Pilgrims descend on Fatima ahead of Pope's visit

Posted May 13, 2017

The two siblings are buried at the Catholic sanctuary in Fatima.

Officials at the Catholic shrine in Fatima, Portugal say about 45,000 pilgrims are making their way on foot to the town for Pope Francis's visit, which is expected to draw 1 million people.

Fatima, Portugal (CNA/EWTN News) - "Silence is important, because only in silence can we listen to the Word of God, only in silence can we listen to the whispers of God in our hearts", Fr. Francisco Pereira, chaplain of the Fatima Shrine, told CNA in an interview.

A group of pilgrims from Tanzania walk at the Fatima Sanctuary, in Fatima, Portugal, Thursday, May 11, 2017.

Because of this, it's forbidden to set off fireworks, play music or sell alcohol on the property, Fr. Pereira said, stressing that that the shrine wants to preserve Fatima as much as possible as a place "of silence to pray and make sacrifices".

Francis arrives Friday to celebrate the centenary of the apparitions and canonize the children. While several popes have undertaken consecrations of the world since the request was made public (including Pope John Paul II in 1982 and 1984), sadly, none of these have fulfilled the specific requirements of Our Lord and Our Lady's requests.

Lucas himself was not present at the news briefing, although he is in Fatima to see the canonization on Saturday - the day the child shepherds first reported seeing the Virgin Mary 100 years ago.

Lucia said the Virgin Mary also called for the "consecration" of Russian Federation, adding: "If my requests are heeded Russian Federation will be converted and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church".

Fatima's apparitions, though, have been officially recognized by the Catholic Church since 1930. Francis added a bonus event to his visit by announcing in March that he had approved the miracle needed to make saints of Francisco and Jacinta Marto - who died of influenza within two years of the initial apparitions. Their cousin, Lucia dos Santos, who became the main raconteur of their tale, is on track for beatification, the first step toward becoming a saint. However, the process could not start until after her death.

Francis' deputy, Cardial Pietro Parolin, said the importance of Fatima lies specifically in the fact that poor, illiterate children were able to convey a powerful message of love, peace and forgiveness at a time of war when "the talk was of hatred, vendetta, hostilities". For centuries, people made their living raising sheep and other animals.

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Fatima has always been associated with pope John Paul II, who credited the Virgin Mary with having saved his life in 1981.

"That shrine will be a kind of memorial, like a monument, that the parish is setting up to honour the Virgin Mary but also to mark the 100 years since the apparitions", said Mallia.

The pope told journalists traveling with him on the papal flight to Portugal that his trip to the country would be "a journey of prayer, an encounter with the Lord and the holy Mother of God". He has done the same at the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico, at the shrine of Caacupe in Paraguay and the Virgin of the Charity of Cobre in Cuba.

For instance, while the Vatican has yet to recognize the reported continuous apparitions of the Virgin Mary in the Bosnian town of Medjugorje since 1981, it has dispatched a special envoy to examine "the needs" of the millions of faithful who go there. A Vatican-appointed doctrinal commission finished its study years ago, but Francis hasn't released the results.

He has cautioned against such tales of near-daily visions, however, and has said devotion must be to "the real Madonna. Not the Madonna who's like the head of a post office who every day sends a different letter saying 'My children, do this and then the next day says do that'".

Dias said that around 4 pm there will be an adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, followed by the solemn high mass offered by the Archbishop of Goa and Daman, Rev Filipe Neri Ferrao, along with Bishop of Belgaum, Rev Peter Machado, who is the national ecclesiastical advisor of World Apostolate of Fatima in India.

In a video message on the eve of his departure, Francis urged all faithful to join him, physically or spiritually, in Fatima.

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You can read the full article on thetablet.co.uk.