Jacinta and Francisco Marto

Left to Right :  Lucia dos Santos and her Cousins, 
Francisco Marto and his Sister Jacinta Marto 
The Three Visionaries of Fatima


In the year 1917, in a mountainous region at the center of Portugal, the Mother of God appeared six times to three young children. Elsewhere on the continent the “Great War” raged, that would cost Europe an entire generation, over 37 million lives. Besides sending her own sons to die (in France and North Africa) Portugal was in political chaos at home. There was a dizzy succession of governments following a revolution in 1910. The monarchy had been replaced by a republic, with a new liberal constitution separating Church from state. Government officials, under the influence of Freemasonry, were not sympathetic to the Faith. But for the people themselves, the Faith was the air they breathed, as in the village of Aljustrel, a collection of whitewashed houses on a dusty road in the parish of Fatima.

There Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta were born and raised in homes where the catechism was their daily bread, stories from the Bible their recreation, and the word of the village priest was law. Lucia de Jesus Santos was born, the youngest of seven children, to Antonio and Maria Rosa Santos, on 22 March 1907. She was a plain child with sparkling eyes and a magnetic personality, a natural leader to whom other children looked with confident affection. Blessed with an excellent memory, Lucia was able to learn her catechism, and make her First Communion and Confession, at age six. She herself became a catechist at nine. Lucia would be the constant guide and companion to her first cousins, Francisco and Jacinta Marto, through the trials that accompanied the apparitions of the Blessed Mother.


BLESSED FRANCISCO MARTO :

Francisco was born 11 June 1908, the sixth of seven children of Manuel and Olimpia Marto. He was a handsome boy, with light hair and dark eyes. He loved games and other children, yet without the spirit of competition. He would not complain when treated unfairly, and gave up a treasured possession (a handkerchief stamped with the image of Our Lady) rather than contend for it. He was a peacemaker, but courageous, as his conduct under questioning by the Mayor would later show. He also had a mischievous turn. He was known to drop strange and inedible objects in his sleeping brother’s mouth. He had a love for nature, and animals in particular. He played with lizards and snakes, and would bring them home, to his mother’s chagrin. Once he gave a penny, all the money he had, to a friend for a captured bird, only to set the bird free. He played a reed pipe, to which Lucia and his sister Jacinta would sing and dance. In short, he was a kind, gentle boy, not yet a Saint, but one predisposed by God for the graces soon bestowed on him.

Alone among the three, Francisco never heard the Lady’s words, although he saw her and felt her presence. After the first apparition, Lucia conveyed the Lady’s message to him, that he would go to heaven if he prayed many Rosaries. In the second apparition, Lucia asked to be taken to heaven, and the Lady replied that Francisco and Jacinta would be taken soon, but Lucia would have to wait for a time. (She is still alive.)

In the third apparition, the children were given a secret, including a vision of hell, which so changed them that they became more like adults than children. At this time the Mayor of the district, Artur de Oliveira Santos, a Freemason, devised a scheme to discredit the apparitions by terrorizing the children. He tried to bully them into admitting they lied, threatened to boil them in oil if they withheld the Lady’s “Secret” (Francisco showed extravagant courage in anticipation of going to heaven), and jailed them to keep them from their appointment with the Lady on the day of the fourth apparition (August 13). They kept their appointment two days later.

For the fifth apparition, tens of thousands attended, having been alerted by the press to the Mayor’s controversy with the children. Among the curious was a seminary professor from Santarem, Dr. Manuel Formigao, who questioned the children afterward and became convinced of their veracity.

When the public learned of a miracle promised for the next appointed day, many resolved to be there, and on October 13 perhaps 70 thousand people were present for the miracle of the sun.

After the apparitions ended, Francisco was enrolled in school but played truant as often as possible. He preferred to spend time praying to the “Hidden Jesus” in the Tabernacle. His great concern was to console His sorrowing Lord and the Heart of His Mother. When asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, Francisco answered, "I don't want to be anything. I want to die and go to heaven."

In August 1918, when World War I was nearing an end, Francisco and Jacinta both contracted influenza. They had short reprieves, but their decline was inevitable. In April of the following year, Francisco, knowing his time was short, asked to receive the Hidden Jesus for the first time in Holy Communion. The next morning, April 4th, at ten o’clock, he died with a glow on his shrunken face. He was buried the next day in a little cemetery in Fatima, across from the parish church, and later translated to the Sanctuary at Cova da Iria.


BLESSED JACINTA :
Two years younger than Francisco, Jacinta charmed all who knew her. She was pretty and energetic, and had a natural grace of movement. She loved to dance, and was sorry when their priest condemned dancing in public. Sometimes willful, she would pout when she did not get her way. She took a special delight in flowers, gathering them by the armful and making garlands for Lucia. At a First Communion, she was among the little “angels” spreading petals before the Blessed Sacrament. She had a marked love for Our Lord, and at the age of five she melted in tears on hearing the account of His Passion, vowing that she would never sin or offend Him anymore.

