Portugal: Death of Sister Lucy

Source: FSSPX News


Sister Lucy, the last witness of the apparitions of Our Lady at Fatima in Portugal, died on February 13 at the Carmel of Saint Teresa of Coimbra. She was the last survivor of the three little shepherds who saw the apparitions of Our Lady.

Lucy dos Santos was born on March 28 1907 in the hamlet of Aljustrel. At the age of ten, between May 13 and October 13, 1917, accompanied by her cousins, Jacinta and Francisco Marto, aged 7 and 9 respectively, she witnessed the six apparitions of Our Lady.

Following these apparitions and other private visions of the Virgin Mary, in 1923 and 1929, Lucy entered the convent of Tuy, in Spain. She subsequently became a Carmelite in 1948. On May 13, 2000, she was present at the beatification by John Paul II of Jacinta and Francisco, who died in 1919 and 1920 respectively.

The first pope to meet the Carmelite was Paul VI, at Fatima on May 13, 1967. John Paul II, for his part, met her on three occasions: the first time in 1982, when he went to Fatima to thank Our Lady for having saved him from an assassination attempt on May 13, 1981; the second time was in 1991, in Saint Peter’s Square, for the tenth anniversary of this attempt; and in 2000 for the beatification of Jacinta and Francisco during his second visit to Fatima.

Sister Lucy recorded the apparitions and the words of Our Lady of Fatima in four successive memoirs: in 1935 (on the life and virtues of her cousin Jacinta), in 1937 (the story of her own life and the apparitions), in August 1941 (particular aspects of the life of Jacinta) and in December of the same year (further details on the apparitions of 1917).

In these texts the nun referred to three secrets which Our Lady confided to the three children during Her six apparitions. The first two, revealed in 1917 and published in 1937, announced the end of the First World War, and predicted the Second, as well as the rise of Communist Russia. The third secret had been written down by Sister Lucy in January 1944 and handed to the bishop of Leiria, so that he could pass it on to Rome. The nun stipulated that it could not be revealed until after 1960, on the decision of the pope.

John Paul II had the document taken to be kept in the archives of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith when he was in hospital following the assassination attempt on May 13 1981, which nearly cost him his life, and whose happy ending he has always attributed to the protection of Our Lady of Fatima. It was on the occasion of his visit to Fatima in 1982 to give thanks to Mary, that he had the bullet which had wounded him inserted into the crown of the statue in the sanctuary.

The text of this third secret spoke of a “bishop dressed in white” walking with difficulty towards the Cross among the corpses of martyrs and falling under a salvo of soldiers’ bullets. Having regained consciousness, John Paul II recognized himself in this vision. He decided not to publish the document on the recommendation of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

It was on May 23, 2000, after his second visit to Fatima, that the Sovereign Pontiff judged that the time had come to publish the text. The secret was read live and worldwide by satellite on June 26 of the same year, accompanied by a lengthy note of interpretation from the Congreation for the Doctrine of the Faith – a text which has not succeeded in dispelling the doubts which surround the disclosure of the Third Secret, even to this day.

In a letter dated February 14, 2005, and addressed to Mgr. Albino Mamede Cleto, the bishop of Coimbra, John Paul II recalled his meetings with Sister Lucy. “It was with emotion that I heard that Sister Mary Lucy of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary had been called by Our Heavenly Father to her final resting place in Heaven, at the age of 97,” he wrote. “I remember with emotion the meetings I had with Sister Lucy and the ties of spiritual friendship which intensified with the passage of time.” “I have always felt supported by the daily gift of her prayers, especially during difficult times of ordeals and suffering,” continued the pope. “May the Lord reward her generously for the great hidden service she has rendered to the Church.” “The visit of Our Lady, which little Lucy received with her cousins Francisco and Jacinta in 1917, was for her the beginning of a remarkable mission, to which she remained faithful to her last day.” Sister Lucy “leaves us an example of great fidelity to Our Lord and joyful adherence to His Holy will.”

In the cathedral of Coimbra, the funeral of Sister Lucy attracted crowds of faithful who came to pay homage to her with bouquets of flowers or white handkerchiefs in their hands. The congregation was too large to fit into the cathedral. Loudspeakers were installed outside for the benefit of those whose were unable to enter. The three main television channels broadcasted the ceremony live. Her funeral was decreed a national day of mourning in Portugal.

Many prominent figures were present at the ceremony. The Prime Minister, Pedro Santana Lopes was represented by members of the government. Pope John Paul II was represented by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, archbishop of Genoa. The archbishop of Lisbon, Mgr. José Policarpo, emphasized “the great simplicity of Sister Lucy”. “During her life, we were contemporaries with the events of Fatima. Her death marks a boundary. From now on, Fatima is a great sanctuary, a great message, a great spiritual tradition,” he said during his sermon.

After the celebration, the body of the nun left the cathedral to applause (!) and singing of the faithful, to return to the Saint Teresa Carmel. She will be buried temporarily, before the transfer of her mortal remains to Fatima in a year’s time.