2.1 Before and after Fatima: the Dawn of Salvation. (May 13, 1917 - December 14, 1918)

POOR “Land of Holy Mary”! When its “Angel Guardian”, “the Angel of Portugal” came in the summer of 1916 to invite the three shepherd children of Aljustrel to pray and sacrifice themselves for peace in their country, it was in a very sad and pitiful state!

Economic failure, aggravated still more by the recent entrance into the war, disorder and anarchy, dissensions and murders, assassination attempts which had become an everyday occurrence – all these created the atmosphere of a real civil war. The Church had been banned from society, reduced to silence, persecuted in every way. In short, Portugal in that hour experienced the darkest period in its history. Seeing Portugal thus forced to live in the shadows, the slave of a tyrannical and sectarian power which seemed as though it would never loosen the vice of its oppression, who would have believed that only one year later the dawn of salvation would come? That before long it would enjoy perfect peace both internally and externally, that its Church would be wonderfully restored, and that it would regain the radiance and fervour of its peak centuries?


The event could not have been foreseen. And if in fact all these things did take place, it was only thanks to the miraculous intervention of the most powerful Virgin Mary, the Immaculate Mediatrix. In six months She did for Her “faithful nation’’ what neither the monarchy nor the Church had been able to do in over a century.

For Portugal was indeed a slave, with chains solidly riveted upon her. Since the beginning of the eighteenth century, as Cardinal Cerejeira observed, «the darkness of night» grew increasingly black over the poor “Land of Holy Mary”, with no interruption. Freemasonry had taken root in the country and became encrusted there, without anyone being able to check its power or shake off its growing stranglehold over the government and all society. What a sombre history! It is almost grounds for weeping or despair, for the victory always went to the worst adversaries of the Church, and the worst enemies of the nation, The authorities had suddenly become powerless, paralyzed – or were themselves corrupted and perverted. They were unable to organise any effective opposition.

Yet, suddenly, after May 13, 1917, everything changed. The “Morning Star” began shining brightly over the sky of Portugal, announcing the dawn of the Catholic renaissance, and the nation’s recovery. In a single blow, and by a miracle of Heaven, those who were used to being the persecuted and the vanquished witnessed the victory of their cause. In a few months the Masonic sect, «this synagogue of Satan», as the Venerable Pope Pius IX called it, would soon lose all its prestige, and see its ascendancy vanish into thin air.

The miracle of Fatima – no one still dares to call it that today! – is a political miracle also: in coming down to the Cova da Iria, the Immaculate Virgin came to liberate Portugal from the oppressive yoke of diabolical, anti-Christian and anti-national Freemasonry, which had enjoyed a crushing domination over the country for a century and a half. It is this victory granted to Her people by the Queen of the Holy Rosary, «victorious in all the battles of God», and «terrible as an army in battle array», that we must now describe...

Before that, however, to understand the reality and the extent of the saving miracle of 1917, we must first review the deadly successes enjoyed by the forces of evil, which had managed to lead the country to the brink of disaster. Already for this reason alone, this history serves as an example for us. For all the old Catholic countries, which once constituted the splendour of Christendom – France, Spain, Italy, Poland – have not they all undergone for the last two centuries, an increasing and apparently inescapable domination by the Powers of Darkness? And if we all are suffering from the same evils, will it not be the same remedy, tomorrow, that can heal us all?



After Portugal’s two peak centuries – as a Catholic, monarchical, colonial and missionary power – the marvellous restoration of 1640, which ended sixty years of Spanish domination, unfortunately did not endure. 1

From the dawn of the eighteenth century, the clouds grew darker over the horizon of this little nation of Portugal. Its immense colonial empire aroused the covetousness of the English and Dutch.

A DISASTROUS TREATY. First came the disastrous “Treaty of Methuen”. On May 16, 1703, the British ambassador, Sir John Methuen, succeeded in imposing on King Pedro II an alliance in which all the advantages would be with Great Britain. While England promised to guarantee the integrity of Portuguese territory – an easy promise to make, and which moreover was never kept! – in return the British acquired almost a complete stranglehold over Portugal’s economy and commercial life, which soon began suffocating, and increasingly so during the nineteenth century, under this vice-like political grip. 2

ANGLO-PROTESTANT FREEMASONRY. Even more serious: in 1727, ten years after its foundation in London, the Great Lodge of England was founded in Portugal, at the same time as in Spain. Since that time its pernicious influence, which was invariably in the service of Anglo-Protestant interests, increased uninterruptedly, to the point where one historian of Fatima, Canon Galamba, could write: «Freemasonry has been and continues to be the instigator of all the blots on our history.» 3


The Marquis de Pombal

With Sebastiano José de Carvalho, Marquis de Pombal, the “Land of Holy Mary” experienced for the first time an openly anti-Catholic power. This all-powerful minister of King Joseph I managed to dominate the country like an absolute master for twenty-seven years, from 1750 to 1777. He was a notorious freemason, whose ferocious hatred against the Church took the place of any policy. And because the Jesuits were the greatest help and most powerful force in the Portuguese Church, he plotted their rum. During the great earthquake of Lisbon in 1755, the Jesuits demonstrated once again their devotion and usefulness. They enjoyed the gratitude of the people, and their influence with the king offset the influence of the king’s minister, the freemason Carvalho. The Jesuits were the last obstacle to Carvalho’s absolute domination over the country. He had no qualms about using the most odious procedures to bring about their ruin.

