apparitions

Pilgrimage to Fatima a time of prayer, encounter, pope says

Pope Francis arrived May 12 at Monte Real air base in Leiria, Portugal. The visit took place around the 100th anniversary of the first Marian apparition in Fatima, Portugal, and includes the canonization of two of the visionaries.

LEIRIA, Portugal -- Pope Francis said his two-day pilgrimage to Fatima would be a time of prayer and encounter with Jesus and Mary.

The visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima "is a bit special," he told reporters aboard his flight from Rome May 12. "It is a journey of prayer, an encounter with the Lord and the holy Mother of God."

After a three-hour flight, during which Pope Francis greeted each of the 69 journalists traveling with him, the papal plane landed at Monte Real air base, about 25 miles from Fatima.

Fatima at 100: Story of apparitions continues to attract attention

Jacinta and Francisco Marto are pictured with their cousin Lucia dos Santos (right) in a file photo taken around the time of the 1917 apparitions of Mary at Fatima, Portugal. Pope Francis has approved the recognition of a miracle attributed to the intercession of two of the shepherd children, thus paving the way for their canonization.

VATICAN CITY — While conversion and prayer are at the heart of Mary's messages at Fatima, Portugal, the miracles and unexplained phenomenon that accompanied the events 100 years ago still intrigue believers and nonbelievers alike.

The apparitions of Mary at Fatima in 1917 weren't the first supernatural events reported there.

Two years before Mary appeared to three shepherd children — Lucia dos Santos and her cousins, Jacinta and Francisco Marto — they saw a strange sight while praying the Rosary in the field, according to the memoirs of Sister Lucia, who had become a Carmelite nun.

The Message of Fatima

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Mary Sturm has long appreciated the Rosary, but it wasn't until she witnessed the dedication of a group of people praying it after daily Mass at her parish, Holy Infant in Ballwin, that her love grew deeper.

Through this prayer, Sturm finds guidance from the Blessed Mother to stay connected to Jesus. The Rosary also was a great consolation to her when her husband of 43 years, Jim, passed away last summer.

"She helps me participate fully at Mass and help others," Sturm said of the Blessed Mother. "She gives me company, protection and reassurance."

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