Thursday, 16 May 2013

A strange custom

Should you be providentially fortunate enough to find yourself at the Shrine of Our Lady in Fatima, what would you do?

Pray certainly.

And next? Light a candle perhaps?

Well they don't so much light candles at Fatima as incinerate them. Special shelters are arrayed where flames burn from below and the Faithful, having duly purchased their candles, then, throw them onto the fire.

Lighting a candle in Fatima can be a risky business!

At  first glance this appeared somewhat paganistic to me. I am used to lighting a candle, placing it carefully on a rack and then offering up a few prayers.

Having discussed this with several people the view was aired that the candle burning was done as a means of replicating the vision of Hell seen by Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco.

That certainly adds some rationality to the custom but I am still left with a feeling that this is a somewhat bizarre practice.

Admittedly, there are racks where, in a quiet period, you may light a candle and display it in the normal fashion. But the heat from below soon contorts the wax into grotesque shapes.

Perhaps, in time, the Shrine authorities will extend the area more along the lines of Lourdes so that a lit candle may remain for a period, giving witness to the prayers and requests of the one who lit it.


  1. Cool! would seem a singularly inept comment

  2. It was entertaining to see the 'limbs' and 'body parts' of wax for sale nearby and in many shops, the bins of boobs had me in fits of laughter.
    Got a few pictures to prove to my friends that we are an open minded lot really.
    I didn't light in the inferno as,like you,it struck me a bit strange but the churches got my candles instead.
    They reckoned, in October we had 1/4 of a million turn up for the 95th anniversary of miracle of the sun. Did you have an even bigger crowd do you think Richard?

  3. Mike, it certainly was not cool :)

    Momangelica, it took us a little time to work out the body parts thing. I just do not know how many were there on the 13th. I have not seen any official figures but it can't have been much short of 250k.
    Fr L sends his regards.