Fatima – Faith and Business
In only one century, a nowhere land became one of the greatest meeting points of the world. Religion, business and curiosity gather in Fátima, each day of the year, with a special peak in each 13th from May to October.
The whole area from Fatima to the sea has developed lots of attraction, providing alternatives or complements to all the wishes and tastes, so, any visit must include a planned tour in the surroundings.
Pray – if you’re a believer
Fátima has a wide reputation of miracles, thus becoming the meeting point of millions of visitors each year.
A long walkway in marble is always full of people “paying” promises they made to the Virgin, in any dramatic situation, whose good end they believe was due to the holy help.
Halfway to the basilica, a smaller chapel signals the location of the tree where the apparitions were referred, is the ending point of walkway, and the meeting point for all the prayers.
After many millions and some polemic, the new cathedral is already working.
Standing face to the other, it was decided to low it in the ground, to preserve the image of the whole place.
I didn’t enter it yet, I don’t know the advantages of a double cathedral, but I may confirm that the general look was not spoilt.
Most people walk to Fatima from long distance. It’s, indeed, Fatima’s strongest tradition – to walk there.
In the access from Batalha (and maybe others, I never checked it!) about ten kilometers before arriving you may notice a cross in marble, that repeats regularly until Fatima. They intend to mark the stations of a Via Sacra, maybe to ease the last kilometers with the distraction of praying and the enthusiasm of successively conquered stages.
The last (I think!) cross, already in Fatima, is accessible to all the tourists, thus deserving a little enrichment.
It’s common in Portugal when facing dramatic situations (disease, trouble in a birth of a child, even scholar examinations) to make a promise, most of them to “Nª Srª de Fátima”.
Those promises generally include walking to Fatima on foot (sometimes hundreds of kilometers) or crossing the sanctuary kneeling. To soften those pilgrims suffering a long walkway was built in marble, and there is always someone painfully sliding on it.
When I approached the man to ask permission to take his family photo, the deficient woman in the wheelchair had some agitation, that the kneeling woman translated – she wants to kiss you.
Well, sometimes is not so difficult to bring happiness to simple people.
Though, in my opinion, the only touristic attraction to non-believers is… people and the strength of their faith, Fatima is always crowded with tourists.
If you decide to be one more… OK.
You just have to respect the pilgrims, and make the merchants’s happiness, but remember, nearby, you have some priorities that would make you feel sad if you miss them to see Fatima:
I’m talking about Batalha, Alcobaça, and Nazaré… and Óbidos… and…
My Austrian friends Ingrid an Johanna wanted to go there, in winter, we did, but (I was in command!) respecting the touristy priorities.
Souvenirs, souvenirs, souvenirs
We sell everything! All kinds of crafts from wax to jewelry, statues, toys, clothes, paintings, and all you can imagine, are available around the hotels, hostels, restaurants, stalls, shops that ARE Fatima.
It’s easy to find some “Portuguese” crafts made in China, and if you search a little more, there’s also Taiwan, Morocco, India, and many more, even… believe me… Portugal.
So… hurry! Go search! And buy! Buy! Buy! For me … bye.