Associated Press “Pope Francis to canonise Portuguese children who 'saw' Virgin Mary” https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/12/pope-francis-pilgrims-flock-to-shrine-town-fatima-children
On 13 May 1917, while they were grazing their sheep, the children saw the first of a half-dozen visions of the Virgin Mary. They said she revealed to them three “secrets” – apocalyptic messages foreshadowing the second world war, hell, the rise and fall of communism and the death of a pope – and urged them to pray for peace and turn away from sin.
At first doubted by the local Catholic church and even their parents, the children’s story gained believers and was eventually accepted as an authentic apparition by the church in 1930.
The children being canonised, brother and sister Francisco and Jacinta Marto, who were nine and seven at the time of the apparitions, died of influenza two years later. Their cousin, Lucia dos Santos, who became the main raconteur of their tale, is on track for beatification, the first step toward becoming a saint. Her case couldn’t begin until after her death in 2005.
Francis’s deputy, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, said the importance of Fátima lay in the fact that poor, illiterate children – not the wealthy or learned – were able to convey a powerful message of love and forgiveness at a time of war when “the talk was of hatred, vendetta, hostilities”.
Fátima has long been associated with St John Paul II. The Polish-born pope credited the Virgin Mary with having saved his life in 1981 when a would-be assassin shot him on Fátima’s feast day – 13 May – in St Peter’s Square. John Paul made the first of his three pilgrimages to Fátima the following May, and one of the bullets fired at him now adorns the crown of the Madonna at the shrine.
Like John Paul II, the Argentinian-born Francis is devoted to the Madonna, thanks in large part to the strong role Marian devotions play in the popular piety of Latin American Catholics.