Girls’ pilgrimage to the Shrine of Fatima (Portugal), from October 31st to November 3rd, 2013.
At last the long-awaited trip to Fatima arrived. On Thursday, October 31st, at 4:00 p.m. we left Macael (Almería) in a van with two girls from Valencia (Maria and Daniela) and three girls from Macael (Carmen Maria, Lizbeth and Maria del Rosario), with two sisters. We passed through Granada and picked up Loreto and Dolores and we headed towards Alcalá de Guadaíra (Seville) where the sisters of the community there were expecting us. We set out the next day from Alcalá, after attending Mass at the convent of the Poor Clares, to go to Fatima. Two girls from Alcalá (Maria Carmen and Irene) and two sisters joined our expedition.
With great excitment and in midst of songs and profound conversations we arrived at our destination at 5:30 p.m., local portuguese time. We went to the place where we would stay the night, in the rooms of the old parish of Fatima. While we waited for the priest we visited the parish church where the three shepherd children were baptized, where they made their First Communion and where we heard many anecdotes that Sr. Lucia relates in her memoirs.
We visited the town cemetery, situated in front of the church, and saw where the bodies of Francisco and Jacinta were buried after their death, before they were brought to the Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity on the occasion of their beatification.
After meeting the parish priest and settling into the parish rooms, we ran to the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima to see her and say hi to her. It was exciting to arrive at the “Capellinha” and pray before the image of Our Lady where she appeared to the three children. Our hearts were overfilling with gratitude and with the intentions that we had been entrusted with to present to Our Lady. We quickly went through the Shrine and made a visit to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament exposed in the adoration chapel.
Later we went to have dinner and returned at 9:30 to pray the Rosary before the image of Our Lady and to attend the candlelight procession that followed it. For some of the pilgrims, this was one of the most special moments of our trip.
The next day, we dedicated the morning to understanding better the messages of Our Blessed Mother. We had the chance to watch a movie about the story of the apparitions that fully immersed us in the environment of Fatima and, of course, we also had the chance to reflect about our own lives with the opportunity of making a good confession in the Reconciliation Chapel. After visiting more calmly the Basilica of the Most Blessed Trinity, where the remains of the three visionaries are found, we went to eat lunch.
That afternoon we went to Aljustrel to visit the houses where the shepherd children lived and the places where the Angel of Portugal appeared to them a year before the visit of Our Lady. In the place where the Angel, in the third apparition, came to them with the Holy Eucharist and taught them to adore It and afterwards gave them communion, we prayed in reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, who is horribly offended by the sins of man.
To finish off the visit we returned to the Shrine where we were able to remain in prayer before the statue of Our Lady in the Capellinha and where we prayed the Rosary and attended Mass, accompanied by a great number of devotees of the Blessed Virgin of many different nationalities, ages and races.
That night we had a festival where we laughed a lot, sang to Our Blessed Mother and shared our experiences of the pilgrimage and of the great good that She had poured into our souls.
The next morning we woke up early to attend Mass in the Basilica of the Most Blessed Trinity and to say good-bye to Our Lady. We all realized that we had to pull ourselves from there, since we would have loved to stay there, but full of thankfulness and of the graces that She has given to us, we said good-bye and began the return trip. During the 10-hour drive, we planned the next pilgrimage, sang constantly, prayed to Our Mother and shared with each other all the marvels that She had worked in us.
Thank you Mother for the good that you have done for us! Help us to be worthy to be your daughters.
“What I liked most about the pilgrimage to Fatima was to go to the Capellinha where the Virgin was, because there I was very happy because I felt the Virgin very close to me. I was also impressed a lot by Our Lady's message, when she said to the shepherd children that they must make more sacrifices for the conversion of sinners. Now I also want to make the effort to make sacrifices and pray the rosary regularly, at least one mystery every day”.
-Daniela, 13 years old.
“What I liked most was to be in the Capellinha for so much time before Our Lady and it has helped me in my spiritual life to see her more as a mother. Because before I almost never called Our Lady “Mother”, and I almost never prayed to her. One of my experiences that when we went to the Capellinha, all of a sudden I said, “Hi, mom”, and that helped me a lot. I also liked to learn about the apparitions because the Blessed Virgin asked the children to pray, and they began to leave their games to pray well and slowly. It also surprised me to see the sacrifices of the sheperds, when they tied a rope around their waist even during the night, and it also impressed me to see how Our Lady, like a good mother, told them not to sleep with the rope, because they could not sleep well with it on.”
-María, HMY, 12 years old.