(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a message of greeting to the people of Portugal as he prepares to travel to Fatima on the 100th anniversary of the first apparition of Mary to three shepherd children on May 13th 1917.
In a video-message released just two days before his journey the Pope said that “Just hours from my pilgrimage to Our Lady of Fatima, I find myself in a state of joyful expectation for our upcoming encounter at the house of the Mother”.
I am well aware, he said, of the fact that you would like to welcome me into your homes, into your communities and into your towns as well: “I received your invitation!”
However, he continued, “I would have liked to be able to accept that invitation but it is impossible, and I thank you for the understanding with which my decision to keep my visit circumscribed to the Fatima Sanctuary, where I hope to meet you at the feet of the Virgin Mother, has been received”.
“It is in my role as universal pastor, Pope Francis said, that I am about to present myself to her and I need to feel you close, physically or spiritually so that we are one heart and one mind”.
In his message the Pope also said he is entrusting all Portuguese faithful to Our Lady asking her to “whisper into the ears of each one of them, and assure them that her Immaculate Heart is a refuge and a path leading them to God”.
“With Mary, I come as pilgrim in hope and in peace” is the logo of this pilgrimage, Pope Francis said, expressing his joy to learn of the intense preparations that are taking place in view of this “blessed moment.”
Inviting all faithful to open their hearts to be able to receive God’s gifts, the Pope thanked all faithful for their prayers for him saying that he is in need of them as he is “a sinner amongst sinners”.
“In His name, I come to you with the joy of sharing the Gospel of hope and peace. May the Lord bless you and Our Lady protect you” he said.