Francisco (Fatima)

I have been pondering Fatima lately. Why did Mary tell Francisco he’d go to heaven but he’d need to pray many rosaries first? Francisco was a nine year old kid. My own son is nine. He’s a big sweetheart who loves legos and basketball and playing with his siblings. I imagine Francisco was similar. A good kid. I feel like I’m missing something. Is getting to heaven harder than I imagine?!

A Catholic isn’t obligated to believe in Fatima if that helps.

Yes thank you, I know. But for those who do think it’s true, I’m curious what they think of this remark of our Lady. I never thought much of it until I had a nine year old myself & now it seems surprising. Nine is still so innocent & must have been so much moreso at the time of Fatima.


I personally always loved Our Lady of Pontmain. One of the children says Mary said ‘my Son allows Himself to be moved’ but the adults couldn’t believe she said laisse, or allows. But the children insisted it was laisse.

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That’s beautiful!

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I tend to think that Francisco prayed the rosary for the benefit of other souls in need of prayers rather than for himself.


We have no idea what kind of sins Francisco committed. You say he was 9, and in general the age of reason is 7 or so. So possibly years of potential sins.

We have no idea. I don’t know the language but it may not have even been about his own sins, if interpreted a certain way, I think. They did a lot of penance for other souls, remember. But I think Francisco wasn’t allowed the full vision of our Lady, so that is something to think about as well.

Indeed, going directly to Heaven is difficult to achieve. Purgatory is such a great gift. But that doesn’t mean to let your guard down, but just practically speaking knowing how we may not do enough penance, but can have some penance or be made so clean in such a way…but, remember that even those in purgatory are holy souls (pray for them, especially this month! They may pray for you, too!).

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Maybe she knew he may be sinful in the future? Not sure. I think it could be interpreted as purgatory time and saying the rosary would lessen that.

Don’t let this stress you

Mary was helping him grow in holiness. I don’t see her as being stern and saying, “You’ll go to heaven but ONLY if you pray lots of rosaries” but rather just gently encouraging him. “Yes, some day you’ll go to heaven, but meanwhile you’ll have to pray a lot of rosaries on earth before it’s time for that!”

It’s important to note that the kids were all basically “good kids”, and that as they had been taught to do, they already prayed the rosary every day, albeit rather haphazardly as kids do, trying to get done quickly so they could get back to playing. They weren’t being asked to do something they weren’t already doing, they were just being invited to step up their prayer game, and they did. Francisco and the others became more zealous about praying after the visions began. Francisco became very focused on offering his prayers to comfort Jesus.

This is correct. The children were instructed to pray for 3 intentions: 1) to save sinners, 2) for the Holy Father, and 3) to console the hearts of Jesus and Mary. Francisco particularly focused on the third intention and especially with respect to Jesus. I’m not sure where people are getting the idea that the kids were told to pray the rosary because they were too sinful to go to heaven otherwise - that’s not supported by anything I ever heard or read. The prayers and penances the children did were for others and for the world, not for themselves.

It’s actually not that hard if you live a good life and trust in God’s Mercy, but that’s a topic for another thread.
As discussed above, Mary did not ask the children to pray in order to make themselves more worthy of Heaven. Fatima wasn’t about the children’s salvation.


I’ve pondered this too and agree with others here that people tend to misinterpret what Our Lady told Francisco as a harsh warning, as if he was so sinful he’d better get busy atoning. I don’t think that’s true at all from reading rather extensively about him. However, by all accounts he had a MUCH different personality that Jacinta. Jacinta was passionate, fervent–a real fire ball even before the apparitions–so she immediately took Our Lady’s words to heart and dove into them passionately. By contrast Francisco was always described as passive (Lucia once stated that as a child she tried to like him and often failed because he was so indifferent to everything). So I think Our Lady had to egg him on a bit more, because of this personality, to be fervent in his faith and in her words. What better way to do this than to say what she did about the Rosaries? Just like a mom knows what is best for each individual child and their needs.


I know for my own experience that Mary treats children very tenderly. So I don’t understand what Mary told Francisco as a ‘warning’ but as encouragement.

Also, for the sake of comparison, your son was born in a completely different society than the one in which Francisco was born. In the Francisco’s one, religion had more importance and children were taught the faith as one of the most important things. Even if they were poor shepherds, they lived in a society where praying was important and well-regarded, and where kids were expected to pray. Your son lives in a radically different environment, despite your efforts to teach him well. He probably hasn’t studied any part of the catechism (as Portuguese children did a century ago), and he prays what he knows and loves God to the best of his abilities and natural understanding. That means he would be measured for what he knew. If he does X without knowing X is a sin, he can’t be held responsible for that sin. If he prays a night prayer instead of a Rosary because that’s what he’s been taught, he won’t be held responsible for not having prayed a Rosary.

Children usually have a special ability to understand God in a very natural way. I think it has something to do with purity, but I’m not sure. They can sin gravely, of course. But they have their parents to teach and guide them so that they learn to obey and live a good life. Continue teaching your son, and be sure God loves Him!

Edit: Grammar.

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You don’t lnow what he might have been exposed to or what ideas bigger boys might have put in his brain.

I get the sense that girls in that time and place were more guarded and chaperoned than the boys.

I’m not denigrating him or implying he was some sort of maniac, but maybe Mary wanted to put more of a wall of protection around him.

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For those that attain heaven, attachments to sin (formed through mortal or venial sin) must be remove before death through penance or in purgatory.

Oh, I didn’t think of that! That’s beautiful.

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