In 1916, a year before the Blessed Mother appeared at Fatima to Lucia dos Santos and her cousins Francisco and Jacinta Marto, an angel (who called himself the Angel of Portugal and the Angel of Peace) appeared to the children in a series of three visitations. During these visits the angel instructed the children in prayer, the reparative power of suffering, and the doctrine of the Holy Eucharist. By way of these grace-filled lessons, and strengthened by Holy Communion given them by the angel, the children were prepared for their roles in what is arguably the most spectacular Marian apparition of the 20th century.
In her memoirs, Lucia described the angel as having "the appearance of a young man of fourteen or fifteen, whiter than snow, which the sun rendered transparent as if it were of crystal, and of great beauty."
She goes on with the account of that first appearance, which took place in the spring of 1916:
We were astonished and absorbed and we said nothing to one another. And then he said:
"Do not be afraid. I am the Angel of Peace. Pray with me."
He knelt, bending his forehead to the ground. With a supernatural impulse we did the same, repeating the words we heard him say:
"My God, I believe, I adore, I hope, and I love You. I ask pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope, and do not love You."
After repeating this prayer three times the angel rose and said to us:
"Pray in this way. The hearts of Jesus and Mary are ready to listen to you."
After he left, the children were filled with such an overpowering sense of the supernatural that they could not speak about their experience, either right afterwards or in the days that followed. As Lucia explains: "We were locked in silence without having willed it."
Tomorrow: The Second Angel Apparition