Pope Francis intends to visit Portugal in August, the Vatican’s secretary of state said Friday during a pilgrimage to the shrine of Fatima in the center of the country.
The Argentinian pontiff plans to attend World Youth Day, a global gathering of young Catholics, to be held this year in Lisbon from 1-6 August.
“You can’t come to Portugal without coming to Fatima” and “all the popes have always paid a lot of attention to Fatima,” Cardinal Pietro Parolin told reporters during a visit to the town.
The 86-year-old pope “wants to come back especially to pray,” he added.
More than a million pilgrims are expected to attend the annual youth event, which is normally held every three years.
Pope Francis visited the Fatima shrine in 2017 when he declared sainthood for two young shepherds who had visions of the Virgin Mary there over 100 years ago
The Virgin Mary is said to have appeared six times between May and October 1917 to Jacinta, then 7, Francisco, 9 and their cousin Lucia, 10.
“The presence of the Pope in Fatima in August will be a special moment,” said the rector of the shrine, Father Carlos Cabecinhas, indicating that the Argentine pontiff “will certainly give new emphasis to the issue of peace.”