When we first started planning this trip, a few years back, Lief and Sol were clear on what they wanted from the trip: watch European soccer stars and teams in European stadiums. Barcelona and Turin are musts on our itinerary. Tracy and I became excited when we explored the possibility of going on a 'pilgrimage'. Fatima was added to our list of places to visit.
Fatima is slightly off the main Camino trail that we are following from Lisbon to Santiago. Well, "slightly" is to be debated... The boys were not impressed with the 'slight' detour, which included a steep 630m climb on a rainy day to get to the heights of Fatima. It was our biggest climb yet, and don't forget everyone is loaded down with quite a bit of weight... But surprisingly the complaints were not too bad. These boys are tough bikers!
I enjoyed watching the vegetation change along the way; we cycled through many ancient olive groves and fragrant shrubs of rosemary.
We arrived in Fatima wet and tired, but Tracy and I went out for a wet walk in the dark and quickly discovered the Basilica of Our Lady of Fatima:
Mass was in procession, but Tracy boldly led both of us inside. We were welcomed by a bright but serene interior, filled with a charismatic Portuguese priest and a devout and hugging Catholic community singing, chanting and praying.
The ceremony was concluded with startling loud organ music that sounded more like house music than what one would expect in a church, but it definitely elevated our spirits.
The two days in Fatima, I spent exploring, learning, offering prayers and soaking up the bright light that is here. I do not have a Catholic background and am not familiar with the rituals but I am amazed that in a place that is so devoted to Mary - a place where Mary literally was crowned - that there are no priestesses leading the ceremonies.
The buildings and the stories of this place are definitely magical and hold a bright light. Fatima exists because of these stories. In 1917 three young children were herding sheep when they saw a bright light, which at first they thought was lightning. But then they saw next to a small oak tree "a lady that shone more than the sun". This Lady brought them many messages over the course of 7 visits, including the notion to pray the Rosary and to build a church in her honour.
The 2 kilometer path from Fatima to the old village where the children lived, takes one through the landscape where they herded their sheep. I must admit that I enjoyed this walk much better than the large cement field and most of the buildings and shrines that have been erected in front of the Basilica.
Walking through this landscape, I can imagine how deeply connected the children were to nature and how one can see the Divine Feminine in these beautiful trees and flowers.
As I quietly walk through this landscape, I well up with deep gratitude for this special time here. Our Lady of the Rose reveals her secrets through nature. No Cathedral or Shrine can capture the awe and respect I feel for the power and beauty of nature. That is my path to walk, that is where my devotion lies. Amen.
Post by Kiki