Tiny Portuguese town swells as pope comes to beatify shepherd children

Friday, May 12th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

(Fatima, Portugal-AP) -- More than 100-thousand pilgrims are gathered in a small Portuguese town to see Pope John Paul.

The pontiff is in Fatima to beatify a shepherd boy and girl who said they spoke to the Virgin Mary 83 years ago.

The pope embraced small children and briefly caressed the heads of many in the teary crowd after a helicopter dropped him off in a soccer field.

Tomorrow, the pope will beatify the two children who said the Virgin Mary appeared to them and their cousin six times above an
olive tree and told them three secrets.

The brother and sister died of pneumonia two years after the visions. But the cousin, who's now 93 and a nun, will meet with the Pope tomorrow.

Beatification is the final step before sainthood.