“I Want to Suffer For the Conversion of Sinners”: The Life of Saint Jacinta

Updated: May 30, 2020

In her First Memoir, Sister Lucia records the heroic virtues of her cousin and companion, Blessed Jacinta. The level of sanctity reached by this seven-year-old girl as a result of the infused knowledge and graces of Our Lady of the Rosary represents a degree of sanctification truly extraordinary. It was said by Sister Lucia that Jacinta made the transition from a child to an adult on the day when she saw the vision of Hell (July 13, 1917), and from that time onward she had an unquenchable desire to prevent souls from going to Hell through her own prayers and sacrifices.

On May 13, 2000, Pope John Paul II beatified Jacinta and thanked her for the prayers that she offered for Pope John Paul II after she had received a vision of a Holy Father of the future who was suffering much. John Paul II understood that Jacinta had been praying for him. With the announcement of the possibility of Pope Benedict XVI traveling to Fatima to canonize Jacinta sometime in 2006, we have all the more reason to have a deeper knowledge and appreciation of the life and heroic virtue of this Fatima seer. – Ed.

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 when at play was enough to send her pouting into a corner—”tethering the donkey,” as we used to say. Even the coaxing and caressing that children know so well how to give on such occasions, were still not enough to bring her back to play; she herself had to be allowed to choose the game, and her partner as well. Her heart, however, was well disposed. God had endowed her with a sweet and gentle character which made her at once lovable and attractive….

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 with 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 when 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?”