Fatima and the House of Leitão

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Crown in gold and precious stones. Leitão & Irmão, 1942

In 1917, from May to October, three little shepherds – Lúcia, Francisco and Jacinta – saw “a lady who shone brighter than the sun”. Since this time, driven by the Catholic faith, Fátima’s message has spread around the world. The pilgrim image of Our Lady of Fátima has travelled across the five continents.

In 1941, a group of Portuguese started a movement which culminated in a national crusade to manufacture a queen’s crown for Our Lady of Fátima. Jewellery was requested instead of money to complete the crown directly with each person’s donations.

The Leitão house received the thousands of pieces donated by a multitude of people, and used this gold, silver and these precious stones to make Our Lady’s Crown at no charge in 1942, called the most noteworthy piece of Portuguese jewellery of the 20th century, and also the best known in the whole world.

Twelve jewellers/goldsmiths worked on the crown for three months. 2,992 precious stones were embedded following a design created by the Leitão house, featuring eight golden half-arches, the heraldic symbol of a queen’s crown.

The official coronation was held on 13th May 1946, in Fátima, by the Papal Legate.

On 13th May 1981, after an assassination attempt in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, Pope John Paul II claimed that he was saved by Our Lady of Fátima. In acknowledgement, in Rome in 1984, the Pope gave the bullet that hit him to the Bishop of Leiria. Curiously, when the Crown was originally manufactured in 1942, where the eight half-arches come together, there is a gap that fits the bullet’s calibre, where the bullet was placed in 1989.

 

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