Thought for the Day – 13 May 2017 – The Centenary of the Apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima and the Canonisation of the Blesseds Francisco and Jacinta Marto
“Yes, Jacinta and Francisco I will take soon but you will stay some time longer. Jesus wants to use you to let others know and love me. He wants to establish devotion to my Immaculate Heart in the world. To whoever embraces it I promise salvation and that their souls will be dear to God like flowers placed by me to adorn his Throne.” – Our Lady to Lucia dos Santos, Fatima Portugal 1917
Saint Pope John Paul II beatified them on 13th May 2000.
Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore Thee profoundly and I thank Thee for the Apparitions of the Most Holy Virgin in Fatima.
By the infinite merits of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and through the intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I implore Thee if it should be for Thy greater glory and the good of our souls – to glorify in the sight of thy Holy Church Blessed Jacinta and Francisco Marto, granting us through their intercession the grace which we now implore. Amen.
*Francisco Marto (June 11, 1908 – April 4, 1919), his sister Jacinta Marto (March 11, 1910 – February 20, 1920), also known as Blessed Francisco Marto and Blessed Jacinta Marto, and their cousin Lúcia Santos (1907–2005) were children from Aljustrel near Fátima, Portugal who said they witnessed three apparitions of an angel in 1916 and several apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1917. Mary was given the title Our Lady of Fátima as a result, and Fátima became a major centre of world Christian pilgrimage.
The youngest children of Manuel and Olimpia Marto, Francisco and Jacinta were typical of Portuguese village children of that time. They were illiterate but had a rich oral tradition.
According to Lúcia’s memoirs, Francisco had a placid disposition, was somewhat musically inclined, and liked to be by himself to think. Jacinta was affectionate if a bit spoiled. She had a sweet singing voice and a gift for dancing. Following their experiences, their fundamental personalities remained the same. Francisco preferred to pray alone, saying that this would “console Jesus for the sins of the world”. Jacinta said she was deeply affected by a terrifying vision of Hell shown to the children at the third apparition and deeply convinced of the need to save sinners through penance and sacrifice as the Virgin had told the children to do. All three children, but particularly Francisco and Jacinta, practised stringent self-mortifications to this end.
The brother and sister, who tended to their families’ sheep with their cousin Lucia in the fields of Fatima, Portugal, are said to have witnessed, on May 13, 1917, the first apparition of Mary. At the time of the apparition, Francisco was 9 years old, and Jacinta was 7.
During the first apparition, Mary is said to have asked the three children to say the Rosary and to make sacrifices, offering them for the conversion of sinners. She also asked them to return to that spot on the thirteenth of each month for the next six months
The siblings were victims of the great 1918 influenza epidemic that swept through Europe that year. In October 1918, Mary supposedly appeared to them and said she would to take them to heaven soon. Both lingered for many months, insisting on walking to church to make Eucharistic devotions and prostrating themselves to pray for hours, kneeling with their heads on the ground as they said the angel had instructed them to do.
Francisco declined hospital treatment on April 3, 1919, and died at home the next day. Jacinta was moved from one hospital to another in an attempt to save her life, which she insisted was futile. She developed purulent pleurisy and endured an operation in which two of her ribs were removed. Because of the condition of her heart, she could not be anesthetized and suffered terrible pain, which she said would help to convert many sinners. On February 19, 1920, Jacinta asked the hospital chaplain who heard her confession to bring her Holy Communion and give her the Anointing of the Sick because she was going to die “the next night”. He told her that her condition was not that serious and that he would return the next day. The next day Jacinta was dead; she had died, as she had often said she would, alone.
In 1920, shortly before her death at age nine, Jacinta Marto reportedly discussed the Alliance of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary with a then 12-year-old Lúcia Santos and said:
“When you are to say this, don’t go and hide. Tell everybody that God grants us graces through the Immaculate Heart of Mary; that people are to ask her for them; and that the Heart of Jesus wants the Immaculate Heart of Mary to be venerated at his side. Tell them also to pray to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for peace, since God entrusted it to her.”
The cause for the siblings’ canonization began in 1946. Exhumed in 1935 and again in 1951, Jacinta’s face was found incorrupt; Francisco’s had decomposed.
On May 13, 2000, they were declared “blessed” in a decree from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Jacinta is the youngest non-martyred child ever to be beatified.
In her biography of Jacinta, Lúcia said that Jacinta had told her of having had many personal visions outside of the Marian visitations; one involved a pope who prayed alone in a room while people outside shouted ugly things and threw rocks through the window. At another time, Jacinta said she saw a pope who had gathered a huge number of people together to pray to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Jacinta and Francisco are both buried at the Our Lady of Fátima Basilica.
And so we learn from little children – we learn how to be Saints!
Saints Francisco and Jacina, Pray for us!