© Petr Adam Dohnálek / CC BY-SA 3.0
Chapel of The Apparitions
The shrine of Fatima has two Basilicas and attracts millions of Catholic pilgrims annually. At the heart of the Sanctuary complex, and the focal point for most visitors to Fatima, is the Chapel of the Apparitions, built on the exact spot where, between 13th May and 13th October 1917 three peasant children witnessed a series of apparitions of the Virgin Mary, who spoke to the children and conveyed messages of the need for the conversion of Russia and the need for acts of penance throughout the world. She requested that a chapel be built on the site, dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary.
Today, a statue of Our Lady can be seen marking the place where the small holm-oak tree on which the apparitions were seen, once stood. Nothing is left of the tree itself.
The chapel is unostentatious and sparsely decorated. Many visitors experience a powerful sense of peace here and there are almost always a number of pilgrims in devout prayer in the chapel, some even crawling on their knees to the site. Devotional candles to light can be obtained nearby.
The first chapel constructed here was built in 1919, but was blown up by arsonists in March 1922. The structure found here today was completed in 1923 and has been changed very little since then apart from the addition of a porch, inaugurated by Pope John Paul II who credited his recovery from an assassination attempt on 13th May 1981 on the intervention of Our Lady of Fatima.
For many years there had been speculation concerning the third "secret of Fatima", said to have been imparted to Lucia dos Santos in 1917, but in 2000 the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith revealed that this secret concerned the 1981 assassination attempt.