It may have been a coincidence or a moment of singular grace, but few could fail to remark on the significance that Portugal’s win in the Eurovision Song Contest at the weekend – the first in that country’s 49 attempts – came on the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima.
As Salvador Sobral took to the stage in the final on May 13, Pope Francis was visiting the Marian shrine at Fatima to mark the centenary of when three shepherd children first reported sightings of the Mother of God.
And it wasn’t just that the date was significant. Pope Francis was in Fatima to canonise two of the visionaries: sister and brother Jacinta and Francisco Marto – arguably the most famous siblings in Portugal.
Mr Sobral won the Eurovision performing a jazz-style ballad written by his sister Luisa before an expected global audience of over 200 million people.
While Mary has always had a special place in the lives of Portuguese Catholics, this culminated in 1646 when King John IV declared Our Lady to be the patron protectress of Portugal and laid the crown normally worn by the queen at the feet of a statue of the Virgin.
From that day, no queen of Portugal ever wore a crown out of deference to Our Lady, often referred to as the Heavenly Queen.