Every Ascension Thursday, nearly 20,000 faithful, most of them from the Portuguese immigrant community, take part in the pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady of Fatima above Wiltz, in the northern part of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.
The sanctuary was set up in 1951 by a group of Wiltz parishioners, who, having taken refuge in a cave during the Battle of the Ardennes in the winter of 1944-45, promised to erect a sanctuary after the war if they survived unharmed.
The sanctuary was erected in honour of Fatima, whose statue had been carried all across Europe to revive believers’ strength; it was officially inaugurated on 13 July 1952.
But it was not until 16 years later, in 1968, that the first official pilgrimage was made by about a hundred people, almost exclusively from the Portuguese community who had migrated to Luxembourg in the 1960s.
Today, the majority of pilgrims are still part of the Portuguese immigrant community, but the event is becoming more and more inter-cultural.
Besides the religious aspect, which remains the most important, the pilgrimage to Fatima’s shrine has become a really popular festival, an opportunity to meet family and friends.
The Fatima celebration remains one of the most important religious pilgrimages in the Grand Duchy.