In the spring of 2010 my wife and I flew to London on British Airways and from there to Lisbon. But we couldn’t land. The Pope (Benedict XVI) got there first and we just circled over Lisbon for about an hour waiting for His Holiness to leave the airport. Only then were we allowed to land.
We spent 4 days in Lisbon that year and on our third day we went on a bus tour to Fatima (the official name is The Sanctuary of Fatima). Guess who got there before us? Yes, Papa. (I guess all Latin countries call him Papa.) The day of our visit was May 13th and it was on May 13, 1917 that the Blessed Virgin first appeared to the kids at Fatima.
But we arrived in the early afternoon and the Pope had already left. There was a youth festival going on, too, and a few thousand kids were still there on the steps of the church and colonnade and in the surrounding plaza chanting and waving their banners. There were a few hundred tourists there, too. Some of the people in the foreground of my photo were on the same bus as we were.
I remember it rained off and on all day that day. I also remember the three churches of Fatima. One was a very modern building (Church of the Holy Trinity) with statues of two recent popes near the entrance. Hardly anyone was there. Then there was the tiny Chapel of the Apparitions. A Mass was going on there and it was communion time and the line was so long that it extended outside the church. My wife decided to enter the line but was told she had to get on her knees and stay that way all the way down the main aisle. She thought about it for a few seconds and then stepped out of the line. I noticed that some of the communicants were roughing it but others looked like roller skaters with their fancy knee-pads! We then went to The Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary where I shot this photo, which is my entry this week to Laura and Leanne’s Monochrome Madness Challenge over on Leanne’s website.
We spent a couple of delightful weeks in Spain after our visit to Portugal but then had a heck of a time getting back home. That was the year British Airways went on strike and left us stranded in Madrid. But that’s another story for another day.