September 23-24: 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time.
At Aljustrel where the children lived, the majority of their neighbours were skeptical about the apparitions and hostile toward the children and their families. Other people, including priests and family members, were trying to persuade the children to admit that they had made up the whole story about the apparitions of our Lady. Still others were threatening the children, saying: “If the children have lied and nothing happens at the Cova, then….” A devout woman named Dona Maria lo Carmo Menezes had taken the three children to her home to give them a rest. When she saw the number of people who came looking for them, she was overwhelmed and remarked: “My children, if the miracle that you predict does not take place, these people are capable of burning you alive.” With great confidence in our Lady’s love and promise, the children responded: “We are not afraid, because our Lady does not deceive us. She told us that there would be a great miracle so that everyone would have to believe.”
Harder by far to deal with was the continuing disbelief and criticism coming from Lucia’s own family members, especially her mother. Her negative attitude toward the apparitions had turned the whole family against young Lucia. The mother was already angry over the damage done at the Cova by the crowds who were continuously trampling over this plot of land used to grow crops for the family and to graze their flock of sheep. Furthermore, the family was concerned about the disgrace they would suffer if every-one’s expectations were left unfulfilled. Though disbelieving, Lucia’s mother was prepared to suffer her daughter’s fate if the people turned against her. On October 12, Maria Rosa, Lucia’s mother, jumped out of bed and went to wake her daughter, saying,
‘Lucia, we had better go to confession. Everyone says that we shall probably be killed tomorrow at the Cova da Iria. If the lady doesn’t do the miracle the people will attack us, so we had better go to confession and be properly prepared for death.”
Lucia was willing to go with her mother to confession, but not because she was afraid of dying. “I’m absolutely certain that the Lady will do all that she promised,” she said. The next day, Lucia’s mother went with her daughter to the place of the apparitions, saying, “If my child is going to die, I want to die with her!”