In the meantime, streams of people were converging on the Cova da Iria. The press attacks had had the effect of making Fatima known from one end of the country to the other. Since early morning, long lines of carriages, automobiles, and vehicles of every kind filled the roads leading to the scene of the apparitions. There were masses of people on foot, and many on bicycles. Some rode on donkeys, horses or mules. By noon, according to the general estimate, there were 18,000 in the crowd. They thronged around the little oak, now stripped of its branches by pilgrims. Now and then, someone started a hymn, and the multitude took it up. At intervals, they recited the rosary.

At noon, when the children failed to appear, the crowd grew restless. The reason for their absence was not long going round. There were angry murmers and shouts to march to Orem and call the insolent tyrant to account. Then suddenly a brilliant flash, and a roll of thunder. In a moment, the young oak tree was enveloped in a white cloud, pretty to look at. The crowd was appeased ~ it knelt and prayed and wept tears of gratitude in the sweet presence of the unseen Lady. After ten minutes, the cloud slowly rose and disappeared. Songs and cries of joy broke out as the crowd dispersed peacefully. The Virgin had not failed them, in spite of the wiles of the chief magistrate.

My Mother, preserve me this day from mortal sin. Hail Mary, 3 times.  

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