by Rev. Dr. Formigao
The first systematic questioning of the children, with a view
towards discovering the truth, took place on September 27 by seminary
professor Father Manuel Formigao of Santander. This prudent priest had
observed the apparition of 13 September from a distance, but did not
see the phenomenon that those near the children did. He had witnessed
a certain dimming of the sunlight, which he attributed to natural
causes. From this time Fr. Formigao would prove himself a good and
protective friend of the children, and become later one of the
foremost scholars of the events.
Examination of Francisco
"What have you seen in the Cova da Iria during these
"I have seen
"Where does she appear?"
The top of an oak tree."
"Does she appear suddenly, or do you see her coming from
"I see her coming from the side where the sun rises and stops
on the oak tree."
"Does she come slowly or quickly?"
"She always comes quickly."
"Do you hear what she says to Lucia?"
"Do you ever speak to the Lady? Has she ever spoken to
"No, I have never asked her anything. She only speaks to
"Who does she look at? At you and Jacinta or only at
"She looks at all three of us, but she looks longer at
"Did she ever cry or smile?"
"Neither, she is always serious."
"How is she dressed?"
"She has a long dress, and over it a mantle which covers her
head and falls to the edge of her dress."
"What is the color of the dress and the mantle?"
"It is white, and the dress has gold lines."
"What is her attitude?"
"Like someone praying. She has her hands joined at the height
of her breast."
"Does she carry anything in her hands?"
"Round the palm and the back of her right hand she carries a
"And what does she wear on her ears?"
"You cannot see her ears, because they are covered by the
"Is the Lady beautiful?"
"Yes, she is."
"More beautiful than that girl over there?"
"But there are ladies who are much more beautiful than that
"She was more beautiful than anyone I have ever seen."
Later on, just before the October
apparition he questioned Francisco a second time.
"How old are you?"
"Nine years old."
"Do you only see our Lady, or do you also hear what she
"I only see her. I can't hear anything she says."
"Has she light round her head?"
"Can you look well at her face?"
"I can look, but only a little because of the light."
"Has her dress some decoration?"
"It has some cords of gold."
"What colour is the crucifix?"
"And the chain of the rosary?"
"Would the people be sad if they knew the secret?"
Examination of Jacinta
After I had finished questioning Francisco, I called Jacinta, who
was playing in the road with some other children, and sitting her on a
little stool at my side, I subjected her to a similar interrogation,
and succeeded in obtaining complete and detailed replies as in the
case of her brother:
"Have you seen
our Lady on the 13th of each month since
"Where does she come from?"
"She comes from the sky from the side of the sun."
"How is she dressed?"
"She has a white dress, decorated with gold, and on her head a
mantle. also white."
"What color is her hair?"
"You cannot see her hair, because it is covered by the
"Does she wear earrings?"
"I don't know, because you cannot see her ears."
"How does she hold her hands?"
"Her hands are joined at the height of her breast, with the
fingers pointing upwards."
"Are the beads in the right or the left hand?"
To this question the child replied at first that they were in the
right hand, but just after, owing to a purposely captious insistence
on my part, she became perplexed and confused and was not able to
indicate with certainty the hand in which the Vision had held the
"What was the chief thing that our Lady told Lucia?"
"She said that we were to say the Rosary every day."
"And do you say it?"
"I say it every day with Francisco and Lucia." '
Second Examination in October.
After hearing Lucia, Dr. Formigao went to Senhor Marto's house, and
in his presence, and before some of his daughters, he questioned
"Did the Lady tell you to say the Rosary?"
"When she appeared the first time."
"Did you hear the secret or was it only Lucia who heard?"
"I heard too."
"At the second apparition on St. Anthony's day."
"Is the secret that you will be rich?"
"That you will be good and happy?"
"Yes, it is for the good of all three of us."
"Is it that you will go to heaven?"
"Can you tell the secret?"
"Because the Lady said we were not to tell it to anyone."
"If the people knew it, would they be sad?"
"How did the Lady have her hands?"
"She had them stretched out."
"Sometimes she turned the palms up to heaven."
"In May did the Lady say she wanted you to go to the Cova da
"She said she wanted us to go there each month until October,
when she would say what she wanted."
"Has she light round her head?"
"Can you look easily at her face?"
"No, because it hurts my eyes."
"Do you always hear well, what the Lady says?"
"Last time I couldn't hear everything, because of the noise
the people were making."
Examination of Lucia
Half an hour after this interrogation Lucia appeared. She came from
a little property belonging to her family where she had been helping
with the vintage.
Taller and better nourished than the other two, with a clearer skin
and a more robust, healthier appearance, she presented herself before
me with an unselfconciousness which contrasted in a marked manner with
the shyness and timidity of Jacinta. Simply dressed, like the latter,
neither her attitude nor her expression denoted a sign of vanity,
still less of confusion.
