Faith and inspiration: Encyclopedia of saints for today

Servant of God, Lucia Dos Santos, OCD. (1907-2005). Feast Day: 13Feb.

Lucia Dos Santos, also known as Lúcia of Fátima and by her religious name Sister Maria Lúcia of Jesus and of the Immaculate Heart, was a Portuguese Catholic O.C.D. nun and one of the three children, including her cousins, Francisco and Jacinta Marto, who claimed to have witnessed Marian apparitions in Fátima in 1917. Born on March 22, 1907, in Aljustrel near Fatima, Lucia and her cousins Francisco and Jacinta were caring for their family’s sheep May 13, 1917 when, after praying the Rosary at midday, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to them.

Lúcia’s early childhood religious commitment occurred at six years of age at First Communion despite ten being the usual minimum. Initially, the parish priest refused 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. 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.”

In 1928, she took first vows as a Religious of St. Dorothy and made her perpetual vows in 1934. She transferred to the Coimbra Carmel in 1948. In the late 1930’s Sister Lucia made public the first two parts of the messages from Mary, which the children had kept secret. The first two parts included a vision of hell shown to the children, along with prophecies concerning the outbreak of World War II, the rise of communism and the ultimate triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, including a triumph over Russia if the country were consecrated to her Immaculate Heart.

According to the Vatican’s interpretation, the third part of the secret predicted the 1981 attempt to assassinate Pope John Paul. Releasing the third part of the Fatima message in June 2000, Vatican officials said it described the violence and persecution that afflicted the church and individual Christians under Nazism, communism, and other totalitarian systems.

When asked about the “saintliest” quality Lucia had, Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins said it was “her humanity. She was a person that was human.” “The saints are all human, they are like any other person. Very intelligent, very concrete, very pleasant and welcoming,” he said. As for Sister Lucia, “she was a very smart, concrete woman.” This can be seen in the way she documented what she saw during the Fatima apparitions, he said, noting that since her cousins had passed away, all of it was done by her alone. “If Lucia weren’t a concrete, intelligent person, not all of the documentation that’s there would have been done, through which we know the whole story of Fatima,” he said.

Sister Lucia died February 13 in her cloistered convent in Coimbra, Portugal, at the age of 97. In 2008, Pope Benedict XVI lifted the fiver-year waiting period to start the canonization process for her, allowing the diocesan phase to begin. She was named “Servant of God” in 2017, just shy of 100 years after the original apparitions.

Bibliography:

“A personal look at Fatima’s saintly Sister Lucia.” Catholic News Agency. Web. 11 February 2020. https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/a-personal-look-at-fatimas-saintly-sister-lucia-92368

“Servant of God, Lucia Dos Santos, OCD.” The Catholic Sun, Saints. (January 2020).

“Sister Lucia.” Wikipedia. Web. 11 February 2020. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sister_L%C3%BAcia

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