She had many friends, but above all she loved her cousin Lucia, and was jealous of her time and attention. When Lucia, at the age of ten, became unavailable for play, being sent by her parents to pasture their sheep, Jacinta moped in loneliness-until her mother gave in and allowed her, with Francisco, to take a few sheep to pasture with Lucia.

Her sheep too became her friends. She gave them names, held their little ones on her lap, and tried to carry a lamb home on her shoulders, as she had seen in pictures of the Good Shepherd.

Her days were playful and happy, delighting with her brother and cousin in the things of nature around her. They called the sun “Our Lady’s lamp,” and the stars “the Angels’ lanterns,” which they tried to count as it grew dark. They called out to hear their voices echo across the valley, and the name that returned most clearly was “Maria.”

They said the Rosary every day after lunch, but to make more time for play, they shortened it to the words “Our Father” at the beginning of each decade, followed by “Hail Mary” ten times. This frivolity would soon change.

In the spring of 1916, as the children watched their sheep, an Angel appeared to them in an olive grove. He asked the children to pray with him. He appeared again in midsummer at a well in Lucia’s garden, urging them to offer sacrifice to God in reparation for sinners. In a final appearance, at the end of the summer, the Angel held a bleeding Host over a chalice, from which he communicated the children. This experience separated them from their playmates and prepared them for the apparitions to come.

As might be expected, the three were changed by the visitations of the Queen of Heaven. Jacinta, talkative sometimes to a fault, became quiet and withdrawn. After the first apparition, Lucia had sworn her and her brother to secrecy. But Jacinta, bubbling over, had let slip all they had seen to her family, who then told the village. The news was received with skepticism by many, with mockery by some, and with anger by Lucia’s mother. Jacinta was so contrite, she promised never to reveal another secret.

Her reluctance to reveal anything more of their experiences was increased by the vision of hell given the children in the third apparition seems to have affected Jacinta the most. To rescue sinners from hell, she was in the forefront of the three in voluntary mortifications, whether it was in giving up their lunches (sometimes to their sheep), refusing to drink in the heat of the day, or wearing a knotted rope around their waists. Involuntary penances included for her, as for her brother and cousin, the constant mockery of unbelievers, badgering by skeptical clergy, and wheedling by believers to reveal the Lady’s secret.

Following the miracle of the sun, Jacinta complied with many requests for her intercessions. On one occasion she seems to have bilocated, in order to help a wayward youth find his way home. Lost in a stormy wood, he had knelt and prayed, and Jacinta appeared and took him by the hand, while she was at home praying for him.

When she came down with influenza, she was removed from her family to a hospital a few miles away. She did not complain, because the Blessed Mother had forewarned her that she would go to two hospitals, not to be cured, but to suffer for the love of God and reparation for sinners. She stayed in the first hospital for two months, undergoing painful treatments, and then was returned home. She developed tuberculosis and was sent to Lisbon, first to a Catholic orphanage. There she was able to attend Mass and see the Tabernacle, and she was happy. But her stay there was short. She was soon transferred to the second hospital prophesied by the Blessed Mother, where Jacinta was to make her final offering in dying alone. Her body came to rest in the Sanctuary built at the Cova da Iria, where the Lady had appeared to her.

Highlights of the Cause for Canonization :

1946 - Opening of the Preliminary Process.

1952 - Official Opening of the Canonical Informative Process. This is the formal beginning, at the diocesan level, of the Cause for the Canonization of Francisco and Jacinta Marto.

2 July 1979 - Diocesan process concluded and documentation on Jacinta Marto presented to the Congregation of Saints

3 August 1979 - Diocesan process concluded and documentation on Francisco Marto presented to the Congregation of Saints

13 May 1989 - Pope John Paul approves the decree on the Heroic Virtues of the Servants of God Francisco and Jacinta Marto.

28 June 1999 - Pope John Paul approves a miracle attributed to the Venerable Servants of God Francisco & Jacinta Marto.

13 May 2000 - At Fatima, in Portugal, on the 83rd anniversary of the first apparition of Our Lady of Fatima, Francisco and Jacinta Marto were declared Blessed by Pope John Paul II.



Decree of Venerable - Jacinta

[A Decree of Heroic Virtues is a judgment of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints that a Servant of God lived a life of profound union with God and fidelity to Church teaching. Theologically it witnesses to the full flowering of virtue in the person's life, which St. Thomas Aquinas explains occurs when the moral virtues are perfected in their operation by the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. The Decree is official when accepted by the Pope. When combined with the approval of a miracle at the intercession of the Servant of God the requirements for beatification have been met.]

On the 13th of May 1989, on the 72nd anniversary of the first Apparition of Our Lady to the Little Shepherds, at the beginning of the solemn concelebration presided over by Cardinal Law of Boston, the Bishop of Leiria-Fatima announced to the Assembly, and by the Media to the whole world, that the Holy Father, John Paul II, had on that very day promulgated the decree of the heroic virtues of the Servants of God, Francisco and Jacinta, granting the title of Venerable.

We present herewith the English translation of the text of the [first of the] two decrees.



