On May 13th, 1917 three children were playing games in the field while tending their sheep. Their names were Jacinta, Francisco and Lucia Marta. Suddenly they saw a flash of light. Thinking it to be lightning, the children gathered the sheep and started for home. They took refuge under a tree about a hundred yards away. They saw a flash of light again. They began running when they saw, standing over a small Holm Oak tree, a Lady dressed in white. She appeared more brilliant than the sun.
That was the beginning of the visions of Our Blessed Mother at Fatima. She visited the children six times bringing them messages for the world. In all Her appearances at Fatima, Our Mother repeatedly emphasized the necessity of praying the Rosary daily, of wearing the Brown Scapular of Mount Carmel and of performing acts of reparation and sacrifice.
Our Lady's Message to the world is contained in what has come to be called the 'Secret'. The Secret actually consists of three parts, the first two of which have been revealed. The first part of the Secret was a horrifying vision of hell "where the souls of poor sinners go" and contained an urgent plea from Our Lady for acts of prayer and sacrifice to save souls. The second part of the Secret predicted the outbreak of World War II and asked for the Consecration of Russia as a condition of world peace. It also predicted the triumph of Her Immaculate Heart following Russia's consecration and conversion. A portion of the "Third Secret" was revealed at the beatification of Jacinta and Francisco Marta. It concerned the war waged by atheistic systems against the Church and Christians, and it described the immense suffering endured by the witnesses to the faith in the last century of the second millennium. It was to be a neverending Way of the Cross led by the Popes of the twentieth century.
According to the children’s understanding of the “Third Secret, the "Bishop clothed in white" who prays for all the faithful is the Pope. As he makes his way with great effort towards the Cross amid the corpses of those who were martyred (Bishops, priests, men and women religious and many lay persons), he too falls to the ground, apparently dead, under a burst of gunfire. This predicted the assassination attempt of Saint Pope John Paul II.
On December 10, 1925, Our Lady appeared with the Child Jesus to Lucia and said: "Look, My daughter, at My Heart, encircled with thorns, with which ungrateful people pierce it at every instant with their blasphemy and ingratitude. You at least try to console Me with the practice of the First Saturdays."
The Catholic Church has officially endorsed the Fatima Message as worthy of belief since 1930. Pope John Paul II has publicly credited Our Lady of Fatima for saving his life during the assassination attempt in 1981. The following year, he went to Fatima to give thanks for Her intervention.
O Most Holy Virgin Mary, Queen of the most holy Rosary, you were pleased to appear to the children of Fatima and reveal a glorious message. We implore you, inspire in our hearts a fervent love for the recitation of the Rosary. By meditating on the mysteries of the redemption that are recalled in the Rosary, may we obtain the graces and virtues that we ask, through the merits of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Redeemer. Amen.