Fatima’s fame as a pilgrimage site has made this town one of the most sought after destinations in Portugal, attracting thousands of devoted pilgrims and curious travellers year after year.
Located north of Lisbon near the city of Leiria, Fatima is home to one of the most esteemed Marian sites in the world and the legend of the three shepherd children who allegedly witnessed the apparition of Our Lady Mary on 13th May 1917.
According to the legend, a celestial ‘lady shining brighter than the sun’ appeared before the three children, stressing the importance of praying the rosary and informing them that she would reappear on the same date, and at the same time, for five consecutive months. She promised to reveal her identity and perform a miracle on the day of their last meeting.
During the succeeding months, Our Lady delivered three prophecies to the children. On 13th October, at the appointed time, some 70,000 people gathered to await the promised apparition. As the people prayed the rosary, Our Lady appeared and performed what is referred to as the ‘Miracle of the Sun’: the sun began to spin wildly resembling a rolling ball of fire and the heavy rain that had been falling suddenly ceased and the people’s wet garments were miraculously dried.
The most exciting time to visit Fatima is on the pilgrimage days of 13th May and 13th October when pilgrims fill the streets, eager to keep their promises to pray to Our Lady or simply to experience the unique atmosphere of these occasions.
Visit the imposing neoclassical basilica that stands in the heart of Fatima’s sanctuary and the tombs of the shepherd children that lie within. The small Chapel of Apparitions is also noteworthy as this marks the site where Our Lady of Fatima made her appearances. Be sure to see the large block of the Berlin Wall situated near the chapel (a symbol of the end of communism, as revealed in one of Fatima’s secrets) and visit the houses of the shepherd children in the town of Aljustrel. Walking the Stations of the Cross is one of Fatima’s most popular processions, leading faithful pilgrims to the 14 chapels that represent different stages of the Passion of Christ.
Situated just over half a mile (900 m) from the sanctuary, Dom Gonçalo Hotel & Spa enjoys a central location and offers comfortable accommodation and superb facilities, including an inviting spa with indoor swimming pool and a convenient children’s playground – a perfect base from which to discover Fatima and the other treasures to be found in this region.