PAPAL PILGRIMAGE TO FATIMA FOR BEATIFICATIONS
VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- Pope John Paul II traveled to the famed Fatima shrine in
Portugal on May 12-13, to preside at the beatification of Francesco and Jacinta Marto, two of
the three children to whom the Virgin Mary appeared there in 1917.
During his trip, the Pope made newspaper headlines all over the world by disclosing the content
of the "third secret" of Fatima: a vision which essentially predicted the attempt on the Pope's life
that occurred on Mary 13, 1981-- the feast of Our Lady of Fatima. (For more details on that
announcement, see the special CWNews.com Feature story of May 13.)
The Pope was welcomed at the airport in Lisbon by Portuguese President Jorge Sampaio, and
by a large delegation of young children dressed in white. After his helicopter ride to Fatima, he
was greeted there by tens of thousands of pilgrims who had come to the shrine for the feast and
the beatification ceremonies.
When the Popemobile arrived at the Fatima shrine itself, the crowd cheered enthusiastically, and
the cheering stopped only when the Holy Father knelt before the statue of the Virgin Mary.
After a few minutes of silent prayer, the Pope saluted the crowd, saying: "It is a great joy for me
to come to this blessed place." The Pope did not participate in the candlelight procession to the
shrine, which is an annual tradition on the eve of the feast. But after an evening's rest, he returned
to the shrine for the beatification ceremonies on the morning of May 13.
"The message of Fatima is an appeal to conversion," the Pope said in his homily. "In her
motherly solicitude, the Blessed Virgin came here, to Fatima, to ask men not to offend God any
more. It was a mother's sorrow that obliged her to speak." The Pope told the massive
congregation-- estimated at 600,000-- that the feast of Bl. Francesco and Jacinta Marto would
be observed on February 20, the day when Jacinta died in 1920. He also reminded the
congregation of the "intense spirituality" of the young seers, and the fervent prayer which led to
their "true mystical union with the Lord."
Just prior to the beatification ceremony, the Pope prayed at the graves of the two Fatima seers.
He also met with privately with the third seer, Sister Lucia, who is now a 93-year-old Carmelite
nun. Sister Lucia was also present for the beatification, along with the superior of the convent
where she lives in Coimbra, Portugal.