Fatima Pilgrimage Customs & Route

Fatima is a significant pilgrimage site, attracting around 6 million visitors annually. It has three main places of worship, namely, Capelinha, Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary, and Basilica of the Holy Trinity. Pilgrims perform acts of penance such as crawling on their knees and waving white handkerchiefs. The pilgrimage route includes the homes of the shepherd children and the Via Sacra, where pilgrims can pray the Way of the Cross and visit the Monument of Our Lady and Loca do Cabeço.

Fatima Pilgrimage Customs & Route

Places of Worship

The Shrine of Fatima has three main places of worship.


Built: 1919

The most important of these is the Chapel of the Apparitions—Capelinha (Small Chapel) in Portuguese—the first chapel constructed in Fatima. The original statue of Our Lady of Fatima is encased in glass and placed on a stand that covers the holm oak tree where Mary appeared to the children in 5 of the 6 apparitions. Mary herself requested a chapel to be built at this location.

Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary

Built: 1928–1953

The Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary stands at the location where the three shepherds were playing on May 13, 1917, the day of Mary's first apparition.

Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary Fatima Portugal
Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary

Basilica of the Holy Trinity

Built: 2007

The newest of the three is the Basilica of the Holy Trinity, designed by Greek architect Alexandros Tombazis. The first stone used in the construction of this basilica came from a marble fragment of Peter's tomb in Rome. This Basilica can accommodate over 8,000 pilgrims at a time.

Basilica of the Holy Trinity Fatima Portugal Alexandros Tombazis
Basilica of the Holy Trinity


Crawling on the Knees

As an act of penance, some pilgrims crawl on their knees for 182 meters from the Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity to the Capelinha while reciting the Rosary.

Waving White Handkerchiefs

The tradition of waving white handkerchiefs signifies devotion and love towards the Blessed Virgin Mary. Typically, it is performed at the end of an event, such as a Mass or procession, as a way of saying goodbye to Our Lady.

Pilgrimage Route

Homes of the Shepherds

The homes of Francisco, Jacinta, and Lúcia in the village of Aljustrel are just 3 kilometers from the Sanctuary. The homes have been preserved and all the original furniture remains intact. They give us a unique look into life in rural Portugal during the early 20th century.

Via Sacra

The Via Sacra (“Sacred Way”) is the route taken by the three shepherd children from Aljustrel to the Sanctuary. It starts at the Monument to the Three Little Shepherds and ends at the Chapel of Saint Stephen.

Pilgrims on this path can pray the Way of the Cross along the way and reach the Monument of Our Lady (Valinhos), the site where Our Lady appeared in August 1917, as well as Loca do Cabeço, the location of the first and third apparitions of the Angel of Peace.