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

Pope Francis makes two shepherd children Catholic saints

Pope Francis makes two shepherd children Catholic saints

Pope canonised two siblings as the Catholic Church's newest saints at the Fatima shrine I am very emotional because this pope is truly merciful and close to the people, and I think he will bring us many good things.

In February, Pope Francis appointed Polish Archbishop Henryk Hoser of Warsaw-Praga to study the pastoral needs of the townspeople and the thousands of pilgrims who flock to Medjugorje each year.

Pope Francis has effectively dismissed reports of continuing apparitions of the Virgin Mary at the Medjugorje shrine in Bosnia-Herzegovina, saying the visions "don't have much value" even if the shrine itself has helped Catholics find God.

Altogether, about 500,000 people were present, the Vatican said in a statement - far below initial expectations of 800,000 to a million for the pope's 24-hour pilgrimage that ended mid-afternoon when he took off for Rome.

"It is unbelievable. It's like an answer to prayer, because I felt that always they would be canonised", said Agnes Walsh who had travelled from Killarney, Ireland.

The ceremony marks a century since Francisco and Jacinta Marto, aged 10 and 9, and their cousin, Lucia Dos Santos, 10, claimed the Virgin Mary appeared to them, revealing three secrets.

The first two secrets were revealed soon and concerned a vision of hell, seen by believers as a prediction of the outbreak of World War II, a warning that Russian Federation would "spread her errors" in the world, and a need for general conversion to God and prayer, Reuters reported. He is hoping the message of peace that they reported 100 years ago, when Europe was in the throes of World War I, will resonate with the Catholic faithful today. "Mary came to remind us that God's light dwells within us and protects us", the pope said. Lucia is on track for possible beatification, but her process couldn't start until after her 2005 death. Lucas, whose medically inexplicable healing was the "miracle" needed for the Marto siblings to be declared saints. Lucas and the pope embraced. The boy not only survived but has no signs of any after-effects.

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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".

In 2000, the Vatican said it was a prediction of the 1981 assassination attempt on Pope John Paul on May 13, the same day of the first reported apparition in 1917.

The message featured an angel crying out "Penance, penance, penance!"

Fatima has always been associated with St. John Paul II, given that the Polish-born pope credited the Virgin Mary with saving his life in 1981 when a would-be assassin shot him on Fatima's feast day — May 13 — in St. Peter's Square.

The impending canonization of the children had led to speculation that a fourth "secret" remained, but the Vatican says there are no more secrets related to the Fatima revelations.

"This I say as a personal opinion", he told reporters on his plane returning on Saturday night from Portugal where he gave the Catholic Church two new child saints.

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