Pope Francis, attending a global World Youth Day gathering of young Catholics from all over the world, made a significant visit to the Portuguese town of Fatima on Saturday.
He came to pray at the revered Catholic Shrine of Fatima, which holds special significance due to the prophecies of Our Lady of Fatima regarding the conversion of former Communist Russia. These prophecies gained renewed relevance in light of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Pope Francis has since denounced the “wake of death and destruction” caused by Russia’s year-long offensive in Ukraine, describing the war as “a crime against God and humanity.”
Pope spent the morning in Fatima, where he joined an estimated 200,000 pilgrims on the shrine’s central esplanade to pray before a statue of Our Lady of Fatima. The site is believed to be where the Virgin Mary appeared to three shepherd children in 1917, and it holds a special place in the hearts of Catholics worldwide.
The occasion was part of the week-long World Youth Day celebrations, which were presided over by Pope Francis and brought together to Portugal hundreds of thousands of young Catholics from different parts of the world.
Before visiting Fatima, the Pope had been in Lisbon throughout the week for various events in celebration of World Youth Day, an event held every two or three years, in a different country and city, to encourage a deeper connection with the faith.
On Sunday, August 6, the Holy Father will preside over a concluding celebration to mark the end of the World Youth Day celebrations. During the Mass, the Pope will also announce the city that will host the next edition of the event.
The significance of Fatima lies in the reported visions of the Virgin Mary by three children on May 13, 1917. The children, Francisco and Jacinta Marto, passed away a few years later and were declared saints in 2017. The third child, Lucia Dos Santos, became a nun and lived until the age of 97, passing away in 2005. There are ongoing efforts to have her declared a saint as well. The messages that the children received from the Virgin Mary, known as the “Secrets of Fatima,” have captivated Catholics worldwide and continue to be a source of spiritual reflection and devotion.