“Saints of Our Lives” features Team Busted Halo acting out the lives of the saints in soap opera fashion for your educational and entertainment pleasure. In this episode, we dramatize the lives of Saints Jacinta and Francisco Marto!
At the beginning of the 20th century, a series of miraculous apparitions of the Blessed Mother changed the lives of three Portuguese peasant children. Despite the anti-religious climate of the time (Portugal had disbanded all religious organizations), and despite being unable to read or write, the three children had received faithful catechesis from their parents. When the first vision occurred, Jacinta was only 7, Francisco 9, and Lucia, their cousin, 10.
On May 13, 1917, Jacinta, Francisco, and Lucia were shepherding in the mountains when they received a stunning apparition of a beautiful woman: The Blessed Virgin Mary. The Blessed Virgin told them to return in a month once they had learned to read, write, and pray the Rosary. When they returned, she began a series of miraculous visions that would later be immortalized in the Catholic consciousness through a popular devotion to Our Lady of Fatima. In six different apparitions over the course of the year, the three children received visions instructing them to pray for peace, to pray for Russia, and to pray and to do penance for the souls of sinners. In addition, Mary entrusted the young children with three sacred secrets, which some have viewed as miraculous prophecies.
Within a year of the first apparitions, a terrible flu swept throughout Europe. While Lucia survived, Francisco and Jacinta contracted the deadly disease and died before they even entered their teens. Lucia, who wrote down their memoirs, later became a Discalced Carmelite nun. Although canonization of children is rare, the Church made an exception for Jacinta and Francisco and opened their cause for sainthood as early as the 1940s. When Jacinta’s body was dug up more than 20 years after her death, her face was found to be incorrupt, and this mark of preservation furthered their cause. In 2000, when Lucia was 92 years old, she was present at the beatification ceremony of her two younger cousins. (Lucia died in 2005 and has the title “Servant of God,” the first step toward canonization.) In 2017, the centenary of the apparitions, Pope Francis canonized the young visionaries.
Photo credit: Banners showing Saints Jacinta and Francisco Marto hang from the facade of the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima as Pope Francis visits the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal in 2017. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)