St Francisco healing oil
The St Francisco healing oil is dedicated to one of the children Our Lady appeared to at Fatima.
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. Francisco, was somewhat musically inclined, and liked to be by himself to think. Jacinta was affectionate with 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 St Francisco and Jacinta, practised stringent self mortifications to this end. The Congregation for the Causes of Saints, in the report that confirmed Jacinta as beatified, observed that she seemed to have “an insatiable hunger for immolation.”
The brother and sister, who tended to their families’ sheep with their cousin Lúcia in the fields of Fátima, Portugal, are said to have witnessed several apparitions of an angel in 1916. Lúcia later recorded the words of several prayers she said they learned from this angel.
Sister Lúcia wrote in her memoirs that she and her cousins saw the first apparition of Mary on 13 May 1917. At the time of the apparition, Francisco was 8 years old, and Jacinta was 7.
During the first apparition, Mary is said to have asked the three children to say the Rosary and to make sacrifices, offering them for the conversion of sinners. She also asked them to return to that spot on the thirteenth of each month for the next six months.
Illness and death
The siblings were victims of the great 1918 influenza epidemic that swept through Europe that year. In October 1918, Jacinta told Lucia that Mary had appeared to her and promised to take them to heaven soon. Both lingered for many months, insisting on walking to church to make Eucharistic devotions and prostrating themselves to pray for hours, kneeling with their heads on the ground as they said the angel had instructed them to do.
St Francisco declined hospital treatment on 3 April 1919, and died at home the next day. Jacinta was moved from one hospital to another in an attempt to save her life, which she insisted was futile. She developed purulent pleurisy and endured an operation in which two of her ribs were removed. Because of the condition of her heart, she could not be fully anesthetized, and suffered terrible pain, which she said would help to convert many sinners. On 19 February 1920, Jacinta asked the hospital chaplain who heard her confession to bring her Holy Communion and administer Extreme Unction because she was going to die “the next night”. He told her that her condition was not that serious and that he would return the next day. The next day Jacinta was dead; she had died, as she had often said she would, alone.
Jacinta meets with Lucia
In 1920, shortly before her death at age nine, Jacinta Marto reportedly discussed the Alliance of the hearts of Jesus and Mary with a then 12-year-old Lucia dos Santos and said:
When you are to say this, don’t go and hide. Tell everybody that God grants us graces through the Immaculate Heart of Mary; that people are to ask her for them; and that the Heart of Jesus wants the Immaculate Heart of Mary to be venerated at his side. Tell them also to pray to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for peace, since God entrusted it to her.
Jacinta and Francisco are both buried at the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary at Fatima.
Tradition of oils
The tradition of anointing with sacred oil is very old indeed. It is used in sacraments and also as a devotional practice. The sick person applies the oil and blesses themselves. As they do so, they are asked to pray to whomever the oil is dedicated to. The Irish blessings oils do not have miraculous power. It is God who has the power to heal. Applying the oil while praying are important ways for us to express our faith in God’s power. Moreover, by doing so we place our trust in God.