The little shepherds Jacinta and Francisco are already the first non-martyrs and youngest saints of the Church. Pope Francisco declared them in Fatima, before thousands of pilgrims, as an example of holiness for the world.
–Ricardo Cardoso, Vila Viçosa (Évora, Portugal) and Enrique Calvo, Viseu (Portugal)
On May 12 and 13, the Catholic world (and not only) turned its gaze to Fatima. It was 100 years since, in that same place, the Blessed Virgin had begun a new era for the life of the Church and the world. Against a backdrop of death and the overcast world of 1917, "a woman brighter than the sun" (as the children used to say) gave a new hope to the heart of Humanity. And, one hundred years later, hundreds of thousands of people, their hearts full of faith and hope, thronged Fatima to gaze at "that one" woman, who continues to be brighter than the sun and who inundates us all with her motherly tenderness.
This love that flows from the Immaculate Heart of Mary continues to radiate to the world in many ways. That is why, after a rigorous process and a miracle attributed to Francisco and Jacinta Marto, Pope Francis chose this centenary to canonize the two children, becoming the youngest non-martyr saints of the Church.
In this canonization, although it is important to know the miracle and to thank God for the gift of this very canonization, it is even more urgent to discover the witness of faith and Christian life of the two little shepherds.
With the canonization, the Church invites us to follow his example of simplicity of heart, of mortifications and prayers of reparation, and of intimacy with "Hidden Jesus" in the Tabernacle. For this, we now count on the intercession of St. Francisco and St. Jacinta to help us to be like them.
It is also important to say that the canonization of the two children is a stimulus for us to look at Sister Lucia, who stayed with us until a few years ago, and to whom many graces are being attributed.
The Pope, moved
Pope Francis was also a pilgrim among thousands of pilgrims. It was indeed St. Peter, in his successor, who visited the Mother, who on the Cross had been given by the Lord to his disciples. He was received with great affection by the Portuguese authorities in Portuguese territory, he was welcomed in Fatima with great enthusiasm by thousands of people, and in profound silence, the successor of St. Peter met the Mother of God, while all the people, gathered in silence, had their eyes fixed on the encounter with these two pillars of our faith.
In the evening, the esplanade of the shrine was transformed into a sea of candles, prayers were said in many languages, and everyone understood each other because it was all about love for Our Lady. In his simplicity, Pope Francis made sure that all the attention was for Our Lady and not for his visit. Therefore, his restraint in his gestures, his determination to look at Our Lady and, at the end of the celebration, with the white handkerchief, he emotionally said goodbye to Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima using the traditional greeting of the Portuguese people, while singing: "O Fatima, farewell, Virgin Mother, farewell!".
We have Mother!
Regardless of the conditions in which one is in Fatima, the truth is that one never wants to leave, because as the Holy Father said with a strong voice in his homily: "Temos Mãe!" (We have a Mother!). For this reason, the moment of leaving Mother is always hard and exciting, full of nostalgia and the Portuguese feeling of "saudade".
One leaves with the body, but the heart remains with Our Lady, receiving from this Mother the care that only she knows how to give us. I would like to have the audacity to invite everyone to Fatima. This year cannot pass without visiting our Heavenly Mother in the sanctuary of Fatima. And, on your return, fill her with the emotion of the "saudade" with the refrain of the canticle with which we bid farewell to the Blessed Virgin: "A final prayer, as I leave you, Mother of God: may this immortal cry always live in my soul:
O Fatima, Farewell! Virgin Mother, Farewell!". May this immortal cry live forever in our souls, because we have a Mother!
Three elements of the message
The previous months have gradually revealed the depth, timeliness and urgency of knowing and taking part in all that the Virgin Mary has said to all of us through the little shepherds of Fatima. The little shepherds were the recipients of a great proclamation, but the message was not addressed only to them and to their time. Each one of us, in our own time, rediscovers the intensity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ who calls us to conversion and to participation in his Kingdom.
A century has passed since the apparitions of Fatima, which took place in the midst of World War I, in which Portugal participated with many of its children, and before the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. These circumstances are not unrelated to the content of the message. Now, in the midst of the centenary of these particular revelations, we can ask ourselves: what remains of Mary's wishes and petitions?
Consecration coupled with devotion
In the spirit of simplicity, we recall that there are three clear elements of the message. Namely: to pray the Rosary every day; to make reparation for the conversion of sinners; and to spread devotion to her Immaculate Heart throughout the world. This last point serves well to make known the faith and holy life of the little shepherds, especially that of St. Jacinta. It should be noted that there are two realities in Our Lady's words - devotion and consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary - which are united and mutually implied.
Lucia says in her Memoirs that in the apparition of July 13, our Mother showed hell to the shepherds and asked them to stop offending God:
"To save (souls from hell, God wants to establish devotion to My Immaculate Heart in the world. If (men) do what I tell you, many souls will be saved (...) and they will have peace. The war (World War I) will end. But if they do not stop offending God, in the reign of Pius XI another worse one will begin. (...) If they heed My requests, Russia will be converted and they will have peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, promoting war and persecutions in the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated. Finally, My Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to Me, which will be converted, and a time of peace will be granted to the world".
The youngest of the visionaries had a true passion for the Immaculate Heart of Mary, besides testifying that our Mother is the Mediatrix of graces and Coredemptrix. After the apparition of July 13, where hell was shown to them, Jacinta said:
"I'm so sorry I can't take communion. (I was not old enough) in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary". And he often repeated: "Sweet Heart of Mary, be my salvation".
Lucia says that Jacinta " he added at other times with his natural simplicity:
- I love the Immaculate Heart of Mary so much! It is the Heart of our Heavenly Mother! You don't like to say many times: Sweet Heart of Mary Immaculate Heart of Mary! I like it so much, so much!" He even gave recommendations to his cousin Lucia: "(...) Love Jesus very much, the Immaculate Heart of Mary and make many sacrifices for sinners!"
Or this one: "I am almost ready to go to Heaven. You remain here to communicate that God wants to establish devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in the world. When you have to say that, do not hide! Tell everyone that God grants graces through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and that they should ask her.