Pope canonises Portugal’s Fatima child siblings

The pontiff will canonize on Saturday two poor, illite.

On the 100th anniversary of the first reported sighting, Pope Francis, accompanied by roughly 500,000 onlookers, canonized the Marto siblings.

Crowds of well-wishers in Portugal hoping to see Pope Francis have lined up along the barbed-wire fence surrounding the military air base where he landed.

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.

(L’Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP).

Before the Mass, Francis prayed at the tombs of each of the Fatima visionaries.

One hundred years ago, three Portuguese shepherd children said the Virgin Mary appeared to them in Fatima, and the pontiff is visiting the shrine on the centenary of the “visions”.

The Pope will leave Fatima soon after Saturday’s mass, ending a 24-hour trip. Francis waved to the thousands lining the streets who cheered and shouted “Viva o Papa!” On the edge of town, he switched to a standard vehicle for the brief ride to the airport. The pope embraced and kissed Lucas tenderly when he brought up the offertory gifts.

Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley posted an online video message to his followers from Portugal, where Pope Francis proclaimed two shepherd children saints a century after they reported visions of the Virgin Mary.

The miracle performed by Francisco and Jacinta is believed to be saving a Brazilian boy, Lucas, who fell out of a window in 2013 and suffered life-threatening head injuries.

Many pilgrims trekked to Fatima for days on foot – some finishing the last few metres on their knees. The pope will make two of them saints on Saturday.

Mary is said to have appeared in the central Portuguese town of Fatima on six different occasions to three shepherd children, starting from May 13, 1917.

Pope Francis, visiting one of Catholicism’s most famous sanctuaries, on Friday prayed for an end to wars he said were lacerating the world and urged the faithful to “tear down all walls” to spread justice and peace.

Francis named Francisco and Jacinta Marto as saints during a Mass to a loud round of applause from the pilgrim who converged on Fatima from around the world. On April 3, 1919, Francisco declined hospital treatment for influenza and died the next day, at the age of 11.

But France is a famously secular country and a year ago, a court in the town of Publier ordered a statue of the Virgin Mary to be removed from a public park.

Up to a million people are believed to be present at the canonisation ceremony.

“For this blessed moment that culminates a century of blessed moments, I rejoice in your preparations of intense prayer”, the Pope said in a message as he arrived at Monte Real military airbase before praying at the Fatima shrine yesterday.

When the two impoverished siblings first reportedly had visions of the Virgin Mary 100 years ago on the spot where the sanctuary now lies, they were likely far from imagining they would one day join the ranks of prominent saints like Mother Teresa.

Saints Francisco and Jacinto Marto died just three years after their vision in 1920 aged 10 and 9.

Their story lived on, and their small Portuguese village of Fátima became a regular site of Catholic pilgrimage.

Numerous pilgrims planned to spend the night on the plaza to await Mass on Saturday morning. Despite forecasts of rain, the sun is blazing.

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