The First Memoir of Sister Lucia (1936)
Prayer and Obedience
Having implored the protection of the most Holy Hearts of Jesus and of Mary, Our Tender Mother, and sought light and grace at the foot of the Tabernacle, so as to write nothing that would not be solely and exclusively for the glory of Jesus and the most Blessed Virgin, I now take up this work, in spite of the repugnance I feel, since I can say almost nothing about Jacinta without speaking either directly or indirectly about my miserable self. I obey, nevertheless, the will of Your Excellency, which, for me, is the expression of the will of our good God.
I begin this task, then, asking the most holy Hearts of Jesus and Mary to deign to bless it, and to make use of this act of obedience to obtain the conversion of the poor sinners, for whom Jacinta so generously sacrificed herself. I know Your Excellency does not expect a well written account from me, for you know how incapable and inadequate I am. I am going to tell you, then, what I can remember about this soul, for by God’s grace I was her most intimate confidante. I have such high regard for her holiness, that I greatly esteem and respect her and dearly cherish her memory.
In spite of my good will to be obedient, I trust Your Excellency to permit me to withhold certain matters concerning myself as well as Jacinta, that I would not wish to be read before I enter eternity. You will not find it strange that I should reserve for eternity certain secrets and other matters. After all, is it not the Blessed Virgin Herself who sets me the example? Does not the holy Gospels tell us that Mary kept all things in Her heart? And who better than the Immaculate Heart could have revealed to us the secrets of the Divine Mercy? Nonetheless, She kept them to Herself as in a garden enclosed, and took them with Her to the palace of the Divine King.
I remember, besides, a saying that I heard from a holy priest, when I was only eleven years old. Like so many others, he came to question me, and among other things, about a matter that I did not wish to speak. After he had exhausted his whole repertoire of questions, without succeeding in obtaining a satisfactory answer on this subject, realizing perhaps he was touching on too delicate a matter, the good priest gave me his blessing and said: “You are right, my child. The secret of the King’s Daughter should remain hidden in the depths of the heart.”
At the time, I did not understand the meaning of what he said, but I realized that he approved of my manner of acting. I did not forget his words, however, and I understand them now. This saintly priest was at that time the vicar of Torres Novas. Little does he know all the good these few words did for my soul, and that is why I remember him with such gratitude. One day, however, I sought the advice of a holy priest regarding my reserve for such matters, because I did not know how to answer when they asked me if the most Blessed Virgin had not told me anything as well. This priest, who was then the vicar of Olival, said to us:
You do well my little ones, to keep the secret of your souls between yourself and God. When they put that question to you, just say, “Yes, She did say more but it’s a secret.” If they question you further on this subject, think of the secret that this Lady made known to you and say, “Our Lady told us not to say anything, so for this reason we are saying nothing.” In this way you can keep your secret under the cover of Our Lady’s.
How well I understood the explanation and guidance of this venerable old priest! I am already taking too much time with these preliminaries and Your Excellency will be wondering what is the purpose of it all. I must see if I can make a start with my account of what I can remember of Jacinta’s life. As I have no free time at my disposal, I must make the most of the hours when we work in silence, to recall and jot down, with the aid of paper and pencil which I keep hidden under my sewing, all that the Holy Hearts of Jesus and Mary want me to remember.
Swift through the world
you went a-flying,
In deepest suffering
Forget not my plea
And a prayer to you:
Be ever my friend
Before the throne
Of the Virgin Mary.
Lily of Candour,
Up there in Heaven
You live in glory.
Seraphim of love,
With your little brother
At the Master’s feet
Pray for me.
Her Natural Characteristics
Your Excellency, before the happenings of 1917, apart from the ties of relationship that united us, no other particular affection led me to prefer the companionship of Jacinta and Francisco to that of any other child. On the contrary, I sometimes found Jacinta’s company quite disagreeable, on account of her oversensitive temperament. The slightest quarrel which arose among the children was enough to send her pouting into a corner— “tethering the donkey” as we used to say. Even the coaxing and caressing that the children knew so well how to give on such occasions, were still not enough to bring her back to play; she, herself had to choose the game, and her partner as well.
Her heart, however, was well disposed. God has endowed her with a sweet and gentle character which made her at once lovable and attractive. I don’t know why but Jacinta and Francisco had a special liking for me, and almost always came in search for me when they wanted to play. They did not enjoy the company of the other children, and they used to ask me to go with them to the well down at the bottom of the garden belonging to my parents. Once we arrived there, Jacinta chose which games we were to play.
The ones she liked best were usually “Pebbles” and “Buttons,” which we played as we sat on the stone slabs covering the well, in the shade of an olive tree and two plum trees. Playing Buttons often left me in great distress, because when they called us in for our meals, I used to find myself minus buttons. More often then not, Jacinta won them all, and this was enough to make my mother scold me. I had to sew them on again in a hurry. But how could I persuade Jacinta to give them back to me, since besides her pouty ways she had another little defect, she was possessive! She wanted to keep all the buttons for the next game, so as to avoid taking off her own! It was only by threatening never to play with her again that I succeeded getting them back! Not a few times, I found myself unable to do what my little friend wanted.
One of my older sisters was a weaver and the other a seamstress, and both were at home all day. The neighbors, therefore, used to ask my mother if they could leave their children in my parents’ yard, while they themselves went out to work, in the fields. The children stayed with me and played, while my sisters kept an eye on us. My mother was always willing to do this, although it meant considerable waste of time for my sisters. I was, therefore, charged with amusing the children, and watching to see that they did not fall into the pool in the yard.
Three large fig trees sheltered us from the scorching sun. We used their branches for swings, and an old threshing floor a dining room. On days like these, when Jacinta came with her brother to invite me to go with them to our favourite nook, I used to tell them that I could not go, because my mother had ordered to stay where I was. Then, disappointed but resigned, the two little ones joined in our games.
At siesta time, especially when Lent was drawing near, she said: “I don’t want to be ashamed of you when the priest questions you on your catechism at Easter time.” All the other children, therefore, were present at our catechism lessons and Jacinta was there as well.
