On May 13, 1917, three children who were cousins—Jacinta, Lucia, and Francisco—received the first of a number of privileged visits from the Virgin Mary. They, and the world, would never be the same. Nations awaited the end of the “war to end all wars” as our Lady’s call for prayer and penance for the cause of peace echoed around the globe. The years following the events that make up the apparitions at Fatima found faithful Catholics promoting the Fatima Prayer and imploring our Blessed Mother’s intercession for the conversion of Russia.
It was common in the 1970s and eighties to find copies of prayers for the conversion of Russia on church benches and bulletin boards. I remember people talking about Fatima with a sense of urgency that I couldn’t comprehend. In 1989, when Solidarity and the fall of the Soviet Union filled newscasts and headlines, it became clear. Decades of prayers had been answered. The rosary, penance, and multiple consecrations of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary had prevailed. Part of the world was at peace, or at least it seemed.
Fast-forward to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022. You might ask, “What happened? Didn’t the prayer work? Why war in Europe—again? How is it that we find ourselves in this tragically familiar place?” The answer is not necessarily found in humanity’s failure to heed our Lady’s call to prayer, though many could pray more. It is in the irresistible allure of power.
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