We recently learned that a newly discovered virus — the “Coronavirus” — was spreading in China. It didn’t take long before other countries began reporting that some of their citizens had been infected with the virus. When I first read about the virus, the thought occurred to me that it would be a good idea to order a box of face masks, just in case the virus got out of control.
I jumped on the internet and went to Amazon. I planned on quickly ordering a box of masks that I could store on a shelf in my closet. There were several items to choose from, but none of them were available for purchase. All the pages said, “Currently out of stock.” Some pages said that the estimated time for delivery was at the end of March.
I then went to Google and searched for several minutes. All the other companies that sell face masks were also out of stock. I was a little surprised that there were numerous people who beat me to it. While there is a low likelihood that there will be a worldwide crisis, I still want to play it safe. That’s why I tried to order the box of masks.
There is enough concern around the world about this new virus that some cities in China have been locked down with a quarantine. Worldwide travel to China and other Asian countries has been restricted.
The deaths from the Coronavirus are quickly nearing the total deaths from the SARS virus (“severe acute respiratory syndrome”). Total deaths from SARS over the eight-month life of the virus — during 2002 and 2003 — was 774 people. The Coronavirus is spreading at a much faster rate than the SARS virus. It has only taken about two months for the Coronavirus to kill 724 people worldwide, and it is still spreading.
Whenever there is a virus that starts spreading and killing people, I think of Saint Jacinta Marto. She’s one of the saints I prayed to after my November 2019 surgery, when I ended up in the Intensive Care Unit at Saint Mary’s Hospital in Rochester, Minnesota. In my mind, other than our Savior and His Mother, she was the most qualified person in Heaven to understand my situation and to respond to my prayers.
On May 13, 2000, the 83rd anniversary of the first Fatima apparition, Pope John Paul II traveled to Fatima to announce the beatification of Jacinta Marto and her brother, Francisco. On May 13, 2017, the 100th anniversary of the first apparition in Fatima, Pope Francis traveled to Fatima and canonized Jacinta and Francisco as saints. Jacinta and her brother died at a young age from complications associated with the “Spanish Flu.”
Jacinta was nine years old when she died on February 20, 1920, and her brother Francisco was 11 years old when he died on April 4, 1919. Jacinta is the youngest non-martyred child ever to be canonized.
You may remember from your history class that from 1918 to 1920, there was a flu pandemic — the “Spanish Flu” — that swept through the world and was responsible for taking the lives of more than 50 million people. The Spanish Flu came in two different waves. The first wave resembled the typical flu. The second wave occurred after the virus mutated and turned into an “angel of death” that had no mercy on the people it touched.
Some of the more notable Americans who died from the Spanish Flu were Felix Arndt, pianist; Larry Chappell, baseball player; Harry Elionsky, champion long-distance runner; Irma Cody Garlow, daughter of Buffalo Bill Cody; Henry G. Ginaca, engineer and inventor of the Ginaca machine; Myrtle Gonzalez, film actress; Phoebe Hearst, mother of William Randolph Hearst; and Frederick Trump, grandfather of President Donald Trump.
Three notable American survivors of the Spanish Flu were Walt Disney (1901–1966), President Woodrow Wilson (1856–1924), and President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882–1945).
It was on May 13, 1917, that the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to three young children, Lucia de Santos, Francisco Marto, and Jacinta Marto, who were 10, 9 and 7 years old, respectively. The Mother of God continued to appear to the children each month thereafter until her final apparition on October 13, 1917.
During the summer that the apparitions were taking place, the three children were ridiculed, spat upon, and intimidated for standing by their claim that the Blessed Mother was appearing to them. At one point, they were questioned by local authorities who put them in jail and later threatened to kill them if they didn’t renounce their claim that the Blessed Mother had appeared to them. They courageously refused to buckle under the pressure of the authorities.
Even though some of the children’s own relatives refused to believe that the apparitions were authentic, each month, increasing numbers of people gathered with the children on the day of the month that the apparitions were to take place. At the July apparition, the children asked the Blessed Mother to perform a sign so the people would believe she was appearing to them. Our Lady promised the children that a great public miracle would take place in October.
On October 13, 1917, the Mother of God made her final appearance to the children and told them,
I am the Lady of the Rosary. I have come to warn the faithful to amend their lives and ask for pardon for their sins. They must not offend our Lord anymore, for He is already too grievously offended by the sins of men. People must say the Rosary. Let them continue saying it every day.
That day there were more than 70,000 people who gathered to witness the public miracle that our Lady had promised. Before the apparition, there was a torrential rain that was so relentless that the crowd had to travel by foot in mud up to their ankles, so they could get to the site of the apparition. Immediately prior to the apparition, Lucia told the people in the crowd to close their umbrellas and pray the Rosary. Many in the crowd knelt down in the mud and started praying the Rosary. (Our Lady had told the children during her previous apparitions that she wanted them to tell the people to pray the Rosary every day.)
After the Blessed Mother was finished talking to the children, she pointed toward the sun, which had appeared through the clouds. The sun started spinning for several minutes in the sky while throwing off rays of multicolored light. Then the sun lurched out of the sky and began plunging toward the earth. There were screams from the crowd that the end of the world was coming and many of the people cried out for mercy and forgiveness. As the sun was about to crash into the ground, it suddenly stopped and slowly rose back into the sky and returned to its original position. At that moment, the people in the crowd realized that their rain-soaked clothing was completely dry. The mud had also dried up.
After witnessing what had happened, the secular newspaper reporters who were present and had previously ridiculed the claims of the children wrote detailed accounts about the “Miracle of the Sun.” They also reported that numerous healings had taken place. The reporters themselves became believers after seeing the miracle.
In 1930, after investigating the Fatima apparitions, the Catholic Church declared them “worthy of credence.”
Before Jacinta died, the Blessed Mother revealed to her that she was going to die alone in a hospital bed. Her cousin Lucia later wrote about Jacinta in her memoirs, “On one occasion, I found her clasping a picture of our Lady to her heart and saying, ‘O my dearest heavenly Mother, do I have to die all alone?’”
Jacinta was sick for several months before her death. At one point, she was transferred from a hospital in Ourém, Portugal, to a hospital in Lisbon, Portugal. The hospital in Lisbon was located so far away from Jacinta’s hometown that her parents and relatives were unable to secure transportation to visit her. She died alone in her hospital bed on February 20, 1920.
It is well documented that Jacinta gracefully accepted her fate, offering up all her sufferings for the conversion of sinners.
Other than the Mother of God, there is no better saint that I can think of to turn to for assistance with an illness. That’s why I prayed to our Lord, His holy mother, and Saint Jacinta after I woke up in the Intensive Care Unit.
The next time you or a loved one is sick, I suggest that you make immediate contact and engage in frequent communication with four people: The King of Mercy, the Queen of Heaven, Saint Jacinta Marto, and your doctor — in that order.
This little saint who experienced great physical pain and emotional suffering came to my rescue when I needed her the most. She did not let me down and she will never let you down.