In our previous post on Saint Jacinta, “Designs of Mercy – Jacinta“, we spoke of Our Lady’s visit to Saints Francisco and Jacinta Marto in January, 1919. In her Memoirs, Lúcia tells us,
“Our Lady came to see us”, Jacinta said. “She told us She would come to take Francisco to Heaven very soon, and She asked me if I still wanted to convert more sinners. I said I did. She told me I would be going to a hospital where I would suffer a great deal; and that I am to suffer for the conversion of sinners, in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and for love of Jesus. I asked if you (Lúcia) would go with me. She said you wouldn’t, and that is what I find hardest. She said my mother would take me, and then I would have to stay there all alone!”
In Volume II, Frère Michel de la Sainte Trinité speaks of Sister Lúcia’s impression of Jacinta:
“Jacinta was the one who received from Our Lady a greater abundance of grace, and a better knowledge of God and of virtue”
Although she was indeed the youngest of the three seers, it was she who appeared to enjoy the greatest intimacy with the Most Holy Virgin. When the cycle of the six great public apparitions was completed, Jacinta continued almost uninterruptedly to enjoy supernatural favors, right up until her death.
In our earlier post on Jacinta, we mentioned Frère Michel’s remark,
“It is indeed surprising to observe how much, after the apparition of July 13, the thought of the Holy Father kept constantly coming back to the minds of the three seers. This was one of their major preoccupations, along with solicitude for sinners, and the sight of the terrifying war to come. Why? Undoubtedly because the Pope plays a role of decisive importance in the great prophecy of the Secret: he is already named five times in the published part of the Secret; we may believe that he is mentioned again in the part which has not yet been published. Let us add that several supernatural communications Sister Lúcia was later favored with, concerning the role of the Holy Father in the great prophecy of the Secret, surely supply us with the context which sheds much light on the visions of Jacinta. “
In her memoirs, Lúcia recalled several prophetic visions given to little Jacinta.
“One day we spent our siesta down by my parents’ well. Jacinta sat on the stone slab on top of the well. Francisco and I climbed up a steep bank in search of wild honey among the brambles in a nearby thicket. After a little while, Jacinta called out to me: ‘Didn’t you see the Holy Father?’ ‘No.’
‘I don’t know how it was, but I saw the Holy Father in a very big house, kneeling by a table, with his head buried in his hands, and he was weeping. Outside the house, there were many people. Some of them were throwing stones, others were cursing him and using bad language. Poor Holy Father, we must pray much for him.’
“I have already told you how, one day, two priests recommended that we pray for the Holy Father, and explained to us who the Pope was. Afterwards, Jacinta asked me: ‘Is he the one I saw weeping, the one Our Lady told us about in the Secret?’ ‘Yes, he is,’ I answered. (And Jacinta, with childlike candour, went on:) ‘The Lady must surely have shown him also to those priests. You see, I wasn’t mistaken. We need to pray a lot for him.’
At another time, Lúcia says,
“We went to the cave called Lapa do Cabeço. As soon as we got there, we prostrated on the ground, saying the prayers the Angel had taught us. After some time, Jacinta stood up and called to me: ‘Can’t you see all those highways and roads full of people, who are crying with hunger and have nothing to eat? And the Holy Father in a church praying before the Immaculate Heart of Mary? And so many people praying with him?’ ” … “Some days later, Jacinta asked me: ‘Can I say that I saw the Holy Father and all those people?’ ‘No. Don’t you see that that’s part of the Secret? If you do, they’ll find out right away!’ ‘All right! Then I’ll say nothing at all.’ “
Deep sorrow for sin
Our Lady willed that this innocent soul, Jacinta, be so impressed with the immense suffering caused by the sins of our time that she willingly accepted all the opportunities for reparation offered to her, suffering with such love that she was led very quickly, within a few months, to the total gift and sacrifice of her life. Lúcia continues: ‘… she was most deeply impressed by some of the things revealed to us in the Secret … the vision of hell and the ruin of the many souls who go there, or again, the future war with all its horrors, which seemed to be always present in her mind. These made her tremble with fear. When I saw her deep in thought, and asked her: ‘Jacinta, what are you thinking about?’ she frequently replied: ‘About the war which is coming, and all the people who are going to die and go to hell! How dreadful! If they would only stop offending God, then there wouldn’t be any war, and they wouldn’t go to hell!’
“When Our Lady revealed the future to Jacinta, and let her see the Holy Father persecuted, mocked, abandoned by all, and in tears, Jacinta understood how much he needed prayers. This gave Jacinta such love for the Holy Father that every time she offered her sacrifices to Jesus, she added: ‘And for the Holy Father’. At the end of the Rosary, she always said three Hail Marys for the Holy Father.”
