During the Holy Mass for the Canonization of Blessed Francisco and Blessed Jacinta Marto, Mons. Antonio Dos Santos Marto, bishop of Leiria-Fatima, greeted Pope Francis with those words:
Greeting to the Holy Father from Mons. Antonio Marto, Bishop of Leiria-Fatima
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!”
Dearest Pope, I take the words of the canticle of the Virgin Mary to express the feeling of joy that fills our hearts for the gift of your presence in our midst and, above all, for you to sing the Lord’s mercy that has been echoed here for 100 years through the message that the Lady “brighter than the sun”, addressed to all mankind. With you we want to exclaim: Blessed be God, rich in mercy, for the great love with which he loved us!
It is an immense joy to welcome you to this shrine where you strike the maternal hearth of Portugal: Hail, Holy Father! Welcome to Fatima! You are in your house!
In this brief greeting I bring you the embrace and affection of all the Catholic people of Portugal and of so many men and women of good will who esteem you. All have their eyes fixed on Pope Francis as a prophetic voice clearly audible in the world panorama, full of dangers and fears, and capable of breaking down walls of separation, of launching bridges of encounter between men and peoples, of being the voice of the poor, the suffering and discarded, to open paths of hope and peace, to bring the joy and love of God, the joy of the gospel, to all creatures in whatever conditions they find themselves. Thank you for your witness, Holy Father, that touches us so deeply!
We would like to thank you in particular for having come to us as a pilgrim, according to the motto of your visit: “With Mary, a pilgrim in hope and peace”! Here you are with us, a pilgrim among pilgrims coming from all over the world, in this assembly of the pilgrim Church, a living, holy and sinful Church, to celebrate a thanksgiving for the centenary of the apparitions of the Virgin Mary and for her message of grace, mercy and of peace that a hundred years ago went from here to the whole world through three children, the little shepherds of Fatima. And also to thank the Lord for the small and great wonders of grace that He realized in Mary and through his message during these hundred years in so many stories of devout pilgrims, fruits of conversion, reconciliation, holiness, communion, of peace.
How could we celebrate this centenary without the presence of the Pope if our affection for him and his prayer are part of the message that guarantees the Mother Church’s support to the pilgrim Church in the midst of persecutions and her universal Pastor?
Fatima, the Church and Portugal, all the pilgrims of the whole world thank you, Holy Father, for having wanted to share with us this high moment of the celebration of the centenary of the apparitions. That’s why we want to tell you all together in chorus: Thank you very much, Papa Francisco! Thank you very much! We will never forget you!
We will always be united to you as recognized children to a father who visits us with his tenderness and his smile and encourages us to live more intensely and with more enthusiasm as disciples of Jesus in the way of Mary, Mother of Jesus and our Mother.
To the maternal intercession of Our Lady of Fatima and the Blessed Francisco and Jacinta Marto, we entrust to you so that the Lord may give you strength, courage and fruitfulness in your apostolic ministry in the service of the Church, in order to meet human peripheries and peace in the world.
Photo: Pope Francis celebrates the canonization Mass of Sts. Francisco and Jacinta Marto, two of the three Fatima seers, at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal, May 13. The Mass marked the 100th anniversary of the Fatima Marian apparitions, which began on May 13, 1917. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)