After thirteen years of discerning the events that occurred at Fatima, the Catholic Church determined that the Lady had indeed come from heaven. The following is the text of the Pastoral Letter released by Dom Jose Carreia da Silva, Bishop of Leiria, on October 13, 1930 taken from Robert Bergin's "This Apocalyptic Age" (pp. 148-152). The letter declared the apparitions of Fatima worthy of belief and officially permitted devotion to Our Lady of Fatima (italics removed).
"Our Holy Mother the Church having entrusted to our care the Bishopric of Leiria, and it being our duty as Bishop to care for the faithful entrusted to us, and following the example of the venerable Prelates in such cases, after having attentively studied the events for ten years, we now pronounce our decision, while humbly declaring that we submit our judgment to the Holy See.
"Referring to the smaller number of the wise, the powerful and the noble among the Christians of the primitive Church, St. Paul adds: 'But the foolish things of the world hath God chosen, that He may confound the wise; And the weak things of the world and the things that are not, that He might destroy the things that are: that no flesh should glory in His sight.'
"History upholds these observations with facts. The Apostles chosen by Our Lord to preach the Christian doctrine to the whole world were fishermen; St. Gregory VIII, the champion of the liberty fo the Church, belonged to a poor peasant family; St. Joan of Arc, who liberated France, and St. Bernadette de Soubirous, the happy seer of Lourdes, were poor shepherdesses.
"At Fatima it is the same. The place chosen for the apparitions is stony, without any attractions whatsoever. The child seers were humble creatures from our mountain lands, modestly dressed, without instruction, not being able to read, and with rudimentary religious knowledge.
"They were not nervous, but affable and loving in the midst of their rusticity, fond of the family, obedient to their parents, happy!...
"One could not discern in them any self-interest or spirit of vanity. They would not accept alms or presents which people wished to give them. And when we decided to take upon ourselves the direction of the works and the religious movement, they honorably handed over to us, in their original form, the money and the objects of value which the people used to leave on the site of the Apparitions.
"Their parents possessed a little property, and today continue to support themselves as before. They worked for their living, and continue to do so today. In nothing is their life altered after the lapse of thirteen years.
"The children, when questioned jointly or separately, answered with the same precision, without noticeable contradictions . . .
"They were imprisoned by the representative of the administrative authority, and threatened that they would be roasted, but not even then would they deny what they had declared.
"They said nothing against faith or morals, according to the word of the Apostle: 'No man speaking by the Spirit of God saith anathema to Jesus.'
"Finally, the two younger children, brother and sister, fell ill with the pneumonic influenza, which carried away so many in the whole world, and both died edifying deaths, while Lucia, the only surviving seer, freely and voluntarily, without any coercion or persuasion, after obtaining her motherís consent, embraced the religious life.
"It is likewise necessary to consider the circumstances which accompanied the visions.
"The favored children, being small, illiterate and lowly, we must have proofs in order to believe their statements. According to these children, Our Lady would appear to them on a small holm-oak, stunted as the trees generally are in these stony places, and hundreds, nay thousands of persons, whose truthfulness we cannot doubt, saw a column of mist, which used to envelop the tree during the apparitions. This phenomenon, which cannot be humanly explained, was repeated several times.
"The solar phenomenon of October 13, 1917, described in the papers at the time, was something marvelous and caused a great impression upon those who had the happiness to witness it. The children had previously announced the day and the hour when it would occur. The news spread rapidly over the whole of Portugal, and despite the day being a tempestuous one, with copious rain, the thousands who had assembled at the hour of the final Apparition (October 13, 1917), witnessed all the manifestations of the sun, paying, as it were, homage to the Queen of Heaven and earth.
"This phenomenon, which no observatory had registered and which was therefore not a natural one, was observed by persons of all social ranks and classes, believers and unbelievers, journalists fo the principal Portuguese dailies and even by persons kilometers away, all of which destroys the idea that it was a collective illusion.
"The argument of persecutions, which are a sign that the works are of God, was not wanting either in Fatima.
"No one was persecuted more than Jesus, and the Church has suffered contradictions in all ages.
"A countless multitude of Saints suffered martyrdom in the midst of terrible torments.
"St. Peter of Alcantara used to say to St. Theresa, that one of the greatest punishments in the world was the one she had suffered; that is, the contradictions of well-intentioned people.
"The holy Prophet Jeremias says:I became a laughing-stock all the day; all scoff at me.
"The seers of Fatima were imprisoned by the authorities, and threatened with being cast into a cauldron of boiling oil.
"It is common knowledge that the authorities did all they could to prohibit the pilgrimages, creating difficulties in the passage of the people, while certain publicists ridiculed and scoffed at the ardent faith of the good Portuguese people.
"Belief in the apparitions resisted all violence, which, after all, but served to increase fervor and to propagate the graces and favors which Our Lady showers on those who invoke her.
"Devotion to Our Lady of Fatima spread rapidly, as we have said, in this diocese and in the whole of Portugal and today it is extending to all parts of the world, not only among Catholic nations, but among Protestant and even pagan ones.
"The multitudes, composed of persons belonging to all classes, coming from all corners of the country, without advertisement of any kind, without any attractions, hasten to Fatima after long journeys beset with the greatest difficulties and discomforts.
"Where has one seen such multitudes meet in the best order and profound respect as at Fatima? And it is not once in a way - the movement is continuous, constant, increasing year after year.
"The voice of the people answers the Voice of God.
"The sick come here at the cost of so many sacrifices, so much trouble!
"How many marvelous cures have not been wrought there through the intervention of the Virgin most holy? And what a spirit of resignation do the sick not manifest even when they have not obtained the cure of their physical ills!
"And while the infirm of body come to Fatima in thousands, greater still is the number of the morally afflicted. Our Lady is the health of the sick and the refuge of sinners. How many wayward hears have not found pardon there! How many of those who had abandoned the faith of their fathers, or were indifferent to it, found it again there!
"Oh! If the confessionals of Fatima were not rigorously sealed with the sacramental seal - ever inviolable - what marvels of grace would they not be able to reveal to us!
"Blessed and praised be the Mother of Mercy!
"In virtue of the considerations explained, and others which we omit for brevityís sake, humbly invoking the Divine Spirit and placing our confidence in Mary most holy, after taking the opinion of the Rev. Consultors of our Diocese, we have the pleasure:
"First, to declare as worthy of credence the visions of the children in Cova da Iria, parish of Fatima, of this Diocese on the days of 13th May to October, 1917;
"Secondly, to permit officially the devotion of Our Lady of Fatima.
"It now remains for us, beloved children in Our Lord, to warn you that if the favors which the Virgin most holy has bestowed upon us is a great motive of joy and consolation to us, greater still is our duty to correspond with her goodness.
"In a special manner do we recommend to our beloved Diocesans the love of Our Lord in the Most Holy Eucharist, devotion to the most Holy Virgin, to St. Joseph, to the holy souls in Purgatory, the daily recital of at least five decades of the Rosary, flight from the sins of the flesh, from immodest fashions and immoral reading, the practice of penance on which Jesus so much insisted, and which the Virgin, Our Lady, recommended so much, charity towards all our brethren and especially towards the sick and the poor.
"If we do this, the words of the Prophet may well be applied to our country: 'For if you will order well your ways, I will swell with you in this place in the land which I have to your fathers from the beginning and for ever more.'
"This Pastoral Letter of ours shall be sent to all the Rev. Parish Priests that they may read and explain it to the faithful in the customary way.
"Jose, Bishop of Leiria"
Leiria, 13 October, 1930