Jacinta Marto was the youngest of the three shepherd children of Fatima. With her elder brother Francisco and her cousin Lucia de Santos, she, too, experienced all of the apparitions of Our Lady at Fatima. But according to the testimony of Lucia, Jacinta received from Our Lady a greater abundance of graces, a better understanding of God and of virtue, and had a special love and a greater intimacy with the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Lucia describes little Jacinta as naturally a bit squeamish and sensitive. She was quickly offended and was not easily comforted afterwards. She also had the fault of being stingy when playing. However, she had a very good heart and the good God had endowed her with a gentle and trusting character that made her very loveable. Even as a small child she learned to love the crucified Savior with great compassion; and when she learned that Jesus suffered because of our sins a great disgust for sin was awakened in her. This also helped her to put aside promptly her bad habits.
On the Way to Perfection
During the apparitions of Our Lady, Jacinta was deeply impressed by the heavenly beauty and goodness of Mary. She took in all the teachings with deep seriousness and suffered especially because of the insults against the Immaculate Heart of Mary and because of the many souls who fell into hell. All this triggered in her a great love for Jesus, Mary, and sinners and moved her to intimate prayer and a heroic spirit of sacrifice. Lucia writes: “The vision of hell filled her with such deep horror that all penance and humiliation meant nothing to her if it could only save souls from going there. She often said: “We must pray a lot to save souls from hell. So many are going there! So many! How gladly I suffer for Our Lord and Our Lady, just to give them joy! You love those who suffer for the conversion of sinners.”
The Immaculate Heart of Mary formed little Jacinta into an extraordinary missionary. Through her prayer she won many sinners for God. Thus, a woman who always insulted the children whenever she saw them was converted. This woman once observed how Jacinta raised her hands and eyes to heaven and offered her sacrificial prayer for the conversion of sinners. This impressed her so much that she now believed and implored the children to ask Our Lady that their sins be forgiven.
Her Familiarity with the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Little Jacinta was honored by special visits of the Blessed Virgin Mary several times. In Lisbon, Our Lady comforted the child in her suffering and revealed to her the concerns of Her Heart which are especially important for us today: “People are lost because they don't think about the suffering and death of our Lord and they don't repent. - The sins of the world are very great. If people knew what eternity is, they would do everything to change their lives. - There will be fashions that offend our Lord greatly. The Church knows no fashions, our Lord does not change. - Our Lady wants more virginal souls who are bound by the vow of chastity. To be pure in body means to preserve chastity. To be pure in soul is not to sin.”
On February 20th, the Blessed Mother Herself came to deliver Her little servant from her painful torments. In her we have a beautiful example of how we can love Jesus and Mary more.