On February 20, the liturgical Feast of Saints Francisco and Jacinta Marto, the two little shepherd children of Fatima, is celebrated. The devotion to these new saints is increasing all around the world and there are many parishes and prayer groups commemorating this Feast date with some liturgical celebration.

As an example, the Shrine of Fatima in Valenzuela City, Philippines, has prepared for this year a three day program in honour of St. Francisco and St. Jacinta, including the veneration of their relics and some other devotional moments.

At the Shrine of Fatima, in Portugal, the program includes a vigil on the 19th, with the prayer of the rosary, candlelight procession and veneration of the Saints at their tombs. The celebration continues on the 20th with the prayer of the rosary in the Little Chapel of the Apparitions, followed by the procession with the icons of St. Francisco and St. Jacinta towards the Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity, where Holy Mass will be celebrated. During the afternoon, also in the Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity, there will be an encounter with the children for a catechesis.

The ‘Day of the Little Shepherds Francisco and Jacinta Marto´, will also be commemorated, for the first time, as a municipal holiday, in Juranda, city of the Diocese of Campo Mourão, in Paraná, Brazil, where Lucas, the child of the miracle that opened way to the canonization of the two children, lives.

Historical Note

Francisco Marto was born in Aljustrel, Fatima, on June 11, 1908, and his sister Jacinta Marto was born in the same locality, on March 11, 1910. In their humble family, the children learned to know and to praise God and the Virgin Mary. In 1916, they saw three times an Angel and in 1917, they saw six times the Blessed Virgin Mary, asking them to pray and to make penance for the conversion of sinners and to obtain peace in the world. Both, immediately, wanted to answer with all their strength, to these exhortations. More and more inflamed in the love to God and to the souls, they had only one aspiration: to pray and to suffer according to the requests from the Angel and the Blessed Virgin Mary. Francisco died on April 4, 1919 and Jacinta on February 20, 1920. Pope Saint John Paul II travelled to Fatima on May 13, 2000, in order to beatify the two children. Pope Francis came to Fatima on May 13, 2017, during the Centenary of the Apparitions, and canonized the two first non-martyr children in the history of the Church.

The Shrine of Fatima, on the 1st of December, presented the theme for the new pastoral year 2018/2019. The chosen theme is: “Time of grace and mercy: to give thanks to pilgrimage in Church”.

The session started with the opening of the new temporary exhibition dedicated to the centennial of the construction of the little chapel of the apparitions. This exhibition can be visited until October 15th, 2019, on the lower level of the Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity.

The Rector of the Shrine, Fr. Carlos Cabecinhas, introduced the theme by emphasizing that during this year we shall reflect more on the experience of being Church, a pilgrim Church and on the meaning of the pilgrimage itself. In 2019, there will be the celebration of two centenaries that are quite relevant in the context of the Shrine of Fatima and its mission: the 100 years of the construction of the little chapel of the apparitions and also the centennial of the death of Saint Francisco Marto, on April 4th, 2019.

The WAF International Secretariat, based in Fatima, collects the Pledges of new members of the World Apostolate of Fatima from around the world, including those who register online through www.worldfatima.com.

At the end of the year, these Pledges are solemnly placed at the feet of Our Lady of Fatima, in the Little Chapel of the Apparitions. This is a symbolic act that comes from the early days of the movement and is carried out ever since as a way to entrust each new member’s life into the hands of the Blessed Virgin Mary, asking for protection and perseverance in their commitment to live and promote the Fatima message.

In December, on the eve of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady, the Secretariat took the pledges to the Shrine of Fatima and had a moment of prayer at the Chapel of the Apparitions, reciting the Rosary for all Apostolate members, in particular those who have enrolled during the present year. The Pledges and prayer petitions were placed at the exact spot where Our Lady appeared to the three little shepherds, in 1917.