One day, one of these children accused the other of improper talk. My mother reproved him severely, pointing out that one does not say such nasty things, because they are sinful and displease the Child Jesus; and that those who commit such sins and do not confess them, go to Hell. Little Jacinta never forgot that lesson.
The very next time the children came, Jacinta said: “Will your mother let you go today?”
“Then, I’m going with Francisco over to our yard.”
“And why won’t you stay here?”
“Our mother doesn’t want us to stay when those other children are here. She told us to go and play in our own yard. She doesn’t want me to learn these nasty things, which are sins and which the Child Jesus doesn’t like.”
Then she whispered in my ear: “If your mother lets you, will you come over to our yard?”
“Then go ask her.”
And taking her brother by the hand, she went home.
Speaking of Jacinta’s favourite games, one of them was “Forfeits.” As Your Excellency probably knows, the loser has to do whatever the winner tells him. Jacinta loved to send the loser chasing after butterflies, to catch one and bring it to her. At other times she demanded some flower of her own choosing. One day, we were playing Forfeits at my home, and I won, so this time it was I who told her what to do. My brother was sitting at the table writing.
I told her to give him a hug and a kiss, but she protested: “That, no! Tell me to do some other thing. Why don’t you tell me to go and kiss Our Lord over there?”
There was a Crucifx hanging on the wall.
“Alright” I answered, “get up on a chair, bring the Crucifix over here, kneel down and give him three hugs and three kisses; one for Franisco, one for me and the other for yourself.”
“To Our Lord, yes, I’ll give him as many as you like,” and she ran to get the Crucifix.
She kissed it and hugged it with such devotion that I have never forgotten it.
Then, looking attentively at the figure of Our Lord, she asked: “Why is Our Lord nailed to the cross like that?”
Because He died for us.”
“Tell me how it happened,” she said.
Her Love for the Crucified Saviour
In the evening my mother used to tell stories. My father and my older sisters told us fairy stories about magic spells and princesses robed in gold and royal doves. Then came along my mother who told stories of Passion, Saint John the Baptist, and so on. This is how I came to know the story of Our Lord’s Passion. As it was enough for me to have heard a story once to be able to repeat it in all its details, I began to tell my companion, word-for-word, what I used to call “Our Lord’s Story.”
Just then, my sister passed by and noticed that we had the crucifix in our hands. She took it from us and scolded us saying that she did not want us touching holy things. Jacinta got up and approached my sister saying: “Maria, don’t scold her! I did it, but I won’t do it again.” My sister caressed her, and told us to go and play outside because we never leave anything in the house in its proper place.
Off we went to continue the story at the well I have already mentioned. As it was hidden behind some chestnut trees and a heap of stones and brambles, we chose this spot some years later for our intimate talks, our fervent prayers, and to tell you everything, our tears as well—and sometimes very bitter tears they were. We mingled our tears with the waters of the same well from which we drank. Does this not make this well itself an image of Mary, in whose heart we dried our tears and drank of the purest consolation?
But, let us come back to our story. When the little one heard me telling of the sufferings of Our Lord, she was moved to tears. From then on, she often asked me to tell it to her all over again. She would weep and grieve saying: “Our poor dear Lord! I’ll never sin again! I don’t want Our Lord to suffer any more!”
Her Delicate Sensibility
Jacinta also loved going out at nightfall to the threshing floor situated close to the house; there she watched the beautiful sunsets, and contemplated the starry skies. She was enraptured by the lovely moonlit nights. We vied with each other to see who could count the most stars. We called the stars “Angels lamps,” the moon “Our Lady’s lamp” and the sun “Our Lord’s.”
This led Jacinta to remark sometimes: “You know, I like Our Lady’s lamp better; it doesn’t burn us up or blind us, the way Our Lord’s does.” In fact, the sun can be very strong there on summer days, and Jacinta, a delicate child, suffered greatly from the heat.
She Looks and Learns
As my sister belonged to the Sodality of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, every time a children’s solemn communion came round, she took me along to renew my own. On one occasion my aunt took her little daughter to see the ceremony, and Jacinta was fascinated by the “angels” strewing flowers. From that day on, she sometimes left us while we were playing, and went off to gather an apron-full of flowers. Then she came back and strewed them over me, one by one.
“Jacinta, why on Earth are you doing that?”
“I’m doing what the little angels do: I’m strewing you with flowers.”
Every year, on a big feast, probably Corpus Christi, my sister used to prepare the dresses for the children chosen to represent the angels in procession. They walked beside the canopy, strewing flowers. I was always among the ones chosen, and one day after my sister had tried on my dress, I told Jacinta about the coming feast, and how I was going to strew flowers over Jesus. The little one begged me to ask my sister to let her go as well. The two of us went along to make our request. My sister said she could go, and tried a dress on Jacinta. At the rehearsals, she explained how we were to strew the flowers before the Child Jesus.
“Will we see Him?” asked Jacinta.
“Yes.” replied my sister. “The parish priest will be carrying Him.”
Jacinta jumped for joy, and kept on asking how much longer we had to wait for the feast. The longed-for day arrived at last, and Jacinta was beside herself with excitement. The two of us took our places near the altar. Later, in the procession, we walked beside the canopy, each of us with a basket full of flowers. Whereever my sister had told us to strew the flowers, I strewed mine before Jesus, but in spite of all my signs I made to Jacinta, I couldn’t get her to strew a single one. She kept her eyes fixed on the priest, and that was all.
When the ceremony was over, my sister took us outside the church and asked: “Jacinta, why didn’t you strew your flowers before Jesus?”
“Because I didn’t see Him.” Jacinta then asked me: “But did you see the Child Jesus?”
“Of course not. Don’t you know that the Child Jesus in the Host can’t be seen? He’s hidden! He’s the one we receive in Communion!”
“And you, when you go to communion, do you talk to Him?”
“Yes, I do.”
