by The Cowl Editor on March 15, 2018
by Gabriella Pisano ’18
In 1917, the Virgin Mary appeared to three children, Lúcia Santos, Francisco Marto, and Jacinta Marto in Fátima, Portugal. During her visits with the children, Mary told them of trials that the world would face. The children spread word of the Blessed Mother’s visits, making the site a center of pilgrimage.
In honor of the 100th anniversary of the appearance of Our Lady of Fátima, Providence College organized a pilgrimage over spring break. Twenty PC students along with a few staff members went on the pilgrimage to Fátima. This pilgrimage gave students a unique opportunity to spend their spring break deepening their relationships with God and visiting a site where the Blessed Mother appeared. Jeanne Conroy ’19 said, “We had the opportunity to pray here [in Fátima], and it was an incredibly touching experience being able to connect with our Blessed Mother in this way.”
While in Portugal, the students were able to spend time in Fátima, Nazaré, Óbidos, and Lisbon. Many of those who went agreed that the time spent in Fátima was the most meaningful time during the trip as it allowed them to reflect on their faith. Victoria D’Agostino ’20 said, “It was so incredible to be able to pray and reflect in the places where Mary appeared, and I grew closer to all the other students who went as well.”
In Fátima, the students visited various sites of the shrine including a small, open glass chapel with a statue of Mary where she appeared, a basilica at the site where the three children were buried, a more modern church, and a remote olive grove that was the sight of some of the Marian apparitions. John Duffy ’19 commented on the olive grove, stating, “This place was one of the most peaceful and beautiful places I have ever been to. It was the rainy season in Portugal while we were there, and the weather was extremely unsettled. This just added to the beauty of the site.”
Conroy explained how every night in Fátima, a rosary is said at the Shrine, which is the site of five out of the six Marian apparitions. “Because there are so many Pilgrims coming to Fátima from around the world, each decade of the Rosary is in a different language and is led by a pilgrim who speaks that language,” said Conroy. “It was so beautiful listening to all of the different languages being prayed as it meant that the message of Fátima has been heard all around the world.”
Many of the students who went on the pilgrimage felt that the experience was educational both historically and spiritually. Duffy emphasized how the experience helped him come to terms with some of the most difficult parts of the Catholic faith. “One of the beautiful messages of Fátima is that we can make sense of all of the suffering and sacrifice that we experience in our lives by using it to bring love to someone else who needs it,” said Duffy. “There are so many people here at PC and elsewhere, who struggle so much to feel loved and to be vulnerable. But our faith teaches us that it is only through suffering and through struggle that we can learn how to love, and that we can bring love to people who need it.”
While the trip was full of serious, prayerful moments, Duffy reminisced about a joyful moment when the group was at a restaurant that happened to have a piano. The group took the opportunity to come together and sing.
The experiences of the students who went on the pilgrimage were no doubt unique, but they were each touched by God. Duffy emphasized how he felt so blessed to be able to go to Fátima with some of his closest friends. “To be able to visibly witness the graces given to both me and to every person on this trip was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said Duffy.