Fatima, one century after the apparitions: pilgrimage, gender and lived religion

Principal researcher: Anna Fedele

Research group: Circulation and Place-Making


Anthropology of religion | Pilgrimage studies | Global Catholicism | Religious criticism

Funding Institution

Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia



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How do Portuguese and international pilgrims appropriate, adapt or challenge the different types of Catholic discourses and practices promoted by the local and international clergy at Fatima? Even if the field of pilgrimage studies is in constant expansion and Fatima represents one of the most important pilgrimage sites in the world, social scientists have produced no extensive studies about Fatima. This project proposes a detailed study of pilgrimages to Fatima from an anthropological perspective, drawing also upon existing studies in social history, political sciences and religious studies. We will analyze the discourses and ritual practices of Portuguese and international pilgrims without neglecting non-Catholic pilgrims to Fatima. Taking advantage of the upcoming centenary celebrations of the apparitions in 2017, we will join Catholic pilgrims from different European, Lusophone African and Latin American countries to gather comparative data about their experiences. With this research and also through an exploratory project we aim to answer these research questions: 1) Pilgrimage: what can we learn at Fatima about contemporary transformations of pilgrimage? What kind of creative rituals do the pilgrims perform? How can we distinguish tourists from pilgrims and is this distinction useful? 2) Religion and corporeality: do women and men approach Fatima in a different way? Are requests for healing as central as at other Marian shrines? How is healing experienced in Fatima 3) Global Catholicism: What role does Fatima's cult play for Portuguese emigrants abroad, for pilgrims of former Portuguese colonies and for Brazilians in particular? How do non-Catholic pilgrims experience Fatima?