Thursday, March 11, 2010

Today is the 100th birthday of Blessed Jacinta Marto

Here is a map of Portugal and the location of Fatima.
Queen of the most holy Rosary,
you were pleased to appear to the children of Fatima
and reveal a glorious message.
We implore you,
inspire in our hearts a fervent love
for the recitation of the Rosary.
By meditating on the mysteries of the redemption
that are recalled therein
may we obtain the graces and virtues that we ask,
through the merits of Jesus Christ,
our Lord and Redeemer.

Blessed Jacinta Marto
Birth: Mar. 11, 1910, Portugal Death: Feb. 20, 1920, Portugal

Religious Figure. One of three shepard children who claim to have seen the apparition of the Virgin Mary in the hills of Fatima, Portugal, between May 13 and October 13 1917. Beatfified by the Pope. Francisco Marto (June 11, 1908–April 4, 1919) and his sister Jacinta Marto (March 11, 1910–February 20, 1920), also known as Blessed Francisco Marto and Blessed Jacinta Marto, together with their cousin, Lúcia dos Santos (1907–2005) were the children from Aljustrel near Fátima, Portugal who reported witnessing three apparitions of an angel in 1916 and several apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1917.

The foretold Miracle of the Sun was witnessed by more than 70,000 people

Their visions of Our Lady of Fatima proved politically controversial, and gave rise to a major centre of world Christian pilgrimage. The youngest children of Manuel and Olimpia Marto, Francisco and Jacinta were typical of Portuguese village children of that time. They were illiterate but had a rich oral tradition to rely on, and they worked with their cousin Lúcia, taking care of the family's sheep. According to Lúcia's memoirs, Francisco had a placid disposition, was somewhat musically inclined, and liked to be by himself to think. Jacinta was affectionate if a bit spoiled, and emotionally labile.

She had a sweet singing voice and a gift for dancing. All three children gave up music and dancing after the visions began, believing that these and other recreational activities led to occasions of sin. Following their experiences, their fundamental personalities remained the same. Francisco preferred to pray alone, as he said "to console Jesus for the sins of the world".

Lucia Santos (age 10, pictured in the middle) and her two cousins: Francisco (age 9) and Jacinta Marto (age 7) holding their rosaries. Fatima, Portugal 1917 A.D.

Jacinta was deeply affected by a terrifying vision of Hell reportedly shown to the children at the third apparition. She became deeply convinced of the need to save sinners through penance and sacrifice as the Virgin had reportedly instructed the children to do. All three children, but particularly Francisco and Jacinta, practiced stringent self-mortifications to this end.

Illness and death

Francisco Marto c. 1917
The siblings were victims of the great 1918 influenza epidemic which swept through Europe in 1918. Both lingered for many months, insisting on walking to church to make Eucharistic devotions and prostrating themselves to pray for hours, kneeling with their heads on the ground as instructed by the angel who had first appeared to them.

Francisco declined hospital treatment and died peacefully at home, while Jacinta was dragged from one hospital to another in an attempt to save her life which she insisted was futile. She developed purulent pleurisy and endured an operation in which two of her ribs were removed. Because of the condition of her heart, she could not be anesthetized and suffered terrible pain, which she said would help to convert many sinners.

On February 20, 1920, Jacinta asked the hospital chaplain who heard her confession to bring her Holy Communion and give her the Anointing of the Sick because she was going to die "this very night". He told her that her condition was not that serious, and that he would return the next day. A few hours later Jacinta was dead. She had died, as she had often said she would, alone: not even a nurse was with her. Jacinta and Francisco are both buried at the Our Lady of Fatima Basilica.

The cause for the siblings' canonization began during 1946. Exhumed in 1935 and again in 1951, Jacinta's face was found incorrupt. Francisco's had decomposed. On May 13, 2000, they were declared "blessed" in a decree from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints by Venerable Pope John Paul II. Jacinta is the youngest non-martyred child ever to be beatified.
This of course came more sharply into focus with the revelation of the Third Secret of Fatima the following month, indicating that a Pope in fact would be assassinated. In her biography of Jacinta, Lúcia had already established that Jacinta had told her of having had many personal visions outside of the Marian visitations; one involved a Pope who prayed alone in a room while people outside shouted ugly things and threw rocks through the window. At another time, Jacinta said she saw a Pope who had gathered a huge number of people together to pray to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Sister Lúcia, when questioned about the Third Secret, recalled that the three of them were very sad about the suffering of the Pope, and that Jacinta kept saying: Coitadinho do Santo Padre, tenho muita pena dos pecadores! (“Poor Holy Father, I am very sad for sinners!”) The Third Secret can thus be interpreted in the context of Jacinta's prayers and sacrifices for the pope whom she saw being killed.
Excerpts from
Letter of Mother Godinho to his Holiness,
Pope Pius XII
(original letter is currently in Lisbon, Portugal)

I am the godmother of Jacinta Marto, the seer of Fatima, who made me privy to the following secret, which I have kept religiously for many years, but now as I feel death approaching, I wish to communicate it to Your Holiness. Under oath I guarantee that what I say expresses purely and simply what I heard from her, and which forms my secret. Here is the essential part. “Mother, tell the Holy Father that the world is troubled and Our Lady can no longer hold back the arm of Her beloved Son, Who is very offended by the sins committed in the world. If, however, the world decides to do penance, She would come to its aid again, but if not, chastisement would infallibly fall upon it, for its lack of obedience to the Holy Father.”

