Fatima Anniversary – A Saint at Rest
100th Anniversary of St. Jacinta de Jesus Marto’s Death
Today is the centenary — the 100th anniversary! — of the death of Jacinta Marto, the youngest of the three shepherd-children to whom Our Lady of Fatima appeared in 1917.
As Our Lady had promised, Jacinta and her brother Francisco were taken to Heaven very soon after the time of those apparitions. Weakened by their heroic penances, they were among the victims of the influenza pandemic which followed the First World War.
Our Lady’s apparitions and revelations affected each of the children somewhat differently. Jacinta could never forget the “sea of fire” and the agony and hopelessness of the innumerable lost souls whom the children had seen in the Vision of Hell on July 13, 1917. “So many people fall into hell! So many are in hell!” she would often lament. “How sorry I am for the souls that go to hell! And the people who are there, being burned alive, like wood in a fire! … How sorry I am for sinners! Oh, if only I could show them hell!”
Jacinta would undertake any sacrifice in order to save sinners from going to hell. She often reminded Francisco and Lucia to pray for sinners: “We must make many, many sacrifices and pray a lot for sinners so that no one shall ever again have to go to that prison of fire where people suffer so much.”
In addition, Jacinta experienced a pressing need to pray very much for the Holy Father. She always wanted to do more penance for the pope in accordance with Our Lady’s expressed request. It was Jacinta who received two particular visions which dealt specifically with the pope and the Secret of Fatima.
“I don’t know how it happened,” Jacinta explained. “I saw the Holy Father in a very big house. He was kneeling before a table, holding his face in his hands and he was crying. Outside, there were many people; some were throwing stones at him, others were swearing at him and saying many ugly words to him. How pitiful it was! We must pray a lot for him.”
Another time, while they were in the cave of the Cabeco saying the prayer of the Angel, Jacinta suddenly got up, her eyes filled with tears, “Lucia,” she sobbed, “don’t you see all those roads and lanes and fields covered with people crying from hunger, without anything to eat? And the Holy Father in a church praying before the Immaculate Heart of Mary? And all those praying with him?”
Our Lady revealed to Jacinta that she would be taken to a hospital in Lisbon where she would undergo a surgery, and then die alone. It frightened nine-year-old Jacinta terribly to think of this, but she purposefully dwelt upon it in order to be able to offer this suffering to God for the conversion of sinners.
A number of the lessons for which St. Jacinta is best known for come from her conversation with Mother Godinho when she was in the hospital. Among these are:
“My dear Mother, the sins that bring most souls to Hell are the sins of the flesh. Certain fashions are going to be introduced which will offend Our Lord very much. Those who serve God should not follow these fashions. The Church has no fashions; Our Lord is always the same. The sins of the world are too great. If only people knew what eternity is, they would do everything to change their lives. People lose their souls because they do not think about the death of Our Lord and do not do penance.”
“My good Mother, do not give yourself to immodest clothes. Run away from riches. Love holy poverty and silence very much. Be very charitable even with those who are unkind. Never criticize others and avoid those who do. Be very patient, for patience brings us to Heaven. Mortifications and sacrifices please Our Lord a great deal.”
“Many marriages are not good; they do not please Our Lord and are not of God.”
“Pray a great deal for governments. Pity those governments which persecute the religion of Our Lord. If governments left the Church in peace and gave liberty to the Holy Religion, they would be blessed by God.”
“Confession is a sacrament of mercy. That is why people should approach the confessional with confidence and joy. Without confession, there is no salvation.”
“The Mother of God wants a larger number of virgin souls to bind themselves to Her by the vow of chastity. I would enter a convent with great joy but my joy is greater because I am going to Heaven. To be a religious, one has to be very pure in soul and in body.”
At the hospital in Lisbon, Jacinta was deemed too weak for the general anesthetic, so she underwent an excruciating surgery fully conscious, while two of her ribs were removed. The doctors attempted to relieve her pain with a local anesthetic, but it was of little use. Nevertheless, Jacinta did not complain at all. The only words she uttered during the operation were, “Now, my Jesus, You can convert many sinners, for I suffer a great deal.”
Jacinta died shortly after the above-mentioned surgery, alone (as Our Lady had predicted), on February 20, 1920.
Her body has been exhumed twice — first on Sept. 12, 1935 (fifteen years after her death), and again after another fifteen-plus years on April 30, 1951. On both occasions, it was found to have been almost entirely preserved from corruption, in spite of being originally buried in quicklime to hasten decomposition in that time of pandemic.
May St. Jacinta’s prayers preserve us and hasten the Consecration of Russia to Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart!
Here you can watch a conference by Fr. Gruner from 2013 titled “Blessed Jacinta Marto: Little Giant of Heroic Virtue”.
You can read more about St. Jacinta’s life in The True Story of Fatima by Fr. John de Marchi, especially in Chapter 12 (pp. 65-75) which narrates her inspirational, though sorrowful, death.