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Pope cheeredin Fatima on 100th anniversary of miracle

  • Pope Francis prays at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima Friday, May 12, 2017, in Fatima, Portugal. Pope Francis will canonize on Saturday two poor, illiterate shepherd children whose visions of the Virgin Mary 100 years ago marked one of the most important events of the 20th-century Catholic Church. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino) Alessandra Tarantino

  • Pope Francis offers the 'Golden Rose', recognition at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima Friday, May 12, 2017, in Fatima, Portugal. Pope Francis will canonize on Saturday two poor, illiterate shepherd children whose visions of the Virgin Mary 100 years ago marked one of the most important events of the 20th-century Catholic Church. (Jose Sena Goulad/Pool Photo via AP) JOSÉ SENA GOULÃO

  • Faithful hold candles at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima Friday, May 12, 2017, in Fatima, Portugal. Pope Francis has attended the traditional Blessing of the Candles at the Fatima shrine, a world-famous pilgrimage site in Portugal which the pontiff is visiting for less than 24 hours. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino) Alessandra Tarantino

  • Pope Francis presides a vigil prayer and candle blessing at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima Friday, May 12, 2017, in Fatima, Portugal. Pope Francis will canonize on Saturday two poor, illiterate shepherd children whose visions of the Virgin Mary 100 years ago marked one of the most important events of the 20th-century Catholic Church. (Nuno Andre Ferreira/Pool Photo via AP) NUNO ANDRÉ FERREIRA

  • Pope Francis kisses a child as he arrives at Monte Real Air Base in Leiria, Portugal, Friday, May 12, 2017. Pope Francis will canonize on Saturday in Fatima two poor, illiterate shepherd children whose visions of the Virgin Mary 100 years ago marked one of the most important events of the 20th-century Catholic Church. (Paulo Cunha/Pool Photo via AP) PAULO CUNHA

  • Two nuns attend a mass at the Chapel of the Apparitions in the Fatima Sanctuary Thursday, May 11 2017, in Fatima, Portugal. Pope Francis is visiting the Fatima shrine on May 12 and 13 to canonize two Portuguese shepherd children whose "visions" of the Virgin Mary 100 years ago turned the sleepy farming town of Fatima into a major Catholic pilgrimage site. (AP Photo/Paulo Duarte) Paulo Duarte

  • A pilgrim carrying white roses wears a T-shirt with an image of Our Lady of Fatima and Pope Francis at the Fatima Sanctuary, Thursday, May 11, 2017, in Fatima, Portugal. Pope Francis is visiting the Fatima shrine on May 12 and 13 to canonize two Portuguese shepherd children whose "visions" of the Virgin Mary 100 years ago turned the sleepy farming town of Fatima into a major Catholic pilgrimage site. (AP Photo/Armando Franca) Armando Franca

  • Pope Francis arrives at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima Friday, May 12, 2017, in Fatima, Portugal. Pope Francis will canonize on Saturday two poor, illiterate shepherd children whose visions of the Virgin Mary 100 years ago marked one of the most important events of the 20th-century Catholic Church. (Nuno Veiga/Pool Photo via AP) NUNO VEIGA

  • Pope Francis is greeted by three children dressed as shepherds as he arrives at Monte Real Air Base in Leiria, Portugal, Friday, May 12, 2017. Pope Francis will canonize on Saturday in Fatima two poor, illiterate shepherd children whose visions of the Virgin Mary 100 years ago marked one of the most important events of the 20th-century Catholic Church. (Paulo Cunha/Pool Photo via AP) PAULO CUNHA

  • A nun holds a candle at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima Friday, May 12, 2017, in Fatima, Portugal. Pope Francis has attended the traditional Blessing of the Candles at the Fatima shrine, a world-famous pilgrimage site in Portugal which the pontiff is visiting for less than 24 hours. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino) Alessandra Tarantino

  • Faithful hold candles at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima Friday, May 12, 2017, in Fatima, Portugal. Pope Francis will canonize on Saturday two poor, illiterate shepherd children whose visions of the Virgin Mary 100 years ago marked one of the most important events of the 20th-century Catholic Church. (AP Photo/Armando Franca) Armando Franca

  • Faithful hold candles at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima Friday, May 12, 2017, in Fatima, Portugal. Pope Francis will canonize on Saturday two poor, illiterate shepherd children whose visions of the Virgin Mary 100 years ago marked one of the most important events of the 20th-century Catholic Church. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino) Alessandra Tarantino



Associated Press
Friday, May 12, 2017

FATIMA, Portugal — Pope Francis urged Catholics on Friday to “tear down all walls” and spread peace as he traveled to this Portuguese shrine town to mark the 100th anniversary of one of the most unique events of the 20th-century Catholic Church: the visions of the Virgin Mary reported by three shepherd children and the “secrets” she told them.

There was no official crowd estimate, but the main square has a capacity of 600,000 and was overflowing. Authorities said they expected 1 million people.

Francis is spending fewer than 24 hours in Fatima to celebrate the centenary of the apparitions and canonize two of the three shepherd children. 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.

The Fatima mystery has fascinated Catholics and non-Catholics alike for a century, blending visions of the Virgin, supernatural weather events and apocalyptic messages of hell, World War II, communism and the death of a pope.

It all began on May 13, 1917, when three cousins, aged 7-10, Francisco and Jacinta Marto and Lucia dos Santos, reported that they had seen a vision of the Virgin Mary as they grazed their sheep. They went to the same spot in the coming months and reported similar visions.

Portuguese church officials initially doubted them. Many doubters, though, became believers after the so-called “miracle of the sun” on Oct. 13, 1917. The children had predicted that the Virgin would perform a miracle that day, and tens of thousands of people flocked to Fatima and saw what witnesses reported was a vision of the sun “spinning” in the sky and zigzagging toward Earth.