THE WHOLE TRUTH ABOUT FATIMA, VOLUME II
THE SECRET AND THE CHURCH
“God Is so Sad. If Only I Could Console Him!”
(October 1917 – April 4, 1919)
Since May 13 and the first “ vision of God ” which Our Lady had granted to Her privileged ones, Francisco, who had a contemplative and tender heart, was continually animated by one thought, dominated by just one sentiment : The Blessed Virgin and God Himself are infinitely sad ; we must console Them.
I. THE GREAT SADNESS OF GOD
Here is an earth-shaking revelation which the Message of Fatima brings to light. Of course, God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit enjoy an infinite beatitude which nothing could ever alter. This is an unquestionable truth, taught also by theology. And yet a mysterious suffering, a real pain that sinners cause Him coexists in Him with this perfect joy, this unalloyed happiness which is lacking in nothing.
Yes, it is a mystery which makes sense only in the light of His incomprehensible love for His creatures : the love of a kind-hearted Father who goes so far as to deliver over His only and beloved Son to death (Jn. 3 :16; Rom. 8 :32), the love of a Spouse and a Brother who sheds for us all the Blood from His Heart, the love of a sweet Friend, a Defender and Consoler Who wishes to remain in our souls for ever. Because our rebellions grieve Him (Is. 63 :10), Saint Paul exhorts us « not to grieve the Holy Spirit of God. » (Eph. 4 :30)
WHEN GOD WEEPS. Yes, as mysterious as it might seem to us, God really “ suffers ”, He is sad because of our sins, our hardness of heart which makes us deaf to His appeals and draws down upon us His paternal chastisements : « But if you do not hear this warning, My soul shall weep in secret for your pride : weeping it shall weep, and My eyes shall run down with tears, because the flock of the Lord is carried away captive. » (Jer. 13 :17)
“ SORROWFUL EVEN UNTO DEATH. ” Jesus, the “ Image of the Father ”, His only and beloved Son, has given us a perfect expression of this “ Divine sorrow’’, for in a real sense He lived it in His soul : in His perfect sensibility as man, He wanted to be able to suffer, and to be vulnerable like us. In the garden of agony, He wanted to feel this human anguish even to the point of paroxysm, to the measure of His Divine sadness for our sins : “ My soul is sorrowful even unto death ” (Mk. 14 :34), “ and His sweat became as drops of blood falling to the ground. ” (Lk. 22 :44.) And this great sadness of the Son, is it not, indeed before all else, the great sadness of the Father ? “ For he who sees Me, sees the Father. ” (Jn. 14 :9)
“ IN AGONY UNTIL THE END OF THE WORLD. ” Yet, an even more astonishing mystery is that, even after rising from the dead, and being exalted up to Heaven where He sits in the Glory and infinite Joy of the Father, our Saviour still suffers, because of sins. As we read in the Epistle to the Hebrews, « they crucify again for themselves the Son of God and make Him a mockery… » (Heb. 6 :6) And it was He that Saul persecuted in the person of His disciples, who had become members of His body. (Acts 9 :56) Yes, the Passion of Jesus continues, although in a different manner, and it will continue until the end of the world, as long as ungrateful men continue to offend Him. 1
Is it not remarkable that, having willed to leave His Church the miraculous image of His Divine Face, Jesus chose to show it to us in a sorrowful state, imprinted with mortal sadness and all disfigured by the marks of His cruel Passion ? Our risen Saviour, who came forth glorious from the tomb, could have left us an image of His Face resplendent with glory. But He did not wish to do so. He chose to give to men His outraged Face to contemplate, the face of the “ Suffering Servant ”. Why ? So that this authentic photograph of His Body inscribed on His Shroud invite them, until the end of the world, to have compassion on Him and be converted. 2
“ CONSOLE YOUR GOD ! ” In this agony, Jesus looks for souls willing to console Him, just as He did at Gethsemane. « I looked for compassion, but in vain, and for someone to console Me, and I found none… » 3 At Paray-le-Monial, Jesus will make the same complaint and the same appeal to St. Margaret Mary, showing her His Heart surrounded by thorns. 4
The life of little Francisco was marked by this stupefying revelation, this revelation of the Heart of God, this sadness which is the highest and unmistakeable mark of His love for us. This is the great message Francisco bequeaths to us.
« GOD IS SO SAD, BECAUSE OF SO MANY SINS ! »
Francisco once confided to his sister and cousin :
« I loved seeing the Angel, but I loved still more seeing Our Lady. What I loved most of all was to see Our Lord in that light from Our Lady which penetrated our hearts. I love God so much ! But He is so sad because of so many sins ! We must never commit any sins again. » 5
This unspeakable sorrow was what moved the little seer the most, when he was again introduced by the Blessed Virgin into the Divine Light and the very mystery of God on June 13 and July 13. At that time he pronounced these striking words : « What is God ?… We could never put it into words. Yes, that is something indeed which we could never express ! But what a pity it is that He is so sad ! If only I could console Him !… » 6 Francisco’s words are mysterious, but ever so profoundly significant. In their laconic conciseness, they are certainly more true and more useful than so much vain speculation by philosophers about a Divine impassibility which only appears to men as the mark and the sign of a cold, dry, lonely heart, which can love neither itself nor anybody else. But if God shows that He is sad because of our sins, it is because He has an infinite love for us, 7 as a loving Father Who pardons repentant hearts, but knows that He will have to chastise in a terrible manner, rebellious and hardened hearts who prove deaf to all His advances.
On August 19, and again on October 13, Our Lady showed Herself as very afflicted. In this contemplation, Francisco found his own vocation, the end of his whole life : to console God and console Our Lady.
« I WOULD LIKE TO CONSOLE OUR LORD »
Here is Sister Lucy’s own account of what her cousin confided to her :
« I asked him one day (doubtless shortly after October 13, 1917) : “ Francisco, which do you like better : to console Our Lord, or to convert sinners, so that no more souls go to Hell ?’’ “ I would rather console Our Lord. Didn’t you notice how sad Our Lady was that last month when She said that people must not offend Our Lord any more, for He is already much offended ? I would like to console Our Lord, and after that, convert sinners, so that they won’t offend Him any more. ” » 8
Already in 1916, at the Cabeço, the Angel had invited them to make reparation for the offences against the Eucharistic Jesus and to console Him. Before giving them His broken Body and His Blood poured out for us, he said : « Take and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, horribly a outraged by ungrateful men. Make reparation for their crimes and console your God. » As we will see, soon, at Pontevedra, Our Lady will make the same request to Lucy, with insistence : « You, at least, try to console Me... »
But how can we fulfil this sublime office ? By prayer and sacrifices. Francisco had understood this well.
