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Lúcia Santos

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Lúcia Santos

Lúcia de Jesus dos Santos
Lúcia (right) with her cousin Jacinta Marto, 1917.
Born 28 March 1907
Aljustrel (Fátima), Kingdom of Portugal
Died 13 February 2005 (aged 97)
Convent of Carmelites, Coimbra, Portugal
Nationality Portuguese
Other names Sister Mary Lucy of Jesus and of the Immaculate Heart
Occupation Roman Catholic Discalced Carmelite nun
Known for Visionary to the Marian apparitions at Fátima

Lúcia de Jesus dos Santos[1]Sister Mary Lucy of Jesus and of the Immaculate Heart, better known as Sister Lúcia of Fátima – (March 28, 1907 – February 13, 2005) was a Roman Catholic Discalced Carmelite nun from Portugal. She was one of three children who claimed to have witnessed a series of apparitions of the Virgin Mary in Fátima, Portugal, in 1917.

Early life

Lúcia Santos was the youngest child of António Santos and Maria Rosa, of Aljustrel, who married on 19 November 1890.[2] She had six brothers and sisters: Maria dos Anjos, Teresa de Jesus Rosa Santos, Manuel Rosa Santos, Glória de Jesus Rosa Santos, Carolina de Jesus Rosa Santos, Maria Rosa (died at birth). Although peasants, the Santos family was by no means poor, owning land "in the direction of Montelo, Our Lady of Ortiga, Fátima, Valinhos, Cabeço, Charneca, and Cova da Iria."[3]

While most historical accounts correctly refer to Lúcia as Lúcia Santos, some of the more modern accounts refer to Lúcia as Lúcia dos Santos. This confusion likely arose with the publication of her first book of memoirs, wherein the editor states that the parish register lists her father's name as António dos Santos. Lúcia confirms that her family name is Santos in her fifth and sixth memoirs.[4]

Even though Lúcia's birthday is registered as March 22, 1907, her actual date of birth is March 28. In those days it was required that parents bring their children for baptism on the eighth day after birth or face a fine, and, because March 30 was a more convenient day, the 22nd was chosen as her birthday. Lúcia later recalled that, at the time, no one attached much importance to one's birthday.[5]

Lúcia's father António, by her report, was a hardworking and generous man. Lúcia remembered him telling fairy tales and singing folk songs, but he was also the one who first taught her to make the Sign of the Cross. Contrary to popular hagiographical accounts of the apparitions, he believed the children and there is some evidence that he conspired to make sure Lúcia got to the Cova for the visitations after her mother had forbidden it. Lúcia said that her father was not a particularly heavy drinker, but liked to socialize in the tavern. Because he did not like Father Ferreira, he went to church in a nearby town.[6]

Maria Rosa was literate, although she never taught her children to read. She had a taste for religious literature and storytelling. She gave catechism lessons[7] to her children and the neighbor's children, if they were there, at siesta time during the summer and especially around Lent. During the winter the catechism lessons took place after supper and around the fire.[8] According to her mother, Lúcia repeated everything that she heard "like a parrot."[9]

Father De Marchi described her features in the following manner: "She was not a pretty child. The only attractions of her face — which was not on the whole repellent — were her two great black eyes which gazed out from under thick eyebrows. Her hair, thick and dark, was parted in the center over her shoulders. Her nose was rather flat, her lips thick and her mouth large."[10]

Lúcia was a fabulous storyteller with a "gift for narration."[11] She had a talent for composing original songs, with catchy folk-style tunes and sacred and secular lyrics. Among the songs she invented as a small child are "In Heaven, I'll Be With My Mother", "I Love God in Heaven", and "Lady of Carmel". She set to music the words of the brief prayer she said had been taught to her and her cousins by an angel; "O God, I believe, I adore..." She also wrote a poem about Jacinta which appears in her memoirs.[12]

Lúcia's First Communion occurred at six years of age despite ten being the usual minimum. Initially, the parish priest refused because of her young age. However, Father Cruz, a Jesuit missionary visiting from Lisbon, interviewed Lúcia after finding her in tears that day and concluded that "she understands what she's doing better than many of the others." Because of this intervention, the parish priest admitted Lúcia to Holy Communion.[13] After her First Confession she prayed before the altar of Our Lady of the Rosary and saw the statue smile at her. Upon receiving the Eucharist, Lúcia felt "bathed in such a supernatural atmosphere that the presence of our dear Lord became as clearly perceptible to me as if I had seen and heard Him with my bodily senses." Lúcia's First Communion left a deep impact on her. "I lost the taste and attraction for the things of the world, and only felt at home in some solitary place where, all alone, I could recall the delights of my First Communion."[14]

By eight years of age she was tending of the family's sheep, accompanied by other boys and girls of the village.[2]

Apparitions of Our Lady of Fátima

Lúcia Santos (left) with fellow visionaries Jacinta and Francisco Marto.

