On May 13, 1917, the three children took their flocks out to pasture in the small area known as the Cova da Iria (Cove of Peace). After lunch and the Rosary they suddenly saw a bright flash of something like lightning, followed quickly by another flash in the clear blue sky.
They looked up to see, in Lucia’s words, “A lady, clothed in white, brighter than the sun, radiating a light more clear and intense than a crystal cup filled with sparkling water lit by burning sunlight.” The children stood there amazed, bathed in the light that surrounded the apparition as the Lady smiled and said: “Do not be afraid, I will not harm you.” Lucia, as the oldest, asked her where she came from.
The Lady pointed to the sky and said: “I come from heaven.” Lucia then asked her what she wanted. “I have come to ask you to come here for six months on the 13th day of the month at this same hour. Later, I shall say who I am and what I desire. And I shall return here yet a seventh time.”
Lucia then asked if they would go to heaven and was told “yes,” she and Jacinta would go to heaven, but Francisco would need to say many rosaries first. The Lady then said: “Are you willing to offer yourselves to God and bear all the sufferings He wills to send you as an act of reparation for the conversion of sinners?” Lucia, speaking for all three, readily agreed. “Then you are going to have much to suffer, but the grace of God will be your comfort.”
Lucia recounted that at the same moment she said these words the Lady opened her hands and streamed a “light” on the children that allowed them to see themselves in God. The Lady finished with a request: “Say the Rosary every day to bring peace to the world and the end of the war.” With that she began to rise into the air, moving towards the east until she disappeared.
The children got together and tried to think of ways they could make sacrifices as the Lady had asked, resolving to go without lunch and to pray the full Rosary. Francisco and Jacinta received more support from their parents than Lucia, but the attitudes of the local inhabitants ranged from skepticism to utter contempt, and the children thereby suffered many insults. They would have much to suffer, just as the Lady had told them.