Saints Francisco Marto and Jacinta Marto -Feast Day: 20th February
Francisco and Jacinta Marto, brother and sister, were born in the tiny town of Aljustrel, Portugal, two years apart in a family of 10 siblings. Francisco was a handsome boy with light hair and dark eyes and a retiring disposition. Jacinta was a beautiful girl, also light haired and dark eyed but of a spritely temperament. 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. 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. With their cousin, Lucia dos Santos, brother and sister pastured their families’ sheep.
In 1916, their calm, rural life was changed forever by the apparition of an angel in a field near Aljustrel. The angel, calling himself “The Angel of Portugal” prepared them spiritually for a series of apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
On May 13, 1917, the Mother of God appeared to the three children atop of a holm oak near the village of Fatima. The Virgin asked the children to return another five times and promised to work a miracle at the last apparition so that all would believe, which she did by making the sun “dance” before 70,000 in October of 1917. Lucia and Jacinta had seen and heard Blessed Virgin speak, but Francisco has only seen but never heard Blessed Virgin speak. But still he never complained or was never sad. At that time she also called herself, “Lady of the Rosary.”
Throughout the apparitions, the Mother of God made prophecies about the advent of Communism and its spread throughout the world, about the coming of World War II, spoke of the sinfulness of the humanity, and asked for prayer (specially the daily recitation of the Rosary), penance and conversion of sinners as a means of obtaining peace for the world.
She also asked the children if they were willing to pray and sacrifice to help save the souls of poor sinners. She assured Francisco and Jacinta that she would take them soon to heaven but that Lucia would stay on earth longer.
Francisco and Jacinta convinced that they were not long for this world, and interiorly transformed by great mystical graces as well as a terrifying vision of hell, accepted a type of “spiritual victimhood” for the sake of offering reparation to God and saving the souls of sinners.
Francisco spent hours on end in prayer, and contemplation even giving up his games and play time. Jacinta embarked on a life of prayer and penance, offering many small sacrifices for the salvation of sinners.
In August 1918, just as World War I was ending, Francisco and his sister both contracted influenza. Just eight months later, Francisco knew his time was coming. He asked to receive the Hidden Jesus in Holy Communion. Francisco died the next morning with a smile on his face on April 3, 1919, at his home in Aljustrel and was buried in a little cemetery in Fatima. He was later transferred to the Sanctuary at Cova da Iria. And Jacinta died in a hospital in Lisbon on February 20, 1920 the day she had predicted.
Brother and sister were beatified in Fatima by Pope John Paul II on May 13, 2000, and canonized in May 2017, by Pope Francis on the 100th Anniversary of Fatima.
The life of these Young Saints is teaching us that even young children can become saints. Just like how these Young Saints did small sacrifices to console hearts of Jesus and Mary, let us think daily, “did I do my best today to console the Heart of Our Lord God ?” Let us also inspire our kids to practice small sacrifices for Christ.
By Linu Deepak, Singapore