Between May and October 1917, Lúcia and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto reported visions of a luminous lady, who they believed to be the Virgin Mary, in the Cova da Iria fields outside the hamlet of Aljustrel, near Fátima, Portugal.[15] The children said the visitations took place on the 13th day of each month at approximately noon, for six straight months. The only exception was August, when the children were detained by the local administrator. That month they did not report a vision of the Lady until after they were released from jail, some days later.

According to Lúcia's accounts, the lady told the children to do penance and to make sacrifices to save sinners. Lúcia said that the lady stressed the importance of saying the Rosary every day, to bring peace to the world.[16] Many young Portuguese men, including relatives of the visionaries, were then fighting in World War I.[17] Lúcia heard Mary ask her to learn to read and write because Jesus wanted to employ her to convey messages to the world about Mary, particularly the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Lúcia's mother did not take kindly to the news that her youngest daughter was having visitations, believing that Lúcia was simply making up lies for attention. Heretofore the favorite, Lúcia suffered beatings and ridicule from her mother. She was especially incredulous of the idea that Lúcia had been asked to learn to read and write.[18]

The Three Secrets

On July 13, 1917, around noon, the lady is said to have entrusted the children with three secrets. Two of the secrets were revealed in 1941 in a document written by Lúcia, at the request of the Bishop of Leiria, José Alves Correia da Silva, partly to assist with the publication of a new edition of a book on Jacinta.[19]

On January 25, 1938, a massive aurora borealis, described variously as "a curtain of fire" and a "huge blood-red beam of light", appeared in the skies over Europe and was visible as far away as Gibraltar and even parts of the United States.[20][21] Lúcia believed this event was the "night illuminated by a strange light in the sky" which she had heard Mary speak about as part of the Second Secret, predicting the events which would lead to WWII and requesting Acts of Reparation including the First Saturday Devotions, along with the Consecration of Russia.

When asked by the Bishop of Leiria in 1943 to reveal the third secret, Lúcia struggled for a short period, being "not yet convinced that God had clearly authorized her to act."[22] She was under strict obedience in accordance with her Carmelite life, and conflicted as to whether she should obey her superiors, or the personal orders she had heard from Mary. However, in October 1943 she fell ill with influenza and pleurisy, the same illness which had killed her cousins, and for a time believed she was about to die. The bishop of Leiria then ordered her to put the third secret in writing.[23] Lúcia then wrote down the secret and sealed it in an envelope not to be opened until either 1960. [24] She designated 1960 because she thought that "by then it will appear clearer."[25] The text of the third secret was officially released by Pope John Paul II in 2000. The Vatican described the secret as a vision of the 1981 assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II. [26]

Miracle of the Sun

The visions increasingly received wide publicity, and an estimated fifty thousand witnesses were reportedly present for the sixth and final apparition.[16] Lúcia had promised for several months that the lady would perform a miracle on that day "so that all may believe." Witnesses present in the Cova da Iria that day, as well as some up to 25 miles (40 km) away,[27] reported that the sun appeared to change colors and rotate, like a fire wheel, casting off multicolored light across the landscape. The sun appeared to plunge towards the earth, frightening many into believing that it was the end of the world.[28] Others suggested they had merely witnessed an eclipse.[16] The popular expression, according to the O Século reporter Avelino de Almeida, was that the sun "danced."[29] The event became known as the Miracle of the Sun. The episode was widely reported by the Portuguese secular media. Some coverage appeared in a small article in the New York Times on October 17, 1917.[30] Lúcia reported that day that the Lady identified herself as "Our Lady of the Rosary." She thereafter also became known as Our Lady of Fátima.

On behalf of the Catholic Church, Dom José Alves Correia da Silva, Bishop of the Diocese of Leiria-Fátima, approved the visions as "worthy of belief" on October 13, 1930.[31] Despite these assertions, many observers, including some believers, saw nothing at all.[32][33]

Life in the convent

Lúcia moved to Porto in 1921, and at 14 was admitted as a boarder in the school of the Sisters of St. Dorothy in Vilar, on the city's outskirts. On October 24, 1925, she entered the Institute of the Sisters of St. Dorothy as a postulant in the convent in Tuy, Spain, just across the northern Portuguese border. Lúcia professed her first vows on October 3, 1928, and her perpetual vows on October 3, 1934, receiving the name "Sister María das Dores" (Mary of the Sorrows).

