CELESTIAL SECRETS : THE HIDDEN HISTORY OF THE FATIMA INCIDENT, is the second volume of a trilogy of books (English translations), whose primary author is Portuguese professor/writer Joachim Fernandes, with some volumes co-authored by Fina D'Armada. These two writers have been among Portugal's most prominent UFOlogists for many years. Additional material from other authors, editors and translators, is also used liberally in this trilogy. The other volumes of the trilogy series are HEAVENLY LIGHTS : THE APPARITIONS OF FATIMA AND THE UFO PHENOMENON and FATIMA REVISITED: THE APPARITION PHENOMENON IN UFOLOGY, PSYCHOLOGY AND SCIENCE.
The three publications above represent the producers' long-term traditional work (thirty plus yrs.), of linking the famous Fatima, Portugal events of 1917 to UFO(s). The core theme of all three texts is seeking to make the case that the well known Fatima visionary occurrences, were in reality a prime example of a visit to Earth by an extraterrestrial(s) aboard a UFO(s), during that year. This position of course is in strong contradiction to the Roman Catholic Church's studied conclusion that these events were in fact heavenly visits that are worthy of belief, (with no requirement for the faithful to believe), and that these miraculous occurrences were none other than supernatural apparitions of the "Holy Virgin Mary," the mother of Jesus.
The primary sponsor, editor and main promoter of this trilogy for the American market is the highly controversial amateur scientist, UFOlogist Andrew D. Basiago. He has been heavily involved in various writings focusing mainly on "uncovering the cover-ups," including his version of NASA's "secret" space programs; so it is no surprise to find that he is a main driving force behind the production of this particular "Fatima debunked" enterprise in America.
First, I think it will be helpful to set the stage by giving a brief summary of these sensational events from the early twentieth century.
At the village of Fatima, Portugal, in 1917, there were reported to be six major apparitions by a heavenly young female on a small holm-oak tree (Carrasqueira). They were witnessed by three very young shepherd children, Lucia ten yrs., Francisco nine yrs. and Jacinta seven yrs.old, beginning on May 13, 1917 and ending on October 13, 1917. The children repeated that the lady stated on her final October visit that she was "The Lady of the Rosary," (Fatima Shrine archival publication DOCUMENTACAO CDF...Vol. I, p. 129), who is known to Roman Catholics worldwide of course, to be none other than Jesus' holy mother Mary herself.
Incredibly, this last visit of October 13th was reported to have climaxed with a fifteen minute display of a totally spectacular series of cosmic and solar phenomena, that were later recounted by the secular and religious press of the day as the "Miracle of the Sun." Amazingly, directly following the solar display, witnesses also stated that their previously drenched clothes had become suddenly dry, as did the wet and muddy ground, that had been thoroughly soaked due to the many hours of steady rain that had fallen since the day before. Approximately seventy thousand people, from up to forty miles away, reportedly witnessed these events.
The overflowing crowd was drawn to be present at the Fatima apparition site on October 13th, based on a widely disseminated prediction by the children seers. They related that this prediction was disclosed to them on the previous July 13th by the heavenly figure, namely, that she would perform a miracle for all to see and believe in three months, (i.e. October 13th, `17). This foretelling is first seen in the archived notes of the skeptically unmoved parish priest Father Ferreira, dated July 14, 1917, and a copy is found in DOCUMENTACAO CDF...Vol. I, p. 15. This July prophecy had then spread rapidly throughout all of Portugal and Western Europe, including to the non-believing secular newspapermen and state authorities in Lisbon.
The fact of the stunning prediction coming to fulfillment as forecasted at high noon on October 13th, was reported worldwide by even the secular press, and this event's completion on the predicted date and time of day has been considered by some secular, religious and scientific journalists to be the REAL Fatima miracle.
Returning to the book under review, it is interesting that when advertising CELESTIAL SECRETS ..., (C.S.) the dominant instrument used by the authors and promoters to convince the reader of their research prowess and to buildup interest and credibility for their product, is the highlighting of their previous visit to the secured Fatima Shrine archives, in 1978. During that visit they were permitted to view the largely unknown personal notes of the local Fatima priests of that year of 1917, especially those who had directly interviewed the children. Since then they have created their own unique version of that archival data by displaying all of their so-called meticulous research activity, some of which is debunked below, (that in the final analysis is nothing but a sham)!
