The three children of Fatima
Nursed to the second 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.
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 waved and sewed. After super, prayer followed. Prayer was started by my father, then we began to work. Everyone was busy. My sister Maria looked after the loom, my father would fill the spools. Teresa 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 prevented from 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: â€œ How fortunate you are1 what good children Our Lord has given you1â€â€¦
My mother would teach catechism to her children at siesta time during the summer. In winter our lesion took place in the evening, near the fire-place, while we had roasted chestnuts and sweet acorns, which we ate.
Every evening, especially in winter, Maria dos Anjos relates, our mother would read us to something from the Old Testament or from the Gospel, or a story concerning Our Lady of Nazare or Our Lady of Lourdesâ€¦ 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.
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 meals 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; which me on his knees, he would be busy telling me stories, teaching me regional songs some fados, and some small verses. My mother would go by there, wholly encaged in her task.] From time to time, when she was very near us, she would say: â€œWhat are you teaching the little one? If only you would teach her catechism!â€ Then my Father would say: â€œWe are going to do your motherâ€™s will.â€ 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.
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: â€œLook 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. That is why I told the other children that the moon was 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 house.
Upon arrival, I asked him: â€œThe Heavenly father is angry. Who has sinned? You, papa,
Or other men?â€ My father replied : â€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.
Dangers To Lucyâ€™s Soul
Ti Marto had accurately discerned the richness of Lucyâ€™s character:
She was very exuberant, he reported, very frank and very affectionate, even with her father; my father this! My father that! Ah, my jesus! What a daughter, that one! I was
â€œforeseeingâ€ it already: â€œyou will be either very good or very bad.â€
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 daneing 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.
But thankd 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 receving him soon in her soul, had cast into her heart roots even deeper than the first attraction of the world. The entirely gratuitous predilection of the holy hearts of jesus and mary was going to accomplish all the rest
Lucyâ€™s 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 pena, 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 favour to our future seer, after questioning her himself what a privilaga! It was to this saint that Lucy made her first confessin, which was followed by the â€œsmile of our lady .â€ Here is the admirable account which Lucy relates â€“ with what natural and charming candor! â€“ that first mystical grace which impressed itself deeply on her whole life.
This good priest, after hearing me, spoke some words to me : â€œ My daughter, yours souls is the temple of the holy ghost. Keep it always pure so that he can continue his divine action in it. â€œon hearing these words, I felt imbued with self request, and I asked the good confessor how I should do it. â€œon 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.â€
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 â€œAbove all, ask our lord to make you a saint !â€ 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 motherâ€™s voice which repeats them to meâ€¦.
The high mass began and, as the moment of communication approached, my heart was beating faster in the expectation of 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: â€œ Lord, make a saint out of me, preserve my heart always pure for you alone! â€œIt seemed to me then that the good god spoke to me in the depth of my heart these very clear words: â€œ The grace which is given you soul, and will produce there fruits of eternal life. â€œ I felt in this way, transformed in god. When the religious ceremony ended, it was almost one oâ€™clock in the afternoon because the priests who had come from outside had arrived late, and because of 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 solitary place where I could then recall the delights of my first communion.
Lucyâ€™s Heavy Trials
Beginning with 1919, death struck repeated blows in the entourage of lucy, sinking more and more and more into her sorrowful solitudeâ€¦..
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 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.
In that same year 1919, Maria Rosa fell ill, and so gravely <
The good god had endowed Jacinta with a gentle and tender character which made her lovable and attractiveâ€¦ 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 motherâ€™s breast she was already like that. Nothing made her angry. We have not brought up another one like that. Nothing made her angry. We have not brought up another one like her! It was a natural gift for her. 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 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 losser:
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: â€œ That, no! command me to do something else. Why do you not have me hug our lord who is thereâ€
â€œYes,â€ I replied. â€œGet 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.â€-â€œ To our lord I will give as you wish.â€ 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: â€œwhy is our lord nailed like that to a cross?â€ â€“ â€œBecause he died for us.â€ â€“ â€œTell me how it happened.â€ 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 account of his suffering, the little one moved and wept. Several times after, she asked me to repeat it. She wept, deeply pained, and said: â€œOur poor lord! I should never commit any sin. I donâ€™t want our lord to suffer any more.â€
What a loving, sensitive and resolute heart this childish reflection reveals to us! And the end of the same incident 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 Lucyâ€™s sisters, undertook to dress some â€œlittle angelsâ€ who during the procession, were strewing flowers in front of the blessed sacrament. Lucy was always chosen, and her cousin asked to join her:
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: â€œAre we going to see him?â€ â€œYes,â€ my sister replied. â€œThe priest will carry him.â€ 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, and asked: â€œJacinta, why didnâ€™t you toss the flowers to Jesus?â€ â€“ â€œBecause I didnâ€™t see him.â€
Then Jacinta asked: â€œ Then, you saw the baby Jesus?â€ â€“ â€œ No, but donâ€™t you know that we donâ€™t see the baby Jesus of the host? He is hidden, it is he whom we receive in holy communion.â€-â€œ And when you receive holy communion, do you talk to him?â€-â€œI talk to him.â€- â€œBut why donâ€™t you see him.â€- â€œBecause he is hidden.â€- â€œIâ€™m going to ask my mother If she will allow me to go to communion.â€- â€œThe priest wonâ€™t give you holy communion before the age of ten.â€- â€œBut you arenâ€™t ten yet, and youâ€™ve already received communion.â€- â€œBecause I knew the whole catechism and you donâ€™t know it.â€
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 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: â€Let us give our meal to those poor children for sinners!â€ She ran to bring it to them.
