Tony DeOliveira


Fatima is a town and Parish located 142 km (88 miles) north of Lisbon. Fatima is one of the most important catholic shrines in the world dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Fatima’s Sanctuary welcomes millions of pilgrims and tourists from all over the world. Fatima’s fame is due to the Apparitions of Our Lady of the Rosary (also known as Our Lady of Fatima) that appeared to three shepherd children of Fatima; Lucia dos Santos and her two younger cousins, Francisco and Jacinta. Between May and October of 1917, the three children witnessed several apparitions. The last one, on October 13th, was confirmed by a miracle witnessed by 60,000 people known in the catholic world as “the day the sun danced”.

Fatima now attracts thousands of pilgrims from all over the world, particularly on the pilgrimage days in May and October. The large torch-light processions in the evening are particularly impressive, often lead by Cardinals and Bishops. The pilgrims gather in Cova de Iria an enormous plaza where a little chapel was built and where the Virgin Mary is believed to have appeared to the children. Around the plaza are a considerable number of shops and stalls selling various religious articles. On the far side of the plaza rises the great basilica, built in the in neo-classical style, with a central tower 65 meters high, the construction of which was begun on 13 of May 1928. It is flanked by colonnades linking it with the extensive convent and hospital buildings. In the basilica are the tombs of two of the three visionaries, siblings Francisco and Jacinta Marto, who died in 1919 and 1920 respectively, and were beatified in 1970. The third seer, Lucia dos Santos, died in 2005

The Sanctuary

1. Chapel of Apparitions

The very heart of the Sanctuary. It was the first edifice constructed in the Cova da Iria, at the place of Our Lady’s Apparitions. 
The exact spot is marked by a marble pillar on which the Statue of Our Lady is placed. Here converge the four million pilgrims who visit the Sanctuary each year.

2. The Recint

On the colonnade in front of the Basilica, statues of four Portuguese Saints can be seen: St. John of God, St. John of Brito, St. Anthony and Bl. Nuno of Santa Maria. From one side to the other, from left to right, are the following saints: St. Teresa of Avila, St. Francis de Sales, Bl. Marcelino de Champagnat, St. John Baptist de la Salle, St. Alphonsus Maria de Ligouri, St. Jonh Bosco with St. Dominic Savio, St. Louis Marie Grignon de Montfort, St. Vincent de Paul, St. Simon Stock, St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Paul of the Cross and St. Beatrice da Silva. The white marble statue in the niche above the entrance to the Basilica, sculpted by Fr. Thomas McGlynn, OR, shows Our Lady in one of her apparitions when she urged devotion to her Immaculate Heart.

3. Basilica

Begun in 1928 and consecrated on 7 October 1953, its 15 altars are dedicated to the 15 mysteries of the Rosary. The painting above the high altar depicts the Message of Our Lady to the little shepherds, prepared by the Angel of Portugal, through their encounter with Christ in the Eucharist. The Bishop of the diocese is shown kneeling on the left side, and the figures of Pope Pius XII (who consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1942, and whose Legate crowned the Statue of Our Lady in 1946), of Pope John XXIII and Pope Paul VI. Scenes of the apparitions are represented in stained glass, as well as invocations from the Litany of Our Lady. In the four corners of the Basilica interior are placed the statues of the great apostles of the Rosary and of devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary: St. Anthony Claret, St. Dominic of Gusman, St. John Eudes and St. Stephen, King of Hungary. The tombs of Francisco and Jacinta are in the Basilica, and, in the chancel, are the mortal remains of D. José Alves Correia da Silva, first Bishop of Leiria after its restoration in 1920. The monumental organ, mounted in 1952, has about 12 thousand pipes.

4. Perpetual Adoration Chapel

Placed at the end of the colonnade, on the eastern side, this chapel for perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament exposed is a place of silent prayer and adoration

5. The Big Holmoak

Under which the little shepherds and the early pilgrims awaited Our Lady’s coming, and prayed the Rosary.

6. Monument to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Which stands in the center of the square, over a spring found there, its waters being the instrument of many graces.

7. House of Our Lady Dolours

Situated behind the Chapel of Apparitions, it is destined to receive the Sick during the great pilgrimages, and also for retreats and accommodation for pilgrims in general.

8. Rectory

A building on the right side of the esplanade, in the House of Our Lady of Carmel.

9. House of Our Lady of Carmel

Which is above and behind the Rectory, with accommodation for 250

10. Berlin Wall

At the entrance of the Sanctuary, on the south side of the Rectory, one may visit a monument of the Berlin Wall’s, consisting of a concrete segment that was part of it. (The Walls construction started during the night between the 12th. and 13th. of August 1961 and its demolition began the 9th. of November 1989) This segment was offered by means of Virgilio Casimiro Ferreira, a Portuguese immigrant to Germany and is here placed as a grateful memorial of God’s intervention for the fall of Communism as promised at Fatima. The segment weighs 2,600 kilos (5,732 lbs.) and measures 3.60 meters (11 ft. 9 in.) high by 1.20 meters (3 ft. in.) wide. The present monument was designed by the architect J. Carlos Loureiro and was inaugurated on the 13th. of August 1994.

11. Via Sacre

The Holy Way is composed of 14 little chapels in memory of the Passion of Our Lord. and a 15th corresponding to the Resurrection Beneath the Calvary there is a Chapel dedicated to St Stephen of Hungary. The first 14 Stations were offered by Catholic Hungarian refugees in western countries, and were inaugurated on 12 May 1964: the 15th on 13 October 1992, in the presence of the Ambassador of Hungary, the country now liberated from Communism The Holly Way begins at the south Rotunda of Saint Teresa, and follows the path which the little shepherds took when going from Aljustrel to the Cova da Iria.

12. High Cross

At the extreme south of the esplanade, it commemorates the closing of the Holy Year in 1951.

13. Monument to Pope Paul VI

Marking his pilgrimage to Fatima, on 13 May 1967.

14. Monument to Pope Pius XII

Erected as gift from German Catholics (1961).

15. Paul VI Pastoral Center

Inaugurated on 13 May 1982, by Pope John Paul 11, as a center for study and reflection on the Message of Fatima, and of the problems of the modern world, in the light of the Gospel. The two auditoriums have seating for 2.124 and 700, and accommodation for 400 pilgrims.

16. Valinhos

(400 meters from Aljustrel): the site of Our Lady´s 4th apparition, on 19 August 1917, marked by a monument.

17. Loco do Anjo

Where the children received the first and third visit of the “Angel of Peace” (Spring end autumn of 1916).

18. The Homes of the Little Shepherds

At the bottom of the garden of Lucia’s home is the well, where the “Angel of Peace”, the “Angel of Portugal”, appeared for the second time.


2 thoughts on “Fatima

    1. Not too bad. You can get a plane ticket, on the off-season, for about $400. It’s still in the high 80’s so you can still visit the beach. June through September bring nearly endless sun and temperatures in the mid-eighties all across Portugal. In general, November through January tends to be rainier, but with plenty of sun even during the rainy season and temperatures that never get too low, even the off-season brings plenty of good weather to enjoy yourself.

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