(March 6, 1922)
Access to Fatima obstructed
By 1921, Fatima had become the hub of a new Catholic revival in Portugal. Though the Freemasonic Portuguese government had boasted that the Church would be wiped out of Portugal within two generations, their vision was being jeopardized by the new life Fatima was breathing into Catholicism in Portugal. In response, the Portuguese army was deployed to Fatima to deny Catholics access to the Cova da Iria. This maneuver was strongly and persistently protested. Finally, realizing the futility of the endeavor, the captain of the guard relented, and the faithful were once again allowed free access to the blessed place where Our Lady appeared.
The miraculous well
By 1922, the throngs of people making pilgrimages to the Cova da Iria were so numerous that the Bishop of Leiria-Fatima, Bishop da Silva, authorized that a well be dug in order to provide enough water. The project didnt seem promising, as the land was very dry, and stone obstructed the digging. However, plenty of water soon appeared on the spot, and both the pilgrims and local inhabitants came in great numbers to draw water from a source they believed to be miraculous.
Many miracles were worked with the water from the well. People left their wound dressings there as testament to their cures, and countless others filled containers with the water to take back to the sick. Following these events, devotion to Our Lady of Fatima grew to such a degree that opponents became even more determined to obstruct the movement.
An act of Freemasonic terrorism
On March 6, 1922 the Capelinha, the tiny chapel erected at the site of the apparitions, was dynamited. That night a powerful explosion awakened the inhabitants of the surrounding hamlets. They found the Capelinha in flames, with only the walls remaining. Providentially, the statue of Our Lady had been removed from the Capelinha the night before.
The men responsible for the destruction, Freemasons and apparently friends of the Tinsmith (the Administrator in whose district Fatima was located), had perforated the walls of the Capelinha in four places, and had inserted four explosive devices. A fifth one, placed on the trunk of the holm-oak tree on which Our Lady had appeared, had not exploded.
Indignation at the terrorism was widespread, but no one was arrested or tried for this crime. The local parish priest organized a procession of protest, after which Mass was celebrated before 10,000 faithful. Thus, despite such violent opposition to devotion to Our Lady of Fatima, it would not prevent the faithful from making pilgrimages to honor Her at the Cova da Iria.