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Pope canonizes 2 children who claimed to see Virgin of Fatima

Pope canonizes 2 children who claimed to see Virgin of Fatima

That's a message that Vatican has been trying to connect to the Fatima apparitions for years in an effort to shift attention away from the more sensational claims and interpretations.

At first doubted by the local Catholic Church and even by their parents, the children's story gained believers and was eventually accepted as an authentic apparition by the church in 1930.

Two women set flowers by a statue of Jacinta and Francisco Marto at the Fatima Sanctuary on Thursday, just ahead of Pope Francis's visit to the Portuguese town. Francisco and Jacinta Marto died of influenza two years later, and will be declared saints by the pope Saturday, the 100th anniversary of the initial vision.

The candlelight night-time Mass is traditionally popular with pilgrims.

Many people had spent the night camped out along the barricades in the shrine's vast square, which were draped in Fatima banners and scarves.

The Virgin "did not appear to the rich, did not appear to the powerful, did not appear to the influential people, but appeared to children, the ones considered as 'the last of society, to use Pope's terminology as society's 'discarded, '" Parolin said, according to La Stampa.

Pope Francis is urging Catholics to "tear down all walls" and go to the peripheries to spread peace and justice.

Their visions marked one of the most important events in 20th century Catholicism and have become known as the "Three Secrets of Fatima". The siblings are believed to have seen the Madonna 100 years ago in a Portuguese town that is now a major pilgrimage site, Reuters reported.

"We are going to pray to Fatima and Pope Francis so that they can intervene for a peaceful solution for Venezuela", said Jose Ornelas, a 59-year-old librarian who came all the way from Caracas, which along with other cities has been wracked by deadly anti-regime protests.

He spoke after spending several minutes in silent prayer before the statue of the Madonna at the chapel built in Fatima at the site of the apparitions.




Francis arrived at the vigil in a Popemobile but stepped out of it to greet the crowds gathered for the service. They said she urged them to "pray, pray, pray" for world peace. The pontiff will canonize on Saturday two poor, ill. He is due to attend a farewell ceremony at a nearby military air base where his plane is waiting. "And all those people praying with him?"

In her message to the children, Mary brought with her requests for conversion, prayer (particularly the recitation of the rosary), sacrifices on behalf of sinners, and a three-part secret regarding the fate of the world.

A small group of schoolchildren serenaded Francis on the tarmac.

Fatima is famous for being the place where three Portuguese shepherd children said the Virgin Mary appeared to them in 1917.

"It is a big emotion because it is the first time he comes here, and we are always hopeful that something can improve", said Laurindo Pereira, a 55-year-old carpenter.

"May she, the loving and solicitous Mother of the needy, obtain for them the Lord's blessing!" Many toss wax body parts - hands, hearts, livers and limbs - into a giant fire pit at the shrine as an offering.

The Virgin of Fatima is venerated by Catholics around the world, a following underscored by the many national flags fluttering in the huge crowd, estimated at more than half a million people.

The proclamation was made in front of hundreds of thousands of pilgrims who clapped at the announcement of the children's canonization. The Church says the first vision came on 13 May 1917.

Francis is on the second and final day of his trip to Fatima, about 130 kilometres north of Lisbon.


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