In 1952, at the request of the male and female branches of ‘Catholic Youth’, the Bishop of Leiria, Don José Alves Correia da Silva, opened the Causes for the Canonisation of Francisco and Jacinta Marto, who had seen Our Lady. The Bishop appointed Canon João Pereira Venâncio as Postulator, and it was the latter who initiated the Causes. His successor, Fr. Luís Kondor SVD, took over in 1961, and in 1979 delivered the Processes of both Causes to Rome. In the same year, Fr. Paul Molinari SJ was appointed Postulator in urbe and Fr. Luís Kondor Postulator extra urbem, and work on the Causes proceeded. In 1989 the heroic nature of the virtues of the two little Shepherds was recognised and, following recognition (in 1999) of a miracle obtained through their intercession, Pope John Paul II declared them Blessed on 13th May 2000 in Fatima (Portugal). This was the first time in the history of the Church that children who had not been martyred were declared Blessed at such a tender age (Jacinta died before reaching her 10th birthday and her brother at the age of 11).
The Postulator extra urbem acts simultaneously on behalf of ‘Catholic Youth’ and of the Church and is commissioned, both within the Diocese and in Rome, to study the life of the candidates for canonisation, their reputation for holiness and their intercession by means of the graces that have been obtained. He is also responsible for solving any problems that may occur, and assessing and highlighting the ecclesiastical importance of the Servants of God, concerning all of which he keeps the Bishop informed. Thus, where such Causes are concerned, the Postulator extra urbem is the most important collaborator of the Bishop and of the Holy See. He is also responsible for the collection and administration of the funds needed to finance the costs of the Causes.
In order to carry out his task, the Postulator established an office in Fatima on 20th February 1963; this is now known as the Secretariado dos Pastorinhos (Little Shepherds’ Secretariat)