Pope Will Visit Fatima for Beatifications

VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- Pope John Paul II will travel to Fatima, Portugal, for the beatification of Francisco and Jacinta Marto on May 12 or 13, 2000. 

On November 26, Bishop Serafim de Sousa Ferreira e Silva of Leiria- Fatima announced the schedule for the canonization of the Fatima seers after meeting with Pope John Paul II. He was in Rome, along with other Portuguese bishops, for his ad limina visit. 

Francisco and Jacinta Marto are two of the three children to whom the Virgin Mary appeared at Fatima in 1917. They died in 1919 and 1920, respectively. The third Fatima seer, Lucia dos Santos, entered religious life and is still living in a convent in Portugal. 

Pope John Paul may formally announce the beatification plans when he meets with a group of Portuguese bishops on November 30. 

Although the Vatican has not officially confirmed the bishop's announcement, informed sources indicate that the Pope will travel to Fatima on May 12, to participate in the annual day of prayer that precedes the commemoration of the first appearance of the Virgin Mary, on May 13. The beatification ceremonies will apparently take place on the latter day. 

In October, Bishop Sousa Ferreira e Silva had announced that the Fatima seers would be beatified in Rome on April 9, along with several others. But he said that Pope John Paul II changed those plans because he wanted to place special emphasis on the role of the Virgin Mary. The Pontiff has frequently said that he credits the Virgin of Fatima for his survival after the assassination attempt that occurred on May 13, 1981. He had also expressed a desire to honor Mary prior to his own 80th birthday, which will be May 18, 2000. 

Francisco and Jacinta Marto will be the youngest people-- aside from martyrs-- ever to be beatified.