Cultural international diplomacy, so to speak, has reached the small town of Russells Point. Mayor Robin Reames is visiting the central Portuguese town of Fátima.
Fátima, Portugal is home to the Sanctuary of Fátima, a Catholic pilgrimage site. Reames provided details of her Nov. 14-30 trip at a recent council meeting.
The George B Quatman Foundation is sponsoring the trip. Quatman built the Our Lady of Fátima shrine in Russell’s Point in 1964. The statue overlooks the lake from St. Mary’s Point on the shores of Indian Lake in Russells Point.
Establishing a cultural sister city relationship with the town of Fátima is the main purpose of Mayor Reames’ trip.
While in Portugal, Reames and her husband are attending a three-day seminar sponsored by the International Congress of Religious Tourism and Pilgrimage.
Reames is attempting to get Russells Point and the Our Lady of Fátima Shrine at Indian Lake identified as a place to visit on the worldwide religious pilgrimage tourism list of sites. Reames believes this could attract religious tourism to Indian Lake and be yet another reason for people to visit the area.
At a previous meeting the council passed a memorandum granting Reames approval to pursue this opportunity.
The Our Lady of Fátima Monument is a very popular site for locals and tourists visiting Indiana Lake. It is also known to many as ” Our Lady of the Lake.”
The statue can be seen standing atop the Sandy Beach Bridge or from the Indian Lake Yacht Cub parking lot or by boat at St Mary’s Point on the lake.
According to the Indian Lake Area Historical Society, the history of the statue is as follows. In 1957, George B. Quatman purchased the west side of the Sandy Beach Amusement Park and the remainder on the east side in 1962, and it became collectively known as the “San Juan Amusement Park.” Mr Quatman named the park after the apostle St. John, the protector of the Virgin Mary.
Mr. Quatman’s devotion to the Virgin Mary inspired him to build what was the world’s largest statue of the Blessed Virgin at the time. The 19’6” statue is a shrine to apparitions of the Virgin Mary which occurred in Fátima, Portugal, six times from May to October 1917.
Originally a colored water display graced the base of the monument and 7 1/2 minutes of music played in 15 minute intervals. The statue also rotated 360 degrees.
Park visitors at the time could get a closer look at the statue by catching a ride on the miniature passenger train that circled the park and grounds.
Ron Brohm is a regular contributor to this newspaper.