The Prayer Area of the Shrine of Fatima is a vast square which heart is the Chapel of the Apparitions, built in 1919 and corresponding to the request of Our Lady to the Little Shepherds, in October 1917.
The Shrine has a surface area of 75 thousand square meters, including the lateral alleys, of which 30 thousand square meters for the prayer area.
The prayer area, which had expanded over the years to welcome an increasingly larger number of pilgrims, is delimited, in the eastern side, by the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima, built in the place where Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta were playing when, in October 13th, 1917, they got caught by a flash of lightning that anticipated the first Apparition.
In the opposite side of the prayer area, in the western side, stands the Basilica of Most Holy Trinity.
New Features of the Shrine of Fatima
The Shrine of Fátima presents some new features, specially designed for the celebration of the Centennial of the Apparitions, therefore not necessarily related to Pope Francis’ visit in May.
These new features are: a Jubilee Portico, a new asphalt layer in the Prayer Area, and, above all, a new presbitery, which replaces the one purposely built for Pope John Paull II’s first visit (12th-13th May 1982).
The new presbytery, dedicated on May 2016, can be used by a total of 120 concelebrants and is the project of the greek architect Alexandros Tombazis, the very same designer of the Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity.
Its construction, which lasted for more than one year, included the building of a second underground floor, mainly intended to support services, Tabernacle and Sacristy. It has direct access to the presbytery floor by stairways and by lift.
The new presbytery is now closer to the Prayer Area, which meant a reformulation of the staircases, keeping the same time of limestone used in the Shrine.
Basílica of Our Lady of the Rosary
The Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima is a project of the architect Gerardus Samuel van Krieken, which would be continued by João Antunes.
Symbolically, the first stone was blessed on May 13th, 1928, by the archbishop of Évora, Mgr. Manuel da Conceição Santos, and consecrated on October 7th, 1953.
On November 11th, 1954, the title of basilica was granted by Pius XII through the brief Luce Superna.
With 70.5 meters long and 37 meters wide, the building was totally built with local limestone, branco do mar.
The temple consists of a large nave with presbytery, transept and two sacristies, one of which was converted into a place of worship (chapel of St. Joseph).
In the left transept arm, one can see the chapel where the remains of Blessed Jacinta, who died on February 20th, 1920, repose from May 1st, 1951, and of Sister Lucia, who died on February 13th, 2005 and which remains were transferred on February 19th of the following year.
The statue of Jacinta, that stands there, was authored by Clara Menéres and was blessed by John Paul II on May 13th, 2000.
In the right side of the transept is the chapel where are placed since March 13th, 1952 the remains of Blessed Francisco, who died on April 4th, 1919.
The statue of Francisco is authored by José Rodrigues and blessed day on May 13th, 2000, by John Paul II.
More information about the Basilica and the Colonnade that embraces it can be foundhere
Basílica of the Most Holy Trinity
The capacity of the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima became very small owing to the continuous and fast growth of the number of pilgrims who arrived to Fatima, that is why twenty years after its dedication (1953), the construction of a new church was about to be planned.
However, twenty-five years went by before an international contest was launched and which was won by the Greek architect Alexandros Tombazis; his project planned the construction of a new temple at the end of the Prayer Area of the Shrine, next to the Pius XII Square.
The placing of the first stone took place on June 6th, 2004, Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity; the construction of the church would finish three years after.
Several reasons contributed for choosing the name of Most Holy Trinity: the apparitions of the Angel of Peace, with his insistent invitation to adore God, Trinity; the words of Pope John Paul II uttered in the Chapel of Apparitions, in May 1982, given thanks to the Most Holy Trinity; and the Jubilee of the Year 2000, also dedicated to the Most Holy Trinity.
The Church of the Most Holy Trinity was dedicated on October 12th, 2007, by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, then Secretary of State of the Vatican and legate of Benedict XVI for the conclusion of the 90th Anniversary of the Apparitions of Our Lady in Fatima.
Considered as the fourth major catholic temple in the world regarding its capacity, totally paid with the donations of the pilgrims of Fatima, the Church of Most Holy Trinity was granted the title of minor basilica on June 19th, 2012.
The Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity is circular with 125 meters in diameter and without any interior supports; its only support comes from two beams of 182,5 meters in length, with a free span of 80 meters and a maximum height of 21,15 meters. The building is 18 meters high, which surpasses slightly the colonnade of the Prayer Area, the tower of the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary, at the opposite side of the area, remaining the main element of the entire Shrine.
All the church is white, both the beams of which the concrete is within sight and the remaining parts covered with local stone (branco do mar).
The temple has 8,633 seats, plus 76 for persons with motion disabilities. The interior can be divided in two sectors by means of a moveable wall of 2 meters high. The presbytery can hold around 100 concelebrants.
More details and information about the Basilica of Most Holy trinity here
The Jubilee Portico
Pope Francis has conceded a Jubilee Year to the Shrine of Fatima to emphasize, in a more dignifying way, the Celebration of the Centennial of the Apparitions of Our Lady to the three Little Shepherds.
The Jubilee Year, from November 27th, 2016, to November 26th, 2017, to which a plenary indulgence is associated to, is identified in the Shrine by the Jubilee Portico, in the end of the Prayer Area, near the Basilica of Most Holy Trinity.
In addition to symbolizing the “holy door” of entrance in a sacred place, the portico, with a cross on the top, evokes the arch built in 1917 to mark the place of the Apparitions under which a photograph was taken of Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta.
The structure includes the elements of the arch of 1917: the central cross and the lanterns that go along the arch.
The Jubilee Portico, laid out to the scale of the Prayer Area, is reproduced in all the entrances of the Shrine of Fatima in a smaller dimension.
Near the main Portico, the Jubilee Itinerary is available in seven languages (Portuguese, English, French, Polish, German, Italian and Spanish); that itinerary proposes a path passing by several places – namely the passage by the Jubilee Portico – and a set specific prayers: the prayer of the Rosary, in the Chapel of the Apparitions; Prayer for the Pope, near the tombs of the Little Shepherds; the Prayer for Peace, in the Chapel Year (for example in one of the seven daily masses of the Shrine.