Pope to canonize Fatima seers May 13; October date for other saints

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis will declare the
sainthood of Blessed Jacinta Marto and Blessed Francisco Marto, two of the shepherd
children who saw Mary in Fatima, Portugal, during his visit to the site of the apparitions May

The date was announced April 20 during an “ordinary
public consistory,” a meeting of the pope, cardinals and promoters of
sainthood causes that formally ends the sainthood process.

At the same consistory, the pope set Oct. 15 as the date for the
canonizations of two
priests and two groups of martyrs, including Blessed Cristobal, Blessed
Antonio and Blessed Juan
— also known as the “Child Martyrs of Tlaxcala” — who were among
the first native converts in Mexico. They were killed between 1527 and 1529 for
refusing to renounce the faith and return to their people’s ancient traditions.

Pope Francis will preside over the canonization ceremony of
the Fatima visionaries during his visit to Fatima May 12-13.

The pilgrimage will mark the 100th anniversary of the Marian
apparitions, which began May 13, 1917, when 9-year-old Francisco and 7-year-old
Jacinta, along with their cousin Lucia dos Santos, reported seeing the Virgin
Mary. The apparitions continued once a month until Oct. 13, 1917, and later
were declared worthy of belief by the Catholic Church.

A year after the apparitions, both of the Marto children
became ill during an influenza epidemic that plagued Europe. Francisco died
April 4, 1919, at the age of 10, while Jacinta succumbed to her illness Feb.
20, 1920, at the age of 9.

Francisco and Jacinta’s cause for canonization was stalled
for decades due to a debate on whether non-martyred children have the capacity
to understand heroic virtues at a young age. However, in 1979, St. John Paul II
allowed their cause to proceed; he declared them venerable in 1989 and
beatified them in 2000.

children’s cousin entered the Carmelites. Sister Lucia died in 2005 at the age
of 97. The diocesan phase of her sainthood cause concluded in February and now
is under study at the Vatican.

The other canonizations set to take place Oct. 15 include:

— The “Martyrs of Natal,” Brazil, including:
Blessed Andre de Soveral, a Jesuit priest; Blessed Ambrosio Francisco Ferro, a
diocesan priest; Blessed Mateus Moreira, a layman; and 27 others. They were
killed in 1645 in a wave of anti-Catholic persecution carried out by Dutch

— Blessed Faustino Miguez, a Spanish priest and member
Piarist Fathers born in 1831. He started an advanced school for girls at a time
when such education was limited almost exclusively to boys.

While he taught a variety of subjects and wrote numerous
textbooks, he also honed an interest in botany, which led him to find a cure
for a professor so ill that he was thought to be beyond hope. People then came to
him from all parts of the country seeking relief from their sicknesses.

— Blessed Angelo da Acri, an Italian Capuchin priest who
was born Luca Antonio Falcone. A famed preacher, he was known for his defense
of the poor. He died in 1739 and was beatified by Pope Leo XII in 1825.

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

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