Vatican City, May 5, 2010 / 10:20 am
"Fatima is a particularly significant place for this Pope," said Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi on Tuesday, noting that it was also a destination for two former Popes. The Holy Father has a thorough knowledge of the history of the Marian sanctuary, he added.
Fr. Lombardi held a press conference at the Vatican to prepare the media for the Pope's next trip out of the Vatican. He will be visiting Portugal from May 11-14.
The spokesman referred to the Pope's stop in Fatima on May 13 as the highlight and "heart" of the upcoming four-day trip to Portugal, according to Vatican Radio. But, he pointed out, Benedict XVI will not be the first Pope to visit the Marian shrine.
Two other Pontiffs have been to Fatima. In 1967, the sanctuary hosted Paul VI, and John Paul II visited in 1982, 1991 and 2000, at which time the visionaries Jacinta and Francesco were beatified.