Spring Pilgrimage ~ Fatima

Marcus Magalhaes, our Portuguese tour guide in the center with the blue/white shirt, brought us first to a little village called Vila Nova de Ouren where we met Manuel Marto, left, a nephew of little Jacinta and Francisco Marto.  Jacinta and Francisco are the sister and brother to whom Our Blessed Mother appeared in 1917, along with their cousin Lucia.

Hi, Father Stan.  Manuel spoke only in Portuguese and Marcus translated for us.  The village is small and quiet, and most everybody who lives there, he said, is related to the three seers.  Manuel pointed to a familiar photo of the three children (l-r, Lucia, Francisco, Jacinta) and other family photos.

Hi, Rose Sweet and Mary Moore.  Manuel never met his niece Jacinta and nephew Francisco because they died very young.  Jacinta was born March 11th, 1910, and died February 20th, 1920, at a hospital in Lisbon.  She is now buried in a tomb at the Fatima Basilica.

Francisco was born June 11th, 1908, and also died very young, on April 4th, 1919, in this house which belonged to his parents.  He is also buried at the Fatima Basilica.

The house was small with low ceilings.  The people are tiny compared to us big Americans.

Hi, Father Bob.  In the home of Lucia's parents we found Maria de Jesus, a niece of Lucia.  Lucia  de Jesus was born March 22nd, 1907, and died at her Carmelite convent in Coimbra, Portugal, on February 13th, 2005, at the age of 97.  Her life and death captured worldwide attention.

Hi, Father Stan.  This is the kitchen area of Lucia's home as a child, before she entered the convent.

Lucia's home, as a child, is made out of stone rather than concrete and is bigger than the home of her cousins Jacinta and Francisco.  The streets in the village are like cobblestone with square corners.

A path in the village led us to the site where an Angel of Peace appeared to the little seers at a well in the garden behind Lucia's home, in 1916.  The Angel asked them to pray and do penance.  He seemed to prepare them for the visions of Our Lady the following year.  He said to them, "Don't be afraid.  I am the Angel of Peace.  Pray with me."

The Angel of Peace asked the children to pray these words:  "My God, I believe, I adore, and I love  You.  I beg pardon of You for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope, and do not love you."  Little white rock walls also dot the countryside near Fatima, perhaps to help guide sheep here and there .  The scattered stone walls, seen from our bus windows, reminded me of kids playing house in the trees.

Hi, Marcus.  You sure were a wonderful guide.  Thank you for everything.  This Portuguese lady by the well in the garden is married to a nephew of Lucia.  She was giving people little cups of fresh water to drink, that she dipped from the well where the Angel of Peace appeared in 1916.

This old and very gnarled olive tree is growing right outside the front door of Lucia's childhood home.  On the bus ride to this area, Marcus also pointed out cork trees.  Portugal produces more than half of the world's cork, he said.  Cork is considered the best bottle stopper because it allows wine to breathe.  A cork tree is stripped 12 to 13 times in a 150-year lifetime.  We also saw many vineyards in the Portuguese countryside.  It's the only wine offered in hotels and restaurants, and it's quite good.

We arrived at the Fatima Shrine the afternoon of Wednesday, April 20th.  The calendars in the USA show that April 20th, 2006, is on a Thursday.  Who said time is of the essence?

The sky was a beautiful blue, similar to the blue that Our Blessed Mother has appeared in.  We walked the above colonnade to a Museum, which was an exhibition of thousands of articles, big and little, offered by both famous and ordinary people, as gifts and remembrances from people who seek God and find a little light and peace at Fatima.  We also saw the gold crown where Pope John Paul II placed the would-be assassin's bullet.  The attempted assassination of John Paul II occurred May 13th, 1981.  The first apparition of Our Blessed Lady occurred on May 13th, 1917.

This is the main altar in the Fatima Basilica, where Father Stan and Father Bob said Mass for us.  We were all pretty awe-struck.  The Basilica was begun in 1928 and consecrated in  October of 1953.  The painting above the high altar depicts the message of Our Lady to the little shepherds. 

To the right of the main altar is the tomb of Francisco, the little boy seer.

To the left of the main altar are the tombs of the little girl seers, Jacinta and Lucia, next to each other.

A little running exercise was then in order for Father Bob and Bob Wendt.  This photo was taken right outside our Hotel de Fatima, within a short walking distance of the shrine.

Hundreds of people crowded into the Apparition Chapel that evening, in the great plaza at the foot of the Fatima Basilica.  This chapel, which is open to the outdoors, was the first edifice constructed in response to Our Lady's request to build a chapel.  The exact spot of the apparitions is marked by a marble pillar on which the statute of Our Lady rests.  Over 4 million pilgrims visit this sanctuary every year. 

And then we participated in our first candlelight procession.  It was awesome in he night.  Each decade of the rosary was said in a different language (people are in attendance from all over the world) and we sang many verses of Ave Maria, which is the same for everyone.

I've never seen so many people or so many candles.  I've never before seen such a procession.

A lighted cross showed the way.  Our Lady led us to Him.  We followed with lighted candles.

A light drizzle hampered nothing, except the lens on my digital camera.

The next morning at 9:30 a.m. -- after breakfast at Hotel de Fatima -- Father Bob and Father Stan concelebrated Mass for us at the beautiful Fatima Basilica.  I believe this is the morning that Father Bob overslept a bit.

Mary Moore gave the readings on this morning of Thursday, April 21st.  We were in awe about everything, especially that we were actually attending Mass at Fatima.  Mary and I agreed that with this Mass and the candlelight processions, that we had been to the top of the mountain.

This group photo was taken on the steps of the Fatima Basilica.  Marcus, our guide, is front and left in the blue jeans.  Next to him, on the first step (l-r):  Jim Lambert, Nancy Lambert, Doris Bennek, Rita Ellis, Rose Sweet, Alexia Person, Valerie McCarthy.  Second step: Bob Wendt, Judy Oas, Sara Linsley, Sue Orsen, Diane Oas, Gene Sweet.  Third step:  Father Stan, Mary Balster, Carla LaBore, Mary Moore, Dennis Oas.  Back row:  Leo Oas, Father Bob, Lee LaBore, Eileen Zimmer, Chuck Zimmer, Marilyn Christensen, Chris Christensen.

And then we promenaded back to the Hotel de Fatima, which was very nice but actually had small rooms and gave a new meaning to "Four Star Hotel."

At the hotel Father Bob was presented with our group, a new stole purchased at Fatima.  Father Stan later received a carved statute of Our Lady at Lourdes.

That second evening in Fatima we gathered once again at the Apparition Chapel where Father Stan and Father Bob participated in a Benediction Service and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.  They helped to lead the rosary and candlelight procession out to the open "sanctuary" space at the shrine.

Everyone was solemn in the hush of the evening. 

It was pretty special to see our very own priests at this special moment in this special place.

The next morning at 7:00 a.m. Father Stan and Father Bob said the final Mass at Fatima for us.  Carla LaBore was our reader.  The rest of our pilgrim group sat huddled close to the altar on this rather cold and drizzling morning.  Breakfast was at 8 a.m. in the hotel dining room with luggage pickup at 9 a.m.  We boarded the bus for Madrid at 9:05 a.m.!  Mary Moore and I agreed we had already been to the top of the mountain.  Click here to continue with Spring Pilgrimage:  Madrid.

NOT the End!
Click here to continue:
Spring Pilgrimage ~ Madrid