Fatima, altar of the world
Fatima, altar of the world is the title of this village considered one of the most important Catholic pilgrimage places. John Paul II was one of its most fervent devotes.
Once upon a time there was a rural little village that thanks to the visions of three shepherd children was transformed into the altar of the world.
This could be the first line of a bestseller but it is the reality of Fatima, a small village in the center of Portugal that is now worldwide famed for its religious importance.
This history goes back to 1917 when the three children, Jacinta, Francisco and Lúcia, witnessed the apparitions of Our Lady of Rosário (the Virgin Mary) on a remote place called Cova da Iria, where nowadays it stands Fatima sanctuary. In spite of the Church’s initial reluctance – the institution only recognized the phenomenon officially in 1930 – the news of the miracle soon spread and the site became a pilgrimage place for thousands of people from all over the world.
Celebration dates in Fatima
Even though Fatima is one of the most visited religious sites in the all world, the number of pilgrims reaches its peak on May 13th and October 13th when the apparitions are celebrated. For believers, the most touching moment of these celebrations is the Adeus à Virgem, when at the end of the celebrations, the image of the Virgin Mary is carried among the crowd that waves back with white handkerchiefs, singing. The magnificence of the faith impresses and moves even those who aren’t believers. However, the most beautiful moment of the celebrations is the Procissão das Velas, a procession at candle light.
The former Pope, John Paul II contributed largely for the recognition of Fatima as an altar of the world. In fact, he was a fervent devote of the Our Lady of Fatima and believed that it was Her that saved him when the Turkish Ali Agca attacked him on May 13th at Saint Peter’s Square.
It was due to the influence of John Paul II that on May 13th 2000 the Vatican beatified Jacinta and Francisco, acknowledging the alleged cures attributed to the two children.