Whatever curious and interesting subject strikes my fancy, be it silly or serious, gets posted for your reading pleasure.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Fatima - A Botched Attempt at being a 'Real Pilgrim'!

Fatima, the 100th Anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun ~ Our pilgrimage did not go as planned, here's the story!

Many of my loyal followers are aware that I am now a blow-in local of this sacred place. After years of having the grace of living in Fatima and watching all the pilgrims walk in from all over for the major feast days of May and October 13th with blistered feet, coming as far away as the shrine of St. James in Santiago de Compostela, my mother and I looked at each other one year and said, “Gee, we only live a few kilometres outside the Sanctuary and right within the parish, and we haven't done “The Walk'? What's the matter with us?” 

Locals do it each May, so a few years ago my mother and I decided to be 'real pilgrims' and walk into Fatima. Getting our sun hats, pilgrim staffs, reflector jackets and getting all geared up, taking our time, not going too slow, or too fast, we started very early in the morning and made it within two hours, in plenty of time for the Rosary Procession and Mass. We did it! And we weren't too tuckered out! We were so chuffed with ourselves walking several miles in! However, when one of the locals heard of our accomplishment they said: “Two hours? From your village? Pfft! We can do it in one!”

What a balloon popper!

Never mind, we were so chuffed Mom wanted to do it again someday....

So of course, this year, the 100th Anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun, she was getting us all motivated to get up early and grab our pilgrim staffs again. The day before was so hot, no clouds in the sky, the vigil night was warm, so, we expected a great day to go walking, when lo and behold...

A wet, foggy morning like an October morning in Cork, Ireland greeted us! It was beautiful to see the mists settling in on the pine, holm oak and eucalyptus groves, blanketing the village and the surrounding hilly countryside, but brrrrr! What a switch from hot to cold! Well, we started out, and the fog got thicker....

“Ooogh! My arthritis, I can't walk! I'll never make it!”

We didn't make it past the village church.

“Oh no! Okay, you sit at the church, I'll walk back and get the car.”

Of course, now I turn 180º and start speed-walking back home...what pilgrims we are!

Our Blessed mother must have a sense of humour because a lady in the village was now at her front door smiled and wished me a 'good morning', but seeing me in my pilgrim gear, reflector jacket and staff in hand, she then looked utterly perplexed and didn't know what to say next. I could hear the wheels turning:

“Where's she off to? She's going the wrong way!”

Sigh! The story of my life! I just had to laugh, but I was so miffed. News travels fast in these little villages, and it would soon spread that the “Two Irlandeses never made it past the village.”

Humble pie. LOL!

I was so bummed out, I was looking forward to the walk, now, I was feeling like a failure as a 'real pilgrim'. I picked Mom up, and of course, she was disappointed too, but ever encouraging in her Unsinkable Molly Brown tone said:

“Nevermind, Our Lady knows our intentions, we got as far as the church, and because we wanted to go through with it, she'll carry us the rest of the way, don't worry.”

Of course, on top of 'Pilgrim Failure Syndrome', after picking Mom up I am getting a bit stressed- the one good thing about 'The Walk', you never have to worry about parking. But now...?

It's still early, almost 9 AM-ish, but not early enough before the parking spaces on such a big day as October 13th are all gone, especially for the 100th anniversary.  Expect them to be snapped up, vanished! 

However, I stepped on it a bit, there was still hope! Oh Angel of Parking, don't leave us down now! Sure enough, I got in just as the cops were getting ready to set up their traffic points, and I got the last space on the Little Shepherds roundabout, FREE parking IN town, and within walking distance Mom could handle. That's a miracle on a day like today!

“See? Our Lady and the Angel of Parking took care of us again.” 

So true, Mom.

Living in Fatima as a local, you would think it's easy to get in for the feast days -- nope. Not always. We learned the hard way one year in June 2007 when the traffic was INSANE and the National Guards had all the roads closed, we just had to turn away from Fatima. That was a sad day. However, since I've been praying to the Angel of Parking, he's never left us down for really important things like today.

