Faithful Come From Far and Wide for a Special Day in Fátima


Hundreds of thousands of Roman Catholic pilgrims from around the world descended on Fátima, Portugal, this weekend to attend the canonization ceremony of two shepherd children who said they witnessed an apparition of the Virgin Mary a century ago.

Many of the faithful spent Friday night sleeping outdoors, near where the children, Jacinta and Francisco Marto, are buried, and where Pope Francis said Mass.

“I think they are examples for all the children. They showed us that you can see the Virgin.”

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Tiago Ferreira, 19.

Mr. Ferreira traveled from Porto, Portugal’s second largest city. He walked the last several miles to the shrine and spent Friday night on the esplanade in a sleeping bag. Fascinated by Fátima since childhood, he said it was worth braving the chilly rain to see the pope.

“We came here today to pray, especially for peace in Venezuela, for a chance to see again our families soon.”

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Alejandra Fisteus, 33.

Ms. Fisteus and her husband, Mauro, left their home in Venezuela, a country in the midst of an economic and political crisis, two months ago and have since been looking for work in Portugal.

“When you’re devout like us, traveling to places like Fátima is what you do.”

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Nora Sumangil

Ms. Sumangil and her husband, Renato, of Valley Cottage, N.Y., are retirees who previously visited Fátima in 2015. Ms. Sumangil said she also visits Lourdes, France, the site of another apparition, each year to work as a volunteer.

“I never miss Fátima, I never work on this day and it is of course always my own special day.”

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Rosário Catita, 51.

Ms. Catita, a Portuguese native visiting the shrine with her mother, Alice, and daughter, Madalena, said she was in Fátima to celebrate three occasions: the canonization, her birthday, and the possible victory of Benfica, the Lisbon soccer team, playing in Saturday’s national championship.

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