I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars. — Og Mandino

Francisco Marto (June 11, 1908 – April 4, 1919), his sister Jacinta Marto (March 11, 1910 – February 20, 1920), also known as Blessed Francisco Marto and Blessed Jacinta Marto, and their cousin Lúcia Santos (1907–2005) were children from Aljustrel near Fátima, Portugal who said they witnessed three apparitions of an angel in 1916 and several apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1917. Mary was given the title Our Lady of Fátima as a result, and Fátima became a major center of world Christian pilgrimage.

The youngest children of Manuel and Olimpia Marto, Francisco and Jacinta were typical of Portuguese village children of that time. They were illiterate but had a rich oral tradition. The brother and sister, who tended to their families’ sheep with their cousin Lucia in the fields of Fatima, Portugal, are said to have witnessed, on May 13, 1917, the first of three apparitions of Mary. At the time of the apparition, Francisco was 9 years old, and Jacinta was 7.

According to Lúcia’s memoirs, Francisco had a placid disposition, was somewhat musically inclined, and liked to be by himself to think. Jacinta was affectionate if a bit spoiled, and emotionally labile. She had a sweet singing voice and a gift for dancing. Following their experiences, their fundamental personalities remained the same. Francisco preferred to pray alone, saying that this would “console Jesus for the sins of the world”. Jacinta said she was deeply affected by a terrifying vision of Hell shown to the children at the third apparition, and deeply convinced of the need to save sinners through penance and sacrifice as the Virgin had told the children to do. All three children, but particularly Francisco and Jacinta, practiced stringent self-mortifications to this end.

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06_Face-of-PrayerPhotographs of Fatima pilgrims are among photos in The Face of Prayer, by Abraham Menashe.