Fatima. Sacrifice. Sacrifices for sinners. Jacinta
From the First Memoir (1935-12-??)
9. Conversion of Sinners
Jacinta took this matter of making sacrifices for the conversion of sinners so much to heart, that she never let a single opportunity escape her. There were two families in Moita whose children used to go round begging from door to door. We met them one day, as we were going along with our sheep. As soon as she saw them, Jacinta said to us:
“Let’s give our lunch to those poor children, for the conversion of sinners.”
And she ran to take it to them. That afternoon, she told me she was hungry. There were holm-oaks and oak trees nearby. The acorns were still quite green. However, I told her we could eat them. Francisco climbed up a holm-oak to fill his pockets, but Jacinta remembered that we could eat the ones on the oak trees instead, and thus make a sacrifice by eating the bitter kind. So it was there, that afternoon, that we enjoyed this delicious repast! Jacinta made this one of her usual sacrifices, and often picked the acorns off the oaks or the olives off the trees.
One day I said to her:
“Jacinta, don’t eat that; it’s too bitter!”
“But it’s because it’s bitter that I’m eating it, for the conversion of sinners.”
These were not the only times we fasted. We had agreed that whenever we met any poor children like these, we would give them our lunch. They were only too happy to receive such an alms, and they took good care to meet us; they used to wait for us along the road. We no sooner saw them than Jacinta ran to give them all the food we had for that day, as happy as if she had no need of it herself. On days like that, our only nourishment consisted of pine nuts, and little berries about the size of an olive which grow on the roots of yellow bell-flowers, as well as blackberries, mushrooms, and some other things we found on the roots of pine trees – I can’t remember now what these were called. If there was fruit availabie on the land belonging to our parents, we used to eat that.
Jacinta’s thirst for making sacrifices seemed insatiable. One day a neighbour offered my mother a good pasture for our sheep. Though it was quite far away and we were at the height of summer, my mother accepted the offer made so generously, and sent me there. She told me that we should take our siesta in the shade of the trees, as there was a pond nearby where the flock could go and drink. On the way, we met our dear poor children, and Jacinta ran to give them our usual alms. It was a lovely day, but the sun was blazing, and in that arid, stony wasteland, it seemed as thoug it would burn everything up. We were parched with thirst, and there wasn’t a single drop of water for us to drink! At first, we offered the sacrifice generously for the conversion of sinners, but after midday, we could hold out no longer.
As there was a house quite near, I suggested to my companions that I should go and ask for a little water. They agreed to this, so I went and knocked on the door. A little old woman gave me not only a pitcher of water, but also some bread, which I accepted gratefully. I ran to share it with my little companions, and then offered the pitcher to Francisco, and told him to take a drink.
“I don’t want to.” he replied.
“I want to suffer for the conversion of sinners.”
“You have a drink, Jacinta!”
“But I want to offer this sacrifice for sinners too.”
Then I poured the water into a hollow in the rock, so that the sheep could drink it, and went to return the pitcher to its owner. The heat was getting more and more intense. The shrill singing of the crickets and grasshoppers coupled with the croaking of the frogs in the neighbouring pond made an uproar that was almost unbearable. Jacinta, frail as she was, and weakened still more by the lack of food and drink, said to me with that simplicity which was natural to her:
“Tell the crickets and the frogs to keep quiet! I have such a terrible headache.”
Then Francisco asked her:
“Don’t you want to suffer this for sinners?”
The poor child, clasping her head between her two little hands replied:
“Yes, I do. Let them sing!”
 At that time it was a small village to the north of the Cova da Iria about 1 km from the place of the Apparitions.
8. Reflecting on Hell
That day, when we reached the pasture, Jacinta sat thoughtfully on a rock.
“Jacinta, come and play.”
“I don’t want to play today.”
“Because I’m thinking. That Lady told us to say the Rosary and to make sacrifices for the conversion of sinners. So from now on, when we say the Rosary we must say the whole Hail Mary and the whole Our Father! And the sacrifices, how are we going to make them?”
Right away, Francisco thought of a good sacrifice:
“Let’s give our lunch to the sheep, and make the sacrifice of doing without it.”
In a couple of minutes, the contents of our lunchbag had been divided among the sheep. So that day, we fasted as strictly as the most austere Carthusian! …
10. Family Opposition
When the parish priest sent for us some time later, to question us, Jacinta put her head down, and only with difficulty did he succeed in getting a word or two out of her. Once outside, I asked her:
“Why didn’t you answer the priest?”
“Because I promised you never to tell anything to anybody again!”
One day she asked:
“Why can’t we say that the Lady told us to make sacrifices for sinners?”
“So they won’t be asking what kind of sacrifices we are making.”
Ever since the day Our Lady taught us to offer our sacrifices to Jesus, any time we had something to suffer, or agreed to make a sacrifice, Jacinta asked:
“Did you already tell Jesus that it’s for love of Him?”
If I said I hadn’t, she answered:
“Then I’ll tell Him,” and joining her hands, she raised her eyes to heaven and said:
“Oh Jesus, it is for love of You, and for the conversion of sinners!”
 The first interrogation by the parish priest took place at the end of May, 1917.
