St. Bl. Jacinta Marta
Born: March 11, 1910
Died: February 20, 1920
Canonized: Beatified April 9, 2000, by Pope John Paul II
Feast Day: February 20
Patron Saint of: bodily ills, prisoners
The youngest of the visionaries of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal in 1917.
Congregation for the Causes of Saints:
Decree regarding the Canonization of the servant of God, Jacinta Marto.
13 May 1989
"Unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven" (Mt 18:3).
The Servant of God, seventh child of the marriage of Manuel Pedro Marto and Olimpia de Jesus dos Santos, was born in the village of Aljustrel, parish of Fatima, in Portugal, on March 11, 1910. On the nineteenth day of the same month, she received the grace of Baptism.
Her parents, who were humble farmers and pious Christians, gave her a sound moral and religious education. She learned Christian doctrine in the family and at catechism lessons which her maternal aunt Maria Rosa dos Santos taught to the local children. According to custom she did not attend any school, as one did not exist in the village, and by the time one was established, Jacinta was already ill.
From a tender age she showed a love for prayer, concern about the truths of faith, prudence in the choice of friendships and a serene spirit of obedience. Endowed with a lively, expansive and joyful disposition, she loved to play and dance; she captured the sympathy of others, although she had a certain inclination to domineer and disliked being contradicted so much that she pouted easily and was possessive of what belonged to her. Afterwards, however, she changed completely and became a splendid model of humility, mortification and generosity.
As soon as she was able, Jacinta began to work, her particular charge being to accompany her brother Francisco, who was a little older than she, in pasturing the flock. They both loved to join their cousin, Lucia de Jesus dos Santos, who was also a shepherdess. In this manner, the three children, united in a close friendship, passed the entire day in this activity, which, although arduous, they executed diligently and even with pleasure, because it left them time for playing and praying and they were able to enjoy the beauties of nature.
What unexpectedly changed their life, came to pass in the year 1916. They said they had seen an angel three times, who urged them to pray and do penance for the remission of sins and to obtain the conversion of sinners. From that moment onward, the little Jacinta made use of every occasion to do what the angel had asked her.
From May 13 to October 13, 1917, together with Francisco and Lucia, she had the privilege of seeing the Virgin Mary in a place called Cova da Iria, near Fatima. Full of joy and gratitude for the gift she had received, she wished to respond immediately with all her strength to the exhortation of the Virgin Mary, who asked their prayers and sacrifices in reparation for sins that offend God and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and for the conversion of sinners. At the same time, docile to the action of grace, she separated herself from the things of earth in order to turn her attention to heavenly things, and voluntarily consecrated her life so as to enter Paradise one day. She was constantly immersed in the contemplation of God, in intimate colloquy with Him. She sought silence and solitude, and at night she got out of bed to pray and freely express her love for Our Lord. In a little while, her interior life became distinguished by a great faith and by enormous charity.
Concerning this she said: "I love Our Lord so much! At times, I seem to have a fire in my heart, but it does not burn me." She dearly loved to contemplate Christ Crucified and she was moved to tears on hearing the account of the Passion. She then declared that she would never wish to commit sin in order not to make Jesus suffer. She nourished an ardent devotion to the Eucharist, which she visited frequently and for long periods in the parish church, concealing herself in the pulpit where no one could see or distract her. She longed to receive the Body of Christ, but that was not permitted because of her age. However, she found some consolation in spiritual communion. In the same way, she venerated the Virgin Mary with a tender, filial and joyful love, responding constantly to her words and desires, and honoring her many times with the recitation of the Rosary and with pious ejaculations.
Although at a tender age, the Servant of God well knew that she was a living member of the Church, and as such, had the duty to contribute according to her powers to its growth and prosperity. Therefore she conscientiously offered prayers and sacrifices for the Supreme Pontiff, for the salvation of souls and for the conversion of sinners. Even during the apparitions of Our Lady, she was already able to share in the Passion of the Lord. In fact, not a few of her sufferings were caused by those who doubted or did not believe the apparitions to be true; she was called a liar and a fraud; she was even beaten and put in prison for some days. She bore all of this in silence, happy to complete in the body what is lacking in Christ's sufferings for the sake of his Body, that is, the Church (cf. Col. 1:24). With admirable courage and patience, she resisted the threats and flattering promises of the municipal authorities who wanted at all costs to prevent her from attending the parish church and sought to discover the "secret" revealed by the Virgin Mary to the three children. Subsequently, she underwent the trial of having to speak with many people who had come to Fatima, moved by piety or persistent curiosity. Actually, in similar cases, despite her preference to remain hidden, she did everything that was possible for her.
