The Three Children of Fatima
Sister Lucy of Fatima photographed in 1967.
«Nursed to the sound of hymns, Lucy relates in her second Memoir, the first thing that I learned was the Ave Maria because my mother was accustomed to take me in her arms whenever she was teaching my sister Caroline, who was five years older than I.1»
Extraordinarily precocious, young Lucy, led by her big sisters, took part in all the festivities of the village where she was cherished by all.
In the family, Maria Rosa excelled in having good Christian joy always prevail. In the evening, she knew how to coax her children from music and singing to prayer and holy readings.
«As my sisters, writes Lucy, at certain times of the year had to work in the fields during the day, in the evening they weaved and sewed. After supper, prayer followed. Prayer was started by my father, then we began to work2. Everyone was busy. My sister Maria looked after the loom, my father would fill the spools. Theresa and Gloria did the sewing. My mother would spin. After organizing the kitchen, Caroline and I were employed in pulling out the thread, sewing the buttons, etc.
In order to avert drowsiness, my brother played the accordion, to the sound of which we sang various songs. Neighbors came rather often to keep us company, and they were used to saying that, although we prevented them from sleeping, they felt joyful and lost their bad humor while hearing the festivity we were making. I heard several women say to my mother: "How fortunate you are! What good children Our Lord has given you!"...
«My mother would teach catechism to her children at siesta time during the summer. In winter, our lesson took place in the evening, near the fire-place, while we had roasted chestnuts and sweet acorns, which we ate.3»
«Every evening, especially in winter, Maria dos Anjos relates, our mother would read to us something from the Old Testament or from the Gospel, or a story concerning Our Lady of Nazaré or Our Lady of Lourdes... During Lent we knew that the readings were always on the Passion of Our Lord. Lucy retained everything by heart immediately, and then related it to the children.4»
Lucy already manifested uncommon qualities: attentive and reflective, of a profound piety, and she was also very exuberant. Antonio, her father, cherished her, and Lucy, who was very much attached to him, was impressed indelibly by his deep faith and his truly religious soul:
«When the bells of the parish church rang the Angelus,» she relates, «my father ceased work. His head uncovered, he would say three Hail Marys and come back to the house. [While he was waiting for meal time, if the weather was good, he would sit on a stone bench which was in the courtyard, leaning against the wall of the kitchen, or else near the fire-place; with me on his knees, he would be busy telling me stories, teaching me regional songs, some fados5*, and some small verses. My mother would go by there, wholly engaged in her task.] From time to time, when she was very near us, she would say: "What are you teaching the little one? If only you would teach her catechism!" Then my father would say: "We are going to do your mothers will." He would take my little hand in his hand to teach me how to trace the Sign of the Cross on my forehead, my mouth, and my chest. Then he would teach me to say the Our Father, the Hail Mary, the Credo, the Confiteor, the Act of Contrition, and the Commandments of God.
*Translators Note: A "fado" is a plaintive Portuguese folk song.
«Sometimes my father brought me outside; he would sit on one of the seats there to take in the fresh air. He pointed towards the sky, and said:
"Look up there, it is Our Lady and the little Angels; the moon is the lamp of Our Lady, the stars those of the Angels, they and Our Lady light and place those lamps in the windows of heaven in order to light up our way at night. The sun you see rise every day, over there, behind the mountain, is the lamp of Our Lord, which He lights up every day to warm us and let us work."6 That is why I told the other children that the moon was the lamp of Our Lady, the stars those of the angels, and the sun the lamp of Our Lord.
«Papa was accustomed to tell me when it thundered, that the Heavenly Father was angry because men committed sins. One day, he was working near the well. I was running around him, enjoying myself. Suddenly the weather darkened, and it began to thunder and rain. Papa grabbed his hoe and took me on his shoulders and ran into the house. Upon arrival, I asked him: "The Heavenly Father is angry. Who has sinned? You, papa, or other men?" My father replied: "I and the others. We are going to pray to Saint Barbara to protect us from the thunder and lightning." He knelt down with mama and my eldest sisters who were there, before a Crucifix which he had on the wall of the room outside, to recite some Our Fathers and Hail Marys.7»
Danger to Lucys Soul
Ti Marto had accurately discerned the richness of Lucys character:
«She was very exuberant, he reported, very frank and very refined, very affectionate, even with her father; my father this! my father that! Ah, My Jesus! What a daughter, that one! I was "foreseeing" it already: "You will be either very good or very bad."8»
Such a character and so many overindulgences from all sides to the youngest, could have without a doubt, in the long run, harmed her soul. Has Lucy herself not disclosed: «Thus, surrounded by tenderness and affection, I then reached my sixth year. And, all in all, the world began to smile at me, and above all the passion for dancing was sinking deep roots in my poor heart. I avow that, if the Good God had not exercised His special Mercy towards me, the demon would have ruined me.9»
But thanks to the tireless zeal of her mother and her father, who had already succeeded in teaching her all the catechism when she was only six years old, the beautiful truths of the faith, the love of Jesus, and the ardent hope of receiving Him soon in her soul, had cast into her heart roots even deeper than the first attractions of the world. The entirely gratuitous predilection of the Holy Hearts of Jesus and Mary was going to accomplish all the rest.
Lucys First Mystical Graces
At a time when, in spite of the recent decrees of Saint Pius X, great strictness on the age for First Communion still remained. Lucy obtained the signal favor of being able to go to Holy Communion from the age of six. Father Péna, the Pastor, had at first refused this grace to the poor child. And it was good Father Cruz, that Priest who undoubtedly will be raised to the altar, who took upon himself the responsibility of granting this favor to our future seer, after questioning her himself10. What a privilege! It was to this Saint that Lucy made her First Confession, which was followed by the "smile of Our Lady." Here is the admirable account which Lucy relates with what natural and charming candor! that first mystical grace which impressed itself deeply on her whole life.
