What would you do if three young shepherd children came to you and said they had seen an apparition of the Virgin Mary. Well the local administrator (of Fatima) initially jailed the children and threatened that he would boil them one by one in a pot of oil. (Source Wikipedia).

You may consider that this was a reasonably enlightened response back in 1917 but today the majority of us would doubtless frown upon it. Indeed today Fatima is a place of pilgrimage to rival Lourdes. Our small group made its own way back from Porto to Lisbon and at the request of the church-going contingent we stopped off at Fatima on the way.

Perhaps it was a message to us, I don’t know but this was only the second time we had rain in our 2 weeks away. We only had two hours in Fatima and that had to include lunch. Some decided to skip lunch and head for the shrine. Others elected to gaze only from the outside. The site is vast.

The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima

The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima

The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima

The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima

All around are loudspeakers so the pilgrims who are outside can hear the services. When I took these images behind me was a giant, imposing crucifix.


I am sure that for the devout this is an inspirational place. It is worth following the Wikipedia link to read the story. There were three secrets passed to the children by the Lady, the third of which remains controversial and ambiguous.

I confess I find it rather challenging to read that:

Olímpia Marto (mother of the two younger children) and others state that her children ecstatically predicted their own deaths many times to her and to curious pilgrims.


The devotion to Our Lady of Fatima in the Roman Catholic Church has a long history of association with rightist and even fascist groups.

Naturally an entire commercial industry has built up around the sanctuary and almost every shop sells the same ‘souvenirs’.


I am afraid that was one temptation we found easy to resist. As we left Fatima our holiday was all but over. Just an afternoon in Lisbon to come, the highlight of which would be an even greater discovery – a shop selling panama hats. Yes! Real ones from Ecuador that you can roll up and store in a box. And with that I shall leave you in suspense.

17 thoughts on “Fatima

      • Weird how religious thoughts/ideas inspire such extremism and how threatened people can feel so that they retaliate with more threats.

  1. How could you resist all those lovely plastic Fatima icons? I’m an an absolute sucker for kitsch religious-ware – I bought a glow-in-the-dark baby Jesus in Malaga and some stunning fake flickering candles with various saints plastered all over them – Beautiful! 😉

    Fatima is our village saint – she gets dusted down, strewn with flowers, then paraded round the village for her annual outing at the beginning of May. The villagers get dressed up in their best bibs and tucker and hold a huge party in her honour. Of course Fatima sees none of this merry-making. As soon as she’s done her bit in the parade, she’s stuffed back in side the church – oblivious to the revellers who then dance and drink the night away until falling in to their beds at 6am.

    • Is it the same Fatima, Lottie? Or Fatima Whitbread? I can’t really believe you bought a glow in the dark baby Jesus. I think you need to go on a proper pilgrimage, perhaps to Lords. St. John’s Wood is lovely in summer.

  2. All I could think of was W C Fields ‘boiled or fried?’

    The photos are great, the buildings are striking. As is the cross. The trouble with those sort of places is they are always so busy. Even the local cemetery in La Linea is always heaving on a Sunday.

  3. I always shake my head at all of the Touristy shops selling things (most likely made in China or elsewhere)…As for the lore of this place, doubtful the children would be boiled today..
    Nice photos, Andrew!

  4. Living in a Catholic country I find the commercialism around some of the main shrines and churches in the country similar to the those that Jesus through out of the temple. Especially on All Saints day when people are outside the cemeteries selling glow sticks and flashing headbands.

  5. We found a similar modern shrine (something to do with a statue of the virgin that wept blood, I think), a gigantic concrete edifice with a clear nod to Liverpool Met Cathedral, in Siracusa, Sicily. The spaces inside were vast and rather beautiful, the outside less so. However the scale, the money flowing through, the concentration on the sale of associated paraphernalia, never mind the history of ways to be martyred, made us feel rather unwell.

  6. I have a faith of sorts but have never been tempted by pilgrimage to one of these major centres of revelation. Never been tempted by a musical plastic Christ that glows in the dark. I once cycled to Whitchurch Conicorum though. There is a shrine but St Whit is a long way down the tourist trail.

    • You have never been tempted by a musical plastic Christ that glows in the dark? Oh Simon, you have not lived. Every home should have one. I think you can also get them that come in little glass domes with snow to shake. Magic!

  7. Jesus as a stick figure? Maybe, as a non-devout, the appropriateness is lost on me. Then again, over here folks display pictures of Jesus in the form of a tanned California surfer dude.

    Thank the deity that the barbarism of the early 20th century is behind us. Eh, wot? Oh crap, it’s still here.

    • Are you suggesting the good lord didn’t surf, Steve? I think we shall have to consult the Rev. Rod. to adjudicate on surfing and perhaps also roller-skating.

I'd be delighted to hear what you think

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s