Fatima - Faith and Business
In only one century, a nowhere land became one of the greatest meeting points of the world. Religion, business and curiosity gather in Fátima, each day of the year, with a special peek in each 13th from May to October.
The whole area from Fatima to the sea has developed lots of attraction, providing alternatives or complements to all the wishes and tastes, so, any visit must include a planned tour in the surroundings.
Pray - if you're a believer
Fátima has a wide reputation of miracles, thus becoming the meeting point of millions of visitors each year.
A long walkway in marble is always full of people "paying" promises they made to the Virgin, in any dramatic situation, whose good end they believe was due to the holly help.
Halfway to the basilica, a smaller chapel signals the location of the tree where the apparitions were referred, is the ending point of walkway, and the meeting point for all the prayers.
After many millions and some polemic, the new cathedral is already working.
Standing face to the other, it was decided to low it in the ground, to preserve the image of the whole place.
I didn't enter it yet, I don't know the advantages of a double cathedral, but I may confirm that the general look was not spoilt.
Most people walk to Fatima from long distance. It's, indeed, Fatima's strongest tradition - to walk there.
In the access from Batalha (and maybe others, I never checked it!) about ten kilometers before arriving you may notice a cross in marble, that repeats regularly until Fatima. They intend to mark the stations of a Via Sacra, maybe to ease the last kilometers with the distraction of praying and the enthusiasm of successively conquered stages.
The last (I think!) cross, already in Fatima, is accessible to all the tourists, thus deserving a little enrichment.
It's common in Portugal when facing dramatic situations (disease, trouble in a birth of a child, even scholar examinations) to make a promise, most of them to "Nª Srª de Fátima".
Those promises generally include walking to Fatima on foot (sometimes hundreds of kilometers) or crossing the sanctuary kneeling. To soften those pilgrims suffering a long walkway was built in marble, and there is always someone painfully sliding on it.
When I approached the man to ask permission to take his family photo, the deficient woman in the wheelchair had some agitation, that the kneeling woman translated - she wants to kiss you.
Well, sometimes is not so difficult to bring happiness to simple people.