I was 9 years old when I checked out a storybook from my Catholic school’s library about the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima to three shepherd children in Portugal in 1917. The story mesmerized me. I felt a bit of holy jealousy, since Lucia, one of the seers, was my age at the time of the Blessed Mother’s visits. Still, my little 9-year-old heart embraced the call of Mary to pray the rosary for peace, for the conversion of Russia (in terms of atheistic communism and its spread to other nations), and for devotion to her Immaculate Heart, and to sacrifice for sinners.
And the Miracle of the Sun on Oct. 13, 1917, the great exclamation point to Mary’s apparitions and messages! Oh, how I wished to see the sun dance as it did in Fatima! I would look toward the sun, tightly close my eyes and pray, “Please make it dance, Mary. Please make it dance!” Then I’d open my eyes—always to a boring, stationary orb.
Now here we are, 105 years since the apparitions and the Miracle of the Sun. But it seems like a wrinkle in time, so relevant are Mother Mary’s century-old messages to current events with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In light of these events, it’s difficult to hear Mary’s 1917 call to pray for peace and for the conversion of Russia, and not see her eyes look from the children to us in 2022, imploring us to do the same.
So what can we do? We can pray the rosary, a devotion the Blessed Mother specifically asked of the three young shepherds. And we can offer up sacrifices. Perhaps some are called to great sacrifice. Others may be called to “do little things with great love” as St. Therese of Lisieux encouraged. Money saved by not eating out can be donated to organizations providing aid to Ukrainian refugees. Or perhaps instead of listening to the radio on your way in to work, use that time—or even part of that time—to pray.
Providentially, we now have extra help in those prayers. Francisco and Jacinto Marto, the other two seers at Fatima, died in 1919 and 1920, respectively. Both were canonized in 2017. Lucia died in 2005 and has been declared a Servant of God whose cause for canonization is now underway. Outside of the Blessed Mother herself, who else would make for better intercessors of prayers for peace and the conversion of Russia than the Fatima children whom Mary asked to pray for these intentions?
Our Lady of Fatima, Sts. Francisco and Jacinta Marto, Servant of God Lucia dos Santos—pray with us for peace in Ukraine and the conversion of Russia. Amen.
The traveling statue of Our Lady of Fatima visits Southern Indiana in 2017.
The candlelight rosary procession at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima. The graves of the seers can be venerated in the church.