Pope Francis has canonised two Fatima visionaries, Francisco Marto and Jacinta Marto when he visited the Fatima Shrine on 12 and 13 May 2017, the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima and the 100th anniversary of the date when the two children along with their cousin Lucia who had experienced the first apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima, Portugal.
Our Lady appeared to these three poor children several times between 13 May 1917 and 13 October 1917. The two children died in childhood. Jacinta died in February, 1920, at age 9 while her brother Francisco died on 4 April 1919, at age 10. During Saint John Paul II’s pastoral visit to Portugal, he beatified them in Fatima on 13 May 2000, 83rd anniversary of the first apparition of Our Lady of Fatima. He was teaching us that even young children can become saints.
Their cousin Lucia was the only one to reach adult life. She joined a convent in Coimbra, Portugal. Later she became a Discalced Carmelite Nun. She was born 1907 and died in 2005 at the age of 98. Sr. Lucia’s beatification is now being examined for the canonisation process in the Vatican since 13 February 2017.
Pope Francis was the fourth pope to visit the Fatima Shrine after Blessed Paul VI, Saint John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. During his pontificate since 2013, Pope Francis has canonised 36 saints and these two children will be the 37th and 38th saints in his list of canonisations. These two peasant brother and sister would become the youngest non-martyr children in the history of the Church. Their canonisation would help us “to give credibility to the apparitions and the message of Fatima.” At the appearance of Our Lady these three children were asked to pray the rosary, make sacrifices for the conversion of sinners and an increase in the love for God.
As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of Mary’s first appearance in Fatima and on this month of the Rosary, we too are encouraged continuously to pray the rosary, make conversion and increase the love for Christ. When we pray the rosary with our BEC members, families and individuals we make the change in the lives of our loved ones, parishioners and friends. I hope praying the rosary will help you to live our faith more stronger and make us happy. Whenever we leave home for work, office, school or travel overseas just remember to carry your rosary along as your companion for your journey. We should be great devotees to Our Lady and listen attentively to Her and ask for peace in the world.
Parents and grandparents, you need to encourage your children and grandchildren to pray the Rosary and to help them grow in their friendship with Mary, Joseph and Jesus. Grandparents of Jesus, Sts. Joachim and Anne are honoured by the Church because they were instruments for Mary’s YES to the Angel Gabriel to become the Mother of Jesus in Her younger age. Whereas Mary and Joseph nurtured Jesus to grow in wisdom and age during his childhood. So, parents and grandparents do commit yourselves to teach your children and grandchildren to always talk to Jesus before going to school, work, anywhere and even before sleeping. Do tell them too that going for Mass and catechism classes during the weekend are also important in order to strengthen their faith. Be their teachers of wisdom of God and courage so that they too may be the same to future generations to grow in the fear of God. Mary, Mother of Hope, Pray for Us!
Fr. George Packiasamy