CONGREGATION FOR THE CAUSES OF SAINTS DECREE
regarding the Canonization of the Servant of God


Jacinta Marto
Young Girl
(1910-1920)
of the Diocese of Leiria-Fatima


ON THE QUESTION
Concerning the existence to an heroic degree of the theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity towards God and towards neighbour and also of the cardinal virtues of Prudence, Justice, Temperance and Fortitude and their associates, in the case and for the end in view.

"Unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven" (Mt. 18, 3).

With these words Jesus exalted the active role that little ones have in the Kingdom of God. They are the eloquent symbol and exalted image of those moral and spiritual conditions that are essential for entering into the Kingdom of God and for living the logic of total confidence in the Lord. Furthermore, it must be acknowledged that valuable possibilities exist even in life's stages of infancy and childhood, both for the building up of the Church and for making society more humane" (John Paul II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation 'Christifideles Laici', 47, December 1988). Indeed, children, as participators in the function of Christ, priest, prophet and king, are called to have an active part in the life and mission of the Church and, according to their own measure, they are true living witnesses of the Lord Jesus (cf. Conc. Ecum. Vat. II, Decree on the Apostolate of Lay People, 12).

Such a mission, which is rooted in the sacrament of Baptism, was admirably fulfilled by the child, Jacinta Marto, who, corresponding unreservedly to divine grace, rapidly attained to great perfection in the imitation of Christ and voluntarily consumed her short life in giving glory to God and co-operating in the salvation of souls through fervent prayer and assiduous penance.

The Servant of God, seventh child of the marriage of Manuel Pedro Marto, and Olimpia de Jesus dos Santos, was born in the village of Aljustrel, parish of Fatima, in Portugal, on 11 March 1910. On the 19th day of the same month she received the grace of Baptism.

Her parents, who were humble farmers and pious Christians, gave her a sound moral and religious education. She learned Christian doctrine in the family and at the catechism lessons which her maternal aunt Maria Rosa dos Santos taught to the local children. According to custom she did not attend any school, as such did not exist in the village, and by the time they were established Jacinta was already ill.

From a tender age she showed a love for prayer, concern about the truths of faith, prudence in the choice of friendships and a serene spirit of obedience. Endowed with a lively, expansive and joyful disposition, she loved to play and dance; she captured the sympathy of others, although she had a certain inclination to domineer and disliked being contradicted so much that she pouted easily and was possessive of what belonged to her. Afterwards, however, she changed completely and became a splendid model of humility, mortification and generosity.

As soon as she was able she began to work, her particular charge being to accompany her brother Francisco, who was a little older than herself, in pasturing the flock. They both loved to join their cousin, Lucia de Jesus dos Santos, who was also a shepherdess. In this manner the three children, united in a close friendship, passed the entire day in this activity, which, although arduous, they executed diligently and even with pleasure, because it left them time for playing and praying and they were able to enjoy the beauties of nature.

What unexpectedly changed their life, came to pass in the year 1916. They said they had seen an Angel three times, who urged them to pray and do penance for the remission of sins and to obtain the conversion of sinners. From that moment onward, the little Jacinta made use of every occasion to do what the Angel had asked her.

From the 13th of May to the 13th of October 1917, together with Francisco and Lucia, she had the privilege of seeing the Virgin Mary in a place called Cova da Iria, near Fatima. Full of joy and gratitude for the gift she had received, she wished to respond immediately with all her strength to the exhortation of the Virgin Mary, who asked their prayers and sacrifices in reparation for sins that offend God and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and for the conversion of sinners. At the same time, docile to the action of grace, she separated herself from the things of earth in order turn her attention to heavenly things, and voluntarily consecrated her life so as to enter paradise one day. She was constantly immersed in the contemplation of God, in intimate colloquy with Him. She sought silence and solitude, and at night she got out of bed to pray and freely express her love for Our Lord. In a little while, her interior life became distinguished by a great faith and by enormous charity.

Concerning this she said: "I love Our Lord so much! At times, I seem to have a fire in my heart, but it does not burn me." She dearly loved to contemplate Christ Crucified and she was moved to tears on hearing the account of the Passion. She then declared that she would never wish to commit sin in order not to make Jesus suffer. She nourished an ardent devotion to the Eucharist, which she visited frequently and for long periods in the parish Church, concealing herself in the pulpit where no one could see or distract her. She longed to receive the Body of Christ, but that was not permitted because of her age. However, she found some consolation in spiritual communion. In the same way, she venerated the Virgin Mary with a tender, filial and joyful love, responding constantly to her words and desires, and honouring her many times with the recitation of the Rosary and with pious ejaculations.

Although of tender age, the Servant of God well knew that she was a living member of the church, and as such, had the duty to contribute according to her powers to its growth and prosperity. Therefore she conscientiously offered prayers and sacrifices for the Supreme Pontiff, for the salvation of souls and for the conversion of sinners. Even during the apparitions of Our Lady, she was already able to share in the Passion of the Lord. In fact, not a few of her sufferings were caused by those who doubted or did not believe the apparitions to be true; she was called a liar and a fraud; she was even beaten and put in prison for some days. She bore all of this in silence, happy to complete in her body what is lacking in Christ's sufferings for the sake of His Body, that is, the Church (cf. Col. 1,24). With admirable courage and patience, she resisted the threats and flattering promises of the Municipal authorities who wanted at all costs to prevent her from attending the parish Church and sought to discover the "secret" revealed by the Virgin Mary to the three children. Subsequently, she underwent the trial of having to speak with many people who had come to Fatima, moved by piety or persistent curiosity. Actually, in similar cases, despite her preference to remain hidden, she did everything that was possible for her.

