One day, after the three children had eaten lunch and quickly prayed their rosary—for they were eager to get started on their games—a strong gust of wind instantly grabbed their attention. The nearby treetops began to shake with great force, and suddenly a radiant white angel appeared. He looked to be a young man.
The cousins could not believe their eyes. Lucia described her observation of the encounter at Fatima with the celestial being as “[a] young man, about fourteen or fifteen years old, whiter than snow, transparent as crystal when the sun shines through it and of great beauty.”
The angel had come to the children bearing a strong reassurance, as well as an awe-inspiring invitation to prayer.
“Do not be afraid. I am the Angel of Peace. Pray with me.”
Angels are found in both the Old and New Testaments. Their very existence invites us to pray with them, to praise and glorify God. Hebrews 1:14 says, “Are not all the spirits in the divine service, sent to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?”
Angels behold the face of God and at the same time help us. They work continuously on our behalf transporting our prayers to God and always guiding us to be good and pleasing to God. We need to make a point to be attentive to the inspiration of our guardian angels.
Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta could never have imagined a visit from heaven! It was the farthest thing from their minds as they were grazing their sheep in the Cabeco that spring day.
But immediately after seeing the startling appearance of brilliant white radiance from their visitor, the subsequent words and gestures from the Angel of Peace put the children at ease.
Still, they didn’t react in any way other than to follow the angel’s instructions. They did not consult with one another. They were so deeply touched by the heavenly visitor.
The angel’s posture expressed a deep reverence. He knelt and bowed, touching his forehead to the ground. When he remained in that position, the children felt called to imitate the holy messenger.
Unlike Lucia and Jacinta, Francisco could not hear the angel speak. But he could certainly see him and followed the gestures precisely and also his sister’s and cousin’s words and actions.
Lucia recalled, “Led by a supernatural impulse, we did the same, and repeated the words which we heard him say.”
The angel then proceeded to teach the children a special prayer that they had never heard before. This prayer is now referred to as the Pardon Prayer. My God, I believe, I adore, I hope, and I love You! I beg pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope, and do not love You.
The Angel of Peace repeated this prayer three times. then he rose and, looking at the children, said, “Pray thus. The hearts of Jesus and Mary are attentive to the voice of your supplications.” Then as suddenly as he had appeared, the angel vanished. What were the young visionaries to think of this? Well, truth be told, they did not think of anything but to remain kneeling in prayer for quite some time.
The apparition had certainly made an extraordinary impact on their hearts and souls. God’s love permeated their beings, and they were being transformed. Lucia later recalled the intense supernatural atmosphere that influenced them. They felt the presence of God carry over with them into the following day, during which time they remained speechless.
They understood that something miraculous had happened, but they could not imagine that the Most High God was predisposing them to later receive his plan of mercy. Unbeknownst to them they were being prepared for something even more astonishing than what they had just experienced.
The words of the prayer given to the young visionaries may seem simple. But the words outline our responsibilities as Christians—to believe, to adore, to hope, and to love God. As well, to ask pardon for those who do not act in this way.
And further, to beg pardon for them. We should make reparation for their sins too.
In teaching this prayer, the angel introduced the children to intercessory prayer for sinners. We too can pray this prayer sincerely, and we can endeavor to make reparation for sinners. We, like the children, can learn from the Angel of Peace and strive to be more reverent in saying our prayers.
The occurrence of the visit from the Angel of Peace was at a time when many people were losing their faith and World War I was causing much sorrow and suffering.
Just as it was important to pray and ask pardon for sinners in Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta’s time, it is important in our modern time as well. I might go so far as to say that the prayer very well may be even more important now.
Fr. Andrew Apostoli, CFR, author of Fátima for Today said, “When we pray the Pardon Prayer we are praying for faith, hope and charity to be renewed in the world…. By praying for those who are not praying for themselves, we can hope that God will grant to those souls the graces to begin praying on their own. We can trust Jesus and Mary will always be attentive to this prayer!”