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Pilgrimage Moments: Arriving at the Fatima Sanctuary

Length - 03:33
Published - Mar 2024
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4

This clip comes from the BBC series: Pilgrimage – The Road Through Portugal.

The Pilgrims reach the end of their long journey in the city of Fatima, one of the world’s largest Catholic pilgrimage sites. They go straight to the famous Sanctuary which was built and developed over nine decades on the field where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to three shepherd children. Dominating the square is the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary, finished in 1953.

Su and Vicky visit the Chapel of the Apparitions, built on the very spot where the shepherd children said the Virgin Mary appeared. Here they are moved to see devout believers approach the chapel on their knees, praying for favours or fulfilling promises to the Virgin Mary.

Watch full episodes on BBC iPlayer.

Pilgrimage Moments: Arriving at the Fatima Sanctuary


Rita:        We're here. Look, guys, this is it. Oh, no. It's all we've got here. We did it! Flipping heck!


Narrator: Once a small rural village, Fatima is now a thriving city. At its center is the famous sanctuary. Covering a huge area. The sanctuary was built and developed over nine decades on the field, where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to the three shepherd children. Dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It's one of the world's largest Catholic pilgrimage sites. The Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary. Finished in 1953, dominates the square. And it's here. The pilgrims will join a crowd of tens of thousands for the candlelight procession tomorrow evening.


Rita:        Oh, this obviously takes thousands of people. Yeah.


Shane:     A big old gap. Oh.


Rita:        Well, I didn't know it'd be as big as this. It's magnificent. Look at it. Can you believe tomorrow night this is going to be chocker full of people? Yeah, I mean, this is really quite something else. Well done. Well done. We've done it. Well done.


Shane:     Good job.


Narrator: In the middle of the square in front of the basilica is the chapel of the apparitions. Originally a small wooden chapel built in 1919 on the spot where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared. It's now the heart and most sacred space of the sanctuary. As Sue and Vicki explore. Their attention is drawn by believers taking a path on their knees to the chapel, praying for a favour or to fulfill the promise to the Virgin Mary.


Rita:        I don't know how they managed it.


Vicky:     What are you saying Sue?


Rita:        That lady in the red, they're on their knees. And the guy there look because they're so devout. Oh, you're not being funny. The agony of it. No, no no no.


Vicky:     Can you see she's doing her rosary as she goes?


Rita:        Gordon Bennett, you'd be nearly dead, wouldn't you? The pain of it. And I suppose.


Vicky:     That's a part of it, you know, to show how dedicated they are. Their devotion.


Rita:        Yes, I think it's fantastic. This will live in the memory, seeing all these devout people walking on their knees. Whether you agree with it or not, it's quite, um, moving. Really?


Bobby:    It's a view, isn't it? That is a view. And the way the light is actually just shining on the basilica? Yeah. Absolutely gorgeous. The thing is.


Vicky:     It's it's like. I feel like it's more than just the visuals, but you could feel that there's something special here.


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