Fátima Photography By Alex Albion.
As the Holy Father of the billion-plus faithful of the
the first and tenth anniversaries of his God-given
The lines between the sacred and the secular
from the sacred, the blantant commercialism,
first arrival at Holy Fátima, and the rip-off
Just one of the umpteen trinket shops.
The "Three Little Seers of Fátima"
the BVM back in 1917. In that same year
Back then in 1917, Fátima wasn’t even on the map other than being a Portuguese hamlet of no religious, social, political, commercial, national or international significance of any kind. But the "Three Little Seers of Fátima" dramatically and forever changed all of that.
Of the "Three Little Seers of Fátima," the two youngest ones - The Marto Cousins - at then ages 7 and 9 died within less than three years of seeing their apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM). They were then told they would die shortly, so Ida Negri informed me upon my return from Fátima. In the meantime, the oldest of the three seers Lucia lived to the ripe old age of over 90 years old and who visited the Fátima Shrine at least three times to then describe the apparitions she profoundly experienced for the depiction of planned oil paintings at the Holy Shrine.+
On entering the grounds of the Fátima Shrine, here are at least 12 things that you cannot do and they are prominently posted for the pilgrims and public to see and to adhere to: 1. Play no musical instruments; 2. No riding bicycles at the shrine; 3. No smoking; 3. No begging. 4. No use of cellphones or radio or MP3's; 6. No walking dogs; 7. No drinking; 8. No swearing; 9. No parking car; 10. No vandalism; 11. No shouting, and 12. NO PREACHING. Woooooooow. No preaching? How strange!!
At Fátima's Late Winter Saturday Evening, 2oo9.
Fátima that I gave as gifts back in England.
Below: Uncle Monty at The Steps
of the Fátima Basilica. +
Holy Fátima is created by human minds and hands and is therefore imperfect with all its sad faults and human shortcomings. What surprised me abit about the shrine was the lack of seeing hardly a priest walking on the streets, except for perhaps a dozen or so nuns or religious sisters heading to their respective convents or secular residence for some of them. It was off-season, too, during my stay at Fátima and so the shrine was relatively quiet and free of the usual masses of pilgrims at times like Eastertide and Christmastide. Also, got alot of rain to help dampen things abit. I think a day or a day and half is plenty of time to see pretty much of everything that is Holy Fátima. You can walk pretty much the whole town from north, south, east and west, without the use of transportation. English is widely spoken at Holy Fátima. It takes about 1½ hours to get there directly from the Portuguese capital of Lisboa either by car or coach.
I was glad I visited the world renowned shrine of Fátima, despite my anxiety and vexation of having to critically deal with the obvious and pressing issue of "Local Sagrado ou Festival Religisos" or "Sacred Shrine or Religious Roadshow?" My open criticism of Fátima, so it should be clearly understood, is not intended in anyway to slight or denigrate those of the Catholic faith. Far from it. I am by nature always a protester by being a Protestant by birth and rearing no matter how hard I try not to protest. When friends of mine tell me that they must be "Protestant" to stay Catholic, I always wonder why they stay Catholic instead of Protestant!?!? Someone recently stated that Protestants don't understand Catholic Shrines. But I myself do sometimes wonder why apparitions occur among the Catholic faithful, but not among the Protestants or other non-Catholic adherents? To me, apparitions and Catholicism are synonymous. Much like, I think, it is also seen with the rise of the Physical Phenomena of Stigmata, Christian religious sainthood and marked martyrs.
In the end though, it all comes down to the faith of the individual of whatever kind one may or may not hold. Holy Shrines are bright beacons to those who hunger to express and excerise their Catholic faith, but they also sometimes beckon other Christians like me who are Anglican from head to toe and who make no apology whatsoever to anybody for being of such faith and belief. At Fátima, I could and did hold my head up high as equally as any other pilgrim or visitor from any where else in the world of living Christianity. I shall always remember my short stay at Holy Fátima for it is, of course, not the kind of earthly Christian setting one visits and sees everyday. Its rarity should never become commonplace nor run like a "religious roadshow" over the sacred and of those apparitions of the BVM by those "Three Little Seers of Fátima" at more than 90 years ago at was then, and still very much is, rural and pleasant Portugal. Amen. Again, amen!!
Faithfully, Uncle Monty. +Ash Wednesday, 2oo9. The First Day of Lent.
My next story in this series on Portugal is called "Some of My Photos I Took of Lisboa." And after that story, I present a selection of the wonderful "Ceramic Tiles of Fátima and Lisboa."