Thursday, September 27, 2012




Bom Dia,

We slept like babies under our down comforters on a luxurious firm bed.  I never knew I could get so excited about sleeping.  The first two days have been hectic as we knew and the next three are the same then we calm down. 

We drove about 500 miles the first 2 days (map in photos).  The driving wasn’t bad especially in Portugal.  We drove about 150 miles on the highway and didn’t see 100 cars in either direction. They don’t care if you speed so I obliged them, testing 90mph for a good part of the trip.  We knew they had toils but when we went to pay we realized why they are empty.    $50 – thanks you very much.  Who can afford that every day.

We had a good breakfast this morning (including fresh bread) and great Café Leche.  Ready to go we headed off to Nazare and the famous statue of Our Blessed Mother believed to have been carved by St. Joseph.  (The story is below and great reading).

Before leaving Fatima for the day, we went to a bank so I could exchange some US Dollars for Euros.  Susan stayed in the car directly in front of the bank.  And I will let her type what  she saw …

Tom walked up to the front door of the bank.  A Priest had just walked out so he knew the Bank was open.  He pulled on the front door and I watched as he continued to try to open the door to no avail.  There was a doorbell type thing on the wall and he rang it.  No luck.   He tried to pull the door open again.  Then he began knocking on the door .  Nada … he couldn’t get in.   I could see how frustrated he was as he put his hands around his eyes and his nose up to the window of door of the bank to peek in.  Then he knocked again, rang the bell and, once more, tried to pull the door open.  Just about the time I knew he was going to “implode”, the Priest who had walked out of the bank earlier came out of a store next door.  Tom turned and said …. “Do you need a lock or a key or something to get in her, Father?” … as I sat there watching, the Priest quickly put his arm and hand behind Tom and PUSHED THE DOOR WIDE OPEN … IT WAS A “MIRACLE”!!!!  I was absolutely hysterical watching all of this from the car and I described it to Tom when he got back in (by the way, once he got in, he learned they could not exchange US dollars so we are still looking for a bank).  We laughed our way through the drive to Nazare’.

And now I will give you back to Tom …

I decided to drive the mountain trek to Nazare’, a beautiful beach coastal town on the west coast of Portugal.  Thank goodness Susan remembered the word “Sitix” from our travel planning because the address we had given “Princess” was taking us below our destination.  When she brought that to my attention, I went with her suggestion, shut “Princess” off and followed the signs from there (I would get even with “Princess” later).

We ended up in this quaint little village on the edge of a cliff where the story you are going to read explains everything that took places there … the miracle at Nazare’.  We explored of the small Chapels and a very small cave where the Statue of Our Lady of Nazare was found.  They had a carved statue to depict her location.  The real Statue of Our Lady was in the Shrine of Our Lady of Nazare’ which stood in the center of the square.

Noticing that a flock of tour buses had just arrived, we hurried to the large Shrine to see what we had come to see (and before the tourists arrived) … the Statue of Mother and Child.  Again, no photos were allowed but you will see that I didn’t disappoint you (got a few).   You will see, up close in the photos, what is considered to be The Greatest Icon In The World.


It is said to have been carved by St. Joseph when Jesus was a child.  And that it was painted by St. Luke years later.  We made it just in time before the throngs of tourists off of the bus began pushing and shoving to get up the stairs and move us out of the way. 

In all seriousness, we stood on the step before the Statue of Our Lady with Child to Pray for your Intentions and we stopped in the Adoration Chapel on our way out.  We also felt it fitting to dedicate our Prayers to all of the children we know and all of the children you have asked us to Pray for who are afflicted and in need.

Having accomplished our goal in Nazare’ (fairly easily for a change), we headed back to Fatima.  We turned “Princess” back on and she began to guide us on our return until we saw a sign for a “brand new highway” that said “Fatima”.  We immediately turned on to the new highway.  For ten minutes, “Princess” freaked out … she was just a car floating around on the GPS screen with no roads and all she kept saying again and again was “Re-calculating … make a left on the next dirt road … re-calculating”.  We finally had to shut her off and we made it back on our own.

We had planned to go to the 3PM Mass which were told was in English.  The Basilica was pretty full and I thought it was a good time to meet some fellow travelers after.  Mass began as soon as we got therein POLISH.  Surprise, but not a problem.  The funny thing was that after communion the organist  played “My Country Tis of Thee” one of American favorites. May Our Lady is hearing the call that America Needs Fatima.

Afterwards we went to the “Cova De Aria” to deliver your petitions and bought a very large candle to light in honor of them. 

