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Our Lady of Fatima Shrine opens doors to pilgrims

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Rays of sun shone through the domed basilica with its contour of the Northern Hemisphere of the globe that makes up the ceiling of Niagara County’s iconic Fatima Shrine as Father Peter Calabrese, provincial vicar for the Barnabite Fathers USA, opened its doors on Saturday, June 13, for a Mass that signaled the beginning of a return of public worship.

Parishioners wore face masks and took their places in the pews at a safe distance from each other, following Diocese of Buffalo and New York state recommendations for public prayer. Attendees at the later afternoon Mass relished the opportunity to once again open their hearts in communal prayer and to receive the Holy Sacrament of Communion.

Father Calabrese, who in a statement a month earlier on the anniversary of the Marian apparitions of May 13, 1917, in Fatima, Portugal, said, “We are sad we cannot have a beautiful anniversary celebration today, but you are in our prayers. The basilica is open for private prayer. If you come to visit and pray use a mask or face covering when in the basilica and respect social distancing for the safety of any pilgrims who do come. Mary said, ‘My Immaculate Heart will triumph.’”

Visibly joyful, Father Calabrese welcomed parishioners back to worship in the house of God and spoke of Jesus who when asked which of all the commandments was the greatest, replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.”

Since 1954, Our Lady of Fatima Shrine has become a place of natural beauty, art, communal prayer and renewal to thousands who visit the unique buildings and grounds each year. Located in the beautiful Lower Niagara River Region of Western New York, the shrine has become a place of renewal to thousands who visit the unique buildings and grounds each year. The magnificence and natural beauty of the shrine is highlighted by an awe-inspiring domed basilica covered with two layers of glass and Plexiglas, designed with an image of the Northern Hemisphere.

The impressive approach to the basilica is down the Avenue of the Saints, where over 130 life-size marble and bronze statues represent saints from every race and walk of life. A Rosary Pool sits in front of the basilica.

Two flights of stairs, with 63 steps, lead to the top of the dome, where, in graceful majesty, stands a huge statue of Our Lady of Fatima. The statue, carved from Vermont granite, is 13 feet high and weighs 10 tons. From the top of the dome, visitors can view the entire shrine grounds and surrounding countryside.

The Fatima Shrine has returned to their regular Mass schedule: Monday-Saturday: 11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.,Sundays: 9 a.m., 12 noon, and 5 p.m.

The cafeteria will be open Fridays only for fish fry takeout; 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The Office and Gift Shop will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The July healing Masses scheduled for July 4-5 have been cancelled.

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