Thousands attend mass for John Paul II

The pope had said it was Our Lady of Fatima who saved his life in 1981.

Updated: May 14, 2011, 10:44 AM IST

Lisbon: Some 200,000 Catholics have attended a mass in homage to Pope John Paul II, marking 94 years since the Virgin Mary`s first reported apparition in the town of Fatima, the shrine`s keepers say.

The Polish pontiff, who died on April 02, 2005, had said it was Our Lady of Fatima who saved his life when he was shot by a far-right militant in the Vatican`s Saint Peter`s Square in May 1981, leaving him seriously injured.

John Paul II had survived this assassination attempt "to become God`s instrument, to participate in the fall of the Iron Curtain and to help end the political oppression of communism in the world," the Archbishop of Boston, Sean O`Malley, said in his homily to the congregation.

The mass was followed by a 13-minute video projected onto giant screens, showing the Pope`s visits to Fatima in 1982, 1991 and 2000 - always on May 13.

John Paul II was beatified by his successor Pope Benedict XVI two weeks ago.

Fatima, about 130 kilometres north of Lisbon, is a town where three children are said to have seen apparitions of the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, between May and October 1917.

Thousands of faithful flock to the shrine every year.

Bureau Report