I took a lot of photos of the grounds so you can see the enormity of the Shrine.  I think it holds a million people.  We stopped to get holy water from the spring that runs under the pillar that Jesus stands atop.  We found out that many miracles have been attributed to this water.

Found a place to grab a quick bite since all the rest. Are closed until 7.  We couldn’t wait.  So now we back at the hotel getting ready to send you this.  I had Susan type for awhile so I could lie on the bed and contemplate my next sleep.

Tomorrow onto Balazar and Braga Portugal.

 May Jesus, Mary and Joseph keep you close and protect you.


Tom and Susan


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Nazaré, the cliff.

The Legend of Nazaré has it that on the early morning of September 14, 1182, Dom Fuas Roupinho alcalde of Porto de Mós, Portugal, was out hunting in his domain, near the coast, when he saw a deer which he immediately began chasing. All of a sudden a heavy fog rose up from the sea. The deer ran towards the top of a cliff and Dom Fuas in the midst of the fog was cut off from his companions. When he realized he was on the edge of the cliff he recognized the place. He was next to a small grotto where a statue of Our Lady with the Enfant was worshipped. Thus he prayed out loud Our Lady, Help Me. All of a sudden the horse miraculously stopped at the end of a rocky point suspended over the void, the Bico do Milagre (Point of the Miracle), thus saving the rider and his mount from a drop of more than 100 meters, that would certainly caused their death.

Dom Fuas dismounted and went down to the grotto to pray and give thanks for the miracle. Then he ordered his companions to fetch masons in order to build a small chapel over the grotto so that the miraculous image could be easily worshipped by all and as a memorial to the miracle that saved him. Then before walling up the grotto the masons destroyed the existing altar where amongst the stones they found a ivory chest containing some reliques and an old parchment describing the story of the little wooden statue, one palm high, of Our Lady seated breastfeeding baby Jesus seated on her left leg.

According to the parchment the statue must have been worshipped since the beginning of Christianity in Nazareth, in Palestine. It was rescued from the iconoclasts in the fifth century by the monk Ciriaco. It was he who brought it to Spain, to the monastery of Cauliniana, near Mérida, where it remained until 711, the year of the battle of Guadalete, when the Christian forces were defeated by the Moorish invading army coming from north Africa.

When the news of the defeat arrived at Mérida, the friars of Cauliniana prepared to leave their monastery. Meanwhile the defeated king, Roderic, who was able to flee the battlefield alone and disguised as a beggar anonymously asked for shelter at the monastery. When he asked one of the friars, Frei Romano, to hear him in Confession he had to tell who he really was. Then the friar suggested they flee together taking with them an old and holy image of Mary with the Enfant worshipped at the monastery.

So the statue of Our Lady of Nazaré, which received its name from the village in Palestine where it was first worshipped, was brought by friar Romano and by king Roderic to the Atlantic coast. When they reached their destination they settled in an empty hermitage on the top of a rocky hill, the Monte de S. Bartolomeu, and there they stayed for a few days. They then decided to separate and live by themselves as hermits. The friar took the image and settled in a little grotto, on the edge of a cliff above the sea, next to the hill where the king went on living.

A year went by and friar Romano died and Roderic buried him on the ground of the grotto. Then he left the region leaving behind the holy statue, a black Madonna, on the altar where it remained until 1182, when Dom Fuas, after the miracle, moved it to the chapel built over the grotto as a memorial to the event that saved his life. Thus the still existing chapel was named Capela da Memória (Chapel of the Memory).

Sanctuary of Our Lady of Nazaré, main chapel

In 1377, because of the growing affluence of pilgrims, king Fernando had a church built near the chapel to where the holy statue was transferred. In the end of the sixteen century this church suffered the first of a series of reconstructions and enlargements. The existing building is now the result of several interventions from the sixteen to the nineteen centuries that give it a very peculiar character. This church or sanctuary is named Santuário de Nossa Senhora da Nazaré (Sanctuary of Our Lady of Nazaré). The holy image is now on display in the main chapel in a small niche above the altar that can be accessed by a staircase leading from the sacristy. So the statue has remained in the same place since 711, in a village named after it Sítio da Nazaré (Place of the Nazaré). In this village, nowadays a quarter of the town of Nazaré (Portugal), one can still visit the three sanctuaries mentioned above: the underground hermitage, the small chapel above it, the church where nowadays one can visit Our Lady of Nazaré.

According to oral tradition, the holy icon was sculpted by St. Joseph the carpenter, in Nazareth, when Jesus was still a baby. A few decades latter St. Luke the evangelist, painted it. So, it may well be the most ancient image venerated by Christians.