«This good Priest, after hearing me, spoke some words to me: "My daughter, your soul is the temple of the Holy Ghost. Keep it always pure so that He can continue His Divine action in it." On hearing these words, I felt imbued with self respect, and I asked the good confessor how I should do it. "On your knees, there, at the feet of Our Lady, ask Her with full confidence to take care of your heart, that She may prepare it to receive worthily Her Beloved Son tomorrow, and may She preserve it for Him only."
«There was more than one image of Our Lady in the church, but as my sisters were preparing the altar of Our Lady of the Rosary, I then had the habit of praying before Her statue. In addition, it was there that I proceeded to ask Her with all possible enthusiasm, to preserve my poor heart for God alone. Having several times repeated this humble supplication, my eyes fixed on the statue, I had the impression that She was smiling, and that, with a look and gesture, She said yes to me. I remained so filled with joy, that I could scarcely articulate a word.»
The next morning, «already clothed in my white dress, my sister Maria led me to the kitchen so that I could ask pardon of my parents, kiss their hands and ask for their blessing. That ritual over, my mother gave me her final recommendations. She told me what she wanted me to ask Our Lord when I had received Him in my heart, and she left me with these words: "Above all, ask Our Lord to make you a Saint!" These words engraved themselves indelibly in my heart, and were the first that I spoke to Our Lord as soon as I had received Him. Today still, I think I hear the echo of my mothers voice which repeats them to me ...
«The High Mass began and, as the moment of Communion approached, my heart was beating faster and faster in the expectation of the visit of the great God Who was about to descend from Heaven to unite with my poor soul. The Priest came down to distribute the Bread of Angels. I had the good fortune to be the first. When the Priest came down the altar steps, my heart beat so hard that I thought it was going to come out of my chest. But as soon as he had put the Divine Host on my lips, I felt a serenity and an unalterable peace. I felt swallowed up by an atmosphere so supernatural that the presence of our good God became to me as perceptible as if I were seeing Him and hearing Him with my bodily senses. I then addressed my supplications to Him: "Lord, make a Saint out of me, preserve my heart always pure for You alone!" It seemed to me then that the Good God spoke to me in the depth of my heart these very clear words: "The grace which is given you today will remain living in your soul, and will produce there fruits of eternal life." I felt, in this way, transformed in God. When the religious ceremony ended, it was almost one oclock in the afternoon because the priests who had come from outside had arrived late, and because of the length of the sermon, and of the renewal of the baptismal promises. My mother came to get me, very worried, believing that I had fainted. I felt so satiated from the Bread of Angels that it was impossible to take any food. I lost, since then, the taste and attraction that I had begun to feel for the things of the world, and I only felt at ease in a solitary place where I could then recall the delights of my First Communion.11»
Lucys Heavy Trials
Beginning with 1919, death struck repeated blows in the entourage of Lucy, sinking more and more into her sorrowful solitude... On April 4, Francisco flew to Heaven. Then, on July 31, it was the death of her own father. «My sorrow was such, Lucy would confide, that I thought I would die also. My father was the only one who continued to show me affection, and in the discussions which arose in the family against me, he was the only one who defended me.12»
In that same year 1919, Maria Rosa fell ill, and so gravely «that one day, Lucy writes, we thought her to be dying.»
Maria dos Anjos relates: «She had crises of suffocation, and the doctor said that they were heart attacks. We all wept, because we had already lost our father ...13»
«We, her children, Lucy continues, gathered around her bed in order to receive her last blessing and kiss the hand of our dying mother. As I was the youngest, I was the last one in line. My poor mother, seeing me, revived a little, and putting her arms around my neck, she sighed, exclaiming: "My poor daughter! What will become of you without your mother? I am going to die, my heart is torn on your account." And sobbing bitterly, she squeezed me in her arms more and more tightly. My eldest sister snatched me forcefully from her arms, and leading me into the kitchen, forbade me to return to the sick room. In concluding, she said to me: "Our mother is dying in pain, because of the sorrows you have caused her." I knelt down, inclining my head on a bench, and I felt a deep bitterness which I had never experienced previously. I offered to our good God my sacrifice.
«A little later, my two eldest sisters, seeing that there was no longer any hope, came back to me, saying: "Lucy, if it is true that you saw Our Lady, go now to the Cova da Iria, ask Her to cure our mother. Promise Her what you wish, we will do it, and then we will believe." Without losing a moment, I was on my way.» Maria dos Anjos remembers that it was winter and that it was raining hard. «So as not to be seen, Lucy continues, I went through paths which cut across fields, reciting my Rosary. I made my request to the Most Holy Virgin. Giving free rein to my grief, I poured out abundant tears and I returned to the house comforted, in the hope that my dearest Heavenly Mother would grant health to my mother on earth. When I entered the house, my mother already felt a little better, and three days later, she could do the house-work.
«I had promised the Most Holy Virgin, if She would grant what I asked Her, to go nine days in succession, accompanied by my sisters, to recite the Rosary at the Cova da Iria, and to walk on our knees from the top of the road to the foot of the holm-oak; and on the last day, to take with us nine poor children and afterwards give them a meal...14»
Maria dos Anjos testifies that «the crisis disappeared on the spot. She (Maria Rosa) had no more suffocation. She breathed well. Her heart was working better, and soon she was able to get up. She was not completely cured and did not recover all her strength. But afterwards she could still work a great deal, so well that she did not appear a woman of her age.15
Venerable Jacinta of Fatima.
