Fátima Sanctuary

Photographer: Eda Sirma

Fátima Sanctuary

Located 135 km north of Lisbon, in the very heart of Portugal, this center of religious worship welcomes thousands of pilgrims every year. The name of this town, just like many other names in Portugal, derives from a local Muslim princess named Fatima who was captured by Christian forces and converted to Catholicism. Later, she was baptized and her baptismal name was Oureana. The visitors are recommended to visit Ourem, a medieval town situated northeast of Fatima and which took its name from Oureana.

Once a very poor village, this place has claimed its place as one of the most important centers of Catholic Church in the world due to the vision of Virgin Mary by three young shepherds, Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta, on 13 May 1917. Then saw five further visions on the 13th of every month and large number of people came with them. The Virgin is said to have disclosed three secrets to the children. Only two of the secrets, a vision of Hell, interpreted as World War II and the rise and collapse of Soviet Communism had been made public. However the third secret has never been revealed by Catholic Church, which is said to foretell a forthcoming disaster. An Ethnological Museum devoted to these secrets can be visited.

What used to be a small village, today hosts an enormous Basilica hosting millions of pilgrims every year. The esplanade is even larger than the piazza at St. Peter’s in Rome and hosts the tombs of Jacinta and Francisco.

Pilgrimages are held on the 13th of every month. Yet every day it is possible to see many believers kneeling in penitence to pay homage to the Virgin Mary.

The best way to go to Fatima from Lisbon is to take the bus from Sete Rios , the main bus station in Lisbon. The buses leave on hourly basis and the entire trip takes 1,5 hour. For more information on bus schedules please have a look at Rede Expressos