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Chapter 4

The Third Secret


       Precisely as predicted by the Virgin in 1917, World War II had erupted during the reign of Pius XI. By 1943 Josef Stalin was well-practiced in liquidating Catholics and exporting world communism from Soviet Russia. In June of that same year, Sister Lucy, now age 36, had come down with pleurisy. This development greatly alarmed Bishop da Silva of Leiria-Fatima and Canon Galamba, his close friend and advisor. They both feared that Sister Lucy would die without writing down the Third Secret.

So Terrible She Could Not Write It Down

       In September 1943 Bishop da Silva suggested to her that she write it down, but she declined to comply with a mere suggestion because she did not wish to take responsibility for such an initiative on her own. Sister Lucy was gravely concerned that, without a formal command from her bishop, she did not yet have Our Lord's permission to reveal the Third Secret. She stated that she would, however, obey an express command from Bishop da Silva.

       In mid-October 1943, during a visit to Sister Lucy at the convent in Tuy, Spain (about 250 miles from Fatima and near the Portuguese border), Bishop da Silva gave Sister Lucy a formal order to write down the Secret. Sister Lucy then attempted to obey the bishop's command, but was unable to do so for the next two and a half months.

The Virgin Herself Instructs
Sister Lucy to Reveal the Secret

       Finally, on January 2, 1944 the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Lucy again, to strengthen her and confirm that it is indeed God's will that she reveal the final part of the Secret. Only then was Sister Lucy able to overcome her trepidation and write down the Third Secret of Fatima.1 But even so, it was not until January 9, 1944 that Sister Lucy wrote the following note to Bishop da Silva, informing him that the Secret had finally been committed to paper:

       I have written what you asked me; God willed to try me a little, but finally this was indeed His will: (the text) is sealed in an envelope and it [the sealed envelope] is in the notebooks ...2

A Single Sheet of Paper

       It was thus immediately apparent that the Secret involved two documents: one sealed in the envelope, and the other contained in Sister Lucy's notebook. (Why else would she have turned over the notebook as well as the sealed envelope?) We shall focus for the time being on what was sealed in the envelope.

       Lucy was still so filled with trepidation over the contents of the Secret that she would entrust the Secret in the sealed envelope (along with the notebook) to no one but a bishop for carrying to Bishop da Silva. On June 17, 1944, Sister Lucy left Tuy, crossed the River Minho, and arrived at Asilo Fonseca where she handed to Archbishop Manuel Maria Ferreira da Silva (the Archbishop of Gurza) the notebook in which she had inserted the envelope containing the Secret. That same day, Archbishop da Silva delivered the Secret to Bishop José Alves Correia da Silva (the Bishop of Leiria) at his country home not far from Braga. Then, the Bishop of Leiria took the Secret to the Episcopal Palace in Leiria. These details will be very important in view of what is set forth in the Vatican commentary on the Third Secret ultimately published on June 26, 2000.

       From the first, the unanimous testimony was that the Third Secret is written in the form of a letter on a single sheet of paper. Father Joaquin Alonso (the official archivist of the papers on the Fatima apparitions) reports that both Sister Lucy and Cardinal Ottaviani stated that the Secret was written on a single sheet of paper:

       Lucy tells us that she wrote it on a sheet of paper. Cardinal Ottaviani, who has read it, tells us the same thing: ‘She wrote it on a sheet of paper ... ’.3

       Cardinal Ottaviani, as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1967, stated that he had read the Third Secret and that it was written on a single sheet of paper. He testified to this fact on February 11, 1967, during a press conference at the time of a meeting of the Pontifical Marian Academy in Rome. Cardinal Ottaviani stated:

       And then, what did she [Lucy] do to obey the Most Holy Virgin? She wrote on a sheet of paper, in Portuguese, what the Holy Virgin had asked her to tell ...4

       Cardinal Ottaviani is a witness to this fact. In the same press conference, he states:

