Why pray the Rosary every day for a year?


Each time the Blessed Virgin has appeared-- whether it be to Saint Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes; to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco at Fatima; or to Mariette Beco at Banneux-- she has asserted the importance, saving grace, and power of praying the Holy Rosary on a daily basis. Based upon her words, the Rosary is penance and conversion for sinners, a pathway to peace, an end to war, and a powerful act of faith in Jesus Christ. Pope Paul VI presented the Rosary as a powerful means to reach Christ "not merely with Mary but indeed, insofar as this is possible to us, in the same way as Mary, who is certainly the one who thought about Him more than anyone else has ever done."

To show us how this is done, perhaps no one has been more eloquent than the great Cardinal Newman, who wrote: "The great power of the Rosary consists in the fact that it translates the Creed into Prayer. Of course, the Creed is already in a certain sense a prayer and a great act of homage towards God, but the Rosary brings us to meditate again on the great truth of His life and death, and brings this truth close to our hearts. Even Christians, although they know God, usually fear rather than love Him. The strength of the Rosary lies in the particular manner in which it considers these mysteries, since all our thinking about Christ is intertwined with the thought of His Mother, in the relations between Mother and Son; the Holy Family is presented to us, the home in which God lived His infinite love."


As Mary said at Fatima, "Jesus wants to use you to make Me known and loved. He wishes to establish the devotion to My Immaculate Heart throughout the world. I promise salvation to whoever embraces it; these souls will be dear to God, like flowers put by Me to adorn his throne."


February 20: Saints Jacinta and Francisco Marta

Posted by Jacob

Today, February 20 marks the feast day of Saints Jacinta (1910-1920) and Francisco (1908-1919) Marta, two of three visionaries of Fatima. In 1916 and 1917, in the town of Aljustral, outside of Fatima, Portugal, Jacinta, Francisco and their cousin Lucia dos Santos were visited by an angel, and graced by visitations form the Blessed Virgin Mary. Today, Fatima is a major pilgrimage site for Catholic faithful from all over the world. Of course, on the anniversaries of the Fatima apparitions, those sacred moments in Church history will be discussed in greater depth.


Jacinta and Francisco grew up in a traditional sheep-herding village in Portugal. Neither received formal education, but were well instructed in the Catechism and the prayers of the Catholic Church. Together with their cousin, they were responsible for tending the families’ sheep in the fields each day, during which time they would play together, as well as pray. Most of what is known about Jacinta and Francisco is based upon Lucia’s memories, as she was more educated, had an excellent memory, and most importantly lived a great deal longer than her cousins—both of whom died very young.

Jacinta, two years younger than her brother, is remembered as a talkative and social young girl, constantly singing and dancing, and letting her opinion be known. Described as “willful,” she was quick to point out injustices and advocate for she and her brother. Generally of a sunny disposition, she was the visionary who most changed following the gracious apparitions of Our Blessed Mother. She was a pretty girl who delighted in gathering flowers to make garlands for the statues in the local church. She loved the Lord with great abandon, having wept in church at age five upon first hearing and undestanding the Gospel account of His Passion. She vowed at five to “never sin again.” Loving all things, Jacinta named each of the sheep she tended, oftentimes sharing her lunch with them.

Francisco, a handsome boy two years Jacinta’s senior, was equally social and friendly with all. He enjoyed typical games and sports, but without competition. Rather than make a friend or peer look bad, he would give up all he had. Generous and caring, Fransisco once used all his money to buy a caged bird from a peer, only to set the bird free. He loved nature and all God’s creatures (even snakes!), was kind and gentle, never complained, and displayed great courage throughout questioning and doubt by local authorities.

Together, Francisco and Jacinta, along with Lucia, spent their days in the fields playing and tending the sheep. They would sing and dance together, with Francisco playing the reed flute. Their days were happy, delighting in the things of nature around them. They called the sun “Our Lady’s lamp,” and the stars “the Angels’ lanterns,” which they tried to count as it grew dark. They also said the Rosary every day after lunch, but to make more time for play, they shortened it to the words “Our Father” at the beginning of each decade, followed by “Hail Mary” ten times.

In 1916, the children were visited by an angel on three separate occasions. The angel, who told them he was the angel of peace and the guardian angel of Portugal, asked the children to pray with him, and taught them to say in reparation for sins: "My God, I believe, I adore, I hope, and I love You! I ask pardon of You for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love You!" Over the subsequent two apparitions, the angel reminded them to pray and make sacrifices. During the third visit, the angel appeared holding a bleeding host over a chalice. Lucia, who was the only one who had made her first Communion, received the host, and Jacinta and Francisco received the blood in the chalice to drink. Following these visits from the angel, the children were different, separated from their peers, and prepared for the coming of the Blessed Virgin.

