Next year will see the 100th anniversary of Our Lady’s apparitions at Fatima, which took place between May and October 1917, and which culminated in the famous miracle of the sun on October 13, which was witnessed by at least 70,000 people.

At the same time, the atheistic communist revolution was unfolding in Russia, an upheaval which would lead to persecution and immense suffering for millions of believers, as depicted in the third part of the Fatima secret, which was publicly revealed in May 2000.

The events at Fatima also took place as World War I was entering its final phases, after the slaughter of millions, as the Blessed Virgin appeared for the first time on May 13, 1917 at the Cova da Iria, not far from the village of Fatima, to three young shepherd children, Francisco and Jacinta Marto and Lucia dos Santos.

Fatima is important for all sorts of reasons, not least because of the strong link between the papacy and the apparitions, particularly in the case of Pius XII and St John Paul II, but also for Benedict XVI and Pope Francis.

Fatima is important, too, because of the request by Our Lady for the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart, which was accomplished by Pope John Paul II in 1984. This was followed by the politically unexpected collapse of Soviet communism and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. That the outcome could have been very different is shown by the way protesters were treated at Tiananmen Square that same year, when hundreds lost their lives.

Our Lady came on the 13th of each month, with a message of peace, prayer and reparation, and the revelation that God wanted to establish devotion to her Immaculate Heart throughout the world in order to save souls at risk of being eternally lost.

​How to continue reading…

This article appears in the Catholic Herald magazine - to read it in full subscribe to our digital edition from just 30p a week

The Catholic Herald is your essential weekly guide to the Catholic world; latest news, incisive opinion, expert analysis and spiritual reflection