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History of Fatima City in Portugal

Fatima is a city in Portugal famous for the religious visions that are said to have taken place there in 1917.

Fatima is a city of approximately 10,000 inhabitants located in the district of Santarem in central Portugal, 187 km south of Porto and 123 km north of Lisbon. Fatima is a parish (freguesia) in the municipality of Ourem.

Fatima's claim to fame is the shrine called the Sanctuary of Fatima, built to commemorate the events of 1917 when three peasant children claimed to have seen the "Virgin of the Rosary", Our Lady of Fatima. The children actually experienced the apparitions in a pasture called the Cova da Iria ("Irene's Cove") near the village of Aljustrel, about a mile from Fatima.

Fatima now attracts hosts of believers from far and wide, particularly on the pilgrimage days, and the shrine has been developed on a correspondingly large scale. The large torch-light processions in the evening are particularly impressive.

The pilgrims gather in the Cova, on a huge esplanade in which is built a little chapel where the Virgin is believed to have appeared to the children. Around the esplanade are a considerable number of shops and stalls selling all kinds of religious articles.

On the far side of the esplanade rises the gigantic basilica, in neo-classical style, with a central tower 65 meters high, the construction of which was begun on 13 May 1928. It is flanked by colonnades linking it with the extensive conventual and hospital buildings. In the basilica are the tombs of two of the three seers, Francisco Marto and Jacinta Marto, who died in 1919 and 1920 respectively, and were beatified in 2000. The third seer, Lucia dos Santos, died in 2005. Now Lucia's tomb is also in the Basilica.

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