Two made saints on cen­te­nary of 1917 vi­sions

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - NI­COLE WIN­FIELD AND BARRY HAT­TON

FA­TIMA, POR­TU­GAL — Pope Fran­cis added two Por­tuguese shep­herd chil­dren to the roster of Ro­man Catholic saints 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. A half-mil­lion peo­ple watched in the vast square in front of the shrine’s basil­ica, the Vat­i­can said, cit­ing Por­tuguese au­thor­i­ties.

“It is amaz­ing. It’s like an an­swer to prayer, be­cause I felt that al­ways they would be can­on­ized,” said Agnes Walsh of Kil­lar­ney, Ire­land. She said she prayed to Fran­cisco Marto for 20 years, hop­ing her four daugh­ters would meet “nice boys like Fran­cisco.”

“The four of them have met boys that are just beau­ti­ful. I couldn’t ask for bet­ter, so he has an­swered all my prayers,” she said.

The pon­tiff left Fa­tima on Satur­day af­ter­noon af­ter a stay of less than 24 hours. From his pope­mo­bile he saluted thou­sands of peo­ple lin­ing the streets who cheered, waved flags and shouted “Viva o Papa!”

Fran­cisco and Jac­inta, aged nine and seven, 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 while they grazed their sheep. 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 from sin. At the time, Europe was in the throes of the First World War, and the Por­tuguese church was suf­fer­ing un­der an­ti­cler­i­cal laws from the repub­li­can govern­ment that had forced many bish­ops and priests into ex­ile.

L’OSSERVATORE RO­MANO, THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Pope Fran­cis is hugged by Lu­cas Bap­tista. His mys­te­ri­ous heal­ing was the “mir­a­cle” needed for saint­hood.

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