Authentic Marian appearances always relate back to the core of the Gospel and point the Church toward important truths, often reminding us of things we have forgotten.

Such was the case at Fatima, where the Blessed Virgin appeared in 1917.

Fatima is often referred to as ‘the Altar of the World’ and the message reminds us of many truths of the Faith – the Real Presence, the value of adoration, the need for reparation and the importance of mercy.

In one of the Angelic prayers given some time before the appearances of the Blessed Virgin, the children were taught the value of mercy and reparation –

‘My God, I believe, I adore, I trust and I love You. I ask pardon for those who do not believe, who do not adore, who do not trust and who do not love you’.

This theme continued later, in the appearances of the Blessed Virgin, who told the children –

‘You have seen hell, where the souls of poor sinners go; to save them, God wishes to establish in the world the devotion to My Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved’.

In the years since the appearances at Fatima, the theme of mercy has gradually become a much louder voice in the Church. Indeed, the ‘Pope of Fatima’, St John Paul II, reminded us very clearly of the importance of being merciful in order to obtain mercy – after being shot in St Peter’s Square on the anniversary of the first appearance of Our Lady of Fatima, he forgave the man who had sought to kill him.