Saints Francisco and Jacinta Marto

20th February

We are all called to holiness! Saints Francisco and Jacinta Marto succeeded to achieve heroic virtues in their simple life by the time they were just eleven and ten years old respectively.

They are the youngest sibling saints who did not die as martyrs but because they responded faithfully, even though they were children to the call to sanctity.

They were ordinary children, three illiterate young shepherds, who spent their days out in the fields, playing games, Francisco playing his flute, Jacinta singing and dancing, accompanied by their slightly older cousin Lucia. They also prayed, occasionally!

In 1916 the Angel of Peace appeared to them and delivered a message from God to them. The Angel asked them if they want to please God by offering prayers and sacrifices so that those who do not love God will be sorry and become God’s friends. They accepted this message from the Angel and lived faithfully their promise to the Angel. 

Then on the 13th May 1917, Our Lady appeared to them while they were tending their sheep as usual while they were ‘bathed in a mantle of light’. These apparitions continued on the 13th of every month until the 13th October 1917.

The message of Our Lady was consistent: to pray the Rosary and to offer prayers and sacrifices for Peace and Conversion.

Francisco died in 1919 and Jacinta in 1920, when they succumbed to the Spanish Flu, a virus that spread through Europe at the time (very similar to the widespread of the Coronavirus!)

They were declared saints not because of the Apparitions of Our Lady, but because although very young they lived their short life in a heroic way in spite of opposition, threats, and persecution even being put in prison.

Lucia, their cousin, became a Carmelite nun and lived to be 97. The local bishop had asked her to write the memories of their experiences, so that we know about these young saints is not through tradition, but from documentation by a person who lived through these experiences.

A glimpse of the First Apparition at Fatima is represented artistically in “The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima.” 

The heroic virtues of Francisco and Jacinta stemmed from their continuous efforts to offer sacrifices for people to return to loving God. They believed that “God was sad and wanted to comfort Him.” 

  • Discuss with the children what is “Sacrifice
  • Listen to their opinions
  • Then explain that ‘sacrifice’ actually means ‘to give something up’ and this something is something good in itself.
  • Lead them to realize how footballers, athletes, classical dancers, models have to give up a great deal of their free time, have to follow a diet, have continuous training… to be successful. (They might have their own examples)
  • Mention also missionaries who give up family, their country, their culture to spread the Faith.
  • Suggest that as Lent has just started you can decide on ideas of what they can give up during the weeks of Lent in preparation for Easter

The efforts of these young Christians will surely please Our Lord! Besides, their efforts will be their first steps in enhancing the virtue of self-control, a valuable quality in character building.

Our Lady of Fatima, requested repeatedly the praying of the Rosary. After becoming familiar with the narrative of the Apparitions of Fatima, you might consider introducing the Rosary to the children. . . in ‘small doses’.

You can prepare a shrine with a statue or picture of Our Lady.

Explain that Our Lady is our Loving Mother in heaven. She asked the Fatima children repeatedly to pray the Rosary, because it is a prayer that relates the life of Our Lady and how she was present during the life of Jesus on earth.

Start by teaching them the Our Father, the Hail Mary, and Glory Be.

Praying the Rosary at one go might not be a good idea, as it might be a practice that it is practically impossible to keep!

Consider praying only one decade on particular days, introducing the mystery of the decade beforehand and using pictures to illustrate the mystery. (Use Children’s Bible, or from Illustrated Books or Online sites.) You might pray more than one decade  but pray 3 Hail Mary Prayers instead of 10.

For Family Prayer Time

  • You can dedicate sessions for praying Mysteries from the Rosary
  • Dedicate sessions where children verbalize what they gave up as an offering of love to Jesus
  • Sing together the refrain from the Fatima Hymn dedicated to Our Lady, “ AVE, AVE, AVE MARIA

Francisco and Jacinta, together with their cousin Lucia, witnessed several apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary. These 2 children were canonized by Pope Francis in 2017. From these young children, we learn that we need to pray to God and Mother Mary and live on Jesus’ footsteps.


Let us follow Francisco and Jacinta by reciting the Rosary with your family members every day. Also, this week, encourage your friends to join the MUSEUM lessons and attend Mass. You can encourage them to visit to learn more about Jesus.

How to use this space

God speaks to us in many ways, including through the Saints of the Church. Here you will find useful background and activities to better understand the holy life, helping you to connect the saints to daily life in a meaningful way.