Hundreds of thousands of Roman Catholic pilgrims celebrated the `miracle of Fatima' in Portugal on Tuesday (13 May).
GV ZOOM: Fatima Cathedral Fatima.
SV PAN: Pilgrims on knees and lighting candles (2 shots)
SV: Pilgrims on knees carrying children (2 shots)
SV: More pilgrims on knees
SV: Procession moves along. Many banners and flags of participating nations (2 shots)
GV ZOOM OUT: From priests including DOM Martin to statue being carried in procession. (2 shots)
SV: Crowds waving flowers and confetti over statue of Fatima (2 shots)
SV: Cripples and paraplegics on beds and in wheelchairs (4 shots)
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Background: Hundreds of thousands of Roman Catholic pilgrims celebrated the `miracle of Fatima' in Portugal on Tuesday (13 May). They were marking the sixty-third anniversary of the occasion, in 1917 when three shepherd children said they saw the Virgin Mary.
SYNOPSIS: Every year the pilgrims make their way to Fatima Cathedral in central Portugal. Some of them walk for two weeks to reach the small hillside village.
They gathered for an open-air Mass in front of the church built to commemorate the miracle. In one of her appearances, the Virgin Mary warned of a great danger to the world from Russia, which was then in the throes of the Bolshevik revolution.
Since then Fatima has not only become Portugal's national shrine but also a rallying point for anti-communists. The cult of Fatima represents the most conservative elements of Catholicism in Portugal, where the church still has a strong influence on most of the electorate.
For many years there was a reluctance by the church to accept the visions as genuine, but in 1930 they were finally recognised as miracles.
This year's celebrations were presided over by the Spanish Archbishop of Toledo, Dom Marcelo Martin. Among the pilgrims was the wife of Portuguese President Antonio Romalho Eanes, who started a three-day official visit to the Vatican and Italy on Wednesday (14 May).
Portugal's right-wing ruling alliance has tried to identity President Eanes with the left, and play down his good relations with the church. The alliance has chosen a staunchly Catholic anti-communist general as its candidate in this year's President race. But President Eanes is emphasizing Portugal's strong traditional ties with the Holy See by making the first official visit to any head of state of the Vatican since Pope John Paul was elected in 1978.
Pope John Paul's predecessor visited Fatima in 1967 to mark the 50th anniversary of the `Miracle of Fatima.