Meanwhile the faithful patrons of our Lady, prizing dearly the statue donated by Senhor Gilbert, suspected with good reason that serious hazards lay before them.
Maria da Capelinha continues her informal history of both the statue and the shrine:
We were so afraid of some profanation, but at the same time we were longing to be able to venerate a statue of our Lady in the very place where she had appeared. One day Senhor Gilbert came and said that he thought it would be a good idea to veil over the niche so that people would think the statue was already there. Then we could see if anything untoward happened. So I put a veil over the niche and everyone thought that our Lady was behind it. Nothing at all happened. So Senhor Gilbert brought the statue and put it in the niche.
Months passed, and there began to be new rumours that the statue was to be stolen and the chapel burned down. So we thought it would be better to take the statue to my home and bring it to the chapel every morning. It must have been about the end of October, when my husband brought our Lady to our home in Moita. We arranged a little altar in the sitting room, and put the statue on it with two oil lamps burning.
MARCH 6, 1921: THE CHAPEL IS BLOWN UP
Maria da Capelinha continues:
We were perfectly right to be afraid, for on March 6 of the next year we heard a terrible explosion during the night. The Freemasons had placed four bombs in the chapel, and a fifth by the tree where our Lady appeared. The roof was blown off, but the bomb by the tree did not explode.
We wanted to repair the chapel at once but the bishop said we were not to do so till he gave permission. This made us very sad. It depressed us very much to see the chapel in such a state and we didn’t like to stay by it. We used to go there, say our prayers, and come away again. The people used to come to our house instead and pray by the statue. Among them were Dr Marques and Dr Formigao. People used to kneel by the door and pray. There were always people there and our Lady answered them just the same, so that people would have more faith. I was very happy to have the statue of our Lady in my house. But now, Father, it upsets me to see people getting worse and worse.
On the 13th, a great many people gathered to take the statue in procession to the Cova da Iria. We had no andor for the statue but everyone wanted a turn at carrying it. There were many promises to do this, and so each one carried it a little way. We sang and prayed as we went, and when we arrived there, we spent the afternoon at our devotions and had a procession; then we returned to my house. Oh, what happy times those were! As our Lady passed, the people knelt in the road as they do for the Blessed Sacrament. It was beautiful in those days to see so many people thinking only of holy things. There was so much prayer, in fact we would spend a whole day from early morning onward in our Lady’s company.
Many came to fulfil their promises and light candles; others came to ask for certain graces, but everyone went away happy.