       I, who have had the grace and the gift to read the text of the Secret—although I too am held to secrecy because I am bound by the Secret ...5

       We also have the testimony of Bishop Venancio, who was then the Auxiliary Bishop of Leiria-Fatima, that he was ordered by Bishop da Silva in mid-March 1957 to bring copies of all Sister Lucy's writings—including the original of the Third Secret—to the Apostolic Nuncio at Lisbon for transferral to Rome. Before bringing Lucy's writings to the Nuncio, Bishop Venancio looked at the envelope containing the Third Secret while holding it up to the light and saw that the Secret was “written on a small sheet of paper”.6 Frère Michel first identifies the nature of this testimony:

       However, thanks to the disclosures of Bishop Venancio, at the time Auxiliary Bishop of Leiria and intimately involved with these events, we now have many reliable facts which we will take care not to neglect. I myself received them from the mouth of Bishop Venancio on February 13, 1984, at Fatima. The former Bishop of Fatima repeated to me on this subject, almost word for word, what he had already said previously to Father Caillon, who gave a very detailed account of it in his conferences.7

       Here now is Bishop Venancio's testimony, according to Frère Michel:

       Bishop Venancio related that once he was by himself, he took the great envelope of the Secret and tried to look through it and see the contents. In the bishop's large envelope he discerned a smaller envelope, that of Lucy, and inside this envelope an ordinary sheet of paper with margins on each side of three quarters of a centimeter. He took the trouble to note the size of everything. Thus the final Secret of Fatima was written on a small sheet of paper.8 [emphasis added]

       The evidence further shows that this single sheet of paper contained some 20-25 lines of text. On this point the testimonies of Sister Lucy, Cardinal Ottaviani, Bishop Venancio, Father Alonso, Frère Michel and Frère François all agree:

       ... we are just as certain that the twenty or thirty lines of the third Secret ...9

       The final Secret of Fatima, written on a small sheet of paper, is therefore not very long. Probably twenty to twenty-five lines ... 10

       Bishop Venancio looked “at the envelope [containing the Third Secret] while holding it up to the light. He could see inside a little sheet of which he measured the exact size. We thus know that the Third Secret is not very long, probably 20 to 25 lines ...”11

Written in the Form of a Letter

       Equally clear is that the Third Secret was written down in the form of a letter to Bishop da Silva. Sister Lucy herself tells us that the Third Secret was written as a letter. On this point we have the written testimony of Father Jongen who, on February 3-4, 1946, interrogated Sister Lucy as follows:

       ‘You have already made known two parts of the Secret. When will the time arrive for the third part?’‘I communicated the third part in a letter to the Bishop of Leiria,’ she answered.12 [emphasis added]

       Next we have the decisive words of Canon Galamba:

       When the bishop refused to open the letter, Lucy made him promise that it would definitely be opened and read to the world either at her death or in 1960, whichever would come first.13 [emphasis added]

To Be Revealed to the World by 1960

       Why 1960? In 1955 Cardinal Ottaviani asked her why it was not to be opened before 1960. She told him, “because then it will seem clearer (mais claro).” Sister Lucy had made the Bishop of Leiria-Fatima promise that the Secret would be read to the world at her death, but in no event later than 1960, “because the Blessed Virgin wishes it so.”14 And from Canon Barthas: “Moreover, it [the Third Secret] will soon be known, since Sister Lucy affirms that Our Lady wills that it can be published beginning in 1960.”