Very significantly since then, the Fatima Shrine authorities have produced several volumes of this same archived Fatima apparition documentation; which include the above priests' personal notes. The first edition to be published is titled DOCUMENTACAO CRITICA DE FATIMA: VOLUME I, INTERROGATORIOS AOS VIDENTES-1917, (Interrogations of the Seers), (Santuário de Fátima, 1992). For brevity's sake, I will refer to this work in the remaining text as DCDF...Vol. I. The producers of C.S. utilize this same exact Volume I often as a frequent reference, in support of their own postulations contained in this product under review. I also possess a copy of this identical book published from the Fatima shrine archives itself, which I have used extensively for my own research and reference.
Moving along with the internals of CELESTIAL SECRETS....as mentioned above, its writers incredibly attempt to make their case that the Fatima events of 1917 were in reality a UFO(s) visit. To assist in this effort, the authors have laid out their strategy of accusing the Roman Catholic Church of employing a considerable amount of manipulative and conspiratorial conduct to concoct and promulgate a false scenario of these apparitions. However, they do not make a compelling case in my view, due to their failure to provide any solid evidence to support these reckless allegations.
Furthermore and most deplorably, the writers have fashioned their principal weapon of attack on the Catholic Church and on the Lady of Fatima in particular, to be one of a calumnious and over-the top impugnment of the moral character of Fatima's heavenly figure herself. This is chiefly done by narrowly fixating and obsessing on a few disjointed and enigmatic entries (that are in the minority), that appeared in the skeptical local parish priest's early private notes, that were reproduced many decades later in some of the earliest documents of DCDF...Vol I. These entries indicate some verbal testimony from the two young female seers of a knee-length skirt/dress description of the visionary figure's clothing. However, as mentioned, these particular notes by the priest occurred only during the earlier apparitions, with the remainder of the seers' testimony over the months ahead describing the more expected, typically longer lengths.
What the authors have done here is to seize upon and brazenly over-sensationalize these few knee-length descriptions, lowering them deeply into a scandalous category that was even beneath that accorded to "...ladies of the night...", to directly quote from C.S. p. 151. Moreover, the ensuing and conflicting longer length entries that are in the majority, are simply ignored and totally omitted by the writers This is an obviously specious attempt to level serious, irreparable damage to the heavenly lady's moral character and reputation, for their own motives.
Also, it is noteworthy that these initial recorded accounts by the two young female seers above are tellingly conflicting with the young seer Francisco's descriptions, where the only knee-length clothing that he reports throughout all of his testimony was the mantle headpiece, a distinction again passed over by the writers, but more on this interesting subject further below.
Regretfully, I am obliged to spend more time than I would honestly like on this knee-length skirt/dress length issue, because of the authors' intense focus on it, and due to their concentrating most of an entire chapter on it in C.S. Part III # 2, "The Secret of the Sanctuary." The authors have clenched onto this length issue like a pack of pit bulls and have continued to maintain it as the centerpiece of their calumnious attack on the lady of the heavenly vision's believed religious origins. They can hardly be interviewed by the media about their UFO/Fatima activity without quickly mentioning the skirt issue, showcasing it as critical new evidence, pried out by their so-called "meticulous" research.
(Unfortunately, this deeply flawed CELESTIAL SECRETS publication has been exposed to be the prime source for all of the widespread, calumnious, and distorted knee-length skirt material related to Fatima, that has eventually found its way into countless books, Weblogs, Websites, Internet Encyclopedia sites and other similar printed matter, throughout the world).
Before moving more deeply into the details of C.S. , it is helpful to quickly note that a few plausible possibilities do exist for the presence of these above confusing knee-length entries in the parish priest's initial private notes and they are fully detailed later below, but at this point, a few other considerations about what constitutes a short skirt length should also be mentioned.
