Sr Lucia, the precious jewel of Carmel
"Sr Lucia was our little girl, our child of God".
With these tender words, the Prioress of the Carmelite convent of St
Teresa in Coimbra, Portugal, recalled the Religious who witnessed the
mystery of Fatima and had dwelled in that "Upper Room of prayer" [of
Carmel] from 25 March 1948 until her death on 13 February of this year.
Now she is buried in "her" chapel, while awaiting burial in Fatima.
According to the Prioress of the Carmel: "Since 21 November, the day on
which her health began to deteriorate, Sr Lucia became more 'dependent'
on us and we began to treat her as 'our little girl'. She was part of
our life, and understandably in a Carmel, in a cloistered life, we are
in contact with one another 24 hours a day".
And how can we overlook the fact that the day on which Sr Lucia began
to live her suffering more intensely in the mystery of the Cross was 21
the Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary?
"There is a 'golden thread' that binds this fruitful season in the
life of the Church. And the mystery of Fatima in its essential faith
continues to challenge us", the Prioress said.
"We can thus recognize in God's great fatherly plan a link of hope,
love and prayerful creativity. And we are deeply amazed and 'provoked'
when the Community of the Carmel of St Teresa links Sr Lucia's memory
with that of another 'little girl of God', Sr Tarcisia, who died on 9
August 2004, on the Carmelite feast of St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross
(Edith Stein), after spending her life in the Carmel of Haifa in the
The Carmel of St Teresa was truly Sr Lucia's home, and the religious
community her "family". Twenty sisters intimately and spiritually shared
in the last moments of her earthly life.
Sr Maria Celina de Jesús
was Sr Lucia's companion for 28 years. She describes her as "the jewel
"Her life in our monastery", she says with emotion, "was the same as
that of the other Sisters, although recently her age made her frailer
and the doctor had advised protecting her from the cold, which is why
she followed Holy Mass from her cell".
"Being a witness of the mystery of Fatima never affected the humility
and simplicity of the little 'shepherdess'", said the Superior of the
Carmel of St Teresa; and she recalled that after meeting her, "it was a
week before I realized she was Sr Lucia of Fatima!".
In the hidden simplicity of prayer, Sr Lucia knew how to live her
great mission, which was inspired by the actual words of the Mother of
The Prioress of Carmel stressed "the normality of her conversations":
no Sister ever asked her questions out of curiosity; they all sustained
her special mission with prayer and love.
And they continue to do so, to witness to the beauty of what Fatima
stands for today: prayer, penance and conversion.
Sr Maria Celina believes that "Sr Lucia is with us in a different
way". And because of this, the Community is seeing a reawakening of
vocations to the contemplative life, motivated by the example of the
life of the little shepherdess.
"What is more", Sr Maria Celina said, "my vocation to the life of
enclosure was born when I heard about this house in which the little
shepherdess of Fatima lived for prayer alone".
Celebrations at Fatima, Coimbra
Thousands from all over Portugal took part on the weekend of 19 and
20 February at Holy Masses celebrated for the repose of Sr Lucia's soul.
At the Fatima Shrine, the solemn Eucharist was presided over on
Saturday morning by the Rector, Mons. Luciano Guerra. On the same day in
Coimbra, Holy Mass was celebrated in the Carmelites' chapel, and also in
the Cathedral by Bishop Albino Mamede Cleto.
The Rector of the Shrine of Fatima asked the pilgrims to "strive to
live like Sr Lucia, who always observed the Commandments, loving God
above all things. The grace of Fatima serves to enable us to obtain
eternal grace by loving one another as God loved us".
Mons. Guerra presented the theme for the Pastoral Year 2005 at the
Fatima Shrine: "The Fifth Commandment of God's Law: Thou shalt not
kill". The project as a whole entails dedicating the first 10 years of
the third millennium to the Ten Commandments.
"Recalling our beloved Sr Lucia", the Rector said, "let us ask the
Lord to grant us the spirit of the Message of Fatima. Do not trespass
against the Lord who has already been deeply insulted, in the certainty
that the greatest grace that God can grant to us is the joy of true
The prayerful celebrations for Sr Lucia were marked by a deep joy
born from faith and Marian tenderness. A hymn resounded throughout
Portugal, "No Céu,
A irei ver" (To Heaven, to Heaven, I will go to see Her). This was Sr
Lucia's favourite hymn and expresses the treasures of her heart: great
faith and great love.
Marking a key liturgical memorial
The liturgical memorial of Francisco and Jacinta Marto, beatified by
John Paul II on 13 May 2000, was celebrated on Sunday, 20 February, at
the Shrine of Fatima. Bishop Serafim de Sousa Ferreira e Silva of Leiria-Fatima
presided at the Holy Mass.
Indeed, it was on 20 February 1920 that little Jacinta Marto died in
Lisbon after a long and painful illness, offering all her sufferings for
the conversion of sinners, for peace in the world and for the Holy
The liturgical celebration honouring the two little Blesseds of
Fatima is usually marked by the attendance of many local children,
joined by their parents, relatives, teachers and pilgrims from all parts
of the world.
On 13 May 2000, in his Homily for the Beatification, Pope John Paul
II asked the children to be like Francisco and Jacinta:
"Dear Boys and Girls, I see so many of you dressed like Francisco and
Jacinta. You look very nice! But in a little while or tomorrow you will
take these clothes off and... the little shepherds will disappear. They
should not disappear, should they?!
"Our Lady needs you all to console Jesus, who is sad because of the
bad things done to him; he needs your prayers and your sacrifices for
sinners. Ask your parents and teachers to enrol you in the 'school' of
Our Lady, so that she can teach you to be like the little shepherds, who
tried to do whatever she asked them" (Homily, 13 May 2000, n. 6;
L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 17 May, p. 3).
First church to be dedicated
The first church to be dedicated to Blessed Francisco and Blessed
Jacinta will be inaugurated on Sunday, 1 May. Cardinal José
da Cruz Policarpo, Patriarch of Lisbon, will preside at the Mass.
Church construction began in 2002. On that occasion Sr Lucia sent the
parish priest a joyful message: "I accompany in spirit this moment I
have so longed for, when work is beginning on the new Church of Alverca,
by the grace of God dedicated to Blessed Francisco and Blessed Jacinta".
A key part of preparations for the inauguration will be the blessing
of 72 bells for the church on 20 March.
In line with the Pope's invitation to the children in Fatima in the
year 2000, special care will be taken to keep alive the deep-rooted
popular traditions that are so dear to the Portuguese People.