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Devoted Pilgrims Gather In Portugal’s Fatima To Seek Peace Amidst Ongoing Conflicts

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Amidst the ongoing conflicts in regions like Ukraine and Gaza, a multitude of faithful gathered on Sunday at Portugal’s Fatima shrine, a renowned sanctuary within Catholicism, to fervently pray for peace.

Representing a diverse array of nations including India, Canada, Brazil, and Ivory Coast, pilgrims convened for the annual event, commemorating the initial of three reported apparitions of the Virgin Mary, also known as Our Lady, more than a century ago.

Maria do Carmo, aged 67, voiced the sentiment shared by many, emphasizing the futility of war while awaiting the commencement of the candlelight procession, a poignant moment of the evening’s proceedings. “We are also here to ask Our Lady to put an end to wars,” she affirmed.

The Roman Catholic Church asserts that in 1917, the Virgin Mary appeared to three young Portuguese shepherds in the impoverished village of Fatima, imparting upon them three messages, often referred to as the secrets of Fatima. Pope Francis canonized two of these shepherd children in 2017.

For Jim Grimes, a 68-year-old visitor from the United States, his pilgrimage to the Fatima shrine marked a significant first, prompting contemplation on the ongoing conflicts plaguing the world.

The toll of the Israel-Gaza conflict is staggering, with over 35,000 casualties reported in Gaza alone, as confirmed by local health authorities. Israeli tallies document approximately 1,200 fatalities and 253 individuals taken captive during Hamas’s initial attack on October 7, which sparked the conflict. The resulting Israeli bombardment has inflicted widespread devastation on the coastal enclave, exacerbating an already dire humanitarian crisis.

In a gesture of solidarity, some pilgrims displayed Ukrainian flags, denoting support for the nation amidst Russia’s invasion in February 2022, which has resulted in widespread casualties and displacement.

“Nobody likes wars…but the fact is that they happen,” said pilgrim David Garcia, 42, as he sat next to his wife and two children. “We must be united because the world needs our prayer.”

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