Designs of Mercy – Jacinta, Part III


“Jacinta’s thirst for making sacrifices seemed insatiable. She always made her sacrifices with this thought, a thought which was habitual with her: to suffer for sinners, to make acts of reparation in their place, to substitute herself for them, to obtain for them pardon and the grace of conversion.”

Today, we will see where Jacinta’s heroic devotion to Our Lady of the Rosary led her in her very brief, but intense life. Most of our discussion is found in Frère Michel de la Sainte Trinité’s “The Whole Truth About Fatima Vol. II”.  Now, Frère Michel himself relied greatly on Sister Lúcia’s Memoirs as in the following.

“When, in a spirit of mortification, she did not want to eat, I said to her: “Listen, Jacinta! Come and eat now.” ‘No! I’m offering this sacrifice for sinners who eat too much.’  When she was ill, and yet went to Mass on a week day, I urged her: Jacinta, don’t come! You’re not able. Besides, today is not a Sunday! ‘That doesn’t matter. I’m going for sinners who don’t go on a Sunday.’ If she happened to hear any of those expressions which some people make a show of uttering, she covered her face with her hands and said: ‘Oh, my God, don’t those people realize that they can go to hell for saying those things? My Jesus, forgive them and convert them. They certainly don’t know that they are offending God by all this! What a pity, my Jesus! I’ll pray for them.’ Then and there, she repeated the prayer that Our Lady had taught us: ‘O my Jesus, forgive us, deliver us from the fire of hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who are most in need.’ Jacinta made such sacrifices over and over again, but I won’t stop to tell any more, or I shall never end,  Lúcia tells us.”

Also, in her memoirs, Sister Lúcia remarked that little Jacinta, although the youngest, she “was the one who received from Our Lady a greater abundance of grace , and a better knowledge of God and of virtue.” Indeed, 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 favours, right up until her death.

Jacinta’s Prophetic Visions

In her Memoirs, Lúcia tells us: “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 .” Frère Michel places this vision in the time period between July 13, 1917 and October, 1918, when the children fell ill.

We also know that this vision concerns an event announced in the Secret, for Lúcia continues her account, and writes: “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.’

This vision helps us to better understand the corresponding words of the Secret, announcing “persecutions against the Church and the Holy Father (who) will have much to suffer.”

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?”

This second vision corresponds to an event prophesied in the Secret: “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.’ ”

The striking images contemplated in her recent visions kept the Secret on Jacinta’s mind; the themes of the Secret made a more profound impression on her than on her two companions. Sister Lúcia is insistent on this point, showing clearly how the Blessed Virgin wished to make this soul – so young and so delicate, but so sensitive and courageous – the confidante of the most intimate thoughts of Her Heart. The great and dramatic Message of Our Lady was destined for the whole world; and Our Lady willed that this innocent soul, Jacinta, be penetrated with it and live it with such love that she became, as Sister Lúcia dares to say, “filled with horror”,  and was led very quickly, within a few months, to the total gift and sacrifice of her life.

Sister Lúcia continues: “As I said in the notes I sent about the book called Jacinta, she was most deeply impressed (…) with 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.”  It is indeed surprising to observe how much, after the apparition of July 13, (1919) 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. (Frère Michel, Vol II)

Another Visit of the Blessed Virgin

Towards the end of December, 1918 or in January, 1919, we read,

“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 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!” On another day, Jacinta was more precise; she confided to her cousin: “Our Lady wants me to go to two hospitals, not to be cured, but to suffer more for love of Our Lord and for sinners.”

Jacinta had known for a long time that the more she suffered, the more souls she would snatch away from the eternal flames. This was a certain and absolute truth with her. Taught by the infused grace which accompanied the words of the Angel, she had understood the value of sacrifice, how pleasing it is to God, and how, in return for it  God converts sinners.

And with all her ardour, she gave a generous “yes” to the hardest sacrifice that could have asked of her, a sacrifice which she undoubtedly had never imagined: to suffer and die alone far from her mother, far from her father, and above all far from Lúcia, her only confidante and intimate friend, whose presence gave her such comfort such great joy, the only consolation that remained for her. After this, she was thoughtful for a while and then added: “If only you could be with me! The hardest part is to go without you. Maybe the hospital is a big, dark house where you can’t see, and I’ll be there suffering all alone! But never mind! I’ll suffer for love of Our Lord, to make reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, for the conversion of sinners and for the Holy Father.”

Frère Michel notes,

“It is always the same intentions, the same great themes of the Secret, which habituate and incite her to heroic sacrifice. The same transports of love always come back to her lips: often she would repeat, “Sweet Heart of Mary, be my salvation! I love the Immaculate Heart of Mary so much!” Sometimes, as she would kiss a crucifix, she would press it in her hands, saying: “O my Jesus, I love You, and I wish to suffer much for Your love!” How often did she say: “O Jesus! Now You can convert many sinners, because this is really a big sacrifice!”

At Aljustrel, from October, 1918 until June 30, 1919, Jacinta’s illness slowly worsened. After the bronchial pneumonia, pleurisy caused her great suffering. She bore it, however, with a resignation and even a joy which were surprising. Jacinta made it her business never to complain. This was both out of a delicate consideration for her mother, to keep her from getting worried, and to offer this additional sacrifice, so costly when one is suffering a great deal. From Lúcia alone she felt drawn to hide nothing, to tell her about all the graces she had received, and to admit her true sufferings: “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.”

Sister Lúcia: “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.”

During June, 1919 Jacinta, increasingly challenged by more opportunities to offer sacrifices of reparation, increased in her fervent devotion, Father Ferreira stubbornly refused to allow Jacinta to receive the Blessed Sacrament, even though she was by then eight years old. But we may believe that the priest’s efforts were no obstacle to Our Lord’s love for His brave saint, as Frère Michel assures us that Our Lord “gave Himself to her spiritually, and gave her the grace to feel His Divine Presence: ‘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.’ ”

Another time she said: ‘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.’

Jacinta’s health gave way under the aggressive illnesses which beset her and towards the end of June, her doctor began to insist that her parents allow her to be admitted to Saint Augustine’s Hospital at Vila Nova de Ourem. The prophecy of Our Lady was about to be fulfilled… and so Jacinta departed, “knowing that she was going not to be cured, but to suffer”.

To be continued, God willing.