to tradition, Our Lady’s parents were Joachim and Anne to whom, after
years of childlessness, and much prayer, an angel appeared and announced
they would bear a child. Much like Hannah who dedicated her son Samuel
to the service of God (1 Kings), Anne also dedicated Mary to God as a
child. Hence, we find the abundant iconography representing the child
Mary being presented in the Temple.
Eastern tradition of devotion
to the parents of Mary goes back to the sixth century. Relics of St.
Anne were brought from the Holy Land to Constantinople in 710. In the
twelfth century, this devotion reached the West, with Crusaders bringing
back relics of St. Anne to Western Europe.
Two popular shrines
to Saint Anne are that of Ste. Anne D’Auray in Britanny in western
France, and that of St. Anne de Beaupre near Quebec, where countless
mementos hang in thanksgiving for favors and healings granted.
When Our Blessed Lord ascended into heaven, He left His most holy
Mother here on earth for several years to help the young Catholic
Church. All of the Apostles and disciples held her in great esteem and
sought her counsel in all things. She, the holiest, wisest, and most
blessed of women, always had a word of encouragement and precious advice
to answer their requests.
At times, as the Apostles and disciples went on their journeys to far
off places to preach the Faith, she would send one or several of her
many guardian angels to strengthen or console them in some way.
example, after the Apostles’ Creed had been composed by the Twelve, she
wrote several copies of this profession of our Faith with her own hand
and, summoning several of her angels, bade them deliver these copies to
the disciples who were in distant places so they might recite it and
teach others to do the same.
She also prayed constantly for their work and begged God to deliver
them from the assaults of the devil, who from the very beginning has
unceasingly prowled around seeking to destroy God’s Church.
Our Lady and Saint James
The Apostle Saint James the Greater, brother of Saint John the
Evangelist and a cousin to Our Lord Jesus, had a most special and tender
devotion to Our Blessed Lady.
Possessed of a generous nature, he preached the word of God with such
zeal and fearlessness that he aroused the fury of all who hated Our
Lord and His Church.
The more the evil people persecuted him the more ardently and louder
he preached. Some say that he had a powerful, booming voice, in keeping
with his designation as a “Son of Thunder.” He knew how needful he was
of Our Lady’s help and sought it constantly.
One day, about a year and a half after the death of Our Lord, Saint
James traveled to Spain to carry the true Faith to the people there. In
imitation of his Master, he took twelve disciples with him. One of the
first cities he and his disciples visited was Granada in the south of
Spain. In Granada were several Jews who hated the new Faith of Jesus and
watched the newcomers closely. Saint James and the disciples fearlessly
began to preach as if nothing were wrong. While several of these Jews
became impressed and listened, others became even more hardened against
these holy men and began a terrible persecution against them. Seizing
one of them, they brought him to his martyrdom.
Yet another day they managed to seize Saint James and the remaining
eleven and took them to a field outside the walls of Granada to put them
to death. As had occurred so many times before, Saint James prayed to
the Blessed Mother to assist them. If they were to die for her Son, then
he wished that somehow he be allowed to see her before dying.
Our Lady interceeds
Back in Jerusalem, by a special gift granted to her by her Divine
Son, the Holy Virgin, saw everything that was happening, and her
mother’s heart went out to this devoted son who sought her help. She
felt a great sorrow that she was so far away, but knowing that nothing
is impossible to God, she besought her Son to allow her to aid Saint
James and his friends.
Lord, seeing His Mother’s holy desire from heaven, commanded the angels
of her guard to carry her to Spain. Immediately, one thousand angels
appeared before her and, placing her on a shining throne of clouds,
carried her across the sea to Granada.
All the while, Saint James and his disciples remained in great
danger. The Jews already had their swords bared and ready to strike
when, looking up, the Apostle beheld his beloved Queen and Mother coming
on this dazzling cloud surrounded by angels. She spoke beautiful words
of encouragement to this faithful son and made him understand that he
and his companions were not yet to shed their blood for her Son.
At her command, their fetters and chains fell to the ground.
Simultaneously, the would-be executioners fell as if dead and remained
stunned for many hours. The devils that had accompanied them and incited
them to this terrible deed were hurled into the deepest abysses of
Hell, leaving Saint James and his friends completely free.
Saint James was filled with joy at the sight of his Queen and what
she had done. He thanked her from the depth of his heart and, bowing his
face to the ground, thanked God Our Lord for such a favor. Although the
other disciples had not seen her and the thousand angels, they
understood that a great miracle had taken place, and Saint James later
told them what he had seen to increase and confirm their Faith.
Before leaving, the Most Holy Mother wished to bless Spain even
further by sending Saint James all over its territory to preach the new
Faith of her Son. For this she assigned hundreds of her own angels to
accompany him and his disciples wherever they went, showing them the way
and protecting them from every danger. In this manner, the Son of
Thunder and his worthy friends traveled throughout Spain and brought
about many conversions. Eventually they entered the old city of
Saragossa. There, the Mother of God came to visit Saint James once more.
This came about in the following manner.
Spain honored by a second visit from the Mother of God
One day, Our Lord Jesus decided in heaven to visit His mother in her
home in Jerusalem to speak with her about Saint James. While she prayed,
He entered her room seated on a shining throne and surrounded by
thousands of angels. He told her that He wanted her to visit Saint James
in Saragossa and have him build a house of prayer in her honor so that
through her He might be specially honored there.
Once again the angels built a shining throne of clouds and, placing
their Queen on it, carried her over the land and sea to far away Spain.
This time, however, Our Lord had commanded them to travel slowly so that
along the way they might sing beautiful songs to her. Their repertoire
included the “Ave Maria,” “Salve Sancta Parens,” “Salve Regina,” and
“Regina coeli laetare,” chanted by various choruses of angels in the
most pleasing harmony.
During this joyous celestial singing, the most humble Lady returned
all this praise to God Most High: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of
Sabaoth, have pity on the poor children of Eve. Thine is the glory,
Thine the power and majesty. Thou alone art holy, the most High and the
Lord of all the heavenly armies and of all creation.”
Meanwhile, Saint James was camped outside the walls of Saragossa with
his disciples. He was praying by himself some distance from them when
he suddenly perceived the most beautiful music he had ever heard.
The disciples, some while praying and others awakening from sleep,
likewise heard this heavenly chorus, and their hearts filled with an
ineffable joy. Looking up, they saw a most brilliant light forming a
luminous globe. Evidently something marvelous was happening.
his immense joy, the holy Son of Thunder once again beheld, within this
brilliance, his holy Mother coming across the sky to visit him. All
resplendent with the very light of God as she sat on her throne of
clouds, the great Lady far outshone her angel escort. The angels
placed the throne with their Queen within sight of the Apostle who,
beside himself with joy, bowed low to the earth. The loving Queen
greeted him sweetly and then gave him a blessing in the name of her Son
Our Lady of the Pillar of Saragossa
Saint James noticed that some of the angels held a small marble
column and a small statue of their Queen holding the Infant God. Our
Lady relayed to him the desire of her Divine Son that he build a temple
on that very spot to be dedicated to her name so that, through her, Her
Son might be glorified.
His name she promised great favors and blessings to those who sincerely
requested her intercession in this church, as well as her protection
and assistance, “for this is to be my house and temple, my inheritance
and possession.” The column and the statue were presented as a pledge of
this promise: “In the temple which thou shalt build for me, it shall
remain and be preserved, together with the holy faith, until the end of
She told him that he should begin building this church immediately.
When it was finished, he was to return to Jerusalem where he would be
called to imitate his Lord Jesus, the first of the Apostles to surrender
his life for Him. She assured him that she would be there to assist
As she finished speaking, she ordered the angels to place the column
with her statue on the ground. As soon as this was done, both the angels
and Saint James gave thanks to God and celebrated this spot as the
first place on earth to be dedicated to the name of Mary Most Holy for
the greater glory of Almighty God.
Such was the beginning of the famous shrine of Our Lady of the Pillar
of Saragossa. The original chapel built by Saint James has grown into a
great church that stands today on the very site of Our Lady’s visit
nearly 2000 years ago.
Our Lady guaranteed this before leaving by appointing one of her
angels to guard the statue and the place against every attack of devil
or man. And attack it the devil has done, throughout all these years,
but that mighty angel has foiled every attempt of the infernal fiend.
So, dear reader, if you wish to see this great marvel that is, still
today, the great church of Our Lady of the Pillar, the very first place
dedicated to Holy Mary even as she was still on this earth, you have
only to go with a sincere heart and you will certainly receive her sweet
When you can do nothing at prayer, make acts of humility, comparing your nothingness with God’s greatness, your ingratitude with His benefits, your lack of virtue with the purity and perfection of the saints.
the Greater was the son of Zebedee and Salome, one of the women at the
tomb on Easter morning, (Matt.27:56, Mark 15:40, 16:1) and the brother
of John – probably the elder of the two. He is called “the greater” to
distinguish him from James the Lesser, who was probably shorter in
There is evidence in Scriptures that these two brothers
were cousins of the Lord, which may explain Our Lord entrusting His
mother to John as He was dying. Both James and John were probably of a
fiery temperament for which they were called “sons of thunder.” They
once wished to call fire upon a city, for which Our Lord rebuked them.
