9 facts about Fatima’s seers for us in The Age of the Selfie (Last of 2 parts)
Fact 5. Francisco’s first and last communion took place on the day before he died, in 1919—a fulfillment of his great wish to receive Jesus in Holy Communion. Like Jacinta, he knew that he was not going to stay long in this world. Our Lady had assured him of heaven, although “he must recite many rosaries.” Sr. Lucia revealed in her memoirs the change in Francisco as a result of Our Lady’s apparitions—the young shepherd boy became a mystic of sorts, contemplating and praying in solitude, and offering sacrifices “to console Jesus who was so sad due to man’s sins”. On the way to school he would tell Lucia to go ahead for “It’s not worth my while learning to read as I’ll be going to Heaven very soon.” So he would walk off alone to the church “to be close to the Hidden Jesus”—to first of all console “Hidden Jesus” and then pray for the conversion of sinners.
Fact 6. Four years ago, Brazilian boy, Lucas Batista Maeda de Mourao, sustained serious brain injury when he fell from the window of his grandfather’s home. Taking the boy to the hospital, his father tearfully prayed to Our Lady of Fatima, Blessed Jacinta, and Blessed Francisco. As Lucas lay unconscious in the hospital, his father and a local community of Carmelite nuns begged the intercession of the Blessed shepherd siblings to cure the boy. A few days later, Lucas got up and walked home as if nothing happened. This amazed the doctors, and last February, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints unanimously concluded that Lucas’s healing was a miracle as it could not be scientifically explained. This miracle which was recognized by Pope Francis led to the canonization of the shepherd children of Fatima. Now 10-years-old, Lucas was present at the canonization in Fatima, and brought up the offertory gifts during the Mass. By this time, all the tombs of the three visionaries—Jacinta, Francisco and Lucia—are already in the basilica, side by side.
Fact 7. Jacinta and Francisco Marto are the first child saints in the history of the Church who are not martyrs. To date, four popes have made pilgrimages to Fatima, attesting to the importance of Our Lady’s messages handed down through these children. On the 50th anniversary of the apparitions, May 13, 1967, Pope Paul VI was the first pope to visit the place where Our Lady appeared to the children. On May 13, 2000, Pope John Paul II traveled to Fatima to beatify the seers Francisco and Jacinta who became two of the youngest “Blesseds” ever. He said, about the children’s docility to Mother Mary: “Devoting themselves with total generosity to such a good Teacher, Jacinta and Francisco soon reached the heights of perfection.” Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI went on a four-day “apostolic journey” to Fatima, on May 11-14, 2010, and in answering journalists’ questions on the plane said, “For us, Fatima is a sign of the presence of faith, of the fact that it is precisely from the little ones that faith gains new strength…” On May 13, 2017, the 100th anniversary of Our Lady’s first apparition, Pope Francis made an overnight pilgrimage to Fatima on May 12-13, and elevated Blessed Jacinta and Blessed Francisco to sainthood.
Fact 8: Now let’s look at Lucia, the child seer who lived two years short of 100:there was a side to her that no one probably knew then, especially as the three children were being subjected to investigation by authorities and the mockery of non-believers. Lucia, who lived to become a Discalced Carmelite nun—giving life to the words of Our Lady that Jesus would use her to make her known and loved on earth—was the incarnation of joy, according to the Carmelite nuns who lived with her at Carmel of Coimbra and who wrote A Pathway Under the Gaze of Mary. For example, she would joke even into her 90s and seriously ill.
Sr. Lucia was described as “…as real as a plate of cookies… an absolutely normal personality… and if I were obliged to point out her outstanding natural characteristic I would say it was her gaiety. No one has been able to detect in her the least sign of morbid temperament or exclusive self-concern,” by a priest who knew her very well, Fr. John de Marchi, in his book The True Story of Fatima.
Dr.Branca Paul, who attended to Sr. Lucia during the last 15 years of her life, would be amazed that the sick and aging nun would be “great to be around…so normal, simple and humble,” despite the untold suffering she was going through for the sake of the conversion of sinners. The physician said that Sr. Lucia showed amazing energy when talking about Fatima, the Blessed Mother’s messages and requests, in particular praying the Rosary.
Levity aside, Sr. Lucia would be frustrated when people wanted to focus on the miracles and secrets, said her doctor. Even her fellow Carmelite nuns disclosed that it always pained Sr. Lucia when some people would insist on revealing the third part of the Secret. Sr. Lucia reportedly would say “The miracles and secrets aren’t important. We must concentrate on Our Lady’s message. Live the Ten Commandments. That’s what’s important… If only they’d live what is the most important thing, which has already been said…They only concern themselves with what is left to be said, instead of complying with the request that was prayer and penance!”
Fact 9. How is all this of any concern to us, living in an age of the selfie? If the occurrences, miracles, messages, and controversies arising from the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima were to be condensed for the modern man, it would boil down to three simple truths: 1) that man is capable of evil actions, and that these actions, from the smallest to the biggest, have dreadful consequences (as history shows, from 1917 to the present); 2) to turn the tide, we must repent, do penance, and pray. Our Lady even recommended praying the rosary to begin with—a prayer anyone can do, not only with our lips but more so with our heart; and 3) Mary is our loving Mother who is our bridge to Jesus.
The message of Fatima is extremely relevant in a planet endangered by greed and megalomania. Just think ISIS, or North Korea’s nuclear tests—don’t they feel like the sword of Damocles hanging over our heads? I don’t mean to sound like a prophet of doom but after 100 years of Fatima, perhaps it’s about time we surrendered our madness and became like the shepherd children Jacinta, Francisco and Lucia, who without question loved and obeyed Our Lady, thereby reminding the world that God is indeed alive and with us. And that’s the truth.