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St John Paul II's 3rd Apostolic Visit to Portugal

12th - 13th May, Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, in the Jubilee 2000

Pope Saint John Paul II was a pilgrim to Portugal for the third time in the Jubilee Year 2000 (his only pilgrimage abroad during the Jubilee Year other than to the Holy Land), specifically to visit Fatima for the beatification of the visionaries Francisco and Jacinta. His previous two visits had been in 1982 & 1991.

Discurso do Papa San João Paulo II a la Ceremónia de Boas-Vindas
Sexta-feira, 12 de Maio de 2000, Aeroporto Internacional "Portela" de Lisboa - in English, French, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Senhor Presidente da República, Senhor Primeiro Ministro, Venerando Senhor Patriarca de Lisboa,
Amados Irmãos no Episcopado, Distintas Autoridades, Minhas Senhoras e meus Senhores!
Deus concedeu-me voltar a Portugal, pelo que Lhe dou graças e O bendigo. A vós que vos reunistes aqui para me receber e a todos os filhos e filhas desta nobre Nação, transmito as minhas cordiais saudações de solidariedade e de paz. A minha saudação primeira e atenciosa é para Vossa Excelência, Senhor Presidente, que quis honrar a minha chegada com a sua presença: muito obrigado!

Quero desde já agradecer toda a compreensão e disponibilidade com que as Autoridades do Estado tornaram possível esta breve visita que se resume praticamente a uma cerimónia litúrgica no Santuário de Fátima. De facto, acolhendo o apelo insistente dos Senhores Bispos de Portugal, aceitei deslocar-me à Cova da Iria para celebrar, juntamente com a Comunidade católica, a beatificação dos pastorinhos Francisco e Jacinta Marto na própria terra que lhes deu o berço e, agora, o altar. Sei que a Pátria canta os seus heróis e gloria-se dos seus Santos; o Papa associa-se de bom grado à alegria de Portugal.

Ao início da minha visita, exprimo a minha profunda estima e afecto a todos os portugueses, a quem desejo um futuro de paz, bem-estar e prosperidade, prosseguindo na senda das suas tradições e valores pátrios mais genuínos, que assentam no cristianismo. Que Deus vele sobre todos os filhos e filhas desta Terra de Santa Maria. Deus abençoe Portugal!"

St John Paul II's Homily at the Beatification Mass of Francisco and Jacinta Marto
Fátima, Saturday, 13th May 2000 - in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

1. "Father, ... to you I offer praise; for what you have hidden from the learned and the clever you have revealed to the little ones." (Mt 11, 25).

With these words, dear brothers and sisters, Jesus praises the heavenly Father for his plans; He knows that no one can come to Him unless he is drawn by the Father (cf Jn 6, 44); therefore He praises his plan and embraces it as a son:  "Yes, Father, for such was your gracious will" (Mt 11, 26). You were pleased to reveal the kingdom to the little ones.

According to the divine plan, "a woman clothed with the sun" (Rv 12, 1) came down from heaven to this earth, in search of the Father's privileged little ones . She speaks to them with the voice and heart of a mummy: she asks them to offer themselves as victims of reparation, saying that she was ready to lead them safely to God. And behold, they see a light shining from her maternal hands which penetrates them inwardly, so that they feel immersed in God just as - they themselves explained - a person contemplates oneself in the mirror.

Later Francisco, one of the three privileged children, exclaimed:  "We were burning in that light which is God and we were not consumed. What is God like? It is impossible to say. In fact we will never be able to tell people". God: a light that burns without consuming. Moses had the same experience when he saw God in the burning bush; he heard God say that He was concerned about the slavery of his people and had decided to deliver them through him: "I will be with you" (cf Ex 3, 2-12). Those who welcome this presence become the dwelling-place and, consequently, a "burning bush" of the Most High.

