Fatima, Portugal: Our Lady of Fatima Shrine
About the apparitions at Fatima:
Perhaps the most significant Marian apparition of the 20th century, Fatima has meaning for us today as well. Between May and October 1917, Our Lady appeared on the 13th of each month to three shepherd children— 10 year old Lucia dos Santos and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto-in the fields of Aljustrel, just outside of Fatima, Portugal.
The message, and the events to follow, were to have major consequences and lead many people to Jesus Christ.
The Blessed Mother asked that the children pray the rosary daily, and said that through the rosary wars could be prevented. At that time many men from Portugal were involved in World War I.
Fatima involved three secrets:
1. The visionaries were given horrific vision of hell which lasted only a minute. Our Lady showed the visionaries a great sea of fire that they said “seemed to be under the earth. Plunged in this fire were demons and souls in human form, like transparent burning embers, amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear”.
2. According to the visionaries, the Blessed Mother looked at them sadly and said: “Your have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. The war is going to end, but if people do not stop offending God, a worse one will break out during the pontificate of Pope Pius XI. When you see a night illuminated by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that he is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and the Holy Father”. (In September 1939, a great light did appear in the form of unusually strong aurora borealis seen throughout Europe).
Our Lady went on to say: “To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart and the Communion of reparation on the First Saturdays. If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of The Church. The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated”.
In that same year, 1917, the communists took over Russia and unleashed a 70 year reign of terror.
Our Lady had gone on to say: “In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she shall be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world”.
3. The third secret was interpreted by The Church to be symbolic in nature and referred to the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II on May 13, the anniversary date of the first reported Fatima vision. The Pope had just bent down to hug a little girl wearing a Lady of Fatima badge when the assailant fired, and the bullets struck him in the abdomen rather than the head as planned. John Paul II credited Our Lady of Fatima with saving his life. He said he remained conscious on the way to the hospital by focusing his mind on her.
The miracle of the sun in Fatima:
On October 13, 1917 about 70,000 people had gathered on the hillside at the Cova da Iria. Beginning the night before and throughout most of the morning a cold rain fell thoroughly drenching the crowd. The ground was muddy and had soaked everything. At the time when Our Lady was due to arrive, Lucy asked those assembled to close their umbrellas, which they did. Our Lady appeared and told Lucy: “I want to tell you that a chapel is to be built here in my honor. I am the Lady of the Rosary. May you continue to pray the Rosary every day. The war is going to end and the soldiers will soon return to their homes. (In 1918 on the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour, the armistice was signed ending the “Great War”).
As Our Lady ascended, the sky suddenly cleared and the sun danced. The people were able to look directly at the sun without it bothering their eyes at all. A physician, Dr. Almeida Garrett, testified: “Suddenly I heard the uproar of thousands of voices, and I saw the whole multitude spread out in that vast space at my feet…I turned around too toward the point commanding their gaze, and I could see the sun, like a very clear disc, with its sharp edge, which gleamed without hurting the sight or damaging the retina”.
The sun then seemed to plunge to the earth and then return to its previous position, terrifying those present. Yet another astonishing aspect of the miracle was that all of the thousands of people, most of whom were soaked to the bone and dirty with mud, suddenly found that their clothes were dry. The great miracle of the sun lasted about 10 minutes, but the results of this miracle continue today, as Fatima draws millions of pilgrims from around the world every year, and even more so in 2017….the 100th anniversary of the apparitions.
About the Shrine at Fatima:
Among the sites you can see is the Cova da Iria where the apparitions occurred and the chapel built here at Our Lady’s request. The Basilica that now houses the tombs of Francisco and Jacinta (both died early, as prophesied by Our Lady—she had told them they would be taken to Heaven early). Sr. Lucia was to help spread the word and lived a cloistered life in Coimbra, Portugal until February 2005, very close to the time of the death of Pope John Paul II. In 2006 her body was transferred to Fatima to be placed near her cousins in the Basilica.9,000 worshippers.
A new church was constructed in 2007: The Church of the Holy Trinity. The church contains five chapels, 16 confessionals and a cafeteria. It will help to accommodate the millions of people who visit here each year.
In addition to Masses held throughout the day there are Stations of the Cross, daily processions, adoration and much more at what is considered by many to be the most important Marian shrine of the 20th Century. You will also find a portion of the Berlin Wall, a testament to the fall of Communism and the triumph of Our Lady.
Devout pilgrims can often be seen on their knees approaching the shrine as show in the photos.
Other parts of the village include the childhood homes of the visionaries, still left much as they were in 1917. You can still see Francisco’s bedroom much as it was left after his death, and also Jacinta’s bedroom. And some relatives of the visionaries are still around in the village, as the photos below show.
Traveling to Fatima:
There are many Catholic tour groups to Fatima each year. If you are traveling independently, Fatima is located about 70 miles north of Lisbon, and you can go by car or train.. If you plan to go by train, trains leave from Oriente station in Lisbon and take about one hour.
There are many hotels ranging from basic accommodations to luxury. The Feast Day (May 13) naturally tends to be crowded so you need to plan well in advance.
GPS coordinates: 39° 37′ 50.1168” N, 8° 40′ 22.8684” W
Tel: (+351) 249 – 539 600 Fax: (+351) 249 – 539 605
e-mail: [email protected]
Click here for the official website of the Fatima Shrine in Portugal.
When visiting Fatima you might also want to consider a visit to the Eucharistic Miracle in Santarem, about 30 miles from Fatima.
Live in the U.S. or Canada but can’t make it to Portugal? If you live in the U.S.A., consider visiting the National Fatima Shrine in New York State.