Lucia de Jesus dos Santos
(28 March 1907 – 13 February 2005)
Lucia 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 greater visitor.
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.