Fatima shrine

Fatima sanctuary Portugal

Fatima shrine – a religious tourism destination in Portugal

The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima, located approximately 80 miles north of Lisbon, is one of the most important Catholic pilgrimage sites in Europe.

The panorama of Fatima Sanctuary.

The cult of Fatima dates back exactly 100 years, to May 1917 when it is believed Virgin Mary appeared, for the first time, to three shepherd children tending to the sheep in Cova da Iria, Fatima.

During the apparitions on six separate occasions, Virgin Mary revealed to the children – Lucia Santos and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto – three secrets, or rather, prophecies concerning hell, war, fall of communism and the prosecution of Christians.

The siblings Marto died at the age of 11 (Francisco) and 10 (Jacinta), victims to influenza, while Lucia became a nun and lived a long life dedicated to the cult of Mary.

Fatima, together with Lourdes in France is, the most sought after religious destination in Europe receiving around 5 million worshippers per year. A large number of them arrives in on-foot pilgrimages, both Portuguese and international.

Fatima sanctuary is often visited by the heads of the Catholic church, having been one of the favourite sanctuaries of John Paul II who credited Virgin Mary with his surviving of the assassination attempt on 13 May 1981. One of the bullets shot at John Paul II I placed in the crown of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima shrine.

The little saints of Fatima
In May 2017 the sanctuary of Fatima was brought to the world’s attention by the visit of Pope Francis who visited Portugal on the 100th anniversary of the Virgin Mary apparitions in Fatima to canonize to of the three shepherd children who received the visons of Virgin Mary.

Francisco and Jacinta Marto were proclaimed saints 17 years after their beatification by John Paul II. They are the youngest saints in history and the only ones who weren’t martyrs.

The ceremony of their canonization brought over 500 000 devotees to Fatima.

Three shepherd children received visions of Virgin Mary between May and October 1917.

Francisco and Jacinta Marto are buried in the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary in Fatima.

Fatima shrine
The sanctuary is a large complex of several buildings and religious structures, developed over many years. The Chapel of the Apparitions erected in 1919 is amongst the oldest, original, structures of the sanctuary, together with an old oak tree and a fountain, the waters of which are belied to have healing powers.

The main building of the sanctuary is the imposing Basilica of Our Lady of Rosary, consecrated in 1953. The constantly growing influx of worshipers to Fatima made it an imperative to further develop the sanctuary’s structure. A Via Sacra was added, a Pastoral Centre and, amongst the newest, the Basilica of the Holy Trinity, inaugurated in 2007.

On the grounds of the sanctuary statues of several popes can be found, as well as a segment of the Berlin Wall.

Outside of it, pilgrim retreats and hostels, restaurant and parking lots cater for the needs of the visitors.

See detailed map of Fatima sanctuary.

Except for the sanctuary, the town of Fatima does not have any significant tourist attractions. However, just a short drive from Fatima the monasteries of Batalha and Alcobaça are true pearls of Portuguese historic heritage.

How to get to Fatima?
Located on the route of the most important Portuguese motorway, A1, Fatima can be easily reached from Lisbon and Porto. It takes approximately 1.5 h to drive from Lisbon to Fatima, while just about two hours are needed to get to Fatima from Porto in the North.

A good news for those who do own their own means of transportation: couch trips to Fatima are widely available at most major tourist centres, either directly to Fatima, or combined with other interesting destinations in the area.

The international airport closest to Fatima is located in Lisbon.

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