Besides all this, she bore much else spontaneously, as if she had an insatiable hunger for immolation. She restrained her will and her temperament, and was obedient to her parents and to her older brothers and sisters; she deprived herself food to give it to the poor; she did not drink water, especially in the summer heat; as a form of penance she wore a rope around her waist; she endured everything that was disagreeable in a spirit of penance and oblation. She expressed her manner of acting in praying: "0 my Jesus, it is for love of You, for the conversion sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart Mary".

Her desire to suffer became more noticeable during the long and grave illness which attacked her from October 1918 onwards. Infected by the broncho-pulminary epidemic, called the "Spanish influenza", her state of health deteriorated little by little to such a point that she had to accept the idea of having an operation. Knowing that only a short span of life remained for her, she multiplied her sacrifices, penances and privations as a way of co-operating to the fullest of her possibilities in the work of Redemption. But what cost her most was having to leave her family in order to undergo treatment in a hospital. Foreseeing that she would die alone, that is, far from her dear ones at home, she said: "O my Jesus, now You can convert many sinners, because this is really a big sacrifice!"

While the strength of her body was failing, her soul became more beautiful, according as the days passed by, through the resolute, constant, joyful and perfect exercise of the Christian virtues. Indeed her abandonment to the will of God was complete. Not only did her strength in surrendering to the Lord, in responding to His graces and in avoiding any kind of sin, never fail her, rather it increased more and more. Even in adverse and difficult circumstances, she gave witness of possessing to a high degree the theological virtues and also the virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude, temperance, humility, sincerity and modesty. Therefore the words of Wisdom seem to be very appropriate: "Being made perfect in a short space, she fulfilled a long time" (Wis. 4,13).

On the 20th of February in the year 1920, she asked for the Sacraments. She only received the Sacrament of Penance. Conscious of being near death she requested Holy Viaticum, but the priest, notwithstanding the pleas of the Servant of God, deferred it to the following day. On that same day, at night, far from her parents and acquaintances, she died in the Lisbon hospital where she had been a patient for some time. She had finally reached the goal of her desires: eternal life.

The people, who already considered her a saint, began immediately to show their spontaneous marks of veneration for her. Her body was buried first in Vila Nova de Ourem and later translated to the cemetery of Fatima, and finally to the Sanctuary built on the spot where the Virgin Mary appeared to her. In virtue of the fame of sanctity and of the graces through which the Servant of God had become known, the first steps to initiate the Cause of canonization were taken, in the year 1946, together with that of her brother Francisco, who had died a holy death in the year 1919. The Informative Process was introduced by the Episcopal Curia of Leiria in the year 1952 and concluded in the year 1979. The Rogatory Process was also conducted in Coimbra, in order to hear the testimony of Lucia who had become a Carmelite.

The Positio about the Virtues having been prepared by Rev. Fr. Paul Molinari, Postulator General of the Company of Jesus and legitimately constituted Postulator of this Cause, the Special Congress of Consultant Theologians, presided over by Rev. Msgr. Antonio Petti, Promoter General of the Faith, took place with a favourable outcome on the 16th day of December in the year 1988. The Cardinals and Bishops, in the Ordinary Congregation, on the 18th day of April in the year 1989, having as Proponent of the Cause, His Eminence Cardinal Edward Gagnon, recognized that the girl Jacinta Marto had practised to an heroic degree the theological virtues, the cardinal virtues and their associates.
The written report of all these facts having been finally given to the Supreme Pontiff, John Paul II, by the undersigned Cardinal Prefect, His Holiness, willingly accepting the desires of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, ordained the Decree concerning the heroic virtues of the Servant of God be duly recorded.

This being done, on the same day, the cardinals, the Prefect of the Congregation and Proponent of the Cause and I, the Bishop Secretary, being convoked, together with the remainder according to custom, and all being present, the Holy Father declared solemnly: it is certain that the Servant of God, in the case and for the end in view, practised to an heroic degree the theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity towards God and towards neighbour, and also the Cardinal virtues of Prudence, Justice, Temperance and Fortitude and their associates.

The Holy Father ordered this Decree to be published and recorded in the acts of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

Given in Rome, on the 13th day of May in the Year of Our Lord 1989.



Decree of Venerable - Francisco

[A Decree of Heroic Virtues is a judgment of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints that a Servant of God lived a life of profound union with God and fidelity to Church teaching. Theologically it witnesses to the full flowering of virtue in the person's life, which St. Thomas Aquinas explains occurs when the moral virtues are perfected in their operation by the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. The Decree is official when accepted by the Pope. When combined with the approval of a miracle at the intercession of the Servant of God the requirements for beatification have been met.]

