On 13 May 1917, three children were shepherding their little flock in the Cova da Iria, parish of Fatima, town of Vila Nova de Ourém, today the diocese of Leiria-Fatima. They were called: Lucia de Jesus, aged 10, and her cousins Francisco and Jacinta Marto, aged 9 and 7.
About midday, after praying the Rosary, they were amusing themselves building a little house of stones scattered around the place where the Basilica now stands. Suddenly they saw a brilliant light, and thinking it to be lightning, they decided to go home. But as they went down the slope another flash lit up the place, and they saw on the top of a holmoak (where the Chapel of Apparitions now stands), “a Lady more brilliant than the sun”, from whose hands hung a white rosary. The Lady told the three little shepherds that it was necessary to pray much, and she invited them to return to the Cova da Iria during five consecutive months, on the 13th day at that hour. The children did so and the 13th day of June, July, September and October, the Lady appeared to them again and spoke to them in the Cova da 0a.