compelled to write about a recent trip I made with my wife to a place in
Portugal called Fatima. We had gone for a week's break in the Algarve area and
decided to go north to visit Fatima. It was a long trip but we were rewarded
with very clear roads there and back.
need to explain I am not a Catholic and most of it is foreign to me. The
thought of It did raise a degree of reluctance in me though my appreciation of
old churches appeased me a little. I like the wonderful artwork and structural
forms as well as the history associated with them. I knew I could occupy myself
by looking around the church with my own thoughts and prayer time, or failing
that a visit to local cafe for a coffee.
site was easy to find and this was low season so few people and we found parking
close by. The first place we came to was
the newer constructed hall (Basilica of the Holy Trinity) which was largely
empty though it could sit a few thousand people when full. I crept about my trainers
squeaking with every step I took on the clean marble flooring, an impressive
this we entered the huge white plaza (Cova da Iria) with the older church
directly in in front and at the end (Sanctuary of Our Lady of the rosary). To
my right an interesting cross structure, and to my left a tent like structure
with a place adjacent to it where people can light candles. This is apparently where the three children
first saw the Mary. There was a mass going on so waiting back and took
photographs and lost my wife.
went past the mass to the step of the chapel building more on a quest to find
my wife, so initially I entered and looked about then left to look elsewhere. I
found some sitting beneath trees with a lovely fresh drinking fountain in the
centre. I sat here for a while reflecting on this place and it must be with
many people here. I thanked God it was quiet here and few people about. Capturing
images of the church from the outside I suddenly began to wonder about the
inside, partly as I like stain glass windows and had glimpse a few when I first
returned to the chapel and now began to see the beauty of the stain glass
windows, the golden plaques with stages of the cross, and above a semi-circular
stain glass window and above that on the next level a rectangular stain glass
panel. I started to photograph and
conscious of not being irreverent, I focused on the images and how they had
been portrayed. I began to see a beauty that conveyed a message to me in each
stain glass window.
I went outside and sat on the steps to the church, the sun was warm and again
it was not too busy. I had found a peace in this place, and presence that
caused, what I can only describe as repentance.
This is what I wrote as I sat there:
"Even here in all these white stones I feel the
presence of the Holy One. We each take from it what we want. I found peace and
repentance and it was good not be just following but able to sit a while with
my own thoughts. If there had been many people here it would have lost its
peace, but the ability for me to wander through and around was so good. From
the plaza where a young girl sings in Portuguese and an organ plays to the
chapel with the beautiful stain glass windows, to the courtyard with the seats
around the trees and a fresh water fountain. Above the clear blue sky and as I
sit here on the chapel steps I feel the warmth of the sun."
am a Christian first and sectarianism is not for me. I know is that God is
omnipresence (all present), omnipotent (all powerful) and omniscient (all
knowing) for me and anyone else. What I discovered this day was that it is
possible to find God there. Worship is
worship and praise does raise where ever you are. I had time to reflect on my
life and what I was doing there, and for a moment I feel a peace that brought
increased faith into my life.
made also wonder about the children's sightings and the attention they first
received 100 years ago in 1917 and for a few years after that. This
was based on the famed Marian apparitions reported in 1917 by three shepherd
children at the Cova da Iria, in Fátima, Portugal. The three young children
were Lúcia Santos and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto. The first world
war had been going for 3 years the, Portugal has just sent soldiers to the Western Front and in Russia a revolution was happening.
Such horrific things were happening, such pain and suffering, and ironically
the end of the war brought an equally devastating time where influenza killed
then, we find ourselves in turbulent times with economic, environmental, social
and global imbalance of wealth, food and education. We need God more than ever
and we need God through the work of Jesus Christ. We need God more in our lives, our churches
and let the Holy Spirit work. Jesus is
the one mediator and we read in Acts 2 where Peter told of Jesus being on the
right hand of God received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he has shed
forth, which you now see and hear. God is faithful and good so receive now this
promise that Jesus has shed forth.
Written by Ian Lloyd and all photographs by Ian using the Canon Power Shot SX60 HS and modified on
an iPhone 5S using the Prisma app.