       This testimony introduces a third crucial fact concerning the Secret: that it was to be revealed by 1960. Indeed, in February 1960, the Patriarch of Lisbon would declare:

       Bishop da Silva enclosed (the envelope sealed by Lucy) in another envelope on which he indicated that the letter had to be opened in 1960 by himself, Bishop José Correia da Silva, if he was still alive, or if not, by the Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon.15 [emphasis added]

       Father Alonso tells us:

       Other bishops also spoke—and with authority—about the year 1960 as the date indicated for opening the famous letter. Thus, when the then titular Bishop of Tiava, and Auxiliary Bishop of Lisbon asked Lucy when the Secret was to be opened, he always received the same answer: in 1960.16 [emphasis added]

       And in 1959, Bishop Venancio, the new Bishop of Leiria, declared:

       I think that the letter will not be opened before 1960. Sister Lucy had asked that it should not be opened before her death, or not before 1960. We are now in 1959 and Sister Lucy is in good health.17 [emphasis added]

       Finally, we have the Vatican announcement of February 8, 1960 (appearing in a communiqué of the Portuguese news agency A.N.I.), concerning the decision to suppress the Secret—a document to which we shall return in Chapter 6. The Vatican announcement states:

       ... it is most likely that the letter will never be opened, in which Sister Lucy wrote down the words which Our Lady confided as a secret to the three shepherds of the Cova da Iria.18 [emphasis added]

       Thus far all the evidence points to the following: a secret written down in the form of a letter on a single sheet of paper, containing 20-25 lines of handwritten text, with 3/4 centimeter margins on each side; a secret to be revealed not later than 1960, and in that year, particularly, because “it will be much clearer (mais claro)” then.

       It was this document that Bishop Venancio transferred to the Papal Nuncio, who then transferred it to the Holy Office (now known as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) in 1957:

       Arriving at the Vatican on April 16, 1957, the Secret undoubtedly was placed by Pope Pius XII in his personal desk, inside a small wooden box, bearing the inscription Secretum Sancti Officii (Secret of the Holy Office).19

       It is important to note that the Pope was the head of the Holy Office prior to Pope Paul VI reorganizing the Vatican in 1967. Therefore, it was quite appropriate for the Pope to retain the Third Secret in his possession and for the box containing it to be labeled “Secret of the Holy Office”. With the Pope being the head of the Holy Office, this box became part of the Holy Office archives. Bear these crucial facts in mind for later consideration.

A Prediction of Apostasy in the Church

       What about the contents of the Secret? We return now to the telltale phrase “In Portugal the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved etc.” which, as noted in a previous chapter, appears at the end of the integral text of the first two parts of the Great Secret in Lucy's Fourth Memoir.

       On this point we must consider the crucial testimony of Fr. Joseph Schweigl, who was entrusted by Pope Pius XII with a secret mission: to interrogate Sister Lucy about the Third Secret. This he did at the Carmel of Coimbra on September 2, 1952. Upon his return to Rome, Father Schweigl went to his residence at the Russicum and said to a colleague the following day:

       I cannot reveal anything of what I learned at Fatima concerning the Third Secret, but I can say that it has two parts: one concerns the Pope; the other logically (although I must say nothing) would have to be the continuation of the words: ‘In Portugal, the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved.’20

       Thus is confirmed the conclusion that one part of the Secret is indeed a continuation of the phrase whose completion the Vatican has yet to reveal: “ In Portugal the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved etc.”

       This conclusion is corroborated by many other witnesses, including the following:

Father Fuentes

       On December 26, 1957, Father Fuentes interviewed Sister Lucy. The interview was published in 1958 with an imprimatur of his Archbishop, Archbishop Sanchez of Veracruz, Mexico. Among other things, Sister Lucy told Father Fuentes the following:

       Father, the Most Holy Virgin is very sad because no one has paid any attention to Her message, neither the good nor the bad. The good continue on their way but without giving any importance to Her message. The bad, not seeing the punishment of God falling upon them, continue their life of sin without even caring about the message. But believe me, Father, God will chastise the world and this will be in a terrible manner. The punishment from Heaven is imminent.

       Father, how much time is there before 1960 arrives? It will be very sad for everyone, not one person will rejoice at all if beforehand the world does not pray and do penance. I am not able to give any other details because it is still a secret. …

       This is the Third part of the Message of Our Lady which will remain secret until 1960.

