08 Church’s youngest non-martyred saints

posted May 18, 2017, 8:06 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated May 18, 2017, 8:07 AM ]
Pope Francis incensed a statue of Our Lady of Fatima during the canonisation Mass of Saints Francisco and Jacinta Marto, two of the three Fatima seers, at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal, May 13. The Mass marked the 100th anniversary of the Fatima Marian apparitions, which began on May 13, 1917.

Standing before the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary, Pope Francis canonised two shepherd children who saw Mary at Fatima, but more importantly, he said, they heeded the call to pray for sinners and trust in the Lord.

"We declare and define Blessed Francisco Marto and Blessed Jacinta Marto as saints," the Pope said May 13, as hundreds of thousands of pilgrims broke out in applause, before he finished speaking.

The relics of the young shepherd children, encased in two thin golden crosses, were placed in front of the famed statue of Our Lady of Fatima, the "lady dressed in white" as the siblings and their cousin described her.

The Marian apparitions began May 13, 1917, when 9-year-old Francisco and 7-year-old Jacinta, along with their 10-year-old cousin Lucia dos Santos, reported seeing the Virgin Mary. The apparitions continued once a month until October 13, 1917, and were later declared worthy of belief by the Catholic Church.

After contracting influenza, Francisco died April 4, 1919, at the age of 10, while Jacinta succumbed to her illness on February 20, 1920, at the age of 9.

The children, beatified by St John Paul II in 2000, are now the youngest non-martyrs to be declared saints by the Catholic Church.

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