Jacinta seemed tireless in the practice of sacrifice. One day,â€¦ 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 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 â€œ, he replied . â€œWhy?â€- â€œ I want to suffer for the conversion of sinners.â€- â€œYou, Jacinta, drink.â€ â€“ â€œ I want to offer this sacrifice for sinners too.â€ 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 sn unbearable noise.
Jacinta, weakened by hunger and thirst, said to me, with a simplicity which was natural to her: â€œ Tell the crickets and the frogs not to sing any more, I have such a headache!â€ Then Francisco asked:
â€œDonâ€™t you want to suffer that for sinners?â€ The poor child, holding her two little hands, replied: â€œ Yes, I want to, let them sing.â€
Jacinta always had that thought, which had become habitual to her, of suffering for sinners, in making reparation in their place, while substitution herself for them in order to obtain for them pardon and the grace of conversion.
Jacinta frequently repeated those sacrifices, but I cannot continue to relate all of them, sister Lucy concludes, otherwise I will never finish!
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. >> In fact, although she was the youngest of the three seers, she is the one who seems first of all to have benefited 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 Oct 13, 1917 and Aug 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 Jan 1919, to visit Jacinta and Francisco; One day, Lucy relates, she 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 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.â€
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.
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. And she gave her generous â€yesâ€ to the hard sacrifice which was asked of her, the one she had doubtlessly not even imagined: to suffer and alone, far from her father, far from 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 Dec 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: â€œShe 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.â€
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.
On Feb 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 Feb 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 Feb 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. Furthermore, she humiliation of seeing herself entirely unclothed.
The nurses had observed that Jacinta forced herself to hide her sufferings. Sister
D. Leonor Assuncao 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. That child, declares another nurse, was very different from the others. Very patientâ€¦ 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.
February 20, 1920: She Died Alone
As a good mother, the virgin Mary had pity on her child and soon came to soften her trialâ€¦ 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. In fact, since that day, Jacinta no longer manifested any suffering. She knew the day and the hour of the death.
On the evening of Feb 20, towards 6â€™oâ€™ clock, Dr. Lisboa specifies, the little one said that she felt worse and wished to receive the last sacraments. They called the pastor of the Angels, father Pereia dos Reis, who heard her confession about 8 â€˜oâ€™ clock in the evening. I was told that they bring her holy viaticum. But father pereia dos Reis, seeing her apparently well, did not want to do it, and only promised to bring her our lord the next day.
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.
All was accomplished. The prophecy of the Blessed Virgin Mary had been fulfilled: I 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 â€œ Francisco does not seem to be Jacintaâ€™s brother except for facial traits and the practice of virtue. Unlike her, he was not capricious or lively spirit, but few children liked to play with him because he did win, if someone sought to deprive him of his rights, he would give in without resistance, limiting himself to say: â€œ you think you won? Very well, that doesnâ€™t matter to me at all. â€œ I admit myself that I had little sympathy for him, because his peaceful character sometimes excited the nerves of my too lively nature.
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, he would say: â€œ Keep it, itâ€™s all the same to me!â€
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 Lucyâ€™s 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 trifleâ€¦ 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. â€œ
If he showed himself calm and peaceful most of the time, it was certainly not through sluggishness or apathy. Far from begin 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 goatâ€™s milk into the hollows of the rocks to have them drink. He would creep into caves looking for holes of foxes, rabbits, gents, etc.
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.
Like his father, who, when he was alone, seemed always absorbed in deep reflection, Francisco was 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 others dancedâ€¦ 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 songsâ€¦ 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 fatherâ€™s tostao in order to buy himself a harmonica which he coveted too much.
Franciscoâ€™s Great Message
Since May 13 and the first â€œ vision in godâ€ with 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, that sadness 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: â€œ 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!â€
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 meâ€¦ From time to time, he would distance himself from us without our realizing itâ€¦ 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 bushâ€¦ He had withdrawn there, on his knees, to pray and think about our lord, so sad because of so many sins, as he saidâ€¦ If I asked him: â€œFrancisco, why did you not tell me to pray with Jacinta?â€ â€“ â€œ I prefer to pray alone, in order to think, and to console our lord who is so sad!â€
One day, Lucy reports again, we were going to my home, passing in front of my baptismal godmotherâ€™s 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 drink 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. â€œ Where is Francisco?â€ my godmother asked. â€œ I donâ€™t know! I donâ€™t know!he was there a moment ago.â€ 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. â€œFrancisco, you didnâ€™t drink the mead! Godmother called you didnâ€™t answer.â€- â€œwhen I took the glass I suddenly remembered to make that sacrifice to console our lord, and while you were drinking, I fled here.â€
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: â€œYou wantto be a soldier?â€- â€œNot that either.â€- â€œI know what you would like to beâ€¦ a priest! To say the Massâ€¦ confess, preachâ€¦ is it not true?â€- â€œNo madam, I do not want to be a priest.â€- â€œThen, what do you want to be?â€- â€œI donâ€™t want to be anythingâ€¦ I want to die and go to heaven.â€
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!