AN UNPARDONABLE CRIME: THE EXPULSION OF THE JESUITS. «On September 3, 1759, Pombal made the king sign an edict expelling the Jesuits from all his lands. On the 16th, 127 Fathers had to leave for Italy, then 59 more, and 300 young scholastics who had refused to abandon their vocation. All of them were cast upon the shores of the Papal States. Once that was done, the missions’ turn came. Everywhere the agents of Pombal were able to reach, in China, India, the Congo or Brazil, the missionaries were removed. Many were shut up, and left to rot (the word is not an exaggeration) in the subterranean prisons of Balem and Fort St. Julian... In the course of these brutal expulsions, no fewer than 270 religious died. After this, Pombal continued his campaign of calumnies against the Jesuits.» 4 The campaign against the Jesuits succeeded so well that it managed to obtain the suppression of the Society first in France (1764), then in Spain (1767), and finally for the whole Church in 1773.

By expelling the Jesuits, Pombal had dealt a blow to the heart of the Portuguese Church. Their departure suddenly created an enormous void which was never filled. Unlike France and Spain, the Society of Jesus was practically the only congregation which was solidly implanted in the country. This expulsion, which gave a free hand to the Masonic lodges and their anticlerical propaganda, was to have disastrous consequences for the nation. 5


Dona Maria I

There followed the reign of Dona Maria I, which partly repaired the damage. Following the opposite of Pombal’s policies, Maria I restored the liberties of the Church, and some degree of order and prosperity to the country. Then came the French Revolution. The revolution once again plunged the country into new difficulties.

It was the foolish and criminal pretension of Napoleon to reorganise Europe according to his visionary fancies which dealt a mortal blow to Portugal as it traditionally had been: Catholic, monarchical, and colonial. After the Treaty of Fontainebleau, which in 1807 foolishly divided the territory of Portugal between France and Spain, Portugal experienced from 1807 to 1810 three successive invasions of Napoleon’s armies.

The consequences of this abnormal political situation were even worse. To drive out the French, the English first entered the country, and then settled down for a permanent stay. Having persuaded, if not forced the king, Joao VI, and the royal family to go into exile in Brazil – an act which the people looked on as tantamount to treason – the English with Beresford secured the Regency of the Kingdom.

The Napoleonic occupation had an even more pernicious consequence. More than anything else, it contributed to the spread of the revolutionary virus into Portugal. Thanks to the Masonic lodges, it became more and more virulent in no time at all. “French culture”, and by no means the best, gained the preponderance: the “philosophes” of the eighteenth century, the romanticists, the liberals, in a word the anticlericals of every persuasion including Michelet, Quinet, Victor Hugo and company all enjoyed great success. They served as instruments of Masonic propaganda.

REVOLUTION, CHARTER AND CIVIL WAR (1820-1834). In 1820, revolution broke out in Lisbon, and Beresford was forced to return to England. Brazil was soon contaminated also, and King Joao VI, who had been in exile there, had to promise to return to Portugal, leaving Brazil to his son, Don Pedro, a supporter of the insurgents. The aging king, on his return to Lisbon, swore fidelity to the liberal Constitution, approved by the Cortes in 1822. During this time his son, Don Pedro, proclaimed Brazil independent and proclaimed himself Emperor.

To top off the whole disaster, at the death of Joao VI the country was plunged into civil war, at the very moment it was about to be saved. In fact, the second son of the king, Don Miguel, who had been hostile to the Revolution from the beginning, had managed in 1828 to dissolve the legislature and summoned the traditional Cortes, thus restoring a fully Catholic and legitimate monarchy. Don Miguel enjoyed the support both of the Church and the majority of the people.

Don Pedro

However his brother Don Pedro, Emperor of Brazil, who himself was a freemason, soon abdicated in favour of his son and prepared to reconquer Portugal. After eight years of civil war, he finally carried the day thanks to the military help of England. Once again British troops trampled over Portuguese soil, to the nation’s ruin.

THE PERSECUTIONS BY MINISTER AGUIAR (1834). The Church, which had supported Don Miguel, then went through a period of harsh persecutions. In 1834, the new king, who reigned under the name of Pedro IV, broke off diplomatic relations with the Holy See. On May 28, his minister, Aguiar, issued a decree suppressing the religious orders, confiscating all their property. The blow came down hard, especially for the overseas provinces. Don Pedro died only a few months after his victory, after which the country was delivered over to anarchy and civil war for eight years.

THE LIBERAL AND MASONIC MONARCHY. In 1842, the minister Costa Cabral succeeded in bringing back some semblance of order. Diplomatic relations with the Holy See were re-established, and thereafter the Church was no longer openly persecuted. This semi-tolerance permitted the reconstitution of some religious orders and the flowering of a rather intense Catholic life, especially in the north. The press, however, remained entirely in the hands of the freemasons, and won much of the city population over to the freethinkers’ cause.

In 1846, England, Spain and France intervened once more to save the liberal monarchy from an uprising seeking to restore Don Miguel.

FREEMASONRY OPTS FOR A REPUBLIC. After the Paris Commune, a part of the freemasons stopped supporting the monarchy. In 1873, they organised a violently anticlerical republican party.

«In spite of some outward successes (inauguration of the Basilica of Sameiro in 1869, celebration of the sixth centenary of Saint Anthony in 1895), Catholics were continually losing their influence and their rights.» 6 While the republicans organised themselves on the pattern of the Italian Carbonari, the monarchists showed the whole country the spectacle of their own division, showing their inability to resist the Masons. The monarchists seemed to have no concern for the good of the nation.

