At the ecclesiastical level, the city of Fátima is simultaneously the seat of the diocese with the city of Leiria. The name of the then-renamed Diocese of Leiria-Fátima was assigned by Pope John Paul II on May 13, 1984. The only existing parish in the city has as its patron Our Lady of Prazeres. The parish of Serra, as it was originally known, had been separated from the Colegiada de Ourém in 1568.
Due to the Sanctuary of Nossa Senhora de Fátima, the city has become one of the most important international destinations for religious tourism, receiving about six million people a year.
The name of the city comes from the Arabic name Fátima (Fāţimah, Arabic: فاطمة). There is an unconfirmed legend that the toponym derives from a local Moorish princess named Fatima who, after being captured by the Christian army during the Reconquest, was given in marriage to a count of Ourém. Accepting the Christian religion, she was baptized by the name of Oriana in 1158. To the mountainous lands, the count gave the name of Terras de Fátima, in memory of his ancestors, and to the county the name of Oriana, later called Ourém.
The story of Fátima is, above all, associated with three children (known as “Os Três Pastorinhos”): Lúcia dos Santos and her cousins, Francisco and Jacinta Marto, who, on May 13, 1917, while they were grazing their sheep in Cova da Iria, witnessed the appearance of a beautiful lady dressed in white. Cova da Iria is where Capelinha das Aparições is currently located. The Lady, later referred to as the Lady of the Rosary, appeared to have been sent by God with a message: an appeal to prayer, sacrifice and penance. She visited the little shepherds, appearing to them every day between the months of May and October 1917. The last apparition took place on October 13, and about 70 000 pilgrims witnessed and attended the so-called Miracle of the Sun. The Virgin Mary, in Fatima, he brought a message that consisted of the call to constant prayer and asked the little shepherds to announce to everyone the need to say the Rosary every day, for the conversion of sinners, for the conversion of Russia and for the Pope. Our Lady also revealed to them the so-called “Secret of Fatima”, which was divided into three parts: the vision of hell where sinners fell due to their lack of faith, the announcement of the beginning of a new world war (confirmed the World War II), and the third part of the secret was written by the visionary Sister Lúcia in 1944. Finally, on May 13, 2000, during her visit to Portugal, Pope John Paul II, through the Vatican Secretary of State , Cardinal Angelo Sodano, released part of the content of the third part of the Secret.
Loca do Cabeço (or Loca do Anjo de Portugal) at the site of her apparition, three shepherds, in Valinhos (Fátima). Lucia became a monastic cloistered nun of the Order of the Descended Carmelites and had received three visits as a child. angel together with cousins. Between April and October 1916, the so-called Anjo de Portugal (or Angel of Peace) invited them to pray and called for penance. The angel visited them twice at Loca do Cabeço (in the place of Valinhos) and once at the foot of the well in the garden of Lúcia’s parents’ house. Jacinta died in 1919, at the Dona Estefânia Hospital, in Lisbon, and Francisco Marto died in 1920, at home, due to pneumonia (between 1918-1920). They were later beatified, on May 13, 2000 by Pope John Paul II. In the case of Lúcia, she lived until 2005, having died in Carmelo de Coimbra.
To mark the site of the apparitions, a wooden arch with a cross was built at Cova da Iria. The religious (both friars, nuns and laity) began to travel on pilgrimage to the site of the apparitions. On August 6, 1918, with donations from pilgrims, a small chapel was built, built with stones, limestone and clay, only 3.3 meters long by 2.8 meters wide and 2.85 meters high . Cova da Iria quickly became an important center for Marian worship.
The construction of the current Sanctuary of Nossa Senhora de Fátima, as well as the installation of monasteries and convents of different Catholic religious orders and congregations, brought a great development to the parish of Fátima and to the entire surrounding region. Fátima was elevated from village to city category on July 12, 1997. Currently, there are thousands of annual pilgrimages, coming from various regions of Portugal and abroad, which stimulate the economic sector