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Saints Francisco And Jacinta Of Fatima

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By FR. SEAN CONNOLLY

(Editor’s Note: This is the tenth in a series of articles on the one hundredth anniversary of our Lady’s apparitions at Fatima. Fr. Connolly is a priest of the Archdiocese of New York.)

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So far in this series of articles published in commemoration the centenary of our Lady’s apparitions at Fatima, we have reviewed the historical context of the Fatima event, as well as the three apparitions of the Angel of Peace and the six apparitions of the Mother of God.
We will now review what happened to the three little visionaries, Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta, after the last apparition when the famed “Miracle of the Sun” occurred. As was foretold by our Lady, Lucia’s mission in spreading her message would continue for some time while Francisco and Jacinta would soon be taken to Heaven. This article will detail the short lives of these two little saints of Fatima.

St. Francisco

Francisco was born on June 11, 1908. He was quiet and submissive by nature. As Lucia recounts in her fourth memoir: “When we were at play and he won the game, if anyone made a point of denying him his rights as winner, he yielded without more ado and merely said: ‘You think you won? That’s all right! I don’t mind!’” (1)
And again, Lucia recounts how she once wanted to forcefully take back a handkerchief that belonged to Francisco which was stolen by another small boy who admired it. But to end the beginning quarrel, Francisco said: “Let him have it! What does a handkerchief matter to me?” She then comments: “My own opinion is that, if he had lived to manhood, his greatest defect would have been his attitude of ‘never mind!’” (2)
During the apparitions of the Angel and our Lady, he could see everything but could hear nothing. The Mother of God instructed Francisco through Lucia, that she would soon take him to Heaven, but that he must say many rosaries. He never forgot those words and took them to heart, becoming a great apostle of the rosary, praying it daily and encouraging others to do the same. This was a change because from Lucia’s memoirs we learn of the children’s lackluster, but still endearing because of their young age, devotion to the rosary prior to the apparitions:
“We had been told to say the Rosary after our lunch, but as the whole day seemed too short for our play, we worked out a fine way of getting through it quickly. We simply passed the beads through our fingers, saying nothing but ‘Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary. . . .’ At the end of each mystery, we paused awhile, then simply said ‘Our Father’ and so, in the twinkling of an eye, as they say, we had the rosary finished!” (3)
Again, this changed completely after the apparitions. The three children began to pray with a discipline and focus far beyond their years and became singularly focused on Heaven.
This was particularly true of Francisco. Life became boring for him after he saw our Lady and all he desired was to fulfill her requests and go to Heaven. One day, two ladies came to his house, to ask him questions — a common occurrence for crowds routinely sought out the children to pester them with all sorts of questions and requests. The ladies asked what he would like to be when he grew up.
“Do you want to be a carpenter?”
“No, ma’am.”
“A soldier?”
“No.”
“A doctor? Wouldn’t you like to be a good doctor?”
“No.”
“I know what you would like to be, a priest! You would like to say Mass, hear Confessions, and give sermons. Is that it?”
“No, ma’am, I don’t want to be a priest either.”
“Then what do you want to be?”
“I don’t want to be anything. I just want to die and go to Heaven.”
Francisco’s father was listening to the conversation and simply shrugged his shoulders and said, “That is really his heart’s desire.” (4)
Francisco also lost the zeal for school. He knew he would soon die and so it served no purpose and only wasted time that could be more profitably spent in prayer. (5) He would often be found in the church praying behind the high altar at the foot of the tabernacle. He liked to be hidden as he prayed close to the Blessed Sacrament, or what he called, “the Hidden Jesus.”

St. Jacinta

Jacinta was born on March 11, 1910 and was only seven years old at the time of the apparitions. She was the youngest of the little seers. During the apparitions she saw and heard everything, but never spoke either to the Angel or our Lady.
Though Jacinta could be capricious and vivacious, there was a true piety to her. She was enraptured with the beauty of the sky and would refer to the stars as the angel’s lamps, as well as the moon as our Lady’s and the sun as our Lord’s. Sr. Lucia also recounts in her memoirs how Jacinta was overjoyed to take part in a Corpus Christi Eucharistic Procession by strewing flowers before the priest carrying the monstrance and how she greatly desired to receive Holy Communion. (6)
Being intelligent and very sensitive, she was profoundly affected by the vision of Hell and decided to offer herself completely for the salvation of souls. Sr. Lucia wrote:
“The vision of hell filled her with horror to such a degree, that every penance and mortification was as nothing in her eyes, if it could only prevent souls from going there. . . . Some people, even the most devout, refuse to speak to children about hell, in case it would frighten them. Yet God did not hesitate to show hell to three children, one of whom was only six years old, knowing well that they would be horrified to the point of, I would almost dare to say, withering away in fear.” (7)
To save souls from the fires of Hell, Jacinta spared herself no sacrifice. She refused to drink water on hot summer days, she gave away her lunch to children poorer than herself and would fast instead, and along with the other seers even tied a piece of rope tightly around her waist and offered the pain for the conversion of sinners.
It was only to Jacinta that two visions of the Holy Father were granted. The first time, she saw the Holy Father suffering deeply as he was engrossed in prayer, weeping while his head was buried in his hands and outside many people were hurling stones and cursing at him. When telling Lucia and Francisco of this vision, she concluded, “Poor Holy Father, we must pray very much for him.” (8)
Another time, while the children were praying together about what was taught to them by the angel, Jacinta stood up and asked Lucia: “Can’t you see all those highways and roads filled full of people, who are crying with hunger and have nothing to eat? And the Holy Father in a church praying before the Immaculate Heart of Mary? And so many people praying with him?” (9)
From then on the Pope had a special place in the prayers and sacrifices of little Jacinta.
Like her brother, she became bored with the ordinary circumstances of life after she saw Heaven and desired to make frequent visits to the Blessed Sacrament. She would complain to Lucia how the people seeking to interrogate them or request their prayers would never leave them alone: “We are no sooner inside the church than a crowd of people come asking us questions! I wanted so much to be alone for a long time with the Hidden Jesus and talk to Him, but they never let us.” (10)
But Jacinta was patient with the simple country folk who would so often tell her about their needs and troubles. She showed great compassion for them and her prayers were known to be powerful and brought about both cures and conversions.

