FATIMA HANDBOOK, by Leo Madigan
(Gracewing, 2001, 244pp, $29.95. Available from AD Books)
Published only last year, Fatima Handbook (or A Pilgrim's handbook to Fatima) contains the latest information about Fatima and events relating to it, making it an excellent companion for those travelling to Portugul to make a pilgrimage to the shrine.
Included are a handy map of the shrine, a brief history and numerous accompanying photographs - some taken at the time of the apparitions of Our Lady in 1917.
Some of the commonly-used Portuguese nouns associated with the shrine are explained, e.g., the name of the shrine itself - Fatima. It was named after a young Moorish woman with whom a Christian knight fell in love in 1158. The knight asked permission of the king of Portugul to marry Fatima. Permission was granted provided Fatima became a Christian - to this she agreed.
The description of the sanctuary is quite detailed, examining the history and significance of this main area of the shrine with its many statues and beautiful gifts from various parts of the world. Interesting facts are pointed out, e.g., that a wall on the south side of the sanctuary contains a block from the Berlin Wall, the collapse of which in 1989 indicated the fall of Communism. This was promised by Our Lady following the renewal of the consecration of the world to her Immaculate Heart by Pope John Paul II in Rome in 1984.
The official program of the sanctuary is provided outlining the schedule for ceremonies at the shrine during ordinary time and also during special seasons such as Easter, or the period from May to October, in commemoration of the apparitions. Mass times are given and times for recitations of the Rosary and other popular events such as the Candlelight Procession. Also to be found are hymns, prayers and devotions and the entire text of the Mass of Our Lady of Fatima, as well as the text of the long- awaited Third Secret, released by John Paul II in May 2000.
Other interesting places to visit, such as the homes of the three seers, Lucia, Francesco and Jacinta, and the local parish church they attended, are briefly mentioned, as are some tourist attractions not necessarily associated with the shrine.
There are many fascinating facts of how Portugul and the area of Fatima has been connected with devotion to Our Lady for many centuries. In 1646 King Joao of Portugul declared the Blessed Virgin to be the Queen of Portugul and from that time until 1910 no monarch of Portugul wore a crown.
This is a very useful book for those travelling to Fatima. Such an experience would be greatly enriched by reading a guide such as this. It is also valuable as a brief history of Fatima and of the shrine.
Catherine Sheehan is a Melbourne Catholic writer.