On the 13th of May 1989, on the 72nd anniversary of the first Apparition of Our Lady to the Little Shepherds, at the beginning of the solemn concelebration presided over by Cardinal Law of Boston, the Bishop of Leiria-Fatima announced to the Assembly, and by the Media to the whole world, that the Holy Father, John Paul II, had on that very day promulgated the decree of the heroic virtues of the Servants of God, Francisco and Jacinta, granting the title of Venerable.

We present herewith the English translation of the text of the [second of the] two decrees.

CONGREGATION FOR THE CAUSES OF SAINTS DECREE
regarding the Canonization of the Servant of God

Francisco Marto

 Young Boy (1908-1919)
of the Diocese of Leiria-Fatima

ON THE QUESTION
Concerning the existence to an heroic degree of the theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity towards God and towards neighbour and also of the cardinal virtues of Prudence, Justice, Temperance and Fortitude and their associates, in the case and for the end in view.

"Let the little children come to Me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs" (Lk. 18, 16).

Among the children who responded best to the love and predilection of Jesus, we believe that the Servant of God, Francisco Marto, can be included. He made the gifts of grace which were granted him bear abundant fruit and, in a few short years, attained great perfection in the imitation of Christ and in the exercise of the Christian virtues. In spite of his tender age he left us an eminent example of obedience to the will of God, of ardent love for the Immaculate Heart of Mary and diligent attentiveness in consoling Our Lord, so offended by the sins of men, and praying and suffering for the needs of the Church and for the conversion of sinners.

The Servant of God was born in a village called Aljustrel, belonging to the parish of Fatima, in Portugal, on 11 June 1908, son of Manuel Pedro Marto and Olimpia de Jesus dos Santos, modest farmers and good Christians. On the 20th day of the same month he received the sacrament of Baptism, becoming a member of the people of the new covenant.

Of a docile and condescending character he received to good effect the sound education which his parents gave him. He began, at home, to know and to love God, to pray and to participate in the sacred parish functions, to help his neighbor in need, to be sincere, just, obedient and diligent. He regularly attended the catechism lessons taught by the parish priest and by his aunt, Maria Rosa dos Santos. He lived in peace with everyone, whether adults or those of his own age. He was not irritated when contradicted, and at games he found no difficulty in adjusting to the will of others. He was sensitive to the beauty of nature, which he contemplated with simplicity and admiration; he delighted in the solitude of the mountains and remained enraptured before the rising and the setting of the sun. He called the sun "Our Lord's lamp" and was filled with joy at the appearance of the stars which he named "the Angels' lamps". His innocence was such that he said, on reaching Heaven, he would have to put oil in the lamp of the Virgin Mary.

He could not attend primary school as there was none in Fatima at the time, and when it did open he only went there now and then. In compensation, he learned very well the science of God and the means of actively co-operating in the growth of the kingdom of Christ in souls. As soon as he was able, or rather when he had reached the age of six years, he was entrusted with the task of keeping the flock, which he took out daily to pasture. As was customary he went out early in the morning, taking a bag containing his lunch and his flute with which he amused himself, and returned at sunset. Many times he was accompanied by his little sister Jacinta, and both would join their cousin, Lucia de Jesus dos Santos, who was pasturing her flock as well. These children declared that they had seen the vision of an angel in the year 1916. This unexpected and unforeseen happening constituted for the Servant of God the beginning of a spiritual experience that became more generous, more efficacious and more intense day by day. Suddenly he began to be more pious and reserved; he frequently recited the prayer taught by the Angel; he was always ready to offer sacrifices for the salvation of those who do not believe, do not hope or do not love. After these apparitions he seemed to have received the vocation of an anchorite; he hid behind the rocks and trees in order to pray alone, while at other times he climbed to the highest and most solitary places and there gave himself so intensely to meditation and prayer that he did not hear the voices of those who called him. At the same time he felt a strong and continuous longing to approach the sacred Eucharistic table, which in fact was only permitted to him just before he died.

These were not the only gifts of God, for there were other greater ones too. From the 13th of May to the 13th of October in the year 1917, he, together with Jacinta and Lucia, was granted the privilege of seeing the Virgin Mary, a certain number of times, in a place called the Cova da Iria. From then on, ever more and more inflamed with love for God and for souls, he had only one aspiration: to pray and suffer according to Our Lady's request. If the measure of divine benevolence towards him was extraordinary, the manner in which he wished to correspond with divine grace, in joy, fervour and constancy, was also extraordinary. He did not limit himself only to being a messenger, announcing penance and prayer, but more than that, with all his strength he conformed his life to the message which he announced, more by the goodness of works than by words. Thus he fulfilled the exhortation of Peter: "Each one of you has received a special grace, so, like good stewards responsible for all these different graces of God, put yourselves at the service of others" (1 Pet. 4,10).

