The story of the Fatima apparitions never seems to grow old but rather takes on other nuances as time approaches its 100th anniversary in 2017, with profound implications for the entire world. Paramount to the message, however, will always be the importance of prayer-especially the Rosary-and reparation before the Most Blessed Sacrament, to appease God, who is so profoundly offended by the blatant sinfulness of his creatures. Our Lady begs for constant prayer and sacrifice to bring about global peace and conversions, and to deflect souls from hell's inferno. Her Immaculate Heart is the most compassionate in pleading for "poor" sinners.
Any discussion of Our Lady's visits of 1917 to Lucia dos Santos, Francisco Marto and Jacinta Marto in Fatima should be preceded with reference to the 1916 appearances of the Angel, who identified himself to the trio as the "Angel of Peace" and the "Guardian Angel of Portugal," at the Loca do Cabeco, which was a tiny impression near Fatima. The three visits of the Angel occurred in the spring, the summer and the autumn of that year. While "tilling the soil" for Our Blessed Mother's subsequent appearances, the Angel emphasized to the three shepherd children the importance of prayer and sacrifice, and the Real Presence of Christ in the Most Blessed Sacrament and reparation to be offered to It.
During the spring apparition, the Angel of Peace invited the children to pray with him and taught them the prayer that we know as the Pardon Prayer:
My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love you! I ask pardon of you for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love you!
The appearance in the summer witnessed the encouragement uttered by the Guardian Angel of Portugal to Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta:
Pray! Pray very much! The Hearts of Jesus and Mary have designs of mercy on you. Offer prayers and sacrifices constantly to the Most High.
And in that second apparition, the Angel was not finished giving counsel:
Make of everything you can a sacrifice, and offer it to God as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and in supplication for the conversion of sinners. You will thus draw down peace upon your country. I am its Angel Guardian, the Angel of Portugal. Above all, accept and bear with submission, the suffering which the Lord will send you.
The third and final appearance of the Angel that occurred during the autumn also featured a prayer for the children to learn:
Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore you profoundly, and I offer you the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifference with which He Himself is offended. And through the infinite merits of His most Sacred Heart, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of you the conversion of poor sinners.
Our Lady appeared on the following days: Sunday, May 13; Wednesday, June 13; Friday, July 13; Sunday, August 19; Friday, September 13; and Sunday, October 13:
The thirteenth of these months was so honored by Mary's visit, except in August when the children were jailed by Arturo de Oliveira Santos, the apparently Communist-leaning Administrator of Villa Nova de Ourém, the county to which Fatima belonged, who threatened them by employing myriad scare tactics so that they would renounce their assertion of having encountered "The Lady"-but to no avail. The children were taken hostage on Monday, August 13 and released on Wednesday, August 15-the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Madonna then chose August 19 for that month's apparition, which occurred not at the Cova da Iria but at Valinhos, a hollow situated on the northern slope of the Loca do Cabeco-the site of the Angel's visits to the children.