1.0. Introduction: At the Heart of the Message:
The Great Secret of July 13, 1917.

IN July 1967, in an article intended to be a critical study, Father Rouquette made so bold as to write these astounding lines: “What can be said, however, about the famous ‘miracle’ of the sun of October 13, 1917? Numerous direct accounts leave no doubt that several hundred people were convinced that they saw the sun whirl upon itself as though dancing…” No, Father! To speak only of “several hundred people” to express the presence of at least fifty thousand witnesses, is not to employ the literary device of understatement, dear to our classical authors, it is quite simply to lie brazenly, or else to be totally ignorant of the event! Let us not dwell on this, however. Rather, let us deal here with the curious objection that interests us: “Furthermore,” the editor of ‘Études’ continues, “an authentic miracle always has a precise purpose: it is the confirmation of a dogmatic truth. The phenomenon of October 13, however, seems to be gratuitous. We do not see what purpose it could have; it would seem that God is simply playing with the physiological laws of human vision.” 1


What incredible blindness! Is our theologian unaware that since May 13, the Virgin Mary had appeared six times to the three shepherds and at each of Her visits, She had spoken to them? It is quite obvious that the “dance of the sun,” provides the strikingly incomparable, heavenly proof of the authenticity of Her message, and certainly as well, of its extraordinary importance in the plans of divine Providence. The revelation of the message and the working of the great miracle that was prophesised three months in advance are coherent and mutually cast light. If the miracle is in fact the guarantee of the divine origin of the message, it is the message that endows the miracle with its full significance as a supernatural Sign.

On June 14, 1917, after having questioned the three seers, the parish priest of Fatima expressed his surprise: “It is not possible,” he said, “that Our Lady would come from Heaven to earth only to ask that people recite the Rosary every day. Besides, it is an almost general practice in the parish.” 2 Father Ferreira was disconcerted by the fact. At that time he could be excused: only knowing a few snatches of the message, he could not yet appreciate the real importance of what was taking place. Subsequent events would luminously show that there is no disproportion in the mystery of Fatima. The marvellous “dance of the sun,” without precedent in the entire history of the world, is exactly proportional, in its order, to the unparalleled greatness and the universal scope of the message of the Queen of Heaven.

Already in 1942, Cardinal Cerejeira, Patriarch of Lisbon remarked: “From the very beginning, fervour has been intensifying, the miracle augmenting and the mystery developing. Fatima speaks not only to Portugal but to the whole world.” 3


What is the heart of the message, we are asked? It is of course all the words of the Angel, then those of the Blessed Virgin at each of Her appearances from May 13 to October 13, 1917. As we have seen, they are already so rich with meaning and so salutary for our souls!

Yet, for whoever studies Fatima in its entirety, for whoever considers its impact in history, it clearly appears that the major, decisive text is the famous Secret revealed by Our Lady on July 13, 1917. This displeases our contemporaries who seek at all costs to contest its authenticity, or at least minimise its import. Whether they be the highest authorities of the Church or more or less reformist theologians, the Secret of Fatima bothers them, offends them, scandalises them. That is why almost all of them persist in keeping it under wraps. They maintain a tenacious conspiracy of silence surrounding it. In short, they would like to succeed in passing the Secret off as secondary and totally unessential.

Yet, whatever they say, whatever they do, whether they like it or not, Fatima, in the eyes of the masses, as well as in reality, is above all, its great Secret, because the Most Blessed Virgin ordained it to be so. We will realise this more and more. This text appears to be the essential core, the heart of the message of Fatima. It is the radiating centre or the point of convergence of all that Our Lady came to teach us at the Cova da Iria. All flows from it and all refers back to it. It is its summary, its synopsis, coming forth from the very mouth of the Virgin Mary.


