The Vatican released the detailed program of the visit of Pope Francis to Fatima in May
The Holy Father is going to have lunch with the Portuguese bishops on May 13th after the celebrations
The Vatican released this morning the official program of the visit of Pope Francis to Fatima on the 12th and 13th of May in the scope of the celebrations of the Centennial of the Apparitions.
The Holy Father comes to Portugal as a pilgrim and in the program, there are mainly moments of prayer. The only scheduled meetings are the ones with the President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, at the arrival in Monte Real air base and a brief meeting with the Prime Minister, António Costa in the Retreat House of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, where he is going to stay.
Francis will arrive at Monte Real air base on the 12th afternoon by 4:2Opm. After the welcoming ceremony and the meeting with Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, His Holiness will visit the Chapel of Our Lady of Air, still inside the base, where also Paul VI and John Paul II prayed.
The arrival at the Municipal Stadium of Fatima will take place one hour after and the transfer to Cova da Iria will be made by Popemobile through the streets of Fatima.
Once in the Shrine, the Holy Father will recite a prayer in the Chapel of the Apparitions. By 9:30pm, Pope Francis will make the blessing of the candles followed by the recital of the rosary in the Chapel of the Apparitions, where he will also greet the pilgrims.
In the morning of the 13th and after the meeting with António Costa, the Holy Father will visit the tombs of the Little Shepherds in the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary.
By 10:00 am, the Pope will preside over the Holy Mass in the Prayer Area where he will make the traditional blessing of the sick. Once the celebrations are over, the Pope will have lunch with the bishops of Portugal in the Retreat House of Our Lady of Mount Carmel before leaving to Monte Real where he will take a TAP flight to Rome.
The formalization of this visit happened on December 16th, 2016 after an invitation from the President of the Republic and the Portuguese bishops.
As a reminder, on September 7th, 2015, at the meeting of the bishops of Portugal with the Pope during the visit ad Limina, Francis showed a "strong will" to visit Fatima by saying: "tengo ganas de ir a Fátima (I want to go to Fatima)". He has also mentioned before, in private, to the bishop of the Diocese of Leiria-Fatima in April 2015 that, "If God provides me life and health" I will be in Cova da Iria to celebrate the Centennial of the Apparitions of Fatima.
Francis will be the fourth Head of the Catholic Church to visit Fatima after Paul VI (1967), John Paul II (1982,1991 and 2000) and Benedict XVI (2010).
The Holy Father's visit, in the Centennial of the Apparitions, confirms on the one hand, his connection to Our Lady to whom he consecrated his pontificate and, on the other hand, the linkage between the papacy and the Portuguese Shrine, specifically acknowledged in October 1942, when Pius XII consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, during the Second World War.
On March 13th,2013, he was elected Pope and his connection to Our Lady of Fatima, as Successor of Peter, officially began two months after, when the Portuguese bishops, by his request, dedicated his pontificate to Our Lady, during the celebrations of the 13th of May in Fatima.
One example of his Marian devotion was also the specific request for the Statue of Our Lady, which is worshipped in the Chapel of Apparitions, to travel to Rome for the Marian Day that was promoted by the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, in the scope of the celebration of the Year of the Faith.
Furthermore, Pope Francis referred to the celebration of the 13th of May, by evoking some of the key content of the Apparitions to the three seers, the Blessed Francisco and Jacinta and Sister Lucia, that took place in Cova da Iria between May and October 1917.
During the catechesis of the 13th of May 2015, the Pope asked to the Portuguese reader, present in Saint Peter's Square in Rome, to pray out loud one Hail Mary, marking the day in which the Church remembers Our Lady of Fatima: "I ask to my Portuguese brother, in this day of Our Lady of Fatima, to pray with all in Portuguese".
In the General Audience of the 11th of May 2016, Pope Francis mentioned the celebration of the 13th of May, in Cova da Iria and reminded the devotion of John Paul II to Our Lady of Fatima: "In this apparition, Mary invites us once again to prayer, penitence and to the conversion", said the Pontiff, before thousands of people gathered in Saint Peter's Square. On the same day, the official account of Pope Francis in the social network Instagram posted an image of Our Lady of Fatima with the caption "Mother, we thank you for your faith, we renew our entrustment to you".
Friday, 12th May 2017
2:00pm Departure from Rome-Fiumicino Airport to Monte Real
4:20pm Arrival at the air base of Monte Real
4:35pm PRIVATE MEETING WITH THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC in the air base of Monte Real
4:55pm Visit to the air base chapel
5:15pm Transfer by helicopter to the Stadium of Fatima
5:35pm Arrival to the Stadium of Fatima and transfer to the Shrine by open vehicle
6:15pm VISIT TO THE CHAPEL OF APARITIONS Holy Father's prayer
9:30pm BLESSING OF THE CANDLES in the Chapel of Apparitions
RECITATION OF THE HOLY ROSARY
Saturday, 13th of May 2017
9:10am Meeting with the Prime Minister
9:40am Visit to the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima
10:00am HOLY MASS in the Prayer Area of the Shrine, Holy Father's homily, Holy Father's greetings to the sick
12:30pm Lunch with the bishops of Portugal at the Retreat House of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
2:45pm FAREWELL CEREMONY in Monte Real air base
3:00pm Flight departure from Monte Real air base to Rome
7:05pm Arrival at Rome/Ciampino airport