James was one of the first apostles called by Jesus, and was one of the three selected to witness His transfiguration.
was apostle in Iberia, in the region of present-day Spain. Ancient
tradition ascertains that when praying one night in the year 40, the
Virgin Mother, then still living, appeared to him on the
banks of the River Ebro to encourage him in his difficult mission. She
was accompanied by a multitude of angels who bore with them a marble
pillar on top of which was a small statue of her holding the Child
Jesus. She bid James build a shrine where the pillar was to be placed,
which he did, the first shrine dedicated to the Mother of God on earth.
Today, the sacred pillar, still in the same spot, is enshrined in the
great Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar in Zaragoza.
returned to Judea after this apparition, and was the first apostle to
suffer martyrdom. He died by the sword in Jerusalem at the command of
Herod Agrippa in the year 44. His relics rest in the city of Compostela
in northern Spain, the final destination of the famous pilgrims of the
“Camino de Compostela.”
Antoun Makhlouf was born in the village of Bekka Kafra in Lebanon on
May 8, 1828 and was one of five children born to Antoun Zarrour Makhlouf
and Brigitta Chidiac. His father was a mule driver who died when
Youssef was only three years old, leaving his widow to bring up their
Although Brigitta was left nearly destitute, she
reserved a profoundly religious atmosphere in their home and instilled
in her children a deep spirit of piety. Because of this fidelity,
Youssef became unusually devoted and inclined to prayer and solitude at a
very young age. He was greatly attracted to the life and spirituality
of hermits; and as a young boy tending his family’s small flock, he
would often go to a nearby grotto where he had erected a little shrine
to the Holy Mother of God and would spend his whole day there in prayer.
he was twenty-three years old, Youssef, feeling the call to the
religious life, left his home and family to join the Lebanese Maronite
Order at the Monastery of Our Lady in Marfouq. Here he began his
formation as a monk before later being transferred to the Monastery of
St. Maron near Beirut. There he received the religious habit of the
Maronite monk and took the name Sharbel. He made his final profession as
a religious brother on November 1, 1853 – he was twenty-five years old.
Sharbel immediately began his studies for the priesthood under the
instruction of Father Nimattullah Kassab, who was also later declared a
saint by the Church. Sharbel was ordained on July 23, 1859, following
which he returned to the Monastery of St. Maron where he lived a life of
great austerity. In 1875, he was granted permission by his superiors to
live a solitary life in the Hermitage of Sts. Peter and Paul, which was
under the jurisdiction of the monastery; and there he resided for the
remaining twenty-three years of his life until his death on Christmas
St. Sharbel is renowned for his many miracles both
during his life and after his death. His most famous miracle – which was
also his first – occurred when, multiple times, he successfully lit an
oil lamp which was filled with water. He is also credited with many
After his death, he was interned at the
Monastery of St. Maron, now a famous pilgrimage site. His tomb was often
witnessed surrounded by a dazzling light, and to this day his remains
are incorrupt and an unexplainable blood-like fluid flows from his body.
He was canonized on December 9, 1977, by Pope Paul VI, who held him up
as an example to help us understand “in a world, largely fascinated by
wealth and comfort, the paramount value of poverty, penance and
asceticism, to liberate the soul in its ascent to God.”
Behold Jesus Christ crucified, Who is the only foundation of our hope; He is our Mediator and Advocate; the victim and sacrifice for our sins. He is goodness and patience itself; His mercy is moved by the tears of sinners, and He never refuses pardon and grace to those who ask it with a truly contrite and humbled heart.
was nobly born, her father was Birger, the governor of Upland in
Sweden, and her mother, Ingeborg, was the daughter of the governor of
At fourteen she was married to young Ulf
Gudmarsson, to whom she was happily married for twenty-eight years and
had eight children, four boys and four girls, one of whom was St.
Catherine of Sweden.
In 1335, she was appointed lady-in-waiting
to King Magnus II’s bride, Blanche of Namur, and she spent years at
court trying to reform Magnus’ weak, and at times, wicked ways, and the
queen’s often well-meaning, but irresponsible, bend.
Bridget’s famous visions were already under way at this time, spanning
subjects from personal hygiene to politics, she did not have great
success with her royal “charges”, and was often seen as a “dreamer.”
her husband’s death in 1344, she founded an order of women and another
of men to support them spiritually. When her order was established, she
traveled to Rome accompanied by her daughter Catherine and some
disciples, to seek approval of her Rule. But she was never to return to
her native Sweden.
In Rome, she worked to bring back the Papacy,
then in the French city of Avignon, to the Eternal City. Her visions and
prophecies, dealing with the burning political and religious issues of
her time, continued and so increased that, alarmed, she submitted them
to the direction of Canon Matthias of Linkoping who pronounced them to
be of God. Peter, Prior of Alvastra, recorded these visions in Latin.
Her order was only approved by Pope Urban V in 1370.
1373 she made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, with Catherine and three of
her sons. At Naples, Charles, her favorite son, became entangled with
Queen Joanna I who wanted to marry him despite both being already
married (Joana thrice). Anguished, Bridget stormed heaven, and Charles,
struck by a fever, after two weeks died in his mother’s arms.
from Jerusalem, Bridget, already ailing, received the last rites from
her faithful friend, Peter of Alvastra, and died on July 23 at the age
Bridget was canonized in 1391, and is the patron
saint of the Kingdom of Sweden. She is also considered one of the patron
saints of Europe.
Mary Magdalene . . . did not do what you and I would do. She did not pour out the precious perfume drop by drop as if to indicate by the slowness of the giving the generosity of the gift She broke the vessel and gave everything, for love knows no limits. Immediately the house was filled with perfume. It was almost as if, after the death of that perfume and the breaking of the bottle, there was a resurrection. Broken things are precious. We eat broken bread because we share in the death of our Lord and his broken life. Broken flowers give perfume. Broken incense is used in adoration. A broken ship saved Paul and many other passengers on the way to Rome. Sometimes the only way the good Lord can get into some hearts is to break them.
Magdalene, called “the penitent”, was a woman of great beauty who was
known as a sinner, but was touched in her soul by the merciful power of
Our Lord Jesus Christ and made a great conversion. Scriptures speak of
the Lord driving out “seven demons” from her, symbolic of the seven
capital sins (Mark 16:9).
to trick Our Lord, she had been presented to Him by the Scribes and
Pharisees whilst He was teaching in the temple. Mary Magdalene had been
caught in adultery and the Law of Moses was quite clear as to its
punishment: death by stoning. In silence, Our Lord began to write with
His finger on the ground. At their persistent questioning, He lifted
Himself up and replied: “He that is without sin among you, let him cast
the first stone,” and stooping down, He returned to His writing in the
dust. One by one they left until none remained but the Judge and the
Accused. “Then Jesus lifting up himself, said to her: Woman, where are
they that accused thee? Hath no man condemned thee? Who said: No man,
Lord. And Jesus said: Neither will I condemn thee. Go, and now sin no
more” (John 8:10-11). From that moment onwards, her heart was won over
the house of Simon the Pharisee, the repentant Magdalene poured costly
ointments on Jesus’ feet and then dried them with her hair (John 7:38).
On her action being censured by the host, Our Lord said in her defense:
“Many sins are forgiven her because she has loved much” (John 7:47).
Mary Magdalene was the sister of Martha and Lazarus of Bethany whom the Lord raised from the dead after four days.
along with the Lord’s mother and other holy women stood at the foot of
the cross unafraid for herself. She it was also that, along with others
first discovered the empty tomb after the Lord’s Resurrection. And it
was to Mary Magdalene that the Lord first appeared after He was risen.
the martyrdom of the Apostle James in Jerusalem, as persecution
intensified, tradition says that Lazarus, Martha and Mary Magdalen,
along with others, were placed in a boat and set out to sea. This boat
landed on the southern shore of France. While Lazarus and Martha went on
to evangelize Provence, a fact claimed in French history, Mary retired
to a cave in a mountain, known as La Sainte-Baume, or The Holy Cave. In
this cave she lived the life of a penitent for thirty years until her
death. Today, at this site, there is a shrine where her relics are
On July 21, 1972,
newspapers around the world published this photograph from New Orleans
showing a statue of Our Lady of Fatima shedding tears. The best source of information on the matter is found in an article with the title: "The Tears of Our Lady Wet My Finger"
by Fr. Elmo Romagosa. It was published on July 20, 1972, in the Clarion
Herald, a New Orleans weekly, distributed in eleven Louisiana parishes
background to this event is universally known to Fatima devotees.
During 1917, Our Lady appeared six times to Lucy, Jacinta, and
Francisco, three shepherd children In Fatima, Portugal. The authenticity
of these visions was confirmed by the miracle of the sun, witnessed by a
whole multitude, even as the Virgin spoke to the three children. In general terms, Our Lady charged
the little shepherds to tell the world that she was deeply upset by the
wickedness and corruption of men. She warned that if men did not amend, a
terrible chastisement would come that would annihilate many nations.
Russia would spread its errors throughout the world. The Holy Father
would have much to suffer. The punishment could only be avoided
if men converted, Russia and the world were consecrated to the
Immaculate Heart of Mary, and men did the communion of reparation on the
first Saturday of each month.
