Blessed Francisco and Jacinto Marto
Today we commemorate Blessed Francisco and Jacinto Marto, the visionaries at Fatima. Francisco,(June 11, 1908 – April 4, 1919) 11, and Jacinta (March 11, 1910 – February 20, 1920), 10, are the youngest non-martyrs to be beatified in the history of the Church.
The brother and sister, who tended their families’ sheep with their cousin Lucia Santo in the fields of Fatima, Portugal, witnessed the apparitions of Mary, now commonly known as Our Lady of Fatima.
During the first apparition, which took place May 13, 1917, Our Lady asked the three children to say the Rosary, do penance, and make sacrifices, offering them for the conversion of sinners. The children did, praying often, giving their lunch to beggars and going without food themselves. They offered up their daily crosses and even refrained from drinking water on hot days.
The youngest children of Manuel and Olimpia Marto, Francisco and Jacinta were illiterate, but had a rich oral tradition on which to rely. Francisco had a peaceful, easygoing temperament, was musically inclined and spent much of his time alone thinking. Jacinta was affectionate, somewhat spoiled, and strong-willed. 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 might lead to occasions of sin.
In October 1918, Francisco and Jacinta became seriously ill with the Spanish flu. Our Lady appeared to them and said she would to take them to heaven soon.
Bed-ridden, Francisco requested his first Communion. The following day, Francisco died, April 14, 1919. Jacinta suffered a long illness as well. She was eventually transferred to a Lisbon hospital and operated for an abscess in her chest, but her health did not improve. She died Feb. 20, 1920.
Pope John Paul II beatified Francisco and Jacinta May 13, 2000, on the 83rd anniversary of the first apparition of Our Lady at Fatima, teaching us that even young children can become saints.