       Tell them, Father, that many times, the most Holy Virgin told my cousins Francisco and Jacinta, as well as myself, that many nations will disappear from the face of the earth. She said that Russia will be the instrument of chastisement chosen by Heaven to punish the world if we do not obtain beforehand the conversion of that poor nation.

       Father, the devil is in the mood for engaging in a decisive battle against the Blessed Virgin. And the devil knows what it is that most offends God and which in a short space of time will gain for him the greatest number of souls. Thus, the devil does everything to overcome souls consecrated to God, because in this way, the devil will succeed in leaving souls of the faithful abandoned by their leaders, thereby the more easily will he seize them.

       That which afflicts the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Heart of Jesus is the fall of religious and priestly souls. The devil knows that religious and priests who fall away from their beautiful vocation drag numerous souls to hell. … The devil wishes to take possession of consecrated souls. He tries to corrupt them in order to lull to sleep the souls of laypeople and thereby lead them to final impenitence.21

Father Alonso

       Before his death in 1981, Father Joaquin Alonso, who for sixteen years was the official archivist of Fatima, testified as follows:

       It is therefore completely probable that the text makes concrete references to the crisis of faith within the Church and to the negligence of the pastors themselves [and the] internal struggles in the very bosom of the Church and of grave pastoral negligence of the upper hierarchy.22

       In the period preceding the great triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, terrible things are to happen. These form the content of the third part of the Secret. What are they? If ‘in Portugal the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved,’ ... it can be clearly deduced from this that in other parts of the Church these dogmas are going to become obscure or even lost altogether.23

       Does the unpublished text speak of concrete circumstances? It is very possible that it speaks not only of a real crisis of the faith in the Church during this in-between period, but like the secret of La Salette, for example, there are more concrete references to the internal struggles of Catholics or to the fall of priests and religious. Perhaps it even refers to the failures of the upper hierarchy of the Church. For that matter, none of this is foreign to other communications Sister Lucy has had on this subject.24

Cardinal Ratzinger

       On November 11, 1984, Cardinal Ratzinger, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, gave an interview in Jesus magazine, a publication of the Pauline Sisters. The interview is entitled “Here is Why the Faith is in Crisis,” and was published with the Cardinal's explicit permission. In this interview Cardinal Ratzinger admits that a crisis of faith is affecting the Church around the world. In this context, he reveals that he has read the Third Secret and that the Secret refers to “dangers threatening the faith and the life of the Christian and therefore (the life) of the world.”

       The Cardinal thus confirms Father Alonso's thesis that the Secret pertains to widespread apostasy in the Church. Cardinal Ratzinger says in the same interview that the Secret also refers to “the importance of the Novissimi [the Last Times/the Last Things]” and that “If it is not published, at least for now, it is to avoid confusing religious prophecy with sensationalism ...” The Cardinal further reveals that “the things contained in this ‘Third Secret’ correspond to what has been announced in Scripture and has been said again and again in many other Marian apparitions, first of all that of Fatima ...”25

Bishop Amaral

       In complete accord with Cardinal Ratzinger is Bishop Amaral—the third Bishop of Fatima. In a speech in Vienna, Austria on September 10, 1984, he said the following:

       Its content concerns only our faith. To identify the [Third] Secret with catastrophic announcements or with a nuclear holocaust is to deform the meaning of the message. The loss of faith of a continent is worse than the annihilation of a nation; and it is true that faith is continually diminishing in Europe.26 [Emphasis added]

Cardinal Oddi

       On March 17, 1990 Cardinal Oddi gave the following testimony to Italian journalist Lucio Brunelli in the journal Il Sabato:

       It [the Third Secret] has nothing to do with Gorbachev. The Blessed Virgin was alerting us against apostasy in the Church.