Seating herself on a chair at my side, in response to my gesture,
she willingly consented to be questioned on the events in which she
was the principal protagonist, in spite of the fact that she was
visibly fatigued and depressed by the incessant visits and the
repeated and lengthy questionings to which she was subjected.
"Is it true that our Lady has appeared in a place called the
Cova da Iria?"
"Yes, it is true."
"How many times has she appeared to you?"
"Five times, once each month."
"On what day of the month?"
"Always on the 13th, except in the month of August, when I was
taken to Ourem by the mayor. In that month I only saw her a few days
afterwards, on the 19th, at Valinhos."
"People say that our Lady also appeared to you last year? Is
there any truth in this?"
"She never appeared to me last year, never before May of this
year; nor did I ever say so to anybody, because it is not true."
"Where does she come from? From the east?"
"I don't know because I don't see her come from anywhere. She
appears over the oak tree and when she goes away she goes into the sky
in the direction where the sun rises."
"How long does she stay? A long or a short time?"
"A short time."
"Enough to be able to recite an Our Father and Hail Mary, or
"A good deal more, but it is not always the same time; perhaps
it would not be long enough to say a Rosary."
"The first time you saw her were you frightened?"
'I was, so much so that I wanted to run away with Jacinta and
Francisco, but she told us not to be afraid because she would not hurt
"How is she dressed?"
"She has a white dress, which reaches to her feet, and her
head was covered with a mantle, the same color and the same
"Has the dress anything on it?"
"You can see, in the front, two gold cords which fall from the
neck and are joined at the waist by a tassel, also gold."
"Is there any belt or ribbon?"
"Her earrings? "
"They are little rings."
"In which hand does she hold the rosary?"
"In the right hand."
"Is it a rosary of five or fifteen decades?"
"I didn't notice."
"Had it a cross?"
"Yes, a white cross and the beads, too, were white; so was the
"Did you ever ask who she was?"
"I did, but she said she would only tell us on the 13th of
"Did you ask her where she came from?"
"I did, and she told me that she came from heaven."
"When did you ask her this?"
"The second time, on the 13th of June."
"Did she smile sometimes, or was she sad?"
"She neither smiled, nor was she sad; she was always
"Did she tell you and your cousins to say certain
"She told us to say the Rosary in honor of Our Lady of the
Rosary, to obtain the peace of the world."
"Did she say that many people were to be present in the Cova
da Iria during the apparitions of the 13th?"
"She said nothing about that."
"Is it true that she told you a secret that you were not to
tell to anybody at all?"
"Does it only concern you or your cousins also?"
"It concerns all three of us."
"Could you not tell it even to your confessor?"
At this question Lucia was silent and appeared confused. I judged
it better not to insist by repeating the question.
"In order to free yourself from the mayor on the day he
imprisoned you, did you tell him something as if it were the secret,
thus deceiving him and boasting of it afterwards?"
"That is not true. Senhor Santos really did want me to reveal
the secret, but I could not, and did not do so, although he tried in
every way to make me do what he wanted. I told the mayor everything
that the Lady had said to me except the secret. Perhaps it was because
of this that he thought I had told him the secret too. I never wanted
to deceive him."
"Did the Lady tell you to learn to read?"
"Yes, the second time she appeared."
"But if she told you that she would take you to heaven in
October next, what would be the good of learning to read?"
"That is not true. The Lady never said that she would take me
to heaven in October, and I never told anyone that she had said such a
"What did the Lady say was to be done with the money which the
people left under the oak tree in the Cova da Iria?"
"She said that we were to make two andores and that I and
Jacinta and two more girls were to carry one, and Francisco with three
more boys the other, to the parish church. Part of this money was to
be for the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary and the rest to help to
build a new chapel."
"Where does the Lady want the chapel built? In the Cova da
"I don't know; she didn't say."
"Are you glad that our Lady appeared to you?"
"On the 13th of October will our Lady come alone?"
"St. Joseph and the Holy Child will come, and a little time
afterwards the world will have peace."
"Did our Lady reveal anything more?"
"She said that on the 13th of October she would perform a
miracle so that the people can believe that she appeared."
"Why do you often lower your eyes, instead of keeping them on
"Because she sometimes blinds me."
"Did she teach you any prayer?"
"Yes, and she wants us to recite it after each mystery of the
"Do you know this prayer by heart?"
"O my Jesus, forgive us and deliver us from the fire of hell.
Take all souls to heaven, especially those who are most in need."
Dr. Formigao returned to his seminary at Santarem, pondering
seriously and prayerfully the strange case of the children of
Aljustrel. For better or worse he believed them. He was convinced they
told the truth, at least as they saw the truth, which did not exclude
a possibility that in all their honesty, they were yet the victims of
In October he returned and
conducted a second examination of Lucia.
"You told me some days ago that our Lady wanted the money
given by the people to be used for the parish church for two andors.
How are these to be obtained, and when are they to be taken to the
"They must be bought with the money which is given on the
Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary."
"Do you know for certain where our Lady wants the chapel in
her honour to be built?"
