Francisco and Jacinta were born in Aljustrel, a small district located 800 meters from the small town of Fatima. They were son and daughter of Manuel Pedro Marto and Olimpia de Jesus Marto. Lucia, their cousin, was also born here (the oldest of the visionaries).
- Francisco was born on June 11th,
From an early age, Jacinta and Francisco learned to avoid bad friendships, and therefore, they preferred to be in the company of Lucia, their cousin who spoke to them about Jesus. The three spent many days together, caring for the sheep, praying and playing.
Between the dates of May 13 - October 13, 1917, Jacinta, Francisco and Lucia were granted the great privilege of seeing the Virgin Mary in Cova de Iria. After the occurrence of this supernatural experience, the three children saw themselves as more aflame for the love of God and the love of souls, and they had only one aspiration: to pray and suffer according to the petition of the Virgin Mary. Not only was divine benevolence on them extraordinary, but their response to these divine graces was also something incredible.
The children did not consider themselves
merely messengers of the announcement of penance and prayer, but
they dedicated themselves to making their lives - with their works
and words - an announcement in itself. During the apparitions they
resisted, with unaltered spirit and admirable fortitude, the
insults, misinterpretations, slander, persecutions and even days in
prison. During this time of anguish, Francisco was
threatened with death by government authorities if he refused to
declare the Fatima apparitions as false. However, he stood firm and
did not betray the Virgin Mary, and he encouraged his cousin and
sister to do the same. Although threatened with death many times, he
responded, " If we are killed, it doesn’t matter; we will go to
Heaven." When Jacinta was supposedly taken to be killed, with a
martyr’s spirit she said to her companions, " Don’t worry, I won’t
say a thing. I’d rather die first."
Francisco’s character was docile and compliant. He liked to spend time helping the needy. He was known by all to be a sincere, just, obedient and diligent person.
The Angel’s words in the third apparition, “Console your God,” made a profound impression in the soul of the small shepherd boy.
He desired only to think of ways to console Our Lord and the Virgin Mary who he had seen so sad.
In his illness, Francisco confided to his cousin: “Our Lord, is He still sad? I’m so heartbroken that He is this way. I offer Him all the sacrifices I’m able to.”
On the eve of his death, he confessed and received Holy Communion with the most pious sentiments. After five months of continuous suffering, on a First Friday at 10:00 am, the consoler of Jesus died a holy death.
Jacinta was of clear intelligence, joyful, and agile. She was always
running, jumping and dancing. She lived passionately for the
conversion of sinners. The vision of hell had impressed her very
much, and she did all she could to prevent sinners from going there.
Through graces received and the help of the Virgin Mary, Jacinta was fervent in her love of God and her desire for souls. She was consumed with an unsatiable thirst to save the poor souls in danger of hell. The glory of God, salvation of souls, the importance of the Holy Father and priests, the necessity and love for the sacraments - all this took first priority in her life. She lived the Fatima messages for the salvation of souls around the world, demonstrating a great missionary spirit.
Jacinta had a profound devotion that took her very near to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This love always led her in a profound way to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Jacinta attended daily Mass with a great desire of receiving Jesus in Holy Communion in reparation for poor sinners. Nothing was more attractive to her than to be in the Real Presence of the Eucharistic Jesus. She said frequently: "I love to be here so much. I have so much to say to Jesus."
With immense zeal, Jacinta separated herself from the things of the world to focus her attention on the things of heaven. She searched for silence and solitude to be in contemplation. "I love the Lord so much," she said to Lucia. "Sometimes I feel as if I had fire in the heart, but it does not burn me."
Since the first apparition, the children looked for ways to multiply their mortifications for the conversion of sinners. They mortified their will and character by depriving themselves of food to give to the poor children; by not drinking water for an entire day, especially in the heat; by fasting during the Lenten season; and by renouncing their most favored games to spend more time in prayer.