Interestingly, there do exist indeed... period photos that exist on the Internet and in other public records showing both Lucia and Jacinta, ten yrs. and seven yrs old, who at the time of the apparitions were wearing dresses much shorter than full ankle-length. In fact, a well-known photo taken shortly after the apparition of July 13, 1917, shows Lucia with a typical "mid-calf" dress and Jacinta with a "slightly higher than mid-calf" dress. (Coincidentally and to the point, this initial heavenly figure of the earlier visions was described by Lucia in the apparition documents of DCDF...Vol. I, p. 355, to be only the size of a local 12-yr. old childhood friend, but more on this below).
Therefore...those adamant anti-Fatimists who maintain that anything shorter than full ankle-length skirts would have been considered inappropriate or scandalous clothing, even for the children of 1917 Portugal, are making statements that are obviously NOT correct. Of course some might just brand the two children's clothing of the above photo with the same scandalous labels as they have applied to the heavenly vision, but we all know that history can be full of surprises.!
Getting back now into the heart of C.S. , ...the authors continue this character assassination, by employing a well-known fallacious evidence presentation method called "cherry picking." In this particular example, once having seized onto these questionable notes of knee-length descriptions that are in the distinct minority as mentioned above, they proceeded to totally ignore and virtually omit all of the other more numerous conflicting descriptions of the longer skirt/dress lengths, (that I assume would help to ruin their story). These latter, more common and representative accounts appear throughout the course of the many other apparition related interview records and documents, which are recorded by several different interrogators, and are readily available to be seen in this same volume of archived files, i.e. DCDF...Vol I. These include descriptive phrases such as...the middle of the leg (mid-calf), or...down to the ankles or...down to the feet. (e chegava aos pes).
The fact alone that the producers of this so-called investigative work have deceptively relied heavily on this fraudulent "cherry-picking" evidence collection method, is in itself a serious and fatal betrayal of the overall veracity of this work.
MOST SIGNIFICANTLY...the producers have adopted many other misleading, distorted references while using the legitimate source DCDF...Vol. I. To list just a few...they have employed as shown above a lack of full disclosure, ...outright fabrication,...and grossly altering the context of official archival records by the omission of obvious counterpoint information from the same paragraph, of these priests' personally written notes reproduced in DCDF...Vol. I. Several different examples follow below of the above gross misrepresentations.
To start, an especially explicit and pertinent example of the writers' employing fallacious evidence by a lack of full disclosure, is shown by reading the text from p. 25 of DCDF...Vol. I. Here in the same personal notes of unresponsive Fr. Ferreira above, the priest describes Lucia as saying that during the last vision of the heavenly visitor, which was framed near the Sun on October 13th, 1917, that the holy lady had worn a white and long skirt...that arrived at the feet. "A saia era branca e comprida e chegava aos pes..." However, this "long skirt" entry is another "inconvenient fact" for the authors, which is directly contrary to the main focal centerpiece of C.S. , and therefore is tellingly ignored and is totally disregarded by the authors, as they continue to omit or pass over anything other than their poison-pen, so-called scandalous skirt lengths.
(In my view, this final Oct. 13th visual memory of "The Lady of the Rosary" is what Lucia related to sculptor Jose Thedim, who then went on to produce some of the more familiar, devotional statues of "Our Lady of Fatima," always showing s full-length dress to the feet).
Also, a shameful situation of outright fabrication is shown where contrary to the authors' statements on p.151 of C.S., (that is also referenced by them to be found in the DCDF...Vol. I), there is really no entry among Father Lacerda's rough notes...of any "knee-length" anything. This is an example of the writers' strong proclivity to be using duplicity throughout and a resorting to "piling on" to drive their point home.
FINALLY AND DISGRACEFULLY, perhaps the most egregious component of this falsified, sophistic exercise is where the context has been grossly altered of some of the original private notes of Canon (Father) Formigao, one of the interviewers of the children. This was done by cleverly deleting significant counterpoint phrases from within the referenced paragraph of the same recorded archived material, which effectively gives the reader an entirely different meaning to the intention of the priest's notes contents and his impression of the situation. (DCDF...Vol I, p. 66). This reconstituted and counterfeited excerpt is then highlighted as solid evidence for their "knee-length skirt" argument in C.S. on p. 153.
