Review of Jacinta, the Flower of Fatima,
by Rev Joseph Galamba de Oliveira
Donal Anthony Foley reviews Jacinta, the Flower of Fatima, by Rev Joseph Galamba de Oliveira, (AMI Press, Washington, 1982), 192 pages, £4.20.
This is a reprint of a book originally published in the 1940s, and the beauty of it is that it gives a wonderful picture of the atmosphere surrounding the apparitions, and this from the priest who acted as a go-between for the first bishop of Fatima and Sr Lucia. Thus the author was a person intimately associated with the apparitions and with rural Portuguese life at the time, and this makes this book both charming and authoritative.
It has a foreword by Bishop Fulton Sheen in which he describes Jacinta as being, “one of God's little giants, … who was wise beyond all learning, for who is not wise when instructed by heaven?” This is followed by a prologue of about 20 pages which gives a good outline of the course of the apparitions for those who are not familiar with the story of Fatima. It also has a preface from the Cardinal patriarch of Lisbon, Cardinal Cerejeira, who, writing in 1942, 25 years after the apparitions in 1917, could clearly see the hand of God in the tremendous effects they had had on Portugal.
The main part of the book is made up of account drawn largely from Sr Lucia’s memoirs, interspersed with Rev Galamba de Oliveira’s evocative descriptions of life in Fatima in the early part of the 20th century. It was time when the people were very poor in material terms, but very rich spiritually.
The early chapters detail life in the mountains around Fatima, and while it could be hard, the compensation was often in a genuinely religious family and village atmosphere, where people lived, worked and relaxed together, despite the fact that it was a time of religious persecution in Portugal, particularly in the larger towns and cities.
The main focus of the book, though, as the title indicates, is the way the Jacinta’s life “flowered” once she and the other little shepherd children had seen our Ladyhow she went, in a few years, from being an ordinary child, with the faults of a child, to someone who is now on the verge of being declared a saint by the Church, having been beatified, along with Francisco, in 2000. And it is clear that she attained this sanctity essentially by doing what our Lady asked for, and in being prepared to make sacrifices, often heroic sacrifices, for God.
The book is full of lovely anecdotes about Jacinta, which bring home how spiritually advanced she became as her death neared. It is an excellent book for spiritual reading, and as a way of reminding us that we all need to pray and make sacrifices if we too are to live genuinely Christian lives.
If you have enjoyed the second volume of Fatima in Lucia's own words, then you will certainly enjoy this book. For anyone who knows the story of Fatima, but would like more background detail this is an excellent choice of reading.
© 2004, Donal Anthony Foley, All Rights Reserved
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