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“Suffer the Little Children ...”
Part II

The district administrator, Arturo de Oliveira Santos, (The “Tinsmith”) ordered Lucy, Francisco and Jacinta, along with their fathers, to make a 9-mile trek on August 11, 1917 to the “town hall” of Vila Nova de Ourem. Lucy was the only child to go when Ti Marto refused to make his children suffer through such a journey. Throughout the day, Francisco and Jacinta prayed for their cousin, fearing they may never see her again. That afternoon, their tears became bitter when Lucy's sister told them she was dead, a lie that weighed heavily until Lucy's return at nightfall.

On August 13, the Masonic “Tinsmith” kidnapped Lucy, Francisco and Jacinta to prevent them from being present at the Cova da Iria for Our Lady's next promised appearance. Also, he was determined to get a retraction from each or any of the children by bribery or threats, whichever worked. Of course, all his efforts were in vain.

While waiting in prison for his turn to be interrogated, Francisco confided to Lucy, “If they kill us as they say, we'll soon be in Heaven! How wonderful!” Quite an amazing display of faith and courage from one so young.

What upset Francisco the most was to have missed the rendezvous with Our Lady. “Our Lady must have been very sad because we didn't go to the Cova da Iria, and She won't appear to us again. I would so love to see Her!”, he said the following day, almost in tears.

Francisco Marto

Making Sacrifices

The children were determined to make new sacrifices for the conversion of sinners. While tending the sheep, they would give their lunch to some poor children; then they ate bitter acorns. One very hot day Lucy asked an old neighbor woman for water, since they felt parched. Francisco refused to drink, insisting on suffering for the conversion of sinners.

Lucy also found a rope that they divided between them and fastened around their waists. Even though the pain brought tears to Jacinta, the children continued to wear this rope as yet one more sacrifice.

During the apparition of September 13, Our Lady told Lucy “God is pleased with your sacrifices. He does not want you to sleep with the rope on, but only to wear it during the daytime.” Could it be the children were willing to suffer too much?

Francisco could not contain his excitement regarding the promise of Our Lady for October 13: Our Lord would also come. “Oh, how good He is. And I love Him so much. Will He still be so sad? I offer Him all the sacrifices I can think of.” For an impatient nine-year-old boy, that day was approaching with maddening slowness.

Francisco, with a wisdom beyond his years, dedicated his young life to “console Our Lord, who is so sad.”