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Pope canonizes 2 children who claimed to see Virgin of Fatima

15 May 2017

Some 500,000 worshippers gathered in Fatima Saturday to watch Pope Francis declare two child shepherds who had visions of the Virgin Mary 100 years ago saints, the Vatican said.

Fátima has since become one of the world's most important Catholic shrines.

He also canonized siblings Francisco and Jacinta Marto, the two Fatima shepherd children who reported visions of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1917.

Msgr. Ruben Labajo of the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral who celebrated Mass to mark the Our Lady of Fatima apparitions said that people should not only honor their biological mothers but also Mary, the mother of Jesus and of humanity.

"For a society that is self-aware of their own being they forget about the simplicity of things, that life can be far happier and more peaceful when you stop and grasp the fact that our lord and savior's mother appeared to three children", she said.

These reportedly included a warning of a second conflict.

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The two Marto siblings died two years after the visions during the Spanish Flu pandemic in Europe. They are in heaven with Our Lady who first appeared to them, and their first cousin Lucia, in this very place exactly one hundred years ago. She is being considered for possible beatification, but the process could only start five years after her death and has yet to be concluded.

It was both surprising and significant that as he prayed Pope Francis chose to use the words of the third secret of Fatima to describe himself "as a bishop dressed in white", interceding for his people. Pope Francis arrives at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima to celebrate a solemn Mass where he will canonize jacinta and Francisco Marto, Saturday, May 13, 2017, in Fatima, Portugal.

The siblings were canonised after the Church officially attributed two miracles to the pair - a necessary step to become a saint.

"Even if one thinks differently we have to be very honest about what each one thinks", Francis said in a typically freewheeling airborne news conference.

"It is fantastic. It's like an answer to prayer, because I felt that always they would be canonised", said Agnes Walsh who had travelled from Killarney, Ireland.

"The doctors, including non-believers, weren't able to explain this recovery", his father Joao Batista told reporters in Fatima on Thursday.

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Straight after the canonisation Mass, where many had slept out overnight to attend, the Latin American pontiff then greeted a group of sick and disabled pilgrims telling them they were "an asset to every Christian community". "When we don't like some people, we isolate them".

Despite bribes, threats of death by burning oil, and threatening to lock them in a cell with criminals, the children never recanted their story.

Jacinta and Francisco Marto, along with their cousin, claimed to have seen the Virgin Mary six different times between May and October of 1917.

But to this day, Catholics remain divided over whether these were truly apparitions or merely collective hallucination reinforced by a natural phenomenon. The Roman Catholic Church later confirmed the visions, making Fatima a main pilgrimage site.

John Paul II, now St. John Paul, credited the Virgin Mary with saving his life in an assassination attempt in St. Peter's Square on May 13, 1981 - the same date of the first Fatima vision.

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