FEAST OF SAINTS FRANCISCO AND JACINTA MARTO
FEAST DAY – 20th FEBRUARY
Francisco de Jesus Marto and Jacinta de Jesus Marto were siblings from Aljustrel, a small hamlet near Fátima, Portugal, who with their cousin Lúcia dos Santos reportedly witnessed three apparitions of the Angel of Peace in 1916 and several apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Cova da Iria in 1917. The title Our Lady of Fátima was given to the Virgin Mary as a result, and the Sanctuary of Fátima became a major centre of world Christian pilgrimage.
FRANCISCO MARTO was born on June 11, 1908 (June 11, 1908 – April 4, 1919) to Manuel and Olimpia de Jesus Marto and was the older brother of Jacinta and the first cousin of Lucy dos Santos. He was nine years of age when the apparitions began. During the visions of the Angel and of the Blessed Virgin, he saw all, but was not permitted to hear the words which were spoken. He was known to have a placid disposition, was musically inclined, and liked to be alone.
When, during the first apparition, Lucy asked if Francisco would go to Heaven, Our Lady replied: “Yes, he will go there, but he will have to recite the Rosary many times.” Knowing that he would soon be called to paradise, Francisco showed little interest in attending classes. Often, when arriving near the school, he would tell Lucy and Jacinta: “You go on. I am going to church to keep company with the hidden Jesus.”
Many witnesses affirm having received gifts of grace, after having asked little Francisco to pray for them. In October 1918, Francisco fell seriously ill. To his family members who assured him that he would survive his sickness, he firmly answered: “It is useless. Our Lady wants me with Her in Heaven!” In the course of his illness, he continued to offer constant sacrifices to console Jesus offended by so many sins.
“Only a little time remains to me before going to Heaven,” he told Lucy one day. “There above, I am going to console Our Lord and Our Lady a great deal; Jacinta is going to pray for sinners, for the Holy Father and for you. You are going to stay here because Our Lady wishes it. Listen, do everything She tells you.” As his illness worsened and broke his formerly robust health, Francisco no longer had the strength to recite the Rosary. “Mamma, I can no longer say the rosary,” he called in a loud voice one day, “it is like my head is among the clouds…”
Even as his bodily strength declined, his mind remained fixed on the Eternal. Calling to his father, he begged to receive Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament (he had not yet received his first Holy Communion at this time). Preparing himself for confession, he urged Lucy and Jacinta to recount for him the sins which he had committed. Hearing of some mild pranks he had committed, Francisco began crying, saying, “I have confessed these sins, but I will confess them again. Perhaps it is because of these that Jesus is so sad. You both ask also that Jesus will pardon all my sins.”
His first (and also his last) Holy Communion followed in the tiny room in which he lay dying. No longer strong enough to pray, he asked Lucy and Jacinta to recite the Rosary in a loud voice so he could follow with his heart. Two days later, nearing his end, he exclaimed: “Look mamma, look, a light so beautiful, there near the door.” Francisco declined hospital treatment on 3 April 1919, and died at home the next day.
Towards 10 o’clock in the evening, on April 4, 1919, after asking that all his offenses be pardoned, he died calmly, without any sign of suffering, without agony, his face shining with an angelic light. Describing the death of her young cousin in her Memoirs, Sister Lucy wrote: “He flew away to Heaven in the arms of our Heavenly Mother.”
JACINTA MARTO was born on March 11, 1910 (March 11, 1910 – February 20, 1920). At the time of the apparitions she was seven years old. She was the youngest of the seers. During the apparitions she saw and heard everything, but spoke neither to the Angel nor to the Mother of God. Intelligent and very sensitive, she remained profoundly impressed when she heard the Blessed Virgin declare that Jesus was much offended by sin.