«The Good God had endowed Jacinta with a gentle and tender character which made her lovable and attractive...16» Obviously she was the favorite of her father, who declared to Father De Marchi: «She was always so gentle! On this point, she was truly astonishing. Even nursing at her mother’s breast she was already like that. Nothing made her angry. We have not brought up another one like her! It was a natural gift for her.17» That will not prevent her, while growing up, when playing her games, from being at times capricious and sulky, for she was lively, alert and easily moved in everything. But «her touchy character» was the other side of a rich and enthusiastic temperament.
Jacinta had a heart of gold, and she was capable of great affection. Also, her heart was surprisingly pure, wholly submissive to baptismal grace. Among the savory recollections related by Lucy in her first Memoir, let us mention to begin with, the «three kisses to Jesus.» The children often played at forfeits, a game in which the winner has the right to order anything he wishes of the loser:
Her Sensitive Resolute Heart
«One day we were about to play that game in the house of my parents, and it was my turn to give her a forfeit. My brother was also seated near a table for writing. I sent her then to give him a hug and a kiss, but she replied: "That, no! Command me to do something else. Why do you not have me hug Our Lord Who is there (it was a Crucifix hanging on the wall)?"
"Yes," I replied. "Get up on a chair, bring it here, and on your knees, give Him three hugs and three kisses, one for Francisco, another for me, and another for you." - "To Our Lord I will give as many as you wish." She ran to get the Crucifix, hugging it and clenching it with such devotion that I shall never forget that action.
«After looking at Our Lord attentively, she asked: "Why is Our Lord nailed like that to a Cross?" - "Because He died for us." - "Tell me how it happened." And Lucy continued artlessly: «As I only had to hear stories once to repeat them in all their details, I then began to tell in detail to my companions, the story of Our Lord... On hearing the account of His suffering, the little one was moved and wept. Several times after, she asked me to repeat it. She wept, deeply pained, and said: "Our poor Lord! I should never commit any sin. I dont want Our Lord to suffer any more."18»
What a loving, sensitive and resolute heart this childish reflection reveals to us! And the end of the same incident19 shows us Jacinta, the frank and loyal one, preferring to be accused rather than see her cousin scolded unjustly. Love of truth was so deeply anchored in her soul, that the slightest lie scandalized her.
In order to perceive with what seriousness and realism little Jacinta regarded matters of faith, let us cite another passage of that first Memoir of Lucy, dedicated entirely to the biography of her cousin.
For Corpus Christi, Caroline, one of Lucys sisters, undertook to dress some "little angels" who, during the procession, were strewing flowers in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Lucy was always chosen, and her cousin asked to join her:
Our Lady of Fatima said the Pope would have much to suffer if Her requests were not obeyed. The Pope was shot May 13, 1981. He says Our Lady of Fatima saved his life.
«Both of us went to make the request. My sister accepted, she tried a dress on her as well, and during the rehearsals she told us how we were to toss the flowers to the Baby Jesus. Jacinta asked: "Are we going to see Him?" "Yes," my sister replied. "The Priest will carry Him." Jacinta jumped for joy and kept on asking how much time remained for the feast to begin. The desired day finally arrived, and the little one was frantic with joy. They placed the two of us there beside the altar, and in the procession beside the dais, each with her basket of flowers. At the spots marked by my sister, I tossed my flowers to Jesus. But in spite of all the signs I was making to Jacinta, I did not succeed in having her toss a single flower. She kept on watching the Priest and nothing else. When the ceremony ended, my sister led us outside the church and asked: "Jacinta, why didnt you toss the flowers to Jesus?" -"Because I didnt see Him."
«Then Jacinta asked: "Then, you saw the Baby Jesus?" -"No, but dont you know that we dont see the Baby Jesus of the Host? He is hidden, it is He Whom we receive in Holy Communion." -"And when you receive Holy Communion, do you talk to Him?" -"I talk to Him." -"But why dont you see Him?" -"Because He is hidden." -"Im going to ask my mother if she will allow me also to go to Communion." -"The Priest wont give you Holy Communion before the age of ten." -"But you arent ten yet, and youve already received Communion." -"Because I knew the whole catechism and you dont know it."
«Then Jacinta and Francisco asked me to teach them catechism. I therefore became catechist of my two companions who learned with unique enthusiasm.20»
This charming anecdote shows that we could not have made our little peasant believe just anything. «To see Jesus, she stared, and said rightly that she didnt see Him. When later she will maintain against all comers that she saw the beautiful Lady, that means that she must have indeed seen Her!21»
Like Our Lady of Fatima, Pope John Paul II underlines the crucial importance of personal confession of sins to a Catholic priest. Here the Pope takes his turn as a confessor in Saint Peter’s in Vatican City.
Jacinta Sacrifices For Sinners
«Jacinta, Lucy writes, took sacrifices for the conversion of sinners so much to heart that she did not let any opportunity pass her by. There were some children, sons of two families of Moita who went from door to door begging. We met them one day, when we were going out with our flock. Seeing them, Jacinta said to us: "Let us give our meal to those poor children for the conversion of sinners!" She ran to bring it to them.
«Jacinta seemed tireless in the practice of sacrifice. One day,... on the road, we met our dear poor little ones, and Jacinta ran to give them the alms. It was a very beautiful day and the sun was very hot. In that arid and dry moor, everything seemed to want to catch fire. Thirst made itself felt and we did not have a drop of water to drink. At the beginning, we offered that sacrifice generously, for the conversion of sinners, but with the arrival of noon, we could not resist any longer.
