by Leo Madigan
Jacinta’s stay in Lisbon, Jan/Feb 1922, lasted 30 days. The time can be divided into two parts: 12 days in the orphanage of Our Lady of Miracles and 18 in the Hospital of Dona Estaphánia.
In the orphanage the Lord gave her one consolation which could not have been foretold – a life of union with the Eucharistic Jesus. Her mother, who travelled with Jacinta to Lisbon and stayed with her for the first week, told the official interrogation, In the house of Dona Maria of the Purification we went to Mass together, to the Church of Estrela, where Jacinta went to confession, and sometimes to communion.
Based on information received, Sister Lucia gave the following testimony: One of her greatest joys was to be able to spend the greater part of the day on the balcony which gave onto the Church (of the Miracles) in front of the sacristy.
These words are confirmed by the testament of the Sister in Charge of the orphanage: She passed long hours in front of the Most Blessed Sacrament, sitting on a bench on the balcony which overlooks the Chapel of the Miracles.
She would also show her love by taking on the apostolate, not only with prayer and good example, but also with words. We had in the house, the Sister in Charge, who was known as Mother Godinho, declared, some 20 or 25 children. Jacinta got on well with all of them, but she was inclined to avoid chatting. She preferred the company of a girl of her own age to whom she spoke of the things of God. It was a pleasure to listen to her. Behind a half open door, so as not to embarrass her, I often overheard many of the practical things she said.
You mustn’t lie; no, never avoid the truth. You mustn’t be lazy, you must be very obedient and endure everything with patience, and for the love of Our Lady, if you want to go to heaven.
It was either in this orphanage, now a Poor Clare convent, or in the hospital that Jacinta was sometimes visited by Our Lady.
Sister Lucia referred to one of these apparitions: “From Lisbon she told me that Our Lady had already been to see her and had told her the hour that she was to die, and she told me to be very good.”
On the 2nd of February, the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple and the Purification of Our Lady, Jacinta moved from the orphanage to the hospital of Dona Estáfania. On the 10th the operation took place. It was performed by Dr. Leonardo de Sousa Castro Freire, then
Professor Extraordinary and, after 1939, he was to hold the Professorial Chair at the faculty of Medicine.
During the Process towards beatification of Jacinta this Doctor agreed to give testimony to Dom Alberto Cosme de Amaral, Bishop of Leiria-Fatima in the presence of the Vice-Postulator, Father Luis Kondor. Afterwards this deposition was transcripted, and the transcript was confirmed and signed by the Professor.
Here are some of the passages of the testament.
Dom Alberto: In what circumstances did you know Jacinta?
Dr. Leonardo: When I met her I was pediatric Specialist and professor Extraordinary at the Hospital of Dona Estefánia where I worked. She arrived at the hospital in a very serious condition and she had every appearance of suffering acutely. As a consequence of pneumonia, Purulent pleurisy had developed. Also I found that two of her ribs had decayed...
Dom Alberto: It was you yourself who operated on Jacinta? Can you tell us something of the operation?
Dr. Leonardo: Yes. It was me who operated on Jacinta. The operation meant making an insertion large enough to drain off the pus and dry off the two ribs.
Dom Alberto: When you operated on Jacinta did you know that she was one of the seers of Fatima?
Dr. Leonardo: No. I didn’t know. It was much later that the nurse, Nadeje, said to me one day, “This little girl is one of the visionaries of Fatima.”
Dom Alberto: Did anything about the way Jacinta comported herself impress you, during or after the operation?
Dr. Leonardo: She gave me the impression – always left me with the impression – of a child with much courage, and because she wasn’t under a general anaesthetic, she wasn’t immunised from the pain involved in the opening of the fistula etc. The only words I heard from her during the operation were these, “Oh Jesus! O my God!”
Dom Alberto: In the light of all you have said are you able to affirm that Jacinta’s patience was heroic?
Dr. Leonardo: Certainly, considering all she suffered and the way she suffered it. And also the fact that she was a child because, you know, an adult has more capacity for suffering than a child.
In spite of all the medical care the little one weakened and her state deteriorated until 20th February 1920.
At 6 in the afternoon she said that she felt very ill and asked for the sacraments. At 8 she made her confession to the Rev. Prior of the parish of the Angels, Monsignor Manuel Pereira dos Reis. She begged to be brought the Holy Viaticum because she was going to die. The priest, not discovering any signs of imminent death, decided to leave the Last Sacraments till the following day.
About 10:30 that night, Jacinta, a masterwork of Divine grace, one of the purest and most beautiful of souls who travelled through this world of sin, expired peacefully, alone, as Our Lady had foretold.
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