SHRINE OF OUR LADY OF FATIMA
On the 13th of each month from May to October 1917, Our Lady of Fatima, the Virgin Mary has appeared to three shepherd children - Lúcia dos Santos (age 10) and her cousins Jacinta (age 7) and Francisco Marto (age 9) - near Fatima, Portugal. Her coming had been preceded by an "angel of peace" who appeared in 1916. Lúcia described her vision of the Virgin Mary as "more brilliant than the sun, shedding rays of light clearer and stronger than a crystal glass filled with the most sparkling water and pierced by the burning rays of the sun."
Lúcia later reported that during the second Marian apparition on June 13, the Virgin Mary predicted the deaths of two of the children. When Lúcia asked the Virgin to take them to heaven soon, Our Lady of Fatima replied, "Yes, I shall take Jacinta and Francisco soon, but you will remain a little longer, since Jesus wishes you to make me known and loved on earth. He wishes also for you to establish devotion in the world to my Immaculate Heart."
On July 13, the Virgin is said to have revealed the Three Secrets of Fatima to the children, which consist of prophecies about the future. The secrets were written down in 1941 by Lúcia who was asked to compose memoirs about Fatima and her cousins so their canonization proceedings could begin.
The first secret described a horrific vision of Hell.
The second secret foretold the end of World War I and the beginning of World War II.
The third secret was only revealed on 13 May 2000. The Church's interpretation of the secret is that this predicted the May 13, 1981 assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II in Saint Peter's Square. John Paul believed Our Lady of Fatima saved his life, saying he saw her intervening to deflect the gunman's arm. In 1994 he wrote “it was a mother's hand that guided the bullet's path and in his throes the Pope halted at the threshold of death”.
Pilgrims to Fatima will see the following:
The Basilica of Our Lady of Fatima. The church is flanked by monumental colonnades and overlooks a large open plaza;
The Monument to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the center of the plaza. It stands over a spring that was discovered there and was, according to the shrine, "the instrument of many graces."
Fifteen altars dedicated to the 15 mysteries of the Rosary, as well as
The tombs of the young visionaries, Francisco Marto and Jacinta Marto, who were beatified in 2000.
Pilgrims also visit the Chapel of Apparitions, an open-air chapel built on the site of the appearances. Inside the chapel is a single white column over the site of a small holm oak tree over which the Virgin Mary appeared on May 13, 1917. That oak fell victim to souvenir collectors long ago, but a large replacement tree grows near the entrance to the sanctuary by the rectory.
The Berlin Wall Monument near the entrance to the sanctuary by the rectory. It contains a 5,732-pound chunk of the wall donated by a Portuguese emigrant to Germany after it fell in 1989. He offered it as a memorial of God's intervention in bringing down Communism, as promised at Fatima.
During their pilgrimage to Fatima many pilgrims visit the Hungarian Stations of the Cross, consisting of 14 little chapels leading along 3 km of inclined stone walkways to a marble monument of Christ on the cross.
Website of the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima: http://www.santuario-fatima.pt