Fátima, a journey to the altar of the world

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Fátima, a journey to the altar of the world

One of the largest Marian centres in the world.

The Shrine at Fátima is one of the most important landmarks in the Marian worship, drawing pilgrims from all over the world.

This Marian centre of pilgrimage evokes the apparitions of Our Lady to the three little shepherds Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta, which took place in 1917 and were recognized in 1930. The spot was a rural property called Cova da Iria, and it belonged to the parents of Lucia, who donated it to the Shrine. It was here that five of the six apparitions took place.

The Shrine comprises the Chapel of the Apparitions, the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima, the Prayer Area and the Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity. They complement the Shrine, the Retreat Houses of Our Lady of Sorrows and Our Lady of Mount Carmel and the Pastoral Centre of Paul VI.

The Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima was built according to a project by Dutchman Gerardus van Krieken and continued by architect João Antunes. The first stone was blessed on May 13, 1928 and the church dedicated on October 7, 1953. The following year, it was granted the title of Basilica by Pope Pius XII.

The architectural and decorative style is very simple. Inside, there are 14 lateral altars dedicated to the mysteries of the Rosary. The stained glass windows and the paintings that adorn the church are by João de Sousa Araújo; they date from 1967 and represent scenes alluding to the life of Our Lady, the Apparitions and the Message of Fatima. Those in the main chapel, representing the Evangelists, the Apparition of the Angel and scenes of Pilgrimage, were created by the Madrid company Maumejean and Sons. On the right side of the transept, the Gospel, is the tomb of Francisco, who died in 1919. On the left side, the Epistle, is the tomb of Jacinta, who died in 1920; next to her is the tomb of Sister Lucy, who died in 2005. Francisco and Jacinta Marto were canonised in the Shrine of Fatima, on May 13, 2017, on the International Anniversary Pilgrimage of the centennial of the Apparitions, presided over by Pope Francis.

Also noteworthy is the Italian-made organ, dated 1952, which consists of 152 stops and about 12,000 pipes.

It is one of the most important Marian shrines belonging to the Catholic Church in the world and one of the leading international religious tourism destinations, receiving around six million visitors a year. It was visited by Popes Paul VI (1967), John Paul II (1982, 1991 and 2000), Benedict XVI (2010) and Francis (2017). The annual pilgrimages are celebrated on the 13th of every month from May to October.

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