 I owe the Angel of Parking so many candles, it's not funny!

(Images: the candles of Fatima.  You have to be careful!  The place gets so hot, the wax can suddenly blaze up and set them all on fire!  Sometimes instead of lighting your votive candle, you end up tossing it into the flames like a votive pyre!)

So, we made it it time for the Rosary and Mass, the Sanctuary with the fog as literally thick as potato soup . The TV cameras may have made it look lighter and brighter, but believe me, it must have been digital enhancement because as the statue of Our Lady was carried in procession from the Chapel of Apparitions to the main altar, the other side of the Sanctuary could barely be seen at times, the Holy Rosary basilica was disappearing in and out of a thick misty blanket!

Gradually, the sun came out until all the fog was burned off, by mid-day it was once again clear, bright, getting hot, and not a cloud in the sky. When the day turned out like this, it's hard to imagine the pours of rain the pilgrims walked through 100 years ago, but we've been here through storms like that here, and whew! After living ten years in Ireland we discovered the rain there can't hold a candle to what happens here at times, the Portuguese tropical downpours go sideways, and whirls with the wind, you can get soaked right up to the knees as the rain splashes up and soaks you through and through. Brollys aren't much of a help!

No worries about that today though. Mass was not overpacked like we expected, the plaza was full, but we've seen it more packed than it was today. We had enough space without feeling claustrophobic. However, the 'Cattle Drive for Communion' still took place, people not being reverential when going up to receive Communion, crushing you up against the rails, and then pushing you out of the way. Reverence seems to get tossed to the side, and this in the land where the Angel of Peace taught the Three Shepherd Children a prayer to atone for the sacrileges, outrages and indifference against the Blessed Sacrament! 

Were there any noticeable differences from the May 13th Mass of this year? Only that the pictures of the Two seers, Francisco and Jacinta were now taken down off the Basilica. We also got a live televised message from Pope Francis today, short, sweet, to the point, “Don't be afraid, say your Rosary and stick close to Our Lady!” Sadly, the 'Druid Monstrance' was still used for Benediction, and of course, the 'Brown Black Cube Altar' was still in use with that horrible excuse for a crucifix behind it.  You can read more about the May 13th 2017 celebrations by clicking here, pictures included:

However, it was a blessed thing to be on such sacred ground for the 100th Anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun. 

Afterwards, we sprinted for lunch, getting in just before the after-Mass rush, another blessing! If you're not booked into a hotel for the feast days, you have to scramble for a place to eat before they get chockablocked!

After a rather noisy lunch, (the Portuguese can get noisy like the Spanish!) we meandered on down the street, and bumped into a colourful pilgrim group from Africa: the ladies had specially printed royal blue dresses with images of Our Lady of Fatima complete with royal blue head dresses to match, they were just eye-catching, so we stopped and talked with them. Mom and I just love the print dresses from Africa, they are so colourful and we told the ladies their country should export these printed cottons! We would love them! The Portuguese seem to dress in dour colours a lot of the time. So, a chat started up, the ladies were from Gambia, and they were taught by good old fashion Irish nuns, and after telling us a little about themselves, they had a blast hearing Mom talk about her school day tales...it's wonderful. You get to meet so many people from all over the world in Fatima, and this is the first time we met a group from Gambia!

And so, out come my leaflets about the approved stigmatist and prophet Marie-Julie Jahenny, now another corner of the world will soon hear of her prophecies. God is good! You can find out more about her here:

Of course, we couldn't stay chatting and left the ladies join their pilgrim group while we went off for  coffee and a pastry, and enjoying the rest of the beautiful sunny afternoon, watching all the pilgrims coming to and from the Way of the Cross out in Aljustrel, the guards busy blowing their whistles and directing traffic around the roundabout and trying to keep the hoards of pilgrims from getting mowed down by the buses.

So, our 'true pilgrimage' on foot didn't quite go as planned, but we made it!

Deo Gratias!

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