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Lúcia de Jesus Rosa Santos

Lúcia Santos (middle) with her cousins Francisco and Jacinta Marto, 1917.
Born 28 March 1907
Aljustrel, Portugal
Died February 13, 2005 (aged 97)
Convent of Carmelitas, Coimbra, Portugal
Nationality Portuguese
Other names Sister Lúcia of Jesus and of the Immaculate Heart
Occupation Roman Catholic Discalced Carmelite nun
Known for Visionary to the Marian apparitions at Fátima

Lúcia de Jesus Rosa SantosSister Lúcia of Jesus and of the Immaculate Heart, better known as Sister Lúcia of Jesus – (March 28, 1907 – February 13, 2005) was a Roman Catholic Discalced Carmelite nun from Portugal. She was one of the children whom Catholics believe experienced a series of apparitions of the Virgin Mary in Fátima, Portugal in 1917.



Lúcia's maternal grandfather, Joaquim Ferreira Rosa, was a native of Aljustrel of the parish of Fátima and born on November 29, 1823. He married Rosa da Encarnação of Perulheira, born on April 21, 1825. Together, they settled in Perulheira and had seven children. Maria Rosa was the last child, born on July 6, 1869. At the request of an aunt and uncle, Joaquim returned to Aljustrel, taking with him his wife and children, sometime between 1883 and 1884.[1]

When Maria Rosa was 21 years old she married António Santos, a native of Aljustrel, on November 19, 1890. The children of Maria Rosa and António Santos were: Maria dos Anjos, Teresa de Jesus Rosa Santos, Manuel Rosa Santos, Gloria de Jesus Rosa Santos, Carolina de Jesus Rosa Santos, Maria Rosa (died at birth), and Lúcia de Jesus Rosa Santos. Although peasants, the Santos family was by no means poor, owning land "in the direction of Montelo, Our Lady of Ortiga, Fátima, Valinhos, Cabeço, Charneca, and Cova da Iria."[2]

While most historical accounts correctly refer to Lúcia as Lúcia Santos, some of the more modern accounts refer to Lúcia as Lúcia dos Santos. This confusion likely arose with the publication of her first book of memoirs, wherein the editor states that the parish register lists her father's name as António dos Santos. Lúcia confirms that her family name is Santos in her fifth and sixth memoirs.[3]

Even though Lúcia's birthday is registered as March 22, 1907, her actual date of birth is March 28. In those days it was required that parents bring their children for baptism on the eight day after birth or face a fine, and, because March 30 was a more convenient day, the 22nd was chosen as her birthday. Lucia later recalled that, at the time, no one attached much importance to one's birthday.[4]

Children loved and adored Lúcia. She was a fabulous storyteller with a "gift for narration."[5] According to her mother, Lúcia repeated everything that she heard "like a parrot."[6] Maria Rosa gave catechism lessons to her children and the neighbor's children, if they were there, at siesta time during the summer and especially around Lent. During the winter the catechism lessons took place after supper and around the fire.[7]

Lúcia had a talent for composing original songs, with catchy folk-style tunes and sacred and secular lyrics. Among the songs she invented as a small child are "In Heaven, I'll Be With My Mother", "I Love God in Heaven", and "Lady of Carmel". She set to music the words of the brief prayer she said had been taught to her and her cousins by an angel; "O God, I believe, I adore..." She apparently continued to make up songs during her life in the convent, "Mother, I See You More Beautiful".[8] She also wrote a poem about Jacinta which appears in her memoirs.[9]

Lúcia's First Communion occurred at 6 years of age despite 10 being the usual minimum. Initially, the parish priest denied this to her because of her young age. However, Father Cruz, a Jesuit missionary visiting from Lisbon, interviewed Lúcia after finding her in tears that day and concluded that "she understands what she's doing better than many of the others." Because of this intervention, the parish priest admitted Lúcia to Holy Communion.[10] After her First Confession she prayed before the altar of Our Lady of the Rosary and saw the statue smile at her. Upon receiving the Eucharist, Lúcia felt "bathed in such a supernatural atmosphere that the presence of our dear Lord became as clearly perceptible to me as if I had seen and heard Him with my bodily senses." Lúcia's First Communion left a deep impact on her. "I lost the taste and attraction for the things of the world, and only felt at home in some solitary place where, all alone, I could recall the delights of my First Communion."[11]

Father De Marchi described her features in the following manner: "She was not a pretty child. The only attractions of her face — which was not on the whole repellent — were her two great black eyes which gazed out from under thick eyebrows. Her hair, thick and dark, was parted in the center over her shoulders. Her nose was rather flat, her lips thick and her mouth large."[12]

Apparitions of Our Lady of Fátima

Lúcia dos Santos (left) with fellow visionaries Jacinta and Francisco Marto.

Between May and October 1917 Lúcia and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto reported visions of a luminous lady, believed to be the Virgin Mary, in the Cova da Iria fields outside the hamlet of Aljustrel, near Fátima, Portugal. The lady appeared to the children on the 13th day of each month at approximately noon, for six straight months. The only exception was August, when the children were kidnapped by the local administrator. That month they did not see the Lady until after they were released from jail, some days later.

