The Little Saints of Fátima

Did you know that Pope Francis has canonised 885 saints since 2013?

He recently added two of the youngest saints - Saint Francisco de Jesus Marto and his sister Saint Jacinta de Jesus Marto - now widely known as the ‘Little Saints of Fátima’.

Pope Francis travelled to the Portuguese town of Fátima in May 2017 to honour two young shepherd siblings whose visions of the Virgin Mary 100 years ago marked one of the most important events of the 20th century Catholic church.

On the 13th of May 2017, while they were grazing their sheep, the children - only seven and nine at the time - saw the first of six visions of the Virgin Mary. They said she revealed to them three secrets - messages warning of the second world war, the rise and fall of communism and the death of a pope - and she urged them to pray for peace and to turn away from sin.

The prophecy of a pope’s death has long been associated with the 1981 assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II. He credited the Virgin Mary with saving his life when a would-be assassin shot him on Fátima's feast day – also the 13th of May.

At first their visions were doubted by their family and the local church. However, the children’s story slowly gained believers and was eventually accepted as authentic by the Vatican in 1930.

The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, said the significance of the story of Fátima lay in the fact that poor and illiterate children were able to convey a profound message of love and forgiveness at a time of war.  

The Catholic Church posthumously confers sainthood on people considered so holy during their lives that they are now believed to be with God and can intercede with him to perform miracles.

Of the saints who did not die as martyrs, Francisco and Jacinta are the Catholic church’s youngest.

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