By Ian Wilson (Rated G)
There is no better known or celebrated Marian apparition than Fatima. Most faithful Roman Catholics know the story; on May 13th, 1917, three children tending sheep outside of Fatima, Portugal were visited by the Virgin Mary. Over the next several months, Mary appeared to the children on the 13th of every month to deliver visions of future events, including the end of World War I, the beginning of another war, and other important events in their future.
Lucia Santos, Francisco Marto, and his sister, Jacinta Marto were all rather ordinary children, aside from having a marked love for the Lord Jesus at a young age. They were quite close friends, in addition to being cousins, and enjoyed one another’s company.
Francisco loved animals, and would frequently bring them home to care for them. He also loved to play the reed-pipe for his sister and cousin to sing and dance to. While he did not hear Mary’s words to the children, he was able to see and attest to the apparition, as well as the visions she showed them. He was courageous in standing up to persecution when the mayor of Fatima tried to silence the children. When asked what he wanted to be when he grew up Francisco replied: “I do not want to be anything; I want to go to heaven.” The next year, he succumbed to the Spanish flu, and died with a heavenly glow on his face.
Jacinta was devoted to her friendship with Lucia, and insisted on helping her keep her parents’ sheep. She loved to dance, though the parish priest condemned dancing as sinful. She pouted when she did not get her way. She loved the sheep she and her cousin kept. She endured much mockery and skepticism after the apparitions, and took on many penances for the sake of sinners. She, too, caught influenza and died at a young age.
Lucia was the only one of the three to survive to old age. At the age of 14, she was admitted to the school of the Sisters of St. Dorothy, where she continued to receive private revelations of the Virgin explaining the visions at Fatima. In 1934, she made her perpetual vows and became a nun, taking the name Mary of the Immaculate Heart. Later, she entered the Carmelite convent of St. Teresa in Coimbra. She wrote many books on her experiences, and returned to Fatima for the 50 year anniversary of the vision. She died of old age in 2005.
May we all learn to put aside the things of this world and cling to what is eternal like these three children.