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
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
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.