Sunday, November 27, 2011

Picture Blog - Fatima

(Jen): When Tina and I found out we were coming to Portugal to play basketball we knew we had to visit Fatima! Tina brought a book called, “Fatima for Today: The Urgent Marian Message of Hope”. I have been reading the book to learn more about what exactly happened in Fatima. When we found out our friends from Slovakia were coming to visit, we knew we had to plan a trip to Fatima.

Here's a little bit of information about Fatima for those of you who may not be too familiar with it:

Fatima is a small, Portuguese town located in central Portugal (about an hour and a half north of Lisbon. In the spring of 1916, an angel appeared to 3 young children (Lucia - 10, Francisco - 9, and Jacinta - 7) in the Portuguese village of Fatima. On the first visit, the angel taught the children to pray this prayer: “My God, I believe, I adore, I hope, and I love you. I ask pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope, and do not love you.” On the second visit, the angel encouraged the children to pray and offer sacrifices in reparation for sin. On the third and final visit, the angel brought Holy Communion to the three children. The angel's visits were meant to be preparation for Mary's visits the following year.

In May 1917, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to the three children. They described her as being dressed in white and shining brighter than the sun. In total, Mary appeared to the children six times. Each time she came, she encouraged the children to pray for souls that were going to hell.

During the July 13 visit Mary shared three secrets with the children. The first was a vision of hell. The second was a prediction about the end of the war and a warning about another World War and the role of Russia. The third was a vision of the assassination attempt on the life of a pope.

During one of her previous visits, Mary told the children that her final visit would be accompanied by a miracle so that all would believe. On October 13, 1917, 70,000 people gathered in the Cova da Iria (the place where the Fatima sanctuary is located today). These people witnessed what secular and government sources called 'The Miracle of the Sun.' People saw the sun spinning in the sky and then saw it break loose and zig-zag towards the earth, looking as if it was going to fall upon the people.

To someone who has never heard of the Church’s approval of the apparitions at Fatima, Portugal, the events that took place may seem unbelievable. “Yet, the apparitions – and their culmination with the Miracle of the Sun was witnessed by more than 70,000 and testified by even secular journalists. Not only that, but events predicted at Fatima did come to pass in the years after the visions.”

There is much more that we could say about this, but hopefully this summary helps a little. If you want to learn more about it, you can go to this website:

Trying to figure out how to get to Fatima. We had reserved a rental car, but upon arriving at the rental car location, we found out that we could not rent it because none of us had a credit card. Then we looked up some bus schedules to see if that was a possibility. In the end, we ended up renting a car from a different company who said that it was ok that we didn't have a credit card.

Our car was a 'Fiat' - very appropriate! When the angel Gabriel appeared to the Virgin Mary and told her that she would become the Mother of God, her response (translated into Latin) was "Fiat," which means "Let it be done unto me."

Jen and her scapular. On one side of the scapular there is a picture of Jesus, and on the other side there is a picture of Mary.

Our driver, Marek, getting focused and ready for the trip.

We felt really safe with Marek driving. Here he is sleeping at the wheel! :-)

Fatima straight ahead!

We were heading into some pretty dark storm clouds! It was raining very hard as we got closer to Fatima, and we were thinking, "Uh oh. This might not be too fun to walk around outside in this weather."

It stopped raining just as we arrived which was a nice surprise! :-) This is a picture of Jen and me with Pope Pius XII. There are statues of all of the popes who took pilgrimages to Fatima. Pope Pius XII was the pope during WWII, and he was a courageous defender of the Jews and a powerful voice against the evils of Nazi Germany.

The Church of the Holy Trinity

Jen and Katka

Inside the Church of the Holy Trinity

If you look at the front of the altar, you will see a rectangle that looks lit up. There are words (I believe it's Latin) and a piece of something that I could not identify. When I went home and translated the words, it said that it was a small piece of stone from the grave of St. Peter!

They were trying to take a picture like the 3 children of Fatima - Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta.

Jen standing in front of the Church of the Holy Trinity with the Basilica in the distance

Church of the Holy Trinity

Jen standing in the middle of the Sanctuary of Fatima. In the direction that Jen is facing is the Church of the Holy Trinity. Behind her (in the direction that I, the photographer, am facing) is the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary. To the left of the picture is the Chapel of the Apparitions, the place where Mary actually appeared to the children on several occasions.

The Chapel of Apparitions. It's not the best picture, but if you look at the statue of Mary, you will see that it's set on top of a white pillar. The pillar marks the exact place where Mary appeared to the 3 children in 1917.

Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary. The long blue sign that stretches out in front of the basilica says: "Most Holy Trinity, I adore you profoundly." These were some of the words that the angel taught the children to pray.

Inside the basilica

All of the paintings and stained glass windows in this basilica depict events from the Marian apparitions in Fatima.

The bodies of the 3 children (Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta) are buried in the basilica. Here are the tombs of the two girls. Francisco is buried on the other side of the church. All 3 children have been beatified.

A picture taken from the steps of the basilica showing the whole sanctuary of Fatima. This is what was known as the Cova da Iria before the apparitions. This is where Mary appeared, and this is where the 70,000 people gathered to witness the Miracle of the Sun.

A statue depicting the Sacred Heart of Jesus

An assassination attempt against Pope John Paul II occurred on May 13, 1981, as Mary had predicted. After he had recovered, Pope John Paul II had the bullet sent to Fatima. The Bishop of Fatima placed the bullet inside the crown of the statue of our Lady of Fatima where it remains today.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Picture Blog - Lisbon

As we told you in our last post, we had a couple of friends from Slovakia visiting recently. While they were here, we did a lot of "touristy" stuff in and around Lisbon. It was great for Jen and me since we still had not seen much of the city. We are now much more familiar with the public transportation and much more familiar with the layout of the city. As usual, I took a ton of pictures! Here are a few :-)

Stanley getting ready for his first trip to the center of Lisbon. For those of you who don't know the story, there is a children's book called 'Flat Stanley' in which a boy named Stanley is flattened by a bulletin board. He then goes on many adventures (flying like a kite, getting mailed to California, etc.). Anyways, someone I know teaches elementary school and mailed this 'Flat Stanley' to me so that his adventures can continue. You're supposed to take pictures and then send it back to the class so they can see everything that Stanley did on his "trip." :-)

Stanley's first bus ride. The bus driver was nice enough to let us take a picture :-)

Marques de Pombal

Katka, me, and Jen

Katka, Jen, and Marek

Marek came prepared with a guidebook

After getting a muffin from Starbucks. Jen has been eyeing those muffins for months!

In Portugal, they have a famous genre of music called Fado, and Amalia is one of the most famous Fado singers. This picture was taken in honor of our friend Amalia from Slovakia :-) We miss you! :-)

An elevator in the center of Lisbon...we were trying to take a creative picture :-)

Me, Marek, and Stanley

After walking for about an hour, Jen and I finally saw something that looked familiar :-)

We're pretty sure they put this red carpet here to welcome our Slovak guests :-)

Align Center
Hanging out by the water on a beautiful day!

Starting to get tired from all the walking

On our way to Lisbon again to go to Mass. Things didn't really work out the way we planned. We all ended up making it to Mass but not at the same time and not at the same church...

Taking the metro

Following our "tour guide" Marek to St. Mary Magdalene Church for Mass in English - or so we thought!

Pretty lost at this point

Still lost...

After not being able to find St. Mary Magdalene, I said that I was going to go look at the Cathedral to see if they were going to have Mass soon. Since it was almost 7:00, I ran ahead (Jen wants me to clarify that I wasn't actually running....just doing my normal speed walking, but I was really moving!) of the group so that we wouldn't waste any time. I'm not exactly sure what the confusion was, but I arrived at the Cathedral just in time for Mass. I figured that the rest of the group would be joining me shortly. About ten minutes later, Marek came in and sat next to me. I didn't really understand why he was alone, but I figured the girls would be coming. Long story short, Mass ended, and we were getting ready to leave. I figured Jen and Katka would be waiting outside for us. Marek informed me that they had gone to Mass at a different church. I didn't understand why they wouldn't just come to the Cathedral since that's where I said I was going. We waited around for about 45 minutes thinking they would show up. Finally, Marek and I just decided to go home since nobody had cell phones to get a hold of each other. I can't even explain the confusion of this story, but when we got home, Jen and Katka were there waiting. It turns out that they had gone to Mass at a church about 30 feet from the Cathedral. They seemed to think that they were at the Cathedral. Jen promises that she never even saw the HUGE church (I'm not sure how she could have missed it, but I guess she did). Anyways, it was a little irritating at the time, but it was pretty funny to hear how every person had a different account of what actually happened and whose fault it was.

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire

Good legs were super tired so they were helping me up the hill :-)

Overlooking Lisbon

Marek in front of an old convent