Michael Agnew

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Religious Studies


Ellen Badone




It is increasingly acknowledged in treatments of the Cold War that any definitive narrative regarding this historical period must account for the role of religion in the public discourse of the time. Yet limited attention is accorded to the role of more marginal Catholic devotional organizations and their voice in Cold War discourse, most notably in the North American context.

The Fatima Crusade is one such organization, founded in 1978 by Fr. Nicholas Gruner and based in Fort Erie, Ontario. Devoted to the serial apparitions of the Virgin Mary at Fatima, Portugal in 1917, the Fatima Crusade developed the call for Russia's conversion made explicit in Mary's revelations at Fatima into the focus for a peripheral yet extremely vocal conservative element of the Catholic Church in North America. This organization vehemently opposed Soviet Communism in the pages of its quarterly magazine during the latter years of the Cold War era.

Fr. Nicholas Gruner's Fatima Crusade, marked by its apocalyptic Marianism and conservative Catholicism, provides a privileged vantage-point from which to examine the role of religiously-informed ideology in fashioning an anti-Communist polemic during the Cold War era in North America. This thesis explores the Fatima Crusade's development of the Fatima messages into an authoritative Marian apocalyptic worldview, its conflicts with the Church hierarchy regarding the interpretation of these messages, and the Crusade's ability to adapt its message to the latest historical developments and social issues following the collapse of the Soviet Union. While the Crusade's greater emphasis on social issues after the end of the Cold War tapped into larger Protestant apocalyptic discourses in North America, it still constitutes the latest articulation of a distinct and long-standing Marian apocalyptic tradition in Roman Catholicism.

McMaster University Library

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