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A Fatima for today’s world


FATIMA (SE): Pope Francis arrived at Fatima in Portugal under threatening skies late in the afternoon of May 12. His mission was a pilgrimage. He stressed that he was coming on pilgrimage and in the same spirit, he invited people all over the world to join him on his travels through prayer.
The following day he was present with thousands of others to mark the centenary of the first apparition of Our Lady to the three shepherd children on the hillside.
On 13 May 1917, Jacinta and Francisco Marto, together with their cousin, Lucia, witnessed what Pope Francis described as a heavenly woman clothed with the sun.
During a Mass celebrated on the day of the centenary in the town 305 metres above sea level, he canonised the brother and sister, Jacinta and Francisco, declaring the two who died as small children, saints of the Church.
Their cousin, Lucia Marto, was the only one who lived into old age. She joined the convent as a Carmelite, where she remained until she too died in 2005.
Sister Lucia remembered her cousin Jacinta saying after she had been granted a vision, “Do you not see all those streets, all those paths and fields full of people crying out for food, yet have nothing to eat. And the holy father in a church, praying before the Immaculate Heart of Mary?”
Pope Francis said at the canonisation Mass, “All of them passed beneath the mantle of light that Our Lady has spread over the four corners of the earth, beginning with this land, Portugal, so rich in hope.”
This could be the pope’s interpretation of the phrase, “In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph and Russia will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.”
He referred to the two children as examples to each one of us, as it was the rich ocean of God’s light that always remained their inspiration in life. And they were in great need of inspiration, as they were to face opposition and ridicule when they spoke of the beautiful lady they had seen hovering over the hillside.
The pope called the light that Our Lady was clothed in the light of God’s presence and it was manifest in the lives of the children through their constant prayer for sinners and desire to remain close to the hidden Christ in the tabernacle.
Pope Francis spoke of the experience of the children as holding a lesson for each and every one on this earth, as it is indeed a message of hope, a concrete and attainable hope, which is reached by being faithful to our duties and obligations.
He stressed that it is not stillborn hope, but it is on offer through the generosity of the lives of others, a generosity which he described as being of the essence of the type of Church that he wants to shepherd; one that is welcoming, free, faithful, poor in means and rich in love.
In other words, it is a Church that shines brightest, when like the lady whose apparitions of 100 years ago were being celebrated, she is truly missionary.


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