Cardinal Ciappi

       To these witnesses we must add the testimony of Cardinal Mario Luigi Ciappi, who was nothing less than Pope John Paul II's own personal papal theologian. In a personal communication to a Professor Baumgartner in Salzburg, Cardinal Ciappi revealed that:

       In the Third Secret it is foretold, among other things, that the great apostasy in the Church will begin at the top.27

       All of these testimonies are consistent with the repeated remarks of Sister Lucy herself—not only to Fr. Fuentes, as quoted above, but to many other reliable witnesses. Although bound to secrecy concerning the precise contents of the Third Secret, her remarks to reliable witnesses are full of references to churchmen “being fooled by false doctrine”; to a “diabolical disorientation” afflicting “so many persons who occupy places of responsibility” in the Church; to “priests and consecrated souls” who “are so deceived and misled” because “the devil has succeeded in infiltrating evil under cover of good … leading into error and deceiving souls having a heavy responsibility through the place which they occupy … They are blind men guiding other blind men,” and so on.28

Pius XII Confirms
the Secret's Prediction of Apostasy

       But perhaps the most remarkable testimony of all on this score, although it is of indirect relevance, is that of Msgr. Eugenio Pacelli, before he became Pope Pius XII and while he was still serving as Vatican Secretary of State during the reign of Pope Pius XI. Speaking even before Sister Lucy had committed the Third Secret to paper, the future Pius XII made an astonishing prophecy about a coming upheaval in the Church:

       I am worried by the Blessed Virgin's messages to Lucy of Fatima. This persistence of Mary about the dangers which menace the Church is a divine warning against the suicide of altering the Faith, in Her liturgy, Her theology and Her soul. … I hear all around me innovators who wish to dismantle the Sacred Chapel, destroy the universal flame of the Church, reject Her ornaments and make Her feel remorse for Her historical past.

       Pope Pius XII's biographer, Msgr. Roche, noted that at this moment in the conversation, according to a Count Galeazzi, “the gaze of the Pope, seen through the lenses of his glasses, became supernatural, and there emanated from his tall and slender body an irresistible mystical force.” Pius XII then said (in answer to an objection from a curial Cardinal):

       A day will come when the civilized world will deny its God, when the Church will doubt as Peter doubted. She will be tempted to believe that man has become God. In our churches, Christians will search in vain for the red lamp where God awaits them. Like Mary Magdalene, weeping before the empty tomb, they will ask, “Where have they taken Him?”29

       It is quite remarkable that the future Pope would relate this apparently supernatural intuition of coming devastation in the Church specifically to “the Blessed Virgin's messages to Lucy of Fatima” and “this persistence of Mary about the dangers which menace the Church.” The prediction would be utterly senseless if it had been based on the first two parts of the Great Secret, which make no mention of such things as “the suicide of altering the Faith, in Her liturgy, Her theology and Her soul” or “innovators who wish to dismantle the Sacred Chapel, destroy the universal flame of the Church, reject Her ornaments and make Her feel remorse for Her historical past.” Nor is there any indication whatsoever in the first two parts that “In our churches, Christians will search in vain for the red lamp where God awaits them.”

       How did the future Pope Pius XII know these things? If not by supernatural intuition, then by direct knowledge that some hitherto undisclosed portion of “the Blessed Virgin's messages to Sister Lucy of Fatima” revealed these future events in the Church.

       In short, every single testimony pertaining to the contents of the Third Secret, from 1944 until at least 1984 (the date of the Ratzinger interview) confirms that it points to a catastrophic loss of faith and discipline in the Church, representing a breakthrough for the forces arrayed against Her for so long—the “innovators” that the future Pope Pius XII heard “all around me,” clamoring for the dismantling of the Sacred Chapel and changes in the liturgy and Catholic theology.

       As we will show, that breakthrough began in 1960, precisely the year when (as Sister Lucy had insisted) the third part of the Secret should be revealed. But before we return to that fateful year, when the great crime we speak of first began, we must first discuss the motive that preceded the crime. This will we now endeavor to do.


