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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 January 21, 2021

All the strength of Satan’s reign is due to the easy-going...

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January 21

 

All the strength of Satan’s reign
is due to
the easy-going weakness of Catholics.


Pope St. Pius X


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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Agnes

Even pagans were moved to tears at the sight of the radiant...

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St. Agnes

Agnes was born around 291 in a Christian, patrician family of Rome, and suffered martyrdom in the terrible persecution of Diocletian.

As a young maiden, she pledged herself to Christ and defended her virginity to the death.

Exceptionally beautiful, she turned down numerous suitors, but when she refused Procop, the Prefect’s own son, things became very complicated. Procop tried to win Agnes with gifts and promises but she answered: “I’m already promised to the Lord of the Universe. He is more splendid than the sun and the stars, and He has said He will never leave me!”

Angered, Procop  took  the maiden before his father, and accused her of being a Christian. The Prefect tried to turn her from her Faith first by cajolements, and then by placing her in chains, but she only rejoiced.

The pagan official, set on overcoming Agnes by any means, next had her taken to a house of prostitution but she was visibly protected by an angel.

Finally, Agnes was condemned to death, but she was happy as a bride about to meet her bridegroom. Even pagan bystanders were moved to tears at the sight of the radiant maiden going to her death, and begged her to relent, to which she retorted: “If I were to try to please you, I would offend my Spouse. He chose me first and He shall have me!” Then praying, she offered her neck for the death stroke.

St. Agnes is one of seven women besides the Blessed Virgin to be mentioned in the Canon of the Mass. She is the patron of chastity, young girls, engaged couples, rape victims and virgins. She is depicted holding a lamb as her name in Latin means “lamb”, “agnus”. But the name “Agnes” is actually taken from the Greek “hagne” meaning chaste, pure, sacred.

Agnes’ relics repose beneath the high altar of the Church of Sant’Agnese Fuori le mura, built upon the place she was originally buried. This church was built in her honor by the daughter of the Emperor Constantine, and is one of the oldest in Rome.  St. Agnes’ skull is in the Church of Sant’Agnese in Agone at Piazza Navona.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

One night, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and told him h...

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Mary and the Muslim

Don Octavio del Monaco was a wealthy citizen of 17th century Naples. Like many of his class, Don Octavius had several Muslim slaves in his household. These children of Islam were amazed at the kindness of their “master.” He fed and clothed them better than they received in their native land. In return, his slaves attended to their tasks with diligence, as Don Octavius did not over work them, but assigned them duties in keeping with their dignity as children of God.

If these Muslim slaves had any reason for complaint, it was the gentle persistence with which their master and his wife exhorted them to give up their false religion and become Catholics. Don Octavius even went so far as to invite the slaves to join his family in the chapel to worship the one true God with them!

Our story today is about one young slave in particular. His name was Abel, like the slain son of Adam and Eve. He felt drawn in a peculiar way to a lamp that burned in front of a shrine to Holy Mary. Abel would purchase the oil needed to keep the lamp lit from his own meager stipend. As he continued to practice this humble devotion, he would say, “I hope that this Lady will grant me some great favor.”

One night, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and told him he must become a Christian. At first the Turk resisted. But she placed her hand upon his shoulder, and said to him: “Now no longer resist, Abel, but be baptized and called Joseph,” conferring on him a name that was very dear to her Immaculate Heart indeed.

On August the 10th, 1648, there was much rejoicing in Heaven, for on that day “Joseph” and eleven other Muslims converted to the Christian faith and were baptized. Their conversion was brought about by the kindness shown by Don Octavius and the special intercession of the Mother of God.

Our story does not end here. Even once this son of hers was safely baptized, Mother Mary delighted in visiting him. Once, after having appeared to him, she was about to depart. But the Moor seized her mantle, saying, “Oh, Lady, when I find myself afflicted, I pray you to let me see you.” In fact, she one day promised him this and when Joseph found himself afflicted he invoked her, and Mary appeared to him again saying, “Have patience", and he was consoled.

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

One night, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and told him he must become a Christian.

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