Pope Francis visited Fátima, Portugal, on Saturday morning, where he prayed the rosary with young people with disabilities.
Under the canopy of Fátima’s Chapel of Apparitions, which marks the exact location where three shepherd children received apparitions from the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1917, the pope laid a golden rosary at the feet of the statue of Our Lady of Fátima.
“Dear brothers and sisters, today let us feel the presence of Mother Mary, the mother who will always tell us, ‘Do whatever Jesus tells you.’ She points us to Jesus,” the pope said.
Young people with disabilities led the mysteries of the rosary in different languages as the pope sat facing the large statue of Our Lady of Fátima. At the end of the rosary, the crowd sang the “Salve Regina” together in Latin.
“We have prayed the rosary, a beautiful prayer full of life because it puts us in contact with the life of Jesus and Mary. And we have meditated on the joyful mysteries, which remind us that the Church can only be a home full of joy,” the pope said in a short off-the-cuff speech at the end of the rosary.
“The small chapel in which we find ourselves is like a beautiful image of the Church: welcoming, without doors. The Church does not have doors so that everyone can enter,” he added.
Throughout World Youth Day, young people have approached the Shrine of Our Lady of Fátima on their knees as an act of penance and devotion.
Our Lady of Fátima appeared six times to 9-year-old Lucia and her cousins Francisco, 8, and his sister Jacinta, 6, between May 13, 1917, and Oct. 13, 1917.
In the final apparition, a crowd of about 70,000 people witnessed the “Miracle of the Sun” in which the sun began to spin and moved quickly around the sky, understood by the people to be evidence that the three shepherd children were telling the truth.
Pope Francis traveled by helicopter early Saturday morning from Lisbon’s Figo Maduro Air Base to Fátima, located about 75 miles northeast of the Portuguese capital.
An estimated 200,000 people welcomed the pope to Fátima, according to local authorities. Nearly 40 Portuguese bishops joined the pope in praying the rosary with the crowd standing outside of the shrine.
Pope Francis waved to pilgrims from the popemobile amid cheers of “Papa Francisco” and kissed babies who were passed up to him from the crowd.
At the end of the Fátima event, Pope Francis opted not to recite a long written prayer entrusting the Church and “countries at war” to the Blessed Virgin Mary but instead asked the crowd to pray together a Hail Mary.
“We pray for peace, O Queen of Peace! Convert the souls of those who nourish hatred and foment conflicts, of those who believe that war solves problems. Touch the hearts of those who are far off, of those who do not have the joy of knowing God,” the prayer said.
“With childlike hearts, we consecrate to you our lives, every fiber of our being, all that we have and are, forever. To you, we consecrate the Church and the world, especially those countries at war. Obtain peace for us. You, Virgin of the way, open paths where it seems that none exist.”
Last year, Pope Francis consecrated Russia and Ukraine to the Blessed Virgin Mary in St. Peter’s Basilica with a prayer asking for peace in the world, one month after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, asking all of the bishops of the world to join him.
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The pope spent two hours in Fátima on the morning of Aug. 5 before returning to Lisbon via helicopter to meet privately with Portuguese members of the Jesuit order and to preside over the World Youth Day prayer vigil.
On Sunday, the pope will preside over a large outdoor Mass in Lisbon’s Tejo Park before returning to Rome on the papal plane in the evening.
“Mary in her life does nothing but point to Jesus: Do what he tells you. Follow Jesus. These are the two gestures of Mary. Let’s reflect on this: She welcomes us all and points to Jesus,” Pope Francis said in Fátima.
Courtney Mares is a Rome Correspondent for Catholic News Agency. A graduate of Harvard University, she has reported from news bureaus on three continents and was awarded the Gardner Fellowship for her work with North Korean refugees.
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