2. What most impressed and entirely absorbed Blessed Francisco was God in that immense light which penetrated the inmost depths of the three children. But God told only Francisco "how sad" he was, as he said. One night his father heard him sobbing and asked him why he was crying; his son answered:  "I was thinking of Jesus who is so sad because of the sins that are committed against him". He was motivated by one desire - so expressive of how children think - "to console Jesus and make him happy".

A transformation takes place in his life, one we could call radical: a transformation certainly uncommon for children of his age. He devotes himself to an intense spiritual life, expressed in assiduous and fervent prayer, and attains a true form of mystical union with the Lord. This spurs him to a progressive purification of the spirit through the renunciation of his own pleasures and even of innocent childhood games.

Francisco bore without complaining the great sufferings caused by the illness from which he died. It all seemed to him so little to console Jesus: he died with a smile on his lips. Little Francisco had a great desire to atone for the offences of sinners by striving to be good and by offering his sacrifices and prayers. The life of Jacinta, his younger sister by almost two years, was motivated by these same sentiments.

3. "Another portent appeared in heaven; behold, a great red dragon" (Rv 12, 3).

These words from the first reading of the Mass make us think of the great struggle between good and evil, showing how, when man puts God aside, he cannot achieve happiness, but ends up destroying himself.

How many victims there have been throughout the last century of the second millennium! We remember the horrors of the First and Second World Wars and the other wars in so many parts of the world, the concentration and extermination camps, the gulags, ethnic cleansings and persecutions, terrorism, kidnappings, drugs, the attacks on unborn life and the family.

The message of Fátima is a call to conversion, alerting humanity to have nothing to do with the "dragon" whose "tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth" (Rv 12, 4). Man's final goal is heaven, his true home, where the heavenly Father awaits everyone with his merciful love.

God does not want anyone to be lost; that is why 2,000 years ago he sent his Son to earth, "to seek and to save the lost" (Lk 19, 10). And He saved us by his death on the cross. Let no one empty that Cross of its power! Jesus died and rose from the dead to be "the first-born among many brethren" (Rom 8, 29).

In her motherly concern, the Most Holy Virgin came here to Fátima to ask men and women "to stop offending God, Our Lord, who is already very offended". It is a mother's sorrow that compels her to speak; the destiny of her children is at stake. For this reason she asks the little shepherds:  "Pray, pray much and make sacrifices for sinners; many souls go to hell because they have no one to pray and make sacrifices for them".

4. Little Jacinta felt and personally experienced Our Lady's anguish, offering herself heroically as a victim for sinners. One day, when she and Francisco had already contracted the illness that forced them to bed, the Virgin Mary came to visit them at home, as the little one recounts: "Our Lady came to see us and said that soon she would come and take Francisco to heaven. And she asked me if I still wanted to convert more sinners. I told her yes." And when the time came for Francisco to leave, the little girl tells him: "Give my greetings to Our Lord and to Our Lady and tell them that I am enduring everything they want for the conversion of sinners". Jacinta had been so deeply moved by the vision of hell during the apparition of 13 July that no mortification or penance seemed too great to save sinners.

Jacinta could well exclaim with St Paul: "I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church" (Col 1, 24). Last Sunday at the Colosseum in Rome, we commemorated the many witnesses to the faith in the 20th century, recalling the tribulations they suffered through the significant testimonies they left us. An innumerable cloud of courageous witnesses to the faith have left us a precious heritage which must live on in the third millennium. Here in Fátima, where these times of tribulation were foretold and Our Lady asked for prayer and penance to shorten them, I would like today to thank heaven for the powerful witness shown in all those lives. And once again I would like to celebrate the Lord's goodness to me when I was saved from death after being gravely wounded on 13 May 1981. I also express my gratitude to Blessed Jacinta for the sacrifices and prayers offered for the Holy Father, whom she saw suffering greatly.

