[Note: we received the following in the mail from the person who proficiently translated them. These are alleged apparitions that preceded Fàtima by well over a hundred years and bore incredible similarities. Though lengthy, we are letting it run nearly at full length; it is worth your read. Many do not know some fascinating and hidden things about Fatima — despite how many times it has been hashed and rehashed, seemingly without end. Few know (although this we have reported) that mystical phenomena had occurred right there at Fatima, as well as nearby towns (including an apparition of the Archangel Michael), centuries before the famous 1917 appearances of Mary. One example: In the 1400s a deaf girl from another nearby hamlet called Casal Santa Maria, which is about a mile and a half from Fatima, saw the Virgin Mary over a cluster of ortiga bushes. Mary smiled and made an odd request. She asked the girl, who could suddenly hear, for one of her lambs. It was a test of obedience. Suddenly the girl spoke as if deafness had never afflicted her (see here) But comes now some new, astonishing information, including of another remarkable appearance in Portugal, this time about 120 miles to the northeast, a century and a half before Fátima, in the 18th-century!]:+
After the Lisbon earthquake of 1755 an inquiry was sent to the various Portuguese parish priests asking them to state whether their parish had felt the earthquake and whether it had suffered any damage.+In a second inquiry, sent in January 1758, the parish priest was asked (in addition to the information concerning the earthquake) to detail aspects of the parish regarding the villages that belonged to it, their population, religious customs and religious buildings, information about the fauna and flora, its rivers, the type of fish found in them, mining operations and so forth.+These inquiries were sent to Lisbon (the national archives), where they were stored. The information contained in them was, by then, only partially studied.+In the 1990s these documents (now called Memórias Paroquiais or “Parish Memories”) were scanned and years later made available to the public via the internet. At the beginning of this century researchers began to compile and analyze these inquiries. At the present moment about half of the inquiries have been studied and their conclusions compiled into books.+In the inquiry of 1758, the parish priests were given the possibility to add local information they considered relevant. The prior of Folhada (municipality of Marco de Canaveses, in the district of Porto) took the opportunity to report an apparition of Our Lady that took place in his parish in 13 May 1757 and that has many similarities with those (much better known) that would occur 160 years later in Fátima.+I became aware of these apparitions after the publication of a book concerning the “Parish Memories” of the District of Porto, and also after the reading of some newspaper articles referring to them.+The following text is the translation of an article published in the newspaper “Público” from 12-August-2012.+It is a well written text, with lots of information; but the position of the author of the text does not seem to be neutral because it includes references to authors like Luís Filipe Torgal, Tomás da Fonseca or the “priest” Mário Oliveira whose opposition to the apparitions of Fátima is notorious and who criticize them with arguments without a solid basis.+After the translation of the article, I show the original Portuguese text from 1758 and the English translation. The original document is also sent as a PDF. It can also be viewed in the Torre do Tombo website+——————————
—————————— —————————— ———+1 – An apparition from the Eighteenth Century that reminds us of Fátima+[To repeat] in an 18th-century document preserved at Torre do Tombo, the then parish priest of Folhada, in Marco de Canaveses, reports a Marian apparition similar to those of Fátima (…) with the great difference that its memory did not last and nobody today renders cult to Our Lady of Folhada.+On May 13, three little shepherds “under the age of twelve” heard a “voice calling each one by its own name” and saw, “on a cabeço, a small hill,” a woman “with a bright and shining face.”+One of the girls asked the woman who she was, and she answered that they would know after making “a pilgrimage in praise of Our Lady, around those rocks, that would last nine continuous days.”+And in that same place, on August 14, the eve of the Assumption, “at night almost at midnight hours, a light so brightly shone, that one could read a letter to its clarity.”+The account we summarize here, by Father José Franco Bravo, seems a strangely truncated version of the apparitions of Fátima. But it is not, nor could it be, since the text was written 160 years before the (…) apparitions of Our Lady to Lúcia dos Santos and her cousins Francisco and Jacinta Marto.