Seven Lessons From Fatima’s Youngest Visionary

Benedictine College has spent a year marking the 100th Anniversary of the Fatima apparitions. The college has added a daily Fatima rosary at the Grotto and presented the Fatima message to students in a variety of ways. Click here for the full story of Fatima and more Benedictine College’s Fatima resources.

February 20 is the feast day of Francisco and Jacinta, the youngest non-martyrs ever beatified in the Church. The day marks the anniversary of the death of Jacinta, who died at age 9 a year after her older brother died at age 10.

Today, we remember the personal holiness of Blessed Jacinta Marto on the anniversary of her death.

Sister Lucia says that Jacinta was deeply changed by Fatima. Before the visions, she was carefree and excitable. Afterwords, she was “always serious and reserved, but friendly. All her actions seemed to reflect the presence of God in the way proper to people of mature age and great virtue.”

Using the writings of Father Robert J Fox and Joseph Pronechen at the National Catholic Register, here are some recommendations to “become like a child” and learn from Jacinta.

1: Follow the Beatitudes

When Father Robert Fox asked Pope John Paul II what he should stress about the Fatima message, the Holy Father answered, “The Sermon on the Mount.”

Much of the message of Fatima, and of Jacinta in particular, can be found in the Beatitudes and the other messages of the Sermon on the Mount, including Jesus’s call to poverty and the conversion of sinners.

After she was given a vision of hell from Our Lady of Fatima, Jacinta famously warned her mother, “Mother, fly from riches and luxury.”

Her frequent advice to pilgrims was: “Love, poverty, and silence.”

2: Pray for Sinners

Jacinta was also a proponent of praying for sinners. She would often go off from the other children, kneel and then call back to them, “Are you praying with me?”

She said, “It is necessary to pray much to save souls from hell!… How sorry I am for sinners! If I could only show them hell!”

She saw confession as the remedy for sin, saying: “Confession is a sacrament of mercy, and we must confess with joy and trust. There can be no salvation without confession.”

She once told Lucia: “Penance is necessary. If people amend their lives, our Lord will even yet save the world, but if not, punishment will come.”

On her deathbed, she continually got out of bed to pray on her knees the words that the angel had taught her. The doctor eventually intervened and told her to pray these prayers in her bed:

“Most Holy Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit- I adore Thee profoundly. I offer Thee the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges, and indifferences whereby He is offended. And through the infinite merits of His Most Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of Thee the conversion of poor sinners.”

3: Guard Your Purity

Another constant theme of Jacinta’s from the Sermon on the Mount is purity.

She famously said: “The sins which cause most souls to go to hell are the sins of the flesh.”

She once explained to Lucia, “To be pure in body means to be chaste, and to be pure in mind means not to commit sins; not to look at what one should not see, not to steal or lie, and always to speak the truth, even if it is hard.”

She especially called priests to purity, with great urgency. She also once said: “The Mother of God wants more virgin souls bound by a vow of chastity.”

4: Offer Up Sufferings

Jacinta often promoted the practice of offering up sacrifices, especially for sinners.

“Mortification and sacrifice please our Lord very much,” she said.

She herself often fasted for the conversion of sinners. She would also make small — and large — sacrifices during the day.

“Oh, how much I love to suffer for love of Our Lord and our Lady. They greatly love those who suffer for the conversion of sinners,” she said.

She helped popularize a prayer that Our Lady of Fatima taught to the three children: “Oh my Jesus, I offer this for love of Thee, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”

Pope Benedict XVI recommended the practice of “offering things up” in his encyclical Spe Salvi:

“There used to be a form of devotion—perhaps less practiced today but quite widespread not long ago—that included the idea of ‘offering up’ the minor daily hardships that continually strike at us like irritating ‘jabs’, thereby giving them a meaning. ….. Maybe we should consider whether it might be judicious to revive this practice ourselves. “

5: Love Jesus Christ in the Eucharist

Jacinta loved the Real Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament even though she never received communion because of her age. She begged for communion the evening before she died, but did not receive it even then. She often made spiritual communions and received great consolation from them.

Jacinta was insistent on attending daily Mass, also. She always knelt before what she called “The hidden Jesus” in the tabernacle, and even asked to sit on her hospital balcony so she could see the chapel.

Those of us who can receive communion can pray to Jacinta to help obtain the grace to never take it for granted.

6: ‘Blessed Are They Who Mourn’

Francisco died a year before Jacinta, and she mourned deeply for her brother. Sometimes she would sit in her bed doing nothing for long periods of time in her sadness.

Lucia asked her what was making her so sad, and she said, “I am thinking of Francisco and of how I would like to see him.” But she didn’t only mourn Francisco. She would add: “I am thinking of the war which will come. So many people will die … So many houses will be destroyed and priests killed. Listen, I am going to heaven soon, but when you see that light that our Lady told us of, you must go there too.”

She suffered a great deal before she died and was worn out and emaciated. When she died, a nurse said, “She did not look the same child; she had become radiant and beautiful.” Her body was exhumed twice, the second time 31 years after her death. She was found to be incorrupt. Said one account:

“The expression on Jacinta’s face was that of great peace, and all who saw her could not help feeling that they were greatly privileged to have been granted such a favor.”

7: Above All, Pray for Conversion

One of Jacinta’s favorite prayers throughout her life was another prayer taught her by the angel:

“My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love Thee! I ask pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love Thee.”

A great prayer to join her in on her feast day.

Tom Hoopes

Tom Hoopes

Tom Hoopes, author of The Rosary of Saint John Paul II and The Fatima Family Handbook, is writer in residence at Benedictine College in Kansas and hosts The Extraordinary Story podcast about the life of Christ. A former reporter in the Washington, D.C., area, he served as press secretary of the U.S. House Ways & Means Committee Chairman and spent 10 years as executive editor of the National Catholic Register newspaper and Faith & Family magazine. His work frequently appears in Catholic publications such as Aleteia.org and the Register. He and his wife, April, have nine children and live in Atchison, Kansas.