By Christina Hermoso
Catholics honor today the memory of recently canonized Saints Jacinta and Francisco Marto, two of the three shepherd children to whom the Blessed Mother appeared at the Cova de Ira in Fatima, Portugal in 1917.
Last year, devotees marked the centennial of the Fatima apparitions.
The event coincided with the canonization of Blessed Francisco and Jacinta by Pope Francis in Fatima, Portugal.
Francisco (June 11, 1908 – April 4, 1919) and Jacinta (March 11, 1910 – Feb. 20, 1920) both succumbed to the flu epidemic.
Francisco died on April 4, 1919 at the age of ten while Jacinta died at the age of nine on February 20, 1920.
They were beatified by Pope John Paul II on May 13, 2000.
Their mother Olímpia Marto said that her children happily predicted their own deaths many times to her and to curious pilgrims.
Francisco and his sister Jacinta, the youngest of ten siblings, together with their cousin Lúcia dos Santos were from Aljustrel near Fátima, Portugal.
They witnessed six apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary from May 13 to October 13, 1917.
As a result of these apparitions, Mary was given the title Our Lady of Fátima and the site became a major center of Marian pilgrimage.
Considered as the most important series of Marian apparitions in the Catholic Church, the Blessed Mother
requested the children to pray the Holy Rosary, perform works of mortification for the conversion of sinners, and requested for devotion to herself under the title.
On April 20, 2017, Pope Francis announced their canonization to be held on May 13, which was also the start of
the celebration of the centennial of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima which will last until October this year.
Last year, the second class relics “ex indumentis” (from the clothing) of the children of Fatima with a piece of Holm Oak tree where Our Lady of Fatima appeared in Portugal were displayed at the Radio Veritas Chapel in Q.C. and was visited by hundreds of Filipino devotees.