Procissão das Velas.
‘The Marian Pilgrimage Shrine of Fátima
The Shrine of Our Lady of Fátima, in central Portugal, is nowadays a global Catholic pilgrimage site, where visitors from all over the world go to worship Mary or simply to discover more about this important religious site.
Fátima is currently presented as a Catholic shrine of global religious significance but also as a national heritage shrine to be visited by tourists who wish to discover more about Portuguese culture and its religious traditions. Fátima attracts also non-Christian groups such as Hindus, Muslims, New Agers and others who perform their prayers and rituals there.
In this context, senior researcher Anna Fedele and post doctoral researcher Giulia Cavallo, analyze how Our Lady of Fátima and her shrine function as a national, Catholic symbol but are at the same time appropriated by non-Catholic pilgrims, international pilgrims or by migrants living in Portugal. We describe the tensions between religious pilgrims and tourists, problematize this dichotomy and see how these tensions are managed by local authorities. We observe how Catholic as well as non-Catholic pilgrims experience the space of the shrine, and how they express their devotion in creative ways.
In order to address these issues, we made in-depth interviews with pilgrims and we conducted extensive fieldwork in Fátima. We collected life stories and followed groups of pilgrims from Northern Portugal, veterans of colonial wars, immigrants from former African colonies, as well as members of the Hindu community in Lisbon who regularly visit Fátima.