TO CONSOLE GOD BY PRAYER. Since he prayed above all to console his God, Francisco felt moved by grace to look for solitude. He loved to be alone with God, heart to Heart with Him.
« He spoke little (Lucy recalls), and whenever he prayed or offered sacrifices, he preferred to go apart and hide, even from Jacinta and myself. Quite often, we surprised him hidden behind a wall or a clump of blackberry bushes, whither he had ingeniously slipped away to kneel and pray, or, as he used to say, “ to think of Our Lord, who is so sad on account of so many sins. ”
« If I asked him : “ Francisco, why don’t you ask me to pray with you, and Jacinta too ? ” “ I prefer praying by myself ”, he would answer, “ so that I can think and console Our Lord, Who is so sad ! ” » 9
TO CONSOLE GOD BY SUFFERING. Prayer and sacrifice are the two great inseparable means – for the one cannot please God without the other – by which God wishes to be consoled for all the outrages He receives from sinners.
To sacrifice ourselves means, before all else, to accept all the sufferings which God sends us :
« From time to time, Francisco used to say : “ Our Lady told us that we would have much to suffer, but I don’t mind. I’ll suffer all that She wishes ! What I want is to go to Heaven ! ”
« One day, when I showed how unhappy I was over the persecution now beginning both in my family and outside, Francisco tried to encourage me with these words : “ Never mind ! Didn’t Our Lady say that we would have much to suffer, to make reparation to Our Lord and to Her own Immaculate Heart for all the sins by which They are offended ? They are so sad ! If we can console Them with these sufferings, how happy shall we be ! ” » 10
This same constant determination to console Our Lord and the Immaculate Heart of Mary inspired Francisco with the desire to make sacrifices. Here is a charming episode reported by Sister Lucy :
« On our way to my home one day, we had to pass by my godmother’s house. She had just been making a mead drink, and called us in to give us a glass. We went in, and Francisco was the first to whom she offered a glassful. He took it, and without drinking it, he passed it on to Jacinta, so that she and I could have a drink first. Meanwhile, he turned on his heel and disappeared. “ Where is Francisco ? ” my godmother asked. “ I don’t know ! He was here just now. ”
« He did not return, so Jacinta and I thanked my godmother for the drink and went in search of Francisco. We knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that he would be sitting on the edge of a well which I have mentioned so often. “ Francisco, you didn’t drink your glass of mead ! My godmother called you so many times, and you did not appear ! ” “ When I took the glass, I suddenly remembered I could offer that sacrifice to console Our Lord, so while you two were taking a drink, I ran over here. ” » 11
GIVING UP DANCING AND SINGING AS A SACRIFICE. Although they were used to making these little sacrifices – and their life as children offered them plenty of opportunities for such sacrifices each day – we must not imagine that our three shepherds went around like long-faced ascetics. Sister Lucy repeated many times that « we continued to play as before ».
They remained so simple, so spontaneous, so utterly lacking in ostentation and contentiousness, that their neighbours quickly tended to forget the heavenly graces with which Heaven had favoured them. And their little companions the same age still expected Lucy to organise the games and merrymaking on feast days, as she did before the apparitions.
More than once, Lucy recalled in her Memoirs that Francisco himself intervened to encourage her to resist these pressing requests of the little children. Since his mind had often dwelt on the great sorrow of God, he felt spontaneously that they at least, to whom the Blessed Virgin had manifested Her immense affliction, should no longer participate in certain games or diversions, however innocent they might be in themselves.
One day, Lucy’s godmother had all three of the children over, as well as a group of children from the neighbourhood, to have the pleasure of seeing them sing and dance :
« The women of the neighbourhood no sooner heard the lively singing than they came over to join us, and at the end they asked us to sing it through again. Francisco, however, came up to me and said : “ Let’s not sing that song any more. Our Lord certainly does not want us to sing songs like that now. ” We therefore slipped away from the other children, and ran off to our favourite well. » 12
No, Francisco realised quite well that they could no longer entertain themselves like ordinary children.
THE CARNIVAL OF 1918. « Meanwhile, it was getting near carnival time, in 1918. The boys and girls met once again that year to prepare the usual festive meals and fun of those days. Each one brought something from home – such as olive oil, flour, meat, and so on – to one of the houses, and the girls then did the cooking for a sumptuous banquet. All those three days, feasting and dancing went on well into the night, above all on the last day of the Carnival.
« The children under fourteen had their own celebration in another house. Several of the girls came to help me organise their festival. At first, I refused. But finally, I gave in like a coward, especially after hearing the pleading of Jose Carreira’s sons and daughter, for it was he who had placed his home in Casa Velha at our disposal. He and his wife insistently asked me to go there. I yielded then, and went with a crowd of youngsters to see the place. There was a fine large room, almost as big as a hall, which was well suited for the amusements, and a spacious yard for the supper ! Everything was arranged, and I came home, outwardly in a most festive mood, but inwardly with my conscience protesting loudly.
« As soon as I met Jacinta and Francisco, I told them what had happened. “ Are you going back to those parties and games ? ” Francisco asked sternly. “ Have you already forgotten that we promised never to do that any more ? ” “ I didn’t want to go at all. But you can see how they never stopped begging me to go; and now I don’t know what to do ! ”
« There was indeed no end to the entreaties, nor to the number of girls who came insisting that I play with them. Some even came from far distant villages. » (And Lucy – once again demonstrating her uniquely gifted memory – enumerates here all her little companions’ names !) « How could I so suddenly let down all those girls, who seemed not to know how to enjoy themselves without my company, and make them understand that I had to stop going to these gatherings once and for all ?
« God inspired Francisco with the answer : “ Do you know how you could do it ? Everybody knows that Our Lady has appeared to you. Therefore, you can say that you have promised Her not to dance any more, and for this reason you are not going ! Then, on such days, we can run away and hide in the cave on the Cabeço ! Up there nobody will find us. ”
« I accepted his suggestion, and once I had made my decision, nobody else thought of organising any such gathering. God’s blessing was with us. Those friends of mine, who until then sought me out to have me join in their amusements, now followed my example, and came to my home on Saturday afternoons to ask me to go with them to pray the Rosary in the Cova da Iria. » 13
From now on, the children would flee from too noisy companions. What they sought above all was solitude. There, in the blessed hollow where the Angel appeared to them, either at Arneiro near the well, or near the hollow of Cabeço, they could not be found by curious and nosy people. They were in prayer for long hours, prostrate, and repeating the prayers of the Angel.
