After visiting what’s left (visible) from the dinosaur age, and the beautiful limestone caves that show the age of Earth, now we return to the main attraction in the area: Fatima, the place of the apparitions, or as I like to call it: Lucky 13th
Fatima and the story of the three children
011.1 The children who saw the Virgin Mary
Right in the centre of today’s Portugal, there has been an apparition of the Virgin Mary, reported first by three little shepherds (two girls and a young boy). This occurred first time on May 13th last time on October 13th of 1917 (wiki)
Actually, on the last prophecy (13th of October) no less than half a million people came to witness the miracle, including newspapers, photographers, scientists and many more…
So this is why I choose to show as my “first picture” statues of the children who witness the apparition of the Virgin Mary.
011.2 People gathered at Basilica da Santissima Trinidad
Like I said, many people visited, visit and I think will still visit from now on. So to say that the story of the Shepards and the Virgin Mary made it into the news (even today) is actually a fact, printed fact.
Some say nothing special happened, others speak of miracles, others speak of interesting reflections of the sun, or sun that dances -> any way, there are many websites to visit and to read and form an opinion…
Truth is, something did happen and people come in numbers to pray to this place.
011.3 The main attractions in one image
On the place of the apparition lies today a small, yet very modern chapel made mostly by windows (glass) to whom every year at least 6 million people come (from around the world). She is visible on the image on the central-left side, marked by the dark glass, sitting inside the main square (or oval, to be geometrical correct).
The huge spaces (and the blazing sun) make it a little hard to imagine going back in time, on that rainy day of 1917 October 13th when hundreds of thousands of people with no phones, no Instagram, no ET beliefs, came to see what the prophecy/ apparitions were about.
Maybe I got touched by all of this, by the significance of the crowd and the joy of the children, because I am also Christian. Yet after taking some great photos and said some prays I still think that building huge buildings instead of re-populating the forests, helping the fauna regain its glory once seen in books, and give a chance to the poor to have a job and therefore a meal and maybe a purpose … is a total miss of Gods message, left to us since Creation. Yes, we might need big stuff because we are humans and is in our nature… but not on public money that supposes to help the poor.
011.3 Basilica da Santissima Trinidad
I was at Fatima on exactly 13th of April, one month before the 100 yrs celebration of the first Apparition. I will be honest and say that I did not know. I fact one month later, and I am very sure I would have parked not about the sacred place, but some km more far away (since the Pope was coming also). I saw agitation, people preparing, school buses coming and going with children but I was thinking that should be because of Easter…
So yeah depending on when you come, more or fewer people will be, but even so, I did not find a hotel in a 30km radius… So do not stay late if you have no place to crash. (I was really considering the seats of the car… more on that next article)
011.4 Casa de Retiros Nossa Senhora do Carmo
Now sit down because I have a story to tell – one that I did not invent, but read in some places and made it short for you:
The name of the town Fatima (today is actually a city) has several stories, somewhat different, depending on who you ask.
If you ask Christians, then is a love story of a Moorish princess that was kidnapped by a knight, only to fall in love with him and become Christian herself. Thus making all possible so that the in-love couple can marry in peace and with all the blessings.
Ask the Moors and they will say that she was forced to marry and to become Christian, just like the other captives (remember the story on the Porto/Gaia articles? Convert or lose your head was the main idea.
I don’t know when you are reading this article, but today the biggest sides are those in favour of Apple or those in favour of Android… those who are against Made in China or those who do not care… or those who don’t know what they need so they surf the web, and those living without any idea that the world had not one, but two world wars and conquered with debris and garbage space. Not to mention terrorist, politicians and religious groups (but they will never die).
Whichever story you choose is most likely the untrue one. There’s always at least a few more true stories involving new characters and other details -> yet Fatima did live in these parts, that bit is in every story.
011.5 The Cruz Alta and the Papa Joao Paulo II
Probably the most iconic Pope of our days (as of 2019) came three times in Portugal at Fatima, last time for the purpose of beatification of Francisco and Jacinta Marto (the two of the three Shepards children who saw the Virgin Mary, depicted also in statues at the beginning of the article).
Honouring his memory, here at Fatima lies a bullet (that was used to shoot the Pope) on the crown sitting on top of the Rosario de Fatima Basilica, a statue with him next to the Saint Trinity Basilica, and an interview with the (then alive) third child who witnessed the apparition, actually she was aged and sadly she was the only one, out of the three, to live on after the events…
011.6 The protection of children
On the glass doors of Santissima Trinidad lies a message in many languages (including Romanian, my language) dedicated to all (adults mostly) to protect all children of the world.
Maybe the message is not that well understood, let me make it simple:
Protect the children => the future of mankind that lives in an environment, that is the stuff they will eat from, drink from, breath from, learn from, walk on, drive on, fight on, photograph on, etc
011.7 The columns of Nossa Senhora do Rosario de Fatima
Probably the most beautiful corner (besides the open space and the feeling you can run in all directions) is the area with the columns and the many, many stairs. It looks so… beautiful and poetic, somehow Romanic. The place looks both modern and Romanic at the same time, to be honest.
011.8 Nossa Senhora do Rosario de Fatima
The tower rises some 65m in height but casts a small shadow on the huge esplanade (two times bigger than the one in Rome). And if it cannot cast a big shadow, well it can make herself heard with the aid of 40+ bells with the largest at 3000kg and all by the 50s.
011.9 Inside the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary
While many features can be seen from the outside, well the inside is not less of impressing. All white (like many Portuguese churches) giving a message of invitation, something that baroque churches failed to do. But more on that when I reach with my articles France 🙂
011.10 Detail of the tower
On top of the tower, lies a bronze crown, weighing about 7000kg and a crystal cross on it, that shines at night (most churches in Portugal have that and I do invite you to get a look on 024 when is available)
011.11 Eurasian hoopoe
Just a month before celebrating the 100yrs of the Apparition, I visited Fatima. And how did I find it?
Like nothing, I have ever seen before!
Crowded but somehow peaceful (outside of the market). Big, yet somehow cosy and welcoming.
Modern yet in respect with the oldest of the residents – the nature, with its beautiful trees and fauna.
I have never been to the Vatican, but I was in Santiago de Compostela (more on that later) but that’s not the point. Maybe at the beginning of this article, you saw that I said (on the picture, with the map) that for me this place is a real must-see 4 stars location. And is not because of architectural marvels, or Christianity, or huge esplanade, great parks, lots of statues to buy.
Come to Fatima because with one car, in one day, you can visit a cultural place, a cave and a dinosaur park.
Please do not come by train, it is at 20km from Fatima and they charge a lot (people who have money for God are loved by Taxi drivers). Come by bus or better if possible get a car (those who rent a car don’t pay the highways)
Get a hotel around the coast, so that you have a great view in the morning.
Actually on that note, I conclude this long article and see you in Nazare. (Not Nazareth… but still a religious area of some sort for some of those who are very, very brave)