To illustrate the above point...the original archival statement shows this same priest musing that...Jacinta affirms that Our Lady's dress fell only to the knees. Cleverly, the authors then removed the next few counterpoint sentences immediately following which are...Lucia and Jacinta have declared that it (the skirt/dress) goes down, ... NEXT TO THE ANKLES...The priest then remarks about...a point of confusion on the part of the children?, especially the youngest (Jacinta). As can be plainly seen, the authors have again deliberately "cherry-picked" and retained only the knee-length segment of Jacinta's statements, and have totally omitted the priest's perplexity over the children's other conflicting, longer length testimonial descriptions, which was suggesting to him confusion on the part of the female seers. This new distorted rendering has naturally produced a falsified accounting of the priest's originally recorded stream-of-consciousness personal musings, which again are incorrectly provided by C.S. as representing Fr. Formigao's actual archival record. The statement by the priest is also treated as if it was a formal report of some kind, instead of notes that are more akin to diary type entries.
(This entire Fr. Formigao statement above was recorded on Sept. 27, 1917, which coincides with the date of his first interviews with the children, done earlier that day. Therefore, these various dress descriptions that he refers to above would also have to include those taken from an earlier occasion(s) by someone else, most likely referring back to the puzzling prior private notes of Fr. Ferreira's, indicated earlier. Also, Fr. Formigao's unofficial very late involvement with the children seers' testimony didn't begin until 15 days prior to the final apparition on Oct. 13th, 1917, which he did only as an interested party. The local parish priest Fr. Ferreira continued to maintain his official responsibilities for conducting and recording the interviews with the children throughout, including making his official reports to his superiors in Aug., 1918, on the matter of the visions, after their conclusion the preceding year).
In retrospect, as mentioned above, it is possible to only reasonably speculate as to why the least mentioned of the clothing descriptions in the private priests' notes have a description of a knee-length skirt in the early apparition notes in the first place. To be helpful, some plausible possibilities are given below...but not in any order of priority.
First, the early visits were described by Lucia to be from someone only the size of a young neighborhood girl known as Virginia, (12 years old). DCDF...Vol. I, p. 355. Contrast this prior statement with the ones in later apparitions where the heavenly figure was described to be that of a young woman, the size of a 15 to 18 year old, where the skirt/dress was described as falling to longer lengths, and with the final more mature vision of Oct.13, 1917 being described by Lucia as noted above, as "falling to the feet", ("...e chegava aos pes "...DCDF...Vol I, p. 25).
On another conceivable scenario...could there have been some communications problems or semantic confusion between the young illiterate children and the note-taking priests, particularly with the skeptical, and visibly unsympathetic local parish priest Father Manuel Marques Ferreira? I think that it is a distinct possibility, but it cannot be said for certain! However, Father Ferreira does appear to have been very uncomfortable with the spotlighted position that he found himself in, as the assigned parish priest at Fatima during the time of these supernatural events, which were gaining more and wider attention by the day. In a major letter written on Aug. 14, 1917, he became very defensive about his role at Fatima to that point, and he strongly rejected some unproven allegations of controversial activities by him that occurred in the months previous.
Additionally, on Aug. 6, 1918, about ten months after the apparitions had ceased, Father Ferreira produced his official Parochial report on this entire subject of the heavenly visions of the previous summer/fall.of 1917. In this report, his murky description of the visiting figure's skirt/dress is also at some variance with various details of his own personal interview notes, which were recorded after each apparition's occurrence. Interestingly, I could find no record of Fr. Ferreira's where he shows any concern about any of these dress lengths at any time, or any effort to reconcile his own recorded differences in this area. As a visible skeptic, he possibly didn't see the need to get any clarification to this issue any further, which is unfortunate.
Be that as it may, in all due fairness to Fr Ferreira and to the other priests involved as well, they certainly didn't expect that their personal notebooks would be subject to such fine scrutiny and worldwide publication seventy plus years later. Their official reports written after the fact, are of course a different matter. It should be noted though, that some of these earlier knee-length skirt notations of Fr. Ferreira's personal notes and the items of his official report do appear to differ from the children's skirt-length testimony recorded by another interviewer of the children, Fr. Jose de Lacerda, in his report of Nov. 15, 1917, document #50 and p. 355 of DCDF...Vol. I. Now, I'm NOT suggesting that deceit was involved on the part of Fr. Ferreira, (nor of Fr. Lacerda).
