Thursday, January 13, 2011

Road Trip to Fátima

I can't resist a good diorama, especially when it features taxidermy
(the sheep & chickens, not the children)
This scene portrays the first appearance of the BVM to the
children of Fátima
Until 1917, Fátima was a tiny, quiet village in central Portugal. As soon as news spread about apparitions of the Virgin Mary to a trio of young children, everything changed. Fátima now attracts more than 4 million visitors each year and is a lovely spiritual and touristy destination. Whether you believe in the apparitions or not, there is definitely a peaceful, magical feel here. Seeing so many pilgrims gathered in faith, some of them approaching the shrine on their knees, is a moving experience.

With the beautifully crowned basilica
in the background, pilgrims approach
the small chapel on the left
The open-air Chapel of the Apparitions
is built on the site of Mary's appearances
Candles blaze in thanksgiving, request and remembrance
One-stop shopping for 6' candles, wax body parts, knee pads, icons and toys ~
The reasonably priced body parts are left at the shrine as prayer offerings for healing

During my 3 hour bus ride from Fátima back to Braga, I had plenty of time to absorb and reflect on the experience.  I'm so glad I went, but I couldn't help wishing that my mom could have made the journey with me.   I know it would have been unforgettable for her too.

~ Peggy

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