I then proposed to my companions going to a nearby place to ask for a little water. They accepted the proposal and I knocked at the door of an old woman who, in giving me a pitcher of water, gave me also a little bread, which I accepted gratefully. I ran to share it with my companions. Then I gave the pitcher to Francisco and I told him to drink. "I don’t want to drink", he replied. "Why?" - "I want to suffer for the conversion of sinners." - "You, Jacinta, drink." - "I want to offer this sacrifice for sinners too." I then poured that water into the hollow of a rock so that our sheep could drink it and I went to bring back the pitcher to its owner. The heat became more and more intense. The cicadas and the crickets joined their singing with that of the frogs of the neighboring pond and made an unbearable noise. Jacinta, weakened by hunger and thirst, said to me, with a simplicity which was natural to her: "Tell the crickets and the frogs not to sing any more, I have such a headache!" Then Francisco asked:
"Dont you want to suffer that for sinners?" The poor child, holding her head between her two little hands, replied: "Yes, I want to, let them sing."22»
Jacinta always had that thought, which had become habitual to her, of suffering for sinners, in making reparation in their place, while substituting herself for them in order to obtain for them pardon and the grace of conversion.
«When, through mortification, she did not want to eat, I would say to her, "Jacinta, lets go eat now." - "No, I offer this sacrifice for sinners who eat too much." When she was already ill, she would go to Mass one day a week, I would say to her, "Jacinta, dont come; you do not have the strength; it is not Sunday today." - "It matters little, I am going there for sinners who do not even go on Sundays." If it happened that she heard one of those too liberal words that some people glory in pronouncing, she would cover herself with her hands saying: "My Goodness! Do these people not know in saying these things, they risk going to Hell? Forgive them, My Jesus, and convert them. Certainly they do not know that such things offend God. What a pity, My Jesus! I pray for them." And she would repeat then the prayer taught by Our Lady: "Oh, My Jesus, forgive us, save us from the fire of Hell, and lead all souls to Heaven, especially those most in need."23»
«Jacinta frequently repeated those sacrifices, but I cannot continue to relate all of them, Sister Lucy concludes, otherwise I will never finish!24,/»
Our Lady Visits Jacinta Three Extra Times
«In my opinion, Lucy remarks, Jacinta is the one to whom the Blessed Virgin had granted, with a greater abundance of graces, a better knowledge of God and of virtue.25» In fact, although she was the youngest of the three seers, she is the one who seems first of all to have benefitted from the greatest intimacy with the Most Holy Virgin. The cycle of the six public apparitions being closed, Jacinta continued up to her death to receive extraordinary supernatural favors. Through the official report which Father Ferreira drew up on the events of Fatima, we know that the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to her at least three times, in the short lapse of time between October 13, 1917 and August 6, 1918.
«Jacinta, this report tells us, affirms that Our Lady appeared to her three more times.
To renew their fervor, Our Lady had come, at the end of the year 1918 or at the beginning of January 1919, to visit Jacinta and Francisco: «One day, Lucy relates, she (Jacinta) had me called so that I might go to her quickly. I went there running:
«Our Lady came to see us, Jacinta said. She said that She would come soon to get Francisco to take him to Heaven. She asked me if I wanted to convert still more sinners. I said yes to Her. She told me that I would go to the hospital and that there, I would suffer a great deal; that I am to suffer for the conversion of sinners, in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and for love of Jesus. I asked if you would come with me. She answered no. That is what is going to be the most difficult for me. She said that my mother would take me to the hospital and that then I would stay there all alone.26»
Another day, Jacinta was more precise in confiding to her cousin: «Our Lady wants me to go to two hospitals, but it is not to be cured, it is to suffer still further for love of Our Lord and for sinners.27»
For a long time Jacinta knew, as a certain and absolute truth, that the more she suffered, the more numerous would be the souls she would snatch from the eternal flames. Instructed by the infused grace which accompanied the words of the Angel, she had understood «the value of sacrifice, how pleasing it is to God and how much out of consideration for it, God converts sinners.»28 And she gave her generous "yes" to the hard sacrifice which was asked of her, the one she had doubtlessly not even imagined: to suffer and die alone, far from her father, far from her mother, and what is more, far from Lucy, her only confidante, her intimate friend, whose presence was a solid comfort to her and the one great consolation which remained to her.
In December 1919, «again, Lucy relates, the Most Holy Virgin deigned to visit Jacinta to announce to her new crosses and new sacrifices. She informed me of the news and said to me: "She told me that I will go to Lisbon into another hospital; that I will never see you again, nor my parents either; that after suffering a great deal, I will die all alone; but that I should not be afraid, because She will come to get me in order to go to Heaven."»
At Lisbon, Jacinta was immediately allowed to stay at the orphanage of Our Lady of the Miracles, thus named because it contained the chapel consecrated under that title.
«From Lisbon, Lucy writes, Jacinta had told me that Our Lady had already come to see her, that She had told her the hour and the day of her death, and that She recommended me to be very good.29»
On February 2, 1920, on the Feast of the Presentation of the Child Jesus, Jacinta left Our Lady of the Miracles for the hospital Dona Estefania. It was for her a new painful separation, especially because her mother had to return to Fatima on February 5. It was then that she left her poor child forever.
«Purulent pleurisy of the large left cavity, with fistula; osteitis of the seventh and eighth ribs of the same side.» Such was the diagnosis of Dr. Castro Freire who received her at the hospital.
«On February 10, Jacinta was operated on. She had much to suffer, for they could not give her a general anesthetic, because of her extreme weakness, and they had to be content with a local anesthetic whose method was still very imperfect at that time.»30 Furthermore, she suffered still even much more humiliation of seeing herself entirely unclothed.
The nurses had observed that Jacinta forced herself to hide her sufferings. Sister D. Leonor Assunçao de Almeida testifies: «She was a very peaceful child, never did she complain!... The small one spoke little and was very self-contained. But she prayed a great deal and invoked Our Lady in her suffering.31» «That child, declares another nurse, was very different from the others. Very patient... a little Saint! Never did she cry out, never was she angry.» The nurses who had seen her enter the hospital «like any urchin» had soon perceived that she «was different from the others in everything.»31
February 20, 1920: She Died Alone
As a good Mother, the Virgin Mary had pity on Her child and soon came to soften her trial... She appeared to her at the foot of her bed: «Our Lady told me that She would come to get me soon and that I will not suffer any longer.32» In fact, since that day, Jacinta no longer manifested any suffering. She knew the day and the hour of her death33.
