Where do you come from?

by Catherine Moran –

Just when you think you have read everything about the apparitions of Our Lady at Fatima, there is something new to learn. I have always wondered why when the children first saw Our Lady on May 13, 1917, Lucia’s first question was, “Where do you come from?” and second, “What do you want of me?” 

Why wasn’t Lucia’s first question, “Who are you?”

In researching this, I found my answer in the customs of the remote villages in Portugal. Sister Lucia briefly commented on this in one of her many writings. It is the custom when an unfamiliar person is seen for the first time to politely ask, “Where do you come from?” This means, “What can I do for you to help you along your way?”  To ask initially, “Who are you?” is not courteous or polite manners to the Portuguese people.

Lucia’s first question to Our Lady, therefore, illustrates her upbringing and respect for her elders. Being young and innocent children, they knew only the customs of their little village. By the second apparition in June, Lucia doesn’t ask this question, because she knows the lady “is from heaven.” It is not until the July apparition that Lucia asks the beautiful lady to tell them who she is. By then, everyone in the village and surrounding areas were asking who was the beautiful lady.

What do you want of me?

The second question Lucia asks – “What do you want of me?” – shows hospitality and the Christian charity of generosity. It is the custom in Portugal to share what you have and to help fulfill the needs of the visitor. Having no idea who the visitor is made no difference. In their poverty, the villagers gave generously from their own wants and needs. They had such faith that if they gave what they had, Our Lord would replace it tenfold either spiritually or temporally. Since sharing is part of the Portuguese culture the people believed that what they gave was meant to be given. Lucia’s mother would always say, “Whatever we gave to the poor people was never needed.” (A Pathway Under the Gaze of Mary, p 25)

Lucia asks, “What do you want of me?” at all six of the apparitions. The key to this question is Our Lady’s response – to pray the Rosary every day. At the time, Lucia could not read or write, but she could pray. She was taught the Rosary at a very young age and this was something she could give to Our Lady.

To pray it every day was something new, however. Until the apparitions, the children’s families only prayed the Rosary every day during the months of May and October. And the three children often prayed a shortened version so they could get to playing. Now they complied with Mary’s requests willingly – as was the Portuguese way. And Francisco would say “many rosaries” so he would gain the promise of heaven.    

Our Lady’s choice to appear in this remote village of Fatima to bring her message of peace was not a coincidence. She knew the correct questions would be asked and fulfilled by the three children and the villagers. This was because the Portuguese custom to fulfill the needs of their guest was of primary importance. Lucia asked the right questions and fulfilled Our Lady’s request to pray the Rosary every day for peace. 

What did Our Lady look like?

Lucia was cross-examined on several occasions by Canon Manuel Nunes Formigao D.D., a graduate of Theology and Canon Law from Gregorian University, who went to Fatima to gather information about the apparitions. He often asked her how Our Lady looked and acted:

Father: “How is she dressed?”
Lucia: “She wears a white dress that comes down almost to her feet and her head is covered by a mantle of the same color and the same length as the dress.”

Father: “Hasn’t the dress got embroidery on it?”
Lucia: “You can see, on the front, two gold straps that come down from the neck and are joined in a tassel, also gold colored, about waist high.”

Father: “What color is the chain on her rosary?”
Lucia: “It is white.”

Father: “And how about the crucifix?”
Lucia: “The crucifix is white, too.”

Father: “How old does the Lady look?”
Lucia: “She looks about fifteen.”

Father: “Has she ever laughed or shown herself unhappy?”
Lucia: “She has never laughed, nor shown unhappiness, but is always serious.”

Father: “Why is it you frequently lower your eyes and stop looking at the Lady?”
Lucia: “Because she is often dazzling.”

(This article appeared in the Spring 2019 issue of Soul magazine. Information about the Portuguese customs was provided by Alice Reis Israel, the daughter of one of the witnesses of the miracle of the sun).

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  1. Thank you Blessed Mother for helping us to grow in faith.. Thank you for teaching us to pray in a better way. Please help my son William to grow closer to you, my son Nicholas to convert to grow closer to Jesus as a teacher and my daughter to pray to you.

  2. I love you Blessed Mother.

  3. It is amazing to hear the children accounts of our blessed mother. she looked beautiful
    and was thought to be 15 years old. our lady must have and has a great love for us to appear
    as she did. thank you our lady for saying we should pray the rosary daily. it is important
    that we do so. thank you our lady for appearing in portugal to the children .

  4. I love You Our Lady of Fatima,

    Thanks for all the blessings I’ve received since I joined Blue Army. And please pray for all my usual intentions. God Bless You and Your Son.

    Love Always, Peggy Marie McCoy

  5. Dear Blessed Mother,

    Thank You for all the blessings You’ve given me since l joined Blue Army and please pray for all my usual intentions.

    God Bless You and Your Son

  6. I Love You Blessed Mother. Please Pray for my Wife Ilene, and our children Devin, Michael, Breonna and Melissa and their families to know God and You and to convert to our Faith. And for our Friends Nathalee, Gary, Doug, Paul and Tom and their families as well as All the Poor, Homeless and imprisoned Children of the World. Bless them and Help them. Thank you in advance for Favors Granted.

    I Love You. AMEN.

  7. I just shared this article on my facebook page! I hope it brings joy to them as it did for me!

  8. Thank Mama for keeping me safe and near your Son during this very difficult time. Please pray that I can find a home quickly and that I may be able to keep my dog. Also pray for my husband to have a conversion and our marriage and his two girls and whole family to grow closer to you.

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