Taken To Heaven

Toward the end of October 1918, everyone in the Marto family except the father contracted influenza in the same terrible epidemic that would take the lives of millions across Europe. Our Lady appeared to both Francisco and Jacinta, telling them she would come for Francisco very soon and that Jacinta would follow him not long after. (11)
Francisco offered his sufferings to console the Lord Jesus who was offended by so many sins. He prepared for his imminent death by requesting Confession and Holy Communion. He even asked Lucia and Jacinta to remind him of sins they had seen him commit that he may have forgotten to already confess so his final Confession could be as thorough as possible.
Once he made a good Confession he was ready for his First Holy Communion, although he did already drink from the chalice offered to him by the Angel of Peace containing the Precious Blood of our Lord. This “first” Communion was also his last — it was his Viaticum. At ten o’clock in the morning on April 4, 1919, Francisco said to his mother: “Mother, look at that lovely light by the door!” (12) And with this sign of our Lady coming to take him to Heaven, Francisco breathed his last. He was buried in the parish church of St. Anthony in Fatima.
In the vision Francisco and Jacinta received of our Lady telling them that she would take Francisco to Heaven soon, she also asked Jacinta if she would like to stay on Earth longer to suffer for the conversion of sinners. Jacinta agreed and was told she would go to two hospitals, not for a cure, but to suffer more for the love of God, the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the offenses committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary. (13)
She was brought first to a hospital in Ourem and then to an orphanage in Lisbon. While there our Lady visited Jacinta three times, revealing to her: that war is punishment for sin; that many fashions would come that would offend our Lord very much; that many marriages are not of God; that priests must be very pure and concentrate on their mission to the Church; and finally that more souls go to Hell because of sins of impurity than for any other reason. (14)
All this was reported by the superior of the orphanage of Our Lady of the Miracles, whose name was Mother Maria da Purificacao Godinho. She was amazed at how Jacinta could speak with a wisdom far beyond her age, education, or experience. (15) These were surely ideas that came from Heaven.
Finally on the night of February 20, 1920, our Lady came to take Jacinta to Heaven. She died alone in a hospital in Lisbon.
Jacinta was first buried in a cemetery in Ourem, but she was moved in 1935 to the parish cemetery of St. Anthony in Fatima, where she was buried near her brother, Francisco. On March 1, 1951 her coffin was exhumed and opened in the process of moving her and Francisco’s remains to the basilica of the Fatima Sanctuary built at the Cova da Iria. Her body was found to be incorrupt.
At the Sanctuary of Fatima on May 13, 2000, Pope St. John Paul II beatified Francisco and Jacinta in the presence of their cousin Lucia, then an elderly Carmelite nun. On May 13 earlier this year while in Fatima to begin the centenary commemorations, Pope Francis canonized these two the youngest saints in this history of the Church who did not die as martyrs.

FOOTNOTES

1. Lucia dos Santos, Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words: Sister Lucia’s Memoirs, 20th edition (Fatima Postulation Center, 2016), p. 138.
2. Ibid., p. 139.
3. Ibid., pp. 43-44.
4. John de Marchi, The True Story of Fatima: A Complete Account of the Fatima Apparitions (Constable, N.Y.: The Fatima Center, 2009), p. 60.
5. Ibid.
6. Dos Santos, pp. 40-42.
7. Ibid., p. 125.
8. Ibid., p. 128.
9. Ibid., p. 129.
10. Ibid., p. 55.
11. De Marchi, p. 61.
12. Apostoli, p. 139.
13. De Marchi, p. 61; cf. Apostoli, p. 144.
14. Apostoli, p. 145.
15. De Marchi, pp. 69-70.

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