These sweet siblings were normal kids: mischievous, known to pout ... but greatly in love with Mary and her Son
Francisco and Jacinta: little shepherd children, siblings, who saw Our Lady as the world was in the midst of World War I, who were canonized by Pope Francis during his trip to Fatima 100 years after the apparitions. They are the youngest non-martyr children to have been canonized.
Francisco was the tenth of 11 children. In her memoirs, Lucia described him as having exemplary obedience to his parents, Olimpia and Manuel Marto, and as being patient, kind, reserved and inclined to silence. He avoided arguments, able to accept losing at games or even giving in, in order to avoid conflict. He liked nature and music. Nevertheless, he was a normal boy, inclined to mischief: He was known to drop inedible objects in his sleeping brother’s mouth!
He couldn’t hear Our Lady during the apparitions, but in her appearance, she said he would go soon to heaven, though he had to pray many rosaries first. He died April 4, 1919, of the flu epidemic that passed through Europe in 1918 and following.
It is said that one day, two people asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up:
“Do you want to be a carpenter,” one asked. “No ma’am,” he replied. A soldier, a doctor, a priest, they went on asking, with Francisco answering no to each suggestion. “So then, what do you want to be?” “I don’t want to be anything. I want to die and go to heaven,” he replied.
Francisco suffered humiliation because of having seen Our Lady. At school, some made fun of him, including his teacher, who did not believe in God. But Francisco didn’t complain about this, as Mary had told the little shepherds that they would suffer a lot, but that God’s grace would be their consolation.
Two days before his death, Francisco was able to receive his First Communion. He told little Jacinta, “Today, I am happier than you because I have Jesus in my heart.”
The day of his death, around 10 am, he told his mother: “Look Mama, that beautiful light by the door!”
He was just a boy of 10, but just as Our Lady had said, she would come for him. He died April 4, 1919.
Jacinta was born two years after Francisco. Lucia described her as full of life and joy, but she was also known to be a bit prone to pouting and it wasn’t too hard to make her irritated if she didn’t get her way. Like her brother, however, there was a notable spiritual sensitivity in her: The Marto family home was characterized by great devotion and faith.
The children 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” 10 times. This was before Our Lady’s appearances changed them into children of tremendous devotion and sacrifice.
Lucia said that it was Jacinta who received especially a great abundance of grace from Our Lady, and great knowledge of God and virtue.
She would say, “I love Our Lord and the Virgin Mary so much that I never get tired of telling them I love them.”
Jacinta and Francisco got sick in the same flu outbreak of 1918, but she died a year after him, after a long month of suffering. During this period, Our Lady again appeared. Jacinta explained: Our Lady came to see us and she said that soon she will come to get Francisco to bring him to heaven.
One time she said to her mother, “Oh Mama … do you see Our Lady of the Cova da Iria?”
She died alone on February 20, 1920, at age 9.
Their feast is marked on the anniversary of Jacinta’s death, February 20.