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Saints Jacinta and Francisco Marto of Fatima

“Give my love to our Lord and our Lady, and tell them that I suffer all they ask of me to convert sinners, and in reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.” -Saint Jacinta to her brother Saint Francisco just before he died, 4 April 1919, she was 8

In the modern Roman Calendar February 20th marks the Feast of two incredible little Saints.  They are brother and sister and along with their cousin Lucia received visits from the Guardian Angel of Portugal and then the ever Blessed Virgin Mary in the Cova da Iria, a piece of property owned by Lucia’s Father.  Like Mélanie Calvat and Maximin Giraud, who our Lady appeared to in La Salette, France in 1846 these three were pure, innocent, poor, shepherds, and our a Lady had a most terrible message of warning for them.  This warning was far more terrible than that given to the children at La Salette where our Lady appeared weeping for the blasphemies committed against our Lord and His Church.

It was then just 12 years later that our Lady appeared again in France at Lourdes to little Bernadette and her simple message was: “Penance! Penance! Penance!”, which was repeated to the children at Fatima.  These warnings were not heeded and France and all of Western Europe was ravaged first by the Franco-Prussian War (which halted the First Vatican Council, which was never able to be completed), and then when she was still not heeded the most terrible war the world had ever seen broke forth upon Europe in the First World War and the bloody and terrible Communist Revolution took place Russia.

It was during this terrible time in that in 1917 our Lady appeared to these three children in six consecutive months on the 13th of each month, and finally on the 13th of October.  Our Lady told the children many things including many warnings and prophesies of the terrible future that awaited us if we did not repent.  She told them that if people did not stop offending God a more terrible war than the one that was currently raging would break out during the reign of Pope Pius XI (though it was still only during the reign of Pope Benedict XV).  And what happened?  The roaring 20s with all of it’s immodestly and forgetfulness of God.  The west was then plunged into the “Great Depression” and then into the most terrible war the world has ever seen, which touched nearly every corner of the globe, and which is still deeply affecting the world today.

Before going any further, it needs to be mentioned that one must be very careful when reading books about Fatima, because there is a great deal of misinformation spread about it or it is suppressed entirely.  Recent books, articles, and films about the events of the apparitions to the children at Fatima such as: “The 13th Day” are a stupendously horrible and inaccurate movie.  Anyone with any real knowledge of, and a deep devotion to, our Lady of Fatima and Saint Jacinta could be nothing other than extremely upset by how that film in particular was put together because of how it distorts the message of our Lady and great holiness of the seers.  The movie produced in the 1950s: The Miracle of our Lady of Fatima is much better but does not have the greatest production value and a lot of the awesomeness of the events are lost in translation and much of the story is left out for lack of time.

The highest recommendation that can offer are three books: first, find and OLD (1940-50s) copy of Sister Lucia’s memoirs (before all the “editing” was done to it) and get the basic story; second, seek out the wonderful little book Jacinta: The Flower of Fatima by the Rev. Fr. Joseph Galamba de Oliveira, the English edition of which boasts a preface by a young Father Fulton J. Sheen; and finally a very recent work that deals with a lot of the controversy over the message of Fatima in the last few years and is extremely fair and well researched: The Fourth Secret of Fatima by Antonio Socci, a well respected Italian journalist who works in and around Rome, and is a personal friend of our Holy Father.

It was on March 11th 1910 that Jacinta Marto was born the 11th and last blessing to her family.  To think today most Catholics, not following the Church’s teaching on contraception, never make it past three or four children at best, and that the 10th and 11th children of this family are the ones who the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to and who are now held up as Saints by Holy Mother Church.  In the aforementioned book Jacinta we receive a wonderful treatment of life and the character of Jacinta.  One would think that a child so young and ostensibly innocent could have little need for conversion, but as her cousin Lucia describes she was just like any other child with her own faults and failings that caused her to misbehave and treat hear siblings and cousins with some lack of charity at times.

It is astounding to read about her as she was before and after the apparitions of the Guardian Angel of Portugal and then our Lady to the children and the incredible change that came over this wonderful little saint.  One cannot read about her (or Francisco and Lucia) and her incredible acts of love and devotion to God, and the terrible penances and sufferings she endured for the final 3 years of her life following the apparitions without weeping and recognizing how weak and cowardly we are.  In our weak and effeminate times there are even few grown men who would be willing to put themselves through what this little girl was willing with great zeal to take on.  She and her brother and cousin were so intent upon making reparation for the sins of man and comforting the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts that our Lady had to appear to them to tell them to relax in certain practices.

These children were so holy at ages 7 (Jacinta), 9 (Francisco), and 10 (Lucia) that they began giving away their lunches to children poorer than themselves and going hungry all day.  They refused even to drink any water while working out under the hot sun all day.  On one occasion Jacinta was so overcome with thirst that she was forced to drink something, but in order to still be doing penance she took a drink of disgusting pond water.  They did all of this in secret so as not worry their parents, and we only know of them now because many years later Lucia wrote these things down in her memoirs.  They each wore a thick coarse rope around their waist and under their cloths, and were so zealous in this penance that they would even sleep with them on and it was this that our Lady appeared them to tell them to stop wearing them while laying in bed, and this was in part because they had become so ill that they were often in bed and that suffering alone was sufficient for them.

