Portugal’s Largest Church:
If you haven’t been to the Shrine of Our Lady of Fátima in Fátima in recent years, you’ll be surprised at the new Church of the Most Holy Trinity. Consecrated on October 12, 2007, on the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the apparitions of Fátima, this is now Portugal’s biggest church and possibly the fourth largest Catholic church in the world.
The first thing that strikes you about the Church of the Most Holy Trinity is its modern look and this immediately draws different reactions from visitors. Traditionalists and people who prefer the rich, ornate architectural styles may have problem liking this modern design.
The church was constructed between 2004 and 2007 at a cost of 80 million euros, entirely funded from donations from pilgrims. An international competition was held for the design of the church and Alexandros Tombazis’s design was chosen. He is from Greece and a Greek Orthodox by faith and some of design is inspired in Byzantine and Orthodox art.
Fatima Church Design
Alexandros Tombazis’s designed fitted with the church’s general specifications which required the new church to have 9,000 new seats, an altar that can handle many priests at one time for large mass celebrations, a new and larger confession area and it must have dressing rooms for hundreds of priests. It also requires many new bathrooms, conference rooms, a vault, garages for deliveries and maintenance, and must fit into the overall Fatima Shrine complex with some uniformity.
The Church of the Holy Trinity is located to the south-west of the existing Basilica in the area that once was a tunnel going under the back road. The iconographic works for the church were carried out by internationally renowned artists from several countries, including Portugal, Ireland, Canada, Slovenia, Poland and Germany.
There were all kinds of opinions and reactions about the new church when it was built. Many of it’s opponents complained of its huge cost, its location, the modern design, and even if a new church is required at all.
Undoubtedly, the Basilica of Fatima is now too small for the number of people who wish to attend mass here. It holds 900 people seated but at most Sunday masses there are more than 1,500 people in attendance, with many having to hear the mass from speakers outside. Because of its high ceiling, heating the Basilica of Fatima in winter is difficult and unless you are lucky to stand next to the heaters, it is freezing inside.