The rector of the Fátima Sanctuary, Carlos Cabecinhas, today asked pilgrims not to visit the enclosure on the 12th and 13th and to make the pilgrimage “by heart”, due to the pandemic of Covid-19.
In a message addressed to pilgrims regarding the International Anniversary Pilgrimage of May, Carlos Cabecinhas mentions that, for the first time in its history, the Shrine of Fátima will celebrate this date without pilgrims in its spaces.
“This is a painful moment: the sanctuary exists to welcome pilgrims and we are unable to do so is a reason for great sadness; but this decision is also an act of responsibility towards the pilgrims, defending their health and well-being”, he considers.
To those who intended to visit the sanctuary this year, the priest asks that he make this pilgrimage “by heart” and follow the transmission of the celebrations through the media, the internet and social networks.
The celebrations will take place in the enclosure, but this will be closed due to the sanitary rules defined by the Government in the context of the declaration of the State of public calamity, in articulation with the Portuguese Episcopal Conference, and which prevent religious celebrations with the presence of the faithful.
In view of this impossibility of traveling to Cova da Iria, the rector challenges pilgrims to make a spiritual path, presenting them with a concrete proposal for prayer for each day.
“We cannot count on your physical presence, but we would like to be able to count on you. Because it is not only a pilgrimage with the feet, but also with the heart, we propose you to make a pilgrimage through the heart”, he underlines.
The proposal goes through a “pilgrimage in stages”, between today and the 13th, in which “the path is not physical, but interior”, with pilgrims being challenged to light, every day, in the windows of their houses, a candle, what is considered “one of the most iconic acts of Fatima”.
“May each day have a moment of reflection and prayer, according to the proposals that we will make available; and that, each night, light a candle at the window, until the candle procession of the 12th. , a beautiful procession of candles, spread throughout all the places where you live and meet ”, he appeals.
Between the afternoon of the 12th and the end of the morning of the 13th, pilgrims will not be allowed access to any area of the sanctuary.
“Making this painful decision now means trying to create conditions so that we can resume pilgrimages to this place as soon as possible”, stresses Carlos Cabecinhas.
The rector takes the opportunity to greet the various groups of pilgrims who had to cancel the pilgrimage to Fatima this May, which are about three and a half hundred, from all over the world.
Celebrations with the physical presence of pilgrims in Cova da Iria and in all Portuguese churches will not resume until the 30th.
Until then, the sanctuary will resume its activity, reopening, as of today, the places of worship, for visit and prayer, but without community celebrations and without the physical presence of pilgrims.
The rectory building will also resume its activity, as will the commercial units. The museum spaces are open to the public from the 19th.
In order to make the sanctuary spaces accessible, the institution adopted measures for both employees and pilgrims, such as wearing a mask in closed spaces, frequent hand washing, maintaining physical distance and monitoring access to spaces. closed (basilicas, chapels and commercial spaces).