Central Portugal / December 28, 2016. By Susan Connolly
Fátima, like the shrine at Lourdes in France, draws huge numbers of visitors — local officials estimate some 6 million — each year. Cherished by Catholics worldwide, Fátima is 75 miles (120 km) north of Lisbon.
2017 marks the centenary of the date when three shepherd children said the Virgin Mary first appeared to them telling them she would be appearing on the 13th day of each month for the next five months. The first apparition was May 13, but a midnight Mass and a candlelight procession the previous day usually kick off the annual celebrations. The pope was in Fátima on May 12 and 13, 2017 to mark the occasion.
Fátima is a very important place in Portuguese popular culture and each year thousands of people make the pilgrimage on foot. There is a large network of routes from all regions of Portugal, the most popular connect several of the largest cities. Day tours from Lisbon and Porto are also very popular.
Basicila of Our Lady of Fátima, with its 65 metre high tower.
The Chapel of Apparitions, where Our Lady asked the little shepherds to build a chapel.
At the other end of the prayer area is the Most Holy Trinity Church. It is a modern piece of architecture with a capacity for 8,700 people.
There are also some interesting sightseeing places nearby. São Pedro de Moel is a quiet seaside town not far from Fátima. It is surrounded by the country’s largest pinewood forest and there is a lovely atmosphere of tranquillity.
All the houses and streets have the same wooden varandas which gives the town an air of unity and harmony.