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Even though the first request for the consecration came in 1929, it was 1916 that an angel appeared to three children in Portugal. He told them he was the guardian angel of their country and announced Jesus and Mary had "plans of mercy for" them.
Church Militant's Aidan O'Connor takes a closer look at the Fatima apparitions.
In the early 20th century, World War I was ravaging Europe. Portugal was suffering a wave of anti-clericalism and Catholic persecution. Around this time, in 1917 — one year after being visited by angel — three Portuguese shepherd children witnessed a series of Marian apparitions.
Our Lady first appeared on May 13 in the countryside of the town called Fatima. The children described "a lady dressed in white, more brilliant than the sun." She declared, "I am of Heaven" and told the three children — Lucia dos Santos, Francesco Marto and Jacinta Marto — to return on the same day the next month.
For the second apparition, Mary revealed her Immaculate Heart and promised to take the children to Heaven. She told the children Jesus wanted them to make her known and loved.
With each apparition, crowds began to grow and witnessed a cloud and claps of thunder while the children saw Mary. The third month, Lucia kept Our Lady's message as a secret to be revealed gradually, in three parts.
In anticipation of the fourth apparition, the local mayor — an apostate Catholic and mason — kidnapped the children. The children were threatened with death but refused to recant their story and saw Our Lady a few days later.
Witnesses of the fifth apparition heard indescribable sounds and saw raining rose petals while Mary told the children she would soon perform a miracle. On Oct. 13, a crowd of around 70,000 witnessed the sun shooting in different directions and even rushing toward the earth.
In following years, Sr. Lucia released the three secrets. In the first, the children were given a terrifying vision of Hell — demons and burning souls in human form. In the second, Our Lady foretold the end of World War I and the beginning of a great persecution if humanity continued offending God.
In order to prevent further war, suffering and widespread error, Our Lady asked for Russia to be consecrated to her Immaculate Heart.
Sister Lucia kept the third secret private for many years in honor of Our Lady's request. When it was finally released, its contents became a subject of controversy.