«On the evening of February 20, towards six oclock, Dr. Lisboa specifies, the little one said that she felt worse and wished to receive the last sacraments. They called the pastor of the Parish of the Angels, Father Pereira dos Reis, who heard her confession about eight oclock in the evening. I was told that the little one had insisted that they bring her Holy Viaticum. But Father Pereira dos Reis, seeing her apparently well, did not want to do it, and only promised to bring her Our Lord the next day.34
Again, the little one insisted in order to receive Communion, saying that she was soon going to die. In fact, about 10:30 that evening, she passed away peacefully, but without having received Holy Communion.35»
All was accomplished. The prophecy of the Blessed Virgin Mary had been fulfilled: Jacinta died alone, without parents or friends, without anyone to assist her in her last moments. And the sweet Presence of Jesus in the Host, Whom she desired so ardently for that supreme moment, had just been refused her. But Our Lady surely kept Her promise; we can be certain of that. She came to get Her child, to finally introduce her into the infinite beatitude of Heaven!
Lucy relates that «Francisco does not seem to be Jacintas brother except for facial traits and the practice of virtue. Unlike her, he was not capricious or lively. On the contrary, he was of a peaceful and humble nature... The eyes manifested a rather lively spirit, but few children liked to play with him because he almost always lost ... And when he did win, if someone sought to deprive him of his rights, he would give in without resistance, limiting himself to say: "You think you won? Very well, that doesnt matter to me at all." I admit myself that I had little sympathy for him, because his peaceful character sometimes excited the nerves of my too lively nature.36»
Like his father, he was meek and humble. Of a perpetually joyful expression, he was kind and accommodating with everyone, even at the price of enormous sacrifices: «If other children insisted on taking from him something that belonged to him, he would say: "Keep it, its all the same to me!"37»
We must not think on that account that he lacked energy or was weak-willed. If his big cousin was impressed by him, at home his virtue was not without fault. We should take into consideration the testimony of his father, as it completes Lucys declarations. A robust boy, full of vitality, «he was more difficult and more bustling than his little sister. He was not so patient. He would balk at a trifle... We would have said a little calf!» Mischievous, he loved to play tricks on his brothers and sisters, and without the firm hand of Manuel Pedro, who knew how to make himself obeyed, he too would have been capricious.38
If he showed himself calm and peaceful most of the time, it was certainly not through sluggishness or apathy. Far from being a coward, on the contrary he displayed boldness and courage. «He was not fearful at all, Lucy relates. At night, he would go alone to any obscure place without any problem. He would play with the lizards and snakes he found; he would make them curl around a stick; he would pour goats milk into the hollows of the rocks to have them drink. He would creep into caves looking for holes of foxes, rabbits, genets, etc.39»
«He was very deft with his hands, his mother Olimpia related. The little things I gave him to make, he made them in a way that amazed me.40»
Like his father, who, when he was alone, seemed always absorbed in deep reflection, Francisco was a meditative soul. He had little taste for the noisy games and the shouting of his two companions: «He did not display, like Jacinta, any passion for dancing. He preferred to play the flute, while the others danced... What he preferred to do when we went on the hills, Lucy writes, was to sit down on the highest rock and to play his flute or sing. If his little sister came down with me to run a little, he would remain there, busy with his music and his songs...41» Along with his love of nature and of the animals of the open country, music was his dominant passion. The word is not excessive, for it caused him to commit the gravest fault of his short life: the theft of his fathers tostao [a coin] (that made up a tiny amount!) in order to buy himself a harmonica which he coveted too much.
Franciscos Great Message
Since May 13 and the first "vision in God" with which Our Lady had favored Her three privileged ones, Francisco, who had a contemplative soul and tender heart, remained occupied by one single thought, dominated by one single sentiment: The Virgin Mary and God Himself are infinitely sad, it is up to us to console them!
The life of little Francisco was profoundly impressed by that astounding revelation, that unveiling of the Heart of God, of that sadness which is the supreme, indisputable sign of His love for us. And this is the great message which Francisco bequeaths to us.
What impressed Francisco during the apparitions, Lucy reports, «was God, the Most Blessed Trinity, in that immense light which penetrated us in the depths of our soul. Then, he said: "We were burning in that light which is God and we were not consumed. What is God? We could never put it into words! Yes, truly, no one will ever be able to express it! What a pity it is that He is so sad! If only I could console Him!"42»
In order to pray, Francisco sought solitude: «He spoke little, Lucy relates, and to pray and offer sacrifices, he loved to hide himself, even from Jacinta and me... From time to time, he would distance himself from us without our realizing it... When we noticed his absence, we would begin to look for him while calling him. He would answer us from behind a small wall, a shrub or a bush... He had withdrawn there, on his knees, to pray and think about Our Lord, so sad because of so many sins, as he said... If I asked him: "Francisco, why did you not tell me to pray with you and also with Jacinta?" - "I prefer to pray alone, in order to think, and to console Our Lord Who is so sad!43"
«One day, Lucy reports again, we were going to my home, passing in front of my baptismal godmothers house. She had just made some mead and called us to give us a glass. We went in and Francisco was the first to whom she gave the glass to drink. He took the glass without drinking it, passed it on to Jacinta so that she might drink some, and I also. In the meantime, he made a half-turn and disappeared. "Where is Francisco?" my godmother asked. "I dont know! I dont know! He was there a moment ago." He did not reappear. Jacinta and I, after having said thank you, went to find him again, not doubting for a moment that he was sitting at the side of the well of which I have so often spoken. "Francisco, you didnt drink the mead! Godmother called you several times, but you didnt answer." - "When I took the glass I suddenly remembered to make that sacrifice to console Our Lord, and while you were drinking, I fled here."44»
«One day, Ti Marto relates, two ladies were conversing with Francisco and they asked him about the career he would like to follow when he grew up: "You want to be a carpenter?" asked one of them. "No, Madam", the child replied. The other asked: "Do you want to be a soldier?" - "No, Madam." - "You would not wish to be a doctor?" - "Not that either." - "I know what you would like to be... a priest! To say the Mass... confess, preach... is it not true?" - "No, Madam, I do not want to be a priest." - "Then, what do you want to be?" - "I dont want to be anything... I want to die and go to Heaven."»