In view of the above, a question naturally comes to mind: Were Our Lady’s requests heeded? In 1942, Pius XI consecrated the
world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Sister Lucy said the consecration
lacked some characteristics Our Lady had requested. I do not intend to
analyze this complex subject here. I simply mention, in passing, that
whether Our Lady’s request for the consecration of Russia was heeded is
open to debate. As for Our Lady’s second request for
an amendment of life, it has so obviously been neglected that no further
comment is necessary. Our Lady stated that obedience to her
requests was a condition to avoid the apocalyptic punishments that she
predicted. Therefore, since her requests have not been irrefutably kept,
it is logical that God’s vengeful and purifying wrath should fall upon
mankind. Yet, furthermore, Our Lady promised that, after the
punishments, “Finally, my Immaculate Heart will triumph and there will be a certain period of peace.” Of the three Fatima children, only
Lucy survived beyond her childhood. She became a Carmelite nun in
Coimbra. Under her supervision, a sculptor carved two statues that
reproduced as closely as possible the facial expression of the Most Holy
Virgin as she appeared at Fatima. Both of them were called “pilgrim
statues” and have been taken around the world by priests and laity. One
was in New Orleans, where it shed tears. Father Romagosa, author of the
above-mentioned report, was told of the statue’s tears by Fr. Joseph
Breault, M. P., the statue’s custodian. However, he was reluctant to
admit the miracle and thus asked Father Breault to call him if any
further weeping occurred. Father Breault noticed moisture in
the eyes of the Pilgrim Virgin statue on July 17 and immediately called
Father Romagosa, who reached the statue at 9:30pm, bringing along
photographers and reporters. In fact, they all noticed the moisture in
the eyes of the statue, which was soon photographed. Father Romagosa
then touched his finger on the moist surface and collected a drop, which
was also photographed. According to Father Breault, this was the
thirteenth weeping he had witnessed. At 6:15 the next morning, Father
Breault called Father Romagosa saying that the statue had been crying
since 4am. Father Romagosa arrived shortly afterwards. In his words: “I
saw much liquid in the statue’s
eyes, and a large drop hanging from the tip of her nose.” This drop, so
graciously hanging, was captured in the famous photograph that came out
in the press. Father Romagosa adds that he saw “a tear move as it slowly formed on the lower eyelid.” However, he wanted to eliminate all
doubt. He noticed that the statue had a crown fixed on its head by a
small metal connecting rod and thought: can it be that water was poured
into the hole where the crown is fixed on the statue, and this water
drains into the eyes? Once the weeping ceased, Father
Romagosa removed the crown from the statue: the metallic connecting rod
was entirely dry. He then inserted into the hole a wire wrapped in a
special paper which would absorb any liquid that might be there. The
paper remained absolutely dry. Still not satisfied with his efforts,
he poured some water into the hole. Yet the eyes remained absolutely
dry. Father Romagosa then turned the statue upside down. The water he
had poured into the hole drained normally. He was finally convinced that
no water could come through the hole in the statue’s head into her
eyes, and there simply was no other hole. Father Romagosa knelt. At last, he believed.
These mysterious tears show Our
Lady of Fatima crying over the modern world, as Our Lord once cried over
Jerusalem. Tears of most tender affection, tears of deep pain for the
punishment that will come. It will come in God’s due time if
mankind does not reject immorality and corruption. It will come if we do
not fight especially against the self-destruction of the Church, the
cursed smoke of Satan that, according to Paul VI, has penetrated even
into the sacred places. There is still time, therefore, to stop the punishment! But, some will say, these thoughts
are not those for a pleasant Sunday afternoon. I answer: Is it not
better to read this article now under the tender manifestation of our
Mother’s prophetic sadness than to live through the days of tragic
bitterness that will come if we do not amend? If they come, I am convinced a
special mercy will be shown to those who, in their personal lives, have
taken the miraculous warning of Mary seriously. I offer my readers this
article so they may benefit from that mercy. It is logical that God’s vengeful and
purifying wrath should fall upon mankind. Yet, furthermore, Our Lady
promised that, after the punishments:
"Finally, my Immaculate Heart will triumph and there will be a certain period of peace."
in Brindisi in Italy and christened Julius Caesar, the future saint’s
father was Guglielmo Rossi, and his mother Elisabetta Massella, both
His parents entrusted the boy’s education
to the Conventuals of Brindisi where he showed early signs of a
shimmering intelligence and a gift for oratory.
When twelve, his
father died, and he pursued his studies in Venice with the Clerics of
St. Mark, under the supervision of an uncle. In 1575 he was received
into the Capuchin Order and was given the name of Lorenzo. Once
professed, Brother Lorenzo studied philosophy and theology at the
University of Padua.
Lawrence had a prodigious memory, and
mastered most of the European languages and Semitic tongues. It is also
said that he knew the entire original text of the Bible, a feat deemed
miraculous. He is also renowned for his complete refutation of the
doctrines of Martin Luther, as well as his work in defense of the
Immaculate Conception of Mary of whom he was an ardent devotee, and in
whose name he worked all his miracles.
In his lifetime he filled all the posts of his order. As a great
preacher, he was invited to preach all over Europe. Always seeking to
move hearts, he adapted his preaching to his audience with enormous
success. The sermons he left fill no less than eight volumes. Because of
his knowledge of Hebrew, Pope Clement VIII assigned him to the
instructions of the Jews, and due to his knowledge of the language, and
powerful reasoning combined with his great kindliness, brought many into
He founded houses in Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia, despite
many obstacles placed by heretics. As the fame of his sanctity preceded
him wherever he went, people flocked to hear his sermons.
1601 Lawrence served as chaplain for the army of Rudolph II, the Holy
Roman Emperor. In this capacity he was present at the battle of
Albe-Royal against the Ottoman Turk’s force of 80,000, while the
Christian army had 18,000. Prior to the battle, hesitating at these
odds, the leaders sought the holy chaplain’s advice. The saint took full
responsibility for the outcome, and in a glowing speech communicated to
them his own confidence. Aged and enfeebled, he mounted a horse, and,
crucifix in hand, led the charge. The Turks were defeated, but
regrouping, attacked again a few days later. Again the chaplain led the
attack to complete victory.
Lawrence died in a mission in Lisbon on July 22, 1619, as he had predicted.
Jesus purified Magdalen and pardoned the triple denial of Peter. He opened heaven to the good thief. In truth, I assure you, if Judas had gone to Him after the crime, Our Lord would have received him with mercy. How, then, would He not pardon you as well?
The Book of Confidence—Fr. Thomas de Saint-Laurent
Apollinaris was possibly born in Antioch, in the Roman province of Syria.
Consecrated bishop of Ravenna by St. Peter himself, he won many
converts by his preaching, and the numerous miracles he wrought
attracted the attention of the officials.
Furious with his success, the idolaters beat him cruelly and drove
him from the city. The Christians found him half-dead on the seashore,
and cared for and concealed him for a time. However, recaptured by the
authorities, he was forced to walk on burning coals and then exiled from
the city again.
Remaining in the vicinity, Apollinaris continued his work, journeying to the Roman province of Emilia.
Returning a third time to Ravenna, he was captured yet again and
hacked with knives. Scalding water was poured on his wounds. He was
beaten on the mouth with stones because of his persistence in preaching,
flung into a dismal dungeon and left to starve. There, he continued
performing miracles, teaching and preaching, silencing the oracles that
dared to debate with him.
Imprisoned for three years, he was finally returned to Ravenna for a
fourth time, and was martyred under the persecution unleashed by Emperor
Vespasian. He died prophesizing that the persecutions would increase
but that the Church would ultimately triumph.
I shall spare myself neither care nor labor nor vigils for the salvation of souls. My hope is in Christ, who strengthens the weakest by His divine help; I can do all in Him who strengthened me! His power is infinite, and if I lean on Him it will be mine; His wisdom is infinite, and if I look to Him for counsel I shall not be deceived; His goodness is infinite, and if my trust is stayed on Him I shall not be abandoned. Hope unites me to my God and Him to me. Although I know I am not sufficient for the burden, my strength is in Him. For the salvation of others I must bear weariness, face dangers, suffer offenses, confront storms, fight against evil. He is my Hope.
was born in Caesaerea, Capadoccia, her parents being Basil the Elder
and Emmelia. Her grandmother was St. Macrina the Elder and her three
brothers were eminent figures in the Church: Basil the Great, St.
Gregory of Nyssa and Peter of Sebaste.
Macrina’s parents arranged a marriage for her but her fiancé having died before the wedding, the bride turned to religion.
known as a holy woman and instructor of young women, she is honored as
one of the most prominent nuns in the Eastern Church. Her ascetic way of
life had a profound influence on her brothers. She purposely gave up
classical education in favor of the study of Scriptures and sacred
writings. Her brother, Gregory of Nyssa wrote a life entitled, Life of
Macrina, in which he describes the holiness of her life.
With the help of her younger brother, Peter, she turned her family estate at Pontus into a convent, where she died in 379.
was born on May 25, 1550 in the region of Abruzzo in the Kingdom of
Naples. His father was a mercenary soldier and seldom at home. His
mother, Camilla, though good was also timid and had trouble controlling
her morose, hot-tempered son.
