Jacinta Marto: little victim!
March 10, 1910—February 20, 1920
Through graces received and the help of the Virgin Mary, Jacinta was fervent in her love of God and her desire for souls. She died a holy death on February 20, 1920. Her body is buried next to Francisco in the basilica of Fatima.
Little girl faces Hell
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.
One time she exclaimed, “I grieve for sinners! …If I could show them Hell!”
She was consumed with an insatiable thirst to save the poor souls in danger of Hell.
Missionary with fire in her heart
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 Lucy. “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. Lucy 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.
The Holy Father
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 three Hail Marys 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. Jacinta was witness of extraordinary events.
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 of 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.
Not to be noticed
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 Lucy. “Let’s 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 Lucy. “Do you know the three shepherd children the Virgin appeared to? If you know them, can you tell us where they live?” Lucy 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.
Conversion of sinners
In December 1918, Jacinta became ill with an epidemic of broncopneumonia.
After five months, her brother died. 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 Lucy:
The Virgin came to see me and asked me if I still want to save sinners. I responded ‘yes,’ and she 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 ‘mummy’ will accompany me but later I will be alone.”
And this is precisely what happened.
By 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 continuous martyrdom, but she always suffered without any complaint. She tried to hide all these sufferings in the presence of her mother to avoid causing her more sufferings. She even consoled her mother by telling her that she was better.
During her illness she confided to her cousin, “I suffer much, but I offer everything for the conversion of sinners and to make reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”
In January 1920, a specialist doctor insisted that Jacinta’s mother take her to the hospital in Lisbon for better care. This departure was painful for Jacinta, especially because she was separated from Lucy.
At her departure she gave Lucy 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 of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary.”
To die alone!
Her mother accompanied her to the hospital, but after several days she had to return home and Jacinta stayed alone in the hospital. On February 10, 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 20 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. Alone. She was almost 11.
Visitors who saw Jacinta in her open coffin exclaimed that she seemed to be alive, with the loveliest color. The unpleasant odor due to her illness was replaced by “a fragrance as of the most delicious flowers.”
When Jacinta’s coffin was opened on September 12, 1935, during its removal to a tomb especially built at Fatima, her face was seen to be perfectly incorrupt. Her relics and those of Francisco lie in the basilica at Fatima, with the simple inscription: “Here lie the mortal remains of Francisco and Jacinta to whom Our Lady appeared.”
Jacinta and her brother Francisco were beatified, that is to say, declared "Blessed", by Pope John Paul II on May 13, 2000 at Fatima.