Over 200,000 people have gathered in Cova da Iria in Fátima for the first celebration of the 13th of May without Covid-19 restrictions, on Thursday night for the candle procession. The ceremony was led by D. Edgar Peña Parra, the substitute of the Secretary of State of the Vatican. May 13 is known as the Day of Our Lady of Fátima, celebrating the day of the first apparition of Fátima.
During the prayer, a request for peace in Ukraine was brought up and three children prayed in Ukrainian, wearing the typical outfits of the country. Carlos Cabecinhas, a priest, said during the press conference, “We will pray that the Queen of Peace brings peace to Ukraine”.
While the procession occurs the night before the 13th of May, there are plenty of other celebrations happening on May 13, most of them in Portuguese. The international celebrations for today are the following:
- “Rosario” celebration at 9 a.m in Capelinha
- Mass at 9.am in “Recinto de Oracao”
- “Rosario + Prec. Velas” at 9:30 p.m in Capelinha
In 1917, three shepherd children witnessed the apparition of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, six times over six months. The first apparition occurred on May 13, 1917 – this is why this day is so widely celebrated in Fátima.
The children said that Mary, also known as Fátima told the children the “Three Secrets of Fátima”. These were apocalyptic prophecies that according to Catholic interpretations mentioned events such as World War II, the rise and fall of communism, and the assassination attempt of Pope John Paul II. The children were told to spread these ideas and convert sinners as they were allegedly the main cause of these future events.
These three apparitions and the spread of the messages throughout the city culminated in the Miracle of the Sun, allegedly witnessed by over 70,000 people. There are many accounts of what this miracle consisted of but most say that after a period of rain, the skies cleared and the sun appeared as a spinning disc in the sky with radiant colors.
The Catholic Church declared these events miracles in 1930 when religious buildings were built to honor them, leading to the Sanctuary of Fátima. The Sanctuary of Fátima in the city of Fátima is a group of Catholic religious buildings that includes the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary and the Chapel of the Apparitions which was built in the place where the three shepherd children were visited by Mary. The most common day to visit is May 13th, the day of the first apparition where thousands gather at the sanctuary to celebrate the Day of Our Lady of Fátima.
For a full overview of the miracle take a look at this article.