At seventeen, being tall for his
age, Camillus joined his father in soldiering. Leading the rambling,
ambulant life of a mercenary, he acquired the wayward habits of the
profession, especially the vice of gambling.
mother had instilled in him a respect for religion. After his father
died repentant, and his regiment disbanded in 1574, he found himself, at
twenty-four, destitute because of his gambling. He was offered a shot
at reform when a wealthy, pious man, noticing the tall, lanky young man
in town, offered him employment at a monastery that he was building for
the Capuchins of Manfredonia.
Despite his aggressive nature and
gambling habits, the guardian of the monastery saw another side to
Camillus, and continually tried to bring out in him his better nature.
Finally moved by the good friar’s exhortations, Camillus underwent a
deep spiritual conversion.
Refused admission by the Capuchins
because of an unhealed leg wound, he traveled to Rome where he began to
serve the sick at the Hospital of St. Giacomo while attempting to lead a
penitential and ascetic life.
of St. Philip Neri and his great gift with souls in need, Camillus
sought his spiritual direction and was taken in by the saint.
soon discovered that helping the sick was the cure for his wayward
habits, and the only thing that gave him true joy. He began to gather a
group of men around him who had a desire to help the sick for love
alone and not for pay. Feeling the need to be ordained, he studied under
the Jesuit Fathers and was ordained in 1584 at the age of thirty-four.
Camillus de Lellis, former wandering soldier and professional gambler,
established the Clerks Regular, Ministers of the Sick. His group was
approved by Pope Sixtus V in 1586, and officially raised to the status
of a mendicant order by Gregory XV in 1591. On their black habit they
wore a large red cross which became the first inspiration for today’s
By the time of Camillus’ death in 1614, his order had spread throughout Italy and into Hungary. He was canonized in 1746.
the days of yore, when travel must be had on foot or by horse, many
were the dangers to be found along the roadways. Bandits plagued
travelers and made their living by depriving others of their goods and
often their very lives.
A young woman in the Papal States, who was very devout towards Mary,
met in a certain place a chief of the bandits. Fearing some outrage, she
implored him, for love of the most holy Virgin, not to molest her.
not fear," he answered, "for you have prayed me in the name of the
mother of God; and I only ask you to recommend me to her." Moved by the
woman’s mention of the Blessed Virgin, the bandit accompanied her
himself along the road to a place of safety.
The following night, Mary appeared in a dream to the bandit. She
thanked him for the act of kindness he had performed for love of her.
Mary went on to say that she would remember it and would one day reward
The robber, at length, was arrested, and condemned to death. But
behold, the night previous to his execution, the blessed Virgin visited
him again in a dream, and first asked him: "Do you know who I am?"
He answered, "It seems to me I have seen you before."
"I am the Virgin Mary," she continued, "and I have come to reward you
for what you have done for me. You will die tomorrow, but you will die
with so much contrition that you will come at once to paradise."
The convict awoke, and felt such contrition for his sins that he
began to weep bitterly, all the while giving thanks aloud to our Blessed
Lady. He asked immediately for a priest, to whom he made his confession
with many tears, relating the vision he had seen. Finally, he asked the
priest to make public this grace that had been bestowed on him by Mary.
He went joyfully to his execution, after which, as it is related, his
countenance was so peaceful and so happy that all who saw him believed
that the promise of the heavenly mother had been fulfilled. From the Glories of Mary, by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori.
It is an arid fight, with neither palpable beauty nor defined poetry. In this fight, one sometimes advances in the night of anonymity, in the mud of indifference or misunderstanding amidst storms and bombardments unleashed by the combined forces of the devil, the world and the flesh. But fear not, this fight fills the angels of Heaven with admiration and attracts the blessings of God.
Clement of Okhrida was a convert of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, the apostles of Moravia and Pannonia.
the invitation of the Bulgarian ruler, Boris, who had accepted
Christianity in 865, Clement and his other companions including St.
Nahum, St. Sabas and St. Angelarius, helped evangelize Bulgaria. Sts.
Cyril and Methodius are also counted as two of the seven apostles of
Bulgaria because though their official jurisdiction was over Moravia and
Pannonia, they also kept an eye on the Bulgars, most of whom were
heathens until formal evangelization began with the acceptance of
Christianity by Boris.
Clement seems to have been the first man
of the Slavic race to receive the episcopate. He became Bishop of
Velitsa, close to Okhrida where he established a monastery. He was
regarded as the founder of that see which became very important in
St. Clement is venerated in Bulgaria as well as Russia as a wonder-worker.
One day, a long time ago, walking the
streets of Rome, three outstanding men of God bumped into one another.
Friar Dominic of Guzman was recruiting members for the Order of
Preachers, later known as the “Dominicans,” which he had founded.
Brother Francis of Assisi, the Poverello, had just
brought together some men to serve what he called Lady Poverty. The
third, Friar Angel, had come from Mount Carmel in Palestine, and was
called to Rome because he was a great preacher.
Illuminated by the Holy Ghost, the three recognized one another, and
during the conversation made many prophecies. Saint Angel, for example,
predicted God would give Saint Francis the stigmata. And Saint Dominic
prophesied, “One day, Brother Angel, the Blessed Mother will give your
Carmelite Order a devotion that will be known as the Brown Scapular, and
to my Order of Preachers a devotion that will be called the Rosary. And
one day she will save the world through the Rosary and the Scapular.”
On the spot where that meeting took place, a chapel was built which exists in Rome to this day.1
Mother and Splendor of Carmel
was on the celebrated Mount Carmel, on the coast of Palestine, that
Saint Elias, the “Prophet of Fire,” saw the little cloud that, in a
period of great drought, was a forerunning sign that a redeeming rain
would fall upon the parched earth.
Through a supernatural intuition he figured that the simple cloud, in
the form of a human footprint, symbolized that blessed woman, later
mentioned by Prophet Isaiah in chapter 7, verse 14 (“Behold a virgin
will conceive, and bear a child . . . .”), who would be the Mother of
From her virginal bosom would come He who, washing with His blood the
earth dried out by sin, would open the life of grace for mankind.
According to tradition, the Order of Carmel, of which Mary is the
Mother and splendor, was born from the followers of Elias and his
And, in Isaias’ words, “[T]he glory of Libanus is given to it: the beauty of Carmel, and Saron” (Is. 35:2).
From Palestine, the hermits of Mount Carmel moved to Europe, laying
down roots in several countries, including England, where Saint Simon
Saint Simon Stock: Noble and Holy
Saint Simon was born in 1165 in the castle of Harford, in Kent,
England, thanks to the prayers of pious parents who were both very
virtuous and from the highest nobility. Some authors believe they were
related to the royal family.
His mother consecrated him to the Blessed Mother before he was born.
Before breastfeeding him, in gratitude for her happy delivery and asking
special protection for her son, the young mother would offer him to the
Virgin Mary and say three Hail Marys on her knees. What a beautiful
attitude by such a noble lady!
The boy learned to read at a very tender age. Like his parents, he
began to pray the Little Office of Our Lady, and soon also the Psalter.
At the age of seven, the young genius started to study fine arts at
Oxford College and was so successful that his professors were surprised.
At that time he also received his First Communion and consecrated his
virginity to the Blessed Mother.
Persecuted by his envious older brother, and heeding an interior
voice that gave Saint Simon a desire to leave the world, at the age of
twelve he left home and found refuge in a forest where he lived entirely
alone for twenty years in prayer and penance.
The Carmelite Order
Lady then manifested to Saint Simon her wish that he join some monks
who were to come to England from Mount Carmel in Palestine, “especially
because those religious had been consecrated to the Mother of God in a
special way.” Simon thus left his solitude and, obeying another order
from Heaven, studied theology and received Holy Orders.
He devoted himself to preaching until 1213, when two Carmelite friars
finally arrived. He was then able to receive the habit of the Order in
In 1215, as the fame of Saint Simon’s virtues reached the ears of
Saint Brocardo, Latin General of the Carmelite Order, he wished to make
Simon lieutenant general of the Order. In 1226, Saint Brocardo appointed
Saint Simon vicar-general of all Carmelite provinces in Europe.
Saint Simon had to face a real storm unleashed against the Carmelites
in Europe, which the devil raised with men supposedly zealous for
Church laws. On various pretexts, those men wanted at all cost to
suppress the entire Order. But the pope issued a bull declaring the
existence of the Carmelite Order to be legitimate and in accordance with
the Lateran decrees, and allowed it to continue to establish new houses
In 1237, Saint Simon participated in the General Chapter of the Order
in the Holy Land. In 1245, in a new chapter, he was elected the sixth
prior-general of the Carmelites.
The Great Promise: You Will Not Go Into the Fire of Hell
If the papal bull had momentarily placated the wrath of the enemies
of Carmel, it did not stop it completely. After a period of calm, the
persecution started again with more intensity.
Devoid of human aid, Saint Simon resorted to the Blessed Mother with
all the sadness of his heart, asking her to help his beleaguered Order
and to send a sign of her alliance with it.
In the morning of July 16, 1251, he was begging in earnest the Mother
of Carmel for her protection, reciting a beautiful prayer he had
composed, Flos Carmeli.2 As he reported to his secretary and confessor, Father Peter Swayngton, suddenly,
the Virgin appeared
to me with a great retinue, and, having the habit of the Order in her
hand, told me, “Receive, My beloved son, this habit of thy order: this
shall be to thee and to all Carmelites a privilege, that whosoever dies
clothed in this shall never suffer eternal fire . . . . It shall be a
sign of salvation, a protection in danger, and a pledge of peace.
