The Portuguese shrine of Fatima is reopening its doors and limiting the presence of the faithful to six thousand, a few days before the great pilgrimage of October 13 which each year brings more than one hundred thousand pilgrims, who come to commemorate the last apparition of Our Lady of the Rosary, and the miracle of the sun.
After Lourdes, which is limiting the number of pilgrims to five thousand, it is Fatima’s turn to set a maximum number of the faithful coming to venerate the Virgin at Cova-da-Iria.
In a press release published on September 30, 2020, the Portuguese shrine decided not to welcome more than six thousand faithful to the site, in anticipation of the pilgrimage on October 13, which usually brings in more than one hundred thousand people each year.
As in Lourdes, those who go to the sanctuary will have to wear a mask, even in outdoor spaces.
Thousands of circles have also been drawn on the plaza of the apparitions, to ensure the proper spacing of the faithful; the security forces are in charge of scrupulous compliance with the instructions.
The Shrine of Fatima - one of the most important places of pilgrimage in Europe, along with Lourdes and Czestochowa - was forced to close its doors last spring, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Thus, the great pilgrimage of May 13 was celebrated virtually, without the presence of the faithful.
After reopening during the summer, without any limitation of worshipers and without strict rules, the Shrine of Fatima had to close again after the pilgrimage of September 13: the crowds were such that the authorities were overwhelmed.
As of the beginning of October 2020, Portugal has had around two thousand deaths from Covid-19, a high number in Europe in relation to the country’s ten million inhabitants.
Many will lament - and be astonished - that Marian shrines are imposing such strict rules, which often go beyond what can be seen elsewhere in public spaces, at a time when the faithful have never had so much need to resort to the intercession of the Virgin “mighty as an army drawn up in battle.”