Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Blessed Jacinta and Francisco Marto, the Visionaries of Fatima

In the Jubilee year, the beatification of Jacinta and Francisco, the two little shepherds of Fatima, Portugal, was a landmark event. These two children, aged 10 and 11, are the youngest non-martyrs ever to be beatified in the history of the Catholic Church, proving that no matter how young you are, you can still become a saint.

Francisco Marto was born in Fatima, Portugal, on June 11, 1908, and his sister Jacinta was born on March 11th, 1910. The brother and sister were not much alike; Francisco had a calm personality and loved nature and music, while Jacinta was more active and playful.

The house of Francisco and Jacinta Marto

Beginning at a young age, the two children accompanied their cousin Lucia Santo to the fields each day to watch the families' sheep. One day in 1916, they saw an Angel, who told them he was the angel of peace and the guardian angel of Portugal. The angel taught the amazed children a prayer to say in reparation for sins: "My God, I believe, I adore, I hope, and I love You! I ask pardon of You for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love You!" The angel appeared to the children three times in all, reminding them to pray and make sacrifices. During the third visit, the angel appeared holding a chalice and a host, and taught them another prayer: "Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore You profoundly, and I offer You the most precious Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifference with which He Himself is offended. And, through the infinite merits of His most Sacred Heart, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of You the conversion of poor sinners." He gave Lucia, who was the only one who had made her first Communion, the host, and gave Jacinta and Francisco the blood in the chalice to drink. These apparitions filled the children with a sense of peace and the presence of God, preparing them for the apparitions of Mary which were soon to take place.

The first apparition of Our Lady took place on May 13, 1817, an event which would change their lives forever. In this first of the several apparitions at Fatima, Our Lady asked the children to say the Rosary and to make sacrifices, offering them for the conversion of sinners.

Seven-year-old Jacinta especially took this request very seriously, even though it had earlier been her idea to save time in reciting the Rosary by only saying the first two words of every prayer! She was particularly struck by the Blessed Virgin's request to pray for sinners, especially after seeing the vision of Hell which Mary showed to the three children.

Francisco was affected by the vision in a different way; he saw how sad Jesus and Mary were, and how much they were offended by sins, and his great desire was to console them. The children began to make sacrifices for sinners, and in reparation for the sins which wounded the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Sometimes they gave their lunch to beggars, going without food themselves; they refrained from drinking water on hot days; they offered up their daily crosses; they wore little ropes around their waist until Our Lady told them not to; they prayed often, alone, or together.

In October of 1918, Francisco and Jacinta became seriously ill with the Spanish flu. Our Lady appeared to the two children and told them she was coming soon to take them to Heaven: Francisco first, and then Jacinta later.

Francisco, who had longed for Heaven, was thrilled at the thought of being able to see Jesus and Mary forever. In his last illness, he continually made the sacrifice of taking any medicine or food which was given him, no matter whether he liked it or not, without complaining. As his illness progressed, he could no longer say his prayers out loud, but he continued to pray "with his heart." At Francisco's request, the parish priest came to give him his first Communion, which he had not yet received. It would be his last Communion - Francisco died peacefully the next day, April 14, 1919.The room where Francisco Marto died.

Poor little Jacinta, who was still extremely ill, missed her brother greatly. At the same time, she was suffering from an abcess on her chest. Despite her sufferings, she continued to make sacrifices and offer her pain to God for her dearest intention - the conversion of sinners. She was ready to suffer anything to save souls from Hell. Eventually Jacinta was transferred to a hospital in Lisbon, but her condition did not improve, despite a painful operation. Our Lady continued to console Jacinta with her presence, and on February 20, 1920, the little girl died in the hospital, attended only by a nurse.

Jacinta's bedroom

The lives of Jacinta and Francisco teach us that even young children can become saints. In 1999, the Vatican accepted a miracle for the beatification of the two children. They were beatified on May 13th, 2000, the 83rd anniversary of the first apparition of Our Lady at Fatima.

The tombs of Francisco (above) and Jacinta (below) in the Basilica at Fatima.

Blessed Jacinta and Francisco, PRAY FOR US!

