Pope Francis will on May 13, declare the sainthood of Jacinta Marto and Francisco Marto, two of the shepherd children who saw Mary in Fatima, Portugal, during his visit to the site of the apparitions.
The decision for the date was announced April 20 at a meeting of cardinals, which also voted on the dates of four other canonizations, in addition to that of Francisco and Jacinta, that will take place this year.
Pope Francis will preside over the canonization ceremony of the Fatima visionaries during his visit to Fatima to mark the 100th anniversary of the Marian apparitions, which began May 13, 1917, when 9-year-old Francisco and 7-year-old Jacinta, along with their cousin Lucia dos Santos, reported seeing the Virgin Mary.
The apparitions which continued once a month until October 13, 1917, was later declared worthy of belief by the Catholic Church.
A year after the apparitions, both of the Marto children became ill during an influenza epidemic that plagued Europe. Francisco died April 4, 1919, at the age of 10, while Jacinta succumbed to her illness Feb. 20, 1920, at the age of 9.
Francisco and Jacinta’s cause for canonization was stalled for decades due to a debate on whether non-martyred children have the capacity to understand heroic virtues at a young age. However, in 1979, St. John Paul II allowed their cause to proceed; he declared them venerable in 1989 and beatified them in 2000.
The children’s cousin entered the Carmelites. Sister Lucia died in 2005 at the age of 97. The diocesan phase of her sainthood cause concluded in February and now is under study at the Vatican.
At the same consistory, Pope Francis also set October 15 as the date for the canonizations of two priests and two groups of martyrs, including Cristobal, Antonio, and Juan, who are known as the “Child Martyrs of Tlaxcala”.
They were among the first native converts in Mexico, who were killed between 1527 and 1529 for refusing to renounce the faith and return to their people’s ancient traditions.
Other canonizations set to take place Oct. 15 include:
–The “Martyrs of Natal,” Brazil, including Andre de Soveral, a Jesuit priest; Ambrosio Francisco Ferro, a diocesan priest; Mateus Moreira, a layman; and 27 others. They were killed in 1645 in a wave of anti-Catholic persecution carried out by Dutch Calvinists.
— Faustino Miguez, a Spanish priest and member Piarist Fathers born in 1831. He started an advanced school for girls at a time when such education was limited almost exclusively to boys.
While he taught a variety of subjects and wrote numerous textbooks, he also honed an interest in botany, which led him to find a cure for a professor so ill that he was thought to be beyond hope. People then came to him from all parts of the country seeking relief from their sicknesses.
— Angelo da Acri, an Italian Capuchin priest who was born Luca Antonio Falcone. A famed preacher, he was known for his defense of the poor. He died in 1739 and was beatified by Pope Leo XII in 1825.