2017 marks the 100 year anniversary of the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary to three shepherd children. To celebrate this, Follow The Camino (FTC) has launched two new products to ensure holiday makers and pilgrims alike have the opportunity to visit this sacred site. FTC is now offering day trips to Fatima from both Lisbon and Porto on the Portuguese way of the Camino de Santiago.
Many people have heard of Fatima, but do you know the actual story?
The story of Fatima actually starts in 1916, when three children were visited by the Angel of Portugal. Lucia and her two cousins, Francisco and Jacinta, were visited three times by this Angel in preparation for the visitation the following year of the Immaculate Virgin Mary.
The 1st Apparition of Fatima
The first apparition was on the 13th May 1917 when the children were out with their sheep near Cova da Iria. Seeing a bright light in the sky despite the clear weather the children thought a storm must be approaching and so began to make their way home with the sheep. When they were near a holm oak tree they again saw the bright light and this time also a lady dressed in white who was enshrined in the bright light. The lady told them that she came from heaven and would reappear to them on the 13th of each month for the next 6 months at the same time. They were also told to say the Rosary every day to bring peace to the world and an end to the war. At this time in Europe, the First World War was in full flight.
Initially promising each other to not tell anyone else of what they saw that day, Jacinta the youngest, couldn’t contain her excitement and joy and told the rest of her family. Word soon spread of what the children saw around their hometown of Aljustrel and Fatima. As they waited for the next visit the children found they had many detractors and few believers. Nonetheless, when the 13th June came around and the children went to the site of the apparition, there was a small crown present.
The 2nd Apparition of Fatima
During the second apparition, the children were told by Our Lady that she wanted them to learn to read and write. She also informed them that they would all go to heaven and that she would take Jacinta and Francisco soon but Lucia would have to remain a little longer. Despite the crowd that was present confirming something had occurred, they themselves did not see Our Lady. Also, the children’s mothers did not share their belief. In fact, they began to fear after a warning from the parish priest that it might be a demonic apparition.
The 3rd and 4th Apparitions of Fatima
The third apparition on the 13th July is regarded by many as the most controversial as it was in this apparition that the children received the secret in three parts which they zealously guarded. It was only in 1941, when Sister Lucia wrote her memoirs, that it was revealed. On that day, the children were shown a vision of Hell and told the prophecy of the future. If Russia was not consecrated, there would be new wars and persecution of the Church, the good would be martyred, and certain nations would be annihilated. Many, including the clergy and civil government, tried to get the children to reveal the secret.
The children, however, did not break their promise. Even when they were effectively kidnapped by the Mayor of Fatima and threatened with death, it was to no avail. Due to the Mayor taking the children. they were not able to go to the Cova on the 13th August. On that day, the crowd that had waited for the apparition, which was the largest to date, witnessed the external signs of the Apparition. It was not until the 19th of August that the children had their fourth visit from Our Lady. On that visit, they were told that Our Lady would perform a miracle in the last month so that all would believe.
The 5th Apparition of Fatima
By the 13th of September, word had spread so widely of the apparitions that more than 30,000 people were at the Cova to bear witness. This time, the children were told that on the final visit they would also be visited by Our Lord, Our Lady of Sorrows, Our Lady of Mt Carmel and Saint Joseph with the child Jesus. It was also reaffirmed to them that Our Lady would perform a miracle.
The 6th Apparition of Fatima
The night before the final apparition there was torrential rain and the ground was soaked through. Despite this, over 70,000 people turned up to bear witness. It was at this final apparition that the children found out that the lady was Our Lady of the Rosary. She requested that a chapel be built in her honour, that they should continue to say the Rosary every day, and that the war would end soon.
Although the rain had stopped, the sky was overcast with dark clouds. As Our Lady rose and moved to the east, she turned her palms to the sky and suddenly the sun burst through and a soft spinning silver disc could be seen. This was witnessed by all those that were present and has become known as the Miracle of the Sun. As promised, the children saw Saint Joseph and the child Jesus, Our Lord, and Our Lady of Sorrows. Lucia also saw Our Lady as Our Lady of Carmel, signifying that she would enter the Carmelites some years later.
After the Apparitions of Fatima
During the second apparition, Our Lady had informed the children that they would go to heaven. Francisco and Jacinta would go before Lucia. The summer following the apparitions, both Francisco and Jacinta contracted influenza. The following April, after receiving Holy Communion for the first time, Francisco died the following day on the 4th of April. Jacinta, who was two years younger than Francisco, was removed from her family home when she became ill. After two months, she returned home, developed tuberculosis, and was sent to Lisbon where she died alone in a hospital. Both Jacinta and Francisco’s bodies were laid to rest at the Sanctuary at the Cova da Iria. And in 2000, Francisco and Jacinta were beatified by now St. Pope John Paul II.
Lucia, as predicted by Our Lady, continued alone to carry on the message of devotion to Our Lady. Having requested that she learn to read and write, Lucia was admitted at the age of 14 to the Sisters of St. Dorothy boarding school in Villar. In 1925, she became a postulant in the convent of the Sisters of St. Dorothy in Tuy, across the border in Spain. Lucia made her perpetual vows in October 1934 and received the name Sister Mary of the Sorrowful Mother. Looking for a more contemplative life, in 1946, she joined the Carmelites at the convent of St. Teresa in Coimbra. There, she took the name Sister Maria Lucia of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart.
Sister Lucia wrote two books about her experience. Her memoirs have provided details on the events of Fatima in her own words. Calls from the Message of Fatima gave answers to the many questions about living with the message of Fatima. In 2005, on the 13th of February, at the age of 97, she passed away. Today, she lies in rest at the convent in Coimbra until a place is prepared at the Basilica in Fatima.
Papal visit to Fatima in May 2017
It has now been confirmed that the Pope Francis will visit Portugal in 2017. Currently, his schedule has him in Fatima on the 13th of May, in Lisbon the day before, and in Braga the day after. In planning a trip to Fatima, be informed that these dates will be very crowded and many places will be booking out already. FTC is offering these:
Day trip from Lisbon: https://www.followthecamino.com/trip/full-day-lisbon-fatima
Day trip from Porto: https://www.followthecamino.com/trip/full-day-porto-fatima
For more information contact: Geraldine O’Callaghan – [email protected]