By Josh Low & Jamie O’Brien
Having recently come back from a month long pilgrimage across Europe, David and Brenda Low spoke to The eRecord about their pilgrimage experience, led by Willagee Parish Priest Fr Peter Meo, which saw them in Fatima for the centenary celebrations.
They explained what it meant to have been there on 13 October, the day on which the last of the six apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima occurred to Jacinta, Francisco and Lucia 100 years ago.
Having already been to Fatima in 2013, Brenda explained she wasn’t interested in going at first, but said being in Fatima turned out to be the highlight of their pilgrimage which included visits to Montserrat, Lourdes and Avila.
“In spite of the apprehensions I had before going, due to the fear of being in huge crowds and the fast pace involved, I had a wonderful experience, both spiritually and as a break from routine,” she said.
David said having daily Mass and the praying of the Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet among other prayers led by Fr Meo throughout their pilgrimage was something he and the other pilgrims found very special and of great benefit to the group.
“It helped to keep us focused on God throughout the pilgrimage in the lead up to Fatima, instead of the temptation to sometimes think of everything as a holiday,” he said.
Arriving in Fatima on 12 October, which was in fact David’s birthday, he admitted he was disappointed that most of his birthday was spent on the bus travelling to Fatima, but was still grateful to have been present for the Centenary Anniversary Vigil.
“I would’ve liked to have arrived earlier than we did so I could spend more time in prayer, reflection and thanksgiving, instead of the mad rush we had.
“However, I still feel blessed to have been at such an important celebration on my birthday.
“We were also afraid of falling ill, as many of our fellow pilgrims were, but thankfully we made it through without being sick and everyone somehow recovered for the highlight of the whole pilgrimage,” he said.
Their arrival in Fatima saw the group join together with what they were told numbered around half a million people for the Centenary Anniversary Vigil ceremonies in the square which included a candlelight procession, Rosary and Mass.
Brenda said that although she found it difficult to pray the Rosary which was recited in many different languages, they managed to pray along quietly in English.
“The Rosary was prayed in many languages including Italian, Spanish, Korean, Tagalog, Mandarin, Indonesian, English, French, German, Latin, Thai and several others I couldn’t identify.
“It brought home to me the fact that the message of Jesus Christ truly has been taken to the ends of the earth,” she said.
“It was a moving experience seeing the world show their love and devotion to the Mother of God. If not for Her Fiat, where would we be?”
The next morning, they returned to the square for the Centenary Anniversary celebrations and Mass on the steps of the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary.
Brenda said that being there on 13 October was both an exciting and humbling experience.
“I have never liked being in large crowds but in spite of there being at least half a million people both on the eve of the centenary celebrations and the morning of 13th October, I never felt threatened or uncomfortable with people milling about all the time,” she said.
“Although it was tiring, the fact that I was there in Fatima for the centenary celebrations gave me the energy to keep going; I couldn’t believe I was there on such an important day,” she concluded.
Over their time spent in Fatima, they, along with the group were also able to visit the homes of the 3 children at Aljustrel, Valinhos (the site of the Virgin’s appearance after the release of the children from prison), and the tombs of the 3 visionaries in the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary, along with a tour of the museum and the Blessed Sacrament Chapel.