Fátima (Portugal), October 12 (EFE).- The last great international pilgrimage of the year to Fátima began today with the presence of thousands of faithful in the sanctuary, which is beginning to regain the levels it had before the pandemic.
More than a hundred groups from nearly thirty countries have registered for the October pilgrimage, to which are added the pilgrims who come alone or with family, according to data advanced this Wednesday by the sanctuary.
The celebrations in Fátima, about 130 kilometers from Lisbon, begin today with the candlelight procession, but have their peak day tomorrow, Thursday, with mass, the blessing of the sick and the farewell procession.
“The influx to Fátima is starting to return to the usual pre-pandemic records,” assured the rector of the sanctuary, Carlos Cabecinhas, during a press conference, which took stock of the first nine months of the year. .
Between January and September, 2,133 registered groups of pilgrims passed through Fatima, of which 1,340 came from abroad, including Spain, Poland, Italy and the United States.
Spaniards were “the first to return to the Shrine of Fatima” after the pandemic, pointed out Cabecinhas, who also explained that the number of pilgrims from Spain who come with their families outside of organized groups is increasing.
In the first nine months of the year, there were 35 Asian groups, “a far cry from pre-pandemic numbers”.
After this last great pilgrimage, the shrine will prepare for the celebrations in 2023, which will include a visit from Pope Francis as part of World Youth Day, to be held in Lisbon in August.
The cult of Fatima originated between May 13 and October 13, 1917, a period during which three Portuguese children -Lucía, Jacinta and Francisco- claimed to have witnessed several apparitions of the Virgin.
The three minors, who were shepherds, explained that the Virgin gave them several revelations during these meetings, which constitute the prophecy of Fatima.
Accounts of the apparitions have made Fatima a leading place of pilgrimage for believers, who visit this small Portuguese enclave in their thousands every year.