Pope Francis cheered in Fatima to honor children who urged peace – Chicago Tribune

Pope Francis urged Catholics on Friday to “tear down all walls” and spread peace as he traveled to this Portuguese shrine town to mark the 100th anniversary of one of the most unique events of the 20th-century Catholic Church: the visions of the Virgin Mary reported by three illiterate shepherd children and the “secrets” she told them.

Thousands of pilgrims lined Francis’ motorcade route and tossed flower petals, evidence that Latin America’s first pope has a huge following in this largely Catholic country. Cheers of “Viva o papa!” — “Long live the pope” — erupted when Francis pulled into Fatima’s main square, which had been doused by heavy rains but was treated to a brilliant warm sun by the time he arrived.

There was no official crowd estimate, but the main square has a capacity of 600,000 and was overflowing. Authorities said they expected 1 million people.

“It is a big emotion because it is the first time he comes here, and we are always hopeful that something can improve,” said Laurindo Pereira, a 55-year-old carpenter. “It is faith. In everything, it is about faith and it is a beautiful thing.”

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