View From Rome
18 May 2017
View from Rome Premium
View from Rome
The millions of people who flock every year to Lourdes, Fátima, Knock, Medjugorje and Walsingham might be described as the real miracle of these famous shrines, each of them built in the midst of considerable scepticism following alleged apparitions of the Virgin Mary.
Last Saturday, in a small town in central Portugal, in secular, post-Christian western Europe, 500,000 people gathered to witness Pope Francis declare two children saints. Jacinta and Francisco Marto were aged seven and nine when, along with their ten-year-old cousin, Lucia dos Santos, they had the first of six visions of “a woman dressed in white”.
There is a religious poetry to the Fátima story, a beauty and a mystery that attracts four million visitors to the shrine each year. It is a story of the Mother of God appearing to little children and giving them a simple message of prayer, penance and peace. The same could be said for Lourdes, where the 14-year-old Bernadette Soubirous received a commission from Mary to build a chapel on what was a rubbish dump.
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