Lucia de Jesus dos Santos was
born in Aljustrel, a village in the parish of Fátima,
Portugal, on March 22, 1907, and baptized a few days later on
March 30. Her parents were Antonio and Maria Rosa dos Santos.
She was the youngest of seven children, six girls and a boy.
At age 6 she received her First Holy Communion. By 8 she was
occupied with the tending of the family's sheep, accompanied
by other boys and girls of the village.
It was while in the company of
her cousins, Jacinta and
Francisco Marto, that the first
heavenly apparition occurred, that of the
Angel of Portugal, come
to prepare the young trio for their mission and for an even
Lucia was 10 years old when on
May 13, 1917, while tending the sheep in the Cova de Iria, a
woman, who later identified herself as the Blessed Virgin Mary,
appeared to the children. The apparition would continue monthly
on the 13th of the month until October 1917 (save August, when
imprisonment by the anti-clerical authorities prevented it).
During each month's apparition, the Virgin encouraged prayer,
especially the rosary, and sacrifice. She also communicated
certain prophecies of the future (the end of World War I, the
rise of error in Russia (communism) and its propagation
throughout the world, the annihilation of nations, another war
preceded by a heavenly sign if men did not convert, and the
suffering and persecution of the good, especially the Holy
Father). On Oct. 13, 1930, the bishop of Leiria-Fátima,
José Alves Correia da Silva, declared the apparitions of Fátima
worthy of credibility and allowed public devotion to the Virgin
under the title of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fátima.
After the prophesied death of Jacinta and Francisco, during the
flu pandemic of 1919, Lucia alone remained to carry on the
mission assigned by the "woman from heaven." At 14 she was
admitted as a boarder to the school of the Sisters of St.
Dorothy in Vilar, near Oporto in the north of Portugal. On Oct.
24, 1925, she entered the Institute of the Sisters of St.
Dorothy as a postulant in the convent in Tuy, Spain, not far
from the Portuguese border. During these years she would
continue to receive private revelations explanatory of the
message of Fátima. She made her first vows on Oct. 3, 1928, and
her perpetual vows on Oct. 3, 1934, receiving the name Sister
Mary of the Sorrowful Mother.
In 1946, seeking a more contemplative life, Lucia entered the
Carmelite convent of St. Teresa in Coimbra, where she made her
profession as a Discalced Carmelite on May 31, 1949. She took
the name Sister Maria Lucia of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart.
In 1967, Sister Lucia traveled to Fatima to celebrate the 50th
anniversary of the apparitions, presided over by Pope Paul VI.
She went again in 1982, when Paul John Paul II came to the
Shrine on 13 May to give thanks for the saving of his life
during the assassination attempt of 13 May 1981, and again when
the Pope came there in 1991, and finally in 2000, to beatify
Jacinta and Francisco.
Over the years Sr. Lucia would
write two books, Memoirs, recounting the events of Fatima
in her own words, and Calls from the Message of Fatima,
giving answers to the many questions about living the message of
Fátima, which she has been asked over the years.
In the second apparition, that of
June 13, Lucia asked the
Lady, "Will you take us to heaven?" The Virgin responded,
Yes, I shall take Jacinta and Francisco soon, but you
will remain a little longer, since Jesus wishes you to make
me known and loved on earth. He wishes also for you to
establish devotion in the world to my Immaculate Heart.
That mission came to an end on February
13, 2005, when after weeks of weakness Sr. Maria Lucia
succumbed to the infirmities of old age. Her funeral Mass at the
cathedral of Coimbra was presided over by
the city's bishop, Most Reverend Antonio Cleto. She will lie in
rest at the convent where she spent so many years, until a place
is prepared for her body at the Basilica in Fátima,
where Francisco and Jacinta are entombed.
Audio of homily at Sister Lucia's Funeral Mass