Kilkenny and the Shrine of Fatima

Fr Willie Purcell


Fr Willie Purcell


Fatima pilgrimage

Group from the Diocese of Ossory at this year's pilgrimage to Fatima

This year is the 100th anniversary of the apparition of our Lady of Fatima.  For 25 years a pilgrimage from Kilkenny has been going to the well-known shrine.  The Kilkenny Pilgrimage to Fatima first went 25 years ago and has made its way to the Portuguese shrine every year since then.  This year is a very special year not only for Fatima but for the whole world’ said Fr. Willie Purcell the director of the Kilkenny Pilgrimage to Fatima.  

Fatima is one of the most popular shrines and has been visited by every pope since our Lady appeared there one hundred years ago.   On May 13th 1917 Our Lady appeared to the three children at the Cova da Iria in Fatima and asks that they return for five more months in succession, on the 13th day, at the same hour. The message of Fatima is one of Hope said Fr. Willie.  Pilgrims return from Fatima with a renewed sense of Hope in God and the strength and courage to face the difficulties of Life.  Fatima is a place of peace, even though millions of pilgrims visit the shrine every year it still remains a place of quiet peaceful prayer in the world.

Though the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima took place almost a hundred years ago, Our Lady's call to prayer and penance for the salvation of souls and peace in the world is as relevant now as when first delivered to three Portuguese peasant children in 1917. At the peak of the First World War, Our Lady warned of another worldwide conflict, the rise and spread of Communism and a terrible persecution of the Church unless people repented of their sins and returned to God. She also requested devotion to her Immaculate Heart and a special consecration of Russia. Much of what Our Lady of Fatima said was revealed soon after her appearances, but the third and final "secret", which was not a message but a prophetic vision seen by the children, was not unveiled by the Vatican until 2000. Pope John Paul II, who read the third secret while recovering from the attempt upon his life in 1981, believed the vision signified the sufferings the Church had endured in the twentieth century.

Death had appeared all but certain to bystanders when three bullets fired by Turkish gunman Mehmet Ali Agca tore through the pope's flesh on May 13, 1981, staining the pope's white cassock with his blood.

Ali Agca was a professional assassin, he had aimed at close range, and he had aimed well.  But somehow, the bullets missed lethal targets, one grazing the pope's right elbow, and another deflecting off his left index finger before passing through his abdomen, a fraction of an inch from a major artery.

By John Paul II's assessment, it was a mother's hand that guided the bullet's path and permitted that the dying Pope. Stopped on the threshold of death.  The assassination attempt had taken place on the feast of Our Lady of Fatima, and the pope had no doubt that his survival was due to the intervention of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  In gratitude, the Pope gave one of the deadly bullets to the bishop in charge of the shrine at Fatima, Portugal.  To this day, that bullet remains in the crown of the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary housed at that shrine. However, as John Paul II sat at the side of his would-be-assassin, Ali Agca expressed fears that this Lady of Fatima might come after him next.  The pope stated the contrary; he himself had come to forgive, not to harm.  But Ali Agca did not ask for forgiveness. Thus, as the pope took the hand of the gunman, he showed us that a Christian must forgive his enemies, even when they do not want forgiveness.

On Tuesday November 14th a mass for all Fatima pilgrims, families and friends will take place in St. Fiacre’s Church Loughbouy at 7.30 pm.  The first class relic of the Children of Fatima will be there, all are welcome.  Further information from manning travel high street.