He used to say: "How beautiful God is, how beautiful! But He is sad because of the sins of men. I want to console Him, I want to suffer for love of Him." He maintained this resolve to the very end. During the apparitions he bore with firm spirit and admirable fortitude the malicious interpretations, the injuries, the persecutions and even some days of imprisonment. He respectfully and firmly resisted the local authority who tried everything in order to discover the "secret" revealed, to the three children by the Most Holy Virgin, instilling courage at the same time into his sister and his cousin. Every time they threatened him with death he replied: "If they kill us we'll soon be in Heaven! Nothing else matters!" The parish priest tried to make him deny what had happened in the Cova da Iria, but he, although he revered priests very much, eagerly confirmed what he had seen. The prodigious events in which he was the protagonist turned all eyes towards him, but he remained simple and humble. He continued to carry out his daily tasks, to obey his parents and to be attentive towards all. He was patient with the curious, welcoming towards pilgrims, humane with the impious and merciful towards those who placed their supplications before him. He mortified his will and his character, overcoming fatigue, depriving himself of food in order to give it to the poor, not drinking water for entire days, especially in the hot weather, fasting during Lent, wearing a rope around his waist as a penance, giving up his favourite games in order to devote more time to prayer. He lost no occasion of uniting himself to the Passion of Christ and of co-operating in this manner in the salvation of souls and in the growth of the Church.

Another striking mark of his apostolate was prayer. He already prayed before the apparitions. Afterwards, however, moved by a more living and mature spirit of faith, he became conscious of being called to dedicate himself zealously and constantly to the duty of prayer according to the intentions of the Virgin Mary. He sought silence and solitude in order to immerse himself totally in contemplation and in dialogue with God. He assisted at Mass on feastdays, and also on weekdays when it was possible. He nurtured a special devotion to the Eucharist and spent much time in Church, adoring the Sacrament of the Altar which he called the "Hidden Jesus". He recited the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary daily, and many more times besides, in order to fulfil Our Lady's desire; to that he loved to add prayers and ejaculations which he had learned at the catechism classes, and which the Angel, the Most Holy Virgin and pious priests had taught him. He prayed with the intention of consoling God, of honouring the Mother of the Lord, whom he loved so much, of being useful to the holy souls who were expiating their penalties in the fire of Purgatory, and of helping the Supreme Pontiff in the fulfillment of his important office as universal pastor; he prayed for the needs of the world ravaged by hatred and sin; he prayed for the Church and for the eternal salvation of souls. He prayed alone, with his family, and with the pilgrims, manifesting a deep interior recollection and a sure confidence in the divine goodness.

With the firm resolve of desiring and doing only that which was pleasing to God, he dedicated himself constantly in heart and soul to the immortal things of the spirit, avoiding every form of sin and, at the age of seven years, he began frequently and piously to approach the sacrament of Penance. Docile to the precepts of the Lord and to the words of the Most Holy Virgin Mary, he progressed continually on the path of sanctity and, in a short time, attained a great and solid Christian perfection. Indeed his was a living faith, his charity was tender and zealous and his hope was full of joy. He was upright in word and deed. He had total disregard for earthly goods and for his own life and health. Since it had been made known to him by the Virgin Mary that his life would be brief, he spent the days in ardent expectation of entering Heaven. And in fact the time of waiting was not long delayed. Indeed, though he was robust and enjoyed good health, in October 1918 he was attacked by a serious broncho-pulmonary epidemic, called the "Spanish influenza". Once confined to bed he never managed to get up again; on the contrary, his state of health deteriorated in the year 1919. With great interior joy, he suffered his infirmity and severe pains as an oblation to God. When Lucia asked him if he was suffering he replied: "Quite a lot, but never mind. I am suffering to console Our Lord, and afterwards, within a short time, I am going to Heaven." In spite of being so sick, he nevertheless prayed many rosaries, exhorting the others to pray with him. On April 2nd, he devoutly received the sacrament of Penance, and on the following day he was finally nourished by the Body of Christ, as Holy Viaticum. In bidding farewell to those present he promised to pray for them in Heaven. He piously entered into eternal life, which he so ardently desired, on 4 April 1919. He was buried in the cemetery, but later his relics were translated to the Sanctuary, which had been built meanwhile on the spot where Our Lady appeared.

The fame for holiness, which he already enjoyed in life, was consolidated and increased after his death. Many of the faithful who had recourse to the intercession of the Servant of God affirmed that they had been heard and had received spiritual and corporal graces. The first steps towards the Cause of Canonization were taken in 1946, but the Informative Process was only begun in the Episcopal Curia of Leiria in 1952 and concluded in 1979. A Rogatory Process was also conducted in Coimbra, with the purpose of hearing Lucia's testimony. The Positio about the Virtues having been prepared by Rev. Fr. Paul Molinari, Postulator of this Cause, the Special Congress of Consultant Theologians, presided over by Rev. Msgr. Antonio Petti, Promoter General of the Faith, took place with a favourable outcome on the 5th day of December in the year 1988. The Cardinals and Bishops, in the Ordinary Congregation, on the 18th day of April in the year 1989, having as Proponent of the Cause, His Eminence Cardinal Edward Gagnon, recognized that the boy Francisco Marto had practised to an heroic degree the theological virtues, the carnal virtues and their associates.

