Europe

Pope in Fatima to honor simple children who changed church

Pope Francis and pilgrims from around the world are flocking to a Catholic shrine town in Portugal to honor two poor, illiterate shepherd children whose visions of the Virgin Mary 100 years ago marked one of the most important events of the 20th-century Catholic Church.

Francis arrives Friday in the town of Fatima to celebrate the centenary of the apparitions and canonize the children. He is hoping the message of peace that they reported 100 years ago, when Europe was in the throes of World War I, will resonate today.

Francis' deputy, Cardial Pietro Parolin, said the importance of Fatima lies specifically in the fact that poor, illiterate children were able to convey a powerful message of love and forgiveness at a time of war when "the talk was of hatred, vendetta, hostilities."