The Bishop of Angra do Heroísmo, Terceira, Azores, António Sousa Braga, revealed today that he intends to invite Pope Francis to visit the archipelago as part of the announced papal visit to mainland Portugal, in 2017, to participate in the 100th anniversary of the Marian Apparitions in Cova da Iria, Fatima.
If Pope Francis accepts the invitation, it will be the second papal visit to the Azores, after Pope John Paul II visited São Miguel and Terceira in 1991.
The Bishop of Angra do Heroísmo also revealed that he has a scheduled meeting with Pope Francis, in Rome, on September 7, as part of a general papal audience with Portuguese bishops.
The visit, led by the Patriarch of Lisbon, Cardinal Manuel Clemente, President of the Portuguese Episcopal Conference, comprises of a delegation of about 40 members, including bishops and other Catholic leaders.
The Patriarch of Lisbon, Manuel Clemente, was selected Cardinal by Pope Francis in January 2015. He had been appointed by Pope Francis Patriarch of Lisbon in May 2013.
Pope Francis is the fifth Holy Father to visit Cova da Iria, Fátima. Pope Paul VI visited the Marian Sanctuary on May 1967, on the fiftieth anniversary of the first apparition. Pope Paul VI visited Fátima on May, 1967, followed by Pope John Paul II on May, 1987, and Pope Benedict XVI on May, 2010.
The Lisbon diocese was established in the fourth century, and in 1716 was elevated to the status of a patriarchate by Clement XI.
Pope Francis will visit the United States September 22-27, 2015. The complete program for the Apostolic Journey was released by the Vatican on June 30, 2015. All times listed here are Eastern Daylight Time .
The Azores (population 250,000) is a region of Portugal composed of nine islands. The archipelago discovered by Portuguese explorers in the 15th century, became an Autonomous Region of Portugal in 1976. The government of the Autonomous Region of the Azores includes the Legislative Assembly, composed of 57 elected deputies, elected by universal suffrage for a four-year term; the Regional Government and Presidency, with parliamentary legitimacy, composed of a President, a Vice-President and seven Regional Secretaries responsible for the Regional Government executive operations. The Autonomous Region of the Azores is represented in the Council of Ministers of the Central Government by a representative appointed by the President of Portugal. According to the latest US census over 1.3 million individuals of Portuguese descent live in the United States, the majority with roots in the Azores. It is estimated that over 20,000 US citizens live in Portugal.