Through the centuries Our Blessed Lady has appeared many times to chosen souls on this earth, but only at Fatima has Mary expressed such deep concern about a particular nation, namely Russia! Why is Our Lady so interested in Russia?

Nations in the past have revolted against God and His Commandments and have persecuted His Church, and yet the Blessed Virgin did not appear to beg members in such a special way for a crusade to break the hold of a diabolical ideology. Is it perhaps the love of a Mother straining to welcome back a wayward child, a child who has ever harbored and expressed a tender, deep devotion to that Mother?

Tradition tells us that the Catholic Faith  was introduced into Russia in the 9th Century after a beautiful Russian Princess, Saint Olga, journeyed to the golden city of Constantinople to be baptized. Be that as it may, one fact is certain. When the Mother of God came with Her Son, His Father and Her Spouse, She came to stay and to rule Russian hearts until the end of time. Despite schisms and revolutions, love of the Bogoroditsa (Mother of God), rules the hearts of the Russian masses even to this day. Russia's devotion to Mary grew with the nation.

Marian devotion of the Russians permeated the entire Russian land. She covered every nook and every corner. Some day historians and artists will discover this and reveal to the world the Rosary of Russian shrines dedicated just to Her. Of approximately 1.000 monasteries in Russia in 1917 for instance, more than half were dedicated to Our Lady.

In Russian history, there can be found a long litany of titles given to Mary, commemorating Mary's intercession in attaining  historical achievements. For wherever the Russians went, she seemed to go ahead of them, appearing miraculously at times, showering them with blessings. And each time a solitary artist in some hidden monastery would record these happenings with an icon. Thus we have Our Lady of Kazan, of Vladimir, of Kiev, of Smolensk, of Kostroma, of Novgorod, of the Don, and many more. And behind each icon, there can be found stories which rival those of Fatima and Lourdes.

The Russian Hail Mary, which contains only the Angel's greeting, is the prayer Russians love best. The Rosary in Russia is considered an extremely holy and select form of prayer to Her. The old Russian greeting starts: "May the blue mantle  of Our Lady cover you with its gracious folds and keep you safe."

Mary permeated the Russian Byzantine Liturgy and it is filled with many Litanies. She is addressed immediately after the consecration as well as throughout the Mass. She is invoked at the "Panihida", the prayer for the dead. She is always called upon in the "Moleben", the prayer of petition.

In that immense land, there is no city so big, no hamlet so small as not to have some landmark, some shrine or some icon erected to Mary, Who is, "Fair as the moon, majestic as the sun." You see the many facets of this faith and devotion also reflected in Russian literature - through Dostoevski, Tolstoy, Checkhov and even through some present-day writers.

Yes, the Marian heritage of Russia is deeply rooted in its national character and tradition, the past years of diabolical enslavement will not have uprooted this heritage which took centuries to establish. The Russians have always been known to be exceedingly devoted to Mary, especially through her icons. M.Gordilli, a well-known Oriental mariologist, after a thorough investigation into the miraculous icons of Our Lady of Russia, arrived at the figure of a good 293, whose Feasts are celebrated at least with a commemoration in the Russian Church.

Truly, Russia can be called Mary's land. Although external expression of filial love for the Mother of God is hampered at present, Mary is still loved and honored by many in Russia. The very first Church in Russia was built in Honor of the Assumption of Our Blessed Lady, centuries and centuries before the doctrine was defined. Today in the Kremlin there is an unused chapel dedicated to the Assumption.

The final promise of the Virgin of Fatima was unconditional. The conversion of Russia is certain. The blasphemous anti-God despotism in Russia has been built on the terrible, passive sufferings of the Russian people. But Russia is going to return to God. And thus, in Russia's devotion to Mary, Russia's centuries-old heritage lies our hope of peace!

Source: Fr. John Baptist Terbovich.