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Father of Fatima 'miracle' boy recounts recovery

© AFP | Joao Batista (L) and Lucila Yurie, parents of a miraculously healed child, give a press conference at Fatima, central Portugal, on May 11, 2017

FÁTIMA (PORTUGAL) (AFP) - 

The father of a Brazilian boy who recovered at lightning speed after a serious fall on Thursday recounted what he called a "miracle" brought about by two child shepherds in Portugal's Fatima.

This reported miracle is what prompted the Church to decide to canonise the shepherds who close to 100 years ago reported apparitions of the Virgin Mary in the central Portuguese town that has since become a major holy site.

Pope Francis arrives in Fatima on Friday to mark the 100th anniversary of the reported sightings and canonise the late siblings in an event expected to attract up to a million faithful.

"We thank God for Lucas's recovery and we know, with all the faith in our heart, that he recovered thanks to a miracle brought about by the small shepherds Francisco and Jacinta," Joao Batista, Lucas's father, told reporters, his wife Lucila Yurie standing beside him.

In March 2013, Lucas -- then five years old -- fell more than six metres (20 feet) from a window and smashed his skull, Batista said.

He was transferred to hospital in Brazil's Parana state, "where he arrived in a very serious coma, his heart stopping twice before being operated on urgently."

"Doctors said he had little chance of pulling through."

After contacting members of the Carmelites, a Catholic religious order, the little boy's family -- already "very devoted" to Our Lady of Fatima -- started calling on the child shepherds, who died of Spanish flu not long after reporting the apparitions in 1917.

"Two days later, Lucas woke up. He was doing well and he started to talk," Batista said.

He left hospital 12 days later.

"He has completely recovered, he has no after-effects," his father said.

"The doctors, including non-believers, weren't able to explain this recovery."

Lucas himself was not present at the news briefing, although he is in Fatima to see the canonisation on Saturday -- the day the child shepherds first reported seeing the Virgin Mary 100 years ago.

© 2017 AFP