++The parish priest of Folhada, located at the foot of the Aboboreira Mountain, in Marco de Canaveses (where there is still today a chapel significantly called “Senhora da Aparecida” (Our Lady of Apparition) José Bravo left a testimony, in 1758, of an apparition that had taken place there the year before.Lost for a century and a half, the manuscript was found in Torre do Tombo and released in the work as “Freguesias do Distrito do Porto” (Parishes of Oporto district) in the Parish Memoirs of 1758, by José Viriato Capela, Henrique Matos and Rogério Borralheiro, who included in the book a digitalized image of the manuscript of the priest of Folhada.+The work was edited in 2009 by the Brazilian printing company Barbosa & Xavier, and the remarkable case of Folhada was even the subject of a small news item in the newspaper Diário de Notícias, which Father Mário Oliveira would later comment on in his Fraternizar newspaper, underlining in a critical perspective the coincidences with the reports of Fátima.+But this 18th-century apparition, which occurred just two years after the Lisbon earthquake, is still largely ignored outside the restricted circle of those who, inside and outside the Church, investigate this type of religious phenomena.+And the similarities between the apparition of Folhada, which would have been witnessed by the little shepherds of Marco de Canaveses region “in the thick and rough bushes of the Hills of Aboboreira” according to the parish priest, and the world famous apparitions of the Cova da Iria, are striking.+We start by noticing that they took place on the same day of the year, May 13, and three children under 12 years of age, all of them shepherds, witnessed them.+Anticipating what Lúcia did, one of the little shepherds of the Folhada also asked directly to the apparition who she was and what she was coming to do, having obtained as an answer, just like Lúcia, that she would know it later, as long as she fulfilled certain instructions. In conclusion, if the sun was not dancing at Marco de Canaveses, it seems to have at least shone in the middle of the night.++It is true that the little shepherds of Folhada were all girls, and the author of the story even adds that the apparition called them “each one by her own name, which were two Marias and one Teresa.” But this difference can also be seen as another coincidence, even if it is attenuated by the frequency of the first name Maria. Let us remember that Lúcia, two years before the 1917 apparitions in the Cova da Iria, had three visions of an angel “whiter than snow, something transparent, with human form.” She tells it in her memoirs, written from 1937, and she says that these (…) first apparitions were also witnessed by three other little shepherds whose names were Maria Rosa Matias, Teresa Matias and Maria Justino. That is, two Marias and one Teresa!+++The director of Torre do Tombo, Silvestre Lacerda, assures that the hypothesis of falsification is ruled out, since the account of the apparition is only an excerpt from the manuscript of the priest of Folhada, which is preserved in a bound volume. The whole text is already available in digital version on Torre do Tombo’s website. It would be unlikely, moreover, that anyone would go to the trouble of forging a posteriori a supposed previous apparition more or less identical to those of Fátima. For if the similarities between the Folhada and the Cova da Iria phenomena stand out enough, the 1757 apparition is far from being a unique case. There are so many Marian apparitions recorded in genuine documents — that is, whose authorship and seniority are beyond doubt — that it would not be worth inventing one more.+Bishop Carlos Azevedo, currently a delegate of the Pontifical Council for Culture at the Vatican, estimates that in the 19th and 20th centuries alone, “a thousand apparitions were recorded throughout Europe,” adding that they tend to “follow somewhat mimetic archetypes,” since, he argues, “by narrating an extraordinary fact, you get a little of what is in memory.”+For this bishop and historian, who coordinated several of the volumes of critical documentation of Fátima, if some of these phenomena “remain in the records of the time” and others “manage to survive,” it is because the latter, “by their own experience of continuity, reveal some radicality.”+But he recognizes that “the social and economic context favors the multiplication of these signs” and also “the value and importance” given to them. In fact, inside and outside Portugal, most Marian apparitions have occurred in rural areas, almost always poor, and in periods of social upheaval or war.+Friar Bento Domingues notes, in his turn, that “in modern Europe there are always more manifestations of the sacred in the South,” where a Marian piety has developed, than in the Nordic countries and in Germany, which had a Protestant formation, more based on the Bible. He also recalls that the proliferation of phenomena of this kind comes from the Middle Ages, when “the official religion was very hieratic and schematic,” which may have contributed to “these particular apparitions, which were warmer to the heart, a kind of devotional refuge in the individual field”.+The affinities between apparitions distanced in time and space do not surprise Friar Bento Domingues either because “the structures are always those of the human spirit, and in everything that is human there are similarities and differences,” or because “one thing is the experience of the sacred and another is the literary configuration given to it by the seers, which depends on their social context and can be influenced, for example, by catechesis or the sermons of priests.”