It is hard to believe that the 100th anniversary of the apparitions at Fatima have come and gone, however, let us recall another historic event that followed which connects us with the young seers at Fatima.  This event is one of the world’s most lethal outbreaks of influenza in history known as the “Spanish Flu”.  The Spanish flu would take more lives than World War I in its previous four years.  It is estimated that 500 million people or one-third of the world’s population was infected with the virus and the number of deaths were estimated to be around 50 million people.  This deadly pandemic would decreased life expectancies in most countries and was especially harsh on children.  It began during World War I, and as the troops returned home from the battlefield it spread amongst the general population attacking the most vulnerable.
St. Francisco Marto one of the three seers of the visions of the Mother of God in the Cova at Fatima Portugal in 1917 would fall victim to the virus almost a year following the end of the visions in late autumn of 1918.  It was recalled by the family that from December 1918 until his death in April of 1919 that he was unable to leave his bed.  Two days before his death on April 02, he made his first confession, and the next day would receive his first Holy Communion in the form of viaticum and on April 04, 1919 died with a smile on his face as family members describe it.  He was two months shy of his 11th birthday, and yet through his sacrifices and suffering was able to reach a high degree of sanctity being one of the youngest saints ever canonized outside of being martyred at ten years of age.  His sister Jacinta would follow him the following year and they share the same feast day February 20th.
His remains were buried without much fanfare in the Fatima churchyard cemetery.  When they went to exhume the body to move it to the crypt in the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary at the Cova they had a hard time locating his body, it was after several attempts that his father recognized the coffin and his rosary embedded in the grasp of his hands.  This was confirmation to many that by being identified with the rosary even after death that he had fulfilled the request from Our Lady by constantly saying the rosary.  Francisco was the first of the three visionaries to die and although Lucia his cousin and Jacinta his sister were able to hear Our Lady’s voice he was only able to see her.  But the other two would fill him in on what The Beautiful Lady had told them, especially when she told Lucia to make sure “Francisco says many rosaries”. He is quoted in response to Our Lady’s request, “I will say as many rosaries as you wish!”
It is said that in the short time after the end of the apparitions until his illness he would spend almost all his time in prayer and meditation.  Francisco wanted to be the consoler of Jesus because he was left with the impression that Our Lord was sad, and so he would be found constantly in front of the tabernacle consoling Our Lord.  Francisco by nature was a peaceful and amiable child, when he would come home he would insist on the family saying the family rosary before retiring for the night, and when he was confined to his bed for the last months of his life Lucia would visit him and they would recite the rosary together.  His favorite subject was his final destination which was heaven, he would often talk about going there, and Lucia would remind him not to forget about them, and he would promise that he wouldn’t and he never forgot that Our Lady told them that she would come for him soon.