Letter of Monsignor João Quaresma (1932)

In this letter, written in 1932, Monsignor John describes what he saw and heard on September 13th, 1917. At that time he was Vicar General of the Diocese of Leiria, to which Fátima belonged, and would later serve on the canonical commission of inquiry.

Fifteen years have passed since the extraordinary events of Fátima. Heavy clouds hung over Portugal and her people, while sadness and despair reigned in our country. In the midst of this darkness innumerable prayers were offered to God, asking for help and for mercy.

Men hoped for a ray of light in the storm which human passions had provoked. The Lord heard the prayer of His servants, and in the sky of Fátima there appeared, like the rainbow after the flood, a vision of Peace. The vision spoke to three children, and at once the terrible clouds began to disperse and souls breathed again as the burden of sadness was laid aside. Eyes, longing for the light, searched the skies where the morning star shone.

Now, may it not be that these simple children were mistaken? May they not have been victims of an illusion? Yet it is always possible that our Lady may come to earth to bring us a message. Could there be some truth in what the children said? How explain these ever-growing multitudes that filled the Cova every thirteenth day of the month declaring that they witnessed extraordinary phenomena?

So on a beautiful September morning we left Leiria in a rickety carriage drawn by an old horse, for the spot where the much-discussed apparitions were said to take place. Father Gois found the dominating point of the vast amphitheatre from which we could observe events, without approaching too nearly the place where the children were awaiting the apparition.

At midday there was complete silence. One only heard the murmur of prayers. Suddenly there were sounds of jubilation and voices praising the Blessed Virgin. Arms were raised pointing to something in the sky. "Look, don't you see?"

"Yes, yes, I do... !" Much satisfaction on the part of those who do. There had not been a cloud in the deep blue of the sky and I, too, raised my eyes and scrutinised it in case I should be able to distinguish what the others, more fortunate than I, had already claimed to have seen.

With great astonishment I saw, clearly and distinctly, a luminous globe, which moved from the east to the west, gliding slowly and majestically through space. My friend also looked, and had the good fortune to enjoy the same unexpected and delightful vision. Suddenly the globe, with its extraordinary light, disappeared.

Near us was a little girl dressed like Lucia, and more or less the same age. She continued to cry out happily: "I still see it! I still see it! Now it's coming down... !"

After a few minutes, about the duration of the apparitions, the child began to exclaim again, pointing to the sky: "Now it's going up again!"---and she followed the globe with her eyes until it disappeared in the direction of the sun. "What do you think of that globe?" I asked my companion, who seemed enthusiastic at what he had seen. "That it was our Lady," he replied without hesitation.

It was my undoubted conviction also. The children had contemplated the very Mother of God, while to us it had been given to see the means of transport---if one may so express it---which brought her from heaven to the inhospitable waste of the Serra da Aire. I must emphasize that all those around us appeared to have seen the same thing, for one heard manifestations of joy and praises of our Lady. But some saw nothing. Near us was a simple devout creature, crying bitterly because she had seen nothing.

We felt remarkably happy. My companion went from group to group in the Cova and afterwards on the road, gathering information. Those he questioned -were of all sorts and kinds, and of different social standing, but one and all affirmed the reality of the phenomena which we ourselves had witnessed.

With immense satisfaction we set off for home after this pilgrimage to Fátima, firmly resolved to return on the 13th of October for further confirmation of these facts.

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