Salt + Light editor extraordinaire Marc Boudignon has provided us with another blog entry from Portugal. If you missed his first one, click here
. Let's read the latest Marc has to say:
I am presently writing this from Alvor, a small, picturesque seaside town just outside of Portimao. Soon Nola and I will be dining on Tandoori (it's time to eat something other than pirri-pirri and sardines!) and enjoying quiz night at the local bar. After the incredible historical and spiritual experience of Fatima, this sort of relaxation is most welcome.
Fatima is a four-hour drive away from the Algarve in the south. Located in a rather hilly area - not quite mountainous, but close - it is a beautiful but somewhat rough land. We took in much of the area as we walked the Stations of the Cross, which follow the road from central Fatima up into the hills where many of the apparitions occurred. Along the way there are several statues and markers indicating where these visitations took place. The design of the statues and fencing is simple and striking. A little further along is a little church, which was built with the help of donations from Hungarian Catholics in exile who lived in Oshawa, Ontario!
At the top, pilgrims continue along some tiny back roads to get to little shepherd's houses. There are tacky merchants on the way, but the houses themselves remain untouched. The simplicity of it all is stunning. Indeed when one has God, one lacks nothing.
The main shrine and sanctuary are a replica of St. Peter's Square. There is much silence and reverence, besides the occasional cell phone ringing or loud talking. There were a few, but not many, people 'walking' on their knees up to the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We took in a late-night Rosary (spoken in German) and Mass in the town. More on that later. For now, my time is up!
Marc and Nola