In 1917, World War I—called “the war to end all wars”—was raging. The Holy Father at the time, Pope Benedict XV, decided to pray a novena to the Queen of Peace, asking her to intercede for an end to the war. He began this novena on May 5. On May 13th, 1917, the eighth day of this papal novena, our Lady responded by appearing to the three shepherd children—Lucia (age 10), Francisco (age 9) and Jacinta (age 7)—in a small village in Portugal.
The message of Fatima is a message of peace. The Mother of Jesus appeared with a blueprint for peace in our hearts, and for peace in the world. The very place in Fatima where she appeared, called the Cova da Iria, means the Cove of Peace. And it was the “Angel of Peace” who prepared
the children to receive our Lady’s visits.
From her very first appearance to the children of Fatima, our Lady called them (and, through them, us!) to pray for peace. The Blessed Mother said Pray the Rosary every day, in order to obtain peace for the world, and the end of the war.” (May 13).
She repeated this call to pray for peace throughout the six times she appeared to the children from May until October 1917. In July 1917, our Lady told the children, “The war is going to end; but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the Pontificate of Pius XI.” The Blessed Mother calls us to cease offending God. In other words: to stop sinning. It is sin that most offends God, since sin distorts our image as His children, and obscures His plans of love in and through us.
Thankfully, as Catholics, we have the gift of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. As we make a good Confession, Jesus cleanses us of our sins, through the instrumentality of a priest. In this way—by having a clean conscience—peace is restored to our soul. Our Lady of Fatima further invited us to offer prayers and sacrifices for sinners. In this way, we have the awesome privilege of helping to save souls. As these souls are converted, and cease offending God, they also will have peace in their hearts. Thus, the great gift of God’s peace will ripple throughout the world, one soul at a time.