After entering Portugal, our first stop is Fatima, a Catholic pilgrimage site which is located about 142 km north of Lisbon. Fatima is an important Catholic church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. In fact, this place is so famous that you see Catholic from all over the world flooding to this place.
A whole family of faithful worshippers was seen crawling on their knees as a way of giving thanks for prayers answered.
3 Shepherd Kids Encounter the Virgin Mary in 1917
The story of a famous miracle in Fatima, Portugal, began in May 1917, when three children (ages 7, 9, and 10) claimed to have encountered the Virgin Mary on their way home from tending a flock of sheep. The three Fatima children are Lucia Santos 10, with her cousins, Jacinta 7 and Francisco Marto 9.
Jacinta and Francisco died at a young age (the two in the picture below) but Lucia, the longest-living visionary nun, passed away only in 2005 at the age of 98 years old.
Two Churches in Fatima
There are two churches, a new and an old. The old church is called the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima and the new one is called The Church of the Holy Trinity which looks very modern and built recently.
This is the old church called the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima
The old church is smaller but with a high ceiling with a neo-baroque style. It has the tombs of Jacinta and Francisco (1951 and 1952). After the death of Lucia in 2005, her body was also reunited to rest here, side by side with her cousins.
Chapel of the Apparition
This is a small chapel built in 1919 on the exact spot where the tree was rooted next to which the Virgin Mary appeared to the three little shepherds. In the center of the chapel, you will find the original statue of the Virgin Mary 1920. It was really surprising to imagine Virgin Mary appearing before these kids right here 100 years ago.
Virgin Mary’s Crown
In the Virgin Mary’s crown look for a small bullet that hit the Pope John Paul II in the assassination attempt in Rome in 13th May 1981.
This is the new church called The Church of the Holy Trinity
The new church took three years to build and is said to be the world’s fourth biggest church.
Dome size Church
The new church is very beautiful and was designed by Greek architect Alexandros Tombazis, it has 13 doors, said to represent Christ’s last supper with the 12 apostles.
Decoration with the Mysteries of the Rosary in the facade of the new church. (Below picture)
The new church has large walkways around the church and the ceiling is low for a Church standard, the architect has made the entire roof into slanted windows that direct light from the rising sun to the altar giving it a look of heavenly importance.
It can sit up to 9,000 worshippers and you see no internal columns to allow television to sweep unobstructed over the congregation during the live broadcast of services.
The Irish Sculpture called Catherine Greene who made this 5 m tall bronze cross with Christ. Her idea is quite unique; “a Christ no longer suffering”. You see smiling face instead of a suffering face.
There is a big mosaic across the back behind the altar that is just stunning with the golden color. Showing the community of saints around the cross, all surrounding Christ.
The Weird Looking Cross in Fatima
There is a weird look cross beside the new church. It certainly looks very different from the ordinary cross you have seen so far. The cross is designed by Robert Schad who is a German sculptor. His intention is to build the cross not only for the Portuguese but to create a symbol which is as simple as possible in form, has intercultural references and does not get lost in realistic details.
Berlin Wall In Fatima
A segment of the Berlin Wall located near the Sanctuary of Fatima. It was acquired, by subscription, by a group of Portuguese people, headed by Virgílio Casimiro, Portuguese emigrant residing in Germany, and arrived at the Shrine with the support of the Consulate General of Portugal in Frankfurt, on March 5, 1991.
A trip to Portugal would be incomplete without visiting Fatima, an important pilgrim center for Catholics around the world. The place was unlike any religious place because it was very so massive and the entire town of Fatima revolved around the religious history of the town.
- Have you been to any pilgrimage sites?
- Do you believe that the three shepherd kids really have encounters with the Virgin Mary?
- Which churches – the new or the old that you like to have your masses in?