Saints Francisco and Jacinta
Between May 13 and October 13, 1917, three Portuguese shepherd children from Aljustrel, received apparitions of Our Lady at Cova da Iria, near Fátima, a city 110 miles north of Lisbon. At that time, Europe Portugal was in political turmoil, having overthrown its monarchy in 1910; the government disbanded religious organizations soon after. At the first appearance, Mary asked the children to return to that spot on the thirteenth of each month for the next six months. She also asked them to learn to read and write and to pray the rosary “to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war.” They were to pray for sinners and for the conversion of Russia, which had recently overthrown Czar Nicholas II and was soon to fall under Communism. Up to 90,000 people gathered for Mary’s final apparition on October 13, 1917. Less than two years later, Francisco died of influenza in his family home. He was buried in the parish cemetery and then re-buried in the Fátima basilica in 1952. Jacinta died of influenza in Lisbon in 1920, offering her suffering for the conversion of sinners, peace in the world, and the Holy Father. She was re-buried in the Fátima basilica in 1951. Their cousin Lúcia dos Santos, became a Carmelite nun and was still living when Jacinta and Francisco were beatified in 2000; she died five years later. Pope Francis canonized the younger children on his visit to Fátima to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first apparition – May 13, 2017. The shrine of Our Lady
REFLECTION FOR THE DAY
The Pharisees and their scribes were complaining to his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” Luke 5: 30
This question by the Pharisees reflects the social situation of India. Over the years a million times the same question might have come up in India in different forms to different people. Excluding people in the name of something or the other is the bane of the society in this country though with the advent of Christianity a new trend of inclusion also set in. A man like Saint Kuriakose Elias Chavara (Feast day February 18) through his visionary efforts tried to open Catholic schools to Dalit children in the southern Indian state of Kerala at a time when these children were not even allowed to educate themselves because knowledge was presumed to be the preserve of the highest caste people. Jesus too lived in a society which proudly held itself as the preserve of a particular people who excluded sinners and tax collectors from its ambit besides having the trump card chosen people. By calling Levi to his discipleship and by eating with him and his group of people the carpenter’s son wanted to send out a strong message that in God’s vision there was no place for exclusion.