“Then, why don’t you see Him?”
“Because He’s hidden.”
“I’m going to ask my mother if I can go to Communion too.”
“The parish priest won’t let you until you are ten years old.”
“But your not ten yet, and you go to Communion!”
“Because I know the whole catechism, and you don’t.”
After this, my two companions asked me to teach them the catechism. So I became their catechist, and they learned with exceptional enthusiasm. But though I could answer any question they put to me, when it came to teaching, I could only remember things here and there.
This led Jacinta to say to me one day: “Teach us some more; we know all those.”
I had to admit, I could remember things only when people questioned me on them, and I added: “Ask your mother to let you go to the church to learn your catechism.”
The two children, who so ardently desired to receive the “Hidden Jesus”, as they called Him, went to ask their mother, and my aunt agreed. But she rarely let them go there, for she said: “The church is a good way from here, and you are very small. In any case, the priest won’t give Holy Communion before you’re ten years old.”
Jacinta never stopped asking me questions about the Hidden Jesus, and I remember how, one day, she asked me: “How is it that so many people receive the little Hidden Jesus at the same time? Is there one small piece for each person?”
“Not at all! Don’t you see that there are many Hosts, and that there is a Child Jesus in all of them.”
What a lot of nonsense I must have told her!
Jacinta, the Little Shepherdess
I was old enough now to be sent out to mind our sheep, just how my mother had sent her other children at my age. My sister Carolina was then thirteen, and it was time for her to go out to work. My mother, therefore, put me in charge of our flock. I passed on the news to my two companions, and told them that I would not be playing with them anymore; but they could not bring themselves to accept such a separation. They went at once to ask their mother to let them come with me, but she refused. We had no alternative but to accept the separation.
Nearly every day after that, they came to meet me on my way home at dusk. Then we made for the threshing floor, and ran about for a while, waiting for Our Lady and the Angels to light their lamps—or put them, as we used to say, at the window to give us light. On moonless nights, we used to say that there was no oil for Our Lady’s lamp!
Jacinta and Francisco found it very hard to get used to the absence of their former companion. For this reason, they pleaded with their mother over and over again to let them, also, look after their sheep. Finally my aunt, hoping perhaps to get rid of such persistent requests, even though she knew that the children were too small, handed over to them the care of their own flock. Radiant with joy, they ran to give me the news and talk over how we could put our flocks together every day.
Each one was to open the pen, whenever their mother decided, and whoever reached the Barreiro first was to await the arrival of the other flock. Barreiro was the name of a pond at the bottom of the hill. As soon as we meet at the pond, we decided where we would pasture the flock that day. Then off we’d go, as happy and content as if we were going to a festival.
And now, Your Excellency, we see Jacinta in her new life as a shepherdess. We won over the sheep by sharing our lunch with them. This meant that when we reached the pasture, we could play at our ease, quite sure that they would not stray far away from us.
Jacinta loved to hear her voice echoing down the valleys. For this reason, one of our favourite amusements was to climb to the top of the hills, sit down on the biggest rock we could find, and call out different names from the top of our voices. The name that echoed back most clearly was “Maria.” Sometimes Jacinta used to say the whole Hail Mary this way, only calling out the following word when the preceeding one had stopped re-echoing.
We loved to sing too. Interspersed among popular songs—of which, alas! We knew quite a number—were Jacinta’s favourite hymns: Salve Nobre Padroeira (Hail Noble Patroness), Virgem Pura (Virgin Pure), and Anjos, Canti Comigo (Angels Sing With Me). We were very fond of dancing, and any instrument we heard being played by the other shepherds was enough to set us off. Jacinta, as tiny as she was, had a special aptitude for dancing.
We had been told to say the Rosary after our lunch, but as the whole day seemed too short for our play, we worked out a fine way of getting through it quickly. We simply passed the beads through our fingers, saying nothing but “Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary…” At the end of each mystery, we paused awhile, then simply said: “Our Father,” and so on. In the twinkling of an eye, as they say, we had our Rosary finished!
Jacinta also loved to hold the little white lambs tightly in her arms, sitting with them on her lap, fondling them, kissing them, and carrying them home at night on her shoulders, so that they wouldn’t get tired. One day on her way back, she walked along in the middle of the flock.
“Jacinta, what are you doing there,” I asked her, “in the middle of the sheep?”
“I want to do the same as Our Lord in that holy picture that they gave me. He’s just like this, right in the middle of them all, and He’s holding one of them in His arms.”
The First Apparition
And now, Your Excellency, you know more or less how Jacinta spent her first seven years of her life, right up to that 13th day of May, 1917, which dawned bright and fair like so many others before it. That day, by chance—if in the designs of Providence there can be such a thing as chance—we chose to pasture our flock on some land belonging to my parents, called Cova De Iria. We chose the pasture as we usually did, at the Barreiro I have already mentioned. This meant we had to cross a barren stretch of moorland to get there, which made the journey doubly long. We had to go slowly to give the sheep a chance of grazing along the way, so it was almost noon when we arrived.
I will not delay here to tell you what happened that day, because Your Excellency knows it well already, and therefore it would be a waste of time. Except for the sake of obedience, my writing this seems a waste of time to me as well. For I cannot see the good Your Excellency can draw from it all, unless it could be that you will become better acquainted with Jacinta’s innocence of life.
Before beginning to tell Your Excellency what I remember of this new period in Jacinta’s life, I must first admit that there were certain aspects of Our Lady’s apparitions which we had agreed not to make known to anybody. Now however, I may have to speak about them in order to explain whence Jacinta imbibed such great love for Jesus, for suffering and for sinners, for whose salvation she sacrificed herself so generously.
Your Excellency is not aware that she was the one who, unable to contain herself with joy, broke the agreement to keep the matter to ourselves. That very afternoon, while we remained thoughtful and rapt in wonder, Jacinta kept breaking into enthusiastic exclamations: “Oh, what a beautiful Lady!”
“I can see what’s going to happen,” I said, “you’ll end saying that to somebody else.”
