Meet Claudia. She took us for tours through both the basilicas and through the grounds of the Sanctuary of Fatima on the morning of 9 Aug.
This is the largest piece of the Berlin Wall outside of Germany. It was bought by a Portuguese man who offered it to the Sanctuary of Fatima not long after the Berlin Wall came down in 1989.
From 13 Aug 1961 until 9 Nov 1989 a large concrete wall separated West Germany and West Berlin from East Germany and East Berlin, with security checkpoints for those passing from western to communist sides and vice versa.
On 12 May 1991, St Pope John Paul II visited Fatima, and his words during that visit have been engraved on a plaque near this portion of the Berlin Wall. A rough translation goes like this:
Thank you, Heavenly Shepherdess, for having with maternal affection provided this liberation.
We paused in front of this large crucifix by a German sculptor, where our bishop gave us a short talk on the differences between Religious Monumental Art – of which this crucifix is an example – and Religious Devotional Art – such as the paintings just viewed in the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary.
At first this crucifix is a bit confronting because of how stark and simplistic it is. However its scale is in proportion to the new basilica, and it can be seen from just about everywhere in the Fatima sanctuary precinct, so after a while your heart softens towards it and grows in appreciation of this artwork.
In a kneeling pose, looking towards the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary, is this statue of Pope St Paul VI. There are other statues of deceased popes who held the keys of St Peter from 1917 to the present era placed throughout the Fatima Sanctuary precinct, all of them looking intently towards the old basilica.
Notably Pope Benedict XVI’s statue is not yet present, but there’s a spot marked out for whenever his statue is completed.
There is an area in Fatima for lighting wax candles, and it seems like ‘the bigger the better’ is quite normal.
Once upon a time it used to be a tradition in Portugal to make an offering of your body weight in wax. Now it is more normal to offer wax candles approximating your body height. That’s perhaps why the man in the photo is carrying such tall candles.
Close by the Chapel of the Apparitions is this large oak tree. It is over a hundred years old. It marks the place where the three children would wait and pray the rosary prior to each of the 13th of the month apparitions of Mary, mother of Jesus.
While it isn’t the holm oak tree upon which Mary stood, it is still a physical witness to the events of May 1917 to Oct 1917.
Edited excerpts from the Sanctuary of Fatima website blog 6 Feb 2007:
This tree has been designated a tree of public interest by the Portuguese government. Before that designation in 2007 happened, the tree was in danger of dying because so many pilgrims took snippets off it. Now it is protected by a circular wall 100 metres in diameter.
During the day there were just too many pilgrims around this statue of Pope St John Paul II to get a good photo. So after dinner that night, I decided to walk to this location, and then it was possible to view his life-like statue clearly.
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10 Aug 2023, 7.12am Portugal: 10 Aug 2023, 4.12pm Sydney
News and Other Stuff
About recent artwork, inspirations and other things I find interesting.