« Once the apparitions on each 13th of the month were over, he said to us on the eve of every following 13th : “ Look ! Early tomorrow morning, I’m making my escape out through the back garden to the cave on the Cabeço. As soon as you can, come and join me there. ” » 14
II. A COMPASSIONATE HEART
Just as he was sensitive to the “ sorrow ” of God, Francisco was also sensitive to the needs of the sick and the suffering. In a few brief episodes from the Memoirs, Lucy shows how good and charitable her cousin was.
« Thereabouts, lived an old woman called Ti Maria Carreira, whose sons sent her out sometimes to take care of their goats and sheep. The animals were rather wild, and often strayed away in different directions. Whenever we met Ti Maria in these straits, Francisco was the first to run to her aid. He helped her to lead the flock to pasture, chased after the stray ones and gathered them all together again. The poor old woman overwhelmed Francisco with her thanks and called him her dear guardian angel. » 15
Francisco was not only eager to help people, he also had a tender heart, full of affection, with an extraordinary inclination for pity and compassion. One anecdote Sister Lucy relates for us illustrates very well this dominant trait of his character, which was reinforced still more by the grace of the apparitions :
« When we came across any sick people, he was filled with compassion and said : “ I can’t bear to see them, as I feel so sorry for them ! Tell them I’ll pray for them. ”
« When we were called to speak to speak to people who were looking for us, he would ask if they were sick and say : “ If they’re sick, I’m not going ! they cause me too much suffering ! Tell them I’m praying for them. ”
« One day, they wanted to take us to Montelo, to the home of a man called Joaquim Chapeleta. Francisco did not want to go. “ I’m not going, because I can’t bear to see people who want to speak and cannot. ” (The man’s mother was dumb.) » 16
What a loving and sensitive heart he demonstrates here ! For from compassion he passes to acts of charity. Indeed, one of his virtues was the seriousness and intensity with which he set about praying for those who had confided their intentions to him. Lucy gives many other touching examples of this in the Memoirs.
A FAITHFUL AND EFFICACIOUS INTERCESSOR
Here is one episode which gives a marvellous picture of the atmosphere in which the children lived, in the period following the apparitions. Sister Lucy records it :
« One day, we were just outside Aljustrel, on our way to the Cova da Iria, when a group of people came upon us by surprise around the bend in the road. In order to see and hear us better, they set Jacinta and myself on top of a wall. Francisco refused to let himself be put there, as though he were afraid of falling. Then, little by little, he edged his way out and leaned against a dilapidated wall on the opposite side.
« A poor woman and her son, seeing that they could not manage to speak to us personally, as they wished, went and knelt down in front of Francisco. They begged him to obtain from Our Lady the grace that the father of the family would be cured and that he would not have to go to the war. Francisco knelt down also, took off his cap, and asked if they would like to pray the Rosary with him. They said they would, and began to pray. Very soon, all those people stopped asking curious questions, and also went down on their knees to pray. After that, they went with us to the Cova da Iria, reciting a Rosary along the way. Once there, we said another Rosary, and then they went away, quite happy. The poor woman promised to come back and thank Our Lady for the graces she had asked for, if they were granted.
« She came back several times, accompanied not only by her son but also her husband, who had by now recovered. (They came from the parish of St. Mamede, and we called them the Casaleiros). » 17
When prayers were requested of him, Francisco always kept his promise : he would pray with all his heart, and he would always obtain the grace requested.
III. « I WANT TO DIE AND GO TO HEAVEN ! »
During the apparition of June 13, Lucy had made a request, a request as full of daring as it was of love : « I would like to ask you to take us to Heaven. » The kind Virgin deigned to give a clear answer : « Yes, I will take Francisco and Jacinta soon. » From now on they knew what their future would be : Jacinta and Francisco knew that they did not have very long to live in this world. 18
This certitude of going to Heaven – which was transformed into a courageous acceptance, and then a firm act of the will, a heroic decision – along with the consideration of the immense sorrow of God is what best explains the behaviour of Francisco, and the amazing progress he made in such little time. For only eighteen months passed between the apparition of October 13 and the day of his death.
“ I DON’T WANT TO DO ANYTHING… I WANT TO DIE AND GO TO HEAVEN ! ” We have many moving testimonies of this clear knowledge concerning their future, demonstrated by Jacinta and Francisco. Ti Marto relates the following anecdote, recorded by Father de Marchi :
« One day, two ladies were talking to Francisco. They wanted to know what career he would choose when he grew up.
« “ Do you want to be a carpenter ? ” one of them asked. “ No, ma’am. ” Another said : “ A soldier, then ? ” “ No, ma’am. ” “ Would you like to be a doctor ? ” “ Not that either. ” “ I know what you’d like to be… a priest ! To say Mass… hear confessions, preach… isn’t that true ? ” “ No, ma’am, I don’t want to be a priest. ” “ Then what do you want to be ? ” “ I don’t want to be anything !… I want to die and go to Heaven. ”
« Ti Marto, who was present at this conversation, offered his own comment : “ Now there was a real decision !… ” » 19
“ A LITTLE WHILE LONGER, AND THEN I’LL GO TO HEAVEN ! ” Everything Francisco ever said bore witness to this fact : he was anxious to go to Heaven soon, but like the true mystic he was already, he was not thinking only of his own joy, but that of Jesus as well : « Soon (he exclaimed) Jesus will come to look for me to take me to Heaven with Him, and then I will be with Him always to see Him and console Him. What happiness ! » 20
While he waited for this day, whenever possible he used to go down on his knees before the Tabernacle :
« Sometimes on the way to school, before we reached Fatima, Francisco would say to me : “ Listen ! While you go to school, I’ll stay with the Hidden Jesus. It’s not worth it for me to learn to read. Soon I will go to Heaven. When you come back, come and look for me here. ”
« The Blessed Sacrament was kept at that time near the entrance of the church, on the left side, as the church was undergoing repairs. Francisco went over there, between the baptismal font and the altar, and that was where I found him on my return. » 21
At this time the three seers were no longer of any use around the house – indeed, since autumn of 1918 the family flock had been sold – and so they could go more often to school at Fatima. Francisco had begun going to school – although no doubt very rarely – between February and July of 1918. We know this through one of his fellow students who became a priest, Father Antonio dos Reis, whom Francisco had begun to go around with, albeit doubtless infrequently, between February and July 1917.
Francisco was very much behind in his studies. After the apparitions, he had to endure persecution and sarcastic remarks from his teacher, a man devoid of either faith or morals, who treated the boy as a lazy, false visionary. Father dos Reis adds that his schoolmates would gang up on him, and the poor boy would have to spend recreation pinned to a wall, to try to defend himself against the ill-treatment which the stronger and hardier ones did not hesitate to inflict on him. 22 Did this ill-treatment continue when Francisco returned to school after October, 1917 ? We do not know.
In any case, during the process of beatification, the “ devil’s advocate ” surely did not fail to bring forth this testimony to call into question the disinterestedness of our seer… For when Francisco spent long hours at the foot of the Tabernacle when school was going on, was it not an “ escape ” for him, to get away from the insults he was suffering there ? As natural as this hypothesis might seem, it is groundless. For we know that far from complaining, Francisco, always humble, gentle and patient, put up with all these affronts without saying anything, even to the point that his parents never found out about it. However, all he had to do to put an end to this unjust persecution was to tell his father, who would have stepped in. For that matter, perhaps, his father would have excused him from going to school. Indeed at that time, for young peasant children, going to school was not mandatory at all ; parents never sent their children there unless they had nothing useful for them to do at the house. Thus the context is quite different from our own ; it explains the liberty our seer took in choosing to remain at the foot of the Tabernacle rather than go to school. In acting this way he considered himself disobedient neither to Our Lady nor his own parents.
A precise recollection on Sister Lucy’s part shows that when he went to church, it was not to take the easy way out, or to get out of school, but in a courageous spirit he wished to do everything he could to console Our Lord :
« On another occasion, as we left the house, I noticed that Francisco was walking very slowly : “ What’s the matter ? ” I asked him. “ You seem unable to walk ! ” “ I’ve such a bad headache, and I feel as though I’m going to fall. ” “ Then don’t come. Stay at home ! ” “ I don’t want to. I’d rather stay in the church with the Hidden Jesus, while you go to school. ” » 23
“ I’LL STAY WITH THE HIDDEN JESUS, AND I’LL ASK HIM FOR THAT GRACE… ” Sometimes, to intercede more at length and more fervently in favour of those who had requested it, Francisco would decide to spend the whole morning before the Tabernacle, as Sister Lucy relates :
« He came out of the house one day and met me with my sister Teresa, who was already married and living in Lomba. Another woman from a nearby hamlet had asked her to come to me about her son who had been accused of some crime which I no longer remember, and if he could not prove his innocence he was to be condemned, either to exile or to a term of some years’ imprisonment. Teresa asked me insistently, in the name of the poor woman for whom she wished to do such a favour, to plead for this grace with Our Lady.
« Having received the message, I set out for school, and on the way, I told my cousins all about it. When we reached Fatima, Francisco said to me : “ Listen ! While you go to school, I’ll stay with the Hidden Jesus, I’ll ask Him for that grace. ”
« When I carne out of school, I went to call him and asked : “ Did you pray to Our Lord to grant that grace ? ” “ Yes, I did. Tell your sister Teresa that he’ll be home in a few days’ time. ”
« And indeed, a few days later, the poor boy returned home. On the 13th, he and his entire family came to thank Our Lady for the grace they had received. » 24
How did Francisco know that his prayer had been heard ? We do not know. In any case, on that day he showed signs of the assurance the saints show when they prophesy or perform miracles… Thus he demonstrated his own intimacy with God and the profound self-denial which it presupposes…
« I will suffer everything Our Lady wants », he said again ; « what I want is to go to Heaven. » Such words are precious pearls which introduce us right away to the essence of the Message of Fatima : Yes, Heaven first ! Only Heaven counts, because it is the final end to which we are all destined ! To desire, in all truthfulness and sincerity of soul, nothing more than to “ go to Heaven ” – is this not to already have made the sacrifice of all creatures and one’s whole life ? Is it not already true sanctity ? Having reached this stage, Francisco was ready for the final sacrifices.
IV. AN EXEMPLARY PATIENT
(OCTOBER 1918 – APRIL 1919)
The prophetic words Our Lady had pronounced on May 13, in response to the generous offering of Her three confidants, was fulfilled to the letter : « You will have much to suffer, but the grace of God will be your comfort », She had foretold to them. And in fact, after this promise was made, the greatest joys were mingled with tears for the three shepherds. If they remained happy and smiling, it is because they knew how to accept with a good heart all the sufferings which the Lord had sent them.
After the persecutions, and the trial of non-stop interrogations, there now followed a heavier cross, that of sickness.
THE FIRST MONTHS OF SICKNESS : OCTOBER – DECEMBER 1918
Towards the end of October 1918 – only a year had gone by since the last apparitions – Jacinta, who was still only eight, and Francisco, who was only ten, came down at about the same time with a terrible case of influenza. The epidemic originated in Spain and was then ravaging almost all of Europe. It was particularly deadly in Portugal. Usually the malady rapidly developed into bronchial pneumonia, as was the case with Jacinta and Francisco.
Soon everybody was sick in the Marto house, and at the same time. Only Ti Manuel and his son John were left standing. Then finally, Ti Marto was left all alone to care for his entire household… What a trial ! « (But the finger of God showed itself even there », he confided later on. « God helped me… I never had to ask anybody for money. » 25
Luckily, after a few weeks, everything went back to normal. Francisco and Jacinta got better, and they could get up again. But there was only a brief time of respite, for on December 23, Francisco and Jacinta fell gravely ill again. 26 « The force of the illness was so violent », recalled their mother Olimpia, « that this time Francisco especially could not even move any more. » For fifteen days he was struck by an intense fever.
A HEROIC PATIENCE. In spite of everything, Lucy reports, « he always appeared joyful and content. I asked him sometimes : “ Are you suffering a lot, Francisco ? ” “ Quite a lot, but never mind ! I am suffering to console Our Lord, and afterwards, within a short time, I am going to Heaven ! ” » 27
In another passage of the Memoirs, Sister Lucy recalls :
« During his illness, he suffered with heroic patience, without ever letting the slightest moan or the least complaint escape his lips. One day, shortly before his death, I asked him : “ Are you suffering a lot, Francisco ? ” “ Yes, but I suffer it all for love of Our Lord and Our Lady. ”
« One day, he gave me the rope that I have already spoken about, saying : “ Take it away before my mother sees it. I don’t feel able to wear it any more around my waist. ”
« He took everything his mother offered him, and she could never discover which things he disliked. He went on like this until the day came for him to go to Heaven. » 28
His mother Olimpia, for her part, told Father de Marchi :
« The child took all the medicine I gave him. He never made a fuss. I never could figure out what pleased him. Poor child !… Even bitter medicines he drank without making a face. Thus, we thought he would get over the sickness. But why ?… He kept saying that it was all useless, that Our Lady would come to take him to Heaven. » 29
« OUR LADY CAME TO SEE US »
Indeed, the Blessed Virgin came to visit Her two privileged ones, and renew to them Her promise of June 13, 1917 :
« In the meantime Jacinta’s health improved somewhat. She could get up and she spent the day seated at her little brother’s bed.
