On August 13, 1917, the Freemasons of Portugal gave the Apparitions of Fatima a huge boost.
The six apparitions of Our Lady of the Rosary at Fatima all occurred on the 13th of each month, except for the one in August. This was because the Administrator of the district of Ourem was a Mason. Not just any Mason, the crude and brutal Arturo Oliveira Santos was the founder-president of the Masonic Lodge of Vila Nova de Ourem and the publisher of the local newspaper. As such, he wielded a tyrannical power in his district and, concerned about the rising fervor of the area’s Catholics in response to the apparitions, he determined to nip the phenomena in the bud.
First, the Administrator, Arturo Oliveira Santos, summoned the children and their fathers to an interrogation at the Town Hall of Vila Nova de Ourem on August 10. Ti Marto refused to allow Francisco and Jacinta to be interrogated, and decided to answer for them, stating that, if necessary, he would be imprisoned for them. But Lúcias father, Antonio dos Santos, complied and brought her to be questioned. He stated, “If she’s lying, it’s a good thing that she should be punished for it.”
Once before the authorities, Lúcia was brutally bullied and threatened, while her father did nothing to intervene. This lack of support caused Lúcia much suffering. Her words in this regard speak volumes for her sanctity:
“I have the happiness of suffering more! What made me suffer most, was the indifference shown me by my parents. This was all the more obvious, since I could see how affectionately my aunt and uncle treated their children. I remember thinking to myself as we went along: ‘How different my parents are from my uncle and aunt. They risk themselves to defend their children, while my parents hand me over with the greatest indifference, and let them do what they like with me! But I must be patient’, I reminded myself in my inmost heart, ‘since this means I have the happiness of suffering more for the love of You, O my God, and for the conversion of sinners.’ This reflection never failed to bring me consolation.”
When Lúcia returned home after the grueling ordeal, she raced to the old well to see Francisco and Jacinta, who had agreed to pray for her. She found them crying bitterly, and they explained to her that Lucia’s sister had come by earlier to tell them that she had heard that Lúcia had been killed by the authorities.
Although he had so far been unable to succeed in suppressing the little shepherds, the Administrator determined to kidnap them rather than allow another “hoax” appearance. And so, on the 13th, the Administrator tricked the children and brought them to Ourem.
The details of the kidnapping and Oliveira Santos’ actions make a laughable melodrama now, but at the time, they were terrifying to the children. More details can be found at Fatima.org, but for here we simply state that the children, although frightened by finding themselves locked in jail with rough prisoners and threatened with death by being boiled in oil, seized the opportunity to obey the Angel’s request and make reparation. When Jacinta began to cry, Francisco encouraged her, “Don’t cry, we can offer this to Jesus for sinners”, Then he prayed out loud, “O my Jesus, this is for love of You, and for the conversion of sinners.” Jacinta then added: “And also for the Holy Father, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”
“Never! I’d rather die!”
The prisoners who were in the cell with them tried to comfort them, “But all you have to do, they said, is tell the Administrator the secret! What does it matter whether the Lady wants you to or not!”
Jacinta’s reply is an inspiration for us, “Never! I’d rather die!” she stated firmly. The children then knelt and prayed the Rosary. Lúcia tells us in her Memoir that the prisoners all knelt and prayed with them and even those who did not know how at least knelt down reverently. Ah, but that was long ago, wasn’t it? And now even the humble Bishop of Rome will not kneel for Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
After their Rosary, one of the prisoners took out his concertina and began to play a lively tune. before long they were all dancing, as Lúcia tells us. “Jacinta’s partner was a poor thief who, finding her so tiny, picked her up and went on dancing with her in his arms!”
In the midst of this happy interlude, a guard appeared, who in a fearsome voice called out to Jacinta: “The oil is boiling now: tell the secret, if you don’t want to be burned!” In a small voice, Jacinta replied, “I can’t.” “So you can’t, eh? Then I’ll make you able to! Come!”
During Jacinta’s interrogation, Francisco confided to Lúcia with boundless joy and peace: “If they kill us as they say, we’ll soon be in Heaven! How wonderful! Nothing else matters!” After a thoughtful pause, Francisco continued, “May God grant that Jacinta not be afraid. I will say an Ave Maria for her!” Then he took off his cap and prayed. The guard, seeing him in this attitude of prayer, asked him: “What are you saying?” “I’m reciting an Ave Maria so Jacinta won’t be afraid.” The guard made a disdainful gesture and let him go on.