The consecration will be presided over by Cardinal Baltazar Porras and, in addition to local religious authorities, the participation of several Venezuelan politicians is expected, as well as the Secretary of State for Portuguese Communities, Paulo Cafôfo, and the President of the Government of the Autonomous Region of Madeira, Miguel Albuquerque.
“We started building the church 14 years ago and are now putting the finishing touches to the consecration on October 13th. There will still be work to be done in the surrounding area, but we will want to consecrate the church so that people can attend and that there are as many Catholics as possible”, explained the secretary of administration of the Civil Association Amigos de Nossa Senhora de Fátima.
Agostinho Gonçalves explained that the construction of time is a tribute to Our Lady of Fátima, because “the Virgin Mary, the Virgin of Fátima, manifested herself here”.
“She wanted this church to be built, I say this because of the way we have been building it because the land and all the material was donated. The people who approached us donated everything. We started the works without a budget, all with donations”, she stressed.
Agostinho Gonçalves explained that the construction of the sanctuary was an idea of Father José António da Conceição, to whom the Virgin manifested herself in 2006, while celebrating in Fátima.
“He asked Our Lady that he wanted to build a church in her honor, in Los Altos Mirandinos (Carrizal). In 2007, he spoke with the then mayor of the area, José Luís Rodríguez, who is of Portuguese descent and to whom he asked for help to obtain land,” he said.
Gonçalves explained that there was already an authorized project for the construction of a shopping center, but the owners chose to donate the land to build the sanctuary.
“That is why I say that there is a manifestation of the Virgin Mary here”, he underlined.
The idea, he said, seeks to promote the Catholic religion locally, also creating “a little piece of Portugal in Venezuela, where Portuguese traditions, gastronomy, the teaching of the Portuguese language and folklore prevail”.
According to Agostinho Gonçalves, the construction of the sanctuary was an initiative of the local Portuguese community, which was joined by immigrants from other nationalities, namely Lebanese, Italians and Venezuelans.
“The architect’s project was donated by a Lebanese businessman. The 1,400 meters of marble flooring was also donated by a Lebanese, as well as the 114 square meters of stained glass in the back, which cost US$17,500.” [valor semelhante em euros]he explained.
The highlight goes also to the Italian community that has donated food to the camps that raise funds,
Regarding the work, he stated that there are 22,000 square meters of construction and that 19.5 million dollars have been invested so far. However, there are still three million dollars left to complete all the works, enable the Portuguese classrooms, for multiple use and a spiritual retreat house.
The catechetical halls and the lighting of the four parking floors are still to be completed.