Published: Sun, May 14, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Pope canonizes siblings behind Fatima visions


Portuguese siblings who are thought to have had visions of the Virgin Mary 100 years ago have become two of the Catholic Church's youngest saints.

"We declare the blissful Francisco Marto and Jacinta Marto saints", the Argentine pontiff said in front of the white basilica where the siblings are buried, with two giant portraits of the child shepherds hanging in the background.

Luisa Pacheco, a 48-year-old seamstress from the northern region of Porto, said she had spent the night in her vehicle to see the ceremony.

The Vatican said Jacinta, Francisco and Lucia where 7, 9 and 10 respectively when they witnessed the Virgin Mary. But they held fast and eventually the church recognized the apparitions as authentic in 1930. Pope Francis, right, waves to the faithful from the Pope-mobile as he bids farewell after his visit to Fatima shrine, in Fatima, central Portugal, May 13, 2017.

A process that could lead to her also becoming a saint has been opened.

Pope Francis was showered with rose petals as crowds of worshipers lined the route of his motorcade shouting, "Viva o papa" as the popemobile turned into Fatima Square. "Such a life, frequently proposed and imposed, risks leading to hell", further advised the pope in his homily.

He contrasted the Mary of the Gospels who was the first to follow Jesus on "the narrow way of the cross" with the deformed image that people at times have of her as someone who is "unapproachable and impossible to imitate", or as a "plaster statue from whom we beg favors at little cost", or as "a Mary of our own making: one who restrains the arm of a vengeful God; one sweeter than Jesus the ruthless judge".

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ROME, MAY 14, Anticipation grew among pilgrims yesterday at Fatima's shrine esplanade hours before Pope Francis' open-air mass. Francis is the first Latin American and Jesuit Pope to be inaugurated and is highly celebrated in predominantly Catholic Portugal. "That was the source of their strength in overcoming opposition and suffering". "Life can survive only because of the generosity of other lives", he said.

Addressing the sick before concluding the Mass, Pope Francis said that Christ understands the "meaning of sorrow and pain" and, through the church, offers comfort to the afflicted just as it did for Sts.

"Thus, may we rediscover the young and attractive face of the church, which shines forth when she is missionary, welcoming, free, faithful, poor in means and rich in love", he said.

"That is the church's ministry: the church asks the Lord to comfort the afflicted like yourselves, and he comforts you, even in ways you can not see".

May 12, 2017 11:20 a.m.:Pope Francis has landed in Portugal.

"Do not be ashamed of being a precious treasure of the church", he said. The Mass marked the 100th anniversary of the Fatima Marian apparitions, which began on May 13, 1917.

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