Blessed Francisco & Jacinta Marto
The Seers of Fatima (1908 - 1919, 1910-1920)
It was the 13th of May in the year 1917. Away from the fertile regions of Fatima, a village some 110 miles north of the city of Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, stood the little known Cova da Iria where there took place an event that was to change forever the lives of three t youngsters from Aljustrel who were shepherding their flock. Having first satiated their hunger, they had just about concluded the recitation of the rosary when, of a sudden that bright sunny morning a powerful flash of lightning tore through the sky, bathing them in an astonishingly dazzling glow and revealing to them a resplendent figure __ a young maiden, the Virgin Mother of God!
Ten-year-old Lucia de Jesus and her two cousins, Francisco and Jacinta Marto were the 3 seers of that beatific vision and were to be recipients of the same for the next 5 months, a rendezvous they maintained uninterruptedly, except for 13 August when they were taken away for cross-questioning by the Mayor of Villa Nova de Ourem, under whose jurisdiction Fatima fell. An unexpected apparition, however, followed on 19 August while they grazed their flock in the "dos Valinhos".
The trio was asked by Mary to learn to read and write; they were also asked to pray the rosary for peace in the world and the end of the war that was raging then, as well as to pray for the Pope, for sinners and for the conversion of Russia. It was Mary herself who had assured them of heaven, with the warning that they would each have to suffer much. She asked that the Rosary be recited regularly and that the world be consecrated to her Immaculate Heart. And, as promised by her, they did indeed experience the strengthening power of God's grace in their lives until the end, enabling them to fulfill all that was expected of them by Mary.
Doubt and suspicion, beating and imprisonment were their lot until, eventually, no less than 90,000 people virtually witnessed the miracle of the sun and all else that accompanied the last apparition of Mary at Fatima. A remarkable change came over the children. They became kinder in their attitude towards all they came in contact with and were easily moved by the sufferings of others; their visits to the Eucharistic Lord increased in frequency and fervor, paving the way for their much-awaited union with him the Lord of their life. Francisco, who was born on 11 June 1908, was called to his reward on 4 April 1919 at Aljustrel; Jacinta, born on 11 March 1910, passed away to hers on 20 February 1920 at Lisbon. Lucia de Jesus lives on today as Sr. Maria Lucia of the Immaculate Heart.
The mortal remains of Jacinta were taken from the family tomb of Baron Alvaiarezere in Qurem on 12 September 1935 and placed near those of Francisco in the parish cemetery. Later, on 1 May 1951, they were transferred to a specially prepared tomb in the side chapel to the left of the main altar of the basilica at the Cova da Iria. The mortal remains of Francisco were solemnly transferred on 13 March 1952 to the chapel on the right of the main altar in the same basilica.
The process for the beatification of Francisco and Jacinta which commenced in 1952, concluded in 1979. The final documentation having being presented to the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II and the Congregation for the Causes of Saints on 15 February 1988, Francisco and Jacinta were declared "Venerable" on 13 May 1989 and beatified in the Jubilee Year 2000.
To the glory of God, while devotion to Our Lady of Fatima registers a steady increase in every respect, thanks to the unwavering faith of the 3 children, Lucy, Francisco and Jacinta, her shrine at the Cova da Iria continues to draw people by the million, year after year, into the healing embrace of the Lord's love.
Reflection :"Having been crowned by the Most Holy Trinity, from heaven, Mary fulfils for us Christians the roles of Mother, Teacher and Queen. On our part, we want to be good children, diligent disciples and docile subjects" (Blessed James Alberione).