By Donal Anthony Foley –
Today is the feast of Blesseds Jacinta and Francisco Marto, and February 20 is the actual anniversary of Jacinta’s death in 1920 at the age of 10; Francisco died the previous year on April 4, 1919. The brother and sister were beatified by Pope St. John Paul II on May 13, 2000 at Fatima. During the Mass, Sister Lucia was there with Maria Emilia dos Santos, the Portuguese woman whose miraculous cure from osteo-tuberculosis in 1987, was attributed to the intercession of Francisco and Jacinta. This was the miracle required for their beatification, making them the youngest non-martyrs to be declared Blessed in the history of the Church.
Now 17 years later, there have been reports in the Portuguese media that the miracle required for the canonization of Jacinta and Francisco has passed the first phase. This was revealed by the rector of a Portuguese church in Rome, Msgr. Agostinho Borges, on Sunday, February 5. This report still awaits official Vatican confirmation, but is expected to come soon.
According to sources in Portugal, the miracle, which apparently concerns a Brazilian child, has cleared the first and most difficult official review, the medical and scientific review. Now it must undergo two further Vatican reviews before it can be definitively recognized as a genuine miracle.
If this is proved to be the case, then it is quite possible that the two children could be canonized this year. We know that Pope Francis is set to visit Fatima on May 13 for the Centenary celebration, but it is too early to speculate on whether he would canonize the two siblings then.
It was also reported recently that the diocesan inquiry for the Cause of Sister Lucia, the third of the Fatima seers, has been completed after eight years, and documentation running to more than 15,000 letters, testimonies and associated texts has been sent to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in the Vatican for approval, as part of the procedure for Sister Lucia’s Cause. Once approved, Sister Lucia could be declared “venerable.”
The three children were inseparable during life so it is very appropriate that their Causes are now apparently set to proceed further during this centenary year of the apparitions.
The important thing to remember is that the children were sanctified not because they saw Our Lady in 1917, but rather because they did what she asked of them with complete sincerity and trust and demonstrated heroic virtue in their lives. That is why they are on the road to sainthood – and that is surely the encouraging message for the rest of us, who are trying to follow in their footsteps as we take the Fatima message to heart.
Donal Anthony Foley is the author of a number of books on Marian Apparitions, including Marian Apparitions, the Bible, and the Modern World, and maintains a related web site at www.theotokos.org.uk. He has also written two time-travel/adventure books for young people – details can be found at: http://glaston-chronicles.co.uk/
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