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Celebrating Our Lady of Fátima
Each year on May 13th, Catholics celebrate the Blessed Virgin Mary by honoring her message of peace and by reflecting on her apparitions in Fátima, Portugal.
The history of Our Lady of Fátima is a miraculous one. On May 13, 1917, the Virgin Mary first appeared to three shepherd children, Sister Lucia, St. Jacinta Marto, and St. Francisco in Fátima. Our Lady appeared to the children a total of six (6) times; the last Marian Apparition took place on October 13, 1917. In the midst of World War I, Mary famously counseled the children to pray the rosary and to pray for world peace.
On May 13, 2017, in celebration and honor of these historic apparitions, Pope Francis Canonized witnesses St. Jacinto Marto and St. Francisco on the 100th Anniversary of the first apparition. He also visited Fátima with about a million Catholic Pilgrims to celebrate the newly Canonized Saints and Our Lady of Fátima.
Fátima has become one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in the world, attracting over 4 million pilgrims on any given year. A Pilgrimage to Fátima is a very spiritual experience as one visits the apparition sites and walks in the footsteps of the shepherd children.
Our Lady of Fátima Pilgrim Sites:
- The Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary is a spectacular neoclassical Church containing the tombs of St. Francisco, St. Jacinta, and Sister Lucia. Here you can view the monument that commemorates the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In homage to Our Lady’s consistency in Her messages to pray the Rosary, the Basilica features fifteen altars that are dedicated to the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary.
- The Little Chapel of the Apparitions is a simple, yet modern chapel is located where the Virgin Mary first appeared to the children.
- The Shrine of Fátima Museum houses the exhibit, Fátima: Light and Peace which contains a collection of offerings dedicated to Our Lady of Fátima and commemorates the apparitions and all the pilgrims who worship there.
- The Holy Trinity Basilica is a Minor Basilica in the Marian Shrine of Our Lady of Fátima built in the modernist style and completed in 2007.
- The Via Sacra or “Sacred Way” marks the path taken by the children to the first apparition. Pilgrims can walk along this path and pray the Stations of the Cross at fifteen small Chapels before arriving in Valinhos, the site of Our Lady’s August 1917 apparition and the first and third apparitions of the Angel.
- Candlelight Vigils are celebrated by pilgrims in response to the request of Our Lady.
Did You Know These Interesting Facts About Fatima?
- Some pilgrims crawl to the shrine on their knees as an act of penance, 600 feet (182 meters) from the Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity to the Chapel of Apparitions, and then they circle around the Chapel on their knees too, praying the rosary – what a beautiful witness.
- Many pilgrims make pilgrimage walking from all over Portugal, as far away as Lisbon – 80 miles away
- The Fátima Prayer: O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, and save us from the fires of hell, especially those with most need of thy mercy.
- During the Christian conquest in the 12th century, a group of Moors was captured by a Christian army. Among them was a Moorish girl called Fátima. One of the Christians fell in love with Fátima and married her. When Fátima died, he built a small chapel (where the Fátima parish stands) in her honor; the lands received her name.
- The crown on the statue is an offering by Portuguese women in thanksgiving for Portugal having not entered World War II and consequently saving their men from having to fight in the war. The crown is believed to have 3,000 precious stones. It is also embedded with one of the bullets fired at St. Pope John Paul II, during an assassination attempt in Rome in 1981, in thanksgiving to Our Lady for saving his life.
As we remember and honor Our Lady of Fátima, her message to pray for peace is just as significant now as it was in 1917. May we all reflect on Our Lady’s messages and honor her through our lives.
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“To go on pilgrimage really means to step out of ourselves in order to encounter God where he has revealed himself” – Pope Benedict XVI