Fátima, March 20 (Lusa) – The head of the Catholic church Pope Francis will visit Portugal for less than 24 hours on a pilgrimage to the holy shrine of Fátima in May and is scheduled to meet the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister, according to a schedule published on Monday.
The schedule of Pope Francis’ pilgrimage to Fátima to mark the centenary of the “apparitions” at the site includes a “private meeting” with president Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa at the Monte Real Air Base, on 12 May, and with Prime Minister António Costa, on 13 May.
This year is the centenary of the reported apparitions of the Virgin Mary in 1917 to three shepherd children in Cova da Iria, Fátima. Pope Francis’ visit will coincide with the 100th anniversary of the apparitions on 13 May.
After landing at 4.20 pm on 12 May at Monte Real, the Pope will visit the airbase chapel before a private 30-minute meeting with the President.
He will then travel by helicopter from the base to the Fátima stadium and then onwards in an open-top vehicle to the shrine, according to the schedule.
At 6.15 pm he is scheduled to pray at the Apparition Chapel. That same evening he will hold a greeting during the Blessing of the Candles ceremony in the same chapel.
On Saturday 13 May he will meet with Prime Minister Costa and visit the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary in Fátima.
At 10 am a mass will be celebrated within the shrine, with a homily to Pope Francis.
The Pope will have lunch with the Portuguese bishops at Casa Nossa Senhora do Carmo, and the farwell ceremony is scheduled for 2.45 pm and his return to Rome at 3.00 pm, according to the schedule published simultaneously in Fátima and Rome.
NS/CA // CA