“No, I won’t,” she answered, “don’t worry.”
Next day, when Francisco came running to tell me how she had told them everything at home the night before, Jacinta listened to the accusation without a word.
“You see, that’s just what I thought was going to happen.” I said to her.
“There was something within me that wouldn’t let me keep it quiet,” she said with tears in her eyes.
“Well, don’t cry now, and don’t tell anything else to anybody about what Our Lady said to us.”
“But I’ve already told them.”
“And what did you say?”
“I said that the Lady promised to take us to heaven.”
“To think you’ve told them that!”
“Forgive me, I won’t tell anything ever again!”
Reflecting on Hell
That day, when we reached the pasture, Jacinta sat thoughtfully on a rock.
“Jacinta, come and play.”
“I don’t want to play today.”
“Because I’m thinking. That Lady told us to say the Rosary and make sacrifices for the conversion of sinners, so from now on, when we say the Rosary we must say the whole Hail Mary and the whole Our Father! And the sacrifices, how are we going to make them?”
Right away, Francisco thought of a good sacrifice: “Let’s give our lunch to the sheep, and make the sacrifice of going without it.”
In a couple of minutes, the contents of our lunch bag had been divided among the sheep. So that day, we fasted as strictly as the most austere Carthusian!
“It is like a big deep pit of wild beasts, with an enormous fire in it—that’s how my mother used to explain it to me—and that’s where people go who commit sins and don’t confess them. They stay there and burn for ever!”
“And they never get out of there again?”
“Not even after many, many years?”
“No! Hell never ends!”
“And Heaven never ends either?”
“They’re eternal, don’t you see! They never end.”
That was how, for the first time, we made a meditation on hell and eternity. Even in the middle of a game she would stop and ask: “But listen! Doesn’t hell end after many, many years then?” or again: “Those people burning in hell, don’t they ever die? And don’t they turn into ashes? Poor sinners! We have to pray and make many sacrifices for them!” Then she went on: “How good that Lady is! She has already promised to take us to heaven!”
Conversion of Sinners
Jacinta took this matter of sacrifices for the conversion of sinners so much to heart, that she never let a single opportunity escape her. There were two families in Moita whose children used to go round begging from door to door. We met one day, as we were going along with our sheep.
As soon as she saw them, Jacinta said to us: “Let’s give our lunch to those poor children, for the conversion of sinners,” and she ran to take it to them.
That afternoon, she told me she was hungry. There were some holm-oaks and oak trees near by. The acorns were still quite green. However, I told her we could still eat them. Francisco climbed up a holm-oak to fill his pockets, but Jacinta remembered that we could eat the ones on the oak tree instead, and thus make a sacrifice by eating the bitter kind. So it was there, that afternoon, that we enjoyed this delicious repast! Jacinta made this as one of her usual sacrifices, and often picked the acorns off the oaks or the olives off the trees.
One day I said to her: “Jacinta, don’t eat that; its too bitter!”
“But it’s because its bitter that I’m eating it, for the conversion of sinners.”
These were not the only times we fasted. We had agreed that whenever we see any poor children like these, we would give them our lunch. They were only too happy to receive such an alms, and they took good care to meet us; they used to wait for us along the road. We no sooner saw them than Jacinta ran to give them all the food we had for that day, as happy as if she had no need for it herself.
On days like that, our only nourishment consisted of pine nuts, and little berries the size of an olive which grew on the roots of little bell-flowers, as well as blackberries, mushrooms, and some other things we found on the roots of pine trees—I can’t remember now what these were called. If there was fruit available on the land belonging to our parents, we used to eat that. Jacinta’s thirst for making sacrifices seemed insatiable.
One day a neighbor offered my mother a good pasture for our sheep. Though it was quite far away, and we were at the height of summer, my mother accepted the offer made so generously and sent me there. She told me that we should take our siesta in the shade of the trees, as there was a pond nearby where the flock could go and drink. On the way, we met our dear poor children, and Jacinta ran and gave them our usual alms.
It was a lovely day, but the sun was blazing, and in that arid, stony wasteland, it seemed as though it would burn everything up. We were parched with thirst, and there wasn’t a single drop of water for us to drink! At first, we offered it up generously for the conversion of sinners, but after midday, we could hold out no longer.
As there was a house quite near, I suggested to my companions that I should go and ask for a little water. They agreed to this, so I went and knocked on the door. A little old woman gave me not only a pitcher of water, but also some bread which I accepted gratefully. I ran to share it with my little companions, and then offered the pitcher to Francisco, and told him to drink.
“I don’t want to.” he replied.
“I want to suffer for the conversion of sinners.”
“You have a drink Jacinta!”
“But I want to offer this sacrifice for the conversion of sinners too.”
Then I poured the water into a hollow in the rock, so that the sheep could drink it, and went to return the pitcher to its owner. The heat was getting more and more intense. The shrill singing of the crickets and grasshoppers coupled with the croaking of the frogs in the neighbouring pond made an uproar that was almost unbearable.
Jacinta, frail as she was, and weakened still more by the lack of food and drink, said to me with that simplicity which was natural to her: “Tell the crickets and the frogs to keep quiet! I have such a terrible headache.”
Then Francisco said to her: “Don’t you want to suffer for the conversion of sinners?”
The poor child, clasping her head between her two little hands, replied: “Yes I do, let them sing!”
In the meantime, news of what had happened was spreading. My mother was getting worried, and wanted at all costs to make me deny what I had said. One day, before I set out with the flock, she was determined to make me confess that I was telling lies, and to this end she spared neither caresses, nor threats, not even the broomstick. To all this she received nothing but a mute silence, or the confirmation of all that I had already said.
She told me to go and let out the sheep, and during the day to consider well that she had never tolerated a single lie among her children, and much less would she allow a lie of this kind. She warned me that she would force me, that very evening, to go to those people whom I had deceived, confess that I had lied and ask their pardon. I went off with my sheep, and that day my little companions were already waiting for me. When they saw me crying, they ran up and asked me what was the matter.
