Fátima Portugal is the home to the Sanctuary of Fátima, a Catholic pilgrimage site that is reportedly as important as Lourdes and Camino de Santiago. Its holy status derives from a vison of a 10-year old girl named Lucia (whose two younger cousins partially confirmed her vision) of a woman known as Our Lady of Fátima who appeared and ordered her to return to an oak tree daily for six months. Word had gotten around and she was joined by 70,000 pilgrims. However, only Lucia heard the vision of Hell, the coming of a war more deadly than WWI, and the assassination of the Pope.
The girl and her cousins have since been beatified and are entombed in the city’s Basilica Nossa Senhora Do Rosario.
Nossa Senhora Do Rosario
Nossa Senhora Do Rosario is the older and grander of two basilica’s separated by a plaza twice the size of Rome’s St. Peter’s Square. The Basilica Nossa Senhora Do Rosario is an elegant multi-story tower with long colonnades on each side.
The lovely understated and elegant interior has white and pink marble that is lined by contemporary designed stained-glass windows and bronzes of biblical scenes. Our visit luckily coincided by a concert by a wonderful choir.
Long colonnades topped by statues of saints flank the main basilica. Murals of the final days of Christ’s persecution line each of the colonnades.
Basilica Da Santissima Trindade
The Basilica Da Santissima Trindade is at the opposite end of the huge plaza. This simple, straightforward and elegant building is in the shape of huge, concrete circle with a huge auditorium that holds thousands of worshipers. The only real decoration is a large gold panel behind the alter. Brass panels around the entrance appear to represent the stations of the cross. In front of the basilica is a huge abstract cross representing the crucifixion.
In the outdoor area of the plaza, penitents can buy devotional candles of all sizes, ranging from tapers, three-inch-diameter cylinders to long staffs and even wax models of people and body parts. One takes the candles to the next station of large, gas-fired burners. There they light and throw or placed them into the flames.
Surrounding the plaza and basilicas are relatively inexpensive hotels and restaurants and shops that sell all manner of religious statues and symbols as well as standard souvenirs and children’s toys.
Nothing Stops At Night
In the evening, the basilicas are lit and penitents are progressing slowly down a smooth stone line toward Nossa Senhora Do Rosario on their knees.
Dom Duarte. We began with a salad here. Joyce had a wonderful grilled octopus with roasted potatoes and a mélange of vegetables. Tom’s lamb rib chops had more bones and fat than meat but came with a perfectly cooked combination of basmati and wild rice. We had glasses of three pleasant wines: 2021 Vinho Velelhas white from Alentejo, 2021 Vallado Vinho Blanco (a combination of Arinto, Codego, Gouveio) from Douro and a 2016 Herdade da Aluda Reserva (Alacante Bouchet and Petite Verdot) from Alentejo. In all, a nice experience.
Would we return? Well, it was interesting to see. If you are religious it is worth a stop. Otherwise, well…….you have to decide on your own. For us, no.