Pope Francis to visit Fatima in May 2017

By Junno Arocho Esteves

CITY (CNS) — The Vatican confirmed that Pope Francis will visit Portugal in
2017 to mark the 100th
anniversary of the Marian apparitions of Fatima.

pope, who accepted the invitation made by President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa and the bishops
of Portugal, “will go on a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima
from May 12-13,” the Vatican announced Dec. 17.

pilgrimage will mark the anniversary of the Marian apparitions, which first
began on May 13, 1917, when three shepherd children reported seeing the Virgin Mary.

The apparitions continued once a month
until Oct. 13, 1917, and later were declared worthy of belief by the Catholic

the announcement, Father
Carlos Cabecinhas, rector
of the Fatima shrine told Agencia Ecclesia, the news agency of the Portuguese
bishops’ conference, that the visit was a “cause for joy” for the

the shrine of
Fatima, it is a great joy to receive this confirmation of Pope Francis’
visit,” he said.

know that those days will be a pilgrimage marked by this festivity that, on the
one hand is for the centennial
of the apparitions and, on the other hand, marks the presence of the pope in
our midst and a pope as beloved as Pope Francis,” Father Cabecinhas said.

the Vatican confirmed the dates of the visit, the pope had already said that he intended to go.

as things presently stand, I will go to Portugal, and only to Fatima,” he
told journalists during
his return flight to Rome from Azerbaijan Oct. 2.

Francis will be the fourth pontiff to visit the Marian shrine, following the
footsteps of Blessed Paul VI, Saint John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, who each paid homage different
years to Mary on the anniversary of the first apparition May 13.

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Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

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