At the time of the apparitions of Our Lady, Lucia de Jesus, Francisco, and Jacinta were, respectively, ten, nine, and seven years old, having been born 22 March 1907, 11 June 1908, and 11 March 1910.
The three children lived in Aljustrel, a hamlet of the township of Fatima.
The apparitions took place on a small property belonging to Lucia's parents called Cova da Iria, about a mile and a half from Fatima on the road to Leiria.
Our Lady appeared over a holm oak just over three feet high. Francisco could only see Our Lady; he could not hear her. Jacinta could see and hear her. Lucia could see, hear, and talk with the Blessed Virgin.
The apparitions occurred at about midday.
The First Apparition - May 13, 1917
The three seers were playing at Cova da Iria when they saw two flashes like lightning, after which they saw the Mother of God above the holm oak.
She was, according to the description of Lucia, "a Lady dressed all in white, more brilliant than the sun, shedding a light that was clearer and more intense than that of a crystal goblet filled with crystalline water and struck by the rays of the most brilliant sun". Her face, indescribably beautiful, was "neither sad nor happy, but serious, "with an air of mild reproach.
Her hands, joined together as if she were praying, were resting at her breast and pointing upward. A rosary hung from her right hand. Her clothes seemed to be made of light. The tunic was white.
The veil, white and edged with gold, covered the head of the Virgin and descended to her feet. Neither her hair nor her ears could be seen. Lucia could never describe her features, for it was impossible for her to fix her gaze on the dazzling heavenly face. The seers were so close to Our Lady – about a yard and a half away – that they stood within the light that radiated from and enveloped her.
The conversation developed in the following manner:
Our Lady: Do not be afraid; I will not harm you.
Lucia: Where is Your Grace from?
Our Lady: I am from heaven. (Our Lady raised her hand and pointed to the sky.)
Lucia: And what does Your Grace wish of me?
Our Lady: I have come to ask you to come here for six months in succession on the thirteenth day of each month at this same hour. Later I will tell you who I am and what I want. Afterward, I will return here a seventh time.
Lucia: And will I go to heaven, too?
Our Lady: Yes, you will.
Lucia: And Jacinta?
Our Lady: Also.
Lucia: And Francisco?
Our Lady: Also, but he must say many Rosaries.
Lucia: Is Maria das Neves already in heaven?
Our Lady: Yes, she is.
Lucia: And Amélia?
Our Lady: She will be in purgatory until the end of the world. Do you wish to offer yourselves to God to endure all the sufferings that He may be pleased to send you, as both an act of reparation for the sins with which He is offended and an act of supplication for the conversion of sinners?
Lucia: Yes, we do.
Our Lady: Well then, you will have much to suffer. But the grace of God will be your comfort.
"It was upon saying these last words, 'the grace of God...' that for the first time she opened her hands, which emitted a most intense light that penetrated our breasts, reaching the innermost part of our souls and making us see ourselves in God, Who was that light, more clearly than we can see ourselves in the best of mirrors. Then, driven by a deep inspiration, we knelt down and repeated inwardly: 'O Most Holy Trinity, I adore Thee! My God, my God, I love Thee in the Most Blessed Sacrament'.
"A moment later, Our Lady added, 'Pray the Rosary every day to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war.' "She immediately began to rise serenely toward the east until she disappeared far into the distance. The light that surrounded her was, so to speak, opening her way through the starry firmament."