According to Lúcia's accounts, the lady told the children to do penance and to make sacrifices to save sinners. The children wore tight cords around their waists to cause pain, abstained from drinking water on hot days, and performed other works of penance. Lúcia said that the lady asked them to say the Rosary every day, to bring peace to the world. Many young Portuguese men, including relatives of the visionaries, were then fighting in World War I.[13]

The Three Secrets

On July 13, around noon, the lady is said to have entrusted the children with three secrets. Two of the secrets were revealed in 1941 in a document written by Lúcia, at the request of the Bishop of Leiria, José da Silva, to assist with the publication of a new edition of a book on Jacinta.[14] When asked by the Bishop of Leiria in 1943 to reveal the third secret, Lúcia struggled for a short period, being "not yet convinced that God had clearly authorized her to act."[15] However, in October of 1943 the bishop of Leiria ordered her to put it in writing.[16] Lucia then wrote down the secret and sealed it in an envelope not to be opened until either 1960, or at her death, whichever came first. She designated 1960 because she thought that "by then it will appear clearer."[17] The text of the third secret was officially released by Pope John Paul II in 2000, although some claim that it was not the real secret revealed by Lucia, despite assertions from the Vatican to the contrary.

Miracle of the Sun

The visions increasingly received wide publicity, and an estimated 70,000 witnesses were reportedly present for the sixth and final apparition. Lúcia had promised for several months that the lady would perform a miracle on that day "so that all may believe." Witnesses present in the Cova da Iria that day, as well as some up to 25 miles (40 km) away,[18] reported that the sun appeared to change colors and rotate, like a fire wheel, casting off multicolored light across the landscape. The sun appeared to plunge towards the earth, frightening many into believing that it was the end of the world.[19] The popular expression, according to the O Século reporter Avelino de Almeida, was that the sun "danced."[20] The event became known as The Miracle of the Sun. The episode was widely reported by the Portuguese secular media. Some coverage also appeared in a small article in the New York Times on October 17, 1917.[21] Lúcia reported that day that the Lady identified herself as "Our Lady of the Rosary." She thereafter also became known as Our Lady of Fátima.

On behalf of the Catholic Church, Dom José Alves Correia da Silva, Bishop of the Diocese of Leiria-Fátima, approved the visions as "worthy of belief" on October 13, 1930 [22] Despite these assertions, many observers, including some believers, saw nothing at all.[23] [24]

Life in the Convent

Lucia moved to Oporto in 1921, and at 14 was admitted as a boarder in the School of the Sisters of St. Dorothy in Vilar, on the city's outskirts.

On October 24, 1925, she entered the Institute of the Sisters of St. Dorothy as a postulant in the convent in Tuy, Spain, just across the northern Portuguese border.

Lucia made her first vows on October 3, 1928, and her perpetual vows on October 3, 1934, receiving the name Sister Mary of the Sorrowful Mother.

She returned to Portugal in 1946 (where she visited Fatima incognito) and in March, 1948 after receiving special papal permission to be relieved of her perpetual vows, entered the Carmelite convent of St. Teresa in Coimbra, where she resided until her death. She made her profession as a Discalced Carmelite on May 31, 1949, taking the name Sister Maria Lucia of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart.

She came back to Fatima on the occasion of four pilgrimages there by a pope, all on May 13. Firstly Paul VI in 1967, and John Paul II in 1982 (in thanksgiving for surviving the assassination attempt the previous year), 1991, and 2000, when her cousins Jacinta and Francisco were beatified. On May 16, 2000 she unexpectedly returned to Fatima, to visit the parish church.

Lucia died at the age of 97 on February 13, 2005 of cardio-respiratory failure, due to her advanced age. The 13th day of the month had been the date of the apparitions.

Lúcia wrote six memoirs during her lifetime. The first four were written between 1935 and 1941, and the English translation is published under the name Fatima in Lucia's Own Words. The fifth and six memoirs, written in 1989 and 1993, are published in English under the name Fatima in Lucia's Own Words II. These latter books were written in her own handwriting. An additional book was published in 2001, variously known as "'Calls' From the Message of Fatima" and "Appeals of the Fatima Message", as announced by the Vatican on December 5, 2001, however this book is not written in her handwriting. [25]

Press releases at the time of her death, report that Lucia had been blind and deaf for some years prior to her death. [26] Lucia was not seen in public after the Catholic Church's publication of the third secret in the year 2000. The day of her funeral, February 15, 2005, was declared a day of national mourning in Portugal; even campaigning for the national parliamentary election scheduled for Sunday, February 20, was interrupted.

The Third Secret of Fatima

There have been accusations of a campaign to cover up the message of Fátima by ecclesiastical authorities within the Catholic Church by imposing strict silence on Sr. Lúcia. Even if there was no special order for her, Lúcia was already living the life of seclusion which is typical for a Discalced Carmelite nun.

