Francisco and Jacinta Marto were siblings who lived near Fatima, Portugal. On May 13, 1917, they were tending sheep with their cousin, Lucia Santos, when they received the first of three visions of Mary. Francisco was 9 years old, and Jacinta was 7, at the time of the apparition.
Mary gave the children three secrets, studied and approved by the Church, in which she spoke of the coming world war and of the conversion of Russia. Reports of the apparition drew controversy and attention world-wide, and Fatima became a shrine and pilgrimage site.
The children were instructed to pray for the conversion of sinners, and after the visions they all took on mortifications such as fasting and wearing tight cords around their waists.
Francisco was thoughtful and quiet and preferred to pray alone. Jacinta was affectionate and had a sweet singing voice. In 1918, the two were struck with the Spanish Flu epidemic that soon took their lives. During their months of illness, they insisted on walking to church for Mass and Eucharistic devotions. They would also kneel and pray for hours with their heads on the ground, according to instructions they received in their vision.
Francisco declined hospital treatment and died on April 4, 1919, at the age of 10. Jacinta was taken several places for treatment, including a surgery without anesthetic. She devoted the pain of her illness to the conversion of sinners, and she finally died on this date in 1920.
They are both buried at the Our Lady of Fatima Basilica in Portugal, and their cause for sainthood began in 1946. They were declared “blessed” in 2000—Jacinta being the youngest child to be beatified who was not martyred.
Statues of Francisco and Jacinta kneeling before Our Lady of Fatima stand in front of what used to be the Fatima Retreat House across the lake from campus. The retreat house is now a residence for Holy Cross religious.
Blessed Francisco and Jacinta Marto, who saw Mary at Fatima and prayed for our conversion, pray for us!