Between May and October 1917, Our Lady appeared six times to three young Portuguese children in a field called the Cova de Iria, near the small village of Fatima, about seventy miles north of Lisbon. The children who received the apparitions had been brought up in an atmosphere of piety. They were Lucia dos Santos, aged ten, and her two younger cousins Francisco and Jacinta. They tended sheep together and often would kneel in the open field to pray the Rosary.
The first apparition took place around noon on Sunday, May 13, 1917 when a brilliant flash of lightning drew the attention of the children. A beautiful Lady appeared clothed in white and asked the children to return the thirteenth of each month. In these apparitions, Mary asked the children to pray the Rosary daily for the conversion of sinners and asked for devotion to her Immaculate Heart. She asked for prayer, penance and the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart. She also spoke of observing the first Saturdays of each month by going to confession and receiving Holy Communion to make reparation to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
On the day of the final apparition, October 13, 1917, she identified herself as “Our Lady of the Rosary” and the dramatic episode of the dance of the sun took place, witnessed by a crowd of seventy-thousand people, in which the sun seemed to tumble from the sky. After a lengthy diocesan inquiry, a declaration of the Bishop of Leiria, in whose diocese these apparitions occurred, approved the devotion to Our Lady of Fatima in 1930. The young visionary Francisco had died on April 4, 1919 and his sister Jacinta on February 20, 1920. The sole survivor, Sister Lucia, lived many years as a professed Carmelite nun, before her death on February 13, 2005.
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.