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: â€œ 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.â€ 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.
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 woman from a neighboring hamlet, whose son had been arrested because they had accused him of I donâ€™t know that 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: â€œListen, while you go to school, I will stay with the hidden Jesus and there, I will ask him that. â€œAnd going out of school I went to call him and I asked him: â€œDid you ask our lord for it. Tell your sister Theresa that in a few days he will come back home.â€ 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.
How had Francisco known that his prayer had been heard? We do not know. In any case, on that he had the assurance which the saints show when they prophesy or perform miraclesâ€¦ And we can thus guess what was his intimacy with god.
Francisco Struck By The Flu
Our shepherds had never been ill until Oct 1918 when Jacinta, 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 himâ€¦ 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.
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: â€œToday, speak little! I have a bad headache.â€- â€œDonâ€™t forget to make the offering for sinners,â€ Jacinta said to him. â€œ Yes, but first I offer it for sinners and for the holy father. â€œAnother day, in arriving, I found him very happy. â€œYou are better?â€- â€œNo, 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.â€
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 Jesusâ€¦ Lucy explains
After he fell ill, he sometimes said to me when I passed by his home on my way to school: â€œListen, 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.â€ 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: â€œyou came with all of them?â€- â€œyes.â€- â€œDonâ€™t go with them! You could learn to commit sins. When you leave to school, go and spend a moment near the hidden Jesus and then come back all alone.â€
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 Olympia 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, 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!â€ 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: â€œI 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 commit if she has seen me commit any.â€- â€œYou have disobeyed your mother sometimes; I answered him, when she told you escaped to come to me or to go and hide yourself.â€- â€œThat is true, I did commit that one. Now go and ask Jacinta if she remembers anything else. â€œ I went and after thinking it over, Jacinta answered me: â€œ Listen, tell him that just before the apparitions of our lady, he stole a coin from our father to buy the harmonica of Jose Marto de casa Velha, and that when the boys of Aljustrel threw stones at the boys from Boleiros, he threw some too. â€œ When I informed him of his sisterâ€™s message, he replied to me: â€œThose, I have already confessed, but I am going to 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.â€ And joining his hands, he then said the prayer: â€œO My Jesus, forgive us, save us from the fire of hell, and lead all souls to heaven, especially those most in needâ€â€¦
His Great Joy
That evening, he was radiant with joy: he had promised to bring him Holy Communion the next day.
He rejoiced. The moment so ardently desired was coming at long last. For the first time since his miraculous Commuion at the Cabeco, he was going to receive his â€œhidden Jesusâ€, 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.
Father De Marchi relates the recollection of the Marto parents: The dawn of April 3 finally came. It was a beautiful spring day â€¦ 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. â€œ You can remain lying down to receive our lordâ€, said his godmother Theresa. She had come specially to assist at the last Communion of her godsonâ€¦ 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 timeâ€¦ The first words which he spoke were to say to his mother: â€œ Will the parish priest not bring the hidden Jesus to me another time?â€- â€œ I do not knowâ€, 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: â€œ 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.â€
The eve of his death, Lucy writes, he said to me: â€œ Listen, I am very ill, I have only a little time left before going to heavenâ€¦ â€œ- â€œThen, I replied, do not forget up there to pray for sinners, for the holy father, for me and for Jacinta.â€- â€œYes, 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!â€
Goodbye Until We Meet In Heaven
That Thursday April 3, during the day, Franciscoâ€™s condition worsened alarmingly. He was thirsty, but 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: â€œI feel well. I no longer suffer at all.â€
It was night when I took leave of him, Lucy relates: â€œGood-bye Francisco! If you go to heaven tonight, do not forget me up there, your understand?â€- â€œNo, I shall not forget you, be sure of that.â€ And taking me by the right hand, he held it tightly for a long time, looking at me with tears in his eyes. â€œDo you want anything more?â€ I asked him, with tears running down my cheeks too. â€œNoâ€, he answered me in a faint voice. As the scence became too moving, my aunt made me go out of the bedroom. â€œGood-bye then, Francisco! Until we meet in heaven!â€- â€œ Good â€“bye, until heaven!â€
He Died Smiling
The next day April 4, on that first Friday of the month, everything indicated that his end of 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: On! Mama see!… What a beautiful light, there, near the door! And after a few minutes: Now, I no longer see itâ€¦ Towards 10 â€˜oâ€™ clock in the evening, 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, Lucy writes. Jacinta was near her brotherâ€™s bed when he died. And as she was everyone weeping, she exclaimed: Why do you weep, since he is happy? 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.
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 the Virgin Mary was able to come to get him.
On April 5, first Saturday of the month, a modest procession brought to the cemetery of Fatima.