Whoever dies clothed in this Scapular will not suffer eternal fire.”3
That most special grace was immediately distributed in places where
the Carmelites were established and confirmed by many miracles to such
an extent that the enemies of the Brothers of the Most Holy Virgin of
Mount Carmel were silenced.
Saint Simon attained old age and extremely high holiness, working
many miracles, and also receiving the gift of tongues. He surrendered
his soul to God on May 16, 1265.
The Sabbatine Privilege: Free of Purgatory on the First Saturday After Death
In addition to this special grace of eternal salvation, connected
with the Scapular, Our Lady gave another, which became known as the
Sabbatine Privilege. The following century, on March 3, 1322, she
appeared to Pope John XXII, communicating to those who wear her
scapular, “As a tender mother, I will descend into Purgatory on the
Saturday after their death and will deliver them and bring them to the
holy mountain, into the happy sojourn of life everlasting.”4
What are, then, the specific promises of Our Lady? 1. Whoever dies clothed with the Scapular, will not suffer the fire of Hell.
What did Our Lady mean with these words? First, on making this
promise, Mary does not mean that a person who dies in mortal sin will be
saved. Death in mortal sin and condemnation are the same thing. Mary’s
promise undoubtedly translates into these words, “Whoever dies clothed
in this Scapular, will not die in mortal sin.” To make that clear, the
Church often adds the word “piously” to the pledge, “He who dies piously
will not suffer the fire of Hell.”5 2. Our Lady will free from Purgatory the person wearing her Scapular on the first Saturday after his or her death.
Although this privilege is often interpreted literally, that is, the
person will be freed from Purgatory on the first Saturday after his or
her death, “everything that the Church has officially stated on several
occasions to explain these words, is that those who fulfill the
conditions of the Sabbatine Privilege, through the intercession of Our
Lady, will be freed from Purgatory shortly after death, and especially
any case, if we are faithful in observing the words of the Blessed
Mother, she will be much more faithful in observing her own, as shown in
the following example:
During the preaching of some missions, a
young man who was touched by grace decided to quit his life of sin and
receive the Scapular. Some time later he lapsed again into disorderly
passions and became even worse. Nevertheless, he kept wearing the holy
Being the mother that she is, the Most
Holy Virgin struck him down with a serious illness. During his illness
the young man dreamed that he found himself before the most just
tribunal of God, Who condemned him to eternal damnation for his perfidy
and his wretched life.
In vain did the hapless young man argue with the Supreme Judge that he was wearing the Scapular of His Holy Mother.
“And where are the customs that match this Scapular?” God asked him.
Not knowing what to answer, the unfortunate young man turned to Our Lady.
“I cannot undo what my Son has done,” she answered.
“But, Madam!” The young man exclaimed, “I will change!”
“Do you promise?”
At that point the patient awakened
frightened to death by what he had seen and heard, and resolved
thenceforth to wear Mary’s Scapular with greater seriousness. Indeed, he
was healed and joined the Order of Premonstratensians. And after an
edifying life, he surrendered his soul to God, as the chronicles of the
The Scapular and Fatima
Is the Scapular related to Fatima in any way?
Yes. After the last appearance of Our Lady at Cova da Iria, the seers
saw three different scenes. In the first, the Mother of God appeared as
Our Lady of the Rosary, standing by Saint Joseph and holding the Child
Jesus on her lap. Then, she appeared as Our Lady of Sorrows, by the
painful Christ on His way to Calvary. And finally, she appeared in
glory, crowned as Queen of Heaven and Earth, as Our Lady of Carmel, with
the Scapular in her hand.
“Why do you think Our Lady appeared with the Scapular in that last vision?” Lucia was asked in 1950.
“That’s because Our Lady wants everyone to wear the Scapular,” she replied.
“And this is why the Rosary and the Scapular, the oldest, most
privileged, universal and valuable Marian sacramentals are more
important today than in any past period in history.”8
Origin and Historical Evolution of the Scapular
the Scapular (from the Latin scapulae, shoulders), and the monastic
habit and liturgical vestments developed from lay clothing.
Over time, the monastic Scapular evolved until the twelfth century
when it attained its present form, becoming an integral part of almost
all monastic habits, including the Carmelite one. But it did not have
the meaning that it later acquired, as we shall see.
With the development of the First Orders (monks or friars), there
arose the Second Orders (nuns), and then the Third Orders or Oblates,
formed by single or married lay people living with their families.
Members of the Third Orders were bound to the First Orders by vows or
promises according to their state, and participated in the spiritual
benefits of the Order.
These Third Order members received a simpler religious habit, which
they wore every day or, more commonly, only on Sundays and religious
Later came the Confraternities for lay people unable to join the Third Orders.
According to Father María Simón Besalduch, the Confraternity of Our Lady of Carmel is as old as the Scapular.
The Scapular Protects a Young Lady from the Devil
A young lady went to confession to the Cure of Ars, Saint John Vianney.
Before she began her confession, Saint John Vianney said to her,
“Remember a few days ago in the ballroom a good-looking young man who
danced with all the girls but you? And you felt ashamed? And remember
you saw sparks coming off his feet when he left? Know that it was the
devil in human form, and the only reason he didn’t dance with you is
because you were wearing the Scapular. Thank the Blessed Mother for
Notes: 1. Cf. John Haffert, Maria na sua promessa do Escapulário (Edições Carmelo, Aveiro, Portugal, 1967), 265–266. [back to text] 2.
In Latin, that beautiful prayer says, “Flos Carmeli, Vitis florigera,
Splendor Coeli, Virgo puerpera, Singularis; Mater mitis, sede viri
nescia. Carmelitis da privilegia, Stella maris!” (Flower of Carmel,
blossoming vine, Splendor of Heaven, incomparable and singular Virgin! O
loving and ever virgin Mother, give Carmelites the privileges of thy
protection, of Star of the Sea!). [back to text]3. Monsignor Paul Guérin, Les Petits Bollandistes (Bloud et Barral, Paris, 1882), 592. [back to text]4.
Father Simón Ma. Besalduch, OCD, Enciclopedia del Escapulario del
Carmen (Luis Gili Editor, Librería Católica Internacional, Barcelona,
1931), 243-293. [back to text]5. John Haffert, supra note 1, at 34. [back to text] 6. Id. at 112. [back to text] 7. Father Simón Ma. Besalduch, OCD, supra note 4, at 167. [back to text] 8. John Haffert, supra note 1, at 269, 272. [back to text]
title of Our Lady of Mount Carmel can be traced back to the hermits
living on Mount Carmel in Israel during the Old Testament. This ancient
community prayed for the advent of the Virgin-Mother through whom
salvation was promised to mankind. In Hebrew, “Carmel” means “garden”.
In ancient times this mountain was celebrated for its lush, verdant, and
It was also on Mount Carmel that the Prophet
Elijah prayed to God for rain during a terrible drought afflicting
Israel for its sins and idolatry of Baal. The first sign that his prayer
was answered was a tiny cloud that appeared in the sky out over the
Mediterranean, the precursor of a great rainfall.
Elias saw the
cloud as a symbol of the Virgin mentioned in the prophecies of Isaiah
(7:14). The hermits took after his example and prayed likewise for the
advent of the much-awaited Virgin who would become the mother of the
Messiah. Praying thus became their spiritual mission.
see in that little cloud a figure of Mary, bringing salvation in the
seventh age of the world. As the clouds arise out of the sea without the
weight and the salinity of the waters, so has Mary arisen out of the
human race without its stains.
In the twelfth century, St.
Berthold, a Frenchman, pilgrim or crusader, came to Mount Carmel seeking
to visit Elijah’s cave, and ended by founding a community imbued with
the Marian spirit of the holy prophet and the hermits of old.
Brocard, successor of St. Berthold, set their way of life to a Rule,
which was approved by Pope Innocent IV in 1247. From the time of St.
Brocard, these monks were known as the “Brothers of Our Lady of Mount
Our Lady of Mount Carmel cannot be mentioned without
also mentioning her brown scapular. On July 16, 1251, Our Lady appeared
to St. Simon Stock, an English Carmelite monk, and then General of the
Carmelite Order. On one arm she held the Child Jesus and on the other a
brown garment called a scapular, to be draped over the front and back of
a person. As she showed him this garment she said, “This shall be the
privilege for you and for all the Carmelites, that anyone dying in this
habit shall be saved.”
This privilege is extended to lay persons
who, wishing to participate in this promise, choose to be enrolled in a
small version of the scapular by an officiating priest or deacon.
practice must not be understood superstitiously or “magically”, but in
light of Catholic teaching that perseverance in the theological virtues
of faith, hope and charity are required for salvation.
The refusal to take sides on great moral issues is itself a decision. It is a silent acquiescence to evil. The Tragedy of our time is that those who still believe in honesty lack fire and conviction, while those who believe in dishonesty are full of passionate conviction.
