It was in a poor place, in an isolated village in the Sierra de Aire, that in 1917 Our Lady appeared to three children who were keeping the flock of sheep.
The story of Fatima goes back to the time of the Arab occupation and is clinging to a love legend. For centuries it has passed from a small village where pastoralism and subsistence agriculture were the way of life of the population.
It is with the growth of the Marian cult, after the Apparitions, that Fatima grows and gains importance. Throughout these last 100 years, Fatima has become one of the largest centers of Marian worship in the world and by many called the "Altar World". It is there, in the place of the Cova da Iria, where the Santuario da Nossa senhora do Rosario de Fatima (Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima) is located, which millions of people come to, whether Catholic or not.
As if surrounded by an atmosphere of peace, every pilgrim or simple visitor feels the faith of those who approach the image of Our Lady in the Capelinha das Apariçoes (Chapel of the Apparitions) to ask or thank a grace, often in an attitude that defies logic of the human mind.
Every night, from Easter to Advent and also on Saturdays in the rest of the period, the faithful are gathered together at the Capelinha das Apariçoes (Chapel of the Apparitions) for the prayer of the Rosary, followed by the Candles Procession. This path of light, in which thousands of people participate, is a mark for anyone in their visit to Fatima.
This atmosphere of peace and tranquility that is lived in the Sanctuary of Fatima remembers the event that gave birth to it: the Apparitions and its message.
The Shrine, in addition to the Capelinha das Apariçoes (Chapel of the Apparitions), is composed of the Basilica da Nossa senhora do Rosario de Fatima (Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima), where the seer Shepherds, the Basilica da Santissima Trindade (Basilica of the Holy Trinity) and the large esplanade, known as the "Recinto", where are realised the celebration who involved a greater number of faithful.
Given the importance of Fatima in the Catholic world, the Shrine has already had the visit of four Popes: Pope Paul VI in 1967, Pope John Paul II in 1982, 1991 and 2000, Pope Benedict XVI in 2010 and Pope Francisco in 2017.
But for many pilgrims and tourists it is equally important to visit the little village of Aljustrel, where the shepherds lived, and Valinhos, where the Angel appeared in 1916 and also the apparition of Our Lady in August 1917. It is there that if you perceive well the simplicity of the place because it almost stopped in time, keeping its original traits.
To visit Fatima is to let the spirit lead the highest point that the human mind can bear.