History of the city
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE PARISH
Portuguese city located in the Serra de Aire, head of the homonymous parish of the municipality of Ourém, in the province of Beira Litoral, sub-region of the Middle Tagus.
At the ecclesiastical level the city of Fatima is simultaneously with the city of Leiria, the seat of the diocese. The name of the then renamed Diocese of Leiria-Fatima was given by Pope John Paul II on 13 May 1984.
Places of touristic/cultural interest: Sanctuary of Fátima, Museum of the Sanctuary of Fátima, Interactive Museum – The Miracle of Fátima, Hungarian Calvary (Valinhos), House-Museum of Aljustrel, Wax Museum of Fátima, Loca do Cabeço, Caves of Mira de Aire, Caves of Moeda, Aire and Candeeiros Mountains Natural Park, Our Lady of Ortiga Sanctuary, Casal Farto Chapel, the architectural complex of Ramila, Gaiola and Vale Cavalos villages, Gaiola, Casal Farto and Eira da Pedra cisterns, Fazarga and Ortiga windmills.
The city of Fátima, due to the Sanctuary located in the place of Cova da Iria, has become one of the most important international destinations for religious tourism, and receives about six million people per year. Its worldwide fame is due to the account of the apparitions of the Virgin Mary reported by three shepherd children between 13 May and 13 October 1917.
The town’s name comes from the Arabic name Fatima, one of the daughters of the Prophet Muhammad. There is an unconfirmed legend that the toponym derives from a local Moorish princess called Fatima who later converted to the Christian religion and married a Count of Ourém. To the highlands the count gave the name Terras de Fátima, and to the county the name Oriana, later called Ourém.
However the history of the city of Fátima is more associated with the apparitions of the Virgin Mary. Even before the events of the 20th century, Our Lady appeared to a mute shepherd girl around the year 1758, in the place where the Shrine of Our Lady of Ortiga now stands. Later, in the 20th century, she also appeared to three other children: “The Three Little Shepherds”.
On May 13, 1917, while they were tending their sheep in the place of the Cova da Iria, Lucia dos Santos and Francisco and Jacinta Marto witnessed the first of several apparitions of a beautiful Lady dressed in white, where the Chapel of Apparitions now stands. The Lady, later referred to as the Lady of the Rosary, claimed to have been sent by God with a call to prayer, sacrifice and penance. She appeared to the little shepherds every 13th day between the months of May and October 1917. The last apparition occurred on 13 October, when about 70,000 pilgrims attended the so-called Miracle of the Sun.
Fátima was elevated from a village to the category of city in 1997. Currently, there are thousands of annual pilgrimages from various regions of Portugal and abroad, greatly stimulating the economic sector.
Situated on the limestone massif of Estremadura, Fátima is made up of caves and potholes, of which the Papagaio cave stands out, where man lived around 6500 years ago.
Urban Fatima provides not only the residents with all the infrastructures of a city, but also provides visitors with accommodation, museums, restaurants, cultural centres and an excellent road network, with the A1 being the main entrance.
Blue shield, image of Our Lady of Fatima with gold halo, between the golden rose on the right side and a golden holm oak branch on the left side. White stripe with the legend in black, and silver mural crown of four towers.
It is decorated in blue and yellow, with the coat of arms of the city of Fatima in the centre.