At the end of October, 1918, Jacinta was stricken with influenza. She had been prepared by the Angel and kept always before her mind the words of Our Lady from her first visit in May, 1917,
“Are you willing to offer yourselves to God, and bear all the sufferings He will send you, in reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and in supplication for the conversion of sinners?” “Yes, we are,” Lúcia had answered in the name of all three. “Then you win have much to suffer, but the grace of God will be your comfort.”
Except for a few days when she was feeling better, Jacinta never left her bed since the final days of October, 1918. According to the documentation, Jacinta suffered from tuberculosis, bronchial pneumonia and then a purulent pleurisy set in, eventually resulting in a bone infection of the ribs on her left side. . All this caused her great suffering. She bore all with a gentle and even, at times, joyful resignation. Except for confiding in Lúcia, Jacinta made it her business never to complain. This was for two reasons, to avoid burdening her mother, and to offer this additional sacrifice for sinners. But with Lúcia alone she felt drawn to hide nothing, and was free to tell her about all the graces she had received, and to admit her true sufferings: She told Lúcia, ‘My chest hurts so much, but I’m not saying anything to my mother. I want to suffer for Our Lord, in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary, for the Holy Father and for the conversion of sinners.’
Jacinta’s penitential practices
Lúcia tells us, “A few days after falling ill, she gave me the rope she had been wearing, and said: ‘Keep it for me; I’m afraid my mother may see it. If I get better, I want it back again!’ This cord had three knots and was somewhat stained with blood. I kept it hidden until I finally left my mother’s home. Then, not knowing what to do with it, I burned it, and Francisco’s as well.”
It’s easy for us to think that the sacrifices and penitential practices of the great saints came naturally to them, driven by their great ardor, but sacrifice is never natural! It is of our very nature to revolt against discomfort, not to mention pain itself. Jacinta experienced this to a certain extent – she who had been so lively, even capricious. She was also, occasionally, taken by surprise. In this regard, Lúcia preserves for us a precious recollection: ‘On another occasion, her mother brought her a cup of milk and told her to take it. ‘I don’t want it, mother’, she answered, pushing the cup away … As soon as we were alone, I asked her: ‘How can you disobey your mother like that, and not offer this sacrifice to Our Lord?’ When she heard this, she shed a few tears which I had the happiness of drying, and said: ‘I forgot this time.’ She called her mother, asked her forgiveness, and said she’d take whatever she wanted. Her mother brought back the cup of milk, and Jacinta drank it down without the slightest sign of reluctance. Later, she told me: ‘If you only knew how hard it was to drink that!’ From then on, there was no lack of opportunities to renew this sacrifice which cost her so much. …
One morning, I found her looking dreadful, and I asked her if she felt worse. ‘Last night, I had so much pain, and I wanted to offer Our Lord the sacrifice of not turning over in bed, therefore I didn’t sleep at all.’
Although Jacinta was now more than eight years old, Father Ferreira was obstinate in his refusal to allow Jacinta to receive Holy Communion. But human error cannot impede the merciful love of Our Lord for His own children, and it so happened that Our Lord responded most generously to the innocent love Jacinta offered. Once she told Lúcia, “I don’t know how it is! But I feel Our Lord within me. I understand what He says to me, although I neither see Him nor hear Him, but it is so good to be with Him! … I so like to tell Jesus that I love Him! Many times, when I say it to Him, I seem to have a fire in my heart, but it doesn’t burn me.’ Again, moved by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the same ardent affections of love continually returned to her lips: ‘I love Our Lord and Our Lady so much, that I never get tired of telling Them that I love Them.’
All three little shepherds were in the habit of reciting the prayers of the Angel and were accustomed to arising during the night to pray them, prostrating themselves as the Angel had taught them. Eventually Jacinta found this impossible and was much distressed. She told Lúcia, ” When I’m alone, I get out of bed to recite the Angel’s prayer. But now I’m not able to touch the ground any more with my head, because I fall over; so I only pray on my knees.” After consulting Father Ferreira, Lúcia told Jacinta that Father advised her to say her prayers lying in bed and even then only when she was not too tired. “Will Our Lord be pleased?” Jacinta asked. When Lúcia assured her that Our Lord was indeed pleased when we are obedient, Jacinta replied, “That’s all right, then. I won’t get up any more.”
Loneliness, the hardest cross to bear
Lúcia tells us of the youngest saint that loneliness was her greatest sacrifice and the hardest for Jacinta to bear.