On November 3, 2018, the World Apostolate of Fatima is organizing a moment of Eucharistic adoration with children and young people in the parish church of the Little Shepherds of Fatima, in Portugal, in collaboration with the Portuguese movement Message of Fatima. Throughout the world, other children will also be united in prayer.

The program consists of an hour of adoration to the Blessed Sacrament, with the recitation of the rosary, next to the tabernacle where so many times Saints Francisco and Jacinta Marto and their cousin Lucy adored and consoled God. The intention is for the children, with their prayers and imitating the shepherds of Fatima, to pray for their families, for the Holy Father and for peace in the world.

The Domus Pacis, the international headquarters of the World Apostolate of Fatima, welcomed 150 members and persons in charge of the association, coming from 33 countries, from June 25th to 269th, 2018, for a training encounter on the contents of the Message of Fatima and on the pastoral priorities of the movement in the beginning of the second centenary of Fatima.

The encounter, under the theme “Grace and Mercy – the gift of Fatima”, gathered many delegations coming from all over the world, from South Korea, to the Philippines, Panama, Mexico, Ghana, Nigeria, Spain, Ireland, among others, showing in this way the universality of Fatima.

At the opening session of the seminar, Bishop Antonio Marto, bishop of Leiria-Fatima, addressed a few words of encouragement and thanked the participants for bearing witness to the gift of Fatima around the world. Prof. Américo López-Ortiz, International President of the World Apostolate of Fatima, emphasized the attention the Movement has been given to the training of its pastoral agents, adding that it is within this line of continuity of training that we should consider this international seminar. It opens a new cycle of study and reflection which allows to discover in the Message of Fatima a way of sanctity and evangelization.

The Shrine of Fatima, that had collaborated in the program of the first days, was represented by Doctor Marco Daniel Duarte, who is director of the Department of Studies of the Shrine of Fatima. In his conference, and on behalf the Rector of the Shrine, Marco Daniel Duarte manifested gratitude for the diffusion of the Message of Fatima developed by the World Apostolate of Fatima and renewed the availability of the Shrine to continue supporting initiatives that aim at deepening the reading of the event of Fatima.

The speakers of the Shrine of Fatima, throughout the first two days, guided the audience through an thematic itinerary that started with the centrality of God in the Message of Fatima, then the secret of Fatima, the relation between the Rosary and Peace, and finally some elements on the sanctity of the seers Francisco and Jacinta Marto. The questions raised during the time of dialogue clearly revealed the good reception of these themes.

The last three days, thoughts and debate focused mainly on the identity and the mission of the World Apostolate of Fatima. A time for group works was therefore given in order to discuss topics such as the Eucharistic adoration program for children, consecrated life according to the charism of Fatima, the visits of the Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady, finances and fund collect, and the missionary dimension inherent of the movement itself. It was also possible to hear the testimony of pastoral work developed in some countries and the presentation of the activities of the international secretariat, liaison with all the persons in charge of the movement.

Keeping the spirit of training that the seminar aimed for, other conferences were heard on the apparitions of Pontevedra and Tuy, on the link between the Message of Fatima and the pastoral of the family and on the scatologic sense of Fatima in a ecclesiologic perspective, showing the urgency of Our Lady’s requests for our times.

The program included, in addition to these moments, different liturgical celebration in the Shrine of Fatima and the chapels of the Domus Pacis. A plaque was unveiled in the library of the house in memory of the Reverend Father Joaquín María Alonso, C.M.F., deceased in 1981, who was a historian and scholar on the events of Fatima.

On the last day, the participants made a pilgrimage to the cathedral of Leiria to mark the centennial of the restauration of the diocese. The works officially concluded with the certificate giving ceremony, followed by the missionary mandate, inviting all to announce to the world the joy and the beauty of God’s mercy, lived in a special way during this seminar.

The World Apostolate of Fatima is a Public International Association of faithful, with the mission to learn, live and spread the Message of Fatima in the entire world.

Taken from: FLP, August 2018