Ti Marto comments: «That there, was a true decision!» Francisco did not think primarily of himself, nor of his own joy, but above all he thought of the joy of Jesus. «Soon Jesus is going to come to take me to Heaven with Him, and then I will always see Him and console Him. What happiness!45»
Francisco And The Hidden Jesus
Meanwhile, he wanted to be as much as possible at His feet, near the Tabernacle. «When he was going to school, Sister Lucy relates again, sometimes when entering the village of Fatima itself, he would say to me: "Listen, you go to school. As for me, I will stay here in the church, near the hidden Jesus. It is not worthwhile for me to learn how to read. Soon I am going to Heaven. When you come back, come and look for me here." The Blessed Sacrament was then near the entrance of the church, on the left side. He placed himself between the baptismal font and the altar, and I found him there when I returned (the Blessed Sacrament was there because of the repairs going on in the church).46»
Sometimes, in order to intercede at length on behalf of those who had entreated him, Francisco would spend the morning at the foot of the Tabernacle:
«One day when I was going out of the house, Lucy relates, I met my sister Theresa, recently married at Lomba. She came, at the request of a woman from a neighboring hamlet, whose son had been arrested because they had accused him of I don’t know what crime. If his innocence was not demonstrated, he would be condemned to deportation, or, at least, to a great many years in prison. She asked me insistently, in the name of the poor woman to whom she wanted to give happiness, to obtain for her that grace from Our Lady. The message received, I left for school and on the way, I told my cousins what had happened. Arriving at Fatima, Francisco said to me: "Listen, while you go to school, I will stay with the hidden Jesus and there, I will ask Him that." And going out of school I went to call him and I asked him: "Did you ask Our Lord for that grace?" - "Yes, I asked for it. Tell your sister Theresa that in a few days he will come back home." In actual fact, a few days after, the poor boy was home, and on the 13th he was with all his family to thank Our Lady for the grace received.47»
How had Francisco known that his prayer had been heard? We do not know. In any case, on that day he had the assurance which the Saints show when they prophesy or perform miracles... And we can thus guess what was his intimacy with God.
Francisco Struck By The Flu
Our shepherds had never been ill48 until October 1918 when Jacinta, who was only eight years old, and Francisco, who was only ten, were struck almost at the same time by the terrible Spanish flu. Once it left Spain, the epidemic ravaged many countries in Europe, and was particularly deadly in Portugal. Very often the illness evolved rapidly into bronchial-pneumonia, as was the case with Jacinta and Francisco.
«During his sickness, Lucy relates, he suffered with an heroic patience, without ever letting escape a groan or the mildest complaint.
For her part, his mother Olimpia was able to declare to Father De Marchi: «The little one accepted all the remedies he was given. He did not fuss. I could never know what pleased him... Poor little one! Even the bitter medicines, he drank them without making a face. We also thought that he would overcome the illness. But what? He kept repeating that it was all useless, that Our Lady was going to come to take him to Heaven.49»
He wished to offer up all his prayers and his sufferings to console Our Lord and Our Lady:
«One day, Lucy reports, when, with Jacinta, we entered his bedroom, he said to us: "Today, speak little! I have a bad headache." - "Dont forget to make the offering for sinners," Jacinta said to him. "Yes, but first I offer it up to console Our Lord and Our Lady, and then I offer it for sinners and for the Holy Father." Another day, in arriving, I found him very happy. "You are better?" - "No, he said, I feel much worse. Only a little time remains to me before going to Heaven. There above, I am going to console Our Lord and Our Lady a great deal; Jacinta is going to pray a great deal for sinners, for the Holy Father and for you. You are going to stay here because Our Lady wishes it. Listen, do everything She tells you."50»
His Most Bitter Regret
His most bitter regret was to no longer be able to spend long hours, as he had before, at the foot of the Tabernacle to console the hidden Jesus... Lucy explains.
«After he fell ill, he sometimes said to me when I passed by his home on my way to school: "Listen, go to the church and present to the hidden Jesus all my salutations! What I regret the most, is not being able to spend time there with Him." One day upon arriving near his house, and after I had taken leave of a group of children from the school who came with me, I went inside to visit with him and his sister. As he had heard some noise, he asked me: "You came with all of them?" - "Yes." - "Dont go with them! You could learn to commit sins. When you leave the school, go and spend a moment near the hidden Jesus and then come back all alone."51»
Within six months, the terrible illness had broken the robust health of Francisco. Whereas previously he would recite up to seven or eight rosaries daily, as Olimpia affirmed, now he was so weak that evening would arrive before he had recited a single one, which afflicted him greatly. No longer being able to pray and feeling that he was near the end, he disclosed to his father that he wanted to go to Holy Communion. On April 2, 1919, the Parish Priest of Fatima, Father Manuel Marques Ferreira,52 finally allowed himself to be moved. He went without delay to the little sick one. On that very day, early in the morning, Francisco had sent his sister Theresa to fetch Lucy.
