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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 May 2007, 16:07 GMT 17:07 UK
Madeleine parents visit holy site
Kate and Gerry McCann lighting a candle
Kate and Gerry McCann lit a candle at the shrine
The parents of missing Madeleine McCann have visited Portugal's holiest site to pray for the four-year-old's return.

Gerry and Kate McCann, from Rothley, Leicestershire, who say their Catholic faith has kept them strong, spent time at the Marian shrine of Fatima.

The visit is expected to be the first of several to raise awareness about Madeleine, who disappeared on 3 May.

Meanwhile, police in Portimao, in the Algarve, have re-interviewed a female witness and plan to question a man.

It is believed the pair are Michaela Walczuch - the German girlfriend of the sole official suspect, Briton Robert Murat - and her estranged husband, Portuguese national Luis Antonio.

Religious faith

Police confirmed to the BBC they had interviewed one woman for two to three hours in connection with the inquiry.

They had also hoped to re-interview a male witness, but he was unable to attend and will be questioned at a later date, they added.

The trip to the shrine marks the first time Mrs McCann has left the Algarve village of Praia da Luz since Madeleine was abducted from the family's holiday apartment, other than visits to the police station in nearby Portimao.

According to friends, she had hoped to make the four-hour trip to the shrine before Madeleine was abducted, and had been even keener to do so since.

Her religious faith is long-standing, while Mr McCann is said to have had his renewed during their ordeal.

On the weekend of Madeleine's fourth birthday earlier this month, 300,000 pilgrims flocked to Fatima, including many who carried the girl's picture and prayed for her return.

Devotion

They were marking the 90th anniversary of a vision of the Virgin Mary appearing to three shepherd children - Lucia Santos, her cousin Francisco Marto and his six-year-old sister Jacinta - at the site north of Lisbon.

Mary is said to have disclosed three secrets to the children and predicted Jacinta and Francisco's deaths.

The shrine attracts millions of pilgrims every year, many of whom show their devotion by approaching it on their hands and knees.

During services in the village church in Praia da Luz, which the McCanns have been attending, churchgoers have chanted: "Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us now."


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Madeleine's parents arrive at the shrine



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