Over 400,000 Roman Catholic pilgrims form all parts of the world attended the traditional bi-annual festival in the village of Fatima, central Portugal, on Sunday (13 October).
Over 400,000 Roman Catholic pilgrims form all parts of the world attended the traditional bi-annual festival in the village of Fatima, central Portugal, on Sunday (13 October). The ceremonies mark the apparition of the Virgin Mary to three peasant children near Fatima in 1917, and are the major events of the Portuguese religious calendar.
Special police unties and troops were on guard along the roads towards the village, and road blocks were set up to search incoming cars for arms. This followed suggestions that the festival might be taken as an opportunity for conservative forces to cause political disturbances.
Spokesman for the Armed Forces Strategic Operational Command, responsible for security and order in the country, said the measures were purely precautionary. No arms wee found.
Earlier in the week, the Portuguese Socialist Party voiced concern over anonymous posters showing a map of Portugal completely red except for a white area around Fatima. The posters invited the faithful to gather and pray for pease over the weekend. The Socialist Party warned the Roman Catholic Church not to allow the traditional pilgrimage to be manipulated for political ends.
SYNOPSIS: The festival, marking the apparition of the Virgin Mary to three children in nineteen seventeen, is held twice-yearly. Roman Catholic pilgrims form all over the world flock to Fatima, Portugal's most important religious shrine, for the celebrations.
Pilgrims offered thanks for favours they have received after prayer.
The pilgrimage is the most important event in the Portuguese religious calendar. On this occasion four hundred thousand pilgrims from all walks of life attended.
Sunday's crowds took up the Pope's theme of peace for Holy Years.
Disabled people of all ages were brought to Fatima. Numerous cures had been reported in previous years.
The religious celebrations continued throughout the day, and well into the night.