Fatima returns to near normalcy with the October pilgrimage
Thousands of pilgrims filled the precincts of the Fatima sanctuary this Tuesday night in the last big pilgrimage of the year, the first that takes place without restrictions due to the pandemic. The procession of candles regained the dimension that made it one of the most iconic images of Fátima, with tens of thousands of lights filling the main area of the Sanctuary during the celebration of the rosary.
This closes a two-year cycle. The last major pilgrimage that was still carried out without restrictions dates back to October 2019. In this year’s pilgrimage, the Sanctuary also maintained the mandatory use of masks, as well as hand hygiene at the entrance to the main enclosure.
This October pilgrimage is also marked by the return of organized pilgrimages. Around 48 groups, mostly from European countries, were present in Fátima, with emphasis on France, Spain and Italy. However, pilgrimages from the American continent and Asia continue to be lacking, eagerly awaited and desired by the hotel sector of Fátima, which largely depends on the stay of these pilgrims in the various hotels in the city, some of which still remain behind closed doors.
For the Rector of the Shrine, Father Carlos Cabecinhas, this new stage in the life of Fatima represents an opportunity after a year and a half of so many deprivations and sacrifices, underlining that “it is up to each one of us to guarantee a serene and progressive transition to normality. ”. The next big pilgrimage is May 13, 2022, where it is expected that the return to normality before the pandemic is expected.
Presiding over the ceremonies was the Archbishop Primate of Brazil, D. Sérgio da Rocha, who should have been in Portugal to preside over the May 2020 pilgrimage – which ended up not taking place due to the confinement in force in the country. Symbolically, the current Archbishop of Salvador da Bahia presides over a new cycle of pilgrimages to Fátima that will reach its high point in 2023 with the presence of Pope Francisco in Cova da Iria at the time of the World Youth Days. In fact, the pilgrimage in October this year has the theme of the pastoral year, “Praise the Lord who raises up the weak”, and is part of the dynamic for the next three years, a period in which the Shrine will be in tune with the preparation of the Days Youth World Cups in August 2023, in Lisbon.