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Saints Francisco and Jacinta Marto

By Seth Hakes

 

On the morning of May 13th, 2017, perhaps the most amazing event that happened at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal was the canonization of Jacinta Marto and her brother, Francisco. They became the youngest children to be canonized (who are not martyrs) in nearly 2,000 years of Christianity.

How did these two children achieve Christian perfection at such young ages? How did they acquire virtues in the heroic degree which took other saints a lifetime of asceticism to achieve? How did Our Lady transform these two children into great saints?

 

Transformation from Child to Saint

The saints agree that perfect obedience requires giving up one’s own will. Saints Francisco and Jacinta adhered faithfully to Mary’s will at the least prompting. Her apparitions gave their lives a higher purpose and transformed them in a matter of months. One sign of this transformation is a change of will. Our Lady told them to pray and they did. Our Lady asked them to offer sacrifices and they did. They did numerous penances such as wearing coarse ropes directly against their skin all the time. Even when the rope cut into their skin and the pain it caused prevented them from sleeping at night, they wouldn’t relent from practicing such a severe penance. However, when Our Lady instructed them not to wear the ropes at night, they again obeyed.

Another remarkable transformation took place in the very hearts of Jacinta and Francisco. The children’s only desire was to please Mary. They were willing to do anything for love of Jesus and Mary, offering penances of hunger, thirst, discomfort and the constant harassment of disbelievers.

One radical example of the very real persecution they endured occurred on August 13, 1917. On their way to their fourth appointment with Our Lady, the three children were abducted by the administrator of Ourém. During their imprisonment, the other prisoners wanted to distract Jacinta by singing and dancing with her. She quickly tired of this. In order to do something more pleasing to Mary, Jacinta hung her Brown Scapular on the wall, invited everyone in the prison cell to kneel before it, and they all prayed the Rosary.

Even when the administrator threatened to throw them in a cauldron of boiling oil if they didn’t reveal the secret Our Lady entrusted to them, these children chose death rather than displeasing Our Lady. To live or to die no longer mattered to them. To please Jesus and Mary became their only concern.

To read more about the fourth apparition of Our Lady - Click here!

 

Mary Changed Their Lives and Dreams

It is known that these children were not always little saints. They began as very typical children. One example of this is that, before the Angel of Peace appeared to them, they prayed an abbreviated version of the rosary. Instead of saying each prayer, they would simply say the words “Our Father” and “Hail Mary.” In this way, they were able to get back to their games all the sooner. Mary radically changed their lives. What they used to see as a chore was now a source of spiritual nourishment. They soon burned with the desire to pray the Rosary, not just every day, but many times throughout the day.

All children grow up full of hopes and expectations. Some will dream of becoming famous like a professional athlete or an actor. Others dream of becoming rich. Others dream of something more honorable like becoming a firefighter, a policeman, a professor or a war hero. Surely, Francisco and Jacinta had their childhood dreams as well.

But, when Our Lady appeared to them, any dream they may have had vanished. They no longer dreamed about the joys of the world. Their only joy was to obey Mary’s will. They no longer hoped for a long, full and happy life. Their only hope was to go to Heaven. They no longer dreamed of fame or riches. Their only dream was to please God, console the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, and convert and save sinners.

 

They Made Her Heart Theirs

How were such young children transformed into great saints? The answer seems to be an invitation and a challenge to everyone, especially children, for all times. They simply made Mary’s will their will. They made her desires their desires. They made her hopes and dreams theirs. In short, they made her heart theirs. Perhaps, this is the best explanation of what devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is.

 


 

 

 

Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for April 22, 2021

Mary was raised to the dignity of Mother of God rather for s...

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April 22

 

Mary was raised to the dignity of Mother of God
rather for sinners than for the just, since
Jesus Christ declares that
He came to call not the just, but sinners.

St. Anselm

 
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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Theodore of Sykeon

Endowed with the gift of prophecy and miracles, on a second...

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St. Theodore of Sykeon

Born in the Roman Galatian town of Sykeon in Asia Minor, Theodore was the son of a woman of ill repute, who kept an inn along the imperial highway.

As a child, he was so given to prayer that he would often give up a meal to spend time in church. From an early age he shut himself up first in the cellar of his mother’s house and then in a cave beneath a disused chapel. Later, for a time, seeking to further escape the world, he sought solitude on a mountain.

On a pilgrimage to Jerusalem Theodore assumed a monk’s habit, and though only eighteen years of age, was ordained a priest by his own bishop. His life was most austere, wearing an iron girdle about his body and only sparingly partaking of vegetables.

Endowed with the gift of prophecy and miracles, on a second pilgrimage to the Holy Land, he obtained abundant rain after a severe drought.

Theodore founded several monasteries, and ruled as abbot in Sykeon. He was consecrated Bishop of Anastasiopolis, though he deemed himself totally unfitted. After ten years he succeeded in relinquishing his post and retired to Sykeon.

From Sykeon he was recalled to Constantinople to bless the emperor and the senate and there healed one of the Emperor’s sons of a skin disease, reputedly leprosy.

Theodore had a great devotion to St. George and did much to propagate devotion to him.

He died in Sykeon on April 22, 613.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

In the mountainous region of Trent in Germany, there lived a...

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The Robber Who Stole Heaven

In the mountainous region of Trent in Germany, there lived a notorious robber who made his living by bringing misfortune on others. His occupation being what it was, he would only increase his property by decreasing that of his victims.

One day, he was admonished by a local religious to change his course of life and thereby insure his eternal salvation. The only answer the robber gave was that for him there was no remedy.

"Do not say so," said the religious, "do what I tell you. Fast on each Saturday in honor of the Virgin Mary, and on that day of the week do no harm to anyone. She will obtain for you the grace of not dying in God’s displeasure.”

The robber thought to himself, “This is a small price to pay to insure my salvation; I will do as this holy man has prescribed.” He then obediently followed the religious’ advice, and made a vow to continue to do so. That he might not break it, from that time on he traveled unarmed on Saturdays.

Many years later, our robber was apprehended on a given Saturday by the officers of justice, and that he might not break his oath, he allowed himself to be taken without resistance. The judge, seeing that he was now a gray-haired old man, wished to pardon him.

Then the truly miraculous occurred. Rather than jump for joy thanking the judge for his leniency, the old robber, said that he wished to die in punishment of his sins. He then made a public confession of all the sins of his life in that same judgment hall, weeping so bitterly that all present wept with him.

He was beheaded, a death reserved for the nobility, rather than hanged. Then his body was buried with little ceremony, in a grave dug nearby.
Very soon afterwards, the mother of God came down from Heaven with four holy virgins by her side. They took the robber’s dead body from that place, wrapped it in a rich cloth embroidered with gold, and bore it themselves to the gate of the city.

There the Blessed Virgin said to the guards: "Tell the bishop from me, to give an honorable burial, in such a church to this dead person, for he was my faithful servant." And thus it was done.

All the people in the village thronged to the spot where they found the corpse with the rich pall, and the bier on which it was placed. And from that moment on, says Caesarius of Heisterbach, all persons in that region began to fast on Saturdays in honor of she who was so kind to even a notorious robber.

From the Glories of Mary, by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori.

In the mountainous region of Trent in Germany, there lived a notorious robber who made his living by bringing misfortune on others. 

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