« One day she called for me, telling me to come over to her right away. As I ran over, she told me : “ Our Lady came to see us, and She said that She would come to take Francisco soon, to take him to Heaven ”… » 30
As for Jacinta, as we will see later on, she was to remain a little while longer, to continue to suffer and to convert more sinners.
Did this apparition perhaps take place around Christmas 1918 ? From then on, Francisco knew that the day of his departure for Heaven was quite near.
« HE KNEW EXACTLY WHAT HIS DESTINY WAS ! »
“ OUR LADY WILL COME TO TAKE ME SOON. ” « In the middle of January, his mother recalls, he began to get better for the second time, even to where he could get up. We were all happy over that. He, himself, knew otherwise, and he kept repeating the same thing ; “ Our Lady will come to take me soon. ”
« “ You will get well, Francisco, you’ll be a robust man ! ” his father would say to him… But the child would repeat, with assurance and serenity : “ Before long Our Lady will come to take me. ” His father would try furtively, to wipe away the tears from his eyes with the back of his calloused hands ; those same eyes which were fatigued from so many sleepless nights. “ Lights from on high ! ” he murmured.
« “ If Our Lady heals you ”, said his godmother Teresa, “ I promise to offer Her your weight in wheat ! ” “ It’s not worth the trouble ”, Francisco answered with a gentle smile. “ Our Lady will not grant you this grace. ” » 31
All these firmly worded answers of Francisco concerning his future were pronounced with « a mysterious aura and an impressive tone ». 32
“ HE SAID NOTHING, LOOKING A LITTLE SAD. ” Francisco was certain of going to Heaven soon, and being reunited with Our Lord and Our Lady. No doubt this filled our little seer with an immense supernatural joy. But we should not be mistaken : this joy was not always a palpable one, and the wonderful promise of Our Lady demanded on his part an act of heroic love, an act which is so contrary to nature, and consists in making the sacrifice of our own life. If there were moments of luminous joy and luminous hope, there were other moments when all feelings of joy disappeared : at those times he saw nothing but the sacrifices he had to accept to fulfil God’s designs. Here is one such moving incident, which Ti Marto told Father de Marchi :
« I remember once that he went out and fetched a small basket of olives and then sat on a bench and began to cut them. “ Francisco ”, I said, “ how nice to see you work ; do you feel better ? ” But he said nothing, looking a little sad. He clearly foresaw that, despite everything, he was going to die… “ He knew exactly what his destiny was ”, Olimpia concluded. » 33
THE LAST PILGRIMAGE TO THE COVA DA IRIA. In the short space of time when he began to feel a little better, the middle of January to early February, he was able to go to the Cova da Iria. We can imagine what an emotional experience it was. He knew that it was the last time he would visit this blessed place !
« And in fact, a few days later, he returned to bed never to rise from it again. His condition became steadily worse until his parents at last realised that they would lose him. Every encouraging word of theirs brought forth the same reply : “ It’s no use. Our Lady wants me in Heaven with Her. ”
« And yet he was so cheerful, so happy and smiling that the illusion remained until the end. The high fever was gradually and implacably undermining his enfeebled body until only a thread held him to earth. » 34
THE CONSOLER OF THE SACRED HEARTS OF JÉSUS AND MARY
As soon as she finished her household chores, Lucy would go to her cousins’ house to keep them company. The other two kept no secrets from Lucy.
The constant thought and ideal of Francisco was always the same. He wanted to offer all his prayers and sufferings to console Our Lord and Our Lady :
« When Jacinta and I went into his room one day, he said to us : “ Don’t talk much today, as my head aches so badly. ” “ Don’t forget to make the offering for sinners ”, Jacinta reminded him. “ Yes. But first I make it to console Our Lord and Our Lady, and then, afterwards, for sinners and for the Holy Father. ” » 35
He was quite conscious of the fact that his special role was that of consoler of the Holy Hearts of Jesus and Mary. This was to be his vocation here below and in eternity. For if he desired to go to Heaven, it was to be able to console Them that much better :
« On another occasion, I found him very happy when I arrived. “ Are you better ? ” “ No. I feel worse. It won’t be long now till I go to Heaven. When I’m there, I’m going to console Our Lord and Our Lady very much. Jacinta is going to pray a lot for sinners, for the Holy Father and for you. You will stay here, because Our Lord wants it that way. Listen, you must do everything that She tells you. » 36
His greatest regret was that he could no longer spend long hours before the Tabernacle, as he once did, to console the “ Hidden Jesus ”.
« Later, when he fell ill, he often told me, when I called in to see him on my way to school : “ Look ! Go to the church and give my love to the Hidden Jesus. What hurts me most is that I cannot go there myself and stay awhile with the Hidden Jesus. ”
« When I arrived at the house one day, I said goodbye to a group of school children who had come with me, and I went in to pay a visit to him and his sister. As he had heard all the noise, he asked me : “ Did you come with all that crowd ? ” “ Yes, I did. ” “ Don’t go with them, because you might learn to commit sins. When you come out of school, go and stay for a little while near the Hidden Jesus, and afterwards come home by yourself. ” » 37
What supernatural wisdom and what love of God is this brotherly suggestion ! It manifests a soul already utterly imbued with the presence of God, completely transformed by the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
So as not to lose this Divine Presence, Francisco preferred to be alone :
« If he was asked whether he wanted some of the children to stay with him and keep him company, he used to say that he preferred not, as he liked to be alone. He would say to me sometimes : “ I just like having you here, and Jacinta too. ” » 38
Indeed their presence did not deprive him of the presence of God. Together, they could pray, or speak about Heaven and the words of Our Lady.
