Pope Francis

The Canonization of Saint John XXIII and Saint John Paul II photo by Aleteia is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Francisco and Jacinta will be canonized by Pope Francis in May.

Visionaries Francisco and Jacinta, the siblings who had a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima, will soon be canonized as saints by Pope Francis. The Pope announced his decision to canonize the two on the 13th of May when he will be celebrating a Mass in Fatima.

The children were tending the family’s flock of sheep when they saw a young woman beckoning to them. The woman, the Blessed Virgin Mary, revealed three secrets to them, that were closely guarded by the Vatican for a long time. Of the three children, only one survived into adulthood, Sister Lucia, who later went on to become a cloistered nun. Sister Lucia was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI. Her two younger siblings, who died in childhood, will be the youngest saints in history to have not been martyrs.

The decision to canonize them was taken by a consistory of Cardinals on April 20. The same consistory also decided on the dates for the canonization of a few other candidates.

Although the children were not martyrs, they were threatened to be killed by the local mayor who wanted them to stop talking about the apparitions. Portugal at that time was undergoing a huge political shift, with the monarchy coming to an end. The new system of government sought to separate Church and the state and limit religious liberty. The mayor, acting under the ordinances of this new government, threatened to boil them in hot oil if they didn’t change their story and admit that they were lying about the apparitions. The children, however, are reported to have said that they were not afraid of death and challenged the mayor to go ahead with whatever designs he had in mind.

Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins is the person behind advancing the cause of canonization for all three of the visionaries. In fact, he personally knew Sister Lucia. The Cardinal, who will be present for the ceremony, was responsible for getting the usual waiting period of five years after the person’s death reduced to just in the case of Sister Lucia. Martis observes that the heroic way in which the children accepted the threats of the mayor are very inspiring to the Christian life. 

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