The written report of all these facts having been finally given to the Supreme Pontiff, John Paul II, by the undersigned Cardinal Prefect, His Holiness, willingly accepting the desires of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, ordained that the Decree concerning the heroic virtues of the Servant of God be duly recorded.

This being done, on the same day, the Cardinals, the Prefect of the Congregation and Proponent of the Cause and I, the Bishop Secretary, being convoked, together with the remainder according to custom, and all being present, the Holy Father declared solemnly: it is certain that the Servant of God, in the case and for the end in view, practised to an heroic degree the theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity towards God and towards neighbour, and also the cardinal virtues of Prudence, Justice, Temperance and Fortitude and their associates.

The Holy Father ordered this Decree to be published and recorded in the acts of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

Given in Rome, on the 13th day of May in the Year of Our Lord 1989.





The Holy Father's  Beatification Homily

You revealed these things to children 

On Saturday morning, 13 May, over 600,000 faithful gathered in the square and surrounding areas of the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary in Fatima, Portugal, for the solemn Mass celebrated by Pope John Paul II for the beatification of the Servants of God Francisco and Jacinto Marto, two shepherd children who witnessed extraordinary appearances of the Blessed Mother in 1917.

Concelebrating with the Holy Father were the Cardinals and Bishops of the papal entourage, all the Bishops of Portugal and other Cardinals and Bishops from various parts of the world. Also pre-sent for the liturgy was Sr Maria Lucia of the Immaculate Heart (in the world Lucia de Jesus), the third child to see and speak with Our Lady.

After the introductory rites of the liturgy, Bishop Serafim de Sousa Ferreira e Silva of Leiria-Fatima petitioned the Holy Father to enrol Francisco and Jacinta Marto among the blessed After the Pope proclaimed them blessed, he announced that their least day would be 20 February. The readings of the liturgy were specially chosen to reflect the lives of the seers and the message of Fatima: Rv 11:19a, 12:1, 3-6a, 17; Col 1:24-28; and Mt 11:25. The Creed was sung in Latin and the prayers of the faithful were offered in various languages. The Pope gave Holy Communion to Sr Lucia, 12 children and other members of the faithful.

Here is a translation of the Holy Father's homily, which he preached in Portuguese.

1. "Father, ... to you I offer praise; for what you have hidden from the learned and the clever you have revealed to the merest children" (Mt 11:25).

With these words, dear brothers and sisters, Jesus praises the heavenly Father for his designs; he knows that no one can come to him unless he is drawn by the Father (cf. Jn 6:44); therefore he praises him for his plan and embraces it as a son: "Yes, Father, for such was your gracious will" (Mt 11:26). You were pleased to reveal the kingdom to the merest children.

According to the divine plan, "a woman clothed with the sun" (Rv 12: 1) came down from heaven to this earth to visit the privileged children of the Father. She speaks to them with a mother's voice and heart: she asks them to offer themselves as victims of reparation, saying that she was ready to lead them safely to God. And behold, they see a light shining from her maternal hands which penetrates them inwardly, so that they feel immersed in God just—as they explain—a person sees himself in a mirror.

Later Francisco, one of the three privileged children, exclaimed: "We were burning in that light which is God and we were not consumed. What is God, like? It is impossible to say. In fact we will never be able to tell people". God: a fight that burns without consuming. Moses had the same experience when he saw God in the burning bush; he heard God say that he was concerned about the slavery of his people and had decided to deliver them through him: "I will be with you" (cf. Ex 3:2-12). Those who welcome this presence become the dwelling-place and, consequently, a "burning bush" of the Most High.

Francisco bore his sufferings without complaining

2. What most impressed and entirely absorbed Bl. Francisco was God in that immense fight which penetrated the inmost depths of the three children. But God told only Francisco "how sad" he was, as he said. One night his father heard him sobbing and asked him why he was crying; his son answered: "I was thinking of Jesus who is so sad because of the sins that are committed against him". He was motivated by one desire—so expressive of how children think—"to console Jesus and make him happy".

A transformation takes place in his life, one we could call radical: a transformation certainly uncommon for children of his age. He devotes himself to an intense spiritual fife, expressed in assiduous and fervent prayer, and attains a true form of mystical union with the Lord. This spurs him to a progressive purification of the spirit through the renunciation of his own pleasures and even of innocent childhood games.

Francisco bore without complaining the great sufferings caused by the illness from which he died. It all seemed to him so little to console Jesus: he died with a smile on his lips. little Francisco had a great desire to atone for the offences Of sinners by striving to be good and by offering his sacrifices and prayers. The life of Jacinta, his younger sister by almost two years, was motivated by these same sentiments.

3. "Another portent appeared in heaven; behold, a great red dragon" (Rv 12:3).

These words from the first reading of the Mass make us think of the great struggle between good and evil, showing how, when man puts God aside, be cannot achieve happiness, but ends up destroying himself.

How many victims there have been throughout the last century of the second millennium! We remember the horrors of the First and Second World Wars and the other wars in so many parts of the world, the concentration and extermination camps, the gulags, ethnic cleansings and persecutions, terrorism, kidnappings, drugs, the attacks on unborn life and the family.

