The fourth apparition of Our Lady in Fatima (which took place on August, 13th 1917), is less famous than the apparitions of July, 13th or October, 13th. However, it should be as much, because it was really an extraordinary apparition. Not only was it atypical, but also totally unique in the whole story of the celestial apparitions, concerning Our Lord, our Our Lady or the saints.
Indeed, first of all, the number of testimonies makes a difference. On July, 13th, this number had already been exceptional: about 5.000 people. Such an attendance had been rarely registered for an apparition. But on August, 13th, there was between 18 and 20.000 people, a really considerable number, and all that three months only after the first apparition. From then on, this number has been exceeded two times only, at Fatima on September 13th, and on October 13th 1917, with about 30.000 and 70.000 testimonies respectively. What is more, those testimonies sometimes lived several kilometers far from the place of the apparitions, the majority of them could come only on foot. For a comparison, at Lourdes for example, the attendance reached a peak with about 5.000 people on March, 3rd, and about 8.000 people on March, 4th 1858, during the 14th and 15th apparitions.
However, more than the numbers of testimonies, what differentiate the apparition of August, 13th from all the other apparitions validated by the Church, in Fatima or wherever, is that it was an apparition without sighted people, an absolutely unique case in all the stories of the apparitions.
Indeed, on that day, the young sighted children had been brought by the governor to Vila Nova de Ourem, so they could go to the place of the apparitions. However, thousands of people who were there noticed at least four external signs seen during the previous apparitions:
- First, there was a thunderbolt, which forecast the apparition
- In the same time, there was two great thunder claps. Some people thought it was a fomented attack by the anticlerical, and they were panic-stricken.
- Then, a little cloud landed on the holm oak, stayed here a little time, then go back up to the sky
- In the same time, the day light changed, and all the external items became rainbow-colored, to such an extent that the trees seemed like flowers.
Here is an extract from Maria Carreira’s testimony, written in the book of father De Marchi : « After the thunderclap came the flash of lightning, and then we began to see a little cloud, very delicate, very white, which stopped for a few moments over the tree and then rose in the air and disappeared. »
The sighted children were absent on that day, so there wasn’t any psychological stimulant to urge people to see : on the contrary ! However, a lot of people saw, which increased all the more their faith in the apparitions, as the priest of Fatima, at the time Fr. Ferreira, noticed by writing :
Given what thousands of testimonies are saying, the children’s absence didn’t prevented the Queen of the angels to show her power. All these people testify the extraordinary facts and the phenomena which put down deeper roots to their belief.
This apparition, without the sighted children, and in front of 18.000 people, is certainly, after the miracle of the Sun, the fact which authenticates the apparitions of Fatima as no other Marian apparition, including those of Lourdes. In no other place than Fatima, the Blessed Virgin surrounded her coming and testified her presence by so many and so extraordinary signs. And such external signs, seen by thousands of people without the sighted children is, to this day, an absolutely unique fact, which bestows to the apparitions of Fatima a unique place among the celestial apparitions.
In union of prayers by the hearts of Jesus and Mary,
Yves de Lassus
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Some dates in August in the story of Fatima
August, 11th 1917: questioning of the young shepherds by the town police
August, 13th 1917: imprisonment at Vila Nova de Ourem. Our Lady comes to Cova da Iria.
August, 19th 1917: fourth apparition of Our Lady at the Valinhos.
August, 17th 1959: Pope John XXIII is being given a sealed letter, containing the secret of Fatima.
August, 21st 1959: Pope John XXIII opens the envelope and takes note of the secret, then he just declares: “It’s not for my pontificate”.
August, 26th 1923: in Asilo de Vilar (Porto), first apparition of the Blessed Virgin to Lucia since the apparitions of Fatima.
A few days before August, 29th 1931: Our Lady appears at Rianjo (Spain)
August, 31st 1941: the third report containing the first redaction of the secret is completed.
August, 15th: Feast of the Assumption
August, 22nd: Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (in the 1962 rite)