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Pilgrims brave scorching heat for pope’s vigil in Lisbon after Francis ditches Fatima peace prayer

by Chloe Baker
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fokus keyword Pope Francis

Around 1.5 million youthful attendees gathered in Lisbon, Portugal’s capital, on Saturday, enduring sweltering temperatures to participate in Pope Francis’ World Youth Day vigil. They camped out overnight for the farewell Mass on Sunday morning, despite the thermometer reaching 38 degrees Celsius (95 Fahrenheit) and expected to hit 40 C (104 F) on Sunday.

Pope Francis, 86, set aside his planned speech and instead engaged the crowd with an animated 10-minute impromptu talk in Spanish about companionship and mutual assistance. He concluded with “No fear, thanks, ciao!” before being wheeled off the stage.

With temperatures soaring, the pilgrims sought refuge under umbrellas or crafted shades using plastic sheets, while misting systems attempted to cool the heat-stricken attendees. Over 400 faucets were set up to keep everyone hydrated.

Wildfires elsewhere in Portugal, stoked by the heatwave, created a smoky haze in the sky. The Vatican reported that 1.5 million people were present, all of whom had arrived from different parts of the city to take part in a highlight of the Catholic youth festival.

South Korean pilgrim, Lan Young Modesta Cheong, spoke about using trash bins to create shade. Despite initial reservations about the dirt and smell, the resourcefulness became symbolic of the spirit of World Youth Day.

In addition to the vigil, Francis visited the Catholic shrine in Fatima, where he abandoned his prepared speech and expected peace prayer. Although the prayer was anticipated to be a focal point of his visit to Fatima, he instead prayed silently before a statue of the Virgin Mary. The prayer was later published on the platform X, previously known as Twitter.

Approximately 200,000 individuals attended Francis’ visit to Fatima. Nearby wildfires created a dramatic backdrop, with ash falling on the crowd.

The Fatima legend originated in 1917 when three Portuguese children claimed to have seen the Virgin Mary, who allegedly revealed to them three secrets. These prophecies encompassed visions of hell, the end of WWI and the beginning of WWII, and the rise and fall of Soviet communism. The third secret, disclosed in 2000, was associated with the 1981 assassination attempt on St. John Paul II.

The story also includes later claims about the consecration of Russia and the promise of peace. Pope Francis’ prayer for peace was shared on X, consecrating the church and world to Mary and calling for peace pathways.

Bishop Jose Ornelas of Fatima explicitly prayed for Ukraine, aligning with Pope Francis’ call for peace, including in Ukraine and other conflict areas.

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni explained Francis’ departure from his prepared remarks, denying any underlying serious reasons for the change, such as health concerns. Pope Francis has been hospitalized twice this year, and Saturday’s intense schedule in Portugal, including a trip to Fatima, marked a particularly demanding day.

The coverage of Big Big News on religious events is supported through collaboration with The Conversation US, with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. The AP holds full responsibility for the content.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about fokus keyword Pope Francis

How many people attended Pope Francis’ World Youth Day vigil in Lisbon?

Around 1.5 million young people attended the vigil, braving extreme heat to participate in the event and camp out overnight for the farewell Mass on Sunday morning.

What did Pope Francis do instead of his prepared speech?

He chose to ditch his prepared speech and instead delivered a lively 10-minute off-the-cuff chat in Spanish about journeying together and helping one another.

How did the attendees cope with the extreme heat during the event?

The pilgrims sought shelter under umbrellas and makeshift shades of plastic canvas sheets. Crews also blew misters at the pilgrims to cool them down, and there were more than 400 faucets around the field to provide water.

What did Pope Francis do during his visit to Fatima?

During his visit to the Catholic shrine in Fatima, he abandoned his prepared speech and an expected prayer for peace, instead praying silently before a statue of the Virgin Mary. His prayer was later posted on the platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

What were the wildfires in Portugal’s connection to the event?

Smoke from a series of wildfires that broke out around Portugal during a weekend spike in temperatures created a haze over the sky as the pilgrims arrived, adding to the atmospheric challenges of the event.

What’s the significance of Fatima in Catholic tradition?

The Fatima story dates back to 1917, when three Portuguese children claimed the Virgin Mary appeared to them and revealed three secrets, which included prophecies about world events and a call for the consecration of Russia. Fatima has since been associated with exhortations of peace and conversion.

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