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Located in west central Portugal, in the region of Leiria and approximately 110 kilometers north of Lisbon, the small town of Fatima is one of the most visited Marian shrines in the world today. But unlike many of Europe's great Marian pilgrimage sites, the sanctity of Fatima dates not from the Middle Ages but only from early in the 20th century. Fatima was then a small rural village in a rocky region whose main product was olive oil. There are no historical or legendary accounts of the village or surrounding area having any religious importance in earlier times. In the years 1916 and 1917 a series of apparitions were seen by three young children that were to profoundly alter both their own lives and the atmosphere of the peasant village.
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