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.”