January 25, 2020
Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima
The Virgin Mary is said to have appeared before three young children in the summer of 1917. This apparition happened in the town they now call Fátima.
Brother and sister Francisco and Jacinta Marto and their cousin Lucia Santos were tending their sheep when they first witnessed the Virgin Mary. The children’s visions continued monthly and caused a great stir in the community. Francisco, Jacinta and Lucia were briefly jailed and threatened to be boiled in oil for lying and for being politically disruptive. They held true to their story and six months later on October 13, 1917, approximately 70,000 people witnessed with them the Miracle of the Sun.
The Miracle of the Sun was described as the sun dancing across the sky and creating solar flares that fell to the earth. During this last apparition, the Virgin Mary divulged three secrets to the children. While Francisco and Jacinta died from the flu almost three years later, Lucia lived to the age of 97.
The first two secrets were not revealed by Lucia until 1941. She would not speak of the third secret but was ordered by her Bishop in October 1943 to put the secret in writing. Lúcia wrote the secret, sealed it in an envelope and asked that it not to be opened until 1960, when “it will appear clearer.”
In 2000 Pope John Paul II released the third secret to the public. Many claim that it was not the entire secret and many speculate that she predicted the shooting of Pope John Paul II. I’m guessing we will never know.
The location where the children saw the Virgin Mary has become a sanctuary and pilgrimage site for many of the Catholic religion. A statue of the Virgin Mary marks the exact spot where the children had their apparition.
The huge square can hold thousands of pilgrims as they gather for various services of faith. The site has two basilicas, multiple statues and multiple marked locations that pertain to the original vision of the Virgin Mary.
The Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary is the final resting place for the three children. Inside the Basilica, you can lay flowers and pray at their gravesides. All three have been canonized by the Catholic Church in 2017.