Nothing Great Is Done Without Suffering (Jacinta and Francisco of Fatima)

by Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira


“A Roman and Apostolic Catholic, the author of this text submits himself with filial devotion to the traditional teaching of Holy Church. However, if by an oversight anything is found in it at variance with that teaching, he immediately and categorically rejects it.”

 The words “Revolution” and “Counter-Revolution” are employed here in the sense given to them by Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira in his book Revolution and Counter-Revolution, the first edition of which was published in the monthly Catolicismo, Nº 100, April 1959.

Saint of the Day, February 19, 1965



Jacinta de Jesus Marto (Fátima, Ourém, 03/11/1910 — Lisboa, 02/20/1920)

Two of the three Fatima seers died young because of the need for victims to give the necessary fecundity to Our Lady’s plan; for nothing great is done without suffering. Souls closed from the inside and unwilling to open up, can only be opened through suffering. We must understand that it’s normal for man to suffer and that suffering should be courageous and daring. The acceptance of sacrifice is necessary to combat the Hollywoodian myth of the “happy end.”


Jacinta and Francisco died as children by Our Lady’s design as She had foretold and the third, Lucia, remained for many more years. What was the reason why Our Lady wanted Jacinta and Francisco to die so early? This was obvious, and they spoke openly about it. There was a need for persons to suffer. For victims to associate themselves with the entire mystery of Fatima, and to bring about all the supernatural fecundity Our Lady wanted to give to the events at Fatima. They needed to associate the pain and sacrifice of their lives with those events. Both children died in extraordinarily difficult and arduous circumstances that caused them much suffering.

That association was needed because when it comes to the salvation of souls, all great works of God are done with the participation of men. In general, it’s only accomplished with people that fight, suffer and pray for God’s work to be brought to its fruition.

In other words, the participation of human sacrifice is always necessary. Without human sacrifice, nothing great is done. This stands out especially in regard to Fatima, which was the direct intervention of Our Lady. This apparition of Our Lady is attested to by stupendous miracles. One such example was the miracle of the sun. Indeed, Fatima is one of the most important messages, perhaps the most important message that Our Lady has ever given throughout history.

On that occasion and in those circumstances, Our Lady wanted the sacrifice of two souls who would immolate themselves and offer up their lives for the fulfillment of the plan of Divine Providence. This clearly shows how the apostolate of suffering is truly irreplaceable and how it opens up the way for the Church to act upon souls.


From left: Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta Marto

A German painter once painted Our Lord as the Good Shepherd knocking on the door of a simple house. After the painting was finished someone told him: “You’ve made a mistake, for the door has no latch on the outside to get in.” He answered: “That’s true, but it’s no mistake. This door symbolizes the human heart. Our Lord knocks on it, but there’s no handle outside, only inside. For there are certain souls that open up only to themselves and to no one else, and in that case no one can intervene, they’re really closed.”

Prayer and sacrifice are precisely the way to influence these type of souls. It’s through pain that we find life, and by carrying the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ lovingly and understanding that it’s normal for man to suffer. We can then understand that man is great to the degree that he suffers, and that only the great men in history are those who bear great sufferings for the love of God. Only thus is a man truly faithful to Our Lord and ends up becoming great. The decisive men in history were those who managed to suffer everything.

Clearly, this is not only a passive suffering, like allowing another to strike us physically, but rather it’s an active suffering. In other words, it’s taking the initiative in the struggle. It’s to fight and break with the world, confront bad public opinion, accept being placed in difficult and awkward situations. In short, it’s the entire suffering embraced in a most fearless and daring battle where one is full of initiative to sacrifice for an ideal. This is to suffer par excellence; but we need to know how to accomplish this.

Acceptance of sacrifice is necessary to combat the Hollywoodian myth of the “happy end”. This comes across very clearly in the sacrifice made by Jacinta and Francisco. We should remember frequently to ask Jacinta to ask Our Lady of Fatima to obtain for us this sense of suffering that is indispensable for every one of the faithful to truly become a generous and dedicated Catholic.

This acceptance of the cross is the opposite of today’s myth of the happy ending. That a normal life is one that ends well during which everything is joy and success, while suffering is a kind of seven-headed monster that invades people’s lives uninvited. Reality is the opposite. A life without crosses is worthless. Saint Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort goes so far as to say that when a person doesn’t suffer, he should ask for crosses. For a person to whom God gives no sufferings should be wary of his eternal salvation.

We should ask Jacinta to have this great truth deeply engraved in our souls by the grace of God through the prayers of Our Lady.