Date: 05OCT (Wednesday). FATIMA. (Day 3)
We started our day with a wakeup call at 6AM and it was followed by a breakfast at 7:30AM. It was because at 10 AM a tour around Fatima was made. And then we met out local tour guide and visited those places where the Blessed Virgin Mary and angels appeared to three shepherd children, namely: Francisco, Jacinta, and Sr. Lucia. We left the hotel at around at 10:04AM. While on the way, we prayed the Morning Prayers and our tour leader distributed Bible bullets and I got this one: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in me,” (John 14:1).
Fatima is a town and Parish located 142 km north of Lisbon. Fatima is one of the most important Catholic shrines in the world dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Sanctuary of Fatima welcomes millions of pilgrims and tourists from all over the world. Fatima became famous due to the Apparitions of Our Lady of the Rosary that appeared to three shepherd children; Lucia dos Santos and her two younger cousins, Francisco and Jacinta Marto. Between May and October of 1917, the three children witnessed several apparitions. The last one, on October 13th, was confirmed by a miracle witnessed by 60,000 people known in the Catholic world as “the day the sun danced.” On this day, all could stare perfectly at the sun without blinking, or even hurting their eyes. While all were watching the sun, it rotated, got large, and small, got close to the people, and got far away from them. The sun ‘danced.’ Every single person who was there testified to seeing the sun dance, even non- believers who immediately dropped onto their knees and begged for forgiveness.
Fatima now attracts thousands of pilgrims from all over the world, I observed, particularly on the pilgrimage days in May and October. When we were there, the Candlelight procession in the evening was particularly impressive and it was led by a Bishop. We gathered in Cova de Iria, an enormous plaza, where a little chapel was built and where the Virgin Mary appeared to the children.
We stayed at Hotel Quicentenario and Conference Centers. When we went to Cova de Iria in order to attend the Rosary and Candlelight processions, we passed by a considerable number of shops and stalls selling various religious articles. On the far side of the plaza rises the great Holy Rosary Basilica, built in the neo-classical style, with a central tower 65 meters high, the construction of which was begun on 13 of May 1928. It is flanked by colonnades linking it with the extensive convent and hospital buildings. In the basilica are the tombs of two of the three visionaries, siblings Francisco and Jacinta Marto, who died in 1919 and 1920 respectively, and were beatified in 2000 as well as the of the third seer, Lucia dos Santos who died in 2005. We toured around the Holy Rosary Basilica and visited the tombs of Francisco, Jacinta, and Sr. Lucia.
But before our visit to the two Basilicas of Holy Rosary and the Holy Trinity on the same plaza, we visited the house of Francisco and Jacinta Marto as well as the house of Sr. Lucia dos Santos in Aljustrel, a 3.2 km away of Fatima, Portugal. It was in Aljustrel where Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta were born and raised in homes where the catechism was their daily bread, stories from the Bible their recreation, and the word of the village priest was law. Aljustrel was also the home of Francisco and Jacinta and Lucia’s house with the well where the Angel appeared a second time; Valinhos – site of Our Lady’s 4th apparition after the children’s return from prison; Loca do Cabeco – where the children received the first and the third visit of the “Angel of Peace.” The homes of the children have been left mostly unchanged, giving an idea of what the little village was like before the grand shrine was built. These three said they witnessed three apparitions of an angel in 1916 and several apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1917. Lucia later recorded the words of several prayers she said they learned from this angel. Lucia wrote in her memoirs that she and her cousins saw the first apparition of Mary on May 13, 1917. The Our Lady appeared to these shepherd children for six times between May 13 and October 13, 1917. At the time of the apparition, Francisco was 9 years old, and Jacinta was 7. As a result, Mary was given the title, ‘Our Lady of Fatima,’ and Fatima became a major center of world Catholic pilgrimage.
The Blessed Virgin Mary came to the little village of Fatima which had remained faithful to the Catholic Church during the recent persecutions by the government. Our Lady came with a message from God to every man, woman, and child of the century. Our Lady of Fatima promised that the whole world would be in peace, and that many souls would go to Heaven if her requests for prayer, reparation and consecration were listened to and obeyed. She said that war is a punishment for sin; that God would punish the world for its sins in our time by means of war, hunger, persecution of the Church and persecution of the Holy Father, the Pope, unless we listened to and obeyed the command of God. In all her appearances at Fatima, the Blessed Mother repeatedly emphasized the necessity of praying the Rosary daily, of wearing the Brown Scapular of Mount Carmel, and of performing acts of reparation and sacrifice. At Fatima, Saint John Paul II said on May 13: “The message of Fatima is more relevant and more urgent,” then when Our Lady first appeared. The message is an anguished appeal of our Heavenly Mother, who sees us in great danger and who comes to offer her help and advice. Her message is also a prophesy, a clear indication of what was about to transpire in the 20th century, and what is still going to happen infallibly in the near future, depending on our response to her requests.