1. The Whole Truth About Fatima - Volume III: The Third Secret, (English Translation, Immaculate Heart Publications, Buffalo, NY, 1990) p. 47.

2. Ibid.

3. Father Joaquin Alonso, La Verdad sobre el Secreto de Fatima, (Centro Mariano, Madrid, Spain, 1976) p. 60. See also Frère Michel, The Whole Truth About Fatima - Vol. III, p. 651.

4. The Whole Truth About Fatima - Vol. III, p. 725.

5. Ibid., p. 727.

6. Frère François de Marie des Anges, Fatima: Tragedy and Triumph, (Immaculate Heart Publications, Buffalo, New York, U.S.A., 1994) p. 45.

7. The Whole Truth About Fatima - Vol. III , p. 480.

8. Ibid ., p. 481.

9. Ibid., p. 626.

10. Fatima, Tragedy and Triumph, p. 45.

11. Brother Michael of the Holy Trinity, The Secret of Fatima ... Revealed, (Immaculate Heart Publications, Buffalo, New York, U.S.A.) p. 7.

12. Revue Mediatrice et Reine, October 1946, pp. 110-112. See also The Whole Truth About Fatima - Vol. III, p. 470.

13. Father Alonso, La Verdad sobre el Secreto de Fatima, pp. 46-47. See also The Whole Truth About Fatima - Vol. III, p. 470.

14. Barthas, Fatima, merveille du XXe siècle, p. 83. Fatima-editions, 1952. It must be noted that Canon Barthas published this account after having the privilege of meeting Sister Lucy again, on October 15, 1950 in the company of Msgr. Bryant, O.M.I., vicar apostolic of Athabasca-Mackenzie. See The Whole Truth About Fatima - Vol. III, p. 472.

15. Novidades, February 24, 1960, quoted by La Documentation Catholique, June 19, 1960, col. 751. See also The Whole Truth About Fatima - Vol. III, p. 472.

16. Father Alonso, La Verdad sobre el Secreto de Fatima, p. 46. See also The Whole Truth About Fatima - Vol. III, p. 475.

17. Father Alonso, La Verdad sobre el Secreto de Fatima, p. 46. See also The Whole Truth About Fatima - Vol. III , p. 478.

18. The Whole Truth About Fatima - Vol. III, pp. 578-579.

19. Fatima, Tragedy and Triumph, p. 45.

20. The Whole Truth About Fatima - Vol. III, p. 710.

21. English translation of Sister Lucy interview with Father Fuentes taken from Frère Michel's The Whole Truth About Fatima - Volume III, pp. 503 to 508. Frère Michel explains that the text comes from Fatima scholar Father Joaquin Alonso's, La Verdad sobre el Secreto de Fatima (pp. 103-106). The interview of Sister Lucy with Father Fuentes was published with the Imprimatur of Archbishop Sanchez of Veracruz, Mexico.

22. The Whole Truth About Fatima - Vol. III, p. 704.

23. Ibid., p. 687.

24. Ibid., pp. 705-706.

25. Frère Michel de la Sainte Trinité, The Whole Truth About Fatima - Volume III, pp. 822-823. See also Jesus magazine, November 11, 1984, p. 79. See also The Fatima Crusader, Issue 37, Summer 1991, p. 7.

26. Fatima, Tragedy and Triumph, pp. 243-244. See also Frère Michel de la Sainte Trinité, The Whole Truth About Fatima - Volume III, p. 676.

27. See Father Gerard Mura, “The Third Secret of Fatima: Has It Been Completely Revealed?”, the periodical Catholic, (published by the Transalpine Redemptorists, Orkney Isles, Scotland, Great Britain) March 2002.

28. These quotations are condensed from numerous letters Sister Lucy wrote in the early 1970's to two of her nephews who were priests, and to other religious she knew. See The Whole Truth About Fatima - Vol. III, pp. 754-758.

29. Roche, Pie XII Devant L'Histoire, pp. 52-53.



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