During the first apparition on May 13, 1917, Lucia asked Our Lady if Francisco would go to heaven. Our Lady responded, “He will go there too, but he must say many Rosaries.” From that time onward, Francisco was known for his perpetual praying of the Holy Rosary as well as for being a contemplative who lived always “In the light and experience of God.” Above all, Francisco felt the call to console Our Lord, as he states: “more than anything else I want to console Him.” We here present Sister Lucia’s commentary on the life of Blessed Francisco. – Ed.
Apart from his features and his practice of virtue, Francisco did not seem at all to be Jacinta’s brother. Unlike her, he was neither capricious nor vivacious. On the contrary, he was quiet and submissive by nature.
When we were at play and he won the game, if anyone made a point of denying him his rights as winner, he yielded without more ado and merely said: “You think you won? That’s alright! I don’t mind!”… If one of the other children insisted on taking away something belonging to him, he said: “Let them have it! What do I care?”
…When I was seven and began to take our sheep out to pasture, he seemed to be quite indifferent. In the evenings, he waited for me in my parents’ yard, with his little sister, but this was not out of affection for me, but rather to please her. As soon as Jacinta heard the tinkling of the sheep bells, she ran out to meet me; whereas Francisco waited for me, sitting on the stone steps leading up to our front door. Afterwards, he came with us to play on the old threshing floor, while we watched for Our Lady and the Angels to light their lamps. He eagerly counted the stars with us, but nothing enchanted him as much as the beauty of sunrise or sunset. As long as he could still glimpse one last ray of the setting sun, he made no attempt to watch for the first lamp to be lit in the sky.
“No lamp is as beautiful as Our Lord’s,” he used to remark to Jacinta, who much preferred Our Lady’s lamp because, as she explained, “it doesn’t hurt our eyes.”
Enraptured, he watched the sun rays glinting on the window panes of the homes in the neighboring villages, or glistening in the drops of water which spangled the trees and furze bushes of the serra, making them shine like so many stars; in his eyes these were a thousand times more beautiful than the Angels’ lamps….
Francisco Sees the Angel
During the Apparition of the Angel, he prostrated like his sister and myself, carried away by the same supernatural force that moved us to do so; but he learned the prayer by hearing us repeat it, since, he told us, he heard nothing of what the Angel said.
Afterwards, when we prostrated to say that prayer, he was the first to feel the strain of such a posture; but he remained kneeling or sitting, and still praying, until we had finished. Later he said: “I am not able to stay like that for a long time, like you. My back aches so much that I can’t do it.”
At the second Apparition of the Angel, down by the well, Francisco waited a few moments after it was over, then asked: “You spoke to the Angel. What did he say to you?”
“Didn’t you hear?”
“No. I could see that he was talking to you. I heard what you said to him; but what he said to you, I don’t know.”
As the supernatural atmosphere in which the Angel left us, had not yet entirely disappeared, I told him to ask Jacinta or myself next day.
“Jacinta, you tell me what the Angel said.” “I’ll tell you tomorrow. Today I can’t talk about it.” Next day, as soon as he came up to me, he asked me: “Did you sleep last night? I kept thinking about the Angel, and what he could have said.”
I then told him all that the Angel had said at the first and second Apparitions. But it seemed that he had not received an understanding of all that the words meant, for he asked:
“Who is the Most High? What is the meaning of: ‘The Hearts of Jesus and Mary are attentive to the voice of your supplications’?…”
Having received an answer, he remained deep in thought for a while, and then broke in with another question. But my mind was not yet free, so I told him to wait until the next day, because at that moment I was unable to speak. He waited quite contentedly, but he did not let slip the very next opportunity of putting more questions. This made Jacinta say to him:
“Listen! We shouldn’t talk much about these things.” When we spoke about the Angel,
I don’t know what it was that we felt.
“I don’t know how I feel,” Jacinta said. “I can no longer talk, or sing, or play. I haven’t strength enough for anything.”
“Neither have I,” replied Francisco, “but what of it? The Angel is more beautiful than all this. Let’s think about him.”
In the third Apparition, the presence of the supernatural made itself felt more intensely still. For several days even Francisco did not venture to speak. Later he said:
“I love to see the Angel, but the worst of it is that, afterwards, we are unable to do anything. I couldn’t even walk. I don’t know what was the matter with me.”
In spite of that, after the third Apparition of the Angel, it was he who noticed that it was getting dark, and who drew our attention to the fact, and thought we should take our flocks back home.
Once the first few days were over and we had returned to normal, Francisco asked:
“The Angel gave you Holy Communion, but what was it that he gave to Jacinta and me?”
“It was Holy Communion, too” replied Jacinta, with inexpressible joy. “Didn’t you see that it was the Blood that fell from the Host?”
“I felt that God was within me, but I did not know how!” Then, prostrating on the ground, he and his sister remained for a long time, saying over and over again the prayer of the Angel “Most Holy Trinity…”
Little by little, the atmosphere of the supernatural faded away, and by the 13th of
May, we were playing with almost as much enjoyment and freedom of spirit as we had done before.
Impressions of the First Apparition
The Apparition of Our Lady plunged us once more into the atmosphere of the supernatural, but this time more gently. Instead of that annihilation in the Divine Presence, which exhausted us even physically, it left us filled with peace and expansive joy, which did not prevent us from speaking afterwards of what had happened. However, with regard to the light communicated to us when Our Lady opened her hands, and everything connected with this light, we experienced a kind of interior impulse that compelled us to keep silent.
Afterwards, we told Francisco all that Our Lady had said. He was overjoyed and expressed the happiness he felt when he heard of the promise that he would go to Heaven. Crossing his hands on his breast, he exclaimed, “Oh, my dear Our Lady! I’ll say as many rosaries as you want!” And from then on, he made a habit of moving away from us, as though going for a walk. When we called him and asked him what he was doing, he raised his hand and showed me his rosary. If we told him to come and play, and say the rosary with us afterwards, he replied:
“I’ll pray then as well. Don’t you remember that Our Lady said I must pray many rosaries?”
He said to me on one occasion: “I loved seeing the Angel, but I loved still more seeing Our Lady. What I loved most of all was to see Our Lord in that light from Our Lady which penetrated our hearts. I love God so much! But He is very sad because of so many sins! We must never commit any sins again….”
From time to time, he said: “Our Lady told us that we would have much to suffer, but I don’t mind. I’ll suffer all that she wishes! What I want is to go to Heaven!”
One day, when I showed how unhappy I was over the persecution now beginning
both in my family and outside, Francisco tried to encourage me with these words:
“Never mind! Didn’t Our Lady say that we would have much to suffer, to make reparation to Our Lord and to her own Immaculate Heart for all the sins by which They are offended? They are so sad! If we can console them with these sufferings, how happy we shall be!”
When we arrived at our pasturage a few days after Our Lady’s first Apparition, he climbed up to the top of a steep rock, and called out to us:
“Don’t come up here; let me stay here alone.”