I told them all that had happened, and added: “Tell me now, what am I to do? My mother is determined at all costs to make me say that I was lying. But how can I?”
Then Francisco said to Jacinta: “You see! its all your fault; why did you have to tell them?”
The poor child, in tears, knelt down, joined her hands, and asked our forgiveness: “I did wrong,” she said through her tears, “but I will never tell anything to anybody again!”
Your Excellency will probably be wondering who taught Jacinta to make such an act of humility? I don’t know. Perhaps she had seen her brothers and sisters asking their parents for forgiveness before going to communion; or else, as I think myself, Jacinta was the one who received from Our Lady a greater abundance of grace, and a better knowledge of God and of virtue. When the parish priest sent for us some time later, to question us, Jacinta put her head down, and only with difficulty did he succeed in getting a word or two out of her.
Once outside, I asked her: “Why didn’t you answer the priest?”
“Because I promised you never to tell anything to anybody again!”
One day she asked: “Why can’t we say that the Lady told us to make sacrifices for sinners?”
“So they won’t be asking what kind of sacrifices we are making.”
My mother became more and more upset at the way things were progressing. This led her to make yet another attempt to force me to confess that I had lied. One morning early, she called me and told me she was taking me to see the parish priest, saying: “When you get there, go down on your knees, tell him that you’ve lied, and ask his pardon.”
As we were going past my aunt’s house, my mother went inside for a few minutes. This gave me a chance to tell Jacinta what was happening. Seeing me so upset, she shed some tears and said: “I’m going to get up and call Francisco. We’ll go and pray for you at the well. When you get back, come and find us there.”
On my return, I ran to the well, and there were the two of them on their knees, praying. As soon as they saw me, Jacinta ran to hug me, and then she said: “You see! We must never be afraid of anything! The Lady will help us always. She’s such a good friend of ours!”
Ever since the day Our Lady taught us to offer our sacrifices to Jesus, any time we had something to suffer, or agreed to make a sacrifice, Jacinta asked: “Did you already tell Jesus that it is for the love of Him?”
If I said I hadn’t, she answered: ” Then I’ll tell Him,” and joining her hands, she raised her eyes to heaven and said: “Oh Jesus, it is for love of you, and for the conversion of sinners!”
Love for the Holy Father
Two priests, who had come to question us, recommended us to pray for the Holy Father. Jacinta asked who the Holy Father was. The good priests explained who he was and how much he needed prayers. This gave Jacinta such love for the Holy Father that, every time she offered her sacrifices to Jesus she added: “and for the Holy father.” At the end of the Rosary, she always said three Hail Mary’s for the Holy Father, and sometimes she would remark: “How I’d love to see the Holy Father! So many people come here, but the Holy Father never does!”
In her childish simplicity, she supposed that the Holy Father could make this journey just like anybody else! One day, my father and my uncle were summoned to appear next morning with the three of us before the Administrator.
“I’m not going to take my children,” announced my uncle, “nor present them before any tribunal. Why, they are not old enough to be responsible for their actions, and besides all that, they could never stand the long journey on foot to the Vila Nova De Ourem. I’ll go myself and see what they want.”
My father thought differently: “As for my girl, I’m taking her! Let her answer for herself; I don’t understand a thing about this.” They all took advantage of this occasion to frighten us in any way they could. Next day, as we were passing by my uncle’s house, my father had to wait for a few minutes for my uncle. I ran to say goodbye to Jacinta, who was still in bed. Doubtful as to whether we would see one another again, I threw my arms around her.
Bursting into tears, the poor child sobbed: “If they kill you, tell them that Francisco and I are just the same as you, and that we want to die too. I’m going right now to the well with Francisco, and we’ll pray hard for you.”
When I got back at night fall, I ran to the well, and there were the pair of them on their knees, leaning over the side of the well, their heads buried in their hands, weeping bitterly.
As soon as they saw me, they cried out in astonishment: “You’ve come then? Why, your sister came here to draw water and told us that they’d killed you! We’ve been praying and crying so much for you!”
In Prison at Ourem
When, some time later, we were put in prison, what made Jacinta suffer most was to feel that their parents abandoned them.
With tears streaming down her cheeks, she would say: “Neither your parents nor mine have come to see us. They don’t bother about us anymore!”
“Don’t cry.” said Francisco, “we can offer this to Jesus for sinners.”
Then, raising his eyes and his hands to heaven, he made the offering: “O my Jesus, this is for love of you, and for the conversion of sinners.”
Jacinta added: “And also for the Holy Father, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”
After being separated for a while, we were re-united in one of the other rooms of the prison. When they told us they were coming soon to take us away to be fried alive, Jacinta went aside and stood by a window overlooking the cattle market. I thought at first that she was trying to distract her thoughts with the view, but I soon realized that she was crying. I went over and drew her close to me, asking her why was she crying.
“Because we are going to die,” she replied,” without ever seeing our parents again, not even our mothers!”
With tears running down her cheeks she added: “I would like at least to see my mother.”
“Don’t you want, then, to offer this sacrifice up for the conversion of sinners?”
“I do want to, I do!”
With her face bathed with tears, she joined her hands, raised her hands to heaven and made her offering: “O my Jesus! This is for the love of you, for the conversion of sinners, for the Holy Father, and reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary!”
The prisoners who were present at this scene, sought to console us: “But all you have to do,” they said, “is to tell the Administrator the secret! What does it matter whether the Lady wants you to or not!”
“Never!” was Jacinta’s vigorous reply, “I’d rather die!”
The Rosary in Jail
Next, we decided to say our Rosary. Jacinta took off a medal that she was wearing around her neck, and asked a prisoner to hang it up for her on a nail on the wall. Kneeling before this medal, we began to pray. The prisoners prayed with us, that is, if they knew how to pray, but at least they were down on their knees. Once the Rosary was over, Jacinta went over to the window, and started crying again.
“Jacinta, ” I asked, “don’t you want to offer this sacrifice to Our Lord?”
