jacinta-martoEveryone sees Jacinta Marto as a seer or as a potential saint. Here we will look at her as an evangelizer, the youngest evangelizer we know of.

Who is Jacinta Marto? Jacinta was the youngest of eleven children of Manuel Pedro and Olympia Marto, born March 11, 1910 in Aljustrel, Portugal, just outside of Fatima. She, her brother Francisco and her cousin, Lucy, were blessed with visions over the course of two years, 1916 and 1917. The visions many of us are familiar with are those with the Blessed Virgin, in 1917.

Jacinta was a very happy little girl. She was adored by her siblings and her parents. She sang and danced most of her waking hours. Until the age of 6, she was considered too young and was not allowed to go to the meadows with the sheep. After that, she was allowed out with her brother, who was two years older and her cousin, who was three years older. Together they played games and sang songs, which, due to Lucy’s great memory, had many verses to enjoy. They would always stop at lunchtime to eat and say the Rosary. And all the while, they kept track of their parents’ sheep.

Three times in that first year out, novel occurrences happened, once in the spring, once in the summer and once in the fall. An Angel, most likely Michael, appeared to them. The first time he taught them a prayer, also the second time. He demonstrated praying while prone, arms extended. The third time, they all received Communion, Lucy the Holy Eucharist, Francisco and Jacinta drank from the Cup. And every time, the Angel asked them to pray much. After each occurrence, the children became quiet, reserved, even withdrawn. They became a little more serious about prayers and positioned themselves to pray like the Angel. But it never lasted. The three went back to being active and having fun again, although they did repeat often the prayers the Angel taught.
The next year, on May 13, the three were enjoying the day, when another vision came. This time it was a young lady, 15-18 years old, who spoke to them. They never spoke to her for very long. One message this time was “My dear little children, pray the Rosary often, but devoutly, as you did a while ago, for the peace of the world.” She also asked them if they were willing to suffer. Lucy answered, for all of them, yes. Although the three vowed to say nothing about what they saw and heard, their hearts were filled with joy and they were overwhelmed. Jacinta, being so little, blurted out what happened to her mother, and then to the rest of her family. Within 24 hours everyone in the hamlet knew what had happened.

On June 13, as planned, the Lady appeared again. Fifty onlookers showed up, saying the Rosary with the children.This time the Lady again asked for prayers and promised to take Jacinta and Francisco to Heaven soon, but that Lucy would have to stay for quite a while. This concerned Jacinta very much, for although she was the youngest, in some ways she was the mother hen. She was concerned about Lucy being alone.

Again, on the thirteenth of July, the children were scheduled. Lucy did not want to go. She was starting to think that it was her imagination, or else, that the vision was the Devil. Lucy found Jacinta and Francisco in their bedrooms, crying for fear of going alone. After Jacinta berated her, Lucy found her mind changed and the three went, with Mr Marto. They found a crowd of 4000 there, who all prayed with them. The Lady asked the children to make sacrifices for sinners, and, with every sacrifice they were to say, “Jesus! I do this for the love of Thee, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for all the offences committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary!” The Lady infused a sense of confidence, force and conviction into the three little children. After this, Jacinta was very concerned about the sacrifices they should do and about sinners.

Jacinta, being the most worried of the three, was always thinking about their welfare. When the administrator of the district called the two families into his presence, Lucy’s father brought her, but Ti Marto came alone. Jacinta confided to her older cousin, “If they kill you, then tell them that Francisco and I are just as guilty as you are, and that we are ready to die, also.” The two Marto children prayed and suffered anxiety all day. When Lucy returned, Jacinta’s first thought was, “See! We don’t have to fear anything, anymore. The Lady will always help us. She is our big Friend!” With this attitude, Jacinta spent the rest of her life, happily sharing her thoughts with others.

When the three were jailed by the administrator on August 13, Jacinta cried bitterly, not so much out of fear, but out of sadness for not being able to say goodby to her parents. Francisco bravely reminded her that she should keep her promise to the Lady to accept all sufferings for the conversion of sinners. She joined him in prayer, insisting on saying the Rosary. All the prisoners knelt and joined in. By this time, Jacinta had begun to talk about the Holy Father often, and insisted on praying for him that day.

A few days later, when the three were out of jail and back to their sheep tending, the Lady appeared to them alone. She asked them to “Pray often and make sacrifices for all sinners….Let it be known to you, that many, very many unfortunates are lost forever, because they have no one to pray and sacrifice for them.” Jacinta was much disturbed about these unfortunates and chose many means of sacrifice, including giving her lunch to poorer children.

Most of us know the story of the Miracle of the Sun. But what happened after is just as important. Jacinta was most concerned about the poor souls who had no one to pray for them. She chose to dedicate her short life to prayer for them, for the pope, who she knew would suffer badly, and for the priests who would lose their lives in the next war, that being WWII. That a seven year old should be concerned about a war twenty years in the future is almost incredible. We can ascribe to her heroic degrees of sacrifice and sanctity.

Her angst about war and death did not ever cease. Her predictions to all who would listen were frighteningly accurate: “If the world does not repent, the Lord will send a punishment the like of which has never been seen–and first of all to Spain.” Within twelve years, the Spanish Civil War began with all its terror.

Jacinta became ill during the great flu epidemic of 1919. Her brother died of the disease that year. Surgery for her pleurisy did not help. The doctors and nurses were very surprised about her ability to face the treatments so steadfastly. She died alone, far from friends and family, at the age of 10.

Towards the end of her life, Lucy and Jacinta had to say goodby to each other, as Jacinta left for more treatment. Apparently knowing they would never meet again, Jacinta told her cousin, “Do not fear! I shall pray very much for you, and for the Holy Father, and for all the priests–and for Portugal, too that the war shall never come here.” WWII never did come to Portugal!

The little girl who worried about people not getting to be with Jesus, prayed many into heaven. For that reason, alone, she should be considered an evangelist.

© Debbie McCoy, 2016

Debbie McCoy

Debbie McCoy

Debra Booton McCoy is a cradle Catholic and is a native of central New York. She works in the health care field and spends her spare time writing and enjoying her family, two grown children, and husband Bob. Debra is a published author, having written a column for a women’s monthly newspaper in the mid-1990s and published her first book in 2014, an edited version of a French book from the 1800s, “A Catholic Mother Speaks to Her Children” by Marie, Countess de Flavigny. This is an advice book for children. She is finishing the edit of “Conferences for Boys”, by Fr. Reynauld Kuehnel, the first of four books by this priest. Debra started a Catholic publishing company in 2013, Lanternarius Press, with the purpose of adding another moral compass to print media.You can visit her website at lanternariuspress.net or visit Lanternarius Press on Facebook

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