Fatima’s Business

Once upon a time (May 13, 1917) three children pasturing a little flock in Cova Da Iria, Fátima county, region of Ourém. Their names were Lúcia De Jesus, 10 years old, and her cousins Francisco Marto and Jacinta Marto, 9 and 7 years old respectively.

By noon, they suddenly saw a very bright light coming from a holm oak where a lady “brighter than the sun” was standing on the top with a beautiful white string of beads in her hands…

Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta

This is the beginning of Fátima Sanctuary’s phenomenon. This is the beginning of a controversial subject in Portugal as well. But don’t get the idea that this is a relevant controversy. Just a few quantity of Portuguese, at a times, start a quarrel around this subject and even so not for long…

Fátima it’s a religious phenomenon and being so it’s turned to a delicate point. And a delicate point it’s something that may become even more delicate if it includes millions of people from all over the world for whom “faith”, by definition, it’s not to be discussed.

Nossa Senhora de Fátima

It’s told by that (Hi)story that Our Lady returned again to Cova Da Iria every day 13th at the same hour, month after month till October of that same year. It’s told by the same story that it was by her last apparition (should I call it “appearance” ??) that happened the “Miracle of the Sun” which was already promised by the Lady during her apparition in July 13th. In this same day Our Lady told the shepherds something which became “The Secrets Of Fatima”. In September 13, the Lady identifies herself as “Senhora Do Rosário” (in English would be, forgive me the free translation, “The Lady Of The Rosary”).

After the very first time, right after the local population and further ones got news about these apparitions, Cova da Iria became a meeting point for Catholics. Up to today…

Video clip created by jspimenta.

Nowadays, the Sanctuary has not only a large set of buildings, but also a wide open air area, covering around 86,400 m2 that can comport 300,000 pilgrims. The center of activities, besides the Chapel Of Apparitions, is the Basilica in which its first stone was blessed in May 13th, 1928 by the Évora’s archbishop, D.Manuel da Conceição Santos. The design is from the Dutch architect G. Van Kristen.

The Basilica of the Sanctuary of Fatima was built with local limestone and the high altars are made of marble from Estremoz. It measures 70.5 meters long and 37.0 meters large. It has 15 altars celebrating the 15 Mysteries of the Rosary. At the left lateral chapel rest the mortal remains of Jacinta, and at the right lateral chapel rest the mortal remains of Francisco.

Santuário de Fátima

In the area of the Sanctuary we can also see :

  1. the big holm oak, under which the shepherd children and the first pilgrims used to wait and to pray the rosary before the arrival of Our Lady,
  2. the monument to the Sacred Heart of Jesus that rises in the center of the Sanctuary,
  3. the High Cross at the southern top of the Sanctuary;
  4. the monument to the Pope Pius XII,
  5. the monument to D.José Alves Correia de Silva, first bishop, the Pope Paulo VI Pastoral’s Center.

In Fátima (Parish’s Center) we can visit the Parish’s Church where the children were baptized and the cemetery where Francisco and Jacinta were buried.

Francisco Marto was born in June 11, 1908, in Aljustrel. Died by pneumonia in April 4, 1919

Jacinta Marto was born in March 11, 1910, in Aljustrel. Died by pneumonia in February 20, 1920.

Beatification by J Paulo II

PIC – Beatification of Francisca and Jacinto by pope João Paulo II in May 13, 2000

Lúcia Santos was born in March 22, 1907 and died February 13, 2005.

Every year in May 13th, people from all over the world make a peregrination to The Sanctuary of Fatima. Let’s not argue over such a sensitive issue. People are free of taking faith in God or/and Our Lady as irrefutable. But I do believe that there’s space for some questions over here regarding this phenomenon and just where the Portuguese are involved in:

  1. do we need to surround Fatima by a huge business structure where everything can be announced and sold like the hawkers of the temple expelled by Jesus Christ during his only one act of violence (as far I know) ?
  2. do we need to present to ourselves and to the world a fairy tail involving three little children coming out of a population characterized by poverty, ignorance due to isolation and illiteracy ?
  3. do we need to spread all over our country and the world images of “one’s promises payers” walking on feet long kilometers along the country roads, creeping or walking on their knees for hours around the Sanctuary with their children by hand ?
  4. do we need to present Fatima to the world and to ourselves as our best touristy attraction?

Maybe not, maybe yes. The fact is that, although the story was born in Portugal and Portugal is the scenario for it, millions of people from all over the world accept it as it is and have this little place as a “must go” place because they’re driven by deep religious beliefs in Christ and Christ’s mother. As a matter of fact, Fatima is no more no less than what other similiar places like Lourdes (France) and Mecca (Saudi Arabia) are. So, let it be…

If you wanna have a look at Fatima‘s Wax Figures Museum, click here.

Despite all, Fatima is in fact a touristy attraction and a huge commercial structure is mounted around the Sanctuary. I present you here two links connected to this phenomenon: a business like any other business. The times have come when we already don’t make any difference between our beliefs and our rationality as we are not much sensitive to arguments about the need of need them. It seems we no longer have much time for that…

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