“Yes, I do, but I keep thinking about my mother, and I can’t help crying.”
As the Blessed Virgin had told us to offer our prayers and sacrifices also for the reparation of the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary, we agreed that each of us would choose one of these intentions. One would offer for sinners, another for the Holy Father, and yet another in reparation of the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Having decided on this, I told Jacinta to choose whichever intention she preferred.
“I’m making all the offering for all intentions, because I love them all.”
And Finally…the Dance
Among the prisoners, there was one who played the concertina. To divert our attention, he began to play and they all started singing. They asked us if we knew how to dance. We said we knew the Fandango and the Vira. Jacinta’s partner was a poor thief who, finding her so tiny, picked her up and went on dancing with her in his arms! We only hope that Our Lady has had pity on his soul and converted him!
Now, Your Excellency will be saying: “What a fine disposition for martyrdom!” That is true. But we were only children and we didn’t think beyond this. Jacinta dearly loved dancing, and had a special aptitude for it. I remember how she was crying one day about one of her brothers who had gone to the war and was reported killed in action. To distract her, I arranged a little dance with two of her brothers. There was the poor child dancing away as she dried the tears that ran down her cheeks. Her fondness of dancing was such that the sound of some shepherd playing his instrument was enough to set her dancing all by herself.
In spite of this, when carnival time or St. John’s Day festivals came around, she announced: “I’m not going to dance anymore.”
“And why not?”
“Because I want to offer this sacrifice to Our Lord.”
After the Apparitions
Prayers and Sacrifices at Cabeco
My aunt was worn out with having continually to send someone to fetch her children, just to please the people who came asking to speak to them. She therefore handed over the care of the flock to her other son John. This decision was very painful to Jacinta for two reasons: firstly, she had to speak to everyone who came looking for her, and secondly, she could no longer spend the whole day with me. She had to resign herself, however.
To escape from the unwelcome visitors, she and Francisco used to go and hide in a cave hollowed out in the rock on the hillside facing our hamlet. On top of the hill was a windmill. Situated as it is on the eastern slope, this hiding place is so well formed that it afforded them an ideal protection from both the rain and the burning sun, especially since it is sheltered by many oak and olive trees. How many were the prayers and sacrifices that Jacinta offered there to Our dear Lord!
All over the slope grew innumerable varieties of flowers. Among them were many irises, and Jacinta loved this especially. Every evening she was waiting for me on my way home, holding an iris she had picked for me, or some other flower if there were no irises to be found. It was a real joy for her to pluck off the petals one by one and strew them over me.
My mother was satisfied for the time being with deciding each day where I was to pasture the sheep, so that she knew where to find me when I was needed. When the place was nearby, I told my little companions, and they lost no time in coming out to join me. Jacinta never stopped running till she caught sight of me. Then, exhausted, she sat down and kept calling to me, until I answered and ran to meet her.
Finally, my mother, tired of seeing my sister waste her time coming to call me and taking my place with the sheep, decided to sell the lot. She talked things over with my aunt, and they agreed to send us off to school. At playtime, Jacinta loved to make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament.
“They seem to guess,” she complained. “We are no sooner inside the church, then a crowd of people come asking us questions! I wanted so much to be alone for a long time with the Hidden Jesus to talk to Him, but they never let us.”
It was true, the simple country folk never left us alone. With the utmost simplicity, they told us all about their needs and their troubles. Jacinta showed the greatest compassion, especially when it concerned some sinner, saying: “We must pray and offer sacrifices to Our Lord, so that he will be converted and not go to hell, poor man!”
In this connection, it might be good to relate here an incident which shows to what extent Jacinta sought to escape from the people who came looking for her. We were on our way to Fatima one day and approaching the main road when we noticed a group of ladies and gentlemen getting out of a car. We knew without the slightest doubt that they were looking for us. Escape was impossible, for they would see us. We continued on our way, hoping to be passed by without being recognized.
On reaching us the ladies asked if we knew the little shepherds to whom Our Lady had appeared. We said we did. “Do you know where they live?” We gave them precise directions, and ran off to hide in the fields among the brambles.
Jacinta was so delighted with her little stratagem that she exclaimed: “We must do this always when they don’t know us by sight.”
The Saintly Father Cruz
One day, Father Cruz from Lisbon came, in his turn, to question us. When he had finished, he asked us to show him the spot where Our Lady appeared to us. On the way, we walked on either side of His Reverence, who was riding a donkey so small that his feet almost touched the ground.
As we went along, he taught us a litany of ejaculations, two of which Jacinta made her own and never stopped repeating afterwards: “O my Jesus, I love you! Sweet heart of Mary, be my savation!”
One day during her illness, she told me: “I so like to tell Jesus that I love Him! Many times, when I say it to Him, I seem to have a fire in my heart, but it doesn’t burn me.”
Another time she said: “I love Our Lord and Our Lady so much, that I never get tired of telling of telling Them that I love Them.”
Graces through Jacinta
There was a woman in our neighborhood who insulted us every time we met her. We came upon her one day as she was leaving a tavern, somewhat the worse for drink. Not satisfied with mere insults, she went still further.
When she had finished, Jacinta said to me: “We have to plead with Our Lady and offer sacrifices for the conversion of this woman. She says so many sinful things that if she doesn’t go to confession, she’ll go to hell.”
A few days later, we were running past this woman’s door when suddenly Jacinta stopped dead, and turning around, she asked: “Listen! Is it tomorrow that we are going to see the Lady?”
“Yes, it is.”
“Then lets not play anymore. We can make this sacrifice for the conversion of sinners.”
Without realizing that some one might be watching her, she raised her hands and eyes to heaven, and made her offering. The woman, meanwhile, was peeping through a shutter in the house. She told my mother afterwards that what Jacinta did made such an impression on her that she needed no other proof to make her believe in the reality of the apparitions; henceforth, she would not only not insult us any more, but would constantly ask us to pray to Our Lady that her sins might be forgiven.
