Francisco and Jacinta Marto were born to Manuel and Olimpia Marto. Francisco on the 11th June 1908, and Jacinta on 11th March 1910.
As young children they loved to sing and dance and every day after lunch they said the Rosary, but to make more time for play, they shortened it to the words “Our Father” followed by “Hail Mary” ten times, without finishing the rest of the prayers. This would soon change after a Heavenly visit.
In the spring of 1916, as the children watched their sheep, an Angel appeared to them in an olive grove. He asked the children to pray with him. He appeared again in midsummer at a well in their cousin Lucia’s garden, urging them to offer sacrifices to God in reparation for sinners. In a final appearance, at the end of the summer, the Angel held a bleeding Host over a chalice. He fell prostrate and prayed three times: “Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, I adore You profoundly and I offer You the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifference by which He Himself is offended. And by the infinite merits of His Most Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of you the conversion of poor sinners.” He gave the Sacred Host to Lucia and the Precious Blood from the Chalice to Jacinta and Francisco.
Between May 13 and October 13, 1917, three children, received apparitions of Our Lady at Cova da Iria, near Fatima, Portugal. At that time, Europe was involved in an extremely bloody war. Portugal itself was in political turmoil, having overthrown its monarchy in 1910; the government disbanded religious organizations soon after. Jacinta could see and hear Our Lady but she never spoke to Her, Francisco couldn’t hear Our Lady, he could only see her.
At the first appearance, Our Lady asked the children to return to that spot on the thirteenth of each month for the next six months. She also asked them to learn to read and write and to pray the Rosary “to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war.” They were to pray for sinners and for the conversion of Russia, which had recently overthrown Czar Nicholas II and was soon to fall under communism. Up to 90,000 people gathered for Our Lady’s final apparition on the 13th October 1917.
In August 1918, when World War I was nearing an end, Francisco and Jacinta both contracted influenza. They had short reprieves, but their decline was inevitable. In April of the following year, Francisco, knowing his time was short, asked to receive the Hidden Jesus for the first time in Holy Communion. The next morning, April 4th 1919, at 10am, he died with a glow on his shrunken face. He was buried the next day in a little cemetery in Fatima, across from the parish church, and in 1952 transferred to the Basilica at Cova da Iria
When Jacinta came down with influenza, she was removed from her family to a hospital a few miles away. She did not complain, because the Blessed Mother had forewarned her that she would go to two hospitals, not to be cured, but to suffer for the love of God and reparation for sinners. She stayed in the first hospital for two months, undergoing painful treatments, and then was returned home. She developed tuberculosis and was sent to Lisbon, first to a Catholic orphanage. There she was able to attend Mass and see the Tabernacle, and she was happy. But her stay there was short. She was soon transferred to the second hospital prophesied by the Blessed Mother, where Jacinta was to make her final offering in dying alone on the 20th February 1920. Her body came to rest in the Sanctuary built at the Cova da Iria, where Our Lady had appeared to her.
Pope John Paul II beatified Jacinta & Francisco Marto on the 13th May 2000.
In his homily at their beatification 0n the 13th May 2000, Pope John Paul II recalled that shortly before Francisco died, Jacinta said to him, “Give my greetings to Our Lord and to Our Lady and tell them that I am enduring everything they want for the conversion of sinners.”
Pope Francis canonised the two children on the 13th May 2017