However, some parts of Fr. Ferreira's complete records are lacking in total internal coherence in this clothing description area, and it appears to me to be a sign of possibly incautious record keeping, whether caused by confusion, inattentiveness or irritability. This situation also would likely be aggravated by his continuing skepticism of these visionary events and the unplanned, undesired public role that he was thrust into.
Importantly though, it is NOT possible nor is it righteous for me to attempt to make any firm definitive judgments relating to Fr. Ferreira's real motivations nor his exact conduct with regard to these events; and he did give every indication to those that knew him to be a very dedicated and holy priest. For whatever the reason, again...these few out of place and unexplained knee-length early skirt record entries were in the minority of the dress descriptions from the total record, (just waiting to be jumped on and "cherry-picked" by the C.S. authors several decades later). In any case, his experiences at Fatima in 1917 and 1918, were no doubt a very trying and difficult period for him, leading him to take leave of Fatima in June of 1919.
It is worth mentioning that because the children could not read or write at that particular time (Lucia learned later in life), there exists no direct written testimony available from the young shepherd seers at that time of 1917. Therefore, everything included in the archived records that has been attributed to them, comes from the hand and brain of someone else, which naturally introduces a possibility of inaccurate communications, whether intended or not.
Another possible consideration for the knee-length skirt entries, is that the vision was reportedly situated over top of a short holm-oak tree (Carrasqueira), but the heavenly figure herself was elevated even further above the tree-top by a small cloud under her feet. In the stunning intensity of the moment, this partially obscuring cloud along with the additional height of the figure could have given the female children an illusory perception of actual dress lengths etc., in those early visions. Also, as the children were close to the tree looking up, and with the apparition elevated well above them, it would have presented an unusually sharp angle to provide very accurate visual perceptions.
Another possible key to understanding some of the above visual differences is the likelihood that Francisco's rendering of these clothing description details is the most credible all of the individual children's recorded testimony in this area. As mentioned earlier, although he generally agreed with the girls, his only description of anything "knee-length" was when referring to the vision's mantle headpiece, with his noting that the dress then went on down to at least the mid-calf, as is written in DCDF...Vol. I, p. 93.
His credibility in this area is strong I believe, for the following reason. Notably, Francisco's testimony was that he was NOT given the benefit of hearing the Lady's audio presentations during any of the six visions (reason unknown), and Lucia brought him up to date later, on what was said after each visit. Therefore, as his sight was the only sense available to him (of the vision) and with no audio communications to him from the Lady to capture his attention, he naturally had a better opportunity and inclination than the girls to focus most of his attention on the details of her visual appearance, so as to make good descriptions of it later.
Also, he was a young boy serious in nature as per Sister Lucia, and as the nine-year old older brother of young Jacinta, he was not as excitable and as easily confused as his younger sister. (Perhaps this knee-length mantle reference is a candidate for the origination of the girls' initial knee-skirt confusing remarks?).
Supporting this theory is that Lucia did openly confess to having some uncertainty over such small visual details as...the Lady's wearing of socks or not, or of the color of her feet, because she said that she was focusing on the Lady's face, (reported in Fr. Ferreira's official Parochial report of August 6, 1918, DCDF...Vol I, p. 258). In this same report, it is significant that the unsympathetic parish priest also stated the following regarding Lucia's interview testimony "All the times that I questioned her she never contradicted herself in the essentials..." (DCDF...Vol I p. 269).
Lucia went on to state in her first written document on the apparition events, written on Jan. 5, 1922, that the intensity of the brilliant and strong light prevented her from looking at these uncertain visual details, as the light almost blinded her. Lucia also had openly testified later at an appearance before her official cross-examination on July 9, 1924, that she was uncertain at the time of the visions on a couple of nonessential items, such as the lady being barefoot or not or on her use of earrings or not.
These minor testimonial differences among the seers should not be a surprise here, and please keep in mind that we're dealing with young children at that time of 1917. Ask any policeman or detective about even sincere, well-meaning ADULT eyewitnesses giving confusing, conflicting testimony among themselves. It happens...all the time! I know, I work with them.
