Our Monastery opened its doors in Fatima on June 16, 1954, the Marian year, declared by Pope Pius XII to commemorate the centenary of the definition of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary.
Some years previously in 1910, a religious persecution had begun in Portugal, which ultimately led to all religious being expelled from the country. The Dominican Order became almost extinct in Portugal. In the years following WW II, the Master of the Order desired to restore the Order in Portugal, whose presence had been established in 1217 by the first Friars Preachers sent by St. Dominic himself.
Fr. Pius Marie Gaudrault, OP from the French-speaking Canadian Province was assigned the work of restoring the Province here. For this he desired the presence of the Nuns, trusting that through their prayers and sacrifices, God’s blessings would be drawn down from heaven upon his work.
He invited Mother Mary Louis Bertrand, OP to open a monastery of the Perpetual Rosary in Fatima. Already she had made three other foundations in Syracuse (1925) Rome (1930) and Glasgow (1948). Thus, our Perpetual Rosary Monastery became a part of the restoration of the ancient Province of Portugal following religious persecution.
In planning this Fatima Foundaton, Mother Mary Louis Bertrand sought permission from His Holiness Pope Pius XII, to give his name to the Monastery. Known as the ‘Pope of Fatima’, Ven. Pope Pius XII had been ordained Bishop in Rome on May 13, 1917, precisely the day on which, the Virgin Mary descended from Heaven to the Cova da Iria, in Her first apparition to the Little Shepherds. The name “Monastery Pius XII” was chosen as an act of fidelity to the person and to the mission of the Holy Father.
In a letter sent by the Secretary of State of His Holiness Pope Pius XII to Fr. Filippo Caterini in 11 June 1954, it is underlined that the foundation of the Monastery constitutes “the most beautiful reply to the desires which the Mother of God deigned to express to the little seers Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta.”
In the same letter he wrote that “the echo of the Rosary, which day and night will resound in that blessed place, cannot fail to call down again, by Her Maternal intercession, the divine mercies and to cause to shine over the human family “the sun of a universal and sincere peace”.”
Years later, in 2004, on the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Monastery, the Dominican Master of the Order, Fr. Carlos Azpiroz Costa wrote: “You were founded with the specific aim to base your contemplative life on the mysteries of Christ, in perpetual union with Mary by means of the devotion to the Rosary. The efficacy of your life spent in seeking the presence of the Lord is beyond telling and it produces many apostolic and missionary graces for the world.”
From the beginning, our Community has been international. Today the community is formed by Sisters from three continents. Though there is a variety of native languages among the Sisters, English is the common language spoken in community. Yet, all are expected to study the Portuguese language and culture.
Here in Fatima, where Heaven touched earth a century ago, the Dominican Nuns of the Perpetual Rosary, realize in their vocation, a threefold calling to the Holy Rosary: first as members of the Order of Preachers; second, as Perpetual Rosary Nuns and third, because it was here in Fatima that Our Lady announced her title as Lady of the Rosary and called all of us insistently to pray the Rosary every day. One could say that our cloister is thrice enfolded by the mystical chain of the Rosary.
Called to live in Fatima, we try to help make known the Message of Our Lady by means of our annual publication Friends of Fatima; through correspondence and offering hospitality to pilgrims who may visit our monastery.