THE RADIANCE OF SANCTITY
« When grown-ups came to see him, he remained silent, only answering when directly questioned, and then in as few words as possible. People who came to visit him, whether they were neighbours or strangers, often spent long periods sitting by his bedside, and remarked : “ I don’t know what it is about Francisco, but it feels so good to be here ! ”
« Some women from the village commented on this one day to my aunt and my mother, after having spent quite a long time in Francisco’s room : “ It’s a mystery one cannot fathom ! They are children just like any others, they don’t say anything to us, and yet in their presence one feels something one can’t explain, and that makes them different from all the rest. ” “ It seems to me that when we go into Francisco’s room, we feel just as we do when we go into a church ”, said one of my aunt’s neighbours, a woman named Romana, who apparently did not believe in the apparitions. There were three others in this group also : the wives of Manuel Faustino, José Marto, and José Silva. 39
Lucy goes on to explain this astonishing influence exercised by her companions over their visitors by their simple presence, their attitudes and the few words they spoke, for Jacinta spoke more readily than her older brother :
« I am not surprised that people felt like that, being accustomed to finding in everyone else only the preoccupation with material things which goes with an empty, superficial life. Indeed, the very sight of these children was enough to draw their minds to our Heavenly Mother, with whom the children were believed to be in communication ; to eternity, for they saw how eager, joyful and happy they were at the thought of going there ; to God, for they said that they loved Him more than their own parents ; and even to Hell, for the children warned them that people would go there if they continued to commit sin. » 40
Eternity, Heaven and Hell, the love of our Father and our Heavenly Mother – here lay the whole Message of Fatima which they lived so profoundly, whose light they reflected, and which they preached by their whole life. What a testimony !
A SAINT WHO WORKS MIRACLES. In her Memoirs, Sister Lucy reports several cases where true miracles of grace were worked through the prayer of the little seer.
One day, a woman from Alqueidao came to ask for the healing of a sick person and the conversion of a sinner. Since Lucy and Jacinta had the time to hide, fleeing the company of the group of visitors, Francisco received them alone in his bedroom. He promised to pray.
Not long after his death, the same woman returned to Aljustrel. She asked where Francisco’s tomb was, for she wished to thank him for the two graces which she had asked for and obtained through his intercession. 41 Then Lucy mentions another case.
« A woman called Mariana, from Casa Velha, came one day into Francisco’s room. She was most upset because her husband had driven their son out of the house, and she was asking for the grace that her son would be reconciled with his father. Francisco said to her in reply : “ Don’t worry. I’m going to Heaven very soon, and when I get there I will ask Our Lady for that grace. ”
« I do not recall just how many days remained before he took his flight to Heaven, but what I do remember is that, on the very afternoon of Francisco’s death, the son went to ask pardon of his father, who had previously refused it because his son would not submit to the conditions imposed. The boy accepted everything that the father demanded, and peace reigned once again in that home. This boy’s sister, Leocadia by name, later married a brother of Francisco and Jacinta. » 42
Once again, Francisco had shown himself to be a faithful intercessor.
V. THE DEATH OF A SAINT
« Suddenly Francisco’s condition grew worse. He could no longer cough up the phlegm ; his throat became blocked ; the fever grew worse ; only with difficulty could he take any medicine ; the weakness and exhaustion grew rapidly, giving away the fact that the end was near. » 43
In barely six months, the terrible malady had overcome his robust health. At one time Francisco recited as many as seven or eight Rosaries a day – a fact which Olimpia confirmed – but now he was so weak that evening would come before he had the strength to say just one. This greatly afflicted Francisco. No longer being able to pray, he felt that the end was near and he asked Father Ferreira to let him receive Holy Communion before he died.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 2 : « I AM GOING TO CONFESSION
SO THAT I CAN RECEIVE HOLY COMMUNION AND THEN DIE. »
As Mr. Marto went to the presbytery he recited the Rosary on the way, overcome with anguish and desolation. Would the implacable Father Ferreira finally grant to his poor Francisco the favour of being able to receive Communion ? Had he not excluded Francisco from the Holy Table yet again in May 1918, on the pretext that the boy was still unsure of a point concerning the Creed ? Ti Marto remembered how Francisco had come back to the house in tears. 44
Nevertheless, on April 2, 1919, the parish priest of Fatima was surely touched, and he agreed to come without delay, the very same day, to visit the poor dying boy.
“ TELL ME IF YOU HAVE SEEN ME COMMIT ANY SIN… ” In the meantime, Francisco prepared himself, and with what seriousness ! He wanted to be sure that he had confessed all his faults, without forgetting a single one. It was still early in the morning when he sent his sister Teresa to get Lucy :
« “ Come quickly to our house ! Francisco is very bad, and he says he wants to tell you something. ” I dressed as fast as I could, and went over there. He asked his mother and brothers and sisters to leave the room, saying that he wanted to tell me a secret. They went out, and he said to me : “ I am going to confession so that I can receive Holy Communion and then die. I want you to tell me if you have seen me commit any sin, and then go and ask Jacinta if she has seen me commit any. ” “ You disobeyed your mother a few times, when she told you to stay at home, and you ran off to be with me, or to go and hide. ” “ That’s true. I remember that. Now go and ask Jacinta if she remembers anything else. ”
« I went, and Jacinta thought for a while, and answered : “ Well, tell him that before Our Lady appeared to us, he stole a coin from our father to buy a music box from José Marto of Casa Velha ; and when the boys from Aljustrel threw stones at those from Boleiros, he threw some too ! ”
« When I gave him this message from his sister, he answered : “ I’ve confessed those, but I’ll do so again. Maybe, it is because of these sins that I committed that Our Lord is so sad ! But even if I don’t die, I’ll never commit them again. I’m heartily sorry for them now. ” Joining his hands, he recited the prayer : “ O my Jesus, forgive us, deliver us from the fire of Hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who are most in need. ”
« Then he said : “ Now listen, you must also ask Our Lord to forgive me my sins. ” “ I’ll ask that, don’t worry. If Our Lord had not forgiven them already, Our Lady would not have told Jacinta the other day that She was coming soon to take you to Heaven. Now, I’m going to Mass, and there I’ll pray to the Hidden Jesus for you. ” “ Then, please ask Him to let the parish priest give me Holy Communion. ” (He also was apprehensive ; not having made his First Communion in church, he was afraid of being refused again.)
« When I returned from the church, Jacinta had already got up and was sitting on his bed. As soon as Francisco saw me, he asked : “ Did you ask the Hidden Jesus for the parish priest to give me Holy Communion ? ” “ I did. ” “ Then, in Heaven, I’ll pray for you… ” Then I left them, and went off to my usual daily tasks of lessons and work.
