Pope makes 2 Fatima children saints

2017-05-13 16:02
Pope Francis hoists a monstrance during a Mass at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima where he canonised Jacinta and Francisco Marto. (Paulo Duarte, AP)

Pope Francis hoists a monstrance during a Mass at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima where he canonised Jacinta and Francisco Marto. (Paulo Duarte, AP)

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Fatima - Pope Francis added two Portuguese shepherd children to the roster of Catholic saints on Saturday, honouring young siblings whose reported visions of the Virgin Mary 100 years ago turned the 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 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 as soon as Francis read the proclamation aloud.

Francisco and Jacinta, aged 9 and 7, and their 10-year-old cousin, Lucia, reported that on March 13 1917, the Virgin Mary made the first of a half-dozen appearances to them here while their sheep grazed. 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.

Leading to hell

At the time, Europe was in the throes of World War I and the Portuguese church was suffering under anti-clerical laws from the republican government that had forced many bishops and priests into exile.

"Our Lady foretold, and warned us about, a way of life that is godless and indeed profanes God in his creatures," Francis said in his homily. "Such a life, frequently proposed and imposed, risks leading to hell."

He urged Catholics today to use the example of the Marto siblings and draw strength from God, even when adversity strikes. The children had been threatened by local civil authorities with death by boiling oil if they didn't recant their story. But they held fast and eventually the church recognised the apparitions as authentic in 1930.


Read more on:    pope francis  |  portugal

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