“WHAT IS GOD?” THE SPIRITUALITY OF FRANCISCO MARTO

Francisco

By Barb Ernster

Blessed Francisco Marto might be considered a “wimp” by today’s standard, perhaps even a loser. The Fatima seer, who would not see his 10th birthday, would easily shrug off losing at his favorite games and likely let others decide what to do with his day. His compliant nature and “never mind” attitude toward slights and injustices against him might have kept him in the shadow of his peers, an easy target for teasing or simply ignored. Instead, Blessed Francisco, who died on the morning of April 4, 1919, is celebrated the world over for his spirit of detachment and humility, and his unfathomable depth of spiritualty that few will ever achieve.

Francisco’s docile disposition was the empty vessel by which God could cultivate a rich and profound holiness. He was not a simple-minded boy, but a single-minded disciple of Christ, focused solely on doing His will. Indeed, Francisco personified Mary’s words at Cana, “Do whatever He tells you.”

He eagerly and lovingly submitted to Our Lady’s remark that he “must say many rosaries” before she would take him to Heaven. This was not a negative declaration of his sinfulness, as some would believe, but was seen as a great privilege by Francisco who embraced this small request for so great a reward. His ability to forsake the world was the foundation for his close alignment with the Savior, Whom he constantly sought to console, especially in the Blessed Sacrament.

Author Leo Madigan writes in The Children of Fatima, “It was this passivity of total commitment that brings Francisco to life for us – and, at the same time, hides him. He is like a firefly among the trees, a glowworm in a cave. He doesn’t ask us to seek him out. We want to. His very elusiveness intrigues and draws us. When we catch the occasional glimpse of him, it is not because he wishes to show himself, but because he knows the way deeper into the forest of prayer, further along the unlit path into the cave of contemplation. If we promise to ignore him, he will be our guide.”

Francisco’s role as the consoler of Christ

Francisco’s inability to hear the angel and Our Lady during the apparitions is telling of his particular spiritual charisms. Francisco heard God with his heart, experiencing constantly the great sorrow of Our Lord. And like a child toward a parent, he desired only to make it better through his obedience to Our Lady’s requests for daily prayers and penances.

It also helped him readily understand Lucia’s central role in the supernatural events unfolding, which he wholeheartedly encouraged. When she was plagued by doubts and internal conflict, he exclaimed, “Never mind! Didn’t Our Lady say that we would have much to suffer? If we can console them with these sufferings, how happy we shall be.” It was she that Our Lady spoke to, not him. Yes Francisco was able to discern in his heart that if Lucia did not come to the Cova again and carry out her mission, Jesus and Mary would be sadder still.

The vision of hell that nearly frightened Jacinta to death during the July apparition made little impression on Francisco, so focused was he on the great light of God issuing from Our Lady’s hands that did not burn them. It caused him to wonder aloud, “What is God?” Still, he perceived God’s sadness from sin – even in the wondrous light.

Francisco – fearless and humble winner

Francisco’s humility and kindness invited many earthly sufferings, especially at the schoolhouse where he was subjected repeatedly to charges of being a fraud by an exasperated teacher who was wont to believe in apparitions of a “Lady” from heaven. These humiliations followed him onto the playground where his peers heaped more ill treatment.

Like Jacinta and Lucia, he was constantly sought by people seeking answers to their questions, wanting to know more about the messages. Francisco truthfully could not answer questions regarding what Our Lady said, but he could show what she wanted. Once, when a woman knelt before him seeking his prayers and intercession, Francisco also knelt, bringing himself down to her level – a sinner – took out his Rosary beads and invited her to pray. The grace she sought was given. Other times he would slip away from the people, seek solitude with the Hidden Jesus and pray for their intentions. On many occasions, he was able to tell them that a grace would be granted – which indeed would occur just days later. In one case he promised to ask Our Lady for a grace when he got to Heaven. The father and son were reconciled on the day the young seer died.

During his five-month illness, visitors to his bedside would often report how comforting it was to be near him. “I don’t know what it is about Francisco,” they would say, “but it feels so good to be here.”

When his sufferings increased, he confided to Lucia that what was most difficult for him to endure was his inability to visit the Hidden Jesus, and asked her to go instead. Near his death, he smiled with happiness: “It won’t be long now til I go to Heaven,” he told her. “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.”

Francisco, the little shepherd who could not hear a word Our Lady said, shows us how to live the Message of Fatima in the heart. He is clearly a winner.

 

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3 Comments
  1. Dear Francisco show us the way to Heaven. with your prayer and Mercy
    of Mary and Jesus. Pray for our country . for Humility and conversion.

    Amen

  2. Francisco!..Thank you and pray for us!

  3. Francisco help me to imitate you and be my patron. Teach my to love Jesus and Mary like you.

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