Portuguese children who saw visions made saints
FATIMA: Pope Francis added two Portuguese shepherd children to the roster of saints yesterday, honouring the siblings whose reported visions of the Virgin Mary 100 years ago turned the rural Portuguese town of Fatima into one of the world’s most important Catholic shrines.
Francis proclaimed Francisco and Jacinta Marto saints at the start of a mass marking the centenary of their visions. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims were on hand.
Francisco and Jacinta, aged 9 and 7, and their 10-year-old cousin Lucia, said the Virgin Mary made the first of a halfdozen appearances to them here while they grazed their sheep on March 13, 1917.
The Marto siblings died two years after the visions during Europe’s Spanish flu pandemic. Lucia is on track for possible beatification but the process couldn’t start until after her 2005 death.
In Fatima for the occasion were Joao Baptista and his wife Lucila Yurie, of Brazil. The medically inexplicable healing of their son Lucas was the “miracle” needed for the siblings to be declared saints.
The boy, aged 5 at the time, fell 6.5m from a window in 2013. His doctors said he would be severely mentally disabled, if he survived. The boy not only lived but has no signs of after-effects. – AP