« When I returned in the evening, I found him radiant with joy. He had made his confession, and the parish priest had promised to bring him Holy Communion the next day. » 45
Francisco was exultant. The moment he so ardently desired had arrived. For the first time since his miraculous Communion at the Cabeço, he was going to receive his “ Hidden Jesus ”, at whose feet he had spent so many hours in silence. Given his sickness, of course, he could have been dispensed from the fast. But no ! He wished to offer this one last sacrifice : « He made his mother promise that she would not give him anything after midnight so that he could receive Communion fasting, like everybody else. » 46
THURSDAY, APRIL 3 : HOLY VIATICUM
Here is Father de Marchi’s account of the recollections of the Marto family :
« Finally came the dawn of April 3. It was a beautiful spring day… When Francisco heard the sound of the bell announcing the arrival of the King of Heaven, he wanted to seat himself on his bed ; however, he was too weak, and he fell back on his pillow. “ You can remain lying down to receive Our Lord ”, his godmother Teresa told him. She had come specially to attend the first and last Communion of her godson…
« Near the bed, the two little children (Lucy and Jacinta) were kneeling with sadness, but also with holy jealousy. Jesus was coming to take their companion away, and usher him into Heaven. After receiving the Host on his parched tongue, Francisco closed his eyes, and remained motionless for a long time… The first words he pronounced were to say to his mother : “ Will Father bring me the Hidden Jesus once again ? ” 47
« I don’t know », she answered, undoubtedly sensing that this first Communion would also be his Viaticum.
Francisco, however, was still overcome with joy. He said to his little sister : « I am happier than you are, because I have the Hidden Jesus within my heart. I’m going to Heaven, but I’m going to pray very much to Our Lord and Our Lady for Them to bring you both there soon. » 48
HIS LAST WORDS
« That day I spent almost the whole night by his bedside with Jacinta (Lucy recalled). Since he could no longer pray, he asked us to recite the Rosary for him. »
“ I WILL MISS YOU TERRIBLY IN HEAVEN ! ” Francisco could still exchange a few words with Lucy and Jacinta. The thought of having to leave them seemed to put a damper on his joy. Already he cherished them so much ! Lucy records this charming dialogue : “ I am sure I shall miss you terribly in Heaven ! If only Our Lady would bring you there soon, also ! ” “ You won’t miss me ! Just imagine ! And you right there with Our Lord and Our Lady ! They are so good ! ” “ That’s true ! Perhaps, I won’t remember ! ” » 49
“ I’M AFRAID I’LL FORGET… MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE I WANT TO CONSOLE HIM ! ” In still another place, Lucy writes : « The day before he died, he said to me : “ Look ! I am very ill ; it won’t be long now before I go to Heaven. ” “ Then listen to this. When you’re there, don’t forget to pray a great deal for sinners, for the Holy Father, for me and for Jacinta. ” “ Yes, I’ll pray. But look, you’d better ask Jacinta to pray for these things instead, because I’m afraid I’ll forget when I see Our Lord. And then, more than anything else, I want to console Him. ” » 50
Is it childish simplicity, charming candour ? Be that as it may, it still moves the Heart of God and greatly consoles it. For Jesus Himself said : « Suffer the little ones to come to Me ; do not prevent them, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Truly I say to you, whoever does not humble himself as this little child, shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Then He blessed them and imposed His Hands upon them. » 51
THE LAST FAREWELLS. During the day, Francisco’s condition worsened alarmingly. « He was thirsty but he could no longer take any milk, or even the spoonfuls of water which he was given from time to time. If his mother or his godmother asked him how he felt, he answered : “ All right ; I have no pain. ” » 52 Lucy writes :
« That night I said goodbye to him. “ Goodbye, Francisco ! If you go to Heaven tonight, don’t forget me when you get there, do you hear me ? ” “ No, I won’t forget. Be sure of that. ”
« Then, seizing my right hand, he held it tightly for a long time, looking at me with tears in his eyes. “ Do you want anything more ? ” I asked him, with tears running down my cheeks, too. “ No ! ” he answered in a low voice, quite overcome. As the scene was becoming so moving, my aunt told me to leave the room. “ Goodbye then, Francisco ! Till we meet in Heaven, goodbye !… ” » 53
FRIDAY, APRIL 4, 1919 : « HE DIED SMILING »
On Friday, everything indicated that his end was near. He still had the strength to ask pardon of his godmother for the few times he had caused her some little trouble during his life, and to ask for her blessing.
Later, when night had fallen completely, he called his mother and said : « Mother, look !… What a lovely light, there, by the door ! » And after a few minutes : « Now I can’t see it any more… » 54
At about ten o’clock in the evening, his countenance lighted up in an angelic smile, and without the slightest trace of suffering, without any agony or groans, he died calmly. « He took his flight to Heaven in the arms of his Heavenly Mother », Lucy writes. 55 During the parochial investigation, his mother declared, « He seemed to smile, then he stopped breathing. » As for Francisco’s father, he declared : « He died smiling. »
« HUMILITY PRECEEDS GLORY... »
On Saturday, April 5, a modest funeral procession conducted Francisco’s body to the cemetery of Fatima. Lucy followed, in tears, while Jacinta, herself also sick and in tears, kept to her room.
The ceremony was without any pomp or affluence, just like Francisco’s humble and hidden life. His burial reflected his poverty, in a simple grave, marked only by a wooden cross. On March 13, 1952, his mortal remains were transferred to the basilica of Fatima, where they repose today, waiting to be presented to the faithful after his canonisation 56 – a canonisation ardently desired not only by Sister Lucy herself, but by a multitude of souls who have received great graces through his intercession.
THE LESSON OF SUCH A BRIEF LIFE : « A SECURE, EASY, SHORT AND PERFECT WAY. » 57
On June 13, 1917, Our Lady had promised, « Jacinta and Francisco, I will take them soon… » The “ faithful Virgin ” kept Her word… Francisco had been filled to the brim with graces from each one of Her visits, sanctified by the innumerable Rosaries he had recited, absorbed with the thought of consoling the Hidden Jesus, and purified, finally, by the sufferings imposed by illness. He was already prepared to go to Heaven, and the Blessed Virgin could come and take him. He was not yet eleven years old, and since the last apparition at the Cova da Iria only one and a half years had gone by ! Thus in all truth we can apply to him the beautiful maxim of St. Louis de Montfort : « One advances more in a short time by submission and dependence on Mary, than by long years of following our own will and relying on ourselves. » 58 By granting to Her witnesses the extraordinary grace of such a precocious sanctity, Our Lady of Fatima demonstrated that She is indeed the Mediatrix of all graces, the Queen and Gate of Heaven. 59
ON THE DEATH OF FRANCISCO, SEE APPENDIX I, AT THE END OF THIS VOLUME.
