Saints of the Day – 20 February 2018 – Today, is the First Memorial of Saints Francisco (1908-1919) and Jacinta Marta (1910-1920) who were Canonised last year, 13 May 2017 – “The Shepherds of Fatima”
Between 13 May and 13 October 1917, three Portuguese shepherd children from Aljustrel, received apparitions of Our Lady at Cova da Iria, near Fátima, a city 110 miles north of Lisbon. At that time, Europe was involved in an extremely bloody war. Portugal itself was in political turmoil, having overthrown its monarchy in 1910; the government disbanded religious organisations soon after.
At the first appearance, Mary asked the children to return to that spot on the thirteenth of each month for the next six months. She also asked them to learn to read and write and to pray the rosary “to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war.” They were to pray for sinners and for the conversion of Russia, which had recently overthrown Czar Nicholas II and was soon to fall under communism. Up to 90,000 people gathered for Mary’s final apparition on 13 October 1917, when Our Lady of the Rosary asked them to build a chapel on the rocky hillside. This apparition is now known as the Miracle of the Sun. The entire crowd saw a remarkable sight. The sun seemed to dance in the sky. It was spinning like a top and shooting off brilliant colours of the rainbow. Suddenly the sun dropped treacherously close to earth. People dropped to their knees and the sun just as quickly returned to its play in the sky.
Less than two years later, Francisco died of influenza in his family home. He was buried in the parish cemetery and then re-buried in the Fátima basilica in 1952. Jacinta died of influenza in Lisbon in 1920, offering her suffering for the conversion of sinners, peace in the world and the Holy Father. She was re-buried in the Fátima basilica in 1951, when it was discovered that her body is incorrupt. Their cousin Lúcia dos Santos, became a Carmelite nun and was still living when Jacinta and Francisco were beatified in 2000; she died five years later.
Pope Francis canonised the younger children on his visit to Fátima to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first apparition, last year, 13 May 2017.
The shrine of Our Lady of Fátima is visited by up to 20 million people a year.
For fuller details and more images here is my post from last year: – https://anastpaul.wordpress.com/2017/02/20/saints-of-the-day-20-february-blessed-francisco-and-jacinta-marto/