There was, however, one last seesaw: in May, 1906, faced with increasing anarchy, King Don Carlos appealed to Joao Franco, who one year later proclaimed the dissolution of the Chamber and restored one-man-rule. The king had finally understood. Unfortunately, he was too late: on February 1, 1908, two members of the carbonari, Buica and Costa, assassinated him, along with his son the heir apparent, in the Commerce square in Lisbon. «This sect breathing crime», as the Venerable Pope Pius IX called it, had once again carried the day, discouraging all attempts at a reaction.

The crown returned to young Don Manuel, who was only eighteen years old. He felt obliged to dismiss Joao Franco and completely reverse his policy. He wished to curry favour with the republicans, wooing them by acceding to their demands. This spelled the end of the monarchy.


The revolution broke out with disturbing rapidity. During the night of October 3, 1910, twenty of the carbonari’s men, at a prearranged signal, broke into the barracks of the sixteenth infantry regiment. Since the leaders were unable to intervene, a simple official of the navy’s book-keeping department, Machado dos Santos – who had founded the carbonaria alta venda around the end of 1917 – opened the doors of the weapons cache to the populace. After an unfortunate scuffle, which disarmed the loyalists at the very moment when the insurgents believed all was lost, the Republic was proclaimed on the morning of October 5, at City Hall. A provisional government was established, composed of all the leading freemasons, while the royal family sought shelter at Gibraltar. Of course the new Republic could count on the help of Paris and London, which the Grandmaster of Portuguese Freemasonry, Magalhaes Lima, had gone to solicit a few months earlier. 7

THE PERSECUTIONS AND THE “CRIMINAL LAWS”. Just as was the case with Mexico during the same era, the Portuguese revolution fiercely persecuted the Church from the very beginning. Churches were pillaged, three convents, particularly those of the Jesuits, were attacked and sacked, and many religious were harassed. Father Fragues, a French Lazarist, was murdered, as was a Portuguese priest. But it was particularly in its anticlerical legislation that the Republic of Lisbon manifested its fanaticism.

Scarcely had the provisional government been installed when it began devoting its entire attention to an antireligious policy, in spite of a disastrous economic situation. A hatred against God and His Church this intense could not endure any delay. Already on October 10 – five days after the inauguration of the Republic – a decree renews the laws of Pombal and of Aguiar: all convents and monasteries and establishments of all orders are suppressed, no matter what their denomination. All religious are expelled, their goods confiscated. The Jesuits are treated relatively benevolently, by Pombal’s standards: they are declared to have forfeited their Portuguese citizenship.

At that point a series of laws and decrees followed each other like a train out of Hell. On November 3, a divorce law was passed; then a law recognising the legitimacy of children born outside wedlock, a law on cremation, on the secularisation of cemeteries, abolition of the religious oath, suppression of religious teaching in the schools, prohibition of the wearing of the cassock. Nothing is forgotten: the ringing of church bells and times of worship are subjected to certain restraints, the public celebration of religious feasts is suppressed, etc. The government even interfered with the seminaries, arrogating the right to name the professors and determine the programs. This whole series of persecution laws culminated in the law of Separation of Church and State, which was passed on April 20, 1911.

Afonso Costa

Finally, the victory of Freemasonry was complete. The author of all these wicked laws, Afonso Costa, declared at that time: «Thanks to this law of separation, in two generations Catholicism will be completely eliminated in Portugal.» 8

He had not counted on the clairvoyance and firmness of the Holy Pontiff who then governed the Church, or the protection of the heavenly Padroeira.

SAINT PIUS X: A LAW WHICH IS “NULL AND VOID”. Thanks to Saint Pius X, who rejected all attempts at conciliation and compromise, just as he had in the case of France six years earlier, the Church in Portugal escaped the worst. In his encyclical Jamdudum in Lusitania of May 24, 1911, he forcefully condemned «the inhumanity of the crimes which oppress the Church» in Portugal. «As soon as the Republic became the form of government (he declared), an uninterrupted of series of measures were promulgated, which breathe an implacable hatred against the Church.» The Pope also firmly condemned «the most evil and pernicious law of separation of Church and State», denouncing «its monstrous absurdity», and its outrageous treatment of the Church, which it would reduce to «an odious servitude». The holy Pope continued:

«Therefore the consciousness of our apostolic duty lays upon us an obligation, in the presence of such impudence and audacity of the enemies of God, to watch with the greatest vigilance over the dignity and honour of religion, and to maintain the sacrosanct prerogatives of the Catholic Church. We reprove, condemn and reject the law of separation of the Portuguese Republic and the Church: a law which mocks God and repudiates the Catholic faith... We raise a solemn protest against its authors, and all those who had any part in it. We declare and denounce as null and void all that this law decrees contrary to the inviolable rights of the Church.» 9

Surely by design, this firm condemnation was dated May 24, «on the feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, help of Christians». Thanks to Saint Pius X, the Church in Portugal had refused all compromise, and remained indefectibly united to the See of Peter. In the midst of these torments, the Church remained a cohesive force: the persecuted Catholics were solidly behind their clergy, who by solemn and public protests resisted the government.

