I had forgotten about the apparent miracle of Fatima until today when I signed up for a tour involving four different and divergent attractions.
3 adolescent children minding their herds saw a bright light on or about the 13th May 1917 and there appeared before them a vision of the Virgin Mary. Now one could safely assume if this were an isolated event that the 3 kids may have succumbed to some more plausible explanation – meteorological or whatever. But a little against this is the same apparition appeared several more times as foretold by the Virgin Mary on 13th day of the month on at least three more occasions, the last being in the presence of several thousand peasant Portuguese. Consequently the village of Fatima is up there with the Shroud of Turin, the Camino Trail and the holy tears of Lourdes. The bush or tree on which the vision perched was over the years literally chipped away by pilgrims so that it was completely axed so to speak splinter by splinter. A statue of the Virgin Mary sits we were told on its original stump.
Two of the children sadly died whilst still young, the eldest girl survived, became a Nun and claimed to be visited on several occasions during her life by further apparitions of the Virgin Mary. She died in the 1990s. As a consequence of these events, various Popes shifted some assets and had constructed a cathedral and semicircular cloister and huge square that basically has the same look and proportion to the Vatican and its’ square!
Next year 2017 is the centenary and the cathedral was hidden by scaffolding being renovated. The Pope will attend. Special prayers are being said in the hope that the Virgin will also make an appearance.
As well as the typical baroque cathedral there is at the opposite end of the square an elegant and spectacular modern marble church and cloisters built after the visit of a latter day pontiff.
Fatima has over a million pilgrims a year and the place seeths especially on the 13th of May.