4. Graces through Jacinta
There was a woman in our neighbourhood who insulted us every time we met her. We came upon her one day, as she was leaving a tavern, somewhat the worse for drink. Not satisfied with mere insults, she went still further. When she had finished, Jacinta said to me: “We have to plead with Our Lady and offer sacrifices for the conversion of this woman. She says so many sinful things that if she doesn’t go to confession, she’ll go to hell.”
A few days later, we were running past this woman’s door when suddenly Jacinta stopped dead, and turning round, she asked:
“Listen! Is it tomorrow that we’re going to see the Lady?”
“Yes, it is.”
Without realizing that some one might be watching her, she raised her hands and eyes to heaven, and made her offering. The woman, meanwhile, was peeping through a shutter in the house. She told my mother, afterwards, that what Jacinta did, made such an impression on her, that she needed no other proof to make her believe in the reality of the apparitions; henceforth, she would not only not insult us any more, but would constantly ask us to pray to Our Lady, that her sins might be forgiven.
Again, a poor woman afflicted with a terrible disease met us one day. Weeping, she knelt before Jacinta and begged her to ask Our Lady to cure her. Jacinta was distressed to see a woman kneeling before her, and caught hold of her with trembling hands to lift her up. But seeing this was beyond her strength, she, too, knelt down and said three Hail Marys with the woman. She then asked her to get up, and assured her that Our Lady would cure her. After that, she continued to pray daily for that woman, until she returned some time later to thank Our Lady for her cure.
On another occasion, there was a soldier who wept like a child. He had been ordered to leave for the front, although his wife was sick in bed and he had three small children. He pleaded that either his wife would be cured or that the order would be revoked. Jacinta invited him to say the Rosary with her, and then said to him:
“Don’t cry. Our Lady is so good! She will certainly grant you the grace you are asking.”
From then on, she never forgot her soldier. At the end of the Rosary, she always said one Hail Mary for him. Some months later, he appeared with his wife and his three small children, to thank Our Lady for the two graces he had received. Having gone down with fever on the eve of his departure, he had been released from military service, and as for his wife, he said she had been miraculously cured by Our Lady.
5. More and More Sacrifices
We were playing one day at the well I have already mentioned. Close to it, there was a grape vine belonging to Jacinta’s mother. She cut a few clusters and brought them to us to eat. But Jacinta never forgot her sinners.
“We won’t eat them,” she said, “we’ll offer this sacrifice for sinners.”
Then she ran out with the grapes and gave them to the other children playing on the road. She returned radiant with joy, for she had found our poor children, and given them the grapes. Another time, my aunt called us to come and eat some figs which she had brought home, and indeed they would have given anybody an appetite. Jacinta sat down happily next to the basket, with the rest of us, and picked up the first fig. She was just about to eat it, when she suddenly remembered, and said:
“It’s true! Today we haven’t yet made a single sacrifice for sinners! We’ll have to make this one.”
She put the fig back in the basket, and made the offering; and we, too, left our figs in the basket for the conversion of sinners. Jacinta made such sacrifices over and over again, but I won’t stop to tell any more, or I shall never end.
1. Jacinta’s Illness
This was how Jacinta spent her days, until Our Lord sent the influenza that confined her to bed, and her brother Francisco as well. The evening before she fell sick, she said:
“I’ve a terrible headache and I’m so thirsty! But I won’t take a drink, because I want to suffer for sinners.”
Another time, she said to me: “It’s becoming harder and harder for me to take milk and broth, but I don’t say anything. I drink it all for love of Our Lord and of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, our dear heavenly Mother.”
“You know I’m not getting better,” she replied, and added: “I’ve such pains in my chest! But I don’t say anything. I’m suffering for the conversion of sinners.”
2. Visit from the Blessed Virgin
“Our Lady came to see us,” Jacinta said. “She told us she would come to take Francisco to heaven very soon, and she asked me if I still wanted to convert more sinners. I said I did. She told me I would be going to a hospital where I would suffer a great deal; and that I am to suffer for the conversion of sinners, in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and for love of Jesus. I asked if you would go with me. She said you wouldn’t, and that is what I find hardest. She said my mother would take me, and then I would have to stay there all alone!”
One day, I said to her: “It won’t be long now till you go to heaven. But what about me!”
“You poor thing! Don’t cry! I’ll pray lots and lots for you when I’m there. As for you, that’s the way Our Lady wants it. If she wanted that for me, I’d gladly stay and suffer more for sinners.”
4. Return to Aljustrel
She returned home to her parents for yet a while. She had a large open wound in her chest which had to be treated every day, but she bore this without complaint and without the least sign of irritation. What distressed her most were the frequent visits and questionings on the part of many people who wanted to see her, and whom she could no longer avoid by running off to hide.
5. Renewed Visits from the Blessed Virgin
“She told me that I am going to Lisbon to another hospital; that I will not see you again, nor my parents either, and after suffering a great deal, I shall die alone. But she said I must not be afraid, since she herself is coming to take me to heaven.”
She hugged me and wept: “l will never see you again! You won’t be coming to visit me there. Oh please, pray hard for me, because I am going to die alone!”