In the face of this unforeseen resistance from a hierarchy which they had not expected to be so combative, the fury of the sectarians saw only one solution: banishment. Thus, the majority of the country’s bishops were exiled: the Patriarch of Lisbon, the Archbishops of Braga and Evora, the bishops of Porto and Viseu, and many others. Many priests were imprisoned, such as good Father Cruz 10 or Father José da Silva, the future Bishop of Leiria.

Although it was sorely tried, the Portuguese Church, by following the directives of Saint Pius X, had saved the essential: its faith, which remained pure of any contagion of liberal and revolutionary ideas. It also preserved its unity, the bonds of which grew tighter through persecution.

THE POISONED FRUITS OF A SATANIC REVOLUTION. Yet, all this time, the revolution continued its ravages and destructive work in every area. In the political order there was anarchy. The country was given over to dissension and the worst disorders: strikes everywhere, trouble in the streets, party rivalries, and a rapid succession of puppet governments. In 1912, an attempted coup d’état by the monarchist partisans of Don Miguel failed. Another coup was attempted in 1915 and also failed.

Later on, Salazar described the anarchy of that time in this way: «A disorder which was not only a lack of order, but the combination of all positive elements of disintegration, ruin, and national dissolution.» 11

Freemasonry, however, which was master of the Republic, continued to place its members in all levels of administration, tirelessly pursuing its principal work, the only one which it was able to pursue effectively and passionately: the struggle against religion.

We must not be mistaken: bad laws are always extremely harmful, and before long they produce in the people their rotten fruits of corruption and demoralisation. Canon Formigao was very strong on this point. He wrote: «The evil which was already great during the institution of the Republic grew frighteningly worse during the first years of the new regime, in the period of open persecution of the Church and dissolution of morals.» He mentions the authorisation of divorce and «the really unheard-of growth of legal and illegal prostitution, especially in highly populated areas.» The slanderous campaigns of the liberal and jacobin press against the clergy, and especially against the religious orders, aroused hostility to them in a great part of the city dwellers. In short, «the religious life of the Portuguese people was terribly shaken.» 12

Barthas gives a good summary of this deplorable religious situation:

«Masonic impiety took advantage of the disorder to sow irreligion in the masses. Freedom of worship was hindered by numerous restrictions, the carrying out of apostolic works became almost impossible. The religious orders were suppressed or paralyzed. Moreover, little by little the seminaries emptied, and the clergy, impoverished and chained by restrictive laws, became too scarce to maintain a profound religious life. The Catholic press was suffocated, reduced to a few weeklies in the provinces, without serious influence on the masses.

«The times were evil. The future was even more sombre.» 13

When the First World War came, and the Republic foolishly involved the country in it, although Portugal was already on the brink of economic catastrophe, the situation only grew worse. In spite of everything, the sectarians did not give up. The historian Costa Brochado reviewed the instances of pillages of churches perpetrated in the year 1917 alone: «Sixty-nine in the provinces, forty-two in Lisbon, in the majority of cases profanation of the sacred species, with the connivance of the police and government, at least in Lisbon. Occasionally, one still finds ruins of churches which were never rebuilt.» 14


Here was the result of a sorry century and a half of Masonic domination. In Portugal, the ravages effected by this «perverse sect», as Pius IX called it, were incalculable, perhaps greater than any other country. By the poison of its insidiously propagated errors, by its repeated crimes, its revolutions, its anarchy, Masonry was truly a pestiferous influence over the country.

We are reminded of the words of Venerable Pope Pius IX, during the consistory of September 25, 1865. How literally they apply to the poor “Land of Holy Mary”! Deploring the current disasters, he said bitterly: «May it please Heaven that monarchs lend an ear to the words of Our Predecessor (Clement XI, condemning Freemasonry in 1738)! Would to God that they had not been so “soft” in such a grave matter! For had this been the case, neither we nor our fathers, would ever have had to deplore so many seditious movements, so many incendiary wars, which are setting all Europe ablaze, or so many bitter evils which have afflicted and still afflict the Church.» 15

THE VICISSITUDES OF THE COUNTER-CHURCH. Masonry is indeed just that, a Counter-Church, because it is animated by an unquenchable hatred against God, against Christ and against His Church. Using any means at its disposal to gain power, the Masonic sect has continually stirred up wars and persecutions, already fulfilling what the Immaculate Virgin was to say about Bolshevism in 1917. This is hardly astonishing, because Bolshevism is not something absolutely new, nor was it the effect of “spontaneous generation”. Rather it was the perverse fruit of Freemasonry, just as Masonry was itself the «daughter of the Reformation», to use the just expression of Msgr. Jouin. From 1717 to 1917 there is a perfect continuity, just as had been the case between 1517 and 1717. The coincidence in these dates is striking.

WHEN THE IMMACULATE VIRGIN INTERVENES IN POLITICS. The year 1917 is a turning point in modern history. The second centenary of Freemasonry was celebrated even at Rome by sacrilegious processions, while the October revolution broke out in Russia. The event of Fatima, under its twofold aspect, historical and prophetic, introduces us to the heart of the drama. Its great Secret – all historians agree in stressing the coincidence between the dates, which is so imposing – brings us into the third act, the most terrible stage of this drama. The protagonist is the final stage of the Counter-Church: atheistic communism, «intrinsically perverse». But in its immediate context, that of Masonic Portugal in 1917, Our Lady of Fatima also intervened as a Sovereign in the preceding phase of this great combat. The “Two Cities” spoken of by St. Augustine are here opposed: Masonry, whether deist or atheist, but Antichrist in either case, works and struggles to destroy the Church by first destroying Christendom.

