The story begins in the village of Fatima, Portugal, on May 13, 1917. On that fateful day near that tiny village, The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, appeared to three young peasant children: Francisco, Jacinta, and Lucia; ages 10, 9 and 7. As was the custom, these youngsters were tending their family’s sheep when “a Lady all in white, more brilliant than the sun… indescribably beautiful,” standing above a bush, appeared to the youngsters.From May through October 1917, the Lady appeared and spoke to the children on the 13th day of each month.News of these apparitions began to spread throughout the region. The children recounted that the Virgin told them that God had sent her with a message for every man, woman, and child living in the century. She promised that God would grant peace to the entire world if Her requests for prayer, reparation and consecration were heard and obeyed. While many people believed the children had actually seen the Virgin, many others discounted the children’s story, subjecting them to much derision and ridicule. When it became known the Lady would visit the children for the last time on October 13, 1917, and had promised a sign that would convince the world she had appeared, many pilgrims made plans to attend.
Fatima is one of the most important religious pilgrimage sites in the world. Pilgrims travel to Fatima year round but the 13th of the months of May to October are the days that celebrate the apparitions of the Virgin Mary to the three shepherd children at the Cova da Iria ( a valley) in the parish of Fatima in 1917.On those days you may be in a crowd of thousands of pilgrims many of whom arrived from hours away on foot. A pilgrimage to this holy site is a very special experience.
The pilgrimage site of Fatima is located in the parish of Fatima at the Cova da Iria. The Cova belonged to the families of three shepherd children who pastured the family's sheep there.The children were Lucia dos Santos and her cousins Francisco Marto and his younger sister, Jacinta. The children were playing one day in the fields when a beautiful Lady appeared to them. And the miraculous story and history of Fatima began.
The Sanctuary of Fátima annually welcomes hundred of thousands of pilgrims and tourists. Many come to participate in the celebrations that commemorate the apparitions of Our Lady to the three witness of Fátima. In the Fátima calendar, the dates May 13th (the first apparition) and October 13th mean a rise in the numbers visiting the Sanctuary - built on the site of the first apparition - and the places where the three children lived in Aljustrel, a village located around two kilometres away. In Aljustrel, there is a religious route tracing the spots where Lúcia de Jesus, aged 10, and cousins Francisco and Jacinta Marto, aged nine and seven respectively, declared they saw the Angel of Our Lady of Fátima. Between April and October 1916, the three children bore witness that they saw the Angel on three occasions with them being invited to join in prayer and penitence. In May 1917, the children were tending a small flock of sheep in Cova da Iria, within the parish of Fátima, in the council of Vila Nova de Ourém. Around mid-day, after saying the rosary as was their custom, they set about building a small construction out of loose stones on the spot where there now is the Basilica. Suddenly, they saw a brilliant light and above a small holm-oak tree (where the Chapel of the Apparitions now is) appeared a «Lady more brilliant than the Sun». The Lady told the three shepherds that much prayer was required and invited them to return to Cova da Iria at the same time on the 13th of each of the five following months. The children did just that and on the 13th of June, July, September and October, the Lady again appeared before them and talked to them. On 19th August, there was an apparition at Valinhos, some 500 metres from Aljustrel, as, on that 13th, the children had been taken by the Council Administrator to Vila Nova de Ourém. For the final apparition, on 13th October, around 70,000 people were in attendance, the Lady told them she was the «Lady of the Rosary» and that they were to build a chapel there in Her honour. After the apparition, all those observed the miracle, promised to the three children in July and September: the sun, resembling a silver disc, could be looked upon without difficulty. It then began rotating, taking the form of a wheel of fire, seeming to disappear into the earth. Later, in Spain, Lúcia, who joined the order of Saint Dorothy, experienced a further three visions of Our Lady (10th December 1925, 15th February 1926 and during the night of 13th to 14th June 1929). The vision called for the five first Saturdays to be devoted to the conversion of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This final request was part of the «Three Secrets of Fátima» - a set of revelations made to Lúcia by Our Lady. Lúcia later wrote to Pope Pius XIIth to inform him of what had been revealed to her. On 13th October 1930, the Bishop of Leiria gave the seal of church approval to the apparitions, officially authorising worship of Our Lady of Fátima, declaring it «Divine Providence». 13th May 2000, Pope John Paul II visited Fátima to beatify the witnesses Francisco and Jacinta Marto.
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