Thus our task will be simple: with total filial docility, with an immense respect and extreme attention, we will have to scrutinise and meditate on the celestial words. We will not fear to give them too much importance, being certain that it is the Virgin Mary Who is speaking to us for our own salvation and that of the whole world. We will thus follow this great text step by step, contenting ourselves with commenting on it, with explaining it. It lends itself perfectly to this and will gradually reveal the salutary and delightful mystery of Fatima. This text, by its profoundness, its coherence and its richness, is in itself a confirmation for us of its unquestionable divine origin. For, as we shall understand at the end of our inquiry, its mystical, theological and prophetic contents alone suffice to prove that no human mind could have invented such a text.

A Secret that is one and trine. We will recount later on the history of its writing and the tragedy of its continually deferred divulgation. We must, however, indicate its structure at this point, since it will serve as the framework for the rest of our study.

“The Secret,” Sister Lucy wrote in her third Memoir, “comprises three distinct things, and I will reveal two of them. The first was the vision of Hell. The second deals with devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.” 4 Referring to this text, the first part of the Secret is therefore commonly identified with the vision of Hell, and the second part with the prophetic words of Our Lady that were divulged in 1942. The third part, which was unknown to the world during the period treated in this volume, would not be disclosed until 2000. It consists of the prophetic visions that show the necessity of conversion, of turning to Jesus Christ, the one Saviour, and to His Blessed Mother, the one Mediatrix of salvation for want of which we will all perish.

Nevertheless, it is important to underline that it is one single Secret that was revealed in full during the apparition of July 13, 1917. It forms a coherent whole, each part very closely linked with one others. Is it not noteworthy that, in the manuscript of her third Memoir, Sister Lucy wrote it straightaway, from the beginning of the description of Hell to the conclusion, “a certain period of peace will be given to the world,” without indicating a single division in her text? 5

Basing ourselves on this fundamental unity and on the fact that Sister Lucy herself did not firmly indicate the precise outline of the Secret, we will adopt the distinction, which we believe, best presents its three main themes, the logical development of the whole and its perfectly balanced construction in spite of its disconcerting appearance. We will have the opportunity to elaborate further on this.

We therefore divide the whole Secret into three parts and a conclusion all of which are linked to one another by a close connection and interdependence. The first part concerns the salvation of souls; the main idea of the second part is the salvation of nations and of Christendom, peace in the world, while the third part deals with the intercession of the Immaculate and the consumption of the Church. These three inseparable themes reveal to us the extraordinary mystical, moral, political, ecclesial and dogmatic importance of the Secret of Fatima.

Before commenting on it section by section, let us re-read this incomparable text, while inserting titles into it. These titles, the validity of which we will solidly justify, will indicate the phases of our explanation.


“As She said these last words, Our Lady opened Her hands again, as She had done the two previous months. The reflection of the light seemed to penetrate the earth and we saw what looked like a vast ocean of fire.

The description of Hell follows. Is it not logical to think that the words of Our Lady, Who immediately offers its commentary, its supernatural lesson, still belong to the first theme of the Secret, to its “first part”?

“Terrified, and as though pleading for help,” Lucy continued, “we raised our eyes towards Our Lady, who said to us so kindly and sadly:

“You have seen Hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to My Immaculate Heart.

“If what I am going to say to you is done, many souls will be saved […].”

Here the main idea is that of the salvation of souls. This first part introduces us straightaway into the tragedy of our own lives: Heaven or Hell, for eternity! What must be done here below to merit the former and avoid the latter? This is the most poignant threat, the most convincing moral exhortation, the most rousing mystical call.

The hidden and heroic life of our three seers – their constant concern for praying and sacrificing themselves in order to snatch the souls of sinners from Hell, their so vehement desire to go forthwith to Heaven – and the holy death of Francisco and Jacinta will be the best commentary on this first part of the Secret that all three of them lived out so intensely.


“If what I am going to say to you is done,” Our Lady continued, “many souls will be saved and there will be peace.

“The war is going to end. If, however, people do not cease to offend God a worse one will break out in the reign of Pius XI.

