This year the Church is celebrating the hundredth anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady in Fatima. It was in the year 1917 that she appeared there, on six separate occasions, to three shepherd children with an urgent message for the whole world. Before the October revolution in Russia had even happened, she warned them of the dangers for mankind of Russia and of atheist communism and revealed to them that prayer, penance and interior conversion were the only means to prevent wars and disaster from engulfing the world. On 13 October 1917 a crowd of over 50,000 people witnessed a miracle of the sun, in which the sun began to spin on its axis, then appeared to plunge down towards the earth in a zigzag course before rising back to its place in the sky again.
This year, on 13th May Pope Francis officially canonised the two youngest visionaries, Francisco and Jacinta, in Fatima.
The Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), which is also celebrating an anniversary this year - the 70th anniversary of its foundation - has always been closely associated with the message of Fatima. For the founder of ACN, Father Werenfried van Straaten, the message of Fatima was always the guiding principle and the underlying theme of all his apostolate. It was in 1942, as a young religious, that he first heard the message of Fatima and during his lifetime he on several occasions solemnly consecrated his charity ACN to Our Lady of Fatima. For him it was obvious that the world was in deadly danger if we failed to heed Our Lady‘s appeal. The “all out rebellion against God”, which led to the Russian Revolution and which was followed by a hitherto unprecedented persecution of the Church, still continues to this day in various forms and in various parts of the world. ACN is in part a direct response to Our Lady‘s appeal for conversion and a turning back to God.
(Fatima in Portugal © Aid to the Church in Need)
During this Jubilee year there are initiatives all over the world for commemorating the message of Fatima. ACN is supporting some of these, among them a pilgrimage of 50 young Russian Catholics to Our Lady‘s shrine in Fatima. For these young Catholics, who live as a small minority within their country, the opportunity to go on pilgrimage in this way to one of the greatest and most important Marian shrines in the world means a great deal. It will strengthen them in their own faith and give them the opportunity to meet and pray together with thousands of other pilgrims from all over the world. It will be an experience that will remain with them throughout their lives and their journey of faith. ACN is supporting this pilgrimage with a grant of $9,800.
The vital work of Catholic charities like Aid to the Church In Need provide a lifeline to the Church wherever she is poor, persecuted or threatened. Please help our work by donating online or send your donation to Aid to the Church in Need, PO Box 7246 Baulkham Hills NSW 2153. Ph: (02) 9679-1929