Bonaventure, “The Seraphic Doctor”, was born Giovanni di Fidanza in the
vicinity of Viterbo, Tuscany in 1221. Nothing is known of his childhood
except the name of his parents: Giovanni di Fidanza and Maria Fidella.
has it that when seriously ill as a child, his mother took him to St.
Francis of Assisi. As the saint prayed over him, he was shown the
infant's future spiritual greatness and exclaimed, “O, buona ventura!” O
He entered the Franciscan Order at age twenty-two
and after taking his vows, was sent to Paris to study under the great
Alexander Hale, and then John de la Rochelle. In Paris he became close
friends with St. Thomas Aquinas, and both received their doctorate at
the same time. Like St. Thomas, Bonaventure was held in high esteem by
King St. Louis IX.
Already while in Paris he was a great preacher and discourser and wrote Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard,
a work covering the whole field of scholastic theology. He wrote
extensively on philosophy and theology throughout his life. It is said
of St. Bonaventure that he united in himself two elements: tender piety
and profound learning, from whence proceeded all that is most noble,
sublime, great and beautiful in the Middle Ages.
thirty-five Bonaventure was chosen General of the Franciscans, and
restored peace in the place of disturbances generated by internal
dissensions. While some friars were for an inflexible severity, others
were for a more relaxed rule. The saint steered the wise road of
balance, reforming and restoring the spirit of his order and writing a
life of St. Francis. It is said that St. Thomas Aquinas once entered
Bonaventure’s cell while he was writing this biography and found him in
ecstasy, “Let’s leave a saint to write about a saint,” said the Angelic
In 1265, Pope Clement IV nominated Bonaventure to the
archbishopric of York, which the saint humbly turned down to the
acquiescence of the Pope.
But in 1273 Pope Gregory X elevated him
to ecclesiastical dignity, and made him Cardinal, Bishop of Albano. At
the Council of Lyons, he was the Pope’s right hand in preparing the
matters to be addressed. Before the council began, St. Bonaventure
abdicated the office of minister general of his order.
Council of Lyons was instrumental in the effective reunion of the
Greeks, a union desired by Emperor Michael Palaeologus. St. Thomas died
on the way to this council, and St. Bonaventure was the council’s
outstanding figure. But amidst his triumph, Bonaventure died rather
suddenly during the night of July 14-15. According to the chronicle of
his secretary, Peregrinus of Bologna, discovered in 1905, Bonaventure
He was canonized in 1482, and declared Doctor of the Church in 1588.
A mystery to many
“Why should I read an article about Jacinta?” you may ask. “What can I
get out of it? I already know everything about Fatima: the Blessed
Mother appeared in Portugal to three little shepherds in 1917, told them
to pray the rosary, and Jacinta was a very lucky little girl even
though she died very young... she is now another little angel among the
angels! How does it concern my life? How can I relate to a little girl
who lived almost 100 years ago? Will I find it interesting at all?”
As you read this article you will discover that which is still a
mystery to many, namely, why, during the apparition of July 13, 1917,
the Blessed Virgin showed Hell to the three children: Lucia, 10,
Francisco, 9, and Jacinta, 7.
Yes, the Blessed Virgin showed Hell to a little girl of seven, with
demons in the form of horrible monsters, and souls of the damned burning
in a huge fire! Why would she do such a thing?
That vision transformed Jacinta’s life: from then on she agreed to
suffer so that sinners could convert, and therefore avoid losing their
souls forever. As you read these few pages, you will see how the love of
neighbor, including sinners, can lead a child to a heroic acceptance of
And how she suffered! Small, ignorant, poor and sick, through
suffering Jacinta is transformed into a giant of virtue, a universal
model of wisdom, inner richness and strength.
I am convinced that Jacinta has something very special to convey to
you. Read her story, look her in the eyes, and discover for yourself
what her questioning look suggests.
“How I have pity for souls who go to Hell!”
The concept of eternity was one of the things that most impressed
Jacinta in the vision of Hell. At times she would stop in the middle of a
game and ask her cousin,
“But look. So, after many, many years, will Hell still not be over? And you never get out of there?”
“Even after many, many years?!”
“No. Hell never ends. Neither does Heaven. Whoever goes to Heaven
never leaves. And those who go to Hell don’t either. Don’t you see that
they are eternal, that they never end?”
“And those people burning there do not die? They do not turn into
ashes? If we pray a lot for sinners, does Our Lord deliver them from
there? And with sacrifices too? Poor ones! We will pray and make many
sacrifices for them...How good that Lady really is! She has already
promised to take us to Heaven!”
The vision of Hell had caused Jacinta such horror that all the
penances and mortifications she could make seemed little to prevent a
few souls from falling into it.
How could Jacinta, so small, understand and accept such a spirit of mortification and penance? Lucia explains,
“It seems to me that it was first by a special grace God wished to
grant through the intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary;
secondly, by seeing Hell and the terrible state of the souls that fall
“There are people, even pious ones, who do not want to talk about
Hell to children so as not to frighten them. But God did not hesitate to
show it to a seven-year-old child, knowing that she was going to be
horrified, I would almost venture to say, to the point of dying of
Often, Jacinta would sit on a stone, and plunged into her thoughts, would say:
“Hell! Hell! What pity I have for the souls that go to hell! And the people burning alive there, like wood in a bonfire!”
Then, shuddering, she would kneel down, clasp her hands and recite aloud the prayer which the Blessed Virgin had taught them:
“O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell,
lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of thy mercy.”
“There are so many who go there!”
Jacinta remained on her knees for a long time, repeating the same prayer. From time to time she stopped to call her companions:
“Francisco, Francisco, are you praying with me? We need to pray a lot to deliver souls from hell. So many go there! So many!”
One day Lucia went to see her cousin and found her sitting in bed, pensive.
“Jacinta, what are you thinking about?”
“About the war that is to come. So many people will die! And almost
all will go to hell! Many houses will be razed and many priests killed.
Look, I am going to Heaven. And as soon as you see that night light the
Lady said will come before [the war], make sure to flee there too!”
“Don’t you see that one can’t flee to Heaven?”
“It’s true! You can’t. But do not be afraid! In Heaven I will pray
very much for you, for the Holy Father, for Portugal* so the war does
not come here, and for all priests.”
At other times, she would ask,
“Why does Our Lady not show Hell to sinners? If they only saw it they
would no longer sin to avoid going there! You must tell the Lady to
show hell to all those people [present at Cova da Iria at the time of
the apparition]. You will see how they will convert.”
Then, somewhat dissatisfied, she would ask Lucia,
“Why didn’t you tell Our Lady to show hell to those people?”
“I forgot,” she replied.
“I did not remember it either!” Jacinta said sadly.
At other times she also asked,
“What sins do these people commit to go to hell?”
“I don’t know. Perhaps the sin of not going to Mass on Sunday, stealing, saying ugly words, cursing, swearing.”
“And they go to hell just because of a single word?!”
“Of course! It’s a sin!”
“What would it cost them to keep silent and go to Mass? What a pity I have for sinners! If only I could show them hell!”
And then she would take Lucia by the arm and insist,
“I am going to Heaven, but you who stay here if Our Lady lets you,
tell everyone what hell is like so they don’t sin anymore and don’t go
At other times, after a period of reflection, she would say,
“So many people falling into hell, so many people in hell!”
To reassure her, Lucia would remind her:
“Do not fear; you are going to Heaven.”
“I am,” she said peacefully, “but I wanted all those people to go there too.”
Suffering to Save Sinners
Jacinta would not miss any opportunity of making sacrifices to obtain the conversion of sinners.
When Jacinta would not eat to mortify herself, Lucia would tell her:
“Jacinta! Come on, now eat!”
“No. I offer this sacrifice for sinners who overeat.”
And when, already very affected by illness, she would go to Mass during the week, Lucia tried to prevent her:
“Jacinta, don’t come, you cannot. Today is not Sunday!”
“It does not matter. I am going for the sinners who do not even go on Sunday.”
And if she happened to hear unseemly words uttered by some people, she would hide her face with her hands and say,
“O my God! Don’t these people know that by saying these things they
can go to hell? Forgive them, my Jesus, and convert them. Surely they do
not know that, with this, they offend God. What a pity, my Jesus! I
pray for them.”
The three little shepherds knew children of two poor families who
begged for alms from door to door. Seeing them one day when leading her
flock, Jacinta proposed to Lucia and Francisco:
“Shall we give our lunch to those poor people for the conversion of sinners?”
And she ran to take her lunch to them.
Of course, in the afternoon, the three little shepherds got hungry.
To remedy that, Francisco climbed up a green oak tree and filled his
pockets with long, sweet and nutty acorns. But Jacinta suggested that
they could instead eat acorns from great oaks to make the sacrifice of
chewing something very bitter.
That became one of her usual sacrifices. She also gathered olives
before the brine bath that would cut down their bitterness. The acorns
and olives were so bitter that one day Lucia said to her:
“Jacinta, do not eat that, it’s very bitter!”
“That’s why I eat it, to convert sinners.”
Jacinta seemed insatiable in offering sacrifices. In her generosity
as a little victim, all she thought of was to suffer to save sinners.
For this end, she frequently accepted the harsh conditions of life as it
Everyday Sacrifices to Save Sinners
Jacinta's mother knew well her little girl’s repugnance for milk. One
day, she brought her a cup of milk and a nice bunch of grapes.
