In 2017, Pope Francis plans to travel to Fatima, said Bishop António Augusto dos Santos Marto of Leiria-Fátima in a statement after meeting with the Holy Father.

The occasion for the visit would be the 100-year anniversary of Mary's appearing to three shepherd children at Fatima.

No travel dates to the Portuguese shrine have been set, but the country is already preparing for the celebration of the centenary of the apparitions.

Two years ago, Pope Francis received the statue of Our Lady of Fatima in St. Peter's Square. He invited those present to meditate on the gaze of Mary.

"O Mary, let us feel your gaze as a Mother," he said. "Lead us to your Son, as we are not Christians 'for show', but who can 'get their hands dirty' to build with your Son, Jesus, his Kingdom of love, joy and peace."

"How important it is," the Pope said of Mary's gaze. "How many things can be said with a look! Affection, encouragement, compassion, love, but also reproach, envy, pride, even hatred."

"Often," he added, "the look says more than words, or says what words cannot or dare not say. Who looks at the Virgin Mary? She looks at all of us, each of us…She looks at us like a Mother, with tenderness, with mercy, with love. The same way she looked at the child Jesus, in every moment of his life… When we are tired, discouraged, overwhelmed by the problems, look to Mary."

St. John Paul II also had a special devotion to Virgin of Fatima. He attributed his survival during a 1981 assassination attempt to her miraculous intervention. As a sign of his gratitude, he placed the bullet from the failed assassination attempt in her crown.

"Pray for the brother who shot me, whom I have sincerely forgiven. United to Christ, as a priest and victim, I offer my sufferings for the Church and the world," Pope John Paul II said.