After a seven hour bus ride from Santiago, we arrived in Fatima on Saturday evening. Fatima, as I posted in the beginning, is where Mary appeared to the three small shepherd children (Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco) in 1917. So this is the 100th anniversary of the six apparitions!
It was this 100th anniversary that originally peeked my interest in us possibly doing a pilgrimage!
The first apparition occurred on May 13th and the last was on October 13th. Each apparition occurred on the 13th of each month, with the exception of August 19th – and this was because the civil authorities put the children in jail over the 13th of that month. The crowd began to grow each month and it was after the October apparition that “the sun danced” to a crowd of approximately 70,000! Until October, there were many skeptics and even some who chided and threatened the children.
Fatima has some similarities to Lourdes, however it is also different. First of all, Fatima, having occurred ONLY 100 years ago, seems more ‘modern’. Reciting the Rosary, Adoration and Mass are taking place almost continually throughout the day. Mary’s message at Fatima was of course to say the Rosary, but it really focuses on praying for the conversion of sinners and the reparation for sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary. To this end, this is how Fatima is distinctly different. Some people will get on their kneesand ‘walk’ across the plaza and around the building which houses the original chapel built on the sight where the five apparitions occurred. Some even make the return trip! They are offering up their discomfort and pain. No, we didn’t do this.
The site where the apparitions occurred (which was about a mile from where the children lived) was originally a pasture hollow where they grazed their sheep. That whole area has been completelytransformed (similar to Lourdes). Closer to their homes was a rocky and very uneven piece of land, with olive and oak trees,that is relatively unchanged. The August apparition and three earlier appearances of the Angel occurred in this area. Modest monuments on these sites have been built, along with the Stations of The Crossalong the path the children would take bringing their sheep to the hollow. In addition, the homes of the children have been preserved and restored.
Each day at the shrine ends with the recitation of the Rosary in several languages at the original chapel, and a candlelight procession around the plaza with the statue of the Blessed Virgin of Fatima.
We have been blessed to have had the opportunity to visit this most holy site during this special year!
Thank you for following along on our pilgrimage to Lourdes, the Camino to Santiago, and Fatima! Thank you especially for your prayers!