Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Blessed Francesco and Jacinta Marto

Francisco Marto (June 11, 1908–April 4, 1919) and his sister Jacinta Marto (March 11, 1910–February 20, 1920), also known as Blessed Francisco Marto and Blessed Jacinta Marto, together with their cousin, Lúcia Santos (1907–2005) were the children from Aljustrel near Fátima, Portugal who reported witnessing three apparitions of an angel in 1916 and several apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1917.

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 to rely on, and they worked with their cousin Lucia, taking care of the family's sheep. According to Lucia'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, and emotionally labile. She had a sweet singing voice and a gift for dancing. All three children gave up music and dancing after the visions began, believing that these and other recreational activities led to occasions of sin.

Following their experiences, their fundamental personalities remained the same. Francisco preferred to pray alone, as he said "to console Jesus for the sins of the world". Jacinta was deeply affected by a terrifying vision of Hell reportedly shown to the children at the third apparition. She became deeply convinced of the need to save sinners through penance and sacrifice as the Virgin had reportedly instructed the children to do. All three children, but particularly Francisco and Jacinta, practiced stringent self-mortifications to this end.

Illness and death

The siblings were victims of the great 1918 influenza epidemic which swept through Europe in 1918. Both lingered for many months, insisting on walking to church to make Eucharistickneeling with their heads on the ground devotions and prostrating themselves to pray for hours, as instructed by the angel who had first appeared to them.

Francisco declined hospital treatment and died peacefully at home, while Jacinta was dragged 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 20, 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 "this very night". He told her that her condition was not that serious, and that he would return the next day. A few hours later Jacinta was dead. She had died, as she had often said she would, alone: not even a nurse was with her.

Jacinta and Francisco are both buried at the Our Lady of Fatima Basilica,


The cause for the siblings' canonization began during 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.

This of course came more sharply into focus with the revelation of the Third Secret of Fatima the following month, indicating that a Pope in fact would be assassinated. In her biography of Jacinta, Lúcia had already established 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.

Sister Lúcia, when questioned about the Third Secret, recalled that the three of them were very sad about the suffering of the Pope, and that Jacinta kept saying: Coitadinho do Santo Padre, tenho muita pena dos pecadores! (“Poor Holy Father, I am very sad for sinners!”) The Third Secret can thus be interpreted in the context of Jacinta's prayers and sacrifices for the pope whom she saw being killed.

1 comment:

  1. was in Fatima (part of pilgrimage – Fatima Lourdes & Rome) 8 years ago –
    am reading book, ‘Fatima: Intimate Joy & World Event’ -- things relevant of course even today – in some ways maybe more so, when we consider the bad parts of Internet and mass-media – things that didn’t even exist in 1917! --
    Can relate to Jacinta -- current pulmonary problems, waiting for test results,
    in all health issues am praying for patience;
    Want to say: Hard to believe, literally true, that in Jacinta’s case operation (including 2 ribs removed) without any anesthetic at all – horrible, even to think about, I’m sure they gave her something at least as a pain-killer, anyway
    goes to show she was a victim soul and in her own way a martyr --

    There are 2 sides to coin, in a sense,
    Lucy always in relatively good health and lived till old age –
    we all have different ‘missions’ in life.
    2 Legacies –
    the ‘Fatima prayer’, now universally added to Rosary, end of each decade;
    the children’s prayer, [which Lucy revealed in a writing later, 1936] I like to say it at times: ”Oh my Jesus, it is for Your Love, for the conversion of sinners, for the Holy Father, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary”