Første saligkåring av barn som ikke er martyrer

VATICAN CITY, MAY 12 (ZENIT.org).- The Portuguese woman who was healed by the intercession of the two Fatima visionaries will be able to attend their beatification tomorrow. Her name is Maria Emilia Santos; she 69. For 22 years she was totally paralyzed, unable to leave her bed. Then, 11 years ago, on February 20, 1989, she had an instant and complete cure, after asking God for this grace through the intercession of the two little shepherds who received apparitions from the Virgin Mary at Fatima. This miracle was recognized by the Church on June 28, 1999.

The testimony of Lucia, the third visionary, for Francisco's and Jacinta's process of beatification was, of course, of decisive importance. She knew her cousins better than anyone else, as she spent entire days with them. She was able to speak on the effect the apparitions had on the life of the children. The process of the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints has brought to light how the children began to cultivate a wonderful spiritual life, which reached heroic degrees, as affirmed in the Decree of May 13, 1989.

Archbishop Jose Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, explained to Vatican Radio the importance that these beatifications have. "The beatification of the two little shepherds, Francisco and Jacinta, is of course, an event that has been anticipated for a long time, not only by Portuguese Catholics. Devotees of these children who saw the Virgin of Fatima are spread around the world and are jumping with joy over this event. The significance of the beatification of this brother and sister is quite clear. The religious movement that followed the Virgin's apparitions in Cova de Iria soon extended throughout the Catholic world. It will now receive special confirmation and new impulse. In particular, by raising the two little visionaries to the glory of the altars, the Holy Father pemits their celebration in the Liturgy of the Church, which stimulates the faithful's devotion to them and, above all, proposes them as eminent models of Christian virtue."

Francisco and Jacinta will be the first children beatified who are not martyrs. Therefore, this is a totally new case in the Church's history. Archbishop Saraiva Martins, who is also Portuguese, explained it thus: "The reason why children of that age were not beatified before is because of the prevailing conviction that at that age they were still not capable of practicing Christian virtues in a heroic way. The Congregation for the Causes of Saints went into this question very thoroughly in 1981. In order to do this, it called on the service of specialists in different sectors related to the argument in question: from the theological dimension to the juridical, from the historical to the pedagogic, including the psychological. The conclusion the specialists arrived at is that persons who have reached the 'aetas discretionis,' that is, the use of reason, can practice the virtues even to a heroic degree and, therefore, can be beatified and canonized."

Third Secret In so far as the "third secret of Fatima" is concerned, which the Virgin revealed to the little shepherds and which the Popes have not wished to divulge, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints explained to the magazine "Inside the Vatican," that it is useless to speculate on its catastrophic nature. "The fact that it has not been made public does not necessarily mean that it is the announcement of catastrophes. Rather, it indicates that it is not necessary to know this part of the revelations. We already know enough from the two first parts. We already know what the Lord wished to say to us through his Mother. And everyone knows this."

John Paul II has carried out the greatest number of beatifications and canonizations of any Pope in history. He has beatified 1,200 persons and canonized 447 - a total of 1,449 persons. In speaking during Vatican Radio's international news program, Archbishop Saraiva Martins clarified that with these proclamations, John Paul II wishes to demonstrate "the great pastoral and ecclesial importance of beatifications and canonizations. To raise Servants of God to the glory of the altars means to propose to all the People of God and to modern society authentic models of humanity and sanctity, which people of our time particularly need." ZE00051110

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