Fatima's Growth to Bring New Legal Status

LISBON, Portugal, JULY 6, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The Portuguese Parliament unanimously approved the establishment of the municipality of Fatima.

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The locality last week received its new administrative status 86 years after the first apparition of the Virgin Mary to the three little shepherds, in 1917, in what was then an obscure place called Cova da Iria.

As of next Jan. 1, Fatima will be autonomous from the municipality of Ourem, to which it now belongs.

The measure takes account of the extraordinary growth that the shrine has promoted over the past 30 years, enlarging the locality to 10,000 inhabitants from 6,000, with a capacity to accommodate 20,000 pilgrims. In fact, Fatima is now larger than Ourem.

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