The Latest: Half-million witness pope's adding 2 new saints
Posted May 13
FATIMA, Portugal — The Latest on Pope Francis at Fatima (all times local):
The Vatican says a half-million people attended Pope Francis' open-air Mass in Fatima to make two shepherd children saints, 100 years after they said the Virgin Mary appeared to them in the Portuguese town.
Among those in the shrine's vast square was Brazilian boy Lucas Baptista who in 2013 suffered severe head trauma he was not expected to survive. His medically inexplicable healing was the "miracle" needed for the siblings Francisco and Jacinta Marto to be canonized.
Lucas and the pope embraced during the Mass.
The pope is leaving Saturday after a visit of less than 24 hours. He is due to attend a farewell ceremony at a nearby military air base where his plane is waiting.
Pope Francis has added two Portuguese shepherd children to the roster of Catholic saints, honoring young siblings whose visions of the Virgin Mary 100 years ago turned the sleepy Portuguese farm town of Fatima into one of the world's most important Catholic shrines.
Francis proclaimed Francisco and Jacinta Marto saints at the start of Mass on Saturday marking the centenary of their visions. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims were on hand, many of whom had spent days at Fatima in quiet prayer, reciting rosaries before a statue of the Madonna. They clapped in admiration after the pope recited the rite declaring the Martos saints.
The siblings and their cousin, Lucia, reported that on March 13, 1917, the Virgin Mary appeared to them while they grazed their sheep. They said she confided in them three secrets — foretelling apocalyptic visions of hell, war, communism and the death of a pope — and urged them to pray for peace and a conversion away from sin.
Pope Francis has prayed at the tombs of two Portuguese shepherd children he is going to make saints at the Catholic shrine in Fatima, one of the world's foremost pilgrimage sites.
The pontiff paused and prayed silently in the basilica overlooking the shrine's vast square, where a huge crowd is gathered.
Outside, huge banners images of siblings Francisco and Jacinta Marto, 11 meters (36 feet) long, are draped on the sides of the basilica. Francis will canonize those children, who said the Virgin Mary appeared to them in visions 100 years ago, at a Mass in Fatima on Saturday morning. The pair died in 1919.
Before the ceremony, a statue of the Virgin Mary was paraded around the square in bright sunshine as people threw petals at it.
Officials expect around 1 million people to attend the ceremony.
Pope Francis is meeting privately with Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa at the start of the second day of his visit to the Fatima shrine in Portugal.
The high point of the pontiff's visit Saturday is the canonization Mass for two Fatima shepherd children who reported visions of the Virgin Mary 100 years ago.
Francisco and Jacinta Marto, siblings aged 7 and 9 respectively, died two years after the 1917 apparitions in the Spanish flu pandemic.
The visions drew huge popular interest, bolstering the persecuted Catholic Church in Portugal.
At the shrine, pilgrims were reciting the rosary or praying quietly as they await the pope's arrival and the Mass. Despite forecasts of rain, the sun is blazing.
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. Some people wrapped themselves in foil and blankets to guard against the chill.