Role Model Proposed for Children

Boy From Fatima Apparitions Seen as Example of Obedience

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FATIMA, Portugal, JUNE 18, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Francisco Marto, one of the child visionaries from Fatima, is a great role model for kids today, particularly in five of his outstanding virtues, according to an expert on his life.



Sister Irma Angela Coelho, a professor and doctor, offered the visionary as a model for children when she was interviewed on the occasion of a conference under way through Saturday to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Blessed Francisco.

Sister Coelho affirmed that the young shepherd offers youth a model of obedience, purity, humility, devotion to the Eucharist, and love for sinners.

The conference, titled "Francisco Marto -- To Grow into the Gift," is focusing on the spirituality of children.

Sister Coelho characterized Francisco as "an absolutely normal boy," but, she said, he "experienced something that brought him to develop certain virtues and characteristics that to me, seem fundamental for children today."

Among these, she highlighted the little shepherd's obedience. "[Our Lady] asked him to prayer many prayers to be able to go to heaven and Francisco didn't question this; he didn't grumble or put up resistance. He just prayed."

He was prompt in his obedience to the Virgin and also to his parents, Sister Coelho noted.

Mentioning his purity, she contended that Francisco "saw things the way that God sees them." This brought him to avoid certain groups of friends so as to not learn bad words, because "Jesus gets sad."

In this regard, the religious affirmed, children of today "have a lot to learn from him, for example, in the use of the Internet, which is a marvelous thing, but which also has dangers, concretely in the realm of purity."

Sister Coelho also illustrated Francisco's humility: "During the apparitions, Lucía saw, heard and spoke; Jacinta saw and heard; but Francisco only saw."

Lucía would later affirm in her memoirs that Francisco struggled to understand what she explained to him but that "he never complained and bore with his limits."

"In our times, in which every child has to be better than the other, in a world marked by competition, […] in a society that demands being the most intelligent, the most beautiful, the most powerful, Francisco's example of humility teaches much to the children of today," Sister Coelho continued.

She went on to note how "the shepherd visionaries were able to intensely and profoundly live the mystery of the Eucharist," and how in Francisco, "his love for sinners was especially notable, [people] with whom he identified, uniting himself to them and making sacrifices for them."

"Because of all this," Sister Coelho affirmed, "I think that Francisco, who was an absolutely normal boy, became a special boy who all the normal children of today can perfectly imitate."