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COMMENTARY: No shrine, save for those in the Holy Land, is more linked with the churnings of history than that of Our Lady of Fatima.
Every shrine — from the first ones set up by patriarch Abraham on his journeys to the Marian sanctuaries today — is linked to history. What happened here, to make this a holy place? How did God act that makes this place one of privileged encounter with the workings of Providence?
No shrine, save for those in the Holy Land, is more linked with the churnings of history than that of Our Lady of Fatima. The “short 20th century” is usually dated from the October Revolution of 1917, which brought the Bolsheviks to power in Moscow. It concluded with the dissolution of the Soviet Union on Christmas Day 1991. One might then see in the 1917 apparitions at Fatima, Portugal, a preparation for the bloodiest of centuries. And the link between Fatima and Pope St. John Paul II is historical, too, for no figure in history was more consequential to the peaceful end of the totalitarian century than the Polish pope.
St. Paul VI visited Fatima in 1967 for the 50th anniversary of the apparitions. After the assassination attempt on the feast of Our Lady of Fatima, May 13, 1981, John Paul II visited Fatima exactly one year later to give thanks to Mary for saving his life. He would return on the 10th anniversary, May 13, 1991, for a second visit of thanksgiving. …