Thousands of pilgrims gathered in Fátima, Portugal, on Monday, October 12, at the start of the anniversary celebrations of the Miracle of the Sun, and prayed for an end to coronavirus.
A total of 6.3 million faithful visited the Sanctuary of Fátima during 2019, including 100,000 people who attended last year’s October anniversary pilgrimage, but this year access to the Sanctuary has been greatly restricted during the pandemic.
A total of 6,000 pilgrims were permitted to attend the October anniversary vigil in the outdoor Prayer Area of the Shrine.
The faithful stood wearing facemasks in socially distanced circles during the candlelit vigil as they prayed for the coronavirus pandemic to end.
Speaking on Reuter TV, pilgrim Manuel Pinto said: “This year I pray for doctors, nurses, security forces, for journalists, who are also fighting, which is not easy, and to pray for all who work against the coronavirus, which has been very hard.”
During the prayer vigil, Bishop José Ornelas Carvalho, president of the Portuguese Bishops’ Conference, told the faithful that the pandemic had made society’s “problems visible” and shown us that “we are all in the same boat … we all help each other or the boat sinks.”
At the end of the vigil, Cardinal António Marto, Bishop of Leiria–Fátima, thanked the gathered faithful for “the testimony of your civic responsibility to accept these limitations for the sake of public health”.
“The fervour of your prayer fills this whole place,” he said. “Dear pilgrims, my congratulations to all, for your testimony.”
The Sanctuary’s October anniversary is celebrated in remembrance of the Miracle of the Sun, which appeared before crowds in Fátima over a hundred years ago on October 13, 1917.
An estimated 70,000 people witnessed the sun “dance” in the sky on that historic day, having gathered after three young children, Lúcia dos Santos (10) and her cousins Francisco Marto (9) and Jacinta Marto (7), foretold that the Virgin Mary was to reveal herself and perform a miracle “so that all may believe”.