Between 13th May and 13th October 1917, three local shepherd children living near Fátima are said to have witnessed apparitions of the Virgin Mary. The Sanctuary in Fatima is now a leading pilgrimage site for Catholics from around the world and attracts between 4 and 5 million visitors each year. The eldest of these three children, Lucia dos Santos, lived as a Carmelite nun until 2005, devoting her life to prayer and sacrifice.
The house where Lucia was born and lived at the time of the apparitions is located in the village of Aljustrel, about 2 kilometres from the Sanctuary of Fatima. It takes about 30 minutes to walk there, but can be accessed more easily by using the small tourist train which runs between the Sanctuary and the village. The house has been restored and contains furniture and artefacts from the time when Lucia’s family lived here. It gives a good impression of what life would have been like at the time. There are even goats to be seen in the yard.
Because the house is fairly small, a visit will not last long, although if you arrive just after a coach party, there might be a wait before you can enter. To appreciate the sense of tranquillity and peace which many visitors find that they experience here it is best to time your visit before or after the arrival of the coaches of tourists.
Next door to Sister Lucia’s birthplace is a small museum containing objects and letters associated with her life, including her first set of rosary beads and the scarf she wore at the time of the apparitions. The houses of Jacinta and Francisco Marto, the two other visionaries who died many years before Lucia can be found 200 metres away.