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Pope leads thousands in prayer at Portugal shrine

Pope leads thousands in prayer at Portugal shrine

Pope Francis has created two of the Catholic Church's youngest saints by canonising a brother and sister who had visions of the Virgin Mary 100 years ago.

In a video message to the people of Portugal before his journey, Pope Francis said he would "present" himself to the Virgin Mary.

The siblings died during an influenza pandemic, aged 10 and nine, within three years of reporting, along with older cousin, Lucia Dos Santos, seeing the Virgin Mary as they tended sheep on May 13, 1917.

The visits ended in October with the "Miracle of the Sun", when others in Fatima at the time reported seeing the sun spinning in the sky which served as proof that the apparitions were authentic.

On Saturday, the pope will celebrate an outdoor Mass where he will also canonize the Marto siblings, who both died only a few years after seeing Mary. The pope rode in an electric golf cart to the air base's tiny chapel. The recognition of her sainthood is still in the works.

Watched by hundreds of thousands of people, Francis read a long prayer before a small statue of the Madonna, leaving a gold rose at her feet.

Two of the children - Jacinta and Francisco Marto - have now been canonised for the miracles attributed to them.

"We've come as guests of our Lady". "Such a life, frequently proposed and imposed, risks leading to hell".

"We will follow all paths and everywhere make our pilgrim way; we will tear down all walls and cross every frontier as we go out to every periphery to make known God's justice and peace", he said.

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

Francis named Francisco and Jacinta Marto as saints during a Mass to a loud round of applause from the pilgrim who converged on Fatima from around the world.

"Like the shepherd children, tell Our Lady that you want to offer yourselves to God with all your heart", the Pope said.

According to Pope Francis's predecessor, Benedict XVI, the visions described in the three secrets are "meant to mobilise the forces of change in the right direction".

Francis said investigations are continuing into the first alleged apparitions when the reported visionaries were children or teenagers, but again made it clear that he is highly sceptical about today's claims. Under her mantle, we are not lost, he said, and "from her embrace will come the hope and the peace" that we require. "Life can survive only because of the generosity of other lives".

"Thus may we rediscover the young and attractive face of the Church, which shines forth when she is missionary, welcoming, free, faithful, poor in means and rich in love".

Pope Francis told journalists that Cardinal Ruini's report was "very well done", and that there are three main takeaways that must be kept in mind when thinking of the report.

"That is the Church's ministry: the Church asks the Lord to comfort the afflicted like yourselves, and he comforts you, even in ways you can not see". "Not the Madonna who's like the head of a post office who every day sends a different letter saying, 'My children, do this, ' and then the next day says, 'Do that'".

"Do not be ashamed of being a precious treasure of the church", he said.

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