Pope Francis turns two Portuguese shepherd children into Catholic saints

REUTERS  Tony Gentile

REUTERS Tony Gentile

Pope Francis called for a Church that is "poor in means and rich in love" as he canonised two shepherd children who had witnessed apparitions of the Virgin Mary in Fatima a century ago.

Before a statue of Mary at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima, the pope prayed that in following the Martos' example "we will travel all the roads, we will be pilgrims on all paths, we will tear down all walls and overcome all boundaries".

As the pope approached the sanctuary's chapel he presented the statue of Mary there with a bouquet of flowers.

However, the pope said the delays in handling cases are due to the need to draft new legislation and to the fact that there are few people capable of handling cases of sexual abuse.

There was no official crowd estimate, but authorities said they were expecting 1 million people.

Addressing the sick before concluding the Mass, Pope Francis said that Christ understands the "meaning of sorrow and pain" and, through the church, offers comfort to the afflicted just as it did for Sts.

According to CBCPNews, hundreds of devotees gathered at the UST for the celebration of the Fatima miracle, in which three young shepherds namely Lucia Dos Santos and her cousins Francisco and Jacinta Marto claimed to have seen the Virgin Mary from May to October 1917.

Last year, in response to an answer about then-candidate Mr Trump's views on immigration and his intention to build a wall along the USA border with Mexico, Pope Francis said a man with such views was "not Christian".

He conceded that pilgrims to Medjugorje experience a spiritual renewal, "encounter God, change their lives" and also said he believed the original apparitions in the early 1980s are more likely to be authentic than the continuing ones.

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In his homily at the canonization Mass, the pope reflected on the brief lives of the young sibling saints, who are often remembered more for the apparitions rather than for their holy lives.

Francesco and Jacinta Marto and their cousin Lucia dos Santos were in an isolated rocky outcrop called Cova de Iria, near the small town of Fatima.

Pope Francis led a mass in Portugal over the weekend, where he declared two long-dead children to be saints.

Pope John Paul II beatified Francisco and Jacinta May 13, 2000, on the 83rd anniversary of the first apparition of Our Lady at Fatima.

The bishop of Bataan meanwhile reminded the faithful of the three messages of the Virgin Mary to the shepherd children of Fatima.

They looked up and saw a lady dressed in white, who was glowing and "more brilliant than the sun".

"I personally am more suspicious, I prefer the Madonna as Mother, our Mother, and not a woman who's the head of an office, who every day sends a message at a certain hour".

The late Pope John Paul II was shot by a Turkish gunman on 13 May 1981. The children said the Virgin Mary began making appearances to them in 1917 while they grazed their sheep.

Marking the milestone is momentous for devotees such as Mary Kruso, a mother of four from Wyandotte who has visited the Fatima site in Portugal and credits devotion with deepening her faith. It was his way of saying that the message of Fatima did not end in the 20th century, on the contrary, it is more than ever relevant in this new century.

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