It was a historic event because the youngest believers in the history of Church were canonized. Well, there had been earlier cases of canonizing younger people, but these had always been martyrs, who had lost their lives at the times of persecutions with other believers of Jesus. This time a 11-year-old boy and a 10-year-old girl were canonized, who had been killed for faith, and who – as eighteen theologians expressed their opinion to the Congregation for the Saints – had practiced three Divine virtues and four cardinal virtues to the excellent extent.
The apparitions in Fatima were a moment which completely changed their lives. At that time Francis was 9 and his sister Hiacynta – was 7 years old. They were pure, humble children, although they were quite different from each other.
Francis was a contemplative soul, he often escaped to the bosom of nature, to give in reflections in solitude. He was trying to avoid quarrels and confrontations, he was calm, obedient and even meek. It irritated his cousin, the third visionary – Łucja, who considered him as too soft. However, his softness did not entail weakness. Suddenly he could sometimes be persistent when he was being persuaded to do wrong. Then the steadfast moral fundament was emerging from behind the alleged compliance.
Unlike him, Hiacynta was gifted with impulsive, hot-temper. Despite being younger than him, she impressed with her strong character and could impose her will onto children at her age, and she was full of energy and new ideas.
After the apparitions the sister and the brother began to live with the message they had received from Mary. Each of them focused, however, on different aspects of her message. In their case it was compatible with the Christian principle that grace builds on nature. Different sensitivity of the children made various elements of the message from Fatima have the greatest impression on them.
What moved Francis the most was suffering of Jesus and pain of Mary because of insulting God by people. He was still thinking on how to console Christ and Our Lady who seemed sad with sins of humankind. He was praying in this intention, fasting and taking on voluntary mortification.
Whereas Hiacynta was worried by the eternal condemnation which was appearing to an enormous crowd of people. Her mind was filled in with one pulsing thought: how to bring conversion and save souls from hell, going towards eternal perdition. In this intention she was ready for greatest devotion.
The children got ill from bronchitis on 23 December 1918. They treated their suffering as a sacrifice which they could devote from their love to God. Łucja wrote about Francis that ‘he was suffering with heroic patience, never expressing any moan or the slightest complain’. Being asked why he was enduring pain sp calmly, he used to answer that he was doing so for love to our Lord and Our Lady’. He died on 4 April 1919.
After the apparitions in Fatima, Hiacynta still had a few visions of Our Lady. During one of them, Mary promised the little girl that She would take her to Heaven soon (which was the greatest desire of the child), but She gave her a choice: either it might happen very quickly or in a year but this whole time would be fulfilled with a lot of suffering. Not hesitating, Hiacynta decided to choose the second one, pleased to offer her pains in the intention for sinners endangered with hell. Instead of omnipresent happiness, she preferred a year of terrible tortures. She was so concerned about the fate of people endangered eternal condemnation for whom nobody prayed.
It is difficult to stay calm while reading about tortures which the child was experiencing for other months because of lung abscess, tuberculosis, purulent pleuritis and inflammation of ribs. Hiacynta had an operation of removing two ribs, done without anesthesia, which did not bring any recovery, but only brought about other suffering. Although every time when she had dressing changed she was in pain, she never complained. She devoted all the suffering for conversion of sinners. She died on 20 February 1920.
Today the Church shows believers Francis and Hiacynta as examples of Christian maturity and examples to follow. If their life was an answer to the apparitions in Fatima, so, what does it tell us about the message from Our Lady?