Silent Celebration Grips Portugal's Fatima Shrine

Published May 15th, 2020 - 07:09 GMT

Without the hundreds of thousands of worshippers it welcomes every May 13, the vast esplanade of Portugal's Catholic Fatima shrine was nearly empty for its annual celebration for the first time in its century-long history.

Closed to the public because of the new coronavirus pandemic, only about 30 employees attended the mass on Wednesday in the small town where three poor shepherd children reported visions of the Virgin Mary in 1917, according to AFP.

Last year, 6.3 million people visited the shrine, the country's most renowned pilgrimage site.

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The statue of Our Lady Fatima is carried by people wearing face masks during the 103rd anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady Fatima at the Fatima shrine in central Portugal on May 13, 2020. Without the crowd of pilgrims it welcomes every year, the shrine of Fatima celebrated the anniversary during a religious ceremony reduced to the bare minimum. PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP

The statue of Our Lady Fatima is carried by people wearing face masks during the 103rd anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady Fatima at the Fatima shrine in central Portugal on May 13, 2020. Without the crowd of pilgrims it welcomes every year, the shrine of Fatima celebrated the anniversary during a religious ceremony reduced to the bare minimum. PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP

People wearing face masks and keeping their social distance, attend the 103rd anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima at the Fatima shrine in central Portugal on May 13, 2020. Without the crowd of pilgrims it welcomes every year, the shrine of Fatima celebrated the anniversary during a religious ceremony reduced to the bare minimum. PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP

People wearing face masks and keeping their social distance, attend the 103rd anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima at the Fatima shrine in central Portugal on May 13, 2020. Without the crowd of pilgrims it welcomes every year, the shrine of Fatima celebrated the anniversary during a religious ceremony reduced to the bare minimum. PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP

A seller of religious figurines poses at her stall wearing a face mask during the 103rd anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima at the Fatima shrine in central Portugal on May 13, 2020. Without the crowd of pilgrims it welcomes every year, the shrine of Fatima celebrated the anniversary during a religious ceremony reduced to the bare minimum. PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP

A seller of religious figurines poses at her stall wearing a face mask during the 103rd anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima at the Fatima shrine in central Portugal on May 13, 2020. Without the crowd of pilgrims it welcomes every year, the shrine of Fatima celebrated the anniversary during a religious ceremony reduced to the bare minimum. PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP

A man holds a Portuguese flag during the 103rd anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima at the Fatima shrine in central Portugal on May 13, 2020. Without the crowd of pilgrims it welcomes every year, the shrine of Fatima celebrated the anniversary during a religious ceremony reduced to the bare minimum. PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP

A man holds a Portuguese flag during the 103rd anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima at the Fatima shrine in central Portugal on May 13, 2020. Without the crowd of pilgrims it welcomes every year, the shrine of Fatima celebrated the anniversary during a religious ceremony reduced to the bare minimum. PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP

The statue of Our Lady Fatima is carried by people wearing face masks during the 103rd anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady Fatima at the Fatima shrine in central Portugal on May 13, 2020. Without the crowd of pilgrims it welcomes every year, the shrine of Fatima celebrated the anniversary during a religious ceremony reduced to the bare minimum. PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP

The statue of Our Lady Fatima is carried by people wearing face masks during the 103rd anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady Fatima at the Fatima shrine in central Portugal on May 13, 2020. Without the crowd of pilgrims it welcomes every year, the shrine of Fatima celebrated the anniversary during a religious ceremony reduced to the bare minimum. PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP

People attend a ceremony marking the 103rd anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima at the Fatima shrine in central Portugal, on May 13, 2020. Without the crowd of pilgrims it welcomes every year, the shrine of Fatima celebrated the anniversary during a religious ceremony reduced to the bare minimum. PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP

People attend a ceremony marking the 103rd anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima at the Fatima shrine in central Portugal, on May 13, 2020. Without the crowd of pilgrims it welcomes every year, the shrine of Fatima celebrated the anniversary during a religious ceremony reduced to the bare minimum. PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP

A nun wearing a face mask attends a ceremony marking the 103rd anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima at the Fatima shrine in central Portugal, on May 13, 2020. Without the crowd of pilgrims it welcomes every year, the shrine of Fatima celebrated the anniversary during a religious ceremony reduced to the bare minimum. PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP

A nun wearing a face mask attends a ceremony marking the 103rd anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima at the Fatima shrine in central Portugal, on May 13, 2020. Without the crowd of pilgrims it welcomes every year, the shrine of Fatima celebrated the anniversary during a religious ceremony reduced to the bare minimum. PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP

A man wearing a face mask lights a candle during the 103rd anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima at the Fatima shrine in central Portugal on May 13, 2020. Without the crowd of pilgrims it welcomes every year, the shrine of Fatima celebrated the anniversary during a religious ceremony reduced to the bare minimum. PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP

A man wearing a face mask lights a candle during the 103rd anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima at the Fatima shrine in central Portugal on May 13, 2020. Without the crowd of pilgrims it welcomes every year, the shrine of Fatima celebrated the anniversary during a religious ceremony reduced to the bare minimum. PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP

A lone man stands at the Fatima sanctuary during the 103rd anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady Fatima in central Portugal on May 13, 2020. Without the crowd of pilgrims it welcomes every year, the shrine of Fatima celebrated the anniversary during a religious ceremony reduced to the bare minimum. PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP

A lone man stands at the Fatima sanctuary during the 103rd anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady Fatima in central Portugal on May 13, 2020. Without the crowd of pilgrims it welcomes every year, the shrine of Fatima celebrated the anniversary during a religious ceremony reduced to the bare minimum. PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP

The statue of Our Lady Fatima is carried by people wearing face masks during the 103rd anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady Fatima at the Fatima shrine in central Portugal on May 13, 2020. Without the crowd of pilgrims it welcomes every year, the shrine of Fatima celebrated the anniversary during a religious ceremony reduced to the bare minimum. PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP
People wearing face masks and keeping their social distance, attend the 103rd anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima at the Fatima shrine in central Portugal on May 13, 2020. Without the crowd of pilgrims it welcomes every year, the shrine of Fatima celebrated the anniversary during a religious ceremony reduced to the bare minimum. PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP
A seller of religious figurines poses at her stall wearing a face mask during the 103rd anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima at the Fatima shrine in central Portugal on May 13, 2020. Without the crowd of pilgrims it welcomes every year, the shrine of Fatima celebrated the anniversary during a religious ceremony reduced to the bare minimum. PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP
A man holds a Portuguese flag during the 103rd anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima at the Fatima shrine in central Portugal on May 13, 2020. Without the crowd of pilgrims it welcomes every year, the shrine of Fatima celebrated the anniversary during a religious ceremony reduced to the bare minimum. PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP
The statue of Our Lady Fatima is carried by people wearing face masks during the 103rd anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady Fatima at the Fatima shrine in central Portugal on May 13, 2020. Without the crowd of pilgrims it welcomes every year, the shrine of Fatima celebrated the anniversary during a religious ceremony reduced to the bare minimum. PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP
People attend a ceremony marking the 103rd anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima at the Fatima shrine in central Portugal, on May 13, 2020. Without the crowd of pilgrims it welcomes every year, the shrine of Fatima celebrated the anniversary during a religious ceremony reduced to the bare minimum. PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP
A nun wearing a face mask attends a ceremony marking the 103rd anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima at the Fatima shrine in central Portugal, on May 13, 2020. Without the crowd of pilgrims it welcomes every year, the shrine of Fatima celebrated the anniversary during a religious ceremony reduced to the bare minimum. PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP
A man wearing a face mask lights a candle during the 103rd anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima at the Fatima shrine in central Portugal on May 13, 2020. Without the crowd of pilgrims it welcomes every year, the shrine of Fatima celebrated the anniversary during a religious ceremony reduced to the bare minimum. PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP
A lone man stands at the Fatima sanctuary during the 103rd anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady Fatima in central Portugal on May 13, 2020. Without the crowd of pilgrims it welcomes every year, the shrine of Fatima celebrated the anniversary during a religious ceremony reduced to the bare minimum. PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP
The statue of Our Lady Fatima is carried by people wearing face masks during the 103rd anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady Fatima at the Fatima shrine in central Portugal on May 13, 2020. Without the crowd of pilgrims it welcomes every year, the shrine of Fatima celebrated the anniversary during a religious ceremony reduced to the bare minimum. PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP
The statue of Our Lady Fatima is carried by people wearing face masks during the 103rd anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady Fatima at the Fatima shrine in central Portugal on May 13, 2020. Without the crowd of pilgrims it welcomes every year, the shrine of Fatima celebrated the anniversary during a religious ceremony reduced to the bare minimum. PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP
People wearing face masks and keeping their social distance, attend the 103rd anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima at the Fatima shrine in central Portugal on May 13, 2020. Without the crowd of pilgrims it welcomes every year, the shrine of Fatima celebrated the anniversary during a religious ceremony reduced to the bare minimum. PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP
People wearing face masks and keeping their social distance, attend the 103rd anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima at the Fatima shrine in central Portugal on May 13, 2020. Without the crowd of pilgrims it welcomes every year, the shrine of Fatima celebrated the anniversary during a religious ceremony reduced to the bare minimum. PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP
A seller of religious figurines poses at her stall wearing a face mask during the 103rd anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima at the Fatima shrine in central Portugal on May 13, 2020. Without the crowd of pilgrims it welcomes every year, the shrine of Fatima celebrated the anniversary during a religious ceremony reduced to the bare minimum. PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP
A seller of religious figurines poses at her stall wearing a face mask during the 103rd anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima at the Fatima shrine in central Portugal on May 13, 2020. Without the crowd of pilgrims it welcomes every year, the shrine of Fatima celebrated the anniversary during a religious ceremony reduced to the bare minimum. PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP
A man holds a Portuguese flag during the 103rd anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima at the Fatima shrine in central Portugal on May 13, 2020. Without the crowd of pilgrims it welcomes every year, the shrine of Fatima celebrated the anniversary during a religious ceremony reduced to the bare minimum. PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP
A man holds a Portuguese flag during the 103rd anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima at the Fatima shrine in central Portugal on May 13, 2020. Without the crowd of pilgrims it welcomes every year, the shrine of Fatima celebrated the anniversary during a religious ceremony reduced to the bare minimum. PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP
The statue of Our Lady Fatima is carried by people wearing face masks during the 103rd anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady Fatima at the Fatima shrine in central Portugal on May 13, 2020. Without the crowd of pilgrims it welcomes every year, the shrine of Fatima celebrated the anniversary during a religious ceremony reduced to the bare minimum. PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP
The statue of Our Lady Fatima is carried by people wearing face masks during the 103rd anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady Fatima at the Fatima shrine in central Portugal on May 13, 2020. Without the crowd of pilgrims it welcomes every year, the shrine of Fatima celebrated the anniversary during a religious ceremony reduced to the bare minimum. PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP
People attend a ceremony marking the 103rd anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima at the Fatima shrine in central Portugal, on May 13, 2020. Without the crowd of pilgrims it welcomes every year, the shrine of Fatima celebrated the anniversary during a religious ceremony reduced to the bare minimum. PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP
People attend a ceremony marking the 103rd anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima at the Fatima shrine in central Portugal, on May 13, 2020. Without the crowd of pilgrims it welcomes every year, the shrine of Fatima celebrated the anniversary during a religious ceremony reduced to the bare minimum. PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP
A nun wearing a face mask attends a ceremony marking the 103rd anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima at the Fatima shrine in central Portugal, on May 13, 2020. Without the crowd of pilgrims it welcomes every year, the shrine of Fatima celebrated the anniversary during a religious ceremony reduced to the bare minimum. PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP
A nun wearing a face mask attends a ceremony marking the 103rd anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima at the Fatima shrine in central Portugal, on May 13, 2020. Without the crowd of pilgrims it welcomes every year, the shrine of Fatima celebrated the anniversary during a religious ceremony reduced to the bare minimum. PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP
A man wearing a face mask lights a candle during the 103rd anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima at the Fatima shrine in central Portugal on May 13, 2020. Without the crowd of pilgrims it welcomes every year, the shrine of Fatima celebrated the anniversary during a religious ceremony reduced to the bare minimum. PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP
A man wearing a face mask lights a candle during the 103rd anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima at the Fatima shrine in central Portugal on May 13, 2020. Without the crowd of pilgrims it welcomes every year, the shrine of Fatima celebrated the anniversary during a religious ceremony reduced to the bare minimum. PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP
A lone man stands at the Fatima sanctuary during the 103rd anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady Fatima in central Portugal on May 13, 2020. Without the crowd of pilgrims it welcomes every year, the shrine of Fatima celebrated the anniversary during a religious ceremony reduced to the bare minimum. PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP
A lone man stands at the Fatima sanctuary during the 103rd anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady Fatima in central Portugal on May 13, 2020. Without the crowd of pilgrims it welcomes every year, the shrine of Fatima celebrated the anniversary during a religious ceremony reduced to the bare minimum. PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP