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.”
“All right.” And off I went, chasing butterflies with Jacinta. We no sooner caught them than we made the sacrifice of letting them fly away, and we never gave another thought to Francisco. When lunchtime came, we missed him and went to call him:
“Francisco, don’t you want to come for your lunch?”
“No, you eat.”
“And to pray the Rosary?”
“That, yes, later on. Call me again.”
When I went to call him again, he said to me:
“You come up here and pray with me.”
We climbed up to the peak, where the three of us could scarcely find room to kneel down, and I asked him:
“But what have you been doing all this time?”
“I am thinking about God, Who is so sad because of so many sins! If only I could give Him joy!” (1)
One day, we began to sing in happy chorus about the joys of the serra.
We sang it right through once, and were about to repeat it, when Francisco interrupted us: “Let’s not sing any more. Since we saw the Angel and Our Lady,
singing doesn’t appeal to me any longer.”
Impressions of the Second Apparition
At the second Apparition on June 13th, 1917, Francisco was deeply impressed by the light which, as I related in the second account, Our Lady communicated to us at the moment when she said: “My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way which will lead you to God.” At the time, he did not seem to grasp the significance of what was happening, perhaps because it was not given to him to hear the accompanying words. For this reason, he asked later:
“Why did Our Lady have a Heart in her hand, spreading out over the world that great light which is God? You were with Our Lady in the light which went down towards the earth, and Jacinta was with me in the light which rose towards heaven!”
‘That is because you and Jacinta will soon go to Heaven,” I replied, “while I, with the Immaculate Heart of Mary, will remain for some time longer on earth.”
“How many years longer will you stay here?” he asked.
“I don’t know. Quite a lot.”
“Was it Our Lady who said so?”
“Yes, and I saw it in the light that she shone into our hearts.”
Jacinta confirmed the very same thing, saying:
“It is just like that! That’s exactly how I saw it too!”
He remarked sometimes:
“These people are so happy just because you told them that Our Lady wants the Rosary said, and that you are to learn to read! How would they feel if they only knew what she showed to us in God, in her Immaculate Heart, in that great light! But this is a secret; it must not be spoken about. It’s better that no one should know it.”
After this Apparition, whenever they asked us if Our Lady had said anything else, we began to give this reply: “Yes, she did, but it’s a secret.” If they asked us why it was a secret, we shrugged our shoulders, lowered our heads and kept silent. But, after the 13th of July, we said: “Our Lady told us we were not to tell it to anybody,” thus referring to the secret imposed on us by Our Lady.
Impressions of the Third Apparition
In the third Apparition, Francisco seemed to be the one on whom the vision of hell made the least impression, though it did indeed have quite a considerable effect on him. What made the most powerful impression on him and what wholly absorbed him, was God, the Most Holy Trinity, perceived in that light which penetrated our inmost souls. Afterwards, he said:
“We were on fire in that light which is God, and yet we were not burnt! What is God?… We could never put it into words. Yes, that is something indeed which we could never express! But what a pity it is that He is so sad! If only I could console Him!…”
Impressions of the Last Apparitions
After the 13th of September, when I told Francisco that in October Our Lord would come as well, he was overwhelmed with joy. “Oh, how wonderful! I’ve only seen Him twice, and I love Him so much!” (2) From time to time, he asked:
“Are there many days left till the 13th? I’m longing for that day to come, so that I can see Our Lord again.” Then he thought for a moment, and added:
“But listen! Will He still be so sad? I am so sorry to see Him sad like that! I offer Him all the sacrifices I can think of. Sometimes, I don’t even run away from all those people, just in order to make sacrifices!”
After October 13th, he said to me:
“I loved seeing Our Lord, but I loved still more seeing Him in that light where we were with Him as well. It’s not long now, and Our Lord will take me up close to Him, and then I can look at Him forever.”
One day, I asked him:
“When you are questioned, why do you put your head down and not want to answer?”