After seeing the vision of hell, she decided to offer herself completely for the salvation of souls. The night of the first appearance of Our Lady (May 13, 1917), it was Jacinta who, despite the promises she had made to Lucy, revealed the secret of the apparition to her mother: “Mamma, today I have seen the Madonna in the Cova da Iria. Oh, what a beautiful Lady!”
Later, Heaven would further grace Jacinta with two powerful visions of the Holy Father: A Pope suffering for the persecutions made against the Church and also for the wars and destructions which convulsed the world. “Poor Holy Father,” said Jacinta, “there is a great need to pray for him.” From that time on, Christ’s Vicar was always present in the prayers and sacrifices of all the seers, but especially Jacinta. To free souls from the fires of hell, Jacinta freely undertook sacrifices.
In the fierce heat of the summer, she gave up drinking water. As a sacrifice to God’s Glory, she offered her afternoon snacks to children even poorer than she. To save souls, she took upon herself the pain of wearing a rough piece of knottted rope next to her bare skin. She endured the exhausting interrogations and insults of disbelievers all without the smallest lament. “If only I could show hell to sinners!” she said, “how happy I would be if all could go to paradise.”
A year following the apparitions at the Cova da Iri, the illness which would carry her to death began. First came bronchial pneumonia, then an abscess on the lung, both of which made her suffer intensely. Yet from her hospital bed, she declared cheerfully that her sickness was just a new opportunity to suffer for the conversion of sinners. After two months in hospital, she returned home whereupon an open and ulcerous sore was shortly discovered on her chest. Soon thereafter she was diagnosed with tuberculosis.
Over the course of the next year, she suffered greviously for Our Lady. “Will Jesus be content with the offering of my sufferings?,” she asked Lucy. In February of 1920, she was rushed to another hospital, this time in Lisbon. Wasting away to a virtual skeleton and dying without the presence of her beloved parents or Lucy, she consoled herself with the thought that this, too, was yet another chance to offer up her suffering for sinners. In the Lisbon hospital she was visited no less than three times by the Mother of God.
Finally, on the night of 20th February 1920 the promise of the “Lady more brilliant than the sun” was accomplished. “I have come to take you with Me to Paradise.” Like Francisco, Jacinta now lies buried in the great Basilica of Our Lady in Fatima.
The brother and sister, who tended to their families’ sheep with their cousin Lúcia in the fields of Fátima, Portugal, reported seeing several apparitions of an angel in 1916. Lúcia later recorded the words of several prayers she said they learned from this angel. Sister Lúcia wrote in her memoirs that she and her cousins saw the first apparition of Mary on 13 May 1917. At the time of the apparition, Francisco was 8 years old, and Jacinta was 7.
During the first apparition, the children said Mary asked them to pray 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. On May 13, 2000, Pope John Paul II beautified Francisco and Jacinta. Jacinta is the youngest non-martyred child ever to be beatified.
Pope Francis canonized the young children on his visit to Fátima to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first apparition–May 13, 2017. The shrine of Our Lady of Fátima is visited by upto 20 million people a year. Saints Francisco and Jacinta Marto are patron saints for bodily ills, Portuguese children, captives, people ridiculed for their piety, prisoners, sick people, and against sickness.
PRAYER TO SAINTS FRANCISCO AND JACINTA MARTO FOR THE FAMILIES OF THE WORLD
Dear Saint Francisco and Saint Jacinta,
The children of the world would like to learn from you how to love more perfectly.
Saint Jacinta, teach us how to love one another, especially sinners.
Help us to pray and to make sacrifces for those who ofend Our Lord so deeply.
Saint Francisco, teach us your great love for the Sacred Heart of JESUS in the Holy
Eucharist, hurt by the ingratitude of so many.
Litle Shepherds of Fatima, help me, my family, and all the families of the world, to seek
the safety of the Immaculate Heart of our Mother MARY, who always brings all of us
and our families closer to Her Son JESUS.
Saint Francisco and Saint Jacinta, pray for us, pray for all the children and families of the world. Amen