It was the summer I was 14, in 1972. I had just outgrown Nance Drew, so for our summer vacation, which went by car and caravan all the way from Trondheim to Venice, mum, dad, me and my three little brothers, I packed with me two books from my father´s bookshelves; The Song of Bernadette (in teo volumes). I read of Bernadette, who saw "the lady" on several occations in Lourdes in the summer of 1858, several times on that vacation, and even more times later. Raised as a Lutheran, where Mary is "just the mother of Jesus", a completely new world opened to me and I was mesmerized.
Now I know that there are many tales around the world where St.Mary materializes, especially for poor children. I have been to such a place myself, in Southern Italy, and writes about it in my book about Lent.
Today we have visited another such place. In Fatima in Portugal, on 13th May 1917, three children were out looking after the animals. Just after midday, after praying their Rosary, they were playing with stones, building a small house, when a brilliant light appeared. The three children thought it was lightning and decided to go home, when a "woman more brilliant than the sun" appeared.
Today Fatima is the main pilgrimage goal in Portugal, with hundreds of thousands pilgrims visiting every year. Especially on May 13, the day the children first saw the lady, and also on October 13th, six months later, when she appeared again, as promised.
The place today is huge, is immense. With several churches and so many chapels, big and small, we were unable to count them. I must confess I had a hard time finding God there, though I am sure he is, of course He Is.
You can read more about Our Lady of Fatima here,
and then you will also find the stories of the three children.