sinners. You will thus draw down peace upon your country. I am its Angel Guardian, the Angel of Portugal. Above all, accept and bear with submission, the sufferings which the Lord will send you.” (Fatima In Lucia’s Words. Sister Lucia’s Memoirs. Published by Fundacao Francisco E Jacinta Marto. 19th Edition, May 2014. P. 78-79.)
The three children again were deeply affected by the apparition to the extent that they would have difficulty speaking for a few next days because their spirits were “not completely free”, as Lucia described it.
Third Apparition Of The Angel
The third and last apparition of the Angel of Portugal took place at the end of September 1916 in a place called Loca do Cabeco where the three children prayed the Rosary and the prayer that the Angel had taught them during the first apparition. And then, in Lucia’s words, they saw the same Angel
“holding a chalice in his left hand, with the host suspended above it, from which some drops of blood fell into the chalice. Leaving the chalice suspended in the air, the Angel knelt down beside us and made us repeat three times: ”Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I adore you profoundly, and I offer you the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifferences with which He Himself is offended. And, through the infinite merits of His Most Sacred Heart, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of You the conversion of poor sinners.” Then, rising, he took the chalice and the Host in his hands. He gave the Sacred Host to me, and shared the Blood from the chalice between Jacinta and Francisco, saying as he did so: “Take and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, horribly outraged by ungrateful men! Make reparation for their crimes and console your God.” Once again, he prostrated on the ground and repeated with us, three times more, the same prayer “Most Holy Trinity…” and then disappeared.” (Fatima In Lucia’s Words. Sister Lucia’s Memoirs. Published by Fundacao Francisco E Jacinta Marto. 19th Edition, May 2014. P. 79-80.)
The three children remained in this position praying the prayer that the Angel taught them for a long time. They stopped praying only when they noticed that it was already dark and they had to return home.
The meaning of the apparitions of the Angel
The three apparitions of the Angel transformed the three children spiritually and prepared them for the upcoming apparitions of the Virgin Mary. Before the apparitions of the Angel the children had their own “short” version of the Rosary that they would pray, i.e. instead of saying full prayer they would only say the first two words of it, such as “Out Father” or “Hail Mary” which would make their Rosaries very short and they would be able to return to playing their games quickly. However after the first apparition we already see that prayer becomes central in their lives as they spend hours kneeling and praying the prayer that the Angel had taught them.
The message of the Angel also had key similarities with the message of Our Lady of Fatima; call to prayer and sacrifice for the conversion of sinners and reparation of sins. When Virgin Mary during her apparitions asked the children to pray and make sacrifices for the same two intentions, it was not a new thing to the children but already part of their spiritual lives that only needed to be deepened and strengthened.