LOOK: Pope prays at Santa Maria Maggiore before Fatima trip

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 12 2017 08:07 PM | Updated as of May 12 2017 08:29 PM

In what has been a tradition under his pontificate, Pope Francis once again stopped by at the Basilica of Santa Maria Magiorre in Rome before embarking on another apostolic visit. 

The 80-year-old pontiff is set to visit Fatima in Portugal where he will canonize two shepherd children who are believed to have witnessed an apparition of Mary 100 years ago. 

In a photo posted by Vatican spokesperson Greg Burke in his Twitter account, Francis is seen offering a bouquet of red flowers before the revered icon of Salus Populi Romani. 

Up to a million devotees are expected to attend the canonization mass on Saturday at the shrine for the shepherd children where it is believed they received the messages of Mary, more commonly-known as the "Three Secrets of Fatima."

The story of the soon-to-be saints, Francisco and Jacinta, has captivated Catholics ever since their first reported vision in May 13, 1917.

The third child, Lucia, who died in 2005, is still under the process of beatification, the first step into being declared as saint in the Catholic Church. - with a report from Erik Tenedero, ABS-CBN News, Reuters