Lucia de Jesus dos Santos was born in Aljustrel, a village in the parish of Fátima, Portugal, on March 22, 1907, and baptized a few days later on March 30. Her parents were Antonio and Maria Rosa dos Santos. She was the youngest of seven children, six girls and a boy. At age 6 she received her First Holy Communion. By 8 she was occupied with the tending of the family's sheep, accompanied by other boys and girls of the village.

The home of Lucia

It was while in the company of her cousins, Jacinta and Francisco Marti, that the first heavenly apparition occurred, that of the Angel of Portugal come to prepare the young trio for their mission and for an even greater visitor.

Lucia was 10 years old when on May 13, 1917, while tending the sheep in the Cova de Iria, a woman, who later identified herself as the Blessed Virgin Mary, appeared to the children. The apparition would continue monthly on the 13th of the month until October 1917 (save August, when imprisonment by the anti-clerical authorities prevented it). During each month's apparition, the Virgin encouraged prayer, especially the rosary, and sacrifice. She also communicated certain prophecies of the future (the end of World War I, the rise of error in Russia (communism) and its propagation throughout the world, the annihilation of nations, another war preceded by a heavenly sign if men did not convert, and the suffering and persecution of the good, especially the Holy Father).

On Oct. 13, 1930, the bishop of Leiria-Fátima, José Alves Correia da Silva, declared the apparitions of Fátima worthy of credibility and allowed public devotion to the Virgin under the title of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fátima.

After the prophesied death of Jacinta and Francisco, during the flu pandemic of 1919, Lucia alone remained to carry on the mission assigned by the "woman from heaven." At 14 she was admitted as a boarder to the school of the Sisters of St. Dorothy in Vilar, near Oporto in the north of Portugal. On Oct. 24, 1925, she entered the Institute of the Sisters of St. Dorothy as a postulant in the convent in Tuy, Spain, not far from the Portuguese border. During these years she would continue to receive private revelations explanatory of the message of Fátima. She made her first vows on Oct. 3, 1928, and her perpetual vows on Oct. 3, 1934, receiving the name Sister Mary of the Sorrowful Mother.

In 1946, seeking a more contemplative life, Lucia entered the Carmelite convent of St. Teresa in Coimbra, where she made her profession as a Discalced Carmelite on May 31, 1949. She took the name Sister Maria Lucia of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart.

In 1967, Sister Lucia traveled to Fatima to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the apparitions, presided over by Pope Paul VI. She went again in 1982, when Paul John Paul II came to the Shrine on 13 May to give thanks for the saving of his life during the assassination attempt of 13 May 1981, and again when the Pope came there in 1991, and finally in 2000, to beatify Jacinta and Francisco.

Over the years Sr. Lucia would write two books, Memoirs, recounting the events of Fatima in her own words, and Calls from the Message of Fatima, giving answers to the many questions about living the message of Fátima, which she has been asked over the years.

In the second apparition, that of June 13, Lucia asked the Lady, "Will you take us to heaven?" The Virgin responded,

Yes, I shall take Jacinta and Francisco soon, but you will remain a little longer, since Jesus wishes you to make me known and loved on earth. He wishes also for you to establish devotion in the world to my Immaculate Heart.

Sr. Lucia with Pope John Paul II

That mission came to an end on February 13, 2005, when after weeks of weakness Sr. Maria Lucia succumbed to the infirmities of old age. Her funeral Mass at the cathedral of Coimbra was presided over by the city's bishop, Most Reverend Antonio Cleto. She will lie in rest at the convent where she spent so many years, until a place is prepared for her body at the Basilica in Fátima, where Francisco and Jacinta are entombed.


Anonymous said...

Great post! Very informative.

Sister Colette said...

Dear Andrew,
We found your blog when we were looking for pictures of the Fatima Seers.
We are a small group of three Catholic hermits in England, and we just wanted to say what a very good job you have done on your site, and that we agree wholeheartedly with your views.
Please pray for us, we will certainly include you in our prayers.
Sister Colette

Andrew said...

Dear Sr. Colette, thank you so much for all you are doing for the Church, by praying for us who are in the world.

Please remember me in your prayers, dear Sisters, and please pray for my vocation.

Thank you and God bless! May your Holy Guardian Angels protect you.

Unknown said...

I don't believe the person represented as Sister Lucia after 1960 is the same person as the Seer of Fatima: https://youtu.be/Q6aJI-UT2rA