(originally published November 12, 2014)
When the Virgin Mary visited the three Portuguese shepherd children, she mentioned the Great War and also Russia.
(A year earlier, the trio had been visited by an angel -- who identified himself as the Guardian of Portugal).
World War I: Jul 1914 -- Nov 1918
Fatima appearances: May -- Oct 1917
Thus, the several appearances of Immaculate Mary occurred on the continent bearing the cross of war; and they were sandwiched between the two upheavals in Russia:
'February Revolution': Mar 1917 (the emperor abdicated; he was executed in the summer of 1918)
'October Revolution': Nov 1917 (the Bolsheviks take power)
Two priests, who have now been canonized, each credited Our Lady of Fatima with saving their lives.
Padre Pio was severely ill in 1959, when he was healed by a visiting statue of the Immaculata. And in 1981 when Pope John Paul was shot on May 13 -- the anniversary of the first Fatima apparition -- he credited the Mother of God for his survival.
(As a young priest, JPII -- Karol Wojtyla -- paid a call on Padre Pio).
The Great War laid down storms of steel never witnessed before... On a single day during the first year of fighting, there were 27,000 French soldiers killed.
(Two years later, the British army would lose 20,000 soldiers in a day.
To put these figures in perspective, the bloodiest single-day battle in all of American history was Antietam in 1862: less than four thousand Union and Confederate soldiers died near that Maryland creek.)
During the final year of the war, a world-wide influenza epidemic broke out. In the United States, it ended up killing more than 600,000 people.
Also struck down by the disease were two of the three Fatima children: Francisco (age 10) and his sister Jacinta (9).
The fall of Soviet Communism is a miraculous event providing the possibility of a renewed Orthodox Russia to join a new Symphony of Christian nations. Let us be open and pray. Vladimir Putin's Russia is not Vladimir Lenin's Soviet Union.