Fatima Centenary: awaiting Pope Francis
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis is just hours away from his departure for Fatima, Portugal, where he will lead celebrations to mark the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady there. Our special envoy Chris Altieri is in Fatima, and sent us this report.
“If you don’t like the weather, wait ten minutes.” That’s sound advice any time one finds oneself about 20 miles from the Atlantic coast at nearly 1,000 ft. elevation.
We took rain off and on all morning, as we went from one side of the shrine complex to the other: first getting an unscheduled stop at the Carmel where Pope Francis is to stay the night Friday, then our hunt for our lodgings and then the press centre for accreditation and then the refectory for a quick bite to eat
That’s par for the course on a journey like this – a pilgrimage, really – though I promise to be here from start to finish, God-willing, to bring you all the story – and it is as a pilgrim that Pope Francis is coming to this place in the hills north of Lisbon, where 100 years ago this weekend the Mother of God appeared to shepherd children , in the midst of what was the most costly and destructive conflict yet in human history, to show the whole human race once again the way to her Divine Son, Jesus Christ.
“With Mary, as a pilgrim of hope and peace I travel to Fatima,” said Pope Francis in a tweet on the eve of his departure. “Let us see in her that everything is God’s gift and He is our strength.”
Here, in Fatima, there is an uncanny mixture of constant bustle and tense calm, with groups of pilgrims of every age and state of life in the Church milling about, now completing this devotion, now moving to another – some braving wind and rain to cross the plaza on their knees – others seeking shelter, others heading home – at least for the day.
The shrine complex is getting busier by the hour, it seems, with volunteers and the inevitable security checkpoints adding to the bustle.
The Rosary of Our Lady, meanwhile, is in the air – quite literally – visibly in the great white sculpture that rises some 80 feet high over the square – and audibly, in the prayers of the pilgrims, whether piped through the public address, or whispered at arm’s length.
In Fatima, awaiting Pope Francis, I’m, Chris Altieri