History of Miracle Sites Fatima Portugal Part 2
About Fatima, Portugal the site of the miraculous appearances of the Virgin Mary.
An estimated 80,000 people walked, rode on horseback, or were carried to the Cova on a rainy Oct. 13. A few minutes past noon the familiar flash of bright light was seen by everyone. Those who had faith in the visions knew the "beautiful Lady" was with the children. (No one except the children ever saw Mary during a vision, but signs preceding an apparition were said to be visible to all present. The children themselves possessed limitations when Mary visited them. Several scholars have reported that Lucia could see, walk with, and hear her; Jacinta could see and hear her; Francisco could only see her.)
The Lady was brief in her message that day. She said she wished that a chapel be erected in her honor (the national shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima at the Cova da Iria includes a large basilica which was built in 1944) and told them, "I am the Lady of the Rosary." Lucia's written account continues: "And opening her hands, the Lady made them reflect on the sun, and while ascending, her person reflected off the sun itself." Lucia said she cried out, "Look at the sun!" Indeed, the rain stopped, the sun appeared, and immediately all of the crowd's rain-soaked clothing was clean and dry. Suddenly the sun started spinning madly on its axis. Then it stopped. Three times the sun stopped, and three times its erratic spinning was resumed. Then it hurtled downward, zigzagging through the sky toward the terrified multitude, now on its knees. Closer, closer--and then it stopped again, poised for a moment, and began a slow spinning motion back to its usual place in the heavens.
Mary's response on the occasion of the first apparition, when the children requested to be taken to heaven, was to become reality. Francisco died less than two years later, a victim of the worldwide influenza epidemic which also claimed his sister, Jacinta, a few months later. Because of the precariousness of the religious and political situation at that time, Lucia was placed in a religious school in Oporto in 1921. Five years later, she entered the novitiate of the Sisters of St. Dorothy and took her final vows in 1934. Now in her 70's she is a nun in the cloistered convent of the Carmelite Order which she entered in 1948.
Recent Miracles: Voz de Fatima, the official organ of the shrine, has recorded some 800 cases of cures presumed to be miraculous. Other sources note that about 1,500 cures have been recorded at Fatima since 1940. Just as the Catholic Church is cautious and wary about recognizing apparitions, so is it deliberate in acknowledging a reputed cure. The number of claimed cures dropped considerably after a medical investigation bureau was established at Fatima in the mid-1920s. Now a claimant to a cure must have been interviewed by a panel of doctors upon arrival at the shrine. Many cures are spiritual--a renewal of faith or solaces to a burdened mind.
Getting There Today: Fatimaphiles visiting the shrine are, for the most part, bus-driven pilgrims on a tour. The nearest large airport capable of handling flights by jet is in Lisbon. Individuals traveling on their own timetables may go to Fatima by train (there is no direct route; the nearest depot is 15 mi. away at Leiria, necessitating an additional cab or bus trip), chauffeur-driven car, bus, or rented car. Roads are generally very good, although twisty with occasional rough spots.
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