The celebration began with a procession with the Virgin of Fatima. Members of various army corps carried her on their shoulders from the Chapel of the Apparitions to the altar while some people threw flower petals.
Benedict XVI accompanied part of the procession in his pope mobile. Before starting the celebration he received a chalice as a memento from a trip of Father Antonio Marti, his former student.
The pope said that “whomever thinks the prophecy of Fatima is fulfilled is mistaken”, because the Virgin is the one who can change a person’s heart, when facing death and fear.
“At a time when the human family was ready to sacrifice all that was most sacred on the altar of the petty and selfish interests of nations, races, ideologies, groups and individuals, our Blessed Mother came from heaven.”
The pope said that he went to Fatima to confess to the Virgin that he “loves her”, to pray for mankind “afflicted by so much misery and suffering” and to pray for priests.
Before ending mass the pope visited the sick and blessed them with the Eucharist. He told them “that when suffering is lived with Jesus, it helps the salvation of humanity.”
“Entrust to Him every setback and pain that you face, so that they become - according to His design; a means of redemption for the whole world.”
He said that Jesus, through his Passion, has entered in every pain of man to share in that suffering.
After the ceremony the pope entered the basilica and prayed for some minutes in front of the tombs of the three shepherds.