Mary appeared to three peasant children near Fatima, Portugal, six times between May 13 and Oct. 13, 1917, and asked for prayers for world peace and an end to World War I, for sinners and for the conversion of Russia.
She also entrusted the children with three secrets regarding devotion to her Immaculate Heart, a vision of hell and a “bishop in white” shot by soldiers firing bullets and arrows. Many connect the third secret to the attempted assassination of Pope St. John Paul II on May 13, 1981, and the pope thanked Mary for guiding the bullet and saving him. One of the bullets that struck Pope John Paul II in 1981 was later encased in the crown of the image of Our Lady of Fatima, in the Sanctuary of Fátima, Portugal.
Into a world when “atheism and totalitarian regimes would bring the horror of genocide of hundreds of millions of people,” said Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted, celebrating a Mass consecrating the Diocese of Phoenix to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on Oct. 13 of last year, the 100th anniversary of her final apparition. “God sent a sign — He sent the Blessed Virgin Mary to the three children in Fatima a message of hope for them all, a message to help them to believe firmly in the merciful love of God, in the victorious Cross of Christ, in Jesus’ Incarnation and birth, the fountain of dignity and hope for all the human family.”