Our Lady of Fatima: exploring the message of faith, hope and love

David Fincham

May 2017 marks the centenary of the first of six apparitions of Our Lady to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal. David Fincham, a lecturer in Catholic School Leadership at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, offers a brief history.

I visited the holy shrine of Fatima with two friends in February 2015. When we arrived, entering the wide space of the sanctuary, the cold morning air under clear blue skies pinched the skin on my face, suffusing it with a lambent glow. My astonished eyes were drawn to the focal point of the sanctuary, the Chapel of the Apparitions. This was the spot that marks the supernatural appearances of the Blessed Virgin Mary to three shepherd children a century ago. There I discovered her image, enclosed in a case on a marble pedestal.

Towering over the sanctuary, pure white in the spring sunlight, the spire of the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary pointed upwards to the heavens. Towards the basilica, a group of pilgrims walked on their knees or crawled in penitence and obeisance. Whilst a number of visitors and pilgrims wandered with awe and curiosity around the sanctuary, I was struck by the stillness, the silence all around me. It was evident that this was a special place.

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