5. "Father, to you I offer praise, for you have revealed these things to the little ones". Today Jesus' praise takes the solemn form of the beatification of the little shepherds, Francisco and Jacinta. With this rite the Church wishes to put on the candelabrum these two candles which God lit to illuminate humanity in its dark and anxious hours. May they shine on the path of this immense multitude of pilgrims and of all who have accompanied us by radio and television. May Francisco and Jacinta be a friendly light that illuminates all Portugal and, in special way, this diocese of Leiria-Fátima.

I thank Bishop Serafim, of this illustrious particular Church, for his words of welcome, and with great joy I greet the entire Portuguese episcopate and their dioceses, which I deeply love and which I urge to imitate their saints. A fraternal greeting goes to the cardinals and bishops present, with a special word for the pastors from the community of Portuguese-speaking countries: may the Virgin Mary obtain reconciliation for the people of Angola; may she bring comfort to the flood victims of Mozambique; may she watch over the steps of Timor Lorosae, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, São Tomé and Príncipe; may she preserve in the unity of faith her sons and daughters of Brazil.

I extend a respectful greeting to the President of the Republic and to the authorities who have wished to take part in this celebration. I take this occasion to express, through them, my gratitude to everyone who helped make my pilgrimage possible. A cordial embrace and a particular blessing to the parish and city of Fátima, which today rejoices in her children who are raised to the honours of the altar.

6. My last words are for the children: dear boys and girls, I see so many of you dressed like Francisco and Jacinta. You look very nice! But in a little while or tomorrow you will take these chothes off and ... the little shepherds will disappear. They should not disappear, should they?! Our Lady needs you all to console Jesus, who is sad because of the bad things done to him; he needs your prayers and your sacrifices for sinners.

Ask your parents and teachers to enrol you in the "school" of Our Lady, so that she can teach you to be like the little shepherds, who tried to do whatever she asked them. I tell you that "one makes more progress in a short time of submission and dependence on Mary than during entire years of personal initiatives, relying on oneself alone" (St Louis de Montfort, The True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, n 155). This was how the little shepherds became saints so quickly. A woman who gave hospitality to Jacinta in Lisbon, on hearing the very beautiful and wise advice that the little girl gave, asked who taught it to her. "It was Our Lady", she replied. Devoting themselves with total generosity to the direction of such a good Teacher, Jacinta and Francisco soon reached the heights of perfection.

7."Father, to you I offer praise, for what you have hidden from the learned and the clever you have revealed to the little ones".

Father, to you I offer praise for all your little ones, from the Virgin Mary, your humble Servant, to the little shepherds, Francisco and Jacinta.

May the message of their lives always live on to illuminate the pathway of humanity!"

Papa San Giovanni Paolo II's Greeting to the Sick
Fatima, Saturday, 13 May 2000 - in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Pilgrims to Fátima!
I now desire to address a particular greeting to the numerous sick here present. With this I intend also to embrace all those who, whether at home or in hospital, accompany us spiritually.

The Pope greets you with deep affection, dearest sick people, assuring you
of a special remembrance in prayer for you and for those who are close to you. I carry the desires and requests of each of you to the altar on which Jesus incessantly intercedes and sacrifices himself for humanity.

I have come among you today as a witness to the risen Jesus. He knows what it is to suffer; he lived the anguish of death; with his death however he destroyed death itself, being Himself the first human being, in the absolute, to be freed definitively from its chains. He accomplished the whole journey of man all the way to the homeland of Heaven, where he has prepared a throne of glory for each of us.

Dearest sick brother (or sister)!
If someone or something makes you think you have reached the end of the line, do not believe it! If you know the eternal Love who created you, you also know that
within you there is an immortal soul. There are diverse seasons in life; if by chance you feel winter approaching, I want you to know that it is not the last season, because the last one will be spring: the springtime of the Resurrection. The totality of your life extends infinitely beyond its earthly confines: heaven awaits you.

