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.
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.