The year 2017 marked one hundred years since the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima to the three shepherd children, siblings, Jacinta and Francisco Marto, and their cousin, Lucia Santos. In a message Pope Francis left to the pilgrims as the centennial closed, he said, “…Never quit the rosary… pray the rosary as She asked to.”
Cova da Iria had been an unknown place in Ourém when Our Lady’s appearance to the little shepherds changed the course of these children’s lives-—and this little town—forever. On May 13, 1917, the children saw a Lady “dressed all in white, more brilliant than the sun.” She asked the children to come back to the same spot for the next five months, telling them to pray the rosary every day for peace in the world. Nearly 70,000 people were present on October 13, when The Lady revealed herself as “Our Lady of the Rosary.” She asked for prayers to end World War I, and that a chapel be built in her honor. As promised, Our Lady gave the sign everyone was waiting for in the Miracle of the Sun.
The Shrine of Fatima is now a vast compound. From afar you see the tower of Our Lady of Fátima Basilica where the three shepherds are buried. Opposite the Basilica is the Church of the Most Holy Trinity. Devotees often use a marble path from the Church to the Chapel of Apparitions and arrive in the Chapel on their knees. The Chapel of Apparitions is on the exact spot where Our Lady asked the little shepherds to build a chapel. Aljustrel, the town where they lived, is two kilometers away.
Pilgrims visit the Shrine of Fatima every year, with most coming on May 13 and October 13. They come weeping, in awe of the grandeur of Fatima. Prayers and promises are whispered in different languages; while candles burn brightly, filled with the light of faith and hope.
Our Lady’s Message
World War I was raging when Our Lady’s message at Fatima reminded everyone to pray the rosary daily, to make sacrifices for the conversion of sinners, and to consecrate themselves to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Our Lady’s message is as relevant today as it was a hundred years ago. And this splendid shrine began with three little children and the beautiful Lady, brighter than the sun.
My Pope Tip
When in Portugal, the famous Pasteis de Nata are a must-try!
Perfect with a cup of coffee, the pastry has a sweet trivia: In the 18th century, monasteries and convents were using a lot of egg whites to starch their clothing, especially the nuns’ habits. What to do with the egg yolks? Make pastries!
At Mosteiro dos Jerónimos (Jerónimos Monastery) the original Pasteis de Nata were first baked to perfection.