The 39th assistance programme for pilgrims travelling to the Sanctuary of Fatima ended on 12 May last. This year, the Order of Malta’s Portuguese Association and its 200 volunteers helped 4,325 people over ten working days. First-aid posts were set up on the main roads to the Sanctuary starting from 200 kilometres north and south of Fatima. Healthcare, psychological and spiritual support, a meal and a tent to rest in were offered free of charge to the thousands of pilgrims who every year walk to Fatima for the celebrations on 13 May, the anniversary of the first appearance in 1917. The cooperation with the Portuguese army has this time enabled a bed and a tent to be offered to some 1,300 pilgrims along the way. At the end of the service, the Order of Malta’s volunteers participated in and contributed to the organisation of the celebrations, attended by tens of thousands of faithful also this year.
The preparation for the assistance programme, including first-aid training for new volunteers, started seven months earlier.
Next year, the 40th anniversary will be celebrated of this special assistance to pilgrims, in the tradition of the services the Order provided in the Holy Land some 900 years ago.