Ria Formosa turns out in style to give thanks to the Blessed Virgin

In a crowd that shows the unity of islanders under threat, 500 people converged on Hangares nucleus of Culatra island last night to celebrate the apparition of the Virgin Mary at Fátima on May 13, 1917. Nearly a century on, this year’s celebration for the islanders was doubly poignant as it marked the day government bulldozers were due to flatten their homes. Legal bids to throw out the plan are underway, along with a concerted campaign that now sees the prime minister of Portugal going to bed in a “Je Suis Ilhéu” solidarity t-shirt.

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