I was suddenly inspired to write about Saint Jacinta Marto, one of my favorite saints who was only nine years old when she died. In those nine short years, extraordinary things happened to her. Not all are familiar with the Fatima message, although many souls even outside of the Catholic Church have at least heard the name tossed around. Fatima is the MOST sensational message given to the world through three shepherd children by the most Blessed Virgin Mary in the year 1917 (including the 1929 apparition and various other visions given to Sister Lucia after the death of her two cousins). I write about Fatima a lot, but today I just want to share my love for one of those three children chosen by Our Lady.
One of the visions Jacinta had (along with Lucia and Francisco) was that of hell. I often try to place myself in their shoes and imagine being as young as they were and seeing such a place. While I was in the Carmel, a very lively Italian priest came and preached a retreat for the nuns and brought this subject up; he pin-pointed the fact that nobody likes to talk about hell and how such things should not be discussed in front of young children, as to not “frighten them”. However, he talked about the lives that these children lived before seeing hell, and what happened to them afterwards. They were not bad children in anyway, but before her death, Jacinta always talked about how she wished she could save people from going there by offering to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, every possible sacrifice.
This vision of hell did frighten these children, but they became fervent and zealous souls who at such a tender age wanted nothing more than to console the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and lead virtuous lives. That’s right, seeing hell did more than scare them, it made them want to live perfect lives. These young children started offering small sacrifices to Our Lady such as choosing the food they didn’t like to eat or giving their food to the poor and choosing not to eat. They even wore a tight cord around their waist that was uncomfortable “for sinners”; Our Lady was pleased with this sacrifice, but she asked them to stop wearing the cord “when they sleep” but obviously this form of penance united with their great love for God makes one marvel. I don’t know about you, but those types of personal hardships are hard to do even for an adult. Something as horrific as a vision of hell had made these children lead a more perfect life; now Jacinta and Francisco bear the title of Saint before their names. They also took virtue outside of themselves and didn’t live virtuos lives for their own salvation, but for souls!
I simply want to end this with what incredible events followed little Jacinta’s short life. She knew she was going to die alone and that in itself terrified her. She wanted to offer it for Our Lady to save as many souls as possible from going to hell, and she was right. She told this to her doctor on her deathbed when she knew her time of death was approaching. He didn’t believe her and when he came back later, she was already gone. Jacinta died without her parents, Lucia or Francisco by her side; she also died without the sacraments. When her body was carried into the Lisbon Church, the church bells (which under Portugal law were not allowed to be rung at the time) rang while no one was at the ropes, and the tower door was locked. It was thought they were rung by the angels. Jacinta died in the year of 1920 and when her body was exhumed for the first time in 1935, it was found perfectly intact.
She said Her Immaculate Heart would be your refuge and way to lead you to God. Don’t you love that? Her Heart is so good; how I love it! Saint Jacinta Marto