Dearest sick people! I know that "the sufferings of the present moment are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us" (Rom 8, 18). Have courage! In this Holy Year an abundance of the Father's grace is poured out on those who know how to receive it with the simple, trusting heart of a child. Jesus reminded us of this in the Gospel passage proclaimed earlier. Seek also to be numbered among these "little ones", dear sick people, so that Jesus may delight in you. In a little while He will draw near you to bless you in the Most Holy Sacrament. He comes to you with the promise: "Behold, I make all things new" (Rv 21, 5). Have trust! Abandon yourselves into his provident hands, as did the little shepherds Francisco and Jacinta. They are telling you that you are not alone. The heavenly Father loves you."

Cardinal Angelo Sodano's Address regarding
the 'third part' of the secret of Fatima
at the conclusion of Mass, Fatima, 13 May 2000 - in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Brothers and Sisters in the Lord!
At the conclusion of this solemn celebration, I feel bound to offer to our beloved Holy Father John Paul II, on behalf of all present, heartfelt good wishes for his approaching eightieth birthday and to thank him for his significant pastoral ministry for the good of all God’s Holy Church.

On the solemn occasion of his visit to Fatima, His Holiness has directed me to make an announcement to you. As you know, the purpose of his visit to Fatima has been to beatify the two "little shepherds". Nevertheless he also wishes his pilgrimage to be a renewed gesture of gratitude to Our Lady for her protection during these years of his papacy. This protection seems also to be linked to the so-called "third part" of the secret of Fatima.

That text contains a prophetic vision similar to those found in Sacred Scripture, which do not describe with photographic clarity the details of future events, but rather synthesize and condense against a unified background events spread out over time in a succession and a duration which are not specified. As a result, the text must be interpreted in a symbolic key.

The vision of Fatima concerns above all the war waged by atheist systems against the Church and Christians, and it describes the immense suffering endured by the witnesses to the faith in the last century of the second millennium. It is an interminable Way of the Cross led by the Popes of the twentieth century.

According to the interpretation of the "little shepherds", which was also recently confirmed by Sister Lucia, the "Bishop clothed in white" who prays for all the faithful is the Pope. As he makes his way with great effort towards the Cross amid the corpses of those who were martyred (Bishops, priests, men and women religious and many lay persons), he too falls to the ground, apparently dead, under a burst of gunfire.

After the assassination attempt of 13 May 1981, it appeared evident to His Holiness that it was "a motherly hand which guided the bullet’s path", enabling the "dying Pope" to halt "at the threshold of death" (Pope John Paul II. Meditation with the Italian Bishops from the Policlinico Gemelli, Insegnamenti, vol XVII/1, 1994, p 1061). On the occasion of a visit to Rome by the then Bishop of Leiria-Fatima, the Pope decided to give him the bullet which had remained in the jeep after the assassination attempt, so that it might be kept in the Shrine. At the behest of the Bishop, the bullet was later set in the crown of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima.

The successive events of 1989 led, both in the Soviet Union and in a number of countries of Eastern Europe, to the fall of the Communist regime which promoted atheism. For this too His Holiness offers heartfelt thanks to the Most Holy Virgin. In other parts of the world, however, attacks against the Church and against Christians, together with the burden of suffering which they involve, tragically continue. Even if the events to which the third part of the Secret of Fatima refers now seem part of the past, Our Lady’s call to conversion and penance, issued at the beginning of the twentieth century, remains timely and urgent today. "The Lady of the message seems to read the signs of the times - the signs of our time - with special insight... The insistent invitation of Mary Most Holy to penance is nothing but the manifestation of her maternal concern for the fate of the human family, in need of conversion and forgiveness" (Pope John Paul II, Message for the 1997 World Day of the Sick).

In order that the faithful may better receive the message of Our Lady of Fatima, the Pope has charged the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith with making public the third part of the secret, after the preparation of an appropriate commentary.

Let us thank Our Lady of Fatima for her protection. To her maternal intercession let us entrust the Church of the Third Millennium.

Sub tuum praesidium confugimus, Sancta Dei Genetrix!"