Yesterday thousands of pilgrims gathered in Fátima to celebrate May 13th apparitions. And a solar halo, a halo that formed around the sun, was visible yesterday at the Shrine of Fátima at the precise moment a film about the bonds of John Paul II to the Cova da Iria was shown. A bright ring centered on the sun and caused by refraction of light by ice crystals suspended in the atmosphere. It provoked expressions of religious fervor, with many speaking of an action of God. Many of the presents wept and recorded the phenomenon on the phone. I am not a person of faith but I respect other person’s believes. And I can get the symbolism of such an event and its coincidence was perfect even if science can clearly explain it. Every year I see pilgrims crossing my country on foot to pay respect to the Virgin. Some go there to thank a grace they received, other to ask for miracle. Devotion to Nossa Senhora de Fátima is very strong. People from many nationalities gather at Fátima to take part in religious ceremonies and the traditional Procissão do Adeus - people wave the statue with white handkerchiefs as it is carried from the shrine’s altar to Capelinha das Aparições. The day before, at night, thousands of people join the night celebrations. Praying the Rosary, attending mass and joining the procession of the candles – Procissão das velas - with thousands of candles being lighted is a moving moment for everybody.
If you never heard of Nossa Senhora de Fátima cult, here’s a few lines about it. I’m not a specialist on this subject. If you are curious about it go here for more information.
Santa Bernardette Soubirous, Lourdes,1858, France, S. Juan Diego in Ciudad del Mexico, 1531, Mexico, and the three children shepherds, Lúcia Santos and her cousins Jacinta e Francisco Marto, in Portugal, 1917, are probably the three mostly well know apparitions of Virgin Mary or Our Lady of Fatima, as it is know in Portugal. In the Spring, Summer and Autumn of 1916 an angel appeared to the children three times and taught them how to pray and prepare for the coming. The first apparition took place on 13th May 1917 . The children saw a lady all dressed in white more shinning that the sun standing over an holm-oak tree. Then there was a second and a third apparition, on July, where the Virgin provided a secret to the children. The secret had three parts: the vision of Hell and the need to reconvert the world to Christianity. These two were known when Lucia wrote her memories. The third part of the secret was written and sent to Pope Pius XII. There were six apparitions in total and the last one tool place in October 13th. Mary urged prayer of the rosary, penance for the conversion of sinners and consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart. Miracles and signs were described as Dancing Sun, Healings, Conversion of Russia, Incorruptible body of Jacinta. Francisco and Jacinta died due to the Spanish flew, they were aged 10 and 9. Lucia lived until 97 years old at the Carmelitas Convent, in Coimbra city, in 2005. Pope John Paul II recognized Jacinta’s and Francisco virtues in 1989.They were beatified in May 13, 2000, when Pope John Paul II visited the Fátima’s Sanctuary. The Fátima Basilica construction begun in 1928 and was consecrate on October 7, 1953, its 15 altars are dedicated to the 15 mysteries of the Rosary. The monumental organ, mounted in 1952, has about 12 thousand pipes. The Statue of the Lady venerated in Little Chapel of Apparitions, heart of the Shrine of Fatima, was donated to the Shrine in 1920 by Mr. Gilberto Fernandes dos Santos. It was made by sculptor José Ferreira Thedim, of cedar from Brazil and it is 1.10m high. The bullet donated by John Paul II is encrusted in the crown. He donated the bullet that pierced his body during the attempt on his life in Rome, on May 13, 1981, as a sign of gratitude to the Virgin Mary for having saved his life. In May 2011 Pope John Paul II was beatified in St. Peter's Square, presided over by Benedict XVI, and thousands of pilgrims attended.