Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Blesseds Jacinta and Francisco Marto
Our Lady of Fatima is a title given to Mary after she had appeared to three children on the thirteenth day of six consecutive months during 1917. This all took place at Fatima, Portugal, and the three children included Lucia Santos, and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto. Besides the spiritual implications, these visions also had a profound impact on the local politics. Europe had been engaged in an extremely bloody war and Portugal was in political turmoil, with its monarch being overthrown in 1910, and all religious organizations being disbanded soon thereafter.
Jacinta and Francisco were typical Portugese children, they could not read, but, instead, relied on their rich oral history. They worked with Lucia to take care of the family sheep. After the visions, all three felt the need to save sinners through penance and sacrifice. Thus, many times they would practice self-mortification. Even though the 1918 Influenza epidemic was ravaging Europe, Jacinta and Francisco would insist on walking to church to prostrate themselves and pray for hours on end. The Blessed Virgin Mary had instructed them to pray the rosary in order to bring world peace and end war. They were to pray for sinners and for Russia, which had just overthrown Czar Nicholas II and was going to fall prey to communism. These children showed amazing dedication to their faith, even in the face of disease and death. It is amazing that they were able to trust God and put their lives into His hands to guide them. However, both died peacefully, with Jacinta offering her suffering up for the sake of all sinners. Amazingly her face has been found to be incorrupt after many years. An interesting fact is that Jacinta is the youngest non-martyred child to be beatified. Jacinta and Francisco's cousin, Lucia, died only very recently in 2005. She became a Carmelite nun at a young age. Currently, the five year waiting period after death for beatification has been waived for her. The shrine dedicated to the visions of Our Lady of Fatima is visited by over 20 million people yearly.
These instances in history are truly amazing, but we must remember that, even though we are not able to see God, Mary, or Jesus, face-to-face, they are in the people that we meet every single day. It is faith that helps us to believe even when we are not able to touch or see. This event also shows that even children will go to amazing lengths to fulfill the will of God. We should strive to look to the saints as role models in our everyday life.