HUNDREDS of thousands of Portuguese trekked towards Fatima this week to join Pope John Paul in an all-night vigil on Wednesday night to give thanks for his recovery from the attempt on his life one year ago.
May 13, the day of the assassination attempt, is the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, to whom the Pope attributes his recovery.
A Communist-backed general strike was called for Tuesday in protest against the death of two
demonstrators involved in clashes in Oporto on May I.
Despite the strike, transport was expected to be provided for pilgrims, though many peasants traditionally make the pilgrimage barefoot or on a donkey.
The Pope was to begin the prayer vigil at 8 pm on Wednesday. Normally up to a million gather on the anniversary of the first apparition of Our Lady to three shepherd children in 1917 to take part in a vast candle-lit procession.
The Pope was expected to say the 10.30 am Mass in Fatima yesterday. Today he should preach to farmers, visit the Catholic University and meet non-Catholics in Lisbon before saying Mass in the centre of the city.
Tomorrow he visits Coimbra and Oporto, where he meets industrial workers before leaving for Rome in the late afternoon.