Again, a poor woman afflicted with a terrible disease met us one day. Weeping, she knelt before Jacinta and begged her to ask Our Lady to cure her. Jacinta was distressed to see a woman kneeling before her, and caught hold of her with trembling hands to lift her up. But seeing this was beyond her strength, she, too, knelt down and said three Hail Marys with the woman. She then asked her to get up, and assured her that Our Lady would cure her. After that, she continued to pray daily for that woman, until she returned sometime later to thank Our Lady for her cure.
On another occasion, there was a soldier who wept like a child. He had been ordered to leave for the front, although his wife was sick in bed and he had three small children. He pleaded that either his wife would be cured or that the order would be revoked.
Jacinta invited him to say the Rosary with her, and then said to him: “Don’t cry. Our Lady is so good! She will certainly grant the grace you are asking.”
From then on, she never forgot her soldier. At the end of the Rosary, she always said one Hail Mary for him. Some months later, he appeared with his wife and his three small children, to thank Our Lady for the two graces he had received. Having gone down with fever on the eve of his departure, he had been released from military service, and as for his wife, he said she had been miraculously cured by Our Lady.
More and More Sacrifices
One day, we were told that a priest was coming to see us who was very holy and could tell what was going on in people’s inmost hearts. This meant that he would find out whether we were telling the truth or not. Full of joy, Jacinta exclaimed: “When is this Father coming? If he can really tell, then he’ll know we’re telling the truth.”
We were playing one day at the well I have already mentioned. Close to it, there was a grape vine belonging to Jacinta’s mother. She cut a few clusters and brought them to us to eat. But Jacinta never forgot her sinners.
“We won’t eat them,” she said, “we’ll offer this sacrifice for sinners.” Then she ran out with the grapes and gave them to the other children playing on the road. She returned radiant with joy, for she had found our poor children, and given them the grapes.
Another time, my aunt called us to come and eat some figs which she had brought home, and indeed they would have given anybody an appetite. Jacinta sat down happily next to the basket, with the rest of us, and picked up the first fig.
She was just about to eat it, when she suddenly remembered, and said: “Its true! Today we haven’t yet made a single sacrifice for sinners! We’ll have to make this one.”
She put the fig back in the basket, and made the offering; and we, too, left our figs in the basket for the conversion of sinners. Jacinta made such sacrifices over and over again, but I won’t stop to tell you any more or I shall never end.
Illness and Death of Jacinta
This was how Jacinta spent her days until Our Lord sent the influenza which confined her to her bed, and her brother Francisco as well.
The evening before she felt sick, she said: “I’ve had a terrible headache and I’m so thirsty! But I won’t take a drink, because I want to suffer for sinners.”
Apart from school or the small tasks I was given to do, I spent every free moment with my little companions. One day, when I called in on my way to school, Jacinta said to me: “Listen! Tell the Hidden Jesus that I like Him very much, that I really love Him very much indeed.”
At other times, she said: “Tell Jesus that I send Him my love, and long to see Him.”
Whenever I visited her room first, she used to say: “Now go and see Francisco. I’ll make the sacrifice of staying here alone.”
On another occasion, her mother brought her a cup of milk and told her to take it.
“I don’t want it, mother,” she answered, pushing the cup away with her little hand.
My aunt insisted a little, and then left the room saying: “I don’t know how to make her take anything; she has no appetite.”
As soon as we were alone, I asked her: “How can you disobey your mother like that, and not offer this sacrifice to Our Lord?”
When she heard this, she shed a few tears which I had the happiness of drying, and said: “I forgot this time.”
She called her mother, and asked her forgiveness, and said she’ll take whatever she wanted. Her mother brought back the cup of milk, and Jacinta drank it down without the slightest sign of repugnance. Later, she told me: “If only you knew how hard it is to drink that!”
Another time she said to me: “Its becoming harder and harder for me to take milk and broth, but I don’t say anything. I drink it all for love of Our Lord and of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, our dear heavenly Mother.”
Again, I asked her: “Are you better?”
“You know I’m not getting better,” she replied and added, “I’ve such pains in my chest! But I don’t say anything. I’m suffering for the conversion of sinners.”
One day when I arrived she asked: “Did you make many sacrifices today? I’ve made a lot. My mother went out, and I wanted to go and visit Francisco many times, and I didn’t go.”
Visit from the Blessed Virgin
Jacinta did improve somewhat, however. She was even able to get up, and could thus spend her days sitting on Francisco’s bed. On one occasion, she sent for me to come and see her at once. I ran over.
“Our Lady came to see us,” Jacinta said, “She told us She would come and take Francisco to heaven very soon. She asked me if I still want to convert more sinners. I said I did. She told me I would be going to a hospital where I would suffer a great deal; and that I am to suffer for the conversion of sinners, in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and for love of Jesus. I asked if you would go with me. She said you wouldn’t, and that is what I find hardest. She said my mother would take me, and then I would have to stay all alone!”
After this, she was very thoughtful for awhile, and then added: “If only you could be with me! The hardest part is to go without you. Maybe, the hospital is a big dark house, where you can’t see, and I’ll be there suffering all alone! But never mind! I’ll suffer for the love of Our Lord, to make reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, for the conversion of sinners and for the Holy Father.”
When the moment arrived for her brother to go to heaven, she confided in him these last messages: “Give all my love to Our Lord and Our Lady, and tell Them that I’ll suffer as much as they want, for the conversion of sinners and reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”
Jacinta suffered keenly when Francisco died. She remained a long time buried in thought, and if anyone asked her what she was thinking about, she answered: “About Francisco. I’d give anything to see him again!” Then her eyes brimmed over with tears.
One day, I said to her: “It won’t be long now till you go to heaven. But what about me!”
“You poor thing! Don’t cry! I’ll pray lots and lots for you when I’m there. As for you, that’s the way Our Lady wants it. If She wanted that for me, I’d gladly stay and suffer more for sinners.”