Jacinta then asked me to tell the Holy Father and His Excellency, the Bishop of Leiria, that the house I occupy at Fatima ought to be called, “the House of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima”, and that the sisters of this order, after their approval, were to take the name of “Claretian Sisters of Mother Mary da Costa,” and that they would keep united to the Vatican to prepare for the year 1972, because the sins of impurity, vanity, and excessive luxury would bring great chastisements to the world, which would cause great suffering to the Holy Father. “Poor Holy Father!” she would say.

I could hardly believe these things; but Jacinta insisted, saying: “Godmother, tell the Holy Father that Our Lady wishes this work to be the apple of the Holy Father’s eye, try therefore to talk to him about it”; and among other things she said: “Our Lady wants there to be at the Cova da Iria a house for Her, the Mother of God, and that the Sisters who go there imitate Her virtues, and expiate for the sins committed in other religious houses.” Among other things Our Lady told the seer: “In this house there will be rigorous silence, only what is absolutely necessary will be said, and nothing more; nothing will be done without permission of His Holiness, and the religious who live there under Our Lady’s roof will imitate the virtues of the Heavenly Mother; they will have no contact with the world and they will live a very retired life, and it will behoove them to pray particularly for the Holy Father, uniting all their penitential practices to the Vatican, for the intention of…”

I, a Sister of Saint Francis, Maria of the Purification, to whom the seer Jacinta revealed these things, understood nothing of these things, but it seems to me that she meant that wars would stop in the world only when men also finished.

At this moment I said to Jacinta that the Holy Father knew very well what he had to do and that Our Lord and Our Lady would inspire him so that it would be superfluous for me to tell him what the seer related to me. But she went on talking, and she said that the triumph of Our Lord still had to come, but beforehand there would be many tears, because in the world His Holy Will is not being accomplished. And she told me that she was distraught at not knowing how to express it better, but she wanted to try anyway: “There is a secret of Heaven and another of the earth, and the latter is frightening, it already seems like the end of the world and in this cataclysm everything will be isolated from Heaven, which will become white as snow.”

Our Lady said that we must pray much and perform many “mortifications of the senses” (give up many things) because this is very pleasing to Our Lord, that we must love Our Lord with all our heart and respect priests because they are the salt of the earth, and their duty is to show souls the way to Heaven. She also recommended often to the seer that I do nothing without the permission of the Holy Father, and the Most Reverend Bishop of Leiria, and that Jacinta ask me to tell Your Holiness, among other things, that Our Lady appeared to me here at the orphanage several times, and that she also appeared to the seer, before the latter went to the hospital of D. Estefania, and at this moment Jacinta felt such harmony that it seemed to her that she was already in the presence of God, and already enjoyed eternal glory for all eternity.

This long but loyal exposition which I have made, being concluded, the humblest of your servants casts herself at the feet as she kisses your ring, full of respect.