(1) Let us point out, however, that this “ suffering ”, this “ sadness ” of the Heavenly Father, or of Jesus since His Ascension, are to be understood analogically. They are not suffered passively as with us, but on the contrary freely willed and chosen as the ultimate expression of Their mercy towards sinners called to conversion. They are only a manifestation of God’s love for sinners, a love which is sovereignly free and gratuitous, and which is not irrevocable.
(2) Cf. Le Saint Suaire de Turin, preuve de la Mort et de la Résurrection du Christ, by Brother Bruno Bonnet-Eymard, member of the scientific congresses of Turin (1978) and Bologne (1981). This fascinating and exhaustive study, both from the theological, exegetical and scientific viewpoint, takes into account all the most recent discoveries of the experts (Maison Saint-Joseph, 1982).
(3) Ps. 69 :21 : « Improperium expectavit cor meum et miseriam. Et sustinui qui simul constristaretur et non fuit ; et qui consolaretur, et non inveni. Et dederunt in escam meam fel ; et in siti mea potaverunt me aceto. »
(4) In his encyclical Miserentissimus Redemptor, on the reparation due the Sacred Heart of Jesus from everyone, Pope Pius XI wrote : « In His apparitions to Margaret Mary, when He revealed His infinite charity to her, at the same time Christ let her perceive a sort of sadness, complaining of so many and such grave outrages, which the ingratitude of men made Him undergo… Thus we are able now, and we even must console this Sacred Heart, unceasingly wounded by the sins of ingrates, in a mysterious yet real manner… » And he mentions the beautiful words of Saint Augustine : « take a person who loves : he will feel what I am saying. » May 8, 1928, Actes de S.S. Pie XI, vol. IV, p. 106-108 (Bonne Presse, 1932).
(5) IV, p. 129.
(6) IV, p. 133.
(7) However, let us beware of the foolish presumption of modern man, who dares to believe himself indispensable to God ! The exposition of Father Manaranche concludes in this aberration in La souffrance de Dieu (p. 110, Le Centurion, 1976) : God could not condemn anyone to eternity in Hell without necessarily inflicting an eternal torment on Himself !
But this is failing to understand the sanctity of the just Judge, who the more He showed them, in the beginning, the excesses of His Divine Mercy, the more He shall show Himself to be pitiless towards the obstinate rebels.
(8) IV, p. 141-142.
(9) IV, p. 135 and 141. Cf. our Vol. I, p. 115, 120, 136-137.
(10) IV, p. 129.
(11) IV, p. 135-136.
(12) IV, p. 139-140.
(13) IV, p. 140-141.
(14) IV, p. 145.
(15) IV, p. 144.
(16) IV, p. 144-145.
(17) IV, p. 149.
(18) On the symbolic vision which also showed it to them, cf. our Vol. I, p. 165-168.
(19) De Marchi, p. 241.
(20) p. 242.
(21) IV, p. 142.
(22) Quoted by De Marchi, p. 248-249.
(23) IV, p. 146.
(24) IV, p. 146.
(25) De Marchi, Témoignages, p. 251. The author, assisted by the great Portuguese writer Dona Maria de Freitas (cf. Alonso, Historia da Literatura, p. 56), has reviewed in a quasi exhaustive manner, and presented in a moving fashion all testimonies concerning the sickness and death of Jacinta and Francisco. Along with Lucy’s Memoirs, this work constitutes the principal source of our exposition.
(26) Cf. Vicomte de Montelo, Les grandes merveilles de Fatima, p. 105 (1927, French edition, Pelican 1930).
(27) IV, p. 148; cf. p. 143.
(28) II, p. 94.
(29) De Marchi, p. 179.
(30) I, p. 43.
(31) De Marchi, p. 252-253.
(32) Montelo, Les grandes merveilles de Fatima, p. 106.
(33) De Marchi, p. 252.
(34) De Marchi, p. 180.
(35) IV, p. 142-143.
(36) IV, p. 142-143.
(37) IV, p. 142.
(38) IV, p. 187.
(39) IV, p. 188.
(40) IV, p. 188.
(41) IV, p. 148.
(42) IV, p. 188-189.
(43) De Marchi, p. 185.
(44) De Marchi, p. 173.
(45) IV, p. 149-150.
(46) De Marchi, p. 257.
(48) IV, p. 150.
(49) IV, p. 150.
(50) IV, p. 149.
(51) Mk. 10, 13-16; cf. Mt. 18 :3 & 19 :14; Lk. 11 :25.
(52) De Marchi, p. 258.
(53) IV, p. 151.
(54) De Marchi, p. 258.
(55) IV, p. 151.
(56) On the recognition of Francisco’s mortal remains, cf. da Fonseca, Nossa Senhora da Fatima, p. 172-173. The diocesan informative process in view of his beatification was opened at Leiria on December 21, 1949, at the same time as Jacinta’s. It was passed on to Rome in 1979 (cf. S. Martins dos Reis, Na Orbita de Fatima, reacçoes e contrastes, p. 56-57).
(57) Saint Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, Treatise on True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, Chap. V, art. 5.
(58) Ibid., no. 155. Quoted by De Marchi, p. 240-241.
(59) As surprising as it might seem, let us point out that much hesitation exists among Fatima historians on the exact hour of Francisco’s death. To realise that, it is sufficient to compare the successive editions of Canon Barthas (Merv. In., p. 172; Merv. XXe s., p. 178; TPE, p. 176). In 1969, following De Marchi, he finally opted for ten o’clock in the morning (Fatima 1917-1968, p. 202). Dom Jean-Nesmy (p. 145) and Fernando Leite (Francisco, p. 76) say the same.
But Father Alonso (Sister Lucy’s Memoirs, French version, p. 152, note 10, Téqui, 1980) prefers to go by the testimony of the parish priest of Fatima, who in a text written two weeks after the event explicitly indicates Friday, April 4, at ten o’clock in the evening. Father Kondor, vice-postulator of the little seer’s cause, adopts the same solution. Finally, Joao Marto, Francisco’s elder brother, to whom we were recently (July 12, 1983) able to pose the question at Aljustrel, answered us in the same sense without hesitation.