600,000 Mark Anniversary of Fatima Apparitions

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FATIMA, Portugal, MAY 13, 2001 (Zenit.org).- More than 600,000 people crowded the Marian shrine here on the 84th anniversary of the first of the 1917 apparitions of the Blessed Virgin.



Today also marked the first anniversary of the beatification of Jacinta and Francisco Marto, two of the three young shepherds who saw the apparitions, and the revelation of the third part of the Fatima "secret."

Today´s celebration was presided over by Cardinal Antonio María Rouco Varela, archbishop of Madrid and president of the Spanish bishops´ conference.

Authorities planned strict security for the event, Reuters reported. Cardinal Ruoco is an outspoken critic of the Basque separatist group ETA. This year´s Fatima anniversary coincided with regional elections in Spain´s Basque Country, where ETA has been fighting for an independent homeland for 30 years.

The cardinal´s itinerary was kept secret, and Fatima sources said security today would be as tight as it was during last year´s visit by Pope John Paul II.