The head of the Catholic church Pope Francis is scheduled to meet the President of the
Portuguese Republic and its Prime Minister when his holiness visits the country on a
pilgrimage to the holy shrine of Fátima in May which will last less than 24 hours.
According to a schedule published at the start of this week, 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 4.20pm 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 6.15pm 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 10am 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 farewell ceremony is scheduled for 2.45pm and his return to Rome at 3pm, according to the schedule published simultaneously in Fátima and Rome.