Servant of God 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 28, 1907. Lucia was the youngest of the Santos’ seven children. Her parents were Antonio and Maria Rosa dos Santos. She was baptized on March 30, 1907, and at age 6 she received her First Holy Communion. When Lucia was about 8 years old, she was given the task of tending the family’s sheep. Her cousins, Jacinta and Franciso Marto, often accompanied her.
It was while the three shepherds were tending the sheep that the Angel of Peace visited the children three times to prepare them for their mission and for the visits of Our Blessed Mother. Lucia was 10 years old when, on May 13, 1917, while tending