"I don't know for certain, but I think she wants the chapel in
the Cova da Iria."
"What did she say that she would do in order that people might
"She said that she would perform a miracle."
"When did she say this?"
"She said it several times, but once, during the first
apparition, I asked her." "Are you not afraid of what the
people will do if nothing extraordinary happens on that day?"
"I am not at all afraid." "Do you feel something inside
you, some force which draws you to the Cova da Iria on the 13th of
each month?" "I feel I want to go there, and I should be sad
if I didn't." "Did you ever see the Lady make the sign of
the cross, pray, or tell the beads?" "No." "Did
she tell you to pray?" "She told me to pray several
"Did you see the signs which-other people said they saw, such
as a star, or roses falling from the Lady's dress?"
"I didn't see a star nor any other signs."
"Did you hear any noise or an earthquake?"
"No, I heard nothing."
"Can you read?"
"Are you learning?"
"Then you are not doing what our Lady wants?..." Lucia
did not reply to this. "When you tell the people to kneel and
pray is it the Lady who tells you to?" "No, it is not the
Lady. I tell them to."
"Do you always kneel when she appears?"
"Sometimes I kneel, sometimes I stand."
"When she speaks is her voice sweet and agreeable?"
"How old is the Lady?"
"She looks about fifteen years old."
"What colour is the rosary chain?"
"And the crucifix?"
"Does the veil cover the forehead of the Lady?"
"It does not cover it; you can see her forehead."
"Is the light which surrounds her very beautiful?"
"More beautiful than the most brilliant light of the
"Did the Lady ever greet you with her head or with her
"Did she ever laugh?"
"Does she usually look at the people?"
"I never saw her look at them,"
"Do you hear the voices and the cries of the people while you
are talking to the Lady?"
"Did the Lady ask you in May to come back every month until
October to the Cova-da Iria?"
"She said we were to come back from month to month on the 13th
for six months."
"Do you remember your mother reading a book called Short
Mission, where there is a story of an apparition of our Lady to a
"Did you think much about this story, or speak about it to
"I never thought about this story, and I never talked about it
Examination of Manuel Goncalves, witness
At the time of his second examination
of Lucia, just prior to October 13, Fr. Formigao also examined the
eldest son of the family he was staying with, who was a witness of the
"Have the parents of these children a good name? Are they
respectable, decent living people?"
"The parents of Jacinta and Francisco are very good people,
profoundly religious and well thought of by everybody. Lucia's father
is not a churchgoer, but he is not at all a bad man. On the thirteenth
of June some of his more disreputable friends succeeded in making him
drunk in the hope of getting him to commit some folly or other in the
place of the apparitions, and although he had allowed his daughter to
go to the place as usual, he ordered the other people off, as
proprietor of the ground where the oak tree grows. When the people saw
that he was drunk, they took no notice of his order, but a man pushed
him so that he fell to the ground. The mother is a pious hard-working
"What do the inhabitants of Fátima think of the children's
affirmations? Do they believe them? Do they think they are lying, or
perhaps victims of a hallucination?"
"At first the people did not want to go to the Cova. No one
believed the children. On the 13th of June, the day of the second
apparition, there was a feast in the parish in honor of St. Anthony.
In the Cova there were only about seventy people at the time of the
apparition. The parents of Jacinta and Francisco had gone in the
morning to Porto de Mos for the so-called 'Fair of the thirteenth,'
with the intention of buying oxen and returning at night. In their
absence the house filled up with people who wanted to see the children
and question them. At present a large proportion of the people think
that the children are speaking the truth. For my own part I am
convinced of this."
"On the days of the apparitions are there extraordinary signs?
Many people claim to have seen them."
"The signs are very numerous. In August almost everyone who
was present saw them. A cloud came down on the oak tree. In July the
same thing was seen, and there was no dust. The cloud seemed to sweep
the air clean."
"Were there any other signs?"
"In the sky, near the sun, there were some white clouds which
turned successively bright red (the color of blood), pink and yellow.
The people themselves turned this last color. The light of the sun
sensibly diminished in intensity, and in July and August a noise was
"Is it possible that anyone could have induced the children to
play a hoax?"
"That would be impossible!"
"Have many people come from outside to talk to the
"Innumerable people from all parts."
"Do they accept the money which is offered them?"
They have accepted something from people who insist, but they do
not' accept it willingly."
"Are there people in Fátima who have been close to the
children during the apparitions?"
"In July, Jacinto Lopes da Amoreira and Manual de Oliveira
from this village of Montelo, were near them.'
"What does Lucia do during the apparitions?"
"She says the Rosary. When she speaks to the Lady she speaks
loudly. I myself heard her in June, because I was near her. Some
people say that they heard the sound of the reply."
"Is the place of the apparitions much frequented on the other
"Yes, many people go there, especially on Sundays, and mostly
at night. People come from far and near, even more from outside the
parish. They say the Rosary and sing hymns in honor of our Lady."