Pope Benedict XVI and the 'Third Secret' of Fatima

Little wax houses, cars, boats and figures of two people on a motorcycle are also for sale next to the body parts. They are known as votive offerings. Pilgrims drop these wax replicas of the sick part of their bodies, accompanied by a prayer, into a fire next to the chapel, hoping for a miraculous cure of their ailments. Sanctuary officials allow the offerings, though they would much prefer the lighting of simple candles.

The open area of the sanctuary is twice the size of St. Peter's square at the Vatican. Catholics have been flocking here since 1919. Pope Benedict's visit has brought 500,000 pilgrims to the site this week.

During the religious ceremonies celebrating the Virgin Mary of Fatima, her sweet-faced statue is taken off its pedestal in the Capilinha and carried very slowly in procession around the square. The Virgin Mary is carried on a gilded wooden platform bedecked with dozens of white roses by eight men in military uniforms, wobbling from time to time as they stagger under the weight.

'The Worries and Hopes of Our Times'

And over these two days, Pope Benedict XVI, this very theological and rational pope, showed his deep belief in the supernatural events that took place here.

"The devotion and affection of all of you, the faithful who have come here from all around the world, is clear to me," he told the crowd Wednesday night. "I bring with me the worries and hopes of our times, the sufferings of our wounded humanity and the problems of the world, and I place them at the feet of Our Lady of Fatima."

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