There were patriots in Portugal who foresaw that since the nation was beset with so many disasters – political, moral and religious – its salvation could only come from Heaven. Such people had well apprized the extent of the struggle and its spiritual dimension. With confidence they turned to the Immaculate Virgin, the heavenly Padroeira: the “Rosary Crusade”, founded in 1915, enjoyed such great success that for the month of Mary the following year (May, 1916), the churches of Lisbon were full. Among the crowds, unbelievably, were a good number of soldiers in uniform. 16

It was then that the Angel Guardian of Portugal, the Angelus Pacis, appeared at Fatima as a Precursor, announcing that deliverance was at hand.


On May 13, 1931, in the name of the entire episcopate of Portugal which was present, and in the midst of a crowd of three hundred thousand people, Cardinal Cerejeira could give thanks to the Virgin Mary for the miracle She had performed. He proclaimed: «Our Lady of Fatima, You have deigned to come down to our land like the Morning Star, a sign of benediction, announcing the dawn of light and hope after the darkness of the night.» 17

This is exactly what had happened. Even if the social and political salvation of Portugal did not immediately and definitively follow the profusion of supernatural graces poured out at the Cova da Iria, after May 13, 1917, everything soon changed in the souls of the faithful, when they learned that the Blessed Virgin Herself, their Queen and their Mother, and Heavenly Protectress, had deigned to visit them. With a single blow, She caused hope to spring up anew, along with the certainty of the victory of The Faith against the persecutors. If Heaven deigned to intervene, the ratio of strength between the forces was soon to be reversed.

Beginning on the day after July 13, which had drawn three or four thousand people, the sect had felt threatened. It was right. Already its domination over the masses was shaken. From month to month, drawn by accounts of atmospheric prodigies and the announcement of the great miracle, the pilgrims came in increasing numbers. On August 13, there were between eighteen and twenty thousand people, and on September 13 there were perhaps thirty thousand. On October 13, seventy thousand pilgrims or curious folk had come from all over Portugal to be there for the promised miracle. Faced with this great movement of faith and popular devotion, the sect and all the public authorities remained powerless, inert. They did not know what to do. They could do nothing, because they had found a force more powerful than they were. Finally! As for the good people, who up until then had been continually oppressed, scorned for their faith and age-old devotions, they left on the evening of October 13 comforted and full of hope. They were sure that as God and His Holy Mother had manifested Their power in such a striking way, they would also gain a great victory over all the enemies of religion. As the journalist of O Seculo relates: «The first pilgrims to leave are those who had come first, with their shoes atop their heads or suspended from their canes. Their souls are full of joy as they leave, to spread the good news in the villages, that is, those which were not completely emptied of people to come here.» As for the priests, the same journalist further observed that «they could hardly hide the satisfaction which appears so often on the faces of the triumphant.» 18

Thus throughout the whole country from Algarve to Minho, a great movement of faith and popular piety was raised up by the miracles of Fatima, which began to shake the hold of the tyrannical persecutors. This decisive influence of the apparitions in the Cova da Iria in national life was brought out fully by the Portuguese historian, Costa Brochado. We can hardly do better than to quote long excerpts from his works. 20


«The first symptom of a reaction by the people (our historian notes) took place the very day after the solar prodigy. It was Sunday, the day of the municipal elections. At Leiria, the Catholics got a majority of 750 votes. On the 15th, the Lisbon papers complained of a decline of the “democratic forces” in the whole country. On the 15th, O Seculo attributed the Catholic success to the solar prodigy described on the same page. It complained of the great number of abstentions, especially among the “democrats”, and asked if this was not “the Virgin’s fault”?

«The journal O Dia compared these elections with those of 1911, and found that the three great parties, “democratic, republican and evolutionist”, had lost ninety-five thousand votes in the capital.»20

The most fanatical elements within the carbonari were furious at this setback. They wanted to attempt a spectacular operation to ridicule the events of Fatima... 21


At the instigation of the prefect of the district of Santarem, José Antonio dos Reis, a notorious freemason, as were all the functionaries of the regime, some members of the Masonic centre in the village decided to go and vandalise the place of the apparitions.

They arrived at the Cova da Iria during the night of October 22-23, 22 demolishing everything that made up the primitive sanctuary. After tearing out the posts of the porch which had been adorned with flowers, they took some objects which had been left there by the piety of the faithful: a table with a little altar on top, a wooden cross, an image of Our Lady and the two lanterns which Maria Carreira made sure were always lighted. They especially wanted to remove the holm-oak of the apparitions. Their task completed, they loaded everything onto their truck and returned to Santarem. Lucy wrote:

«In the morning, news of what had happened spread like wildfire. I ran to the place to see if it were true. But what was my delight to find that the poor men had made a mistake, and that instead of cutting down the holm-oak, they had carried off one of the others growing nearby! I then asked Our Lady to forgive these poor men and I prayed for their conversion.» 23

What then was the purpose of the operation? To ridicule Fatima, the members of the sect could find nothing better than to organise a parody of a procession. First of all, the stolen objects were displayed in a house in Santarem, with a fee charged for admittance. It is difficult to imagine the kind of hatred one would need to dream up such idiocies! In the evening, a hundred or so marauders paraded in the streets of the village, with the branches of what they took to be the holm-oak of the apparitions, lighted tapers, lanterns, the cross and an image of Our Lady, shouting blasphemous litanies. It was the victory of “Reason” and “Free thought”. Let the reader judge!