+The priest of Folhada says that the place of the apparition was the stage of several other miracles, which he does not describe, but adds: “The greatest thing I have observed is the infinite people who continuously go to that place.” But these persons go to Fátima today and have long forgotten the little northern shepherds, as they have forgotten the several contemporary apparitions of the Cova da Iria.+In a communication still unpublished for the colloquium Tempos de Guerra e de Paz. Estado, Sociedade e Cultura Política nos Séculos XX e XXI (“Times of War and Peace; State, Society and Political Culture in the 20th and 21st Centuries”), Luís Filipe Torgal recalls, among others mentioned in the press at the time, that in Espinho, in June 1916, the image of Our Lady was seen on a star and “murmured to those who saw her not to let anyone go to war”; and in Pardilhó, in Estarreja, in the same month, a figure of a woman wrapped in a target cloak would have announced the end of the war; and a double apparition that took place in S. João de Vila Chã, Ponte da Barca, on May 10 and 11, 1917: on the eve of the first apparition in the Cova da Iria, Our Lady would have appeared there to a little shepherd, recommending him to order the other shepherds to pray the Rosary and the Heavenly Star (“Estrela do Céu”) prayer, which, Torgal explains, was “an old prayer prayed in that parish when there was war or another calamity.”+But if Fátima has countless antecedents, there is no shortage of replicas. As early as 1918, on the Azorean island of S. Miguel, according to press reports compiled by Torgal, there were two apparitions of a “very beautiful lady” who presented herself “dressed in white and shrouded in a flash.” The original witnesses were two eight-year-old children, and, as in Fátima, the population in general was entitled to a miracle of the sun, with the star behaving for a quarter of an hour like “a wheel of fire,” after having “undressed from its great brightness” and given to see the figures “of Our Lady, of Our Lord, of angels, and of a church!++The document – English translation+“At the limits of this parish, but almost in the confines of it, which divides it from the parish of Santo André de Várzea, with whom it borders in the parts of the West and South, in the foothills of the thick and rough bushes of the mountain range of Abobreira, in the part of the South, in a head of the said mountain, on the thirteenth day of May of the past year of thousand and seven hundred and fifty-seven, almost one hour before sunset, three creatures under the age of twelve were walking and feeding their sheep in the place called the hill of Pereiro, without seeing anything, heard a voice calling each one by her own name, which were two Marias and one Teresa, and turning their eyes they saw on some rough stones a woman prostrated, or leaning against some backward rocks, of medium stature; but with a bright and shining face, that astonished them and seemed to them not to be the face of a compatriot; but approaching her, though astonished to see such a woman and in such a place, she encouraged them with gentle manners, to come closer to her, so that she could greet them, and took the hand of one of more moral virtue, and gave another a rosary that she carried around her neck and put it on hers, and the third, who was the most adult, reprimanded her for her addiction of speaking about the devil. Then she ordered them all to go to their village and tell them to fast on bread and water the first fridays, and saturdays that would follow and that they should tell the same to all the people they would saw and that would spoke to them, and then one of the bravest asked the woman who she was, and she answered, that by doing what she recommended, and a pilgrimage in praise of Our Lady, around those rocks, that would last nine continuous days, they would know who she was, and this the three girls did promptly, and reporting these news, there was such an influx of people, from near and far, and all uniformly acclaimed it as a miracle, and this I saw and observed, and reported to the very reverend provisional doctor of this diocese and asking him to have this case investigated, the said gentleman asked to me to observe the substance of this case and if it did not despair. This, I did with the greatest obligation that I could for myself, and until now I did not find anything contrary (to church doctrine); rather, I found very reliable people had seen, and observed many years ago a light many nights in this place, until the day before Our Lady’s Ascension in August, at night, a bright light that was seen almost at midnight hours, and its brightness was seen more than half a league, and after that day, the light was no longer observed; besides after having done more observations, some miracles have occurred in this part, and the greatest thing I have observed is the infinite people, who continuously go to that place, and to please them I have ordered to put in it a statue of Our Lady of Lapa, and a wood cross for the rite of adoration, and devotion of those people”.