Sr. Ângela de Fátima Coelho
A look at the canonisation of Saint Francisco and Saint Jacinta of Fátima.
They assured us rain. But instead we had sun, shining as if evoking the «mantle of light that enveloped us», while the Pope was here as a pilgrim, celebrating the mystery of the mercy of God which has been experienced in Fatima for 100 years.
The Holy Father made us look at the little shepherd children, «who were in that Light of God which was reflected from Our Lady. She enveloped them in the mantle of Light that God had given her.». And it was with great emotion that we heard his words: «with the authority of Our Lord Jesus Christ, of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul and Our […] we declare and define as Saints, Blessed Francisco and Jacinta Marto». These two little lamps whom God lit 100 years ago with the fire of His Spirit, shine now in the alters of the world. And how bright they glow!
On the facade of the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary, on either side of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, we contemplate their portraits signalling their holiness. Known by all as the little shepherds of Fatima, Francisco and Jacinta are now the youngest Saints in the History of the Church. From the altar of the world, they address and challenge the ecclesial community. From the top of the facade, Jacinta looks straight at us, challenging us to be conscious of the seriousness of life. With her bold and brave look she transmits to us the secret of her holiness: she lives to «do like Our Lord», as she once told her cousin Lucia.
There is no other way to holiness. The only model for holiness is Our Lord Jesus, through His way of being and acting. Guided by Holy Mary – whom the Pope presented as «Teacher of the spiritual life, the first to follow Christ through the narrow way of the Cross, setting the example» - Jacinta becomes more and more configured to Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, who gives His life for His sheep. Saint Jacinta offers her life for the Holy Father, for poor sinners, for «those who are most in need.» So one of the symbols which adorns her halo is precisely the heart. Jacinta is all heart, it is a life fully surrendered. How much life flowed to the Church from the « generosity of this other life» which was Jacinta.
The lamp that she carries in her hand shines with the light of the moon, a light that breaks through the darkness of the night. It is to all the nights of history, including our personal history, that this young Saint wants to be a friendly light, a powerful presence, albeit discreet. It is to all our nights of faith that Saint Jacinta repeats what Pope Francis also reminded us of: «We have a Mother!»
On the other hand, Saint Francisco Marto gazes upwards. Ever since «the Virgin Mary immersed them in the immense sea of the Light of God and lead them to adore Him» Francisco Marto found the purpose of his life. When Lucia asked him why he was silent and still Saint Francisco answered: « I’m thinking of God». Francisco thinks of God in the company of the Virgin Mary, whom, the Pope reminds us, «gave a human face to the Son of the eternal Father». Responding to Mary’s request to pray the Rosary every day, Francisco learns from Her to contemplate the face of his friend Jesus.
Francisco thinks of God in the silence of his Parish church, in the long hours of adoration before the hidden Jesus. Thus we find the Eucharistic Species adorning his halo. Francisco thinks of God wherever he is. During his hours of adoration in the solitude of Serra D’Aire, Saint Francisco lives in the presence of God, as an intercessor for others. How intense this dialogue between his humble shepherd’s heart and the heart of God!
The lamp he holds in his hand shining with the sun, speaks to us of the radiance of God which flooded Francisco and expresses the most profound truth of this boy: «what I liked the most was to see Our Lord, in that light that Our Lady put in our heart. I like God so much![…] We were burning in that light which is God and we did not get burnt. How is God!»
With his discreet and delicate look Saint Francisco Marto points us to hope.
He reminds us that the Virgin Mary wants to place in our hearts that light which is God. And this is the reason for our hope.
With Francisco and Jacinta’s canonisation, Pope Francis underlines that on them shone, in a special way, «the Face of God». They became «sentinels of the dawn», who alert in their faith, steadfast in their hope and profoundly generous in their love, teach us to await our Lord who is coming, and teach us to love Him present in the poorest and smallest. They teach us to « allow ourselves to be guided by the light of Fatima», a light which we now know leads us to holiness.
They invite us to be conscious that the mission of the Church is and always will be to «think of God» and «do like Our Lord.» This is why, as the Holy Father so well described we can «once again find in them the young and beautiful face of the Church.»
This article was originally published in the newspaper Voz de Fátima 13 June 2017.