“Here, Jacinta,” she told her, “if you can’t take the milk, just leave it and eat the grapes.”
“No, mother, I do not want the grapes, you may take them. Let me have the milk.”
And without showing the slightest repugnance, she drank it. Her
mother was happy, thinking that her daughter's distaste for milk was
gone. Then Jacinta told Lucia:
“I craved those grapes so much, and it was so hard to drink the milk!” But I wanted to offer this sacrifice to Our Lord.”
One morning, Lucia found her with an altered countenance and asked if she felt any worse.
“Tonight,” she replied, “I’ve had many pains and wanted to offer Our
Lord the sacrifice of not going back to bed, so I did not sleep at all.”
Another time she confided to Lucia,
“When I am alone, I get out of bed to say the prayers of the angel;
but now I can no longer reach the ground with my head because I fall. I
pray only on my knees.”
Concerned, Lucia mentioned it to the confessor who knew how to guide
her. He ordered that Jacinta should no longer get out of bed to pray but
say all the prayers she wanted in bed, without tiring too much. She
hastened to pass the message on to Jacinta, who asked:
“Will Our Lord be pleased?”
“He will,” I replied. “Our Lord wants us to do what the pastor tells us.”
“Then it’s fine; I will never get up again.”
“I saw the Holy Father crying, and people insulting him”
one very hot day, the children spent the siesta hour on the well at the
back of the garden of Lucia’s house. Jacinta asked her cousin,
“Haven’t you seen the Holy Father?”
“I do not know how it happened! I saw the Holy Father in a very large
house, on his knees, in front of a table, with his hands on his face,
crying. Outside the house were many people and some threw stones at him,
others cursed and told him many ugly words. Poor little Holy Father! We
have to pray a lot for Him!”
Another day, two priests who had gone to interrogate them explained
who the Pope was and asked the children to pray for him. Jacinta then
“Is he the same I saw crying, and of whom the Lady spoke in that secret?”
“Certainly that Lady also showed him to these priests! See? I was not mistaken. We must pray a lot for him.”
In fact, Jacinta was taken with such a love for the Holy Father that
every time she offered one of her sacrifices to Jesus, she added:
“And for the Holy Father.”
At the end of each rosary she always recited three Hail Marys for the pope and sometimes would say,
“I wish I could see the Holy Father! So many people come here and the Holy Father never comes.”
Another time, the three little shepherds had gone to their favorite
rock hollows on Cabeço hill, where the angel had appeared to them.
Prostrating with their foreheads on the ground, they fervently recited
the prayer he had taught them. After a moment, Jacinta arose and asked,
“Don’t you see many roads, paths and fields full of people crying
with hunger, who have nothing to eat? And the Holy Father in a church,
praying before the Immaculate Heart of Mary? And many people praying
After several days, she asked Lucia:
“Can I say that I have seen the Holy Father and all those people?”
“No. Don’t you see that it is part of the secret and they would soon discover it?”
“All right, then I won’t say anything.”
One year after the last apparition, towards the end of October 1918, Jacinta fell ill, followed by Francisco.
flu epidemic affecting so many people at the time was undoubtedly the
cause of her very strong bronchopneumonia, which never healed but
degenerated into an infected pleurisy with an external abscess, and
On the eve of her illness, she said to Lucia,
“My head hurts so bad and I am so thirsty! But I do not want to drink in order to suffer for sinners.”
Despite her pain, she would not complain. Her only confidante was Lucia:
“I feel such pain in my chest! But I do not say anything to my
mother; I want to suffer for Our Lord in reparation for the sins
committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary, for the Holy Father, and
for the conversion of sinners.”
One morning, when Lucia came to see her, she asked,
“How many sacrifices did you offer to Our Lord tonight?”
“Three: I got up three times to say the prayers of the angel.”
“I have offered Him many, many; I do not know how many, for I had many pains and did not complain.”
At the hospital of Vila Nova de Ourem: “I am not going there to be healed”
On July 1, 1919, Jacinta, who had been ill for almost a year, was
taken to the hospital at Vila Nova de Ourem, the same town where she had
been imprisioned by the Mayor back in August, 1917.
Her father carefully arranged her thin and feverish body on the back
of a mule for the three-mile journey from their hamlet to the town.
She knew very well that she was not at the hospital to be cured, but
to suffer for the conversion of sinners. The Lady had told her so.
Along the way she remembered a visit the Lady had paid to her and
Francisco when she was doing a little better and would spend her day
sitting on her brother's bed. Immediately afterwards she had called
Lucia to tell her,
“Our Lady came to see us and says that she will soon come to take
Francisco to Heaven. And she asked me if I wanted to convert more
sinners. I told her I did. She told me that I would be going to a
hospital and would suffer a lot there; that I should suffer for the
conversion of sinners, in reparation for sins against the Immaculate
Heart of Mary, and for the love of Jesus. I asked her if you were going
with me. She said no. For me this is the hardest part. She said that my
mother was going to take me and I would be there alone!”
The poor little girl was extremely afraid of staying alone in a place she imagined to be terrible. So she added:
“If you only went with me! The hardest thing for me is to go without
you. Maybe the hospital is a very dark house where you cannot see
anything, and I will be there suffering alone!”
And then she immediately returned to the only thing that really mattered:
“But it is all right; I suffer for Our Lord’s sake, to make
reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, for the conversion of
sinners, and for the Holy Father.”
In fact, the Saint Augustine Hospital in Vila Nova de Ourem was all
white and flooded with light. But the treatment Jacinta received there
for two months could do nothing to improve her health, and she suffered
What had begun as the flu in October 1918 had turned into
tuberculosis, which affected one of her lungs. An abscess had formed and
a wound opened on her left side through which oozed foul-smelling pus.
She received few visits, as distance and daily occupations prevented
her mother from visiting her youngest child as often as she would like.
When she came to see Jacinta, she asked if she wanted anything. Of
course, what Jacinta wanted the most was to see Lucia and converse with
So, as soon as she could her mother brought Lucia with her, not a
small complication as she had to make a round trip of more than twelve
miles in a single day. This trip was made, not in a car or by train, but
as all the poor traveled, by donkey cart.
As soon as Jacinta saw Lucia she kissed her with joy and asked her mother to leave them together while she went shopping.
“Do you suffer much?” Lucia asked her.
“Yes, I do suffer; but I offer everything for sinners and to make reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”
And she began to speak enthusiastically of Our Lord and the Blessed Mother:
“I am so glad to suffer for Their love! To make Them pleased! They love very much those who suffer to convert sinners.”
The visit went by quickly and when Jacinta’s mother asked her again
if she wanted something, she asked her to bring Lucia again when she
came to visit.
The second time around, her cousin found her suffering with the same
joy for the love of God, of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, for sinners
and the Holy Father.
Lucia wrote, “It was her ideal; that was what she talked about,” adding:
“She was only a child of ten. As for the rest, she already knew how
to practice virtue and show her love for God and the Blessed Virgin by
In Lucia’s opinion, she had an intimate and meticulous knowledge of
the profound meaning of the message which the three had received:
“It seems to me that Jacinta was the one to whom the Blessed Virgin
communicated a greater abundance of grace, knowledge of God and virtue.”
Back from the hospital
After two long months in the hospital of Vila Nova de Ourém, she
returned home. She never complained or showed impatience during the
daily care required by the open and infected wound on her side.
In September 1919, despite her lamentable state, Jacinta was still
moving a little. Weakened and emaciated, she went to Mass at the church
of Fatima. But the Cova da Iria was too far away for her feeble
In October, a friend of the family found her in a pitiful state,
remarking: “The little one is skeletal. Her arms are woefully skinny.
She continually burns with fever. Her appearance inspires compassion.”
She was again the object of endless visits and questions from people who came to see her now that she could no longer hide.
“I offer also this sacrifice for sinners,” she said with resignation.
“I wish I could go to Cabeço to say a chaplet in our grotto! But I am
no longer able to.”
A new visit by the Blessed Mother: “I will die all alone!”
Again the Blessed Virgin came to see Jacinta, bedridden, to announce
new crosses and sacrifices. She hastened to break the news to Lucia:
“She told me that I am going to Lisbon, to another hospital; that I
will not see you again, or my parents; that, after suffering very much, I
will die alone but should not be afraid, as she is going to take me to
Jacinta wept as she kissed her cousin:
“I’ll never see you again. You’re not going to visit me there. Look, pray a lot for me, as I am dying alone.”
“Do not think about it,” I told her one day.
“Let me think, because the more I think, the more I suffer; and I
want to suffer for the love of Our Lord and for sinners. And then I do
not care! Our Lady is going there to fetch me to Heaven.”
She was also worried she still had not been able to receive communion:
“Am I going to die without receiving the hidden Jesus? If only Our Lady would bring Him to me when she comes to get me!”
And when Lucia asked her what she would do once in heaven,
“I am going to love very much Jesus, the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
pray a lot for you, for sinners, for the Holy Father, for my parents and
siblings, and for all those who have asked me to pray for them.”
If asked whether she needed anything, she replied:
“No, thank you very much, I need nothing.”
After people left, she would say to Lucia:
“I'm very thirsty but do not want to drink; I offer it up to Jesus for sinners.”
