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Visions and secrets: they're not what they used to be. Eighty-three years ago, three shepherd children from the Portuguese village of Fatima saw a vision of the Virgin Mary, who revealed three secrets. The first two secrets apparently referred to the end of the First World War and to the danger that Communists would dominate the world. For years, the third secret was kept under lock and key, allowing conspiracy theories to flourish. It has now been published by the Vatican, and it is said to refer to the assassination attempt on the Pope in May 1981.

Visions and secrets: they're not what they used to be. Eighty-three years ago, three shepherd children from the Portuguese village of Fatima saw a vision of the Virgin Mary, who revealed three secrets. The first two secrets apparently referred to the end of the First World War and to the danger that Communists would dominate the world. For years, the third secret was kept under lock and key, allowing conspiracy theories to flourish. It has now been published by the Vatican, and it is said to refer to the assassination attempt on the Pope in May 1981.

And yet, the mild sceptic - believer or otherwise - could be forgiven for noting that the text does not entirely correspond to the event in 1981 that it allegedly foretells: the secret reckons that the bishop in white will be killed by "a group of soldiers" firing bullets and arrows "on a mountaintop"; many other bishops and priests and others will also be killed. In fact the Pope was not killed, by a not-group of not-soldiers in a city square; nobody else was hurt. Not what you might call a perfect fit.

Admittedly, even the Vatican was quick to insist yesterday that "no great mystery is unveiled". Or, in the words of a famously laconic headline: "The Pope: no news".

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