One spring day, while tending their sheep in a property that was known as the Chousa, Lucia and her cousins, Jacinta and Francisco, had led their flock to the east side of rocky outcropping known as the Cabeço. Here is Sister Lucia’s account of the events that took place:
Around the middle of the morning, a fine rain began to fall, so fine that it seemed like mist. We went up the hillside, followed by our flocks, looking for an overhanging boulder where we could take shelter. Thus it was for the first time that we entered this blessed hollow among the rocks. It stood in the middle of an olive grove belonging to my godfather Anastacio. From there, you could see the little village where I was born, my parents’ home and the hamlets of Casa Velha and Eira da Pedra.
We spent the day there among the rocks, in spite of the fact that the rain was over and the sun was shining bright and clear. We ate our lunch and said our Rosary.… A strong wind began to shake the trees. We looked up, startled, to see what was happening, for the day was unusually calm. Then we saw, coming towards us, above the olive trees … 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.
We were surprised, absorbed, and struck with amazement. 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 reached the ground. Led by a supernatural impulse, we did the same, and repeated the words which 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!”
Having repeated these words three times, he rose and said: “Pray thus. The Hearts of Jesus and Mary are attentive to the voice of your supplications.”
Then he disappeared. (Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words)
While, we often forget and neglect the good angels who are here to help us on our path to eternity, devotion to the holy angels was very much alive in Portugal at that time. Morning and evening, the children were taught to invoke their guardian angels. So, this apparition was not completely surprising to the little shepherds. And what could be more in harmony with the great tradition of the apparitions of angels than the first words of the angel of Fatima: “Fear not! I am the Angel of Peace.” Later, when Sister Lucia was asked what the angel was like, she answered simply, “He was Light.”
Throughout Scripture, light attends God, His angels, and all holy beings. The angel who announced the resurrection of Christ had an appearance as of lightning, and his garment was white as snow (see Matthew 28:3). Describing Our Lord transfigured on Mount Tabor, Saint Matthew tells us, “His face shone like the sun” (Matthew 17:12), and “His and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them.” (Mark 9:3). Saint John says, “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). Whenever God comes to manifest Himself to us by the ministry of angels or the mediation of Mary or any of the saints, He appears clothed in great splendor, as in this beautiful verse of from the psalms: “Lord, my God, you are great indeed! You are clothed with majesty and splendor, robed in light as with a cloak” (Psalm 104:1b–2).
After each of the apparitions at Fatima, (which always took place at noon), this word “light” was always on the lips of the young seers. This sparkling light indicates the overwhelming presence of God, which leaves the natural senses almost paralyzed.
John C. Preiss is president of Fatima Family Apostolate International.