In any case, the effect on public opinion was the complete opposite of what had been hoped for. The scorn and indignation of the masses rebounded against the authors of the profanation. Even the “neutral” or “liberal” press was unanimous in disapproval of this action. After describing the sacrilegious parody of October 23, the editor of O Seculo concluded severely:

«What a disgrace! How could the authorities permit such goings-on, and refuse to allow Catholic processions, when almost the entire Portuguese population belongs to the Church, and the processions in no way offend the convictions of others?» 24

The Diario de Noticias of October 25 entitled its article, “A Crime”. A Ordem also protested. Father Formigao, who was then a professor in the seminary of Santarem, distributed a vehement protest, which he had composed in the name of the Catholics of the city. He condemned the scandalous impudence of this «handful of carbonari», whom he likened to «a pus in the social organism», who dared to profane «the venerable cross of the Redeemer», and «the august image of the Virgin, who in all periods of our history has presided over the destiny of our nation.» 25

In the end, this violent and clumsy counter-blow by the lodges, far from harming the great movement of faith raised up by Fatima, only showed how deep this movement was. It even contributed to its increase! Since violence did not work, something else had to be found...


A little more than a month after the odious spectacle of Santarem, José do Vale, a fanatical atheist who managed the journal O Mundo at Lisbon, decided to put an end to the apparitions at Fatima. This time, however, peaceful means were chosen: a great congress of protest «against the clerico-mercantile speculation going on at Fatima», «on the very site chosen by the reactionaries as the theatre of their shameful attempt at retrogradation (sic).» A profusion of tracts was distributed all around Fatima to invite “the liberal people” to gather outside the Sunday Mass. Various orators of repute attempted to unmask the impostors of the Cova da Iria. 26

Alerted by the tracts, Father Ferreira wisely announced that Mass would be celebrated that Sunday in the chapel of Our Lady of Ortiga, about one mile from Fatima. As for the three little seers, Ti Marto took them to Caneiro, where they attended Mass in the chapel of the castle. 27

What a setback for the organisers of the great popular Congress! Before the locked doors of the church, José do Vale, the Tinsmith and the three delegates from Lisbon for the “association of the civil register” did not need much time to count their audience: there was Francisco da Silva, a “militant democrat”, who for this reason had been named Regedor of the parish, and then... two other members of the congress. Eight true-blue republicans, counting everybody!

What were they to do? After some conferring, they decided to go nevertheless to the Cova da Iria. Gendarmes from Leiria, Torres Novas, and Vila Nova de Ourem, who had been brought out especially for the occasion, accompanied them to the Cova.

Here is the comical account Maria Carreira gave to Father de Marchi:

«It was decided at last to go to the Cova da Iria on a forced pilgrimage, and here at least there was no lack of an audience. A man from Lomba de Egua had even prepared a magnificent reception. Assembling a variety of donkeys he tied them to the trees and on the arrival of the “protest meeting” from Fatima, placed under the nose of each a certain liquid which caused them to bray with exceeding loudness to the great embarrassment of the visitors.

«Another surprise awaited them on the arrival at the holm-oak tree, now little more than a root. Fodder, the customary food of beasts, had been placed there for their reception!

«We did it to annoy them (Maria Carreira said), and they knew it. When I arrived at 11:30 with two of my neighbours, we hid near the place where the Chapel of Penance was built. Higher up, three men climbed up a holm-oak tree. Then someone began to preach against religion and every time he said something particularly bad, we answered: “Blessed be Jesus and Mary.” A lad from Quinta de Cardiga who was perched up in a tree on the other side also said in a loud voice: “Blessed be Jesus and Mary”, and made a salute with his hat. They were so furious that they sent two guards down to us but we ran away through the trees and they lost sight of us.

«Then the lads and men who had been to Mass at the Ortiga chapel arrived and, seeing what was happening at the Cova da Iria, began to shout out at the speakers and the guards: “Fools! Beasts! etc., etc.” And they shouted back: “Country bumpkins, fools, too!” The guards tried again to catch them but not one did they get! We all ran away whenever we could and laughing at them as hard as we could. After a bit they all went in the direction of Fatima village and we never saw or heard anything of them again!» 28

Since he could not claim victory after such a fiasco, José do Vale, in O Mundo of December 4, had to be satisfied with congratulating the courageous orators of free thought, while waxing ironic about the poor people, turned into fanatics and led astray by the clergy.

«This article (writes Costa Brochado) was like the swan song of free thought, for at this very hour Sidonio Pais was approaching the park of Edward VII, as head of the cadets of the school of war, to insert an interlude of light and peace into the calamitous course of the regime.» The Tinsmith, who was despised by the whole population, was soon relieved of his functions and replaced at the head of the Council of Vila de Ourem. All his scheming had been in vain, and the pilgrimage to Fatima would soon be able to continue its development.


After seven years of violent and fanatical persecution, after a century of being banned from public life, as if by a miracle, the Church suddenly recovered all its liberties which it had a right to, and needed, to fulfil its work of saving souls. The event is particularly remarkable since the man who put an end to this long situation of injustice – and with great decision and rapidity, since it was all accomplished in a year! – had no clerical affiliations at all.

Sidonio Pais had been a professor at Coimbra and a commander in the army. Before becoming Minister of State, he had been ambassador to Berlin until March, 1916. A member of the Unionist Party of Brito Comacho, he was known to be a die-hard republican and connected with Freemasonry.

