Pope Francis is meeting privately with Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa at the start of the second day of his visit to the Fatima shrine in Portugal. The high point of the pontiff’s visit Saturday is the canonization Mass for two Fatima shepherd children who reported visions of the Virgin Mary 100 years ago. Francisco and Jacinta Marto, siblings aged 7 and 9 respectively, died two years after the 1917 apparitions in the Spanish flu pandemic.
The visions drew huge popular interest, bolstering the persecuted Catholic Church in Portugal. At the shrine, pilgrims were reciting the rosary or praying quietly as they await the pope’s arrival and the Mass. Despite forecasts of rain, the sun is blazing.
Many people had spent the night camped out along the barricades in the shrine’s vast square, which were draped in Fatima banners and scarves. Some people wrapped themselves in foil and blankets to guard against the chill.