St. Jacinta’s Holy Legacy With Our Lady

The Fatima seer’s 100th anniversary is 2020.

A relic of St. Jacinta Marto is seen in Rome. The young saint died a century ago.
A relic of St. Jacinta Marto is seen in Rome. The young saint died a century ago. (photo: 2016 photo, AM113/

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Fatima seer St. Jacinta Marto. The 9-year-old died on Feb. 20, 1920, weeks short of her 10th birthday, which would have been on March 11.

This year also marks the 20th anniversary of her beatification and third anniversary of her being canonized, together with her brother Francisco, as the youngest non-martyr saints to be canonized.

What characterized the holiness of this young girl?

After she died, scores of mourners testified that her cheeks exhibited “live pinkness,” and a “beautiful aroma of flowers” came from her — Jacinta died in the saintly odor of sanctity. In 1935 her body was exhumed for reburial and found to be incorrupt.


‘Truly a Mystic’

“What stands out in the message of Fatima about Jacinta was that she was truly a mystic,” John Preiss, president of Fatima Family Apostolate International, told the Register. “She would receive visions” beyond those apparitions of our Blessed Mother at the Cova da Iria that the Fatima seers received. Preiss pointed out the time Jacinta saw a pope in a big house, burying his head in his hands while a mob was about to storm the house.

Jacinta’s cousin, now Servant of God Lucia dos Santos, revealed, “For the rest of her life she would suffer after seeing what the Holy Father was enduring and urge prayers for him.” 

Another time, as the three seers prayed, Jacinta asked, “Can’t you see all those highways and roads and fields full of people, who are crying with hunger and have nothing to eat? And the Holy Father is in a church praying before the Immaculate Heart of Mary? And so many people praying with him?” (Jacinta’s quotes from Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words, p. 129,

Jacinta also became distressed by visions of a terrible war to come — obviously World War II — if people did not heed what Our Lady said, resulting in “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!”

And her insights reflect proper Christian living.

In The True Story of Fatima, Father John de Marchi listed several mystical insights Jacinta received, among them: “The sins which cause most souls to go to hell are the sins of the flesh. Fashions will much offend Our Lord; people who serve God should not follow the fashions. The Church has no fashions. Our Lord is always the same. Many marriages are not of God and do not please Our Lord. Penance is necessary; if people amend their lives, Our Lord will even yet save the world, but if not, punishment will come. Fly from riches and luxury. Do not speak evil of people, and fly from evil speakers. Confession is a sacrament of mercy, and we must confess with joy and trust. There can be no salvation without confession.”


Sacrificing for Souls

For someone so young, Jacinta focused on the salvation of souls. David Carollo, executive director of World Apostolate of Fatima/Blue Army, said Jacinta, upon thinking of that horrible vision of hell, couldn’t imagine “how anyone would want to go there. That’s profound for a little girl. She acknowledged it was a choice and prayed for them.”

Carollo noted the time Jacinta was ill and Our Lady asked her if she wanted to convert more sinners. Jacinta said that she did. Her cousin Lucia wrote what Jacinta revealed: “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.” She did so willingly and fervently (Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words, p. 60,

Jacinta would say, “O my Jesus! I love you, and I want to suffer very much for love of you.” While she was suffering, she would pray, “O Jesus! Now you can convert many sinners because this is really a big sacrifice!” (Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words, p. 62,

Carollo emphasized, “She was so focused on saving souls; she did everything with that in mind.”

Preiss concurred that the young saint exhibited a profound “understanding of suffering and offering up everything she encountered.”

St. John Paul II also highlighted this quality while beatifying Jacinta in 2000.  In his homily he said, “Little Jacinta felt and personally experienced Our Lady’s anguish, offering herself heroically as a victim for sinners.” He recalled when she told her brother Francisco, who was dying after contracting influenza, to give her “greetings to Our Lord and to Our Lady and tell them that I am enduring everything they want for the conversion of sinners.”

The Holy Father explained that Jacinta “had been so deeply moved by the vision of hell” during Fatima’s July apparition “that no mortification or penance seemed too great to save sinners. … She could well exclaim with St. Paul: ‘I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church’ (Colossians 1:24).”

Some were healed through her prayers, and Jacinta also became a fearless evangelist, unafraid to admonish sinners, telling them, “Don’t do that, for you are offending the Lord our God, and he is already so much offended.”

When Jacinta was ill, she refused the milk her mother wanted her to drink because she strongly disliked the dairy beverage. Lucia, who was visiting, asked her why she would not offer up drinking milk as a sacrifice to the Lord.

Immediately, Jacinta expressed sorrow, cried, called her mother and asked for forgiveness, and said she would drink the disliked beverage. Lucia witnessed how her cousin “drank it down without the slightest sign of repugnance” (Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words, p. 59,

Jacinta practiced what she preached to a heroic degree and prompted Francisco and Lucia to pray for sinners with her: “We must pray very much, to save souls from hell!” she would repeat. “So many go there!” She would tell Lucia, “I want to suffer for love of Our Lord and for sinners” (Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words, p. 59,

Carollo reflected upon Jacinta’s simplicity and her humility and what she accomplished through those virtues. “How many souls she helped save because of the adherence to the request of Our Lady — and to offer her life in reparation for the conversion of sinners. That’s the essence of her life. How profound for a girl not even 10 years old. She was a window to Our Lady.”

Above all, Jacinta learned, lived and gave to everyone the heart of the Fatima message. As she said, “God wishes to establish in the world devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. … Tell everybody that God grants us graces through the Immaculate Heart of Mary; that people are to ask her for them; and that the Heart of Jesus wants the Immaculate Heart of Mary to be venerated at his side” (Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words, p. 132, “Tell them also to pray to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for peace, since God has entrusted it to her. If I could only put into the hearts of all the fire that is burning within my own heart and that makes me love the Hearts of Jesus and Mary so very much!”


Joseph Pronechen is a

Register staff writer.