Cova da Iria ("Irene's Cove") was a field belonging to the family of Lúcia Santos in Fatima, Portugal. Lucia was one the three visionary children who, according to Roman Catholic Church, received several visitations and messages by the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God. The Children used to frequently pasture their sheep on this land, and it was on May 13, 1917, around noon, that Our Lady of Fatima appeared to the three of them. The story goes that suddenly there was lightning, and the children, Lúcia Santos and Jacinta and Francisco Marto, thinking that it was going to rain, began to run. Then, just above an oak tree, they saw a beautiful lady made of light, holding a rosary in her hand. Our Lady of Fatima spoke to the children and told them not to be afraid. "I come from Heaven", she said.
At Cova da Iria, on a huge esplanade, a little chapel was built, in the place the apparitions took place. In October 1930, Dom José Alves Correia da Silva, Bishop of Leiria, gave his seal of approval to the visions of Our Lady of Fatima, writing in a pastoral letter "The visions of the children in the Cova da Iria are worthy of belief."
Since the Holy See officially approved the Fatima apparitions and the messages given to the three shepherd children, the place has become an important center of pilgrimage to which people from all over the world travel in a spirit of faith and penance. The chapel has been expanded and is now much larger.