Besides all this, she bore many other crosses spontaneously, as if she had an insatiable hunger for immolation. She restrained her will and her temperament, and was obedient to her parents and to her older brothers and sisters; she deprived herself of food to give it to the poor; she did not drink water, especially in the summer heat; as a form of penance she wore a rope around her waist; she endured everything that was disagreeable in a spirit of penance and oblation. She expressed her manner of acting in praying: "O my Jesus, it is for love of You, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary."
Her desire to suffer became more noticeable during the long and grave illness which attacked her from October 1918 onwards. Infected by the broncho-pulmonary epidemic, called the "Spanish influenza," her state of health deteriorated little by ltitle to such a point that she had to accept the idea of having an operation. Knowing that only a short span of life remained for her, she multiplied her sacrifices, penances and privations as a way of cooperating to the fullest of her possibilities in the work of Redemption. But what cost her most was having to leave her family in order to undergo treatment in a hospital. Foreseeing that she would die alone, that is, far from her dear ones at home, she said: "O my Jesus, now You can convert many sinners, because this is really a big sacrifice!"
While the strength of her body was failing, her soul became more beautiful as the days passed by, through the resolute, constant, joyful and perfect exercise of the Christian virtues. Indeed her abondonement to the will of God was complete. Not only did her strength in surrendering to the Lord, in responding to his graces and in avoiding any kind of sin never fail her, rather it increased more and more. Even in adverse and difficult circumstances, she gave witness of possessing to a high degree the theological virtues and also the virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude, temperance, humility, sincerity and modesty. Therefore the words of Wisdom seem to be very appropriate: "Being made perfect in a short space, she fulfilled a long time." (Wis 4:13).
On February 20, 1920, she asked for the sacraments. She only received the Sacrament of Penance. Conscious of being near death she requested Holy Viaticum, but the priest notwithstanding the pleas of the Servant of God, deferred it to the following day. On that same day, at night, far from her parents and acquaintances, she died in the Lisbon hospital where she had beeen a patient for some time. She had finally reached the goal of her desires: eternal life.
The people, who already considered her a saint, began immediately to show their spontaneous marks of veneration for her. Her body was buried first in vila Nova de Ourem and later translated to the cemetery of Fatima, and finally to the sanctuary built on the spot where the Virgin Mary appeared to her. In virtue of the fame of sanctity and of the graces through which the servant of God had become known, the first steps to initiate the Cause of Canonization were taken, in the year 1946, together with that of her brother Francisco, who had died a holy death in the year 1919. The Informative Process was introduced by the Episcopal curia of Leiria in the year 1952 and concluded in the year 1979. The rogatory Process was also conducted in Coimbra, in order to hear the testimony of Lucia who had become a Carmelite.
The Positio about the virtues having been prepared by Rev. Fr. Paul Molinari, Postulator General of the Company of Jesus and legitimately constituted postulator of this Cause, the Special Congress of Consultant Theologians, presided over by Rev. Msgr. Antonio Petti, Promoter General of the Faith, took place with a favorable outcome on the sixteenth day of December in the year 1988. The cardinals and bishops, in the Ordinary Congregation, on the eighteenth day of April in the year 1989, having as Proponent of the Cause, His eminence Cardinal Edouard Gagnon recognized that the girl Jacinta Marto had practiced to an heroic degree the theological virtues, the cardinal virtues and their associates.
The written report of all these facts having been finally given to the supreme Pontiff, John Paul II, by the undersigned cardinal prefect, his Holiness, willingly accepting the desires of the congregation for the Causes of Saints, ordained the decree concerning the heroic virtues of the Servant of God be duly recorded.
This being done, on the same day, the cardinals, the Prefect of the congregation and Proponent of the Cause and I, the Bishop Secretary, being convoked, together with the remainder according to custom, and all being present, the Holy Father declared solemnly: it is certain that the servant of God, in the case and for the end in view, practiced to an heroic degree the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity towards God and towards neighbor, and also the cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, temperance and fortitude and their associates.