«"Come quick! Francisco is feeling very bad and he says that he wants to tell you something!" I hastily got dressed and I went. He asked his mother and his brothers to leave the bedroom, for it was a secret which he wished to tell me. They went out and he said to me: "I want to confess before going to Communion and then die. I should like you to tell me if you have seen me commit some sins, and to go and ask Jacinta if she has seen me commit any." - "You have disobeyed your mother sometimes, I answered him, when she told you to stay home and you escaped to come to me or to go and hide yourself." - "That is true, I did commit that one. Now go and ask Jacinta if she remembers anything else." I went and after thinking it over, Jacinta answered me: "Listen, tell him that just before the apparitions of Our Lady, he stole a coin (tostâo) from our father to buy the harmonica of José Marto de Casa Velha, and that when the boys of Aljustrel threw stones at the boys from Boleiros, he threw some too." When I informed him of his sisters message, he replied to me: "Those, I have already confessed, but I am going to confess them again. Perhaps it is because of those sins I have committed that Our Lord is so sad! But even if I were not dying, never more would I begin again to commit them. Now I am sorry for them." And joining his hands, he then said the prayer: "O My Jesus, forgive us, save us from the fire of Hell, and lead all souls to Heaven, especially those most in need"...
His Great Joy
«That evening, he was radiant with joy: he had gone to confession and the Parish Priest had promised to bring him Holy Communion the next day.53»
He rejoiced. The moment so ardently desired was coming at long last. For the first time since his miraculous Communion at the Cabeço, he was going to receive his "hidden Jesus", at Whose feet he had spent so many silent hours. Given his sickness, he could have been dispensed from fasting. But no! He wanted to offer that ultimate sacrifice. «He obtained the promise from his mother that she would not give him anything after midnight, so that he could receive Communion fasting, like everyone else.54»
Father De Marchi relates the recollections of the Marto parents: «The dawn of April 3 finally came. It was a beautiful spring day... When Francisco heard the tinkling of the bell which announced the approach of the King of Heaven, he wanted to seat himself on his bed; but his strength was lacking, and he fell back on his pillow. "You can remain lying down to receive Our Lord", said his godmother Theresa. She had come specially to assist at the first and last Communion of her godson... Kneeling near the bed, the two little ones wept with sadness, but also with a holy jealousy. Jesus was coming to take away their companion, to take him to Heaven. After receiving the Host on his parched tongue, Francisco closed his eyes, and remained motionless for a long time... The first words which he spoke were to say to his mother: "Will the Parish Priest not bring the hidden Jesus to me another time?55" - "I do not know", she replied, having a presentiment no doubt that this first Communion would also be for him Viaticum. But he, still filled with joy, said to his little sister: "Today I am happier than you, because I have the hidden Jesus in my heart. I am going to Heaven, and there I am going to pray a great deal to Our Lord and Our Lady that they will very quickly take both of you also."56»
«The eve of his death, Lucy writes, he said to me: "Listen, I am very ill, I have only a little time left before going to Heaven..." - "Then, I replied, do not forget up there to pray for sinners, for the Holy Father, for me and for Jacinta." - "Yes, I want to indeed, but listen, those things, ask rather Jacinta, for I am afraid of forgetting when I see Our Lord! Before everything, I want to console Him!"57»
Goodbye Until We Meet In Heaven
That Thursday April 3, during the day, Franciscos condition worsened alarmingly. «He was thirsty, but already he was no longer able to tolerate milk, not even the teaspoons of water that his mother and godmother offered him from time to time. If his mother or godmother asked him how he felt, he would reply: "I feel well. I no longer suffer at all."58»
«It was night when I took leave of him, Lucy relates: "Good-bye, Francisco! If you go to Heaven tonight, do not forget me up there, you understand?" - "No, I shall not forget you, be sure of that." And taking me by the right hand, he held it tightly for a long time, looking at me with tears in his eyes. "Do you want anything more?" I asked him, with tears running down my cheeks too. "No", he answered me in a faint voice. As the scene became too moving, my aunt made me go out of the bedroom. "Good-bye then, Francisco! Until we meet in Heaven!" - "Good-bye, until Heaven!"59»
He Died Smiling
The next day April 4, on that first Friday of the month, everything indicated that his end was near. He still had the strength to ask pardon of his godmother for the few vexations that he had been able to cause her during his life and to ask for her blessing. When night had fallen completely, he called his mother, and asked her: «Oh! Mama, see!... What a beautiful light, there, near the door!» And after a few minutes: «Now, I no longer see it...60» Towards 10 oclock in the evening,61 his face shone with an angelic smile and, without any sign of suffering, without agony, without groans, he died calmly. «He flew away to Heaven in the arms of our Heavenly Mother,»62 Lucy writes. Jacinta was near her brothers bed when he died. And as she saw everyone weeping, she exclaimed: «Why do you weep, since he is happy?63» During the church investigation, his mother was able to make this statement: «He appeared to be smiling, and stopped breathing.» As for his father, he declared: «He died smiling.64»
Francisco was not yet eleven years old, and since the last apparition at the Cova da Iria only a year and a half had elapsed. But, showered with graces at each one of the apparitions of Our Lady, sanctified by the numberless rosaries that he had recited, by his solitary prayers in the country and the long hours spent near the Tabernacle, all absorbed in consoling the hidden Jesus, purified finally by the sufferings of his illness, he was already prepared for Heaven and the Virgin Mary was able to come to get him.
On April 5, first Saturday of the month, a modest procession brought his body to the cemetery of Fatima.
1) Sister Lucys Second Memoir, page 53.
2) On Sunday, reports Lucy in her Fifth Memoir (Portuguese), they said the Rosary in the evening, «for it was not a working day» (page 202).
3) Sister Lucys Second Memoir, pages 60, 55.
4) Father John De Marchi, page 53.
5) That is popular, very melancholic songs.