Sindonio Pais
Sindonio Pais

Sidonio Pais decided to put an end to the anarchy which was leading his country to disaster. Having rallied around him some of the saner forces of the Republic, he led a coup d’état to salvage Portugal. Launched on December 5, his revolution «against the demagogy of the democrats» was immediately welcomed by public opinion. The historians of Fatima have not failed to point out a happy coincidence. It was on December 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, the patronal feast of Portugal, which that year fell precisely on a Saturday, that the national uprising obtained its definitive victory. The French historian Albert-Alain Bourdon, who hardly had the solemnity of the Heavenly Patroness in mind, wrote: «Sidonio Pais triumphed over his adversaries on December 8. He decreed the dissolution of Parliament, and had himself named by a revolutionary junta President of the Republic and head of the dictatorial government.» 29

There then opened a completely new era for Portugal, a wonderful surprise for Catholics. Making a clean break with republican jacobinism, Sidonio Pais immediately wished to return to the Church all her liberties, and restore the best national traditions. Is it not astonishing that this former high-ranking freemason considered reconciliation of the political power with the Church his most urgent and important task?

LIBERATING LAWS. Since that time, measures tending to compensate the Church for the wrongs she suffered in the revolution of 1910 followed each other almost uninterruptedly. On December 9, the very day after his victory, Sidonio Pais lifted all sanctions taken against the bishops, who were thus enabled to return from exile. On December 22, a decree suppressed the prohibition of worship in religious edifices which the State had appropriated. On February 22, other dispositions of the law of separation that were harmful to the Church were abolished. By February of 1918, the bishops, who were now free to meet at Lisbon, could write to Pope Benedict XV that the situation was improving. 30

«On May 15, Sidonio Pais attended a solemn service in the Cathedral of Lisbon for the soldiers who died in the war. He was warmly congratulated by the bishop who preached the sermon.» By these kinds of gestures, making a clean break with the sectarianism of his immediate predecessors, the new head of State fearlessly demonstrated the new orientation of his policy.

In a few months, the founder of the «Republica Nova» (New Republic), which already foreshadows the «Estado Novo» (New State) of Salazar, managed to re-establish an honest and strong government, capable of standing up to England. This fact enraged the freethinking historian, Gerard de Sede. Sidonio Pais was very popular. Little by little he revived the soul of the nation, openly renewing its great Catholic tradition.

Along this line, he wanted to re-establish diplomatic relations with the Vatican without delay. On June 28, 1918, a communiqué announced the reconciliation of the Republic with Rome. On July 4, the Pope congratulated Sidonio Pais and his government, and on July 10 there could be read in the official Journal the decree re-establishing the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See, while Msgr. Locatelli was named nuncio at Lisbon.

TOWARDS A CATHOLIC NATIONALISM? Fortified by the support of the majority of the nation, the one-man-ruler pursued his work imperturbably, to the great fury of his former comrades, the freemasons: «Commander Pais will give the Republic to the Jesuits!» exclaimed José do Vale. «The churches are reopening!» And in fact, Sidonio Pais was not content with letting several religious congregations return to the country; he was preparing a law which would restore all rights to the Society of Jesus.

This time he had gone too far. Already the Masonic sect had decided on his ruin. Sidonio Pais, who was aware of the anticlerical rage of his adversaries, no doubt expected reprisals, but he kept an intrepid courage. Costa Brochado, the Portuguese historian, reports this astonishing testimony: «One of his police officers, the trusty Lieutenant Faria, told me one day that Sidonio Pais considered himself protected by the Blessed Virgin, and that at the end of his life he had “encouraging visions” which gave him an irresistible power.» After questioning those who knew the leader intimately, Brochado attributes to Pais open desires of conversion to Catholicism. This is quite plausible; otherwise it would be difficult to explain why this former freemason would have the courage to conduct such an openly Catholic policy so resolutely.

On December 6, 1918, there was a first attempt on his life, which he narrowly escaped. After that the police dared to raid the central seat of Freemasonry. It was now open warfare and the sect, which felt dangerously threatened, waited no more than eight days to renew the assassination attempt against a leader who was too far-seeing, too popular, and capable of destroying its age-old domination over the country.

On December 14, he attended a Mass on a minesweeper for soldiers who had died in combat. He then had to travel to one of the provinces. «Warned not to take the train because he was going to be assassinated, he declared that a head of State should not change his movements for motives of this nature. Shot right in the train station of Rossio in Lisbon, he died on the operating table at Saint Joseph’s Hospital, with a crucifix on his chest, which had been ravaged by the bullets.» 31

The hour of national salvation had not yet struck. But the sacrifice of the courageous head of State was not without fruit, for the essence of his work remained. Although after his assassination the country fell right back into political anarchy, the republicans who soon returned to power did not have the strength to reactivate the anticlerical laws. Thanks to Sidonio Pais, the persecutions had ceased, the Church had recovered her liberty, and in spite of some unsuccessful attempts to take it away again, she kept it.

Twenty years later, in a discourse recalling the tragic death of Sidonio Pais – «the blood of a President was shed, a President who quickly passed on like a great hope» – Cardinal Cerejeira could declare: «Since Our Lady of Fatima appeared in the skies of Portugal in 1917, a special blessing of God has descended on the land of Portugal. The violent cycle of religious persecution has stopped and a new epoch of pacification of consciences and Christian restoration has opened.» 32


(1) Cf. our Vol. I, p. 3-18.