The siblings were victims of the great 1918 influenza epidemic that swept through Europe that year. In October 1918, Mary supposedly appeared to them and said she would take them to heaven soon. Francisco declined hospital treatment on April 3, 1919, and died at home the next day. Jacinta was moved from one hospital to another in an attempt to save her life, which she insisted was futile. She developed purulent pleurisy and endured an operation in which two of her ribs were removed. Because of the condition of her heart, she could not be anesthetized and suffered terrible pain, which she said would help to convert many sinners. On February 19, 1920, Jacinta asked the hospital chaplain who heard her confession to bring her Holy Communion and give her the Anointing of the Sick because she was going to die ‘the next night.’ He told her that her condition was not that serious and that he would return the next day. The next day Jacinta was dead; she had died, as she had often said she would, alone.
After visiting the house of the three shepherd children, we proceeded to visit the Basilica of Holy Rosary and the Church of Holy Trinity. The Basilica of the Rosary received its title in December 1954 granted by His Holiness, Pope Pius XII. It is situated in a vast open square, approximately twice as large as St. Peter’s in Rome. This beautiful edifice is built of solid limestone with a tower that reaches 65 meters (213 feet) towards the heavens. It has fifteen altars corresponding to the fifteen decades of the Rosary in honor of Our Lady who here declared: “I am the Lady of the Rosary.” The high altar painting depicts the Message of Our Lady of Fatima to the three children. Included in the painting are figures of the local bishop as well as Pope Pius XII (who consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1942), Pope John XXIII and Pope Paul VI. The four corners of the basilica are occupied by statues of men especially devoted to the rosary and the Immaculate Heart of Mary: St. Anthony Claret, St. Dominic of Gusman, St. John Eudes and King St. Stephen of Hungary.
We toured and prayed inside the Rosary Basilica and paid respect to the three tombs of the three seers: Francisco and Jacinta, who both died of influenza in 1919 and 1920 and Sr. Lucia who died in 2005.
We visited also the Church of the Holy Trinity which is located to the southwest of the existing Basilica of the Rosary. This church is officially named as the minor Basilica of the Holy Trinity (Portuguese: da Santíssima Trindade) and is a Roman Catholic church and minor basilica in the Sanctuary of Fatima (Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima) in the civil parish of Fatima, in the municipality of Ourém in Portugal. The structure include several chapels: the Chapel of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (Portuguese: Capela do Sagrado Coração de Jesus), with 16 confessionaries; the Chapel of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Portuguese: Capela do Imaculado Coração de Maria), with 12 confessionaries; the Chapel of the Resurrection of Jesus (Portuguese: Capela da Ressurreição de Jesus), with space for 200 and 16 confessionaries; Chapel of the Death of Jesus (Portuguese: Capela da Morte de Jesus), with space for 600; and the Chapel of the Holy Sacrament (Portuguese: Capela do Santíssimo Sacramento), dedicated for Lausperene, a maximum of 200 continuous prayer venerates.
Near the entrance to the sanctuary by the rectory is a Berlin Wall Monument, containing a 5,732-pound chunk of the wall donated by a Portuguese emigrant to Germany after it fell in 1989. He offered it as a memorial of God’s intervention in bringing down Communism, as promised at Fatima.
The other main stop for us was the Chapel of Apparitions, an open-air chapel built on the site of the appearances. The original chapel was built in 1919, and then blown up on the night of March 6, 1922, by those who suspected the church of staging the miracles. Inside the modern chapel is a single white column over the site of a small holm oak tree over which the Virgin Mary appeared on May 13, 1917. That oak fell victim to souvenir collectors long ago, but a large replacement tree grows near the entrance to the sanctuary by the rectory.
After those visits, we had our lunch at Restorante o Sino and did some shopping. At 3:30PM we went back to the hotel; had some washed up and went back to the Basilica of the Rosary for our 4PM Mass presided by Fr. Bonie Ampoyas and the homilist as well at Adjo de Paz Chapel.
After the Mass we went back to the hotel, rested for awhile and waited for our 7:30PM dinner. After dinner, at 9PM, we went back to the Chapel of Apparitions, at the very heart of the Sanctuary, and attended the Rosary and Candlelight processions. This Chapel is 24 hours open and you can go there if you want and feel to pray. It’s a walking distance from Hotel Quincentenario.
After the processions, we went back to the hotel and drank some red wine together with Fr. Estong and Nathaniel Caballero.
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