(Editor’s note: Anne is the second-place winner of Saratoga Central Catholic School’s annual St. Francis de Sales writing contest. Juniors and seniors had to write an essay on which Marian apparition was their favorite and why. The two winning essays will also be published at http://catholicmom.com.)

The First World War is considered by many to be the first modern war. Many new technologies were applied to the war that would forever change the world. Poison gas, trench warfare, machine guns, and tanks all became hallmarks of a new cataclysmic type of conflict. The “war to end all wars” wiped out an entire generation and shook the faith of many to the core.

In the midst of this catastrophe, in 1917 in Portugal, Mary appeared to three shepherd children. Mary asked these children to “say the Rosary every day, to bring peace to the world and an end to war.”

These three children — Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco — were warned that, if the world would not make reparation for sin, there would be great suffering in the form of war, starvation and persecution.

Our Lady of Fatima also revealed three secrets. The first secret refers to souls in hell. The second secret is interpreted to refer to the violence of the Second World War and the tragic oppression of the people of the Soviet Union. The third and final secret was not disclosed until 2000, and involves the persecution of humanity in the 20th century. Many believe the third secret is related to the 1981 assassination attempt on Pope St. John Paul II.

Mary promised to prove the truth of the apparitions. On Oct. 13, 1917, the sun appeared to dance in the sky, moving in circles and zigzags. Seventy thousand people who had come to witness the apparition witnessed the “miracle of the sun,” which cemented the faith of the people in the messages and events at Fatima.

While the message of the Fatima apparition may seem rather grim, Our Lady of Fatima still declared that “My immaculate heart will triumph.” The Fatima apparitions are my favorite because they remind us that this world is not the end. It is full of suffering and trial, but it is all for a purpose.

What is done on Earth does have consequences. We cannot become complacent. The Fatima apparitions are a wakeup call for the world that is desperately needed. The message of the apparitions motivate me to keep fighting.

The timing of these events is significant. World War I was a terrible tragedy that caused the suffering of millions upon millions. The “great war” of World War I caused many to question everything they knew and believed. The roots of many issues today can be traced back to “the great war.”

The apparitions are a call to persevere through hardships, a reminder that “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish, but might have eternal life” (John 3:16).

The apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima cannot be brushed aside. They are still pertinent today, more than 100 years later.