FAITH AND DEVOTION
This series of images is focused on the Catholic pilgrimage site of Fatima, Portugal. On the 12-13th of each month, the small town swells with religious believers, who come to celebrate the miraculous appearance 100 years ago of the Virgin Mary. Pilgrims converge on the main plaza, all seeking to renew their faith or to receive healing from the spirit of the Virgin. The contemporary reality of Fatima is a paradoxical mix of commercialistic kitsch and deeply devout belief. The faithful stream to the site throughout the day and evening, many approaching the basilica on their knees as an act of penance and self-flagellation. Others carry wax figurines, representing a variety of body parts. These are thrown into fire pits, which is said to bring divine relief from physical ailments. Prayers in a multitude of languages blast from loudspeakers, their cadence familiar to my ears, even if the words are foreign. A candlelight vigil continues throughout the night. Raised as a Catholic, but being lapsed as an adult, the location and proceedings at Fatima triggered many personal memories of my religious upbringing. Being surrounded by throngs of the faithful allowed me a voyeuristic observance of a belief system that I no longer take part in but still find intriguing.