Over the weekend, from Saturday 29 to Sunday 30 August, pilgrims on the Italian Way and Holy Land pre–World Youth Day pilgrimages converged on Fatima, visiting the shrine commemorating Our Lady’s apparition to three young Portuguese children in the early 20th century.

Pilgrims in the ‘Direct to Lisbon’ group were able to explore the main town and attended Mass in the main square, celebrated by Cardinal Sean O’Malley of the Archdiocese of Boston. Later in the day, the pilgrims gathered for a private Mass at the Chapel of the Death of Jesus at the Shrine of Fatima, where Bishop Anthony (Tony) Ireland unpacked the significance of the Sunday gospel.

Reflecting on the parable of the merchant looking for the pearl of great price (Matthew 13:44–52), Bishop Ireland said, ‘On the lips of Jesus, we find the kingdom of God is the merchant looking, and when he finds one of value, he gives up everything for it. So if God is the merchant looking for fine pearls, what are the fine pearls? … Who are the fine pearls? And the answer is: you.’

Perhaps you’ve not thought of yourself as a fine pearl that is worth spending everything God owns on … That’s exactly what he has done. And you are worth it.

On Sunday evening, pilgrims took part in the evening candlelit procession that takes place every night in Fatima after a 10pm Rosary, starting at the Chapel of Apparitions and processing through the main square. Four pilgrims from Melbourne helped to carry the statue of Our Lady through the crowds.

All of Melbourne’s pre-pilgrimage groups are now starting to make their way to Lisbon, where they will join scores of young Catholics from around the world for the 16th international World Youth Day.

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