“Because I want you to answer, and Jacinta too. I didn’t hear anything. I can only say that I saw. Then, supposing I said something you don’t want me to say?”
Every now and then, he went off and left us without warning. When we missed him, we went in search of him, calling out his name. He answered from behind a little wall, or a shrub or a clump of brambles, and there he was on his knees, praying.
“Why didn’t you tell us so that we could come and pray with you?”
“Because I prefer to pray alone….”
Francisco, Lover of Solitude and Prayer
Francisco was a boy of few words. Whenever he prayed or offered sacrifices, he preferred to go apart and hide, even from Jacinta and myself. Quite often, we surprised him hidden behind a wall or a clump of blackberry bushes, whither he had ingeniously slipped away to kneel and pray, or “think,” as he said, “of Our Lord, Who is sad on account of so many sins.”
If I asked him: “Francisco, why don’t you tell me to pray with you, and Jacinta too?”
“I prefer praying by myself,” he answered, “so that I can think and console Our Lord, Who is so sad!” I asked him one day:
“Francisco, which do you like better—to console Our Lord, or to convert sinners, so that no more souls will go to hell?”
“I would rather console Our Lord. Didn’t you notice how sad Our Lady was that last month, when she said that people must not offend Our Lord any more, for He is already much offended? I would like to console Our Lord, and after that convert
sinners so that they won’t offend Him any more.”
Sometimes on our way to school, as soon as we reached Fatima, he would say to me:
“Listen! You go to school, and I’ll stay here in the church, close to the Hidden Jesus. It’s not worth my while learning to read, as I’ll be going to Heaven very soon. On your way home, come here and call me.”
The Blessed Sacrament was kept at that time near the entrance of the church, on the left side, as the church was undergoing repairs. Francisco went over there, between the baptismal font and the altar, and that was where I found him on my return.
Later, when he fell ill, he often told me, when I called in to see him on my way to school: “Look! Go to the church and give my love to the Hidden Jesus. What hurts me most is that I cannot go there myself and stay awhile with the Hidden Jesus.”
When I arrived at his house one day, I said goodbye to a group of school children who had come with me, and I went in to pay a visit to him and his sister. As he had heard all the noise, he asked me:
“Did you come with all that crowd?”
“Yes, I did.”
“Don’t go with them, because you might learn to commit sins. When you come out of school, go and stay for a little while near the Hidden Jesus, and afterwards come home by yourself.”
On one occasion, I asked him:
“Francisco, do you feel very sick?”
“I do, but I’m suffering to console Our Lord.”
When Jacinta and I went into his room one day, he said to us:
“Don’t talk much today, as my head aches so badly.”
“Don’t forget to make the offering for sinners,” Jacinta reminded him.
“Yes. But first I make it to console Our Lord and Our Lady, and then, afterwards, for sinners and for the Holy Father.”
On another occasion, I found him very happy when I arrived.
“Are you better?”
“No. I feel worse. It won’t be long now till I go to Heaven. When I’m there, I’m going to console Our Lord and Our Lady very much. Jacinta is going to pray a lot for sinners, for the Holy Father and for you. You will stay here, because Our Lady wants it that way. Listen, you must do everything that she tells you.”
While Jacinta seemed to be solely concerned with the one thought of converting sinners and saving souls from going to hell, Francisco appeared to think only of consoling Our Lord and Our Lady, who had seemed to him to be so sad.
Francisco Sees the Devil
How different is the incident that I now call to mind. One day we went to a place called Pedreira, and while the sheep were browsing, we jumped from rock to rock, making our voices echo down in the deep ravines. Francisco withdrew, as was his wont, to a hollow among the rocks.
A considerable time had elapsed, when we heard him shouting and crying out to us and to Our Lady. Distressed lest something might have happened to him, we ran in search of him, calling out his name.
“Where are you?”
But it still took us some time before we could locate him. At last, we came upon him, trembling with fright, still on his knees, and so upset that he was unable to rise to his feet.
“What’s wrong? What happened to you?”
In a voice half smothered with fright, he replied:
“It was one of those huge beasts that we saw in hell. He was right here breathing out flames!”
I saw nothing, neither did Jacinta, so I laughed and said to him:
“You never want to think about hell, so as not to be afraid; and now you’re the first one to be frightened!”
Indeed, whenever Jacinta appeared particularly moved by the remembrance of hell, he used to say to her:
“Don’t think so much about hell! Think about Our Lord and Our Lady instead. I don’t think about hell, so as not to be afraid.”
He was anything but fearful. He’d go anywhere in the dark alone at night, without the slightest hesitation. He played with lizards, and when he came across any snakes he got them to entwine themselves round a stick, and even poured sheep’s milk into the holes in the rocks for them to drink. He went hunting for foxes’ holes and rabbits’ burrows, for genets, and other creatures of the wilds.
Francisco’s Love and Zeal
As I have already said, my aunt sold her flock before my mother disposed of ours. From then onwards, before I went out in the morning, I let Jacinta and Francisco know the place where I was going to pasture the sheep that day; as soon as they could get away, they came to join me.
One day, they were waiting for me when I arrived.
“Oh! How did you get here so early?”
“I came,” answered Francisco, “because—I don’t know why—being with you didn’t matter much to me before, and I just came because of Jacinta; but now, I can’t sleep in the morning as I’m so anxious to be with you.”
Once the Apparitions on each 13th of the month were over, he said to us on the eve of every following 13th:
“Look! Early tomorrow morning, I’m making my escape out through the back garden
to the cave on the Cabeço. As soon as you can, come and join me there….”
I return, therefore, to Francisco’s illness… On (one) occasion I noticed, as we left the house, that Francisco was walking very slowly:
“What’s the matter?” I asked him. “You seem unable to walk!”
“I’ve such a bad headache, and I feel as though I’m going to fall.”
“Then don’t come. Stay at home!”
“I don’t want to. I’d rather stay in the church with the Hidden Jesus, while you go to school.”
Francisco was already sick, but could still manage to walk a little, so one day I went with him to the cave on the Cabeço, and to Valinhos. On our return home, we found the house full of people. A poor woman was standing near a table, pretending to bless innumerable pious objects: rosary beads, medals, crucifixes and so on. Jacinta and I were soon surrounded by a crowd of people who wanted to question us. Francisco was seized upon by the would-be “blesser,” who invited him to help her.
“I could not give a blessing,” he replied very seriously, “and neither should you! Only priests do that.”
The little boy’s words went round the crowd like lightning, as though spoken by some loud-speaker, and the poor woman had to make a quick departure amid a hail of insults from the people, all demanding back the objects they had just handed over to her.
While he was ill, Francisco always appeared joyful and content. I asked him sometimes:
“Are you suffering a lot, Francisco?”
“Quite a lot, but never mind! I am suffering to console Our Lord, and afterwards, within a short time, I am going to Heaven!”
“Once you get there, don’t forget to ask Our Lady to take me there soon as well.”
“That, I won’t ask! You know very well that she doesn’t want you there yet.” The day before he died, he said to me:
“Look! I am very ill; it won’t be long now before I go to Heaven.”
“Then listen to this. When you’re there, don’t forget to pray a great deal for sinners, for the Holy Father, for me and for Jacinta.”
“Yes, I’ll pray. But look, you’d better ask Jacinta to pray for these things instead, because I’m afraid I’ll forget when I see Our Lord. And then, more than anything else I want to console Him.”
One day, early in the morning, his sister Teresa came looking for me.
“Come quickly to our house! Francisco is very bad, and says he wants to tell you something.”
I dressed as fast as I could and went over there. He asked his mother and brothers and sisters to leave the room, saying that he wanted to ask me a secret. They went out, and he said to me:
“I am going to confession so that I can receive Holy Communion, and then die. I want you to tell me if you have seen me commit any sin, and then go and ask Jacinta if she has seen me commit any.”
