Extracts from Lucia’s first memoir: on sacrifices
That day, when we reached the pasture, Jacinta sat thoughtfully on a rock.
“Jacinta, come and play.”
“I don’t want to play today.”
“Why don’t you want to play?”
“Because I’m thinking. That Lady told us to say the Rosary and to make sacrifices for the conversion of sinners. So from now on, when we say the Rosary we must say the whole Hail Mary and whole Our Father! And the sacrifices, how are we going to make them?”
Right away, Francisco thought of a good sacrifice:
“Let’s give our lunch to the sheep, and make the sacrifice of doing without it.”
In a couple of minutes, our lunch had been divided among the sheep and that day we fasted as strictly as the most austere Carthusian.
( … )
Jacinta took this matter of making sacrifices for the conversion of sinners so much to heart, that she never let a single opportunity escape her. There were two families in Moita (a hamlet to the north of Cova da Iria) whose children used to go round begging from door to door. We met them one day, as we were going along with our sheep. As soon as she saw them, Jacinta said to us:
“Let’s give our lunch to these poor children for the conversion of sinners.”
She ran to take it to them. That afternoon, she told me she was hungry. There were holm-oaks and oak trees nearby. The acorns were still quite green. However, I told her we could eat them. Francisco climbed up a holm-oak to fill his pockets, but Jacinta had the idea that we could eat the ones on the oak trees instead, and thus make a sacrifice by eating the bitter kind. So that afternoon, that we enjoyed this delicious repast! Jacinta made this one of her usual sacrifices. She picked the acorns from the oaks or the olives off the trees. One day I said to her:
“Jacinta, don’t eat that; it’s too bitter!”
“But it’s because it’s bitter that I’m eating it, for the conversion of sinners.”
These were not the only times we fasted. We had agreed that whenever we met these poor children, we would give them our lunch. And the poor little ones, only too happy to receive our alms, took good care to meet us and they used to wait for us on the road. We no sooner saw them than Jacinta ran to give them all the food we had for that day, as happy as if she had no need of it herself. On days like that, our only nourishment consisted of pine nuts, and little berries about the size of an olive which grow on the roots of yellow bell-flowers, as well as blackberries, mushrooms, and some other things we found on the roots of pine trees – I can’t remember now what these were called; or fruit, if there was any nearby on the land belonging to our parents.
Jacinta’s thirst for making sacrifices seemed insatiable. One day a neighbour offered my mother a good pasture for our sheep. Though it was quite far away and we were at the height of summer, my mother accepted the offer made so generously, and sent me there. As there was a pond nearby where the flock could go and drink she told me that it would be best to take our siesta there, in the shade of the trees. On the way, we met our dear poor children, and Jacinta ran to give them our alms. It was a lovely day, and the sun was blazing.
In that dry and arid place, it seemed as though everything was burning up. We were parched with thirst, and there wasn’t a single drop of water for us to drink! At first, we offered the sacrifice generously for the conversion of sinners, but by midday, we could hold out no longer.
As there was a house quite near, I suggested to my companions that I should go and ask for a little water. They agreed to this, so I went and knocked on the door. An old woman gave me not only a pitcher of water, but also some bread, which I accepted gratefully and I ran to share it with my little companions. Then I offered the pitcher to Francisco, and told him to take a drink.
“I don’t want to drink,” he replied.
“I want to suffer for the conversion of sinners.”
“You have a drink, Jacinta!”
“But I want to offer this sacrifice for sinners too.”
So I poured the water into a hollow in the rock, so that the sheep could drink it, and went to return the pitcher to its owner. The heat was getting more and more intense. The singing of the crickets and grasshoppers coupled with the croaking of the frogs in the neighbouring pond making an unbearable noise. Jacinta, weakened by hunger and thirst, said to me with that simplicity which was natural to her:
“Tell the crickets and the frogs to stop singing! I have such a terrible headache.”
Then Francisco asked her:
“Don’t you want to suffer this for sinners?”
The poor child, clasping her head between her two little hands, replied:
“Yes, I do. Let them sing!”