Fatima, located halfway between Lisbon and Porto, is one of the world’s most important Catholic pilgrimage sites. It’s where Virgin Mary has been appearing to three shepherd kids. She asked them to pray on the rosary and reveled three secrets that only them and the Pope knew for many years. Keep on reading to get to know the full story and find out how to plan a perfect pilgrimage to Fatima Portugal.
How To Get To Fatima?
There is no airport in Fatima, so the best is to take a flight to Lisbon.
From there you can either book a private transfer or:
Take A Bus To Fatima
The traveling time takes about 1,5h and you will pay about 12 euros for a ticket, one way. Check out the current timetable of Rede Expressos (follow the link).
There is no railway station in Fatima, so taking a train there is not recommended (you will need to travel from the nearby Caxarias to Fatima by bus or taxi).
Rent A Car
Renting a car is arguably the best option to get to Fatima. You are having the freedom to stop whenever you want and a see a bit more of Portugal on your way from Lisbon to Fatima.
Click here to rent your car online (it will save your time and money $$).
If you don’t have enough time, you can always book a day trip from Lisbon to Fatima.
The Story Of Fatima
There was nothing special about the little Portuguese village with a high percentage of illiteracy until 1917. It’s when Virgin Mary has appeared to 3 kids (Lúcia dos Santos, Francisco and Jacinta Marto) for the first time.
She asked children to come back to the same place (Cova de Iria) on the 13th of every month. They didn’t know who She is, so they called her a “Pretty Lady”. She asked them to pray on the rosary and be good.
At first, the kids decided to not tell anyone about the Pretty Lady but the youngest kids couldn’t keep the secret. They told their parents about the apparition.
Next 13th of the month, they joined their kids in Cova de Iria. Even though they couldn’t see the Pretty Lady, they could tell that something weird is happening in nature. Each month more people joined them, with a peak of 70,000 people on October, 13th, 1917.
Three Secrets of Fatima
One of the most important things that the Pretty Lady told kids was the three secrets of Fatima:
- the 1st was a vision of hell with the promise that praying on the rosary can save the sinners’ souls
- the 2nd secret was a promise that the war (1st world war) will end up soon and a request that Russia should be consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
- the 3rd was supposed to be a secret that only the Popes could know; however, John Paul 2nd has made it public in 2000; the secret is the announcement of the tragedies that will happen in the world including the shooting of the Pope (more about it later)
The Miracle of the Sun
It’s the series of weird phenomenons visible to thousands of people during the last apparition of the Pretty Lady. Many atheists started to believe in Jesus after seeing the miracle of the sun. More about it here.
The Meaning of Apparitions in Fatima
At the beginning, kids didn’t know who the Pretty Lady is. She finally revealed her true name is Our Lady of the Rosary and she asked children to pray on the rosary every day.
Virgin Mary said that two younger kids (Francisco and Jacinta) will go to heaven soon. It turned out to be true- they both died less than 3 years after the last apparition.
The Mystery of 13th
The first apparition of the Virgin Mary happened on May, 13th. What is surprising, the shooting the Pope that she announced also happened on May, 13th, 64 years after.
Lúcia dos Santos, the oldest of the kids and the only one who survived, has died on February, 13th.
Francisco and Jacinta Marto were beatified and canonized on May, 13th.
There are many thirteens associated with Fatima and it’s not clear why.
How To Plan A Perfect Fatima Pilgrimage?
If the main goal of your pilgrimage to Fatima is to pray and focus on your relationship with God, I’d recommend traveling off the season (not in the summer).
Before your book your trip to Fatima, check out the current event calendar in the sanctuary.
The entire complex is huge and there is always a lot going on there. The places that you should definitely visit are:
Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity
It’s a huge and modern church, designed to welcome the crowds of pilgrims from around the world. The basilica has a capacity of 9,000 seated.
It’s enormous and to be honest, it’s not the best place to focus and contemplate, as it looks more like a library or student’s assembly hall than a church.
Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary
Smaller, older, and definitely more charming church, located on the other side of the huge plaza.
If you want to feel the atmosphere of Fatima, that’s your place to go.
It’s also where you will find the tombs of Lúcia dos Santos, Francisco and Jacinta Marto.
The Chapel of Apparitions
Located in the heart of the sanctuary complex, the Chapel of Apparitions is where the Virgin Mary appeared first to the kids.
To be honest, it was our favorite place to pray. You can truly connect with God there, it’s quiet and peaceful. The chapel is outdoors so the surroundings of nature make it even better to meditate.
Right next to the Chapel of Apparitions, there is a small shop where you can purchase candles in different shapes. For example, if the purpose of your pilgrimage to Fatima is to pray for your kidney’s health, you can buy a candle in the kidney shape and light it in the chapel.
If you try to conceive (like we did, more about it later), you can buy baby-candles. Surprisingly, you can even choose the sex, depending if you want to have a boy or girl.
My thoughts? I found it quite odd, I believe prayers are more powerful than any candle. God doesn’t need gifts like that. That’s why we haven’t bought any candles.
For more places of worship in Fatima, check out this site.
House of Lucia and House of Francisco and Jacinta
You will find both houses in Aljustrel, a village located just half an hour walk away from Fatima. The trail is called Via Sacra (The Saint Way) and if you have enough time, be sure to walk through it.
Why it’s worth to visit the houses of 3 kids? Mainly because they are exactly as they were in the past. You will have a chance to discover how poor their families (and Portugal in general) were at the beginning of the 20th century.
Where To Stay In Fatima?
Hotel Casa Das Irmas Dominicanas is where we’ve been staying and we absolutely loved this place! It’s located within the walking distance to the Sanctuary.
The guest house is run by nuns and it has pilgrims’ house-style. The rooms are basic but comfortable. They serve home-made breakfast every morning.
For Luxury Travelers
If you opt for something more luxurious, check out Hotel Fatima Steyler. It’s located right next to the Sanctuary. The hotel is one of the best in the region, with a spa and a kids’ playground available.
Our Fatima Story
We were trying to get pregnant for over a year and a half when we’ve been to Fatima. Like many other couples, we’ve been praying to the Virgin Mary to help us make our dreams come true.
We promised ourselves that if we get pregnant and it’s a girl, we will call her Maria in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Less than 4 months later, when we’ve been to Cyprus, I took the pregnancy test and… it was positive.
Our baby girl is called Maria, as we promised.
We believe that the Virgin Mary truly helped us. However, we haven’t been inactive during these months. We’ve gone into the keto diet, checked all the hormones, and started a necessary treatment.
I do believe in miracles but I also believe that God wants us to fight for our dreams, not just idly waiting for Him to do something for us.
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