“When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given to you by God that He is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine and persecutions against the Church and the Holy Father.

“To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to My Immaculate Heart and the Communion of Reparation of the first Saturdays of the month.

“If My requests are heard, Russia will be converted and there will be peace. If not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, provoking wars and persecutions against the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, and many nations will be annihilated. “In Portugal, the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved, etc. (sic)”

Here, the Secret assumes a prophetic and political tone. Promises and punishments are alternately evoked and specified, according to whether men do or do not obey Our Lady’s demands. It is the marvellous but also terrible and tragic exposition of the great plan of mercy offered by God to the world in 1917, for our time, in order to obtain peace for the world and the rebirth of Christendom.

Through this second part of the Secret, so concise, we will find the framework of the religious and political tragedy from 1917 to the present day, right up to the burning questions of the hour.

“In the end,” Our Lady concludes, “My Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to Me, and she will be converted and a certain period of peace will be given to the world.

“Do not tell this to anyone. Francisco, yes, you may tell him.”

Lastly, it is the prophecy of a marvellous future for the Church and Christendom that Our Lady announces to us in all certainty, as necessarily going to come about in the end, despite whatever happens before then. What mercy! This is the source of our immense, invincible hope. “In the end My Immaculate Heart will triumph”: this sentence alone is our star in the thickening night. Ave! maris Stella!


The secret of the Secret, the soul of each part of this text, we will discover it with wonder, is the revelation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary as the sovereign remedy to all our ills, the ultimate and unique salvation of our souls, of our nations and of the whole of Christianity, and finally of the roman Church herself. It is the unfathomable design of infinite mercy of the Holy Trinity to want to grant us everything through the maternal mediation of this very good, very holy and Immaculate Heart.

From the outset, let us draw the conclusion to which our long study will lead: with time elapsing, as all its prophecies once fulfilled appear to us in all their luminous brilliance, the great Secret of Fatima manifests more and more with each passing day its immense importance, truly opening up a new era in the history of the Church. These words in the case in point are not exaggerated, for it is not a question of a “Reformation,” of a whimsical dream of men who are full of their own importance and proud of their work, but of a sovereign and irrevocable decision of divine Providence, revealed to the Church by the Virgin of Fatima: “God wishes to establish in the world devotion to My Immaculate Heart.”

Cardinal Cerejeira rightly affirmed: “We believe that the apparitions of Fatima open a new era: that of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.” 6 When it will finally be known in its full scope, the great Secret of Fatima will then reveal itself for what it really is: the most extraordinary document in the whole history of the Church, an unprecedented divine oracle, which dominates from the transcendent height of its celestial origin, the history of our century, and surely also of the centuries to come.

It is our task to understand it, to rejoice in it by giving thanks to God, in order to fathom it and to live it out. May the Virgin of Fatima, the Immaculate Mediatrix, grant us this signal grace!

Sedes Sapientis, ora pro nobis!


(1) Religious current events, “Les Études,” July-August, 1967, p. 83.

(2) Quoted by De Marchi, “Testimonies on the Apparitions of Fatima,” p. 108.

(3) Preface of “Jacinta” by Canon Galamba. Obras pastorais, Vol. II, pp. 329, 333.

(4) III, pp. 108, 112. Let us recall that we quote the Memoirs of Lucy in the French edition of Rev. Fr. Kondor, annotated by Fr. Alonso. We indicate only the number of the Memoir and the page quoted. (1980, Téqui, editor).

(5) Cf. the photo of the original text in “Documentos,” p. 218-220. In the 4th Memoir, she made one division before “To prevent this […]” which, moreover, does not correspond to the distinction of the “three things” that she indicated as forming the Secret, p. 338-340 (Documentos de Fatima, published by Antonio Maria Martins, s.j., Porto, 1976).

(6) Preface of the 3rd edition of “Jacinta,” 1942. Obras Pastorais, Vol. II; p. 333.