Another interesting point to be made about Jacinta’s change in actions after her conversion was that she stopped dancing, which was something she greatly loved to do.  Now most people today, even Catholics see nothing wrong with dancing, and see no reason why she should stop doing something she loved as a little child, but we forget that dancing in public has always been discouraged and in some circumstances condemned by the Church.  A full treatment of the subject of the morality of dancing in public can be found here.

Another great suffering that the children were made to undergo was during the time of the apparitions when the local secular authorities abducted the children on the day when one of the apparitions was to take place (but which was deferred to a day or two later) and locked them in jail in the neighboring town of Ourem.  They threatened the children with death by being boiled alive in oil if they did not reveal the secret messages our Lady had confided to them.  These brave children boldly and bravely faced martyrdom rather than give up the secrets.  This is amazing considering that after they were not killed but simply locked in the jail Jacinta wept because she feared she would never see her mother again, but collecting herself she hung her brown scapular on the wall and caused her cousins and the grown men jailed with them to all kneel before it and pray the Rosary.  Oh that in these days we would all be half as brave as these little children!

Beyond any other suffering, however, I believe the one that truly caused Jactina the most pain was her being denied reception of the most Blessed Sacrament and in her illness even the opportunity to hear Holy Mass.  She wept profusely when her brother Francisco made his first communion, in part in joy for him but also in sorrow that she could not also receive Him whom she loved so dearly.  She was never able to receive our Lord in this life, she who desired it with all her being and oh that we, who can receive our Lord every day, would have even a fraction of the desire and love Jactina had burning within her for our Lord in the Holy Sacrament of His Love!

The circumstances of Francisco’s death are most moving, but the highlight is the quote at the top of this page.

As our Lady had told her Jacinta was to die alone.  In her grave illness she was first moved to the hospital at Ourem away from her family.  This was a most terrible trial for her to have to be away from her Mother and from Lucia.  She spent several months there alone without visitors save one visit from her Mother and Lucia.  The latter had this to say of her little cousin from that visit:

“I found her as happy as always to suffer for the love of God and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, for the conversion of sinners and for the Holy Father.  That was her ideal.  That was all she spoke about.”

She did receive another visit from a priest who was shocked at her appearance, and he wondered whether or not our Lady had told Jacinta what she had to Bernadette that she would not find happiness in this life, but only in the next.  And even in this state she confided to Lucia:

“When I am alone, I get out of bed to see the angel’s prayer.  Now I can’t bow my head to the floor anymore because I fall.  Now I say it on my knees.”

The prayer she is referring to is that given by the Guardian Angel of Portugal to the children to pray before our Lady began appearing to them.  She was always most attentive to fulfill the commands and requests of her from the angel and our Lady with perfect obedience.

When Jacinta noticed that Lucia was very sad knowing that soon she would lose her too after having already lost Francisco it was then she who did the cheering up from the incredible depths of her charity:

“Poor thing. Don’t cry, Lucia.  I shall pray a lot in heaven for you.  You are going to stay here, but it is our Lady who wants it.”

It must be noted hear that our Lady told Lucia that she would take Jacinta and Francisco soon, and both died within 3 years of the apparitions.  She told Lucia that she would come for her a “little while later”, which turned out to be February 13 2005 some 85 years after the death of Jacinta.  When Lucia asked her little cousin what she would do in heaven it sounds like something Saint Therese would have said:

“I’m going to love Jesus a lot, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and pray and pray for you,  for the Holy Father, my parents, brothers, sisters and for everyone who asked me and for sinners.  I love to suffer for love of our Lord and our Lady.  They love those who suffer for the conversion of sinners.”

After her time at the hospital in Ourem little Jactina had to make the long and painful ride to Lisbon where a specialist in children’s diseases was to attend to her.  On the journey she meditated upon the difficult journey of our Lady and Saint Joseph to Bethlehem.  After reaching Lisbon her mother then had to leave her there and it was the last time she would see her or anyone from her family.

She spent 18 days there in excruciating suffering of body, mind, and soul.  At 6 o’clock on February 20th a priest came to hear her confession, and promised to bring her communion in the morning.  Jacinta begged him to bring it immediately, but seeing no reason for any alarm he declined to do so.  Four and half hours later she died peacefully with only a nurse at her side, and without having ever received our Lord whom she loved so much, but then she was at last with Him in heaven.

In 1935 and 1951 the bodies of the two little seers were exhumed, and while Francisco was found decomposed, Jacinta was found to be incorrupt.  On May 13th 2000, Pope Saint John Paul II declared the brother and sister Blessed, and on May 13th 2017, on the 100 year anniversary of the first apparition at Fatima, Pope Francis canonized Jacinta and Francisco Saints of the Catholic Church.  Jacinta is the youngest non-martyr ever canonized in the history of the Church.


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