They did not tire of looking for new ways of offering sacrifices for sinners. One day a short time after the fourth apparition, Jacinta found a cord and thought of putting it around her waist and tightening it as a sacrifice. Agreeing, the children cut the cord in three pieces and put it around their waists over their skin. Lucia narrates that this was a sacrifice that made them suffer terribly - so much so, that Jacinta was unable to contain the tears: "If we tried to talk her out of it, she immediately responded that by no means it would be taken off because it was for the conversion of sinners." In the beginning she wore the cord during the day and night, but in one apparition, Our Lady said to Jacinta, "Our Lord is very pleased with your sacrifices but doesn’t desire for you to sleep with the cord. Wear it only during the day." They obeyed, and with greater fervor, they persevered in this difficult penance, knowing it pleased God and Our Lady. Francisco and Jacinta wore the cord until their final illness, in which it appeared stained with blood.
Jacinta also felt the need to offer sacrifices for the Holy Father. She received the grace of a vision showing the sufferings of the Holy Father. She narrates: "I saw him in a very big house, kneeling with his face in his hands crying. There were many people outside. Some were throwing stones, others speaking blasphemy and bad words." On another occasion, while praying the prayer of the Angel in the mountain cave, Jacinta stood up quickly and called her cousin: "Look! Don’t you see many roads, paths and fields full of people crying of hunger, not having anything to eat? . . . And the Holy Father in a Church praying next to the Heart of Mary?" After the occurrence of these events, the children always carried the Holy Father in their hearts and prayed constantly for him. They had a custom of praying 3 Hail Mary’s after the rosary for the Holy Father.The Virgin Mary heard the fervent plea of these children, and she responded frequently to them in a visible manner. Francisco and Jacinta are witnesses of extraordinary events:
In a nearby village, a family was going through the difficult situation of having their son in jail, accused, but in fact innocent. Afflicted by the situation, his parents sent Teresa, Lucia’s oldest sister, to ask and plea to the children to obtain from the Virgin Mary the liberation of their son. Lucia, on her way to school, told her cousins about what was happening. Francisco said: "You go to school and I will stay here with Jesus to ask Him for this grace." In the afternoon Francisco said to Lucia, "You can tell Teresa to let them know that in a few days the young man will be in his house." Sure enough, on the 13th of the following month, the young man came home.
On another occasion, a family had a son who disappeared without a trace. His mother implored Jacinta to pray to Our Lady for him. A few days later, the young man returned home, asked forgiveness to his parents, and told them of his tragic adventure. After spending all he had stolen, he was arrested and put in jail. He escaped into the woods, finding himself lost. Not knowing what to do, he kneeled and prayed. He saw Jacinta taking him by the hand and leading him to a path, which she indicated him to follow. This is how the young man reached his home. After interrogating Jacinta if she really went to find this young man, she said no. . . but she did pray to Our Lady very much for him.
All the miracles and events of which the children were a part made everyone go to them for help. But they maintained their simplicity and humility. The more people looked for them, the more they concealed themselves.
One day the children were walking peacefully on the road, and they saw a big car stop before them with a group of well dressed men and women. "Look, they are coming to visit us . . ." said Francisco. "Are we leaving?" Jacinta asked. "It is impossible for them not to notice," responded Lucia. "Lets continue walking and you will see they won’t recognize us." But the visitors stopped them. " Are you from Aljustrel?" they asked the children. "Yes, Sir," responded Lucia. "Do you know the three shepherd children the Virgin appeared to? If you know them, can you tell us where they live?" Lucia responded, "Take this road down towards the left..." and she continued to describe their houses. The visitors left, thanking them, and they happily ran to hide somewhere.
Francisco and Jacinta were very docile in obeying God’s will and also the words of Our Lady. They made significant progress in holiness in a very short time and quickly reached great and solid Christian perfection. Knowing from the Virgin Mary that their lives would be brief, they spent their days with ardent expectation of entering heaven. Their waiting was not long.
On December 23rd, 1918, Francisco and Jacinta became seriously ill with a terrible epidemic of bronco-pneumonia. However, being ill did not diminish their fervor for doing sacrifices.
