The Grotto is a very special place of prayer. A beautiful wooden statue of Our Lady of Fatima placed in a Grotto is surrounded by picturesque cliffs at the end of the Valley. On all major Feast Days, including the First Saturdays and 13th of each month, a Eucharistic Procession culminates at the Grotto with Benediction and the special blessing of every person present.
Our Lady of Fatima
On 13 May 1917, Our Lady appeared to three children, Lucia dos Santos and her cousins Francisco and Jacinta Marto, in the Cova da Iria near Fatima, a small town in central Portugal. The children were illiterate shepherds between the ages of 10 and 13. The apparitions continued monthly for six consecutive months. Our Lady asked for the practice of penance and sacrifices to save sinners, daily recitation of the rosary for personal and world peace and increased devotion to her Immaculate Heart.
On 13 October, the Lady revealed to the children that she was Our Lady of the Rosary and asked that a church be built in her honour. As she had promised previously, a miracle was performed on that day, witnessed by 70,000 people, including newspaper reporters and photographers, gathered at the Cova da Iria. It was reported that the sun seemed to dance in the heavens, tremble and finally fall. The phenomenon was witnessed by most in the crowd as well as people many miles away and was widely reported in the newspapers of the day. An Ecclesiastical Commission was established to inquire into the apparitions. In a pastoral letter dated 13 October 1930, the bishop of Leiria-Fatima declared the apparitions of Fatima worthy of faith and allowed public devotion.
Francesco (1908-1919) and Jacinta (1910–1920) were both victims of the Great Spanish Flu Epidemic. In their short lives, however, they heroically put into practice all that the Blessed Virgin had asked of them. As a result, they were beatified in a ceremony in Fatima on 13 May 2000 by Pope John Paul II. Jacinta was the youngest non-martyred child ever to be beatified.
Lúcia (1907-2005) initially became a Dorothean Sister but, in 1946, entered the Carmelite Monastery of Coimbra, Portugal. Periodically throughout her life, she continued to have private visions of Our Lady. In 1925 Our Lady asked Lucia to convey a message calling for First Saturday Devotions, and in 1929 she was asked to request the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Lucia died in Coimbra on 13 February 2005 at the age of 97. In 2008 Pope Benedict XVI announced a dispensation from the usual five-year waiting period and allowed her cause for beatification to be commenced.
The statue of Our Lady of Fatima at this Grotto was carved from wood in Fatima, Portugal and was donated by the “Fatima Akiton” organization of Germany. The statue and Grotto were solemnly blessed in the presence of over 1,000 people on 22 October 1996 by Fr Robert J. Fox, founder of the Fatima Family Apostolate.
The Feast of Our Lady of Fatima
is celebrated on 13 May
as an Optional Memorial in the General Roman Calendar