Pope Francis approves decrees recognizing the heroic virtues of five Servants of God, including Sr Lucia de Juesus Rosa dos Santos, one of the visionaries of Fatima; along with the martyrdom of twenty martyrs of the Spanish Civil War.
By Christopher Wells
Carmelite Sister Lucia de Jesus Rosa dos Santos, who, along with her cousins Francisco and Jacinta Marto witnessed a series of apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Fatima, has been declared Venerable by the Church.
The decree recognizing Sr Lucia’s heroic virtues was promulgated on Thursday with the approval of Pope Francis.
In 1916, Lucia and her two cousins reported being visited by an Angel in the area of Fatima, Portugal. The following year, beginning on 13 May, the children claimed to receive a series of apparitions from the Blessed Virgin Mary, which culminated six months later with the famous “Miracle of the Sun” that was witnessed by tens of thousands of people.
After the untimely death of her cousins, who died a few years later due to Spanish flu, Sister Lucia remained the sole custodian of the message entrusted to her by Our Lady, which she transcribed, at the instigation of the Bishop of Leiria, José Alves Correia da Silvia, into four documents between 1935 and 1941.
A later document, dated 1944, contained the so-called “third secret,” was sent to Rome and opened for the first time in 1960. St John Paul II, who had a special devotion to Our Lady of Fatima, allowed the secret to be published in 2000.
Exceptionality and ordinariness
Sister Lucia spent her whole live devoted to the message she had received in Fatima. At first she entered the college of the Dorothean Sisters in Vilar; later she became a Carmelite in Coimbra, where she died on 13 February 2005.
The distinction between her life and the apparitions, the Decree says, “is also difficult because much of her suffering was due to them: she was always kept hidden, protected, guarded. One can see in her all the difficulty of keeping together the exceptionality of the events of which she was a spectator and the ordinariness of a monastic life like that of Carmel.”
The apparitions have been endorsed by various Popes, while the Church observes May 13th as an optional memorial of Our Lady of Fatima. Pope Francis visited Fatima in 2017 for the 100th anniversary of the apparitions, during which he canonized Francisco and Jacinta. With Thursday’s decree, Venerable Lucia’s cause for canonization continues to advance.
The Papal Artifacts’ Collection is primarily dedicated to artifacts connected to the papacy. Individual popes, their biographies and multiple items belonging to them, including first and second class relics, make up the majority of this Collection. But that isn’t all it is.
Father Kunst has a deep devotion to the saints as can be readily seen in viewing the Saints & Blesseds section of this site.
Sr. Lucia was intimately involved with the apparitions at Fatima. We invite you to visit Papal History/Saints & Blesseds to view the many canonized and beatified men and women who make up this section of the Collection and contributed so much to the building of the Kingdom of God.
The check is framed with a holy card printed on the occasion of her fiftieth anniversary at the convent. The check was given to an extern nun (one who is able to leave the convent) and this same nun gave the holy card to me.
Sr. Lucia had a very strict policy against signing autographs. I obtained this one by making a check out to her personally and delivering it to the convent where she was cloistered in Coimbra, Portugal.
I was able to travel to Coimbra, Portugal in 1999 to the convent where Sr. Lucia was living. She was one of the seers of Our Lady of Fatima, an event that occurred over a period of months in 1917. In 1999 she was the only one of the three children still alive.
It was very difficult to have any type of connection with her because of her cloistered life and because of the many people seeking information from her, particularly about the third secret of Fatima about which people wanted information.
Her autograph is highly sought. Even cardinals have tried repeatedly to get it without success.
So I brought a check for Sr. Lucia directly to the convent. I received assistance from a friend who wrote it in Portuguese. If she wanted the money she had to endorse the check.
Six months later the canceled check was returned to me with her endorsement.
Sr. Lucia died in 2005.
Sr. Lucia Santos was born on March 22, 1907. Lucie Dos Santos was only 10 years old when the Virgin appeared to her and her two young cousins, Francisco and Jacinta Marto, on a field outside the town of Fatima, on May 13, 1917. The apparitions continued through October 13 of that same year, and the seers conveyed Mary’s predictions of World War II, the rise of Russian Communism, and the urgent need for the faithful to pray the Rosary.
Sister Lucia also revealed the famous “third secret” of Fatima, which was kept secret by successive popes until May 2000, when John Paul II revealed the text of a mystical vision involving a bishop dressed in white who was struggling toward the Cross, over the bodies of martyrs, until he himself was felled by gunfire. Pope John Paul concluded that the vision referred to the attempt on his own life. Some Catholics continue to insist that aspects of thethird secret have not yet been disclosed, although the Vatican insists that there is nothing more to reveal.
