Camino Nascente & Carmelita Camino Nascente Fatima Camino Portugues Portugal

Day 6: Fatima

Today was supposed to be a short stage, 20 kilometers, and for the first 5 kilometers, a repetition of yesterdays stage. Following yesterday’s tough stage I decided that I would instead, stay in Fatima and visit the Sanctuary of Fátima. The city is the site of a world-renowned Catholic miracle and is visited by more than 10 million pilgrims yearly. I will now recite the miracle where Mary appeared to three children in 1917, but instead propose that anybody interested reads the following article: The miracle of Fatima

I was up and taken breakfast by 9 o’clock. The hotel had a massive dinning area to cater for the many visitors, but today there were no more than 20 people in the breakfast area. On May and October 13th, up to 100.000 people visit the Sanctuary, and the whole area around the Sanctuary is built to cater for the large numbers, so it seemed fairly empty in the middle of February, with few visitors. 8.000 people live in Fatima, whilst there is a bed capacity  of over 10.000 beds in the various hotels and hostels. It is mostly Portuguese that visit Fatima, but I also read that there is a growing number of foreign pilgrims as well.

I started off visiting the candle area  where people purchase and light candles.

The Chapel of Apparitions, the place where Mary appeared to the children in 1917.

I walked towards the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary, the main church and stood at the top of the steps to admire the massive area in front of the Basilica – the Prayer Square.

There were many people in the Basilica, and I sat down on a bench at the back to look around. Before I realised, a service started, and not being a Catholic, I was surprised by the number of times the congregation stood up and sat down.

After the service I walked across the Prayer Square, via a piece of the Berlin wall, towards the High Cross at the other end of the Sanctuary, next to the statue of Pope John Paul II. One thing that surprised me was that I saw several people crawling, or walking on their knees the 600m between the Basilica of the Holy Trinity and the Chapel of the Apparitions. I have read that they are praying to the Virgin for help, thanking her for the help received or as an act of penance.

Behind the cross is the Basilica of Most Holy Trinity, a super modern church.

I left the area and walked around passing many shops selling all kinds of artifacts. All open, but all empty. I had a late lunch at a restaurant dedicated to Benfica – the owner is Benfica crazy with lots of scarfs on the ceiling and pictures of every Benfica team that had won the Portuguese championship.

After lunch, I walked to the bus station to see if there were any buses to tomorrow’s start. The only bus was at 16.45, so too late. I spoke to a taxi driver who told me it would cost 40 € with a taxi. She gave me her card and I could call if I needed a taxi.

I wandered around, spoke to my wife on the phone and went back to the hotel. In the evening I visited the Sanctuary and took a couple of night pictures, before having a light dinner and early night.


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