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Sanctuary of Fátima

Sanctuary of Fátima
© Can Stock Photo Inc. / LianeM / All rights reserved
Interior of Santuário de Fátima
© Concierge.2C / CC BY-SA 3.0
Basilica of the Holy Trinity
© Dr. János Korom / CC BY-SA 3.0

Santuário de Fátima

The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima (Santuário de Fátima) is one of the world’s largest Catholic pilgrimage sites, attracting between 4 and 5 million visitors every year.  Here, between 13th May and 13th October 1917, three shepherd children are believed to have witnessed six apparitions of the Virgin Mary, who imparted various messages and predictions about the future.  During the last of these apparitions it is said that around 50,000 observers witnessed the sun moving around in the sky in a way which defied the laws of cosmology.

Among the various buildings associated with the sanctuary, the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary (Basílica de Nossa Senhora do Rosário) is a solid limestone church built between 1928 and 1953 in Neo-Baroque style.  The basilica has a 65 metre-high bell tower and there is a large statue of Our Lady of Fatima above the main entrance to the church. 

Inside there are 15 altars corresponding to the 15 Mysteries of The Rosary, and an organ which has around 12,000 pipes.  The apparitions and events surrounding them are illustrated in the basilica’s stain glass windows.  Statues of four saints associated with the rosary stand at the four corners of the church.  Within the basilica complex is the Chapel of the Apparitions, where the three shepherd children, Lucia dos Santos, and Jacinta and Francisco Marto, who died in 1919, 1920 and 2005, are buried. 

Across the square from the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary, the Basilica of the Holy Trinity (Basílica da Santíssima Trindade) is a relatively austere, modern structure built between 2004 and 2007 to accommodate the crowds who flock here on the anniversaries of the apparitions.  With a seating capacity of over 8,000 this is among one of the biggest Catholic churches in the world. 

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