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Latest Travel Activity: Pilgramage to Fatima

On 13 May 1917 the Virgin Mary reportedly visited three shepherd children in fields near Fatima. Today several million head for the Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima to take part in the Pilgrimage to Fatima.

Most visit especially around the anniversary of the first visit in May but there are smaller pilgrimages on the 12th and 13th of each month. From Easter to November the pilgrimage begins on the 12th with various multi-lingual masses. At 7.30am there’s Stations of the Cross; at 4.30pm Mass with the participation of the sick, followed by a Eucharistic procession. The pilgrimage is not officially opened until 6.30pm, with many people just arriving then, and at 9.30pm there’s an International Rosary followed by a candlelight procession. The Night Vigil continues on from midnight to 7am, when there’s another Eucharistic procession and International Rosary at 9am, culminating in the Adeus (“farewell”) procession at 10am.

As the Virgin Mary is carried from the high altar to the Chapel of the Apparitions, the crowd becomes emotional, waving farewell with white handkerchiefs. It really is an extraordinary sight. From November to Easter, the pilgrimage events are paired down to the International Rosary and a mass only.

The Lady who originally appeared to the children in a flash of light asked them to return six times on the 13th of each month, promising to tell them who she was and what she wanted in October. There were many sceptics at first and the children were interrogated by the church authorities. They refused to change their story, however, and people began to come to Fatima to wait for the Lady at the appointed time. Although only the children have ever seen her, by the date of the last appearance, 70,000 people had gathered in the town to witness what became known as the “Miracle of the Sun”. Eye witnesses reported that the skies cleared to reveal a sun which grew into a blinding ball of fire and that many miracles took place.

Aside from the light show, the three children remained the only ones who could see the Virgin and she only communicated to one of them, Lucia. She was told the three “Secrets of Fatima”. The first of these was a message of peace and a vision of hell, which was related to the First World War. The second was more detailed and more controversial, concerning Russia, wars and persecution, just weeks before the Bolsheviks took St Petersburg. The third secret was revealed by Pope John Paul II. It is a symbolic revelation, saying that if Russia is healed, there will be peace, if not its errors will spread throughout the world…

When: 12 – 13 Jan 2010 (monthly)
Where: Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima
Cost: Free
Opening Hours: Daily all day

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