In December, 1919, Our Lady came to announce to her that the hour had come…
“Once again, the Blessed Virgin deigned to visit Jacinta, to tell her of new crosses and sacrifices awaiting her. Jacinta gave me the news saying: ‘She told me that I am going to Lisbon to another hospital; that I will not see you again, nor my parents either, and after suffering a great deal, I shall die alone. But She said I must not be afraid, since She Herself is coming to take me to Heaven.’ She hugged me and wept: ‘I will never see you again! You won’t be coming to visit me there. Oh please, pray hard for me, because I am going to die alone!’
“Jacinta suffered terribly right up to the day of her departure for Lisbon. She kept clinging to me and sobbing: ‘I’ll never see you again! Nor my mother, nor my brothers, nor my father! I’ll never see anybody ever again! And then, I’ll die all alone!’
Since Father Ferreira had not deigned to allow Jacinta to receive Our Lord in Holy Communion. Jacinta feared being deprived of It. ‘Will I die alone without receiving the Hidden Jesus? Oh, if only Our Lady would bring Him to me when She comes to take me!’ she exclaimed. To die alone – nothing frightened her more. She reminds us of Saint Joan of Arc, who more than anything else feared dying by fire! But like Saint Joan, Jacinta was ready to suffer everything.
At times, Lúcia tried to distract her:
“Don’t think about it”, I advised her one day. “Let me think about it”, she replied, “for the more I think, the more I suffer, and I want to suffer for love of Our Lord and for sinners.” Then, to regain her courage, she would recall the promise of Our Lady, soon she would be in Heaven. When Lúcia reminded her that even though she was to be left alone in the Lisbon Hospital, she would be able to pray all the more the prayers they both loved so well, “My God, I love You! Immaculate Heart of Mary, Sweet Heart of Mary, etc.” “Yes, indeed”, she eagerly replied, “I’ll never get tired of saying those until I die! And then, I can sing them many times over in Heaven!”
“One day I asked her: ‘What are you going to do in Heaven?’ ‘’m going to love Jesus very much, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, too. I’m going to pray a lot for you, for sinners, for the Holy Father, for my parents and my brothers and sisters, and for all the people who have asked me to pray for them …’ When her mother looked sad at seeing the child so ill, Jacinta used to say; “Don’t worry mother. I’m going to Heaven, and there I’ll be praying so much for you!” Like Saint Therese, the Little Flower, Jacinta had resolved to ‘spend her Heaven doing good on earth.’
Frère Michel de la Sainte Trinité tells us:
“I’m going to Heaven”, she would say resolutely to console her mother or comfort herself. Yet we know that it was much more an act of faith than the expression of a sweet hope, felt from within. No, for the time being, just as Jesus was in His agony, she found herself plunged into darkness. Lúcia relates: “On one occasion, I found her clasping a picture of Our Lady to her heart, and saying, ‘O my dearest Heavenly Mother, do I have to die all alone?’ The poor child seemed so frightened at the thought of dying alone! I tried to comfort her, saying: What does it matter if you die alone, so long as Our Lady is coming to fetch you? “It’s true, it doesn’t matter, really. I don’t know why it is, but I sometimes forget Our Lady is coming to take me. I only remember that I’ll die without having you near me.” As young as Jacinta was, Our Lady wanted her also to pass through this terrible night which the Saints went through, to follow more closely their Spouse in agony. It was when her soul was deprived of all consolation, frightened at the thought of the sufferings at hand, that there sprung from her soul the purest, the most heroic, and the most meritorious affections of love. Lúcia recalls: At times, she kissed and embraced a crucifix, exclaiming: “O my Jesus! I love You, and I want to suffer very much for love of You!” How often did she say: “O Jesus! Now you can convert many sinners, because this is really a big sacrifice!”
Readers, we know now that we, ourselves, are the poor sinners that Jacinta suffered so greatly for! Let us resolve right now that her sacrifice is not in vain; please resolve to pray the Rosary with renewed fervor and trust in God, asking Him to allow us the great blessing of loving and serving Him as He wills through the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
In Part III, we shall accompany Jacinta to Lisbon and her final stay in the Hospital.
There has never been a better time to Pray the Rosary with confidence and joy!
† Immaculate Heart of Mary, Queen of our hearts, Mother of the Church, do thou offer to the Eternal Father the Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, for the conversion of poor sinners, especially our Pontiff.
† Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Thy kingdom come! Viva Cristo Rey!
† Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us now and at the hour of our death.
† St. Joseph, protect us, protect our families, protect our priests.
† St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.
Please pray for the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary!
~ by evensong for love of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ, King.
Vouchsafe that I may praise thee, O Sacred Virgin! Give me strength against thine enemies!
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