Fatima’s bishop has said the centenary of the locale’s Marian apparition would not be complete without the announcement of the canonization of Blessed Francisco and Jacinta Marto, two of the children who witnessed the apparition.
“I would consider the centenary to be incomplete without the canonization. I have had this hope. We are in time for it to be May 13, but everything depends on the exclusive competency of the Pope,” Bishop Antonio dos Santos Marto of Leiria-Fatima said at a recent press conference.
The bishop also spoke about the news that Pope Francis approved March 23 the decree recognizing a second miracle attributed to the intercession of both siblings. This opens the way for their canonization.
Together with their cousin Lucia Santo, the brother and sister witnessed the 1917 apparitions of Mary.
Francisco and Jacinta died soon after, in 1919 and 1920, respectively. Lucia became a Carmelite nun, and died in 2005.
Bishop dos Santos Marto said he received with “enormous satisfaction the news of the approval of the miracle.”
He acknowledged that the announcement was not a surprise because “I had confident hope.” However, he said, “I must confess I was caught by surprise by the date; I didn’t expect it to be so soon.”
“After this there’s just one remaining decisive step, which belongs to the Holy Father: choosing the date and location of the canonization.”
He indicated that information will not be available until the April 20 consistory.
Also present at the press conference was the postulator for the cause of canonization of Francisco and Jacinta Marto, Sister Angela Coelho. The religious is also the vice-postulator of the cause for the beatification of Sister Lucia.
Sister Coehlo pointed out that “the little shepherds, who died at the age of 10, will be the youngest saints in the history of the Church, with the exception of child martyrs.”
She said the miracle attributed to the intercession of the blessed involves the cure of a child in Brazil. The healing began to be studied in 2013, but “more details on the case are not allowed to be revealed” because it concerns a child and the need to protect the child’s identity.
Sister Coelho also spoke about the speed with which the theological approval came about after the medical validation of the miracle. “The theological argumentation was already prepared previously and all the documentation for Rome was immediately sent,” she said.
The postulator clarified that no announcement is expected concerning the process of beatification for Sister Lucia. “That’s a separate cause,” she explained.