Photo: Lucia Santos (left) with her cousins Jacinta Marto and Francisco Marto, the three children of Fatima, to whom Our Lady of Fatima (Virgin Mary) appeared.
Fatima has always had a major role in the Catholic Church ever since Virgin Mary was said to have appeared to the three shepherd children, Lucia Santos and her cousins, siblings Jacinta Marto and Francisco Marto in 1917. The children said then that she spoke to them and entrusted them with three prophetic revelations that are now known as the Three Secrets of Fatima. The first two secrets were made public quite early. But the mysterious ‘Third Secret’ was not revealed until 2000, when it was interpreted to be a prediction of the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II in 1981.
Pope Benedict XVI flew to Portugal this week to worship at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, one of the world's most venerated shrines, which is visited by over 5 million visitors a year. The Pope explained that the interpretation of the third secret does not stop at the previous interpretation, but the third secret has a permanent and ongoing significance. The Pope said its significance could even include the suffering the Church is going through today.