In 1917, Our Lady of Fatima appeared to the children several times, each time encouraging them to pray the Rosary and pray for sinners. During her third visit, the Blessed Virgin spoke a secret to the children, and offered them a vision of those suffering in Hell. All the children were changed as a result of this vision, but none so more than Jacinta. To ease the suffering of sinners, Jacinta and Francisco took on voluntary mortifications, refusing to drink water on hot days, fasting, and wearing a tight knot rope around her waist.—until Our Lady told them not to. Francisco, who was the only one of the three who could not hear the Blessed Mother speak, but still saw her and felt her presence, became withdrawn, preferring to spend his time alone praying to the “Hidden Jesus” in the Tabernacle. His great concern was to console His sorrowing Lord and the Heart of His Mother. When asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, Francisco answered, "I don't want to be anything. I want to die and go to heaven."

The children’s story of the Blessed Mother’s apparitions were greeting by taunting and mockery. Following their vision of Hell, they changed overnight, becoming less childlike and more like adults. Local authorities questioned them mercilessly, threatening to boil them in oil, or imprison them forever unless they recanted their stories or revealed the secrets provided by the Blessed Mother. Each courageously withstood questioning, no one more so than Francisco who eagerly looked forward to Heaven. In fact, during one of the apparitions, Lucia had asked if she could join Mary in Heaven, to which the Blessed Mother replied that Francisco and Jacinta would be with her shortly, but Lucia would not join them until much later.

Almost seventy thousand people showed up for the miracle promised by Our Blessed Mother, and witnessed the sun “dance in the sky.” In 1918, shortly afterwards, Our Lady of Fatima appeared to Francisco and Jacinta, and told them she was coming soon to take them to Heaven. Soon, both Francisco and Jacinta contracted influenza. Jacinta was sent to a local hospital, where she went willingly, continuing to pray each day in penance for sinners. The Blessed Virgin had told her, during one apparition, that she would stay in two hospitals prior to her death. Francisco, who missed his sister terribly, quickly became too ill to pray aloud, although he continued to pray “in his heart” for sinners and for the comfort of Our Lord. Sensing his imminent death, he requested the Holy Eucharist, and died shortly afterwards at peace.

Jacinta, having recovered from the flu, soon thereafter contracted tuberculosis, and was sent to a hospital in Lisbon. There, she could receive the Eucharist and see the Tabernacle. She continued to pray for sinners, offering her life to the Lord as penance for the sins of others.

Both Jacinta and Francisco’s bodies were exhumed and translated to the Sanctuary at Cova da Iria, where the Blessed Virgin had appeared. Upon exhumation, Jacinta’s body was found to be incorrupt. Together, they are the youngest non-martyred Saints in the Catholic church.

Franciso once said of his experience of the visions of the Blessed Virgin, "We were burning in that light which is God and we were not consumed. What is God like? It is impossible to say. In fact we will never be able to tell people.” In his homily celebrating the beatification of Saints Francisco and Jacinta, Pope John Paul II said, “What most impressed and entirely absorbed Blessed Francisco was God in that immense light which penetrated the inmost depths of the three children. But God told only Francisco ‘how sad’ He was, as he said. One night his father heard him sobbing and asked him why he was crying; his son answered: ‘I was thinking of Jesus who is so sad because of the sins that are committed against Him.” He was motivated by one desire - so expressive of how children think – ‘to console Jesus and make him happy.’”

The lives of Saints Francisco and Jacinta make us pause and reflect. The Blessed Virgin’s message at Fatima was one of profound conversion: turn away from sin, pray for repentance, offer penance, and pray for those who fail to pray for themselves. These children, just 10 and 11 years old when they offered their lives to God, embraced this call. Their lives were consumed by mockery, doubt, physical pain and suffering, illness, and horrific unimaginable visions of Hell, and yet, throughout all, they remained courageous and determined in their faith. Jacinta suffered gladly, in reparation for others’ sins. Francisco prayed incessantly for the comfort of the Heart of Jesus, based on the wrongdoings of mankind. Their lives are reflective of a consuming Lenten sacrifice. This Lent, what inspiration might we take from these young, blessed saints?




Day 51 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Hearts of conversion; Minds focused on Jesus; Bodies willing to sacrifice in penance.
Requested Intentions: For the health of a family member with Rett’s Disorder (C); For the restoration of hearing (L); For a restorative, faith-deepening Lent for all those who are struggling (L); For a niece suffering with autism, and for all those affected by autism (V); For a daughter’s employment (J); For a son’s employment and growth in faith (M).
Special Intentions (Day 10 of 45-day Novena to Our Blessed Lady of Lourdes): The intentions of all those who read this blog, whether submitted or retained in the quiet of their hearts; Penance, Penance, Penance for sinners; For all those who are suffering.

2 comments:

  1. Anonymous said...

    May Our Lady bless you for your efforts in maintaining this blog. I too will join you in the daily recitation of the Holy Rosary.

  2. Anonymous said...

    I will also pray the rosary daily. We need more prayer in this world. The world is so lost in material things that we forget to see the pain around us.
    Lord please help us all to feed our spirits and soul and not the flesh.

    Amen Jesus!

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