Located in west central Portugal, Fátima, in the region of Leiria, is known all over the world as one of the most important – and visited – religious sites. The city, in the center of Portugal, is known by many as a pillar of the Catholic faith based on apparitions reported to have been experienced in 1917 by three shepherd children. Now, a hundred years later, the Shrine of Fátima will be commemorating the Centennial of The Apparitions of Our Lady of Fátima with a program starting in late 2016 and culminating with the coming of Pope Francis to the Shrine of Fátima. The festivities, beginning on the December 8th2016 with the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, will end with the Closing Concert of the Centennial of the Apparitions of Fatima, on the October 13th. For the celebrations, this year, there will be several activities, exhibitions, concerts, contests, conferences, and others – check the schedule.
The big moment is scheduled to run from the May 12th to the 14th with the celebration of the International Anniversary Pilgrimage. A Video Mapping “Fatima – Time of Light” and a performance of the Lisbon Gregorian Choir will be shown.
The first mention of the appearance of an angel happens 100 years ago when Lucia Dos Santos (9 years old) and her cousins, Francisco and Jacinta Marto (8 and 6 years old), were in a meadow herding sheep and two sudden bright shafts of light pierced the air. They claimed to have experienced the visitation of an angel on three occasions. The angel, who identified himself as “The Angel of Peace”, taught them prayers, to make sacrifices and to spend time in adoration of the Lord.
On the May 13th of 1917, the children saw a woman “brighter than the sun, shedding rays of light clearer and stronger than a crystal goblet filled with the most sparkling water and pierced by the burning rays of the sun”. The woman wore a white mantle edged with gold and held a rosary in her hand. She asked them to devote themselves to the Holy Trinity and to pray “the Rosary every day, to bring peace to the world and an end to the war”. While they had never spoken to anyone about the angel, Jacinta divulged her sightings to her family despite Lúcia’s admonition to keep this experience private. Her disbelieving mother told neighbors as a joke, and within a day the whole village knew.
On the 13th of June, July, September and October, the Lady again appeared before them. On the August 19th, there was another apparition, at Valinhos, some 500 meters away from Aljustrel. For the final apparition, on the October 13th, the woman, presenting herself as the «Lady of the Rosary», urged people to build a chapel in Her honor.
The apparitions of Fatima are a significant event of the Catholic Church – that attracts millions every year.
Fátima is a city located in the Santarém District. Standing in the Center of Portugal, Fátima is a less than 2 hours-drive from Lisbon or Porto. The biggest landmark is the Shrine of Fatima, a place of pilgrimage, which celebrates the memory of its founding event, the apparitions of Our Lady to the three little Shepherds. The sanctuary’s construction brought local development to the region, which, eventually, allowed the town’s elevation to the status of city on the July 12th of 1997. Our Lady of Fátima attracts Christian pilgrimages all over the world and there is a considerable number of shops and stalls devoted to the sale of religious articles as well as souvenirs.
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