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 | Keishla Espinal

Experiencing the Miracle of Fatima

August 1, 2023 | One day after arriving in Portugal for World Youth Day, Diocese of St. Petersburg pilgrims visited the Sanctuary of Fatima, a Marian shrine dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima, located about 90 minutes north of Lisbon.

The diocesan group includes college students, seminarians, youth ministers, diocesan staff, priests, parents, and adults from various parishes. While at Fatima, they participated in an outdoor Mass celebrated by Cardinal Seán Patrick O’Malley, prayed along the Stations of the Cross, explored the Basilica of the Holy Trinity, and visited the childhood home of Sister Lucia dos Santos. Sister Lucia saw the visions of Our Lady and later became a Carmelite nun who devoted her life to prayer and sacrifice.

Some pilgrims were also able to enter the Chapel of the Apparitions, a small chapel that was built to mark the exact location where three shepherd children received the famous apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Five of the six apparitions, miraculous events in the life of the Church, took place there in 1917.

“Fatima was my favorite spot, getting to the house of our mother. It was a very special moment. She has shown me a lot and has brought me closer to the Lord. For a moment I felt her maternal love in the breeze of the wind,” said Ana Jahuey, a parishioner at St. Cecelia Catholic Church. She grew up Catholic but has only recently started to learn more about her faith, together with her family. Her brother is also attending the pilgrimage.

“Mary wants to protect us, teach us to love Jesus and lead us to Him. She has shown me to love Jesus in the Eucharist. She has shown me the love of the Father through her sweet patience and to continue in this journey of faith with humility, joy, and obedience,” added Jahuey, who works as an Administrative Assistant for Intercultural Ministries and the Lay Pastoral Ministry Institute in the Diocese of St. Petersburg.

The visit to Fatima included an outdoor candlelight vigil with thousands of participants from many countries praying the Rosary in multiple languages, including English, Spanish and Portuguese.  

The Diocese of St. Petersburg Pilgrimage to World Youth Day began on July 28, 2023, with Mass at St. Paul Parish in Tampa, a four-hour bus drive to Miami, eight-hour plane ride and little to no sleep for over 24 hours. Yet everyone remained joyful.

It has been a pilgrimage of joyfully journeying together.

“There is a joy in coming together with the universal church,” said Laura Wendt, Youth Minister at St. Paul Catholic Church in Tampa, who is attending World Youth Day for the first time.

“As Catholics, we talk about the Universal Church and experiencing it in a grand scale is so beautiful,” said Wendt. “Yesterday while waiting in a really long line to see Lucia’s house, we were all singing and then the Spanish people behind us started singing, then the Brazilian group started singing and it was beautiful how the universal church really showed in that moment.”

Before the pilgrims journeyed back to Lisbon, Father Connor Penn, parochial vicar at St. Catherine of Siena, Father Chuck Dornquast, Director of Vocations, and Father Xavy Castro, parochial vicar at St. Lawrence Catholic Church celebrated Mass out on the fields in Fatima for the pilgrims from the Diocese of St. Petersburg.

World Youth Day in Lisbon begins on August 1st. 

This pilgrimage was organized by the Diocesan Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry, a ministry funded by the Catholic Ministry Appeal. 

Follow Their Journey

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 View photos from Fatima below. Click on the arrows to see a slide show.

A Visit to Fatima