In the Hospital at Ourem
The day came for Jacinta to go to hospital. There indeed she was to suffer a great deal. When her mother went to see her, she asked if she wanted anything. She told her that she wanted to see me. This was no easy matter for my aunt, but she took me with her at the first opportunity. As soon as Jacinta saw me, she joyfully threw her arms around me, and asked her mother to leave me with her while she went to do her shopping. Then I asked her if she was suffering a lot.
“Yes, I am. But I offer everything for sinners, and for the reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”
Then, filled with enthusiasm, she spoke of Our Lord and Our Lady: “Oh, how much I love to suffer for love of Them, just to give Them pleasure! They greatly love those who suffer for the conversion of sinners.”
The time allotted for the visit passed rapidly, and my aunt arrived to take me home. She asked Jacinta if she wanted anything. The child begged her mother to bring me with her next time she came to see her. So my good aunt, who loved to make her little daughter happy, took me with her a second time. I found Jacinta as joyful as ever, glad to suffer for the love of Our Good God and of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, for sinners and the Holy Father. That was her ideal, she could speak of nothing else.
Return to Aljustrel
She returned home to her parents for yet a while. She had a large open wound in her chest which had to be treated every day, but she bore this without complaint and without the least sign of irritation. What distressed her most were the frequent visits and questionings of the part of many people who wanted to see her, and whom she could no longer avoid by running off to hide.
“I am offering this sacrifice too, for the conversion of sinners,” she said resignedly. “I would give anything to be able to go up to the Cabeco and say a Rosary there in our favourite place! But I’m not able for it anymore. When you go up to the Cova De Iria, pray for me. Just think, I shall never go there again!” The tears streamed down her cheeks.
One day my aunt made this request: “Ask Jacinta what she is thinking, when she covers her face with her hands and remains motionless for such a long while. I’ve already asked her, but she just smiles and doesn’t answer.”
I put the question to Jacinta. “I think of Our Lord,” she replied, “of Our Lady, of sinners, and of (and she mentioned parts of the secret). I love to think.”
My aunt asked my how she answered. I just smiled.
This led my aunt to tell my mother what had happened.
“The life of these children is an enigma to me,” she exclaimed, “I can’t understand it!”
My mother added: “Yes, and when they are alone, they talk nineteen to the dozen. Yet, however hard you listen, you can never catch a single word! I just can’t understand all this mystery.”
Renewed Visits from the Blessed Virgin
Once again, the Virgin deigned to visit Jacinta, to tell her of new crosses and sacrifices awaiting her.
She gave me the news saying: “She told me that I am going to Lisbon to another hospital; that I will not see you again, nor my parents either, and after suffering a great deal, I shall die alone. But She said I must not be afraid, since She Herself is coming to take me to heaven.” She hugged me and wept: “I will never see you again! You won’t be coming to visit me there. Oh please, pray hard for me, because I’m going to die alone!”
Jacinta suffered terribly right up until the day of her departure for Lisbon, She kept clinging to me and sobbing: “I’ll never see you again! Nor my mother, nor my brothers, nor my father! I’ll never see anyone again! And then, I’ll die all alone!”
“Don’t think about it.” I advised her one day.
“Let me think about it,” she replied, “for the more I think, the more I suffer, and I want to suffer for love of Our Lord and for sinners. Anyway, I don’t mind! Our Lady will come to me there and take me to heaven.”
At times, she kissed and embraced a crucifix, exclaiming: “O my Jesus! I love you, and I want to suffer very much for love of you.”
How often did she say: “O Jesus! Now you can convert many sinners, because this is a really big sacrifice!”
From time to time, she asked me: “Am I going to die without receiving the Hidden Jesus? If only Our Lady would bring Him to me, when she comes to fetch me!”
One day I asked her: “What are you going to do in heaven?”
“I’m going to love Jesus very much, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, too. I’m going to pray alot for you, for sinners, the Holy Father, for my parents and brothers and sisters and for all the people who have asked me to pray for them…”
When her mother looked sad at seeing the child so ill, Jacinta used to say: “Don’t worry, mother. I’m going to heaven, and there I’ll be praying so much for you.” Or again: “Don’t cry. I’m alright.”
If they asked her if she needed anything, she answered: “No, I don’t, thank you.”
Then when they left the room, she said: “I’m so thirsty, but I don’t want to take a drink. I’m offering it to Jesus for sinners.”
One day, when my aunt had been asking me many questions, Jacinta called me to her and said: “I don’t want you to tell anybody that I’m suffering, not even my mother. I don’t want to upset her.”
On one occasion, I found her clasping a picture of Our Lady to her heart, and saying: “O my dearest Heavenly Mother, do I have to die all alone?”
The poor child seemed so frightened at the thought of dying alone! I tried to comfort her saying: “What does it mater if you die alone, so long as Our Lady is coming to fetch you?”
“It’s true, it doesn’t matter, really. I don’t know why it is, but I sometimes forget Our Lady is coming to take me. I only remember that I’ll die without having you near me.”
Leaving for Lisbon
The day came at last when she was to leave for Lisbon. It was a heartrending farewell. For a long time, she clung to me with her arms around my neck, and sobbed: “We shall never see each other again! Pray a lot for me, until I go to heaven. Then I will pray a lot for you. Never tell the secret to anyone, even if they kill you. Love Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary very much, and make many sacrifices for sinners.”
From Lisbon, she sent me word that Our Lady had come to see her there; she had told her the day and hour of her death. Finally Jacinta reminded me to be good.
And now, I have finished telling Your Excellency what I remember about Jacinta’s life. I ask our Good God to deign to accept this act of obedience, that it may kindle in souls a fire of love for the Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
I would like to ask just one favour. If Your Excellency should publish anything of what I have just written, would you do it in such away that no mention whatsoever is made of my poor miserable self. I must confess, moreover, that if it were to come to my knowledge that Your Excellency had burnt this account, without even reading it, I would be very glad indeed, since I wrote it solely out of obedience to the Will of our Good God, as made known to me through the express will of Your Excellency.