She returned to Portugal in 1946 (where she visited Fátima incognito) and in March 1948, after receiving special papal permission to be relieved of her perpetual vows, entered the Carmelite convent of St. Teresa in Coimbra, where she resided until her death.[15] She made her profession as a Discalced Carmelite on May 31, 1949, taking the name Sister María Lúcia of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart.

Because of the Constitutions of the community, Lúcia was expected to "converse as little as possible with persons from without, even with their nearest relatives, unless their conversation be spiritual, and even then it should be very seldom and as brief as possible"[34] and "have nothing to do with worldly affairs, nor speak of them...".[35] This has led some people, such as Father Gruner of the Fátima Crusaders,[36] to believe in a conspiracy to cover up the Fátima message and silence Lúcia.[37]

She came back to Fátima on the occasion of four papal pilgrimages, all on May 13, firstly by Paul VI in 1967, and John Paul II in 1982 (in thanksgiving for surviving an assassination attempt the previous year), 1991, and 2000, when her cousins Jacinta and Francisco were beatified. On May 16, 2000, she unexpectedly returned to Fátima to visit the parish church.

Lúcia died at the age of 97 on February 13, 2005, of cardio-respiratory failure, due to her advanced age.


Lúcia wrote six memoirs during her lifetime. The first four were written between 1935 and 1941, and the English translation is published under the name Fatima in Lucia's Own Words. The fifth and six memoirs, written in 1989 and 1993, are published in English under the name Fatima in Lucia's Own Words II. These latter books were written in her own handwriting.

An additional book was published in 2001, variously known as Calls from the Message of Fatima and Appeals of the Fatima Message, as announced by the Vatican on December 5, 2001. However, this book is not written in her handwriting.[38]

Lúcia also wrote numerous letters to clergy and devout laypeople who were curious about the Third Secret of Fátima and about Lúcia's interpretation of what she had heard Mary request.[39] Two letters she wrote concerned the Consecration of Russia, in which she said Our Lady's request had been fulfilled.[40]


Sister Lúcia had been blind and deaf and ailing for some years prior to her death. She died at the Carmelite convent of Santa Teresa in the city of Coimbra, where she had lived since 1948.[15] The day of her funeral Pope John Paul II and the future Pope Benedict XVI said that she would go to Heaven. February 15, 2005, was declared a day of national mourning in Portugal; even campaigning for the national parliamentary election scheduled for Sunday, February 20, was interrupted. Sister Lúcia was a registered voter, and her polling place visits were covered by the Portuguese press.

Beatification process

On February 13, 2008, the third anniversary of her death, Pope Benedict XVI announced that in the case of Sister Lúcia he would waive the five-year waiting period established by ecclesiastical law before opening a cause for beatification; this rule was also dispensed in the causes for Mother Teresa of Calcutta and Pope John Paul II.[41]

Conspiracy theory

There are rumors that Sister Lúcia was later replaced by an imposter. The supposed idea was so that the new Sr. Lúcia would not urge the Church to reveal the Third Secret in 1960. Another was that she was forced to confirm that the Third Secret was about Pope John Paul II being shot (many believe this is not what the Secret is about). [42]

