“Little Shepherd,” Visionary, Sufferer for Sinners
When St. Jacinta was canonized with her brother Francisco, a few years ago in 2017, the two children became the youngest non-martyrs to be canonized. Born in Portugal in 1910, Jacinta was the youngest of the three visionaries at Fatima. She was known as a joyful and well-liked child, who loved her cousin Lucia very much. In order to spend more time with Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta were permitted to shepherd with Lucia.
Even before the apparitions at Fatima took place, Jacinta was known for her deep love for the Lord. In her memoirs, Lucia recounted the time in which she told Jacinta about the sufferings of Jesus. Jacinta responded to Lucia, “Our poor dear Lord! I’ll never sin again! I don’t want Our Lord to suffer any more!” (Fatima in Lucia’s own words, 40).
“Our poor dear Lord! I’ll never sin again! I don’t want Our Lord to suffer any more!”
On May 13th, 1917, when Jacinta was just 7 years old, Our Lady appeared to Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta for the first time. These apparitions continued between May of 1917 and October of 1917. At Fatima, Our Lady asked the children to pray the rosary every day for peace in the world and an end to the war, and to make sacrifices for the conversion of sinners.
While all the children followed Our Lady’s instructions, Jacinta particularly was drawn to making sacrifices for sinners. This was particularly evident when Jacinta and her brother contracted influenza in 1920. While sick in bed, Our Lady came to visit Francisco and Jacinta again. Of this experience, Jacinta said, “Our Lady came to see us. She told us she would come to take Francisco to heaven very soon, and she asked me if I still wanted to convert more sinners. I said I did” (Fatima in Lucia’s own words, 59). Furthermore, when Francisco was near death, Jacinta told him, “Give all my love to Our Lord and Our Lady, and tell them that I’ll suffer as much as they want, for the conversion of sinners and in reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary” (Fatima in Lucia’s own words, 60). On February 20th, 1920, at the age of 9, Jacinta died. Sts. Jacinta and Francisco are celebrated on the date of Jacinta’s death, February 20th.
“Give all my love to Our Lord and Our Lady, and tell them that I’ll suffer as much as they want, for the conversion of sinners and in reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary”
St. Jacinta’s example of holiness is a powerful one for children and adults alike. She reminds us of Jesus’ words, “I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike” (Mt 11:25). How we are to turn to Mary with everything.
As St. John Paul II said at the beatification of Jacinta, “I tell you that ‘one makes more progress in a short time of submission and dependence on Mary than during entire years of personal initiatives, relying on oneself alone’ (St Louis de Montfort, The True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, n. 155). This was how the little shepherds became saints so quickly” (Homily of His Holiness Pope John Paul II Beatification of Francisco and Jacinta Marto Shepherds of Fatima).
Feast Day: February 20
This reflection was written by Kim Becvar, GIVEN Forum alumna ’16. Currently, Kim is loving her role as the Interim Director of the Mission Office in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, which supports the missionary work of the Church throughout the world. Kim considers herself an avid coffee drinker and proud St. Louisan.