Faith and Hope – FATIMA

An episode – FATIMA – Hope and Faith

Our youngest daughter, Annelise, had the misfortune of not being able to start her family naturally so tried all the available alternatives, and endured heart breaking disappointments each time.

Marjorie and I shared Annelise’s pain and disappointments and prayed for a miracle; Marjorie vowed that we would thank the Virgin Mary at Her shrine in Fatima, Portugal if and when we had a new grandchild.

Finally, and this is an episode in its own right, she was gifted a beautiful infant girl in Mexico.

Circumstances prevented us fulfilling our vow for almost three years, until we finally made the journey in January 2106. It was not a holiday and we could allow ourselves just three days so we flew from Bristol to Lisbon, getting there on a wet and misty afternoon. We were advised against driving to Fatima in the inclement weather as the next day’s forecast was good but no more procrastination, and we set off to arrive in the dark. Now, how do we find the Sanctuary? We have been here before, but not with a thick mist and few people around to get directions from. Reminiscent of  “The Third Man”.

Eventually we were told that we had to go behind the building ahead of us and set off in search of a car park. We were pretty stressed out by then and found we were driving up a slope and right at the top was a large car park. I parked at a spot where I could just about see a railed path going down and got Marjorie out of the car. Bear in mind that Marjorie has a painful knee and is on crutches; somehow, she seemed invigourated. I recognised landmarks through the mist and gloom and pointed the out to Marjorie. “I don’t remember any arches”, says she as we briskly walk downhill. I recognised the location of the faint lights as we almost raced down and Marjorie finally recognised where we were.

Our first duty was to light candles as part of our thanksgiving and also for the many “intentions” Hazel had tasked us with. Marjorie glowed with fervour as she completed this obligation and we moved to the Oratory for prayer and contemplation. There were barely a dozen people around and the atmosphere was serene. Marjorie told me, later, that she felt peace go right through her body and it was the best ever feeling. She also felt a weight lifted off her.

Peering through the gloom again, and trusting my memory, I showed Marjorie where the shops were and we walked towards the bleak light to buy a couple of rosaries. The shopkeeper pointed us in the direction where we would find restaurants. We walked in an area we knew from the past, where the shops were no larger than telephone kiosks, and asked the woman shopkeeper where we would find food. “Santa Rita” she said, giving us detailed directions. Thanking her, we walked away and she ran after us to give me a religious medallion and a hug. Santa Rita was below road level and Marjorie, undeterred, braved the steps down. Gnawing at my mind was the fear of not being able to find our car.

Unsurprisingly, we were the only guests; the owner spoke fairly good English and suggested what we should eat. The food and wine (small bottle) were both good as was our host’s hospitality. I explained that I was concerned about finding where we had parked and without a moment’s hesitation he offered to drive us around until we found our car. My description of where I had parked narrowed down the search area, but we still had to drive a bit.

Marjorie dislikes my driving at night but Spirit was with us. A fulfilling and satisfying day.