“You disobeyed your mother a few times,” I answered, “when she told you to stay at home, and you ran off to be with me or to go and hide.”
“That’s true. I remember that. Now go and ask Jacinta if she remembers anything else.”
I went, and Jacinta thought for a while, then answered:
“Well, tell him that, before Our Lady appeared to us, he stole a coin from our father to buy a music box from José Marto of Casa Velha; and when the boys from Aljustrel threw stones at those from Boleiros he threw some too!”
When I gave him this message from his sister, he answered:
“I’ve already confessed those, but I’ll do so again. Maybe, it is because of these sins that I committed that Our Lord is so sad! But even if I don’t die, I’ll never commit them again. I’m heartily sorry for them now.” Joining his hands, he recited the prayer:
“O my Jesus, forgive us, save us from the fire of hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who are most in need.”
Then he said: “Now listen, you must also ask Our Lord to forgive me my sins.”
“I’ll ask that, don’t worry. If Our Lord had not forgiven them already, Our Lady would not have told Jacinta the other day that she was coming soon to take you to Heaven. Now, I’m going to Mass, and there I’ll pray to the Hidden Jesus for you.”
“Then, please ask Him to let the parish priest give me Holy Communion.”
“I certainly will.”
When I returned from the church, Jacinta had already got up and was sitting on his bed. As soon as Francisco saw me, he asked:
“Did you ask the Hidden Jesus that the parish priest would give me Holy Communion?”
“Then, in Heaven, I’ll pray for you.”
“You will? The other day, you said you wouldn’t!”
“That was about taking you there very soon. But if you want me to pray for that, I will, and then let Our Lady do as she wishes.”
“Yes, do. You pray.”
“Alright. Don’t worry, I’ll pray.”
Then I left them, and went off to my usual daily tasks of lessons and work. When I
came home at night, I found him radiant with joy. He had made his confession, and the parish priest had promised to bring him Holy Communion next day.
On the following day, after receiving Holy Communion, he said to his sister:
“I am happier than you are, because I have the Hidden Jesus within my heart. I’m going to Heaven, but I’m going to pray very much to Our Lord and Our Lady for them to bring you both there soon.”
Jacinta and I spent almost the whole of that day at his bedside. As he was already unable to pray, he asked us to pray the Rosary for him. Then he said to me:
“I am sure I shall miss you terribly in Heaven. If only Our Lady would bring you there soon, also!”
“You won’t miss me! Just imagine! And you right there with Our Lord and Our Lady!
They are so good!”
“That’s true! Perhaps, I won’t remember!”
And now I add: “Perhaps he did forget! But never mind!”
Francisco’s Holy Death
That night I said goodbye to him.
“Goodbye, Francisco! If you go to Heaven tonight, don’t forget me when you get there, do you hear me?”
“No, I wont forget. Be sure of that.” Then, seizing my right hand, he held it tightly for a long time, looking at me with tears in his eyes.
“Do you want anything more?” I asked him, with tears running down my cheeks too.
“No!” he answered in a low voice, quite overcome.
As the scene was becoming so moving, my aunt told me to leave the room.
“Goodbye then, Francisco! Till we meet in Heaven, goodbye!…”
Heaven was drawing near. He took his flight to Heaven the following day in the arms of his heavenly Mother. (3) I could never describe how much I missed him. This grief was a thorn that pierced my heart for years to come. It is a memory of the past that echoes forever unto eternity.
Excerpted from Sister Lucia’s Memoirs, Secretariado Dos Pastorinhos, Fatima, 2004, Fourth Memoir.
(1) It may well be said that Francisco had the gift of highest contemplation.
(2) He refers to the Apparitions in June and July. They saw Our Lord in the mysterious light which Our Lady communicated to them.
(3) The following day was the 4th of April, 1919.