Saint of the Day ~ February 20

SAINTS FRANCISCO and JACINTA MARTO (Francisco 1908-1919 ~ Jacinta 1910-1920), virgins and visionaries – Patron saints of bodily ills and sicknesses

Today, the Church honors two of the young visionaries of Fatima, who, together with their cousin Lucia, experienced in a marvelous way the Love of God for His children through the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Francisco, 11, and Jacinta, 10, are the youngest non-martyrs to be canonized in the history of the Church. The brother and sister, who tended to their families’ sheep with their older cousin Lucia Marto in the fields of Fatima, Portugal, witnessed the apparitions of Mary, now commonly known as Our Lady of Fatima.

During the first apparition which took place May 13, 1917, Our Lady asked the three children to pray the Rosary and to make sacrifices, offering everything for the conversion of sinners. The children did as they were asked, praying often and even giving their lunch to beggars and going without food themselves. They offered up their daily crosses and even refrained from drinking water on hot days.

In October 1918, Francisco and Jacinta became seriously ill with the Spanish Flu. Our Lady appeared to them and said she would take them to Heaven soon.

Bed-ridden, Francisco requested his First Communion. The following day, Francisco died on April 14, 1919. Jacinta suffered a long illness as well. She was eventually transferred to a Lisbon hospital and operated on due to an abscess in her chest, but her health did not improve. She died February 20, 1920.

Pope Saint John Paul II beatified Francisco and Jacinta on May 13, 2000, on the 83rd anniversary of the first apparition of Our Lady at Fatima, teaching us that even young children can live lives of sanctity. They are models toward which young people and adults should always strive.

In his homily at their beatification, Saint John Paul recalled that shortly before Francisco died, Jacinta said to him, “Give my greetings to Our Lord and to Our Lady and tell them that I am enduring everything they want for the conversion of sinners.”

On May 13, 2017, during the 100th anniversary of our Lady’s first apparition, Pope Francis I canonized the children in Fatima, Portugal. During his homily, Pope Francis stated, “Today the Virgin Mary asks all of us the same question that, a hundred years ago, she asked the shepherd children: ‘Do you want to offer yourselves to God?’ Their answer – ‘Yes, we do!’ – makes us able to understand and imitate their lives.”

On the anniversary of Saint Jacinta’s death on February 20th, we commemorate their joint feastday.

(From catholicnewsagency.com, saints.sqpn.com, americancatholic.org and fatima.org)

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PRAYER

(The following prayer is from the Roman Breviary from the Proper of Seasons)

“Father, You call Your children to walk in the Light of Christ. May the prayers of Saints Francisco and Jacinta free us from the darkness of this world and keep us in the radiance of Your Truth.

“We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”

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