On another occasion, Lucia found her kissing an image of the Blessed Virgin and saying,
“O my sweet heavenly Mother, will I then die alone?”
The poor child seemed frightened at the idea of dying alone. To console her, Lucia recalled,
“What do you care if you die alone, if Our Lady will come fetch you?”
“It’s true! I do not care at all. I don’t know what will happen to me
; sometimes I do not remember that she’s coming to get me, just that I
will die without you standing by me."
Lisbon and the death of Jacinta
In mid-January, 1920, Canon Formigão, a priest who had been present
at several of the apparitions and had been able to question the seers
with tact and precision, returned with a doctor from Lisbon, a pious
soul who came to pray at Cova da Iria with Lucia. He then met Jacinta
and her parents.
Although they told him that she had shown no improvement after the
two-month stay at the hospital in Vila Nova de Ourem, and that they knew
the Blessed Virgin would soon take their little Jacinta to heaven, the
doctor finally convinced them to send her to Lisbon.
Knowing that the use of all possible remedies to cure the little
patient was not opposed to the will of God, her parents agreed and her
father went to announce their decision.
Jacinta was saddened by the news but accepted it with resignation.
Her father explained to her that they had to send her to Lisbon so
people would not say they had refused a treatment that could have cured
“Oh, daddy! Even if I recover, another illness will come and I will die. If I go to Lisbon, you can bid me goodbye.”
Shortly before Jacinta left for Lisbon, where she knew she was going
to die away from her family, finding her immersed in her memories, Lucia
“Do not be sad that I am not going with you. It is a short time; you
can spend it thinking of Our Lady, Our Lord, and often saying these
words that you like so much: “My God, I love You! Immaculate Heart of Mary! Sweet Heart of Mary!”
“That’s right!” she answered in a lively way. “I will never tire of
saying them until I die! And then I will sing them many times in
Before leaving her home forever, Jacinta asked her mother to take her
to the Cova da Iria, where she wanted to pray again and see the place
where the Blessed Virgin had appeared.
With the help of a neighbor who lent a mule, they made the journey
which they had traveled so often in the past. The little one got off of
the mule a little before arriving in order to pluck a few flowers. These
she placed in the little chapel that had been built where the little
green oak once stood which served as a support to the Queen of the
She prayed on her knees for a long while, and then, rising, showed
her mother the trees over which the Lady would pass when she went back
Departure from Fatima
The day of departure for Lisbon, January 21, 1920, finally arrived.
Jacinta’s farewells to her dear Lucia were poignant. She embraced her
for a long time, weeping and saying,
“We’ll never see each other again! Pray a lot for me, until I go to
Heaven. Then, there, I will pray a lot for you. Never tell anyone the
secret, even if they kill you. Love Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of
Mary very much, and make many sacrifices for sinners.”
Then Jacinta departed with her mother to take the train to the capital.
At the orphanage of Mother Godinho
Having arrived at the Lisbon station, three ladies came to fetch them
and took them to the orphanage of Our Lady of Miracles, founded and
directed by Mother Godinho, where Jacinta had to wait a little before
being admitted to the hospital.
mother stayed with her for a few days, and after a week returned to the
hamlet, leaving her little Jacinta in the care of Mother Godinho, whom
all the little orphans called “Godmother.”
Jacinta’s great consolation was to discover that the house where she
was had a passage to the back of the church adjoining the pulpit. She
was installed on a small chair from which she could see the tabernacle
and the altar, and she would stay there for as long as they would allow
She was admitted to communion almost every day: finally, she was able to receive the hidden Jesus in her heart!
Having noticed that many visitors were talking and laughing in the
orphanage chapel, Jacinta asked Mother Godinho to admonish them about
the lack of respect that this represented to the Real Presence. When
that didn’t work, she asked that the cardinal be warned: “Our Lady does
not want us to speak in church.”
It is certain that the Most Holy Virgin came to see her several
times, conversing with her and announcing the day and hour of her death.
Jacinta had someone write this to Lucia, again recommending her to be
Who can tell the depth of Jacinta’s conversations with the Mother of
God? Knowledge of certain future events and discernment of souls are
also a small indication of what these conversations were like. Following
are several examples:
She confided to Godmother that the Blessed Virgin would have liked
two of her sisters, aged sixteen and seventeen, to become nuns. But
since her mother opposed it, Our Lady would soon take them to heaven,
something that happened shortly after Jacinta’s death.
A doctor who looked after her asked her to pray for him when she was
in heaven. Jacinta said yes, but told him to be prepared, for he too
would soon die.
She likewise predicted to another physician his coming death and that of his daughter.
After hearing the sermon of a priest whom everybody admired, she
said, “Godmother, when you least expect it, you will see how bad this
priest is.” Indeed, shortly after that the priest left the priesthood
and began to live openly in scandal.
She was well aware that, even if she prayed for sinners, their
conversion depended on themselves and if they persisted in sin it was
their own responsibility. Thus, when Godmother asked her to pray for
some people in a miserable spiritual state, she replied,
“Yes, Godmother, but those are already beyond any hope!”
The last hospital – “I am going to die”
She was finally admitted to the hospital on the 2nd of February with
two ribs that were turning necrotic and were about to be removed in the
hope of containing the infection in the lungs.
There she was separated from the company of her good Godmother and
especially from the presence of Jesus hidden in the tabernacle and
Placed in a large, cold and sad infirmary with many beds, she was as sorry as ever for sinners.
She blamed some nurses and visitors for their frivolous and hardly modest way of dressing:
“What’s all this for? If these people only knew what eternity is!”
She was operated on the 10th of February.
Because of her great weakness they did not use chloroform to make her
sleep, but only the local anesthetic available at the time.
Her greatest suffering, however, was to have her little body
undressed at the hands of doctors, so little attentive to the admirable
modesty of that little Christian girl. She cried a great deal.
Every day they had to tend to the gaping wound, which rekindled
excruciating pain. As they were taking care of her, she groaned softly:
“Ouch! Nossa Senhora! Ouch! Nossa Senhora! (In English it would have been, “Ouch, Mother of God! Ouch, Mother of God)
And then she would add:
“Patience! We must all suffer to go to Heaven.”
For the rest of the time she was never heard to complain. The Most
Holy Virgin, who came to see her several times in this infirmary,
completely removed her pain four days before taking her away.
To her “Godmother,” Mother Godinho who came to see her once a day, Jacinta said,
“Our Lady has appeared to me again; she will soon come for me and has immediately taken away my pains.”
As her Godmother went to sit at a certain place, Jacinta protested:
“Not there, Godmother. That is where Our Lady sat.”
Shortly before her death, someone asked her if she wanted to see her mother. Jacinta replied:
“My family will last a short time and we will soon meet again in
heaven. Our Lady will appear another time, but not to me, for without a
doubt I will die as she told me.”
The day fixed for her departure to heaven, February 20th, a Friday, finally arrived.
About six o'clock in the evening, feeling ill, she asked to receive
the last sacraments. A priest came from the nearby parish and heard her
confession. She insisted that she should be given communion, but the
priest told her that he would bring It the next day.
Once he left, Jacinta insisted again to receive communion, saying she was going to die.
About half-past ten Jacinta died very quietly, but without communion.
Only a young nurse, whom she affectionately called “my little Aurora,”
stood beside her and watched over her remains for the rest of the night.
“In Heaven I will pray much…”
“I will return to Fatima, but only after my death,” Jacinta told
Godmother. She was first buried in the cemetery of Vila Nova de Ourem,
in the vault of Baron de Alvaiazere, protector of her family.
was buried in the cemetery of Fatima. On September 12, 1935, Jacinta’s
precious remains were transferred to the Fatima cemetery and placed in a
new grave prepared especially for her and her brother. The tombstone
bore this simple inscription: “Here lie the mortal remains of Francisco
and Jacinta, to whom Our Lady appeared.”
Subsequently (in 1951 and 1952, respectively), the precious remains were moved to the Basilica of Fatima, where they now are.
The preparatory canonical processes for the beatification of the two Fatima seers were officially opened in 1949.
And on June 28, 1999, a decree was issued recognizing the
authenticity of the miracle necessary for the beatification. Finally, on
May 13, 2000, Pope Saint John Paul II went personally to the Sanctuary
of Fatima where he solemnly beatified the servants of God Francisco and
Jacinta Marto before a crowd calculated at 400,000. Their canonical
feast is celebrated annually on February 20th, in the places and
according to the norms of the law.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Jacinta had told Lucia what she would do once in Heaven:
"I am going to love very much Jesus, the
Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray a lot for you, for sinners, for the Holy
Father, for my parents and siblings, and for all those who have asked me
to pray for them.”
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The story of Jacinta Marto is not for
the Catholic inclined to sentimentality. It is a story of a little girl
who saw with her own eyes the Mother of God, but also Hell. As a
consequence of these facts and of her correspondence to graces received,
Jacinta went from being a simple little shepherd girl in the fields of
Portugal to a great Saint.
She understood what really matters in this life as well as the
immense importance and reality of eternity. She was called to be what
the Church calls an “expiatory victim” and she accepted this calling
with great love and generosity. Her life and example stand in sharp
contrast with the 21st century and that is precisely why her story is so
relevant for us today. Saint Jacinta, Pray for us!