Saturday, May 15, 2010

The three children of Fatima

Photo: Lucia Santos (left) with her cousins Jacinta Marto and Francisco Marto, the three children of Fatima, to whom Our Lady of Fatima (Virgin Mary) appeared.

Fatima has always had a major role in the Catholic Church ever since Virgin Mary was said to have appeared to the three shepherd children, Lucia Santos and her cousins, siblings Jacinta Marto and Francisco Marto in 1917. The children said then that she spoke to them and entrusted them with three prophetic revelations that are now known as the Three Secrets of Fatima. The first two secrets were made public quite early. But the mysterious ‘Third Secret’ was not revealed until 2000, when it was interpreted to be a prediction of the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II in 1981.

Pope Benedict XVI flew to Portugal this week to worship at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, one of the world's most venerated shrines, which is visited by over 5 million visitors a year. The Pope explained that the interpretation of the third secret does not stop at the previous interpretation, but the third secret has a permanent and ongoing significance. The Pope said its significance could even include the suffering the Church is going through today.

Friday, May 14, 2010

People viewing 'Dance of the Sun’ at Fatima, Portugal

Photo: People viewing the reputed ‘Dance of the Sun’ at Fatima on 13 October 1917

During the Fatima apparitions attributed to the Virgin Mary, as early as July 1917, it was claimed that the Virgin Mary had promised a ‘Miracle of the Sun’. A crowd of about 70,000 people, including news reporters and photographers, gathered at the Cova da Iria. After the incessant rain, when a thin layer of clouds cloaked the silver disc of the sun, 10-year-old Lucia, one of the three Portuguese shepherd children to whom Virgin Mary gave visions, called out to the crowd to look at the sun. It is believed that the sun appeared to change colors and to rotate like a fire wheel. For some people the sun appeared to fall from the sky, for others it zigzagged. The phenomenon is claimed to have been witnessed by most people in the crowd as well as people many miles away.

Columnist Avelino de Almeida of O Século, Portugal's most influential newspaper, reported, "Before the astonished eyes of the crowd, whose aspect was biblical as they stood bare-headed, eagerly searching the sky, the sun trembled, made sudden incredible movements outside all cosmic laws - the sun 'danced' according to the typical expression of the people." According to reports from poet Afonso Lopes Vieira and school teacher Delfina Lopes with her students and other witnesses in the town of Alburita, the solar phenomenon was visible from up to forty kilometers away. Despite these assertions, not all witnesses reported seeing the sun ‘dance’. No movement or other phenomenon of the sun was registered by scientists at the time.

Church of the Most Holy Trinity, Fatima, Portugal

The Church of the Most Holy Trinity is a Roman Catholic Church in the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Fátima, Portugal. With a length of 95 meters (312 ft), width 115 meters (377 ft), a maximum height of 20 meters (66 ft) and a seating capacity of about 8500, it is ranked as the fourth largest Christian church in the world. The church was constructed between 2004 and 2007 at a cost of 80 million euros, entirely paid with gifts from the pilgrims.

The first stone was laid on June 6, 2004, was a piece of marble taken from the tomb of Apostle Peter, over which St Peter's Basilica in Rome was built. The stone-laying was only symbolic, as the stone was later installed inside the finished church as an exhibit for the pilgrims.

The Church, dedicated to the Most Holy Trinity, was consecrated on October 12, 2007 on the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the apparitions of Fatima, by the Secretary of State of the Vatican and Legate of Holy Father Benedict XVI, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

Serra da Estrela: Mountain Range of the Star

Photo: The highest point in the Serra da Estrela mountain range

Serra da Estrela (Mountain Range of the Star), the highest mountain range in Portugal and one of the highest in the Sistema Central, includes mainland Portugal's highest point at 1,993 meter/ 6,539 feet above sea level at its highest point. However, the summit of the Pico Mountain in the Portuguese Azores islands is higher. This point is not a distinctive mountain summit, but rather the highest point in a plateau, known as Torre (Tower in English). Torre has the unusual feature of being a summit that is accessible by road. The peak has a topographic prominence of 1204 meters and his parent peak is the Pico Almanzor, in Spain.

The mountain range, situated between the municipalities of Seia, Manteigas, Gouveia, Guarda and Covilhã, is about 100 km/ 62.14 miles long and is 30 km/ 18.64 miles wide. It is formed from a huge granite ridge. Due to its bizarrely shaped crags and gorges, mountain streams and lakes, beautiful forests and magnificent views, the area ranks among Portugal’s outstanding scenic attractions and tourist attractions. There is a ski resort at the summit, named Vodafone Ski Resort.

Lagoa das Furnas lagoon in São Miguel, Azores, Portugal

Photo: Lagoa das Furnas, a lagoon in the island of São Miguel, Azores, Portugal

Praia da Marinha - Beach of the Navy

Photo: Praia da Marinha, an image of the Algarve region

Praia da Marinha, meaning ‘Beach of the Navy’ is a beach located on the Atlantic coast in the civil parish of Carvoeiro, in the municipality of Lagoa, Algarve, the southernmost region of mainland Portugal. It is one of the most beautiful and symbolic beaches of Portugal. This beach is quite famous for its cliffs and for the pristine quality of the water. In 1998, it was the distinguished with the ‘Golden Beach’ award by the Portuguese Ministry of the Environment because of its outstanding natural qualities. The pictures of the beach have been used in promotional material for ‘Guides to Portugal’ distributed around the world. Photos and visuals of Praia da Marinha have been used extensively by advertising agencies and by television producers in advertising campaigns.