See also


  1. ^ - Lúcia de Jesus dos Santos
  2. ^ a b "Fatima - the children", EWTN
  3. ^ Fátima in Lúcia's own Words II (1999), pg. 9
  4. ^ Fátima in Lúcia's Own Words II (1999), pg. 9, 68
  5. ^ Fátima in Lúcia's Own Words II (1999), pgs. 13-14
  6. ^ "As for the drinking, again thanks be to God, it was not as they say, nor as Fr. De Marchi wrote in the first edition of his book, A Lady More Brilliant than the Sun. If my father did sometimes drink a little more than those who drank nothing, he never carried it to the point of creating disorder at home, nor of ill treating his wife and children..." In Fifth MemoirLucia's , entire text online, page found 2011-06-06.
  7. ^ "Mother was never satisfied with our just being able to repeat the words of our catechism. She tried hard to explain everything so we would really understand the meaning of the words. She used to say that just repeating catechism without understanding was worse than useless." Maria dos Anjos Santos, in de Marchi's True Story of Fatima. Maria dos Anjos was made an official catechist at the age of nine, a testament to her mother's diligence.
  8. ^ Fátima in Lúcia's Own Words I (2003), pgs. 38, 69.
  9. ^ Fátima in Lúcia's Own Words I (2003), pg. 67.
  10. ^ De Marchi, John. Fátima The Full Story, pg. 31.
  11. ^ Walsh, William Thomas. Our Lady of Fátima, pg. 11.
  12. ^ EWTN Special, Calls of the Fatima Message, 2009. A recording of Lúcia singing one of her own hymns is heard at the end of the film.
  13. ^ Fátima in Lúcia's Own Words (1995) pgs. 54-55
  14. ^ Fátima in Lúcia's Own Words I (2003), pgs. 72-73.
  15. ^ a b c , February 15, 2005The GuardianDavison, Phil. "Sister Lucia dos Santos, obituary",
  16. ^ a b c , February 15, 2005The Telegraph"Sister Lucia De Jesus Dos Santos",
  17. ^ De Marchi
  18. ^ Walsh, p. 72.
  19. ^ Zimdars-Swartz, Sandra L., Encountering Mary (1991), pg. 199
  20. ^ The Sky's On Fire on UK Weatherworld discussion board.
  21. ^ The Solar Storm and Aurora of January 25, 1938
  22. ^ Zimdars-Swartz, Sandra L., Encountering Mary (1991), pg. 203
  23. ^ Zimdars-Swartz, Sandra L., Encountering Mary (1991), pg. 204
  24. ^ , February 14, 2005Catholic World News"Sister Lucia, last Fatima seer, dead at 97",
  25. ^ Zimdars-Swartz, Sandra L., Encountering Mary (1991), pgs. 208-209.
  26. ^ , May 14, 2000.New York TimesStanley, Alessandra. "Vatican Discloses 'Third Secret' of Fatima",
  27. ^ John De Marchi, (1956) The True Story of Fátima, p, 192
  28. ^ John De Marchi, (1956) The True Story of Fátima, pgs. 183-191; Stanley Jaki (1999), God and the Sun at Fátima, pgs. 53-62 (colors, rotation), pg. 87 (fire wheel)
  29. ^ ; Stanley Jaki (1999), God and the Sun at Fátima, pg. 2
  30. ^ The New York Times, October 17, 1917
  31. ^ Joseph Pelletier. (1983). The Sun Danced at Fátima. Doubleday, New York. p. 147–151.
  32. ^ Basilica and Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima
  33. ^ Jaki, Stanley L. (1999). God and the Sun at Fátima. Real View Books, ASIN B0006R7UJ6
  34. ^ Rule and Constitutions of the Discalced Nuns of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel (1990), paragraph 27. While this document was binding for Sr. Lúcia only at the end of her life, it is based on the Constitutions of St. Teresa of Jesus, which were written in the 16th century.
  35. ^ Rule and Constitutions of the Discalced Nuns of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel (1990), paragraph 23. See also, paragraphs 212-214 on the strict nature of the cloister. It is quite unusual that, as a nun of her Order, Sr. Lúcia was able to produce any public writings at all.
  36. ^ Chronology of Four Cover-up Campaigns: Silencing of Sister Lucia
  37. ^ Bertone, Tarcisio (May 6, 2008). The Last Secret of Fatima. Doubleday Religion. pp. 65–66.  
  38. ^ ZENIT - Sister Lucia Writes Book on Fatima Revelations
  39. ^ Some examples of these letters are reprinted in The Whole Truth About Fatima, particularly in Volume 4, Fatima and John Paul I.
  40. ^ Letters of Sr. Lucia Santos, OCD on the Consecration
  41. ^ "Sister Lucia's Beatification Process to Begin". Vatican City: Zenit. 2008-02-13. 
  42. ^ "The Two Sister Lucys: Photos and Facts". Marian T. Horvat, Ph.D. 2013-01-03. 

External links

  • Cause of Beatification of Sister Lúcia | Official Website
  • Sanctuary of Fátima — Official Website with photographs of Sister Lúcia
  • Online version of the book: "Fátima in Sister Lúcia’s own words"
  • Official Vatican Statement releasing the Message of Fátima
  • The Fátima Network: Our Lady of Fátima Online a virtual library of well-researched information concerning Sister Lúcia and the Fátima apparitions sponsored by the Fátima Center and the International Fátima Rosary Crusade.
  • Sister Lúcia, visionary of Fátima at EWTN
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