Apparition of the Angel
In the spring of 1916 Lucia, Francisco
and Jacinta, had their first encounter
with a heavenly messenger.
Writing in her memoirs, composed under obedience to the Bishop, Lucia
tells of that first meeting.
We went on that occasion to my
parents' property, which is at the bottom of the Cabeco, facing
east. It is called Chousa Velha.
About the middle of the morning it
began to drizzle and we climbed up the hill, followed by our sheep,
in search of a rock that would shelter us. And so it was that we
entered for the first time into that blessed place. It is in the
middle of an olive grove that belongs to my godfather, Anastacio.
From there one can see the village where I was born, my father's
house, and also Casa Velha and Eira da Pedra. The olive grove, which
really belongs to several people, extends as far as these places.
We spent the day there, in spite of
the fact that the rain had stopped and the sun was shining in a
clear sky. We ate our lunch and began to say the Rosary. After that
we began to play a game with pebbles. We had only been at it a few
moments when a strong wind began to shake the trees and we looked up
to see what was happening, since it was such a calm day. And then we
began to see, in the distance, above the trees that stretched to the
east, a light whiter than snow in the form of a young man, quite
transparent, and as brilliant as crystal in the rays of the sun. As
he came near we were able to see his features. We were astonished
and absorbed and we said nothing to one another. And then he
Do not be afraid. I am the angel
of peace. Pray with me.
He knelt, bending his forehead to the
ground. With a supernatural impulse we did the same, repeating the
words we heard him say:
My God, I believe, I adore, I
hope, and I love You. I ask pardon for those who do not believe, do
not adore, do not hope, and do not love You.
After repeating this prayer three
times the angel rose and said to us:
Pray in this way. The hearts of
Jesus and Mary are ready to listen to you.
And he disappeared. He left us in an
atmosphere of the supernatural that was so intense we were for a
long time unaware of our own existence. The presence of God was so
powerful and intimate that even among ourselves we could not speak.
On the next day, too, this same atmosphere held us bound, and it
lessened and disappeared only gradually. None of us thought of
talking about this apparition or any pledge of secrecy. We were
locked in silence without having willed it.
The intense effect that the apparition
of the Angel had on the children, quite different from the more serene
experience of the Virgin the following year. Lucia states,
I don't know why, but the apparitions
of our Lady produced in us effects quite different from the angel's
visitations We felt in both instances the same intimate happiness,
peace and joy, but instead of the physical prostration the angel
imposed, our Lady brought a feeling of expansion and freedom; and
instead of this annihilation in the divine presence, we wished only to
exult in our joy. There was no difficulty of speech when our Lady
appeared; there was rather on my part a desire to communicate.
This difference can perhaps be
explained in this way. The angels of whatever choir share in common with God a spiritual
nature, unmixed with matter. The goodness of their being, filled with
the divine justice according to the degree of glory granted to each,
radiates that holiness unmediated, though proportioned to the capacity
of human beings to experience it. Not without reason Scripture shows
how easily an angel appearing to men can be confused with God Himself
(Rev 19:10, 22:9). When our Lady appears, however, although her glory
is greater than that of the highest seraphim her human nature cloaks
that glory in the familiar, just as did Our Lord's human nature, even
after the Resurrection.
Although the angels, too, can appear in
more mundane fashion, it must have suited the divine purposes to
reveal to the children something of the holiness of God. Lucia tells
us of the lingering effect it had on them.
His words sank so deeply into our
minds that we never forgot them, and ever after we used to spend
long periods on our knees repeating them, sometimes until we fell