Mother Maria of the Purification Godinho
April 25, 1954

She was the seventh child of Manuel Pedro Marto and Olimpia de Jesus dos Santos. She was born in the village of Aljustrel, parish of Fatima, in Portugal, on March 11, 1910.
After the visit from Our Lady, she separated herself from the things of earth in orderto turn her attention to heavenly things, and voluntarily consecrated her life so as to enter heaven one day. She was constantly contemplating God. She sought silence and solitude.
She said: "I love Our Lord so much! At times, I seem to have a fire in my heart, but it does not burn me." She dearly loved Our Lord and would often cry on hearing the Passion. She then declared that she would never wish to commit a sin in order not to make Jesus suffer. She visited frequently and for long periods in the parish church, concealing herself in the pulpit where no one could see or distract her. She longed to receive Communion, but she was too young . She prayed the Rosary daily. She offered prayers and sacrifices for the Pope, for the salvation of souls and for the conversion of sinners. In fact, not a few of her sufferings were caused by those who doubted or did not believe the apparitions to be true; she was called a liar and a fraud; imprisoned for some days. She bore all of this in silence and was happy to do it. She restrained her will and her temperament, and was obedient to her parents and to her older brothers and sisters; she did without food to give it to the poor; she did not drink water, especially in the summer heat; as a form of penance she wore a rope around her waist; (remember Our Lady told her wear it only in the daytime). She always remembered the words of Our Lady and prayed: "O my Jesus, it is for love of You, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary."
In October 1918, one year after the last apparition, Jacinta developed pneumonia and then pleurisy. She was taken to a hospital at Ourem. After two months she returned home with an incision in her chest. A doctor on pilgrimage visited Jacinta and said she should go to the children's hospital in Lisbon. So Jacinta and her mother started their journey.
When Jacinta was at the hospital in Lisbon the doctors talked about performing an operation. She said that it would all be in vain because she was going to die. She even had someone write to Lucia informing her of the day and hour of her death.
Because of her weakened state, only a local anesthesia could be given for the operation. They removed two ribs and left an open wound in her chest. She suffered very much but never complained.
On February 20th, 1920, she died. She was where she had longed to be, with Our Lord and His Blessed Mother. She was buried in the vila Nova de Ourem. Fifteen years later her body was moved to a cemetery at Fatima and was found incorrupt.
Lastly, she was moved to the sanctuary built on the spot where the Our Lady appeared to her
Two years younger than Francisco, Jacinta charmed all who knew her. She was pretty and energetic, and had a natural grace of movement. She loved to dance, and was sorry when their priest condemned dancing in public. Sometimes willful, she would pout when she did not get her way. She took a special delight in flowers, gathering them by the armful and making garlands for Lucia. At a First Communion, she was among the little “angels” spreading petals before the Blessed Sacrament. She had a marked love for Our Lord, and at the age of five she melted in tears on hearing the account of His Passion, vowing that she would never sin or offend Him anymore.
She had many friends, but above all she loved her cousin Lucia, and was jealous of her time and attention. When Lucia, at the age of ten, became unavailable for play, being sent by her parents to pasture their sheep, Jacinta moped in loneliness-until her mother gave in and allowed her, with Francisco, to take a few sheep to pasture with Lucia.
Her sheep too became her friends. She gave them names, held their little ones on her lap, and tried to carry a lamb home on her shoulders, as she had seen in pictures of the Good Shepherd.
Her days were playful and happy, delighting with her brother and cousin in the things of nature around her. They called the sun “Our Lady’s lamp,” and the stars “the Angels’ lanterns,” which they tried to count as it grew dark. They called out to hear their voices echo across the valley, and the name that returned most clearly was “Maria.”
They said the Rosary every day after lunch, but to make more time for play, they shortened it to the words “Our Father” at the beginning of each decade, followed by “Hail Mary” ten times. This frivolity would soon change.
In the spring of 1916, as the children watched their sheep, an Angel appeared to them in an olive grove. He asked the children to pray with him. He appeared again in midsummer at a well in Lucia’s garden, urging them to offer sacrifice to God in reparation for sinners. In a final appearance, at the end of the summer, the Angel held a bleeding Host over a chalice, from which he communicated the children. This experience separated them from their playmates and prepared them for the apparitions to come.
As might be expected, the three were changed by the visitations of the Queen of Heaven. Jacinta, talkative sometimes to a fault, became quiet and withdrawn. After the first apparition, Lucia had sworn her and her brother to secrecy. But Jacinta, bubbling over, had let slip all they had seen to her family, who then told the village. The news was received with skepticism by many, with mockery by some, and with anger by Lucia’s mother. Jacinta was so contrite, she promised never to reveal another secret.
Her reluctance to reveal anything more of their experiences was increased by the vision of hell given the children in the third apparition seems to have affected Jacinta the most. To rescue sinners from hell, she was in the forefront of the three in voluntary mortifications, whether it was in giving up their lunches (sometimes to their sheep), refusing to drink in the heat of the day, or wearing a knotted rope around their waists. Involuntary penances included for her, as for her brother and cousin, the constant mockery of unbelievers, badgering by skeptical clergy, and wheedling by believers to reveal the Lady’s secret.
Following the miracle of the sun, Jacinta complied with many requests for her intercessions. On one occasion she seems to have bilocated, in order to help a wayward youth find his way home. Lost in a stormy wood, he had knelt and prayed, and Jacinta appeared and took him by the hand, while she was at home praying for him.
When she came down with influenza, she was removed from her family to a hospital a few miles away. She did not complain, because the Blessed Mother had forewarned her that she would go to two hospitals, not to be cured, but to suffer for the love of God and reparation for sinners. She stayed in the first hospital for two months, undergoing painful treatments, and then was returned home. She developed tuberculosis and was sent to Lisbon, first to a Catholic orphanage. There she was able to attend Mass and see the Tabernacle, and she was happy. But her stay there was short. She was soon transferred to the second hospital prophesied by the Blessed Mother, where Jacinta was to make her final offering in dying alone. Her body came to rest in the Sanctuary built at the Cova da Iria, where the Lady had appeared to her.

Blessed Jacinta Marto:You will be known as one of three shepard children who claim to have seen the apparition of the Virgin Mary in the hills of Fatima, Portugal in 1917, thank you for being a spiritual person, happy 100th birthday!

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