6) At the end of this account, Sister Lucy notes: «I know indeed that all that is childish, but it taught us to lift up our eyes towards Heaven where we know God our Father is situated, the Blessed Mother Whom He gave us to watch over us, the Angels whom He created and destined to guide us and lead us on the roads of life.» (page 207).
7) Sister Lucys Fifth Memoir (Portuguese), pages 204-205.
8) Father John De Marchi, page 52.
9) Sister Lucys Second Memoir, page 55.
10) In 1947, Father Cruz confirmed to Canon Barthas the exactness of all the facts regarding himself reported by Sister Lucy in her Memoirs.
11) Sister Lucys Second Memoir, pages 55-59.
12) Sister Lucys Second Memoir, pages 91-92.
13) Father John De Marchi, page 249.
14) Sister Lucys Second Memoir, pages 89-90.
15) Maria Rosa died on July 16, 1942, aged seventy-three, from a cardiac lesion. See Martins dos Reis, "A vidente de Fatima dialoga," page 45.
16) Sister Lucys Second Memoir, page 22.
17) Father John De Marchi, page 64.
18) Sister Lucys First Memoir, pages 23-24.
19) Ibid., pages 24-25.
20) Ibid., pages 26-27.
21) Dom Jean-Nesmy, La Vérité de Fatima, SOS éditions, 1980, page 47.
22) Sister Lucys First Memoir, page 32.
23) Sister Lucys Third Memoir, page 107.
24) Sister Lucys First Memoir, page 41.
25) Sister Lucys First Memoir, page 33.
26) Sister Lucys First Memoir, page 42.
27) Sister Lucys Second Memoir, page 97.
28) Sister Lucys Fourth Memoir, page 152.
29) Sister Lucys First Memoir, page 46.
30) When he operated on Jacinta, Doctor Castro Freire still was not aware that she was the seer of Fatima. Later, in 1980, that doctor gave the following testimony: «Jacinta impressed me as a very courageous child, for in order to open a fistula, the local anaesthesia is far from suppressing all the pain... The only words I heard her pronounce during the operation were these: "Ouch! Jesus! Ouch! My God!"» (Cf. "The Seers of Fatima", Jan.-April 1982; Voz da Fatima, Feb. 13, 1988).
31) Quoted by A. M. Martins, Fatima et le Corps mystique, ed. Téqui, 1989, pages 58-60.
32) Formigao, Les grandes merveilles, page 112.
33) If she was happy in repeating to her entourage that Our Lady would come to get her soon, her surprising attitude on the evening of Feb. 20, proves that she knew precisely both the day and the hour of her departure for Heaven, just as she had informed Lucy who reports it to us in her Memoirs. Cf. chapter 5 under heading "The Sorrowful Passion."
34) «While withdrawing, Father Pereira dos Reis gave her a last blessing and, deeply impressed, exclaimed: "It is our misfortune if that one does not go to Heaven!"» (Fernando Leite, "A morte de Jacinta", Voz da Fatima, Feb. 13, 1988). (The Death of Jacinta).
35) Report of Dr. Lisboa, quoted by Father John De Marchi, page 286.
36) Sister Lucys Fourth Memoir, page 124.
37) Ibid., page 125.
38) Father John De Marchi, pages 59-61.
39) Sister Lucys Fourth Memoir, page 145.
40) Father John De Marchi, page 61.
41) Sister Lucys Fourth Memoir, pages 124, 126.
42) Sister Lucys Fourth Memoir, page 127.
43) Ibid., pages 129 and 136.
44) Ibid., page 129.
45) Father John De Marchi, pages 241-242.
46) Sister Lucys Fourth Memoir, page 136. In 1946, when on a trip to Fatima, Lucy went to the parish church. After a prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, she headed towards the entrance of the church and advanced into the chapel where the baptismal font is situated. «Our Lord was there, she said, during the last years I spent in Fatima: it is here where I came to call Francisco when I got out of school.» (cf. Martins dos Reis, A vidente de Fatima dialoga e responde pelas Apariçoes, page 126).
47) Sister Lucys Fourth Memoir, page 138.
48) Cf. Ch. Formigao, "Estudo psicologico dos videntes", Novos Documentos, page 78. "Psychological Study of the Seers".
49) Ibid., page 252.
50) Sister Lucys Fourth Memoir, page 137.
51) Ibid., page 137.
52) It indeed has to do with the Curé of Fatima, Father Manuel Marques Ferreira, and not Father Moreira, as Father De Marchi has erroneously affirmed (Cf. "The Whole Truth About Fatima, volume II," page 520)
53) Sister Lucys Fourth Memoir, pages 143-145.
54) Father John De Marchi, page 257.
55) Father John De Marchi, page 257.
56) Sister Lucys Fourth Memoir, page 145.
57) Ibid., page 143.
58) Father John De Marchi, page 258.
59) Sister Lucys Fourth Memoir, page 145.
60) Father John De Marchi, page 258.
61) We are saying 10 oclock in the evening, and not 10 in the morning, in spite of what Father Fernando Leite affirms (See "Francisco de Fatima," page 154), for the rectification which Father Kondor has made concerning the exact hour of Franciscos death appears decisive to us. (cf. "The Whole Truth About Fatima, volume II, pages 104 and 813).
62) Sister Lucys Fourth Memoir, page 145.
63) Cf. "The Seers of Fatima," Jan.-April 1986.
64) In the parochial investigation on the extraordinary phenomena of the Cova da Iria, concluded on April 18, 1919, Father Manuel Marques Ferreira, Parish Priest of Fatima from 1914-1919, mentioned Franciscos death: «On time [which meant "in the mean-time"], Francisco, the seer, died at 10 oclock in the evening, this present April 4... having received the sacraments with much lucidity and piety, confirmed having seen a Lady at the Cova da Iria and at Valinhos.» ("The Seers of Fatima," Jan.-April 1986).