|Portugal||POPE BEATIFIES SHEPHERD BOY AND GIRL IN PORTUGAL, REVEALS THIRD SECRET|
The Vatican disclosed on Saturday that the so-called third secret of Fatima foretold the 1981 assassination attempt against Pope John Paul II, ending a mystery that some had feared was apocalyptic.
Believers hold that the mother of Christ appeared before three shepherd children in 1917 in Fatima and gave them three prophecies, two of which have been reported: a vision of "hell," interpreted as World War II, and the rise and fall of Soviet Communism.
After years of speculation, the Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano said that the "third part of the secret of Fatima" speaks of a "bishop clothed in white" who "falls to the ground, apparently dead, under a burst of gunfire."
Sodano recalled that Pope John Paul has credited the Virgin of Fatima with intervening after he was shot by a Turkish gunman in St. Peter's square on May 13, 1981 -- the anniversary of the first reported vision of the Virgin of Fatima in 1917.
The pope beatified two of the shepherd children on Saturday during a 24-hour visit to Fatima. About 600,000 people watched under the hot sun as the pope performed a 2½-hour ceremony to beatify Jacinta Marto and her brother Francisco, who said the Virgin Mary appeared to them and their cousin Lucia dos Santos above an olive tree six times here.