Fatima shrine holds Masses with limited attendance

Fatima shrine holds Masses with limited attendance

The statue of Our Lady of Fatima is carried in a procession before a mass during ceremonies at the Catholic shrine in Fatima, Portugal, Thursday, May 13, 2021. In view of the coronavirus pandemic, the shrine has limited to 7,500 the number of pilgrims that can be present during this year's May 12 and 13 celebrations usually attended by hundreds of thousands. (Credit: Ana Brigida/AP.)

The Catholic shrine at Fátima in Portugal has allowed 7,500 worshippers to attend two annual Masses marking the day when three illiterate shepherd children first reported seeing visions of the Madonna.

FÁTIMA, Portugal – The Catholic shrine at Fátima in Portugal has allowed 7,500 worshippers to attend two annual Masses marking the day when three illiterate shepherd children first reported seeing visions of the Madonna.

Traditionally, around 100,000 people come for the two Masses at the small rural town’s huge shrine on the night of May 12 and morning of May 13, though last year it remained closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The capacity was quickly reached on both Wednesday and Thursday, leaving hundreds outside the shrine’s gates, which were guarded by police.

Like the shrine at Lourdes, France, Fatima draws millions of pilgrims from around the world every year to give thanks to Our Lady of Fatima, or to pray for help.

Portuguese Cardinal José Tolentino Mendonça presided over the ceremonies and told the faithful he hoped that the suffering over the past year of the pandemic “can help to make us better: more spiritual, more human and more fraternal.”

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