The Three Secrets of Fatima Revealed

The Lady promised to come back on July 13, 1917. Word was getting around Fatima that the mysterious holy Lady was appearing to the shepherd children. Many faithful Catholics were hoping that it was the Blessed Mother who was coming to their village. Some just didn’t know what to think. A good number of others still mocked the whole idea. So it was that a mishmash of people flocked to the Cova on that warm July day, wanting to see for themselves. About four thousand people showed up! This was abundantly more than were ever there in that once quiet field. The interest in the supernatural happenings was spreading like wildfire.

Every time the holy Lady came was important and exciting, but on this visit, she would give the young visionaries vital instructions about offering reparation to Jesus for offenses made against the Immaculate Heart of Mary. She would also reveal three momentous and amazing secrets. One of them was very scary.

The familiar flashes of light appeared, and suddenly the heavenly Lady was there, right over the holm oak tree, as usual. Lucia quickly spoke up to ask again what the Lady wanted of her.

“I want you to come here on the thirteenth of next month, to continue to pray the Rosary every day in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary, in order to obtain peace for the world and the end to the war, because only she can help you.”

Lucia asked the Lady to tell them who she was and asked her to work a miracle so that everyone would believe.

The Lady replied, “Continue to come here every month. In October, I will tell you who I am and what I want, and I will perform a miracle for all to see and believe.” She then added, “Sacrifice yourselves for sinners, and say many times, especially whenever you make some sacrifice: O Jesus, it is for love of You, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”

The Lady had told them so much in this visit. She would reveal to them who she was in four months and would also work a miracle “for all to see and believe”! It was very exciting, but four months seemed such a long way away to the young visionaries. Waiting would be hard.

This article is from “Our Lady’s Message to Three Shepherd Children and the World.” Click image to preview other chapters.

They now knew another important prayer, though. They would begin to pray it when they made sacrifices. We can pray that prayer too. We can commit it to memory and pray it as often as we can. “O Jesus, it is for love of You, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”

But now something perhaps even more incredible was about to happen.

The First Secret: the Vision of Hell

As the Lady was finishing the prayer, she opened her hands again, and mysterious holy light radiated out. The light was not as it had been in the past. It seemed to open the earth! It revealed a very terrifying scene as the children were shown a vision of hell! It was only for a brief moment that they saw the fires of hell, the ugliest demons, and the poor charred and transparent burning souls of people suffering tremendously.

Lucia would later explain that she and her cousins were extremely thankful that the Lady had already promised that they would be going to heaven. Lucia said, “This vision lasted but an instant. How could we ever be grateful enough to our kind heavenly Mother, who had already prepared us by promising, in the first Apparition, to take us to heaven? Otherwise, I think we would have died of fear and terror.”

As devastating as it was for them to see this vision, the children now had absolutely no doubt about the reality of hell. This certainty and every horrifying detail they witnessed would help them greatly when they prayed for sinners. After seeing the vision, the little shepherds did not want anyone to have to go to hell! In fact, little Jacinta would often cry out, “Oh, hell! Hell! How sorry I am for the souls who go to hell! And the people down there, burning alive, like wood in the fire!” Needless to say, Jacinta began to offer more sacrifices for sinners. She was a powerful little prayer warrior.

The Second Secret: Devotion to Mary’s Immaculate Heart

The children remained kneeling and looked up to the Lady in their sadness over having seen the vision of hell. The Lady said to them:

You have seen hell where souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace.

The war is going to end; but if people do not cease in offending God, a worse one will break out during the pontificate of Pius XI. When you see a night illuminated by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that he is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father.

The young cousins took it all in. The heavenly Lady continued to tell them about many things, including an­other war that might start, terrible sufferings, and more. She said to prevent it:

I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays. If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated.

The holy Lady told the children about scary things, but it was important for them to know and to learn how the bad things could be prevented — even the war could be prevented! Plus, their prayers and sacrifices could prevent people from going to hell. The Lady added a most hopeful message. She said, “In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.”

The Lady taught the young visionaries a new prayer to pray at the end of each decade of the Rosary. It is known as the Fatima Decade Prayer. She said, “When you pray the Rosary, say after each mystery: O my Jesus, forgive us; save us from the fire of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need.” You might have heard this prayer, or you might already pray it yourself when you pray the Rosary.

The modern-day version is slightly different but holds the same meaning. It is: “O my Jesus, forgive us our sins; save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to heaven especially those in most need of Thy mercy.” When we pray this prayer, we are asking Jesus to help everyone get to heaven, especially those most in need. This simple prayer underscores our duties to care for others and to pray for others. It is so important for us to understand the need to help others because our culture tells us to care only about ourselves and to do only what feels good to us. This mentality is contrary to God’s way. We can pray that God will grant us the graces we need to be more loving to others.

The Third Secret is Revealed but Kept Secret

While the children were with the holy Lady, she revealed to them what is known as the Third Secret of Fatima. The young shepherds were instructed to keep this vision a secret. When Lucia grew up and was a nun, she wrote down the secret when the bishop of Leiria asked her to do so. The heavenly Lady had told her to do so as well. This is what Lucia wrote:

At the left of Our Lady and a little above, we saw an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but they died out in contact with the splendor that Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand: pointing to the earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice: “Penance, Penance, Penance!” And we saw in an immense light that is God: “something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it” a Bishop dressed in White “we had the impression that it was the Holy Father”. Other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious going up a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big Cross of rough­hewn trunks as of a cork-tree with the bark; before reaching there the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way; having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of the big Cross he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him, and in the same way there died one after another the other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious, and various lay people of different ranks and positions. Beneath the two arms of the Cross there were two Angels each with a crystal aspersorium in his hand, in which they gathered up the blood of the Martyrs and with it sprinkled the souls that were making their way to God.

