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Fatima at 100: Story of apparitions continues to attract attention


  • A statue of Mary is carried through the crowd in 2013 at the Marian shrine of Fatima in central Portugal. (CNS photo/Paulo Cunha, EPA)
  • A pilgrim walks on her knees at the Marian shrine of Fatima in 2015 in central Portugal. (CNS photo/Rafael Marchante, Reuters)

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VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- While conversion and prayer are at the heart of Mary's messages at Fatima, Portugal, the miracles and unexplained phenomenon that accompanied the events 100 years ago continue to intrigue believers and nonbelievers alike.

The apparitions of Mary at Fatima in 1917 were not the first supernatural events reported there.

Two years before Mary appeared to the three shepherd children -- Lucia dos Santos and her cousins, Jacinta and Francisco Marto -- they saw a strange sight while praying the rosary in the field, according to the memoirs of Sister Lucia, who had become a Carmelite nun.

"We had hardly begun when, there before our eyes, we saw a figure poised in the air above the trees; it looked like a statue made of snow, rendered almost transparent by the rays of the sun," she wrote, describing what they saw in 1915.

The next year, Francisco and Jacinta received permission to tend their family's flocks and Lucia decided to join her cousins in a field owned by their families.

It was 1916 when the mysterious figure appeared again, this time approaching close enough "to distinguish its features."

"Do not be afraid! I am the Angel of Peace. Pray with me," Sister Lucia recalled the angel saying.

The three told no one about the angel's visit and received no more heavenly visits until May 13, 1917. While the children tended their sheep and played, they were startled by two flashes of lightning.

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