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Published: September 9th 2016
August 30 Tuesday. Fatima Rest Day
After a lovely breakfast in the glassed in dining room, we wend our way to the train and bus stations. We purchase tickets to Fatima and get on the bus. Somehow we have irritated the bus driver. A group of drivers were standing around, talking, when we arrived. We find the correct line and the side doors are open so we go in, thinking we will move forward and have our ticket stamped when the driver alights his coach. He is most agitated when he approaches us in the bus and we can only guess that we were to wait outside until he first went in and then beckoned us to enter his realm. The funny thing is that, just like my train conductor, when you don't speak their language or they don't speak yours you can only half smile as the histrionics on their part continues.
We wind through the pretty countryside, through little towns and on to Fatima, which is the site of Portugal' s holiest shrine. In 1917 three little shepherds had a vision of a lady dressed in white. The lady was later referred to
as Our Lady of the Rosary. She indicated she was sent by God with a message of prayer, repentance and consecration She eventually entrusted them with three 'secrets' that were to be revealed at a later date. Two of the children died after WWI in the Spanish flue epidemic but the third lived a very long life as a nun.
Fatima is a huge physical site and we approach from the rear of the modern Paul VI Pastoral Center. We enter during a mass and the site is packed with people. The new center is quite modern in design and is opposite the old basilica that is quite traditional in architecture. We cross an immense plaza that is many football fields in area and use the information center that is very organized and a lovely young lady helps us with informational material.
We pass by the area where pilgrims are placing long, lit candles into flames. The melted wax goes down into a trough where it is all melted down, poured into candle molds and reused again.
Mass is also being held in the outdoor Chapel of Apparitions. This is the
Paul VI pastoral center
Altar with service in progress
site where the children had their visitation. The area is packed and we move on to the old basilica.
The old basilica is quite restrained in decoration and a beautiful building.
We also locate a section of the Berlin Wall. It was placed here "as a grateful memorial of God's intervention for the fall of Communism as promised at Fatima."
We locate sculptures and statues and then decide it is lunchtime. Fatima was an interesting experience for us. None of us are Catholic but we certainly appreciated the message the sanctuary brings and it was a peaceful experience. It also enlightened us as to the origin of the name, "Fatima," and the many connections to the Muslim Faith.
Another sleepy bus ride returns us to Tomar and this evening we eat at Casas das Ratas-the house of rats. George, proprietor of the residential, says the 'typical Portugeuse' menu for the day is delicious. The restaurant is only about ten feet wide-one table width with narrow passage way. We think the cooking is done across the street. Harlan and I have the 'typical Portugeuse' dinner. It is in a
Paul VI pastoral center
Some of large crowd for service
casserole dish with vegetables such as cabbage, carrots and potatoes mixed with different cuts of pork and beef. We have an exercise in removing fat from the meat. The Portugeuse love their meat and lots of it. The portions are huge and actually, at times, Harlan and I have shared what is considered to be a half portion. If we ask to substitute green salad for potatoes, usually French fries, we get a whole platter of salad. We all agree, in general, we are enjoying our meals in Portugal more than in Spain. But oh, do we ever miss the Spanish cafe con leche to start the day.
Our residential in Tomar is on the main, pedestrian only, street. Our rooms are in the front and have balconies. That is a good feature as Jo locks herself in the room but can't get out! She passes the key over the balcony and we succeed in unlocking her door from the outside. There is a large sitting area with balconies, a glass window dining room and lovely patio, usually filled with sheets. There is a maze of corridors and rooms. It must have been a grand home at
Paul VI pastoral center
Ceremonial doors to the pastoral center
Now, the drawback to the lovely balconies is the noise--however in my drugged state I manage to slumber quite well😌
Take bus to Fatima
See Paul VI pastoral center. At the center of study and reflection on the message of Fatima
This church center seats over 2000 people. A service was on progress when we arrived.
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