This past Saturday, May 13, marked a special day for Portuguese Roman Catholics and global onlookers as Pope Francis visited the Shrine of Fatima to canonize two of the three children recognized as having pronounced the "Three Secrets of Fatima." The time commemorated the century passed since the day beginning the visions of 1917. The tribute is especially moving in consideration of the fact that only seven popes have historically been canonized, yet, Friday evening, millions of Portuguese spent the night outdoors to ensure witnessing the honor given to the simple shepherd children.
Jacinta and Francisco Marto, cousins of Lucia Santos (soon to be canonized, as well) testified of three apocalyptic, dreadful visions. The first described a horrific scene of Hell in which the judgment of God saturated the unrepentant. The second vision predicted the ending of World War I as well as the commencement of a second war hinging upon Russia's failure to honor God and recognize the Immaculate Lady:
"You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. The war is going to end: but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the Pontificate of Pope Pius XI. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that he is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father."
The theme of the second vision involved the conversion of Russia upon repentance and a consequent worldwide peace:
"To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the Consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of reparation on the First Saturdays. If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated. In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she shall be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world."
In the third, the persecution of Christians of the same century was foretold. A decision by the Vatican in 2000 interpreted this reference as the 1981 assassination-attempt of Pope John Paul II
As was also predicted, millions attended the Mass Saturday. As the majority in Portugal claim the Roman Catholic devotion, posters conveying the shepherd children and Pope Francis were strewn throughout the street. Pope Francis publicized his gratitude for those in attendance:
"For this blessed moment that culminates a century of blessed moments, I rejoice in your preparations of intense prayer."