For example, when journalists sought out Lúcia after the Vatican refused to release the Third Secret in 1960, they found it had become increasingly difficult to see her.[27] She was forbidden not only to reveal the Secret but also to speak about the apparitions at all. She could not, from 1960 forward, receive any visitors except close relatives.[28] One should consider, on the other hand, the Constitutions of her community which state that every nun of her order is expected to "converse as little as possible with persons from without, even with their nearest relatives, unless their conversation be spiritual, and even then it should be very seldom and as brief as possible."[29]

Even her confessor of many years, Father Aparício, who had been in Brazil for over twenty years, was not permitted to see her when he visited Portugal. He stated: "I have not been able to speak with Sister Lúcia because the Archbishop could not give the permission to meet her. The conditions of isolation in which she finds herself have been imposed by the Holy See. Consequently, no one may speak with her without a license from Rome."[28]

On November 15, 1966 Pope Paul VI revised the Code of Canon Law, striking down canons 1399 and 2318, which among other things had prohibited and penalized the publication of any material concerning any apparitions (approved or not) without beforehand obtaining a bishop’s imprimatur. After the revision, therefore, anyone in the Church was permitted to publish freely on Marian apparitions, including those at Fátima. Yet Sister Lúcia was still forbidden to reveal the Fátima Secret. She remained under an order of silence until her death in February 2005, unable to speak freely about Fátima without special permission from the Vatican.[28]

However, the state of life of a Discalced Carmelite nun is not the same as a layperson--these nuns are not permitted to publish writings at will. "The nuns should have nothing to do with worldly affairs, nor speak of them..."[30]

Beatification process

On February 13, 2008, the third anniversary of her death, Pope Benedict XVI announced that in the case of Sr. Lúcia he would waive the five year waiting period established ecclesiastical law before opening a cause for beatification; this rule was also dispensed in the causes for Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II.[31]


  1. ^ Fátima in Lúcia's own Words II (1999), pg. 55.
  2. ^ Fátima in Lúcia's own Words II (1999), pg. 9
  3. ^ Fátima in Lúcia's Own Words II (1999), pg. 9, 68
  4. ^ Fátima in Lúcia's Own Words II (1999), pgs. 13-14
  5. ^ Walsh, William Thomas. Our Lady of Fátima, pg. 11.
  6. ^ Fátima in Lúcia's Own Words I (2003), pg. 67.
  7. ^ Fátima in Lúcia's Own Words I (2003), pgs. 38, 69.
  8. ^ Video of Lúcia singing the "Hail Mary" to one of her original tunes
  9. ^ EWTN Special, Calls of the Fatima Message, 2009. A recording of Lúcia singing one of her own hymns is heard at the end of the film.
  10. ^ Fátima in Lúcia's Own Words (1995) pgs. 54-55
  11. ^ Fátima in Lúcia's Own Words I (2003), pgs. 72-73.
  12. ^ De Marchi, John. Fátima The Full Story, pg. 31.
  13. ^ De Marchi
  14. ^ Zimdars-Swartz, Sandra L., Encountering Mary (1991), pg. 199
  15. ^ Zimdars-Swartz, Sandra L., Encountering Mary (1991), pg. 203
  16. ^ Zimdars-Swartz, Sandra L., Encountering Mary (1991), pg. 204
  17. ^ Zimdars-Swartz, Sandra L., Encountering Mary (1991), pgs. 208-209.
  18. ^ John De Marchi, (1956) The True Story of Fátima, p, 192
  19. ^ John De Marchi, (1956) The True Story of Fátima, pgs. 183-191; Stanley Jaki (1999), God and the Sun at Fátima, pgs. 53-62 (colors, rotation), pg. 87 (fire wheel)
  20. ^ ; Stanley Jaki (1999), God and the Sun at Fátima, pg. 2
  21. ^ The New York Times, October 17, 1917
  22. ^ Joseph Pelletier. (1983). The Sun Danced at Fátima. Doubleday, New York. p. 147–151.
  23. ^ Basilica and Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima
  24. ^ Jaki, Stanley L. (1999). God and the Sun at Fátima. Real View Books, ASIN B0006R7UJ6
  25. ^ ZENIT - Sister Lucia Writes Book on Fatima Revelations
  26. ^ VOICE_1
  27. ^ Church Approval and Attack on Fátima (1930-2004)
  28. ^ a b c Church Approval and Attack on Fatima (1930-2004)
  29. ^ Rule and Constitutions of the Discalced Nuns of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel (1990), paragraph 27. While this document was binding for Sr. Lúcia only at the end of her life, it is based on the Constitutions of St. Teresa of Jesus, which were written in the 16th century.
  30. ^ Rule and Constitutions of the Discalced Nuns of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel (1990), paragraph 23. See also, paragraphs 212-214 on the strict nature of the cloister. It is quite unusual that, as a nun of her Order, Sr. Lúcia was able to produce any public writings at all.
  31. ^ "Sister Lucia's Beatification Process to Begin". Vatican City: Zenit. 2008-02-13.  

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