The message of Fatima is a call to conversion, alerting humanity to have nothing to do with the "dragon" whose "tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth" (Rv 12:4). Man's final goal is heaven, his true home, where the heavenly Father awaits everyone with his merciful love.

God does not want anyone to be lost; that is why 2,000 years ago he sent his Son to earth, "to seek and to save the lost" (Lk 19:10). And he saved us by his death on the cross. Let no one empty that Cross of its power! Jesus died and rose from the dead to be "the first-born among many brethren" (Rom 8:29).

In her motherly concern, the Blessed Virgin came here to Fatima to ask men and women "to stop offending God, Our Lord, who is already very offended". It is a mother's sorrow that compels her to speak; the destiny of her children is at stake. For this reason she asks the little shepherds: "Pray, pray much and make sacrifices for sinners; many souls go to hell because they have no one to pray and make sacrifices for them".

Jacinta endured everything for the conversion of sinners

4. Little Jacinta felt and personally experienced Our Lady's anguish, offering herself heroically as a victim for sinners. One day, when she and Francisco had already contracted the illness that forced them to bed, the Virgin Mary came to visit them at home, as the little one recounts: "Our Lady came to see us and said that soon she would come and take Francisco to heaven. And she asked me if I still wanted to convert more sinners. I told her yes". And when the time came for Francisco to leave, the little girl tells him: "Give my greetings to Our Lord and to Our Lady and tell them that I am enduring everything they want for the conversion of sinners". Jacinta had been so deeply moved by the vision of hell during the apparition of 13 July that no mortification or penance seemed too great to save sinners.

She could well exclaim with St Paul: "I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church" (Col 1:24). Last Sunday at the Colosseum in Rome, we commemorated the many witnesses to the faith in the 20th century, recalling the tribulations they suffered through the significant testimonies they left us. An innumerable cloud of courageous witnesses to the faith have left us a precious heritage which must live on in the third millennium. Here in Fatima, where these times of tribulation were foretold and Our Lady asked for prayer and penance to shorten them, I would like today to thank heaven for the powerful, witness shown in all those lives. And once again I would like to celebrate the Lord's goodness to me when I was saved from death after being gravely wounded on 13 May 1981. I also express my gratitude to Bl. Jacinta for the sacrifices and prayers offered for the Holy Father, whom she saw suffering greatly.

5. "Father, to you I offer praise, for you have revealed these things to the merest children". Today Jesus' praise takes the solemn form of the beatification of the little shepherds, Francisco and Jacinta. With this rite the Church wishes to put on the candelabrum these two candles which God fit to illumine humanity in its dark and anxious hours. May they shine on the path of this immense multitude of pilgrims and of all who have accompanied us by radio and television. May Francisco and Jacinta be a friendly light that illumines all Portugal and, in special way, this Diocese of Leiria-Fatima.

I thank Bishop Serafim, of this illustrious particular Church, for his words of welcome, and with great joy I greet the entire Portuguese Episcopate and their Dioceses, which I deeply love and which I urge to imitate their saints. A fraternal greeting goes to the Cardinals and Bishops present, with a special word for the Pastors from the community of Portuguese-speaking countries: may the Virgin Mary obtain reconciliation for the Angolan people; may she bring comfort to the flood victims of Mozambique; may she watch over the steps of Timor Lorosae, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, Sao Tome and Principe; may she preserve her Brazilian sons and daughters in the unity of faith.

I extend a respectful greeting to the President of the Republic and to the authorities who have wished to take part in this celebration. I take this occasion to express, through them, my gratitude to everyone who helped make my pilgrimage possible. A cordial embrace and a particular blessing to the parish and city of Fatima, which today rejoices in her children who are raised to the honours of the altar.

We make spiritual progress when we rely on Mary

6. My last words are for the children: dear boys and girls, I see so many of you dressed like Francisco and Jacinta. You look very nice! But in a little while or tomorrow you will take these clothes off and ... the little shepherds will disappear. They should not disappear, should they?! Our Lady needs you all to console Jesus, who is sad because of the bad things done to him; he needs your prayers and your sacrifices for sinners.

Ask your parents and teachers to enrol you in the "school" of Our Lady, so that she can teach you to be like the little shepherds, who tried to do whatever she asked them. I tell you that "one makes more progress in a short time of submission and dependence on Mary than during entire years of personal initiatives, relying on oneself alone" (St Louis de Montfort, The True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, n. 155). This was how the little shepherds became saints so quickly. A woman who gave hospitality to Jacinta. in Lisbon, on hearing the very beautiful and wise advice that the little girl gave, asked who taught it to her. "It was Our Lady", she replied. Devoting themselves with total generosity to the direction of such a good Teacher, Jacinta and Francisco soon reached the heights of perfection.

7. "Father, to you I offer praise, for what you have hidden from the learned and the clever you have revealed to the merest children".

Father, to you I offer praise for all your children, from the Virgin Mary, your humble Servant, to the little shepherds, Francisco and Jacinta.

May the message of their lives live on for ever to light humanity's way!


primary source : FATIMA A GRACE FOR MAN KIND


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