The Sanctuary of Fatima is one of the most important Marian shrines in the world. Its construction began with the Chapel of the Apparitions in 1919 at the request of Our Lady to the Shepherds during the apparitions of 1917. The most symbolic celebrations take place on May 12 and 13 and on October 12 and 13.
The apparitions of Our Lady to the three shepherds were preceded by three other apparitions during the spring and summer of 1916 of the Angel of Portugal. This is how he identified himself during his second apparition to the visionaries.
The vision of the Angel was understood by the three shepherds as a preparation for the meetings that they would have with Our Lady the following year. In these apparitions, the Angel of Portugal asked Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta to pray and make sacrifices. This request would be constant in all the apparitions.
Three small and humble shepherds lived and witnessed the apparitions of the Angel of Portugal and of Our Lady in the Cova da Iria, Fatima, in 1916 and 1917. Lucia de Jesus, Francisco Marto and Jacinta Marto became known worldwide as the "Three Shepherds" or the "Seers of Fatima”.
The Chapel of the Apparitions is one of the most symbolic places for the believers of Fatima. The pedestal on which the statue of Our Lady stands marks the exact spot where the apparitions of May 13 to October 13 occurred.
The Chapel was built at the request of Our Lady, who asked the Little Shepherds to have a place of prayer built there in Her honor. The construction of the Chapel of the Apparitions began in 1919.
In 1919 Gilberto Fernandes dos Santos, a devotee from Torres Novas, commissioned the house of Fânzeres in Braga to carve the statue of Our Lady of Fatima in response to the desire manifested by the pilgrims of Fatima to have an image that they could venerate.
The image of the "Lady surrounded by light", as described by the three little shepherds, Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta, was carved in Brazilian cedar, measures 1.04 meters in height and was inspired on the model of Our Lady of Lapa (Ponte de Lima). It was carved according to the accounts given by the seers to Canon Manuel Formigão.
On October 13, 1942, as a result of a public subscription, the women of Portugal offered the jewels that were to be used in the production of the crown of gold that adorns the statue of Our Lady of Fatima. It weighs 1200 grams and contains 2650 precious stones and 313 pearls.
It is considered by many to be the most important jewel made in Portugal and in 1982 it became even more precious after the bullet extracted from the body of John Paul II, victim of an attack in St. Peter's Square in Rome on the 13th of May 1981, was added. Curiously, the projectile had precisely the same diameter of the washer that joins the stems of the diadem, where the bullet was placed almost half a century later.
It is one of the 413 trees in Portugal classified by the Directorate General of Forest Resources as of "public interest" because it is an icon of great symbolism and devotion. In 1917 this was the largest tree that could be seen in the Cova da Iria and owned by Lucia's parents. It is more than a hundred years old.
It was not on this Holm oak that Our Lady appeared to the three Little Shepherds, but it was beneath it that the seers recited the rosary while they waited for the apparition.
On the spot where the three little shepherds saw the first flash of lightning on May 13, 1917, stands the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima. The first stone was blessed on May 13, 1928. Place of worship and prayer for the pilgrims of Fatima, it is in the Basilica that the three little shepherds, Jacinta, Francisco and Lucia are buried.
With around 9,000 seats and an area of 40,000 m², the Basilica of the Holy Trinity was inaugurated in October 2007, on the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the Apparitions of Fatima. In 2012, this temple dedicated to the Holy Trinity received the title of basilica, granted by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
It is in the Sanctuary Square that the thousands of pilgrims to Fatima congregate. The area is delimited by the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima, the Basilica of the Holy Trinity and by the Holm Oaks and other trees that are characteristic of the region. It is in this Square that the anniversary pilgrimages of the twelfth and thirteenth of May and October are held.
The Colonnade of the Sanctuary of Fatima is composed of 200 columns and half columns and contains ceramic panels depicting the stations of the cross as well as 17 images. Some of these images are of saints whose congregations are present in Fatima, others are of "Marian apostles".
At one of the entrances to the Shrine of Fatima there is a segment of the great wall that divided Berlin for nearly three decades. The Berlin Wall was built in 1961 and destroyed in 1989. The block was offered to the Sanctuary of Fatima by a Portuguese emigrant in Germany and it is now an important location of prayer.
Founded in 1955, the Museum of the Sanctuary of Fatima includes temporary exhibitions, permanent exhibitions and the House-Museum of Aljustrel.
The house in Aljustrel where Saints Francisco and Jacinta Marto were born is accessible to the public. Here, it is possible to visualize a little more about the history of the little shepherds and to understand the habits of the highland families of Portugal in the early twentieth century. The decorative objects such as the kitchen utensils, agriculture equipment, clothing, rosaries and pieces of furniture are contemporary of the time of Francisco and Jacinta Marto.
Working Hours: November to March: 9h00 to 13h00; 14h00 to 18h00; From April to October: 9h00 to 13h30; 14h30 to 19h00
A few meters from the house of her cousins Francisco and Jacinta Marto, is the house of Lucia. Lucia lived in Aljustrel until 1921. It was in this house, now open to the public, that the first interrogations of the three seers of Fatima took place. The house contains some belongings and personal objects of Sister Lucia.
Visiting Hours: November to March: 9h00 to 13h00; 14h00 to 18h00; From April to October: 9h00 to 13h30; 14h30 to 19h00
It was at the well in the backyard of Lucia’s house that the second apparition of the Angel took place in the summer of 1916. The following year, at the same place, Jacinta had a vision of the Holy Father priest crying and praying on his knees in a large house.
It is possible to walk along the route which the three shepherds used to take every day, from Aljustrel to Fatima. Valinhos is an emblematic place for the believers of the Fatima apparitions, because, according to the accounts of the Fatima seers, it was there that the Angel appeared in 1916.
In Valinhos, you will find points of interest such as the Way of the Cross on the path that the Shepherds took, the Hungarian Calvary and the Loca do Cabeço.