Credits: The information in this post is once again taken from Fatima: A Message More Urgent than Ever, by Luiz Sergio Solimeo.
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After the first apparition on May 13, 1917, ten-year-old Lucia implored her young cousins Francisco and Jacinta to keep the Lady a secret. However, little Jacinta was so excited she told her mother about their experience in the Cova right away.
Soon all the town of Fatima knew the story. Three shepherd children claimed to have seen a lady from Heaven! Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta soon found themselves the subject of much disdain and mockery.
Lucia's lot was the hardest of all. Francisco and Jacinta's family kept an open mind towards their report; but Lucia's family believed she was lying, even though she had always been a truthful child.
The parish priest was consulted. He thought it best to proceed with caution, and told Lucia's mother to keep a close eye on the matter. He also told her to let Lucia go to the Cova in accordance with the Lady's request.
The Lady had promised to come on June 13. Now, June 13 is the feast of St. Anthony, a day of great celebration in Portugal. Fatima in particular would be abuzz with festivities on that day. No one expected that the children would trade a day of processions and fairs for a lonely day in a sheep pasture.
And yet on June 13, not only the children but about fifty other peasants were there at the Cova, waiting to see if the Lady would keep her promise.
She did. As before, the children--and only the children--saw a flash of light, followed by the beautiful Lady standing on the same oak tree.
Lucia asked her, "What do you want of me?"
The Lady replied that she desired for Lucia to return to the Cova on July 13, to pray the rosary every day, and to learn to read. After telling her these things she said, "Later I will say what I want."
When Lucia asked to be taken to Heaven with her cousins, the Lady responded:
"Yes, I will take Jacinta and Francisco soon. But you will stay some more time. Jesus wants to use you to make me known and loved. He wants to establish devotion to my Immaculate Heart in the world. To those who accept it, I promise salvation and those souls will be loved by God as flowers I have placed to embellish his throne."
Lucia expressed sorrow at being left alone, and the Lady comforted her. Again she reminded her to offer up all her sufferings, and that God would strengthen her in all her trials.
Bit by bit, Mary was revealing to these three humble children God's plan--an emergency plan to restore a sinful world.
"He wants to establish devotion to my Immaculate Heart in the world."
Devotion to the Immaculate Heart is a huge part of the Fatima message. It goes hand in hand with devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which Jesus gave to St. Margaret Mary in France in the 17th Century. Mary's heart is a model for ours. She is the human being who most perfectly loved God; all our hearts were meant to look like hers.
Let us love Mary's heart, then. Let us emulate and honor it--her humility, her faith, her charity. Let us make it our model. For that is what Jesus wants.
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