Towards the end of February 1919, Francisco visibly worsened, never to leave his sick bed again. He suffered his illness and his intense pain with intimate joy and offered them as a sacrifice to God. One day Lucia asked him if he was suffering. He responded. "Very much, but I don’t mind. I suffer to console Our Lord and soon I will go to heaven."
On April 2nd his state worsened so much that the pastor was called. He had not received his First Communion and was afraid he would not be able to receive the Lord before death. He confessed in the afternoon and fasted to receive Holy Communion. The following day he received Holy Communion with piety and great lucidity of spirit. After the priest left he asked his mother if he could receive the Lord again. After this he asked forgiveness for all the problems he might have caused. To Lucia and Jacinta he added, "I’m going to Paradise, and from there I will ask Jesus and Mary to come get you too." The following day on April 4th, with an angelical smile and without agony or lamentations, he expired gently. He was not yet 11 years old.
Jacinta suffered much because of her brother’s death. Shortly after she developed pleurisy because of the bronco-pneumonia and its complications. One day she said to Lucia, "The Virgin came to see me and asked me if I still want to save sinners. I responded ‘ yes’, and she (Mary) then told me that soon I will enter the hospital and suffer much. But she said to embrace all for love of Jesus, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the offenses committed against Her Heart and the Heart of Jesus. She said ‘mama’ will accompany me but later I will be alone." And this is precisely how it did happened.
doctor’s order she was taken to Vila Nova Hospital and was subjected
to treatment for two months. She returned home the same way as she
left, but with a large wound in her chest needing daily medication.
But due to lack of hygiene, the wound became progressively more
infected and developed into a real torment for Jacinta. It was a
continuos martyrdom, but she always suffered without any complaint.
She tried to hide all these sufferings in the presence of her mother
to avoid giving her more sufferings. She even consoled her mother by
telling her that she was better.
In January, 1920, a specialist doctor insisted that Jacinta’s mother take her to the Hospital of Lisboa for better care. This departure was painful for Jacinta, especially because she was separated from Lucia.
At her departure she gave Lucia these recommendations: " Soon I will go to heaven. You stay here to tell people that God wants to establish devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in the world. When you say it, don’t hide. Tell all the people that God grants all the graces through the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Ask her for it because the Heart of Jesus desires, next to His Heart, the Immaculate Heart of Mary to be venerated. Ask the Immaculate Heart for peace, for God has confided this to Her. If only I could put in the hearts of people the light that I have inside my heart; this light embraces me and allows me to taste so much the of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary."
Her mother accompanied her to the hospital, but after several days she had to return home and Jacinta stayed alone in the hospital. She was admitted and operated upon on February 10th. Two ribs were removed on the left side, leaving a wound as wide as a hand. The pain was dreadful, especially at the time of treatment and dressing the wound. But Jacinta’s patience was that of a martyr. Her only words were to call the Virgin Mary and to offer her sufferings for the conversion of sinners.
Three days before death she said to the nurse, "The Blessed Virgin Mary appeared, assuring me that soon she will come for me. Ever since then, I have had no pain." On February 20th at about six in the afternoon, she said she was feeling bad and requested the last Sacraments. That evening she had her last confession and requested the Viaticum to be given as soon as possible because she knew her death was near.
The priest did not see the urgency and promised to come the following day. But shortly after she died. She was 10 years old.
Before her death, Our Lady appeared to her
several times. The following is her dictation, given to
- The sins of the flesh are the ones that
lead souls to hell.
- Wars are the consequence of the sins of
- We should not be surrounded by luxury.
The bodies of Jacinta and Francisco were taken to the Fatima Sanctuary. The miracles that had manifested themselves during their lives continues to occur after their deaths. When Francisco’s tomb was opened, the rosary placed on his chest was found tangled up in his fingers. Fifteen years after her death, Jacinta’s body was found to be incorrupt.
On April 18th, 1989, the Holy Father John
Paul II declared Francisco and Jacinta as Venerables.