Sister Lucia had spoken of the Fatima promises in four published memoirs, but kept the third secret hidden. She divulged that secret to the Bishop of Leira, Portugal, in January 1944; he confided the secret to Pope Pius XII. Sister Lucia had said that the secret should be revealed at the Pope’s discretion, but not before 1960.
The first pontiff to meet privately with Sister Lucia was Paul VI, when he visited Fatima in May 1967. Pope John Paul II met with her on three separate occasions: in 1982, when he made a pilgrimage to Fatima to thank the Virgin for saving him from assassination; in 1991, on the 10th anniversary of the shooting; and in 2000, for the beatification ceremonies.
Francisco and Jacinta Marto were beatified by Pope John Paul in ceremonies that took place at Fatima on May 13, 2000– the anniversary of the first apparition there. Both Francisco and Jacinta had died in their youth– in 1919 and 1920, respectively. Sister Lucia made a rare journey outside the Carmelite cloister to take part in the ceremony.
After the Fatima apparitions, and subsequent personal visions of the Virgin in 1923 and 1929, Lucie Dos Santos entered religious life– first in Spain and later, in 1948, as a Carmelite in Portugal.
Sister Lucia, the last survivor among the three Portuguese children to whom the Virgin Mary appeared at Fatima, died at the age of 97 on February 13, 2005 at her Carmelite convent in Coimbra, Portugal, after a long illness. Living in isolation in the cloistered convent, Sister Lucia had reportedly lost her eyesight and hearing in the months preceding her death.
We are grateful to Trinity Communications for the use of their biographical information about Sister Lucia Santos.
Additional Information Connected to Sr. Lucia
John Santos Marto & Father Kunst’s Visits with Him
In 1999, Father Kunst purchased a copy of Fatima In Lucia’s Own Words: Sister Lucia’s Memoirs. The photograph above is of John Santos Marto, younger brother to (now) Saints Jacinta & Francesco Marto. He was 93 years old at the time of this photograph and died just a few weeks before his siblings’ beatifications on May 13, 2000.
It adds to the lore surrounding the Fatima appearances of Our Lady to have this keepsake from the saints’ family.
Their canonizations occurred on May 13, 2017, the 100th anniversary of Our Lady’s first appearance at Fatima.
Information from Late in 2022
Vatican City, Oct 18, 2022 / 11:00 am
The cause for beatification of Sister Lucia dos Santos, the eldest child to witness the Fatima apparitions, has taken a step forward.
In a meeting at the Vatican, the postulators for Lucia’s cause submitted the “positio” document containing testimonies and information detailing her heroic virtues to the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints.
Father Carlos Cabecinhas, the rector of the Fatima shrine, announced the update on the Oct. 13 anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun, the last Marian apparition in Fatima in 1917.
The “Positio on the Life, Virtues and Reputation for Holiness of Sister Lucia de Jesus dos Santos” will now be examined by nine theologians. If the evidence of her heroic virtue is confirmed by the Vatican’s saints office and Pope Francis decides to promulgate a decree, Sister Lucia will be designated as Venerable in the Catholic Church.
Pope Francis canonized the two other Fatima visionaries, Jacinta and Francisco Marto, in 2017. The two shepherd children, who died at ages 10 and 11 respectively, are the youngest non-martyr saints in the Church’s history.
Lucia, who was 10 years old at the time of the 1917 Marian apparitions, outlived the other visionaries by decades, surviving until age 97.
She spent the final 50 years of her life in a Carmelite convent in Coimbra, Portugal. As the only Fatima visionary who was able to hear the Virgin Mary speak during the series of apparitions at Fatima, her written memoirs have provided an important account of the Fatima message.
“At some point, there is no Fatima narrative without Lucia’s account. I cannot imagine Fatima as it is without Lucia having provided an account for it, through her more and less known writings,” José Rui Teixeira, Lucia’s biographer, said at a virtual event on the Fatima anniversary this month.
Teixeira, who helped to compile documents for her sainthood cause, said that he had nearly 4,000 references in his bibliography.
Lucia’s canonization cause opened in 2008, three years after her death, after Pope Benedict XVI granted a dispensation for the usually required five-year waiting period. More than 15,000 letters, testimonies, and other documents were collected during the diocesan phase of her cause, which concluded in 2017.
In his latest update on Lucia’s cause, Cabecinhas said: “Let us pray for the cause of beatification and canonization of Sister Lucia.”
“Let us entrust our intentions and needs to her intercession with the same confidence with which the pilgrims of 100 years ago presented their requests to her so that she could convey them to Our Lady.”
Courtney Mares is a Rome Correspondent for Catholic News Agency. A graduate of Harvard University, she has reported from news bureaus on three continents and was awarded the Gardner Fellowship for her work with North Korean refugees.