A caminho without pilgrims is just a line on a map. If you look closely, you'll find some common characteristics amongst almost all pilgrims: the tranquility in their eyes, their smile, their peace of mind, the way they deal with uncertainty, the search ... Our mission is to connect pilgrims with the line on the map.
"Everything that I have been has brought me here."
The Associação de Amigos dos Caminhos de Fátima was born out of a pilgrimage organised in 2006 by a young priest from the Merceana Pastoral Unit, with a group of young people that were preparing for their Confirmation.
The young Father Rui Louro asked Rodrigo Cerqueira if he would help lead this caminho. Rodrigo accepted, but requested to take the group through fields (instead of on the national roads). After two months of preparation and countless challenges, the group embarked on their pilgrimage from Alenquer to the Sanctuary of Fátima during the Easter holidays, taking the Caminho do Tejo.
The experience of this pilgrimage was life changing for these young pilgrims. In an informal and voluntary way, some began to improve the signposting of the Caminhos do Tejo and Santiago, which was scarce and in need of attention.
In 2010 the group of volunteers that had taken care of the caminhos decided to go one step further and founded the Association of the Friends of the Caminhos de Fátima, in order to formalise their mission of creating, looking after and sharing information about the Caminhos of Fátima.
Following this came the emergence of new caminhos*: connecting Santiago through the Caminho do Norte, the Caminho Nascente (Tomar - Fátima) and the Caminho Poente (Nazaré - Fátima) and, in collaboration with other pilgrim volunteers, the Caminho Sudeste (Niza - Fátima)...
*We consider a new caminho to be a route that is fully marked from the beginning to the end.
"VIP= Valiant Irmão (Fellow) Pilgrim."
of the Association of Friends of the Caminhos de Fátima is rooted in “reciprocity”, and it is at the core of all that we do. We help other pilgrims walk their caminho, much like we were helped during our caminho, and run as a non-profit and non-political association.
In a society so heavily reliant on exchanges of money, helping others to walk their pilgrimage without expecting anything in return is almost utopian. Only those who have walked the caminho having been helped by strangers, asking themselves “why are you helping me?” will understand this mission.
The mission is not without its challenges; there is so much business involved in the pilgrimage experience; the Portuguese Tourism board lumps pilgrims and tourists together in the same category and erases the voluntary work that we do, yet despite this, we whole-heartedly believe that it’s worth practising this mutual support without asking for anything in return. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.
It is this mutual support that has, for centuries, inspired the “Pilgrim Spirit”, opening up new and unexpected paths, and offering more riches than any bank could hold, and that ultimately helps us to understand that in the end, we are all the same.
When it rains, we all get equally wet… This water of equality falling on your face that makes you feel even more alive, and pushes you to walk “higher and further” - Ultreia. You don’t have to wait until the end of your life to walk to heaven.
With a backpack on, the “Pilgrim Spirit” and the tranquility of the countryside, you’ll find that escaping your daily routine and finding a higher purpose in life is possible simply by starting to walk. As a pilgrim association, by helping other pilgrims walk the caminho, we complete the cycle of reciprocity.
The Association of Friends of the Caminhos de Fátima is a non-profit Christian association characterised by action. The Association's main activities are:
Signposting of pilgrimage routes through the countryside towards Fatima and Santiago.
Free and updated information on caminho routes.
Information on how to prepare for a pilgrimage.
Information about hostels and sleeping places.
Creating public hostels for pilgrims.
Supporting private hostels for pilgrims.
Telephone support for pilgrims.
Support in the organisation of parish pilgrimages.
Accreditation of pilgrims.
Assistance in returning items lost and found on the caminho.
Training Pilgrim Guides.
Raising awareness of the caminho paths at public conferences.
Collaboration with public institutions for promoting the safety of pilgrims.
Collaboration with other pilgrim associations.
"Take some of your life on the caminho and bring some of the caminho back to your life."
If you would like to support our pilgrim cause, you can become a member by filling out the form below, following the instructions provided. If you would like to support our cause, but do not wish to become a member, you can also simply make a donation. A warm thank you. (+ info)
Pope John Paul II
"Nobody is so poor he has nothing to give, and nobody is so rich he has nothing to receive"
In this library you'll find resources from all over the world, from several religions, spanning the course of several centuries, and in several formats, all related to the Caminho and to pilgrims. You'll find books, e-books, films, music, photography, painting, sculpture, architecture, stamps, canteens and flora. You'll be able to access some of this content fully, whilst other content is partial or for reference use. The resources are in several languages. The aim of this page and the resources offered is to show how the act of going on a pilgrimage means much more than just arriving at a Sanctuary.
This library will fit in your backpack, but a word of caution: once you enter it may take you a while to come back out again! Inside the library, you won't find any arrows marking the way out; only entry points. Each pilgrim must find their own way out.
All content in this library has copyright. The library is regularly updated. Disclaimer: the items in this library cannot be used without the permission of the persons responsible for the copyright of each piece.
(José Tolentino de Mendonça)
"It is certain that, in its process, awe shakes and hurts. But it is also the beginning of love, knowledge, poetry and sanctity."