The statue of the Virgin Mary is shoulder carried on procession prior to he start of a mass at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima Saturday, May 13, 2017, in Fatima, Portugal. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
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Two young shepherds who had visions of the Virgin Mary 100 years ago in Fatima, a Portuguese site now a global draw for pilgrims, will be declared saints by Pope Francis Saturday.The canonization Saturday has also attracted huge crowds to the sanctuary where the Virgin is said to have appeared six times between May and October 1917 to three impoverished, barely-literate children.Their cousin Lucia lived on until 2005, becoming a nun and meeting several popes including the late John Paul II.He was possibly the most devoted to Fatima, attributing his narrow escape from an assassination attempt at St. Peter's Square on May 13, 1981 -- the anniversary of the first reported apparition -- to the intervention of the Virgin Mary.It was John Paul II who beatified Jacinta and Francisco in 2000 following decades of debate over the events at Fatima and their meaning.They will now be canonized after the Church officially attributed two miracles to the pair -- a necessary step to become a saint.The reported apparitions have been officially recognized by the Catholic church since 1930 .
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