Pope Francis to visit Fatima in May 201719 December 2016 | by Catholic News Service
The pilgrimage will mark the anniversary of the Marian apparitions which first began on 13 May, 1917
The Vatican has confirmed that Pope Francis will visit Portugal in 2017 to mark the 100th anniversary of the Marian apparitions of Fatima.
The 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 12-13 May," the Vatican announced on 17 December.
The pilgrimage will mark the anniversary of the Marian apparitions, which first began on 13 May, 1917, when three children reported seeing the Virgin Mary.
The apparitions continued once a month until 13 October, 1917, and later were declared worthy of belief by the Catholic Church.
Following 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 shrine.
"For the shrine of Fatima, it is a great joy to receive this confirmation of Pope Francis' visit," he said.
"We 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 Pope had said earlier this year that he intended to go to Fatima; today’s announcement from the Vatican was confirmation of the exact dates.
Pope 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 in different years to Mary on the anniversary of the first apparition, 13 May.
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