It was quite a vivid vision, rich with meaning and symbolism. The young visionaries couldn’t possibly understand its full meaning at that moment. However, the children realized and accepted that they must heed the message of “Penance, Penance, Penance,” which the angel stated was essential.

The children learned a lot from the Holy Lady in this visit. They committed their lives to taking on penances and making sacrifices to help save souls. They also offered prayers for the Holy Father. We, too, can pray to be more generous with our time and our prayers for others and for the Holy Father, our pope.

Editor’s note: This article is from a chapter in Our Lady’s Message to Three Shepherd Children and the Worldwhich is available from Sophia Institute Press

Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle


Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle is a Catholic wife, mother of five, grandmother, speaker, catechist, and EWTN TV host of “Everyday Blessings for Catholic Moms,” “Catholic Mom’s Café,” and "Feeding Your Family's Soul." She is an award winning and best selling author of numerous Catholic books and was blessed with a ten-year friendship with St.Teresa of Calcutta.

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  • robert

    I thought that Mary said to keep it a secret? Yet, here we are reading it?

  • Svelte

    The magisterium of the Church, on the 3rd secret: “The vision of Fatima concerns above all the war waged by atheistic systems against the Church and Christians.”

    It was Sister Lucia’s intuition to keep the 3rd vision secret, which makes sense given its inflammatory content could have inspired attacks on the Holy Father. She wrote on its sealed envelope that it could be opened only after 1960.

    The third secret was finally revealed by Pope John Paul II after the events in it had already occurred: millions of martyrs at the hands of communists and fascists in the 20th century, plus the assassination attempt on his life in 1981. Sister Lucia agreed with the Pope’s claim that “it was a mother’s hand that guided the bullet’s path and in his throes the Pope halted at the threshold of death.” At his instruction, one of the bullets was subsequently welded into the crown of the Fatima statue. More info may be found at

  • robert

    There seems to be much contradiction.
    1. Lucy’s intuition to keep the third vision a secret?
    Lucy is to have said to her Bishop “…but in no event later than 1960, “because the blessed Virgin wishes it so.”
    2. “The vision of Fatima concerns above all the war waged by atheistic systems against the Church and Christians.”

    …and yet, another contradiction… in the Third Secret “the Blessed Virgin was alerting us to the apostasy in the Church”, March 1990, Cardinal Oddi

    1960 comes and goes without the Third Secret being released – In 1946, Sister Lucy was asked when the Third Secret would be revealed to the world, and without hesitation she said, “In 1960.” In 1955 Cardinal Ottaviani asked her why it was not to be opened before 1960. She told him, “because then it will seem clearer (mais claro).” Sister Lucy had made the Bishop of Fatima-Leiria promise that the Secret would be read to the world at her death, but in no event later than 1960, “because the blessed Virgin wishes it so.” And from Canon Barthas: “Moreover, it [the Third Secret] will soon be known, since Sister Lucy affirms that Our Lady wills that it can be published beginning in 1960.” yes” Nevertheless, in 1960 the Vatican said that the Third Secret would not be released.

    If all the third secret said was that “The vision of Fatima concerns above all the war waged by atheistic systems against the Church and Christians”, then why did, in 1960, did the Vatican say the secret would NOT be released? Why would they not obey the request from Heaven’s Gate?

    In March 1990, Cardinal Oddi confirmed the belief of many that in the Third Secret “the Blessed Virgin was alerting us to the apostasy in the Church”, and that the date for its revelation, 1960, indicates that “the Secret had something to do with the convocation of Vatican II.”

    To an objective viewer, there is stragely something amiss.

  • jdumon

    Cardinal Ciappi who had read the Secret said; “In the 3rd Secret, it is foretold, among other things, that the Great Apostasy (in the Church) will begin AT THE TOP”.

  • robert

    Thank you. So, if the apostasy is to begin at the top, what time period will this apostasy begin? And another question…how far up at the top will it begin?

  • jehanne

    This in no way shakes my total belief in the Virgin Mary appearing at Fatima and all of the great wonders and words that have come forth. But one thing I was curious about was that many sources quote Lucia relating Mary’s message by saying –> “…a worse one will break out during the pontificate of Pius XI.” Pius XI was not pope yet, Benedict XV was?

  • texas conservative

    The worse one was WWII. Pius XI ws pope 1922-1939, which was the beginning of that war.

  • jehanne

    Yes, I realize that. But did Mary use the name “Pius XI” when talking to Lucia? I rather doubt it because Benedict was still pope and no one knew who the next pope would be.
    Every source I read says Mary said during the reign of Pius XI, but she must have only said “during the reign of the next pope?”

  • texas conservative

    If it is prophesy, why would Mary not know the name of a future pope? That is the difference between prophesy and prediction. Prophesy is from God, telling us what we could not know on our own and always correct in every point. Telling us what we already know or including any error proves that it is not from God, only man’s prediction.

  • jehanne

    Yes, perhaps so. FYI, I am as big of a supporter of Fatima as any person you will ever find. Nor do I doubt Mary could tell the children of the next pope as she predicted the great miracle to the exact day 90 days in advance. But it seems they never refer to her mentioning “the reign of Pius XI” as some prophecy including who the next pope might be.
    Trust me, it will not trouble me in the least, I was merely curious.

    Also: For those non-Catholics who find the Fatima miracle to be spellbinding they need to dig further and see what else she revealed to the children. A recent aunt of one of the children (lucia) who had died, they asked about her and Mary said she would be in purgatory for a very long time. Purgatory! Think on that! How could the children make up such a lie? How could everything Mary told them to be true except the reality of purgatory? She could not and would not.