Jacinta and Francisco Marto were children 100 years ago when their visions of the Virgin Mary marked this place as an important Catholic shrine. After landing at the sanctuary May 12, the pope rode among the crowds in the pope-mobile. Their home town is now a major pilgrimage site with people coming from around the world to venerate the Virgin of Fatima. He said their sanctity is not "a effect of the apparitions, but of the fidelity and ardour with which they corresponded to the privilege they had received of being able to see the Virgin Mary".
"Today the Virgin Mary asks all of us the same question that, a hundred years ago, she asked the shepherd children: 'Do you want to offer yourselves to God?' Their answer - 'Yes, we do!' - makes us able to understand and imitate their lives".
These apparitions are said to have continued nearly daily since their first occurrence, with three of the original six visionaries claiming to have received apparitions every afternoon because not all of the "secrets" intended for them have been revealed.
A candle light vigil held in Fatima, Portugal, on Friday.
In a hard-hitting rebuff to devotees of the unofficial shrine, the Pope on Saturday scorned the idea of seers' receiving daily visions of the Virgin Mary.
Six thousand police officers patrolled the area and concrete blocks have been placed to protect the pilgrims.
The children reported that the Madonna revealed to them three "secrets", and urged them to pray for peace and turn away from sin. Francis waved to the thousands lining the streets who cheered and shouted "Viva o Papa!" Respect the other, say that which one thinks, but with respect, but walk together. Hotels and apartments were sold out months ago. Some have reported continuous visions ever since, with precise messages being delivered at pre-designated times, drawing skepticism that their claims were aimed more at bringing religious tourists to the otherwise unremarkable rural spot in southern Bosnia.
Security is tight for the pope's scheduled arrival at 4:20 p.m. (1520 GMT) Friday afternoon.
Many such visitors were at the mass where the canonization was announced Saturday, and the declaration was met with joyous applause.
More serious, in a scathing report, the United Nations condemned Francis and the Catholic Church for protecting and enabling pedophile priests engaged in the sexual abuse of children. The first two described visions of World War I and the dangers of Soviet Communism.
As the Catholic Church celebrates 100 years of the apparition of Blessed Virgin Mary to three shepherd children at the Cova da Iria, in Fátima, Portugal, on the eve of the Mother's Day celebration, the faithful are encouraged to honor not only their biological mothers but also Mother Mary.
Roman Catholic pilgrims converged on the Fatima Sanctuary from countries as far away as China, Venezuela and East Timor. Over the past several days, church groups, families and individuals have made their way to Fatima, 150 kilometers (90 miles) north of Lisbon. The figure, deemed the immaculate heart of Mary, called on the children to recite the rosary every day and to pray for the world.