One of the largest churches in the world was dedicated on Sunday in Fatima, Portugal one of the most popular Marian pilgrimage sites in the world.
The Church of the Holy Trinity, built to accommodate the estimated 5 million annual pilgrims to Fatima, can hold nearly 9,000 people. Its interior measures 130,000 square feet, containing five chapels, fifty confessionals, and a cafe. It will be decorated with an enormous mural of the New Jerusalem, and the walls will bear passages from the Bible in twenty-three languages.
Pope Benedict XVI delivered a live televised message to congregants on Sunday, the 90th anniversary of the final apparition of the Virgin Mary.
The Blessed Mother appeared to three shepherd children over a six-month period in 1917. She counseled prayers for those in danger of hell and for the conversion of Russia. She also conveyed a vision that some interpret to have prophesied the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II, who himself credited Our Lady of Fatima with saving his life.
Two of the children, Francisco Marto and his sister Jacinta, have been beatified. The third visionary, Lucia, became a nun and died two years ago.
The new church’s low-slung profile complements the existing basilica by not overshadowing the older structure.