(2) Cf. Angel Marvaud, Le Portugal et ses colonies, p. 55 (Alcan, 1912).

(3) Fatima a prova, p. 76. On the predominant role of Masonry in the revolutions which for two centuries have shaken the Catholic nations of Latin Europe, cf. J. Ploncard d’Assac, Le Secret des Francs-Maçons, p. 7-117, éd. de Chiré, 1979. Cf. also La Franc-Maçonnerie anglo-protestante et Satanique, CRC No. 152, April 1980.

(4) Dom Ch. Poulet, Histoire du christianisme, fasc. XXIX-XXX, p. 346, Beauchesne 1950. Cf. Salvador de Madariaga, Le déclin de l’Empire espagnol d’Amérique, p. 318-320, Albin Michel 1958.

(5) Cf. Robert Ricard, Études sur l’histoire morale et religieuse du Portugal, p. 26.

(6) Barthas, Merv. XXs., p. 256.

(7) Cf. A. Marvaud, p. 51. We borrow the majority of information concerning this period from this author.

(8) Declaration to the Congress of Free Thought, March 26, 1911, quoted by Barthas, Merv. XXs, p. 256. At the same time in France, which revolutionary Portugal slavishly imitated, Viviani declared: » We have assigned ourselves the task of anticlericalism, a work of destruction of religion. We have snatched human consciences away from (religious) belief... Together, and with a magnificent gesture, we have extinguished in the firmament lights which will be kindled no longer...!» (Quoted by Harry Mitchell, Pie X et la France, p. 64-65, éd. du Cédre, 1954.) As chastisement for his presumption it was the light of his own reason that was snuffed out. And the poor man, in his delirium, went about in his room in the clinic holding a lighted candle in his hand!

(9) Acts of H.H. Pius X, Vol. VII, p. 72-83, Bonne Presse.

(10) Cf. Dr. Ervino Elmle, O Padre Cruz, p. 59-69, Ediçôes Paulistas, 1979.

(11) Discursos, Vol. II, p. 24. Coimbra, 1937.

(12) Alonso, O Dr. Formigâo, p. 287.

(13) Merv. In., p. 245-246.

(14) Merv. XXs, p. 256. Costa Brochado wrote in 1948.

(15) Quoted by G. Virebeau, Les Papes et la Franc-Maçonnerie, p. 28, Documents et Témoignages, 1977 (H. Coston).

(16) Cf. Fatima 1917-1968, p. 281.

(17) Cardinal Cerejeira, Obras Pastorais, Vol. I, p. 289.

(18) Cf. our Vol. I, p. 357-362: “The Sign of God, Triumph of the Faith”.

(19) Fatima a Luz da Historia, p. 327 sq.; Fatima 1917-1968, p. 247-250.

(20) Merv. XXs, p. 267.

(21) Canon Galamba was the first to publish all the documents related to the Masonic persecutions against Fatima: Fatima a prova, (Grafica), Leiria, 1946.

(22) Undoubtedly there was an error in one or another of the accounts of the event, because Father De Marchi gives the date of October 23 or 24.

(23) II, p. 90.

(24) De Marchi, p. 225.

(25) This text, quoted by De Marchi (p. 226-227), concluded with enthusiastic exclamations designed to strengthen the Catholics.

«Blessed be the Religion which has made our Homeland so great and glorious and which is the comfort of the immense majority of the Portuguese people, in the bitter events of individual life and in public calamities!

«Blessed be the Cross of Christ, whose image once waved triumphantly on the masts of our ships, when they went out to conquer new worlds for the Faith and for civilisation!

«Blessed be the Virgin, Patroness of Portugal, who in the midst of all our misfortunes and all our trials, with maternal solicitude has always watched over the fate of our beloved Fatherland and over its immortal destiny!

«May God pardon the impious ones, uncouth men without education, who, dominated by a blind and futile rage, stupidly blaspheme His adorable Name, and may He not permit His justice to send us the terrible chastisements which public sacrileges and profanations ordinarily bring upon nations that accept such crimes!»

And, what is stupefying is that O Seculo agreed to publish this protest provided it was not identical to the one which the zealous defender of Fatima sent directly to the Interior Minister. No doubt they were very similar. Cf. Fatima 1917-1968, p. 248, 234.

(26) It is difficult to specify the exact date of this demonstration with certainty. Father Simonin places it between August 19 and September 13, 1917, «probably in the second half of August» (De Marchi, p. 159). But Canon Barthas situates it on December 2, 1917. (Fatima 1917-1968, p. 234.)

(27) Read the charming account of this day by Ti Marto, De Marchi, p. 160.

(28) De Marchi, p. 162-163.

(29) Histoire du Portugal, p. 107, Puf, 1977.

(30) In his response, dated April 29, the Pope undoubtedly made a veiled reference to the events of Fatima. He wrote: «This hope is confirmed above all by the ardent devotion of your people for the Immaculate Virgin, a devotion which so greatly ennobled this portion of Christ’s flock. Such a devotion merited, in truth. an extraordinary help (singulare quoddam auxilium) on the part of the Mother of God.» (Merv. In., p. 248. cf. A.A.S., 1918, p. 230.)

(31) Costa Brochado, quoted by Barthas, Fatima 1917-1968, p. 250.

(32) Collective Pastoral Letter of the Portuguese bishops, Easter 1938. Cardinal Cerejeira, Obras Pastorais, Vol. I, p. 142-144.