Finally, due to the young, tender ages of the children at the time (seven to ten years), and perhaps with the heavenly Lady wishing to not frighten them, I believe that it's possible there could have been a maturing of the heavenly figure's presentation to the children from the first one on May 13th to her final one on October 13th, '17, where she finally and gloriously appeared as the familiar Queen Mary Mother of Jesus with the "Holy Family," DCDF...Vol. I, p.128, (with her dress "falling to the feet," as documented in the archives).
For me, it is a likely scenario that a final fully matured appearance was presented by the heavenly Mother in this last apparition in the sky near the Sun, and that her recorded clothing differences could have been a part of that six month long process. However, at no time could I judge from the totally of the evidence in the official records that anything was worn consistently by the heavenly lady over the six-month period, that would have raised concern or could have been legitimately viewed as inappropriate for 1917 Portugal mores, in my humble opinion.
In recapping the results of all of my research to date on this fallacious, scandalous clothing issue highlighted in CELESTIAL SECRETS..., I conclude that there exists many reasonable possibilities as described above for these few early knee-length skirt entries (that again are in the minority), but unless or until further evidence is forthcoming, these postulations of mine above will have to remain as academic speculations, although likely some very feasible ones.
More importantly however, is that for certain it can be said...these authors' of CELESTIAL SECRETS have NOT produced any valid... "SMOKING-GUN" evidence that the heavenly figure who was represented in the May through October apparitions at Fatima in 1917, was anyone other than "Mary, the mother of Jesus." Instead, they have produced a plentiful supply of "red herrings."
In encapsulating what the writers have obviously attempted to do in their C.S. publication...it is seen that they have cleverly but erroneously juxtaposed a few "cherry picked," enigmatic, knee-length skirt/dress descriptions from questionable records of the earlier child sized images of the apparitions, onto the final majestic figure that is well known to Roman Catholics throughout the world as "The Lady of Fatima;" who was standing alongside of St. Joseph and the Child Jesus during the final apparition on October 13th, '17. (DCDF...Vol. I, p. 128).
By thus shamelessly constructing and trying to attach this fabricated package of a scandalous fashion characterization onto the heavenly figure, (again in the authors' words "...not even ladies of the night' wore anything so provocative," C.S. p. 151), the authors have obviously hoped to block any further consideration of the visions to be that of Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Using this calumnious, distorted evidence producing process, the writers of this fantasized scenario have attempted to steal the centerpiece of these truly miraculous events for their own theoretical and UFO borne extraterrestrial figure, thought to be free now to come onto center stage.
As mentioned earlier, my time spent discussing this knee-length skirt issue is indeed unfortunate, but I feel that because of the continuing and undeserved focus on it by the writers of this publication and many others as well, and after observing its constant repetition over and over again in the many internet blogs, websites and similar anti-Fatima books, that it had to be dealt with seriously with some detailed length, at this point.
Summarizing, the authors of this work have made extensive use of free association, in their logical case to support all of their UFO theories. They have also freely employed against the Catholic Church and the Fatima visions a form of the classical sophistic argument method, where a few murky details are wrapped up with distorted, misleading statements and the selective use of out-of-context phrases from a legitimate reference source. This has generated a work that is too clever-by-half, a deceiving story package that is disguised as a serious research effort, and in the final analysis has ultimately resulted in a sloppy, overwrought and fallacious product, in my humble opinion.
In closing, I believe in the attitude of "to each his own" preference when it comes to the general subject of UFOlogy, and if one would enjoy a disjointed work on a New Age subject for their reading list, then that is one's own choice. Nevertheless, CELESTIAL SECRETS...decisively fails the test of attempting to effectively discredit the Roman Catholic Church's studied conclusions and pronouncements on what she terms as "Our Lady of Fatima and her Message", being "worthy of belief."
P.S. Although there are also many other very fine books available for use as a reference source on the Fatima apparition events, in this review and in other similar writings, I try to use the Fatima Shrine archival documents publication DCDF...Vol I as my main reference tool, to a great extent. For accuracy's sake, I normally prefer to stay as close to source documents where practical and it is telling that the authors of CELESTIAL SECRETS have also employed this particular volume as a reference source as well.
UPDATE !!! August 28, 2012 - SEE THE NEWS OF A STUNNING "SMOKING GUN" BOMBSHELL IN MY COMMENTS of 08-28-2012 and 09-02-2012