The Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima is one of most famous Marian shrines in the world and place of Fatima pilgrimage. Around five million people visit Fatima each year, drawn by apparitions of the Virgin Mary reported by three local shepherd children in 1917. The Miracle of the Sun. This is how it is known to the people of Portugal. It all happened just 99 years ago, starting in May, 1917. Three shepherd children spoke of experiencing a vision of the Virgin Mary in the Cova da Iria fields close to the town of Fatima. It was the 13th day of the month. They were to repeat the experience on the 13th day of each month till October. The eldest child was Lucia, aged ten, and she was accompanied by her two cousins, Francisco, aged nine and Jacinta, aged seven. When questioned, the children described seeing a flash of lightning about noon. It was followed by another which enveloped them in a blinding light. Looking up, they saw a lady “brighter than the sun”, her bare feet resting on a cloud touching the branches of a stunted holm oak. They described the vision as lovelier than any person they had ever seen. The “lady” was young, dressed in white, her face pure and smiling, with a touch of sadness. Her hands were joined in prayer, and a rosary hung from her arm. The lady said she wanted them to come to the same place for the next six months at the same time on the 13th day of the month. Exactly a month later, at the same time of day, the children received another vision. The lady spoke to them for about ten minutes. She revealed that the two younger children would die soon and be taken into heaven. The lady urged devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, emphasising the importance of saying the Rosary as the key to world peace. The visions continued each month, during one of which Mary confided to Lucia three secrets, to be divulged to the Vatican in the course of time. As each month went by an increasing number of adults accompanied the children to the appointed spot, and although they were not privileged to share their vision, they saw a cloud disappearing to the east and were enraptured by the atmosphere. On October 13th a crowd of 70,000 gathered at the Cova da Iria in response to the children’s claim that a miracle would occur on that day “so that all may believe.” At the appointed time, in the middle of a rainstorm the clouds broke up and the sun was seen as a disk spinning in the sky, throwing off great rays of fantastic colours. As one columnist reported, “Before the astonished eyes of the crowd the sun trembled and danced.” Suddenly it seemed to fall until it almost reached the earth, but then it stopped, slowly making its way back into the sky. Many of those present “wept and prayed” in recognition of the miracle they had awaited. The phenomenon was witnessed by people 40 kilometres away, proving that mass hysteria could not be held responsible. The events at Fatima were declared ‘worthy of belief’ by the Catholic Church on 13th October, 1930 – just 13 years after the miracle of the sun. Today pilgrims arrive in their masses throughout the year but are particularly present on the feast days of May and October 13th. In the days proceeding thousands will enter into the grounds of the shrine, arriving by car, bicycle, donkey-cart, and foot, to pay homage to Our Lady of Fatima. Regardless of your religious persuasion, you will no doubt be swept up in the enchantment and sense of unity that encompasses this sacred place. On the 13th, pilgrims wave their handkerchiefs in homage as a statue of Our Lady of Fatima is passed through the central square between about 10am and 12:30pm. There are large torch-light processions held in the evenings Fatima pilgrimage. Book group and private tour Fatima pilgrimage with Go2Lisbon!Most visitors arrive in Fatima pilgrimage from Lisbon, which is 125km away. By car from Lisbon airport, it takes about 1 hour 15 minutes to get to Fatima. The highway between the two cities is good quality and safe. Go2Lisbon offering you are available transfers at the airport or other places in Lisbon or Fatima.