Born on March 11, 1910, Jacinta de Marto is primarily known for being one of the three young shepherd children to witness the apparition of Our Lady of Fatima. But did you know that Jacinta was also the youngest person to be canonized a saint?
Though Jacinta experienced great personal tragedy, the peace and comfort she found in Our Lady of Fatima sustained her throughout her lifetime. Learn more about Jacinta’s life and where you can find her portrayed in the Basilica.
The Apparitions and Miracle of Fatima
Jacinta was only seven years old when the Blessed Mother first appeared to her and her siblings on May 13, 1917. Mary asked them to say the Rosary every day, and to come back on the 13th of each month. But Mary’s second appearance proved to be far more sobering than the first; it was then she showed them a vision of hell. The experience severely impacted Jacinta’s personality, transforming her from a loquacious, assertive girl into a serious, introspective person with a deep concern for others’ spiritual lives and eternal fate.
Our Lady appeared to the children a total of six times, culminating with the “Miracle of the Sun” on October 13, 1917, where thousands gathered to see her and witnessed the sun dance in the sky, according to accounts.
“The Secret” Given by Our Lady of Fatima
Mary told the children her name was “Our Lady of the Rosary,” and gave them a three-part message known as the “Secret,” which Lucia would later write about in her memoirs. The first part was a vision of hell, while the second predicted the end of World War I and the possibility of World War II. The third part of the secret was the story of a “bishop clothed in white” who was killed, which is believed to be a foreshadowing of the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II in 1981.
Jacinta’s Death and Canonization
Unfortunately, soon after the last vision, Jacinta’s family contracted the flu in the epidemic of 1918. At this time, Our Lady told Jacinta that Francisco would not survive, and asked her to convert more souls before the end of her life.
Her final days were marked by hardship and suffering: she had two ribs removed without complete sedation and resided in two different hospitals. When she passed away shortly before her tenth birthday, she was alone.
Even after her death, it was long before Jacinta’s virtues were formally recognized. Though the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima were recognized by the Church in 1930, it wasn’t until the 100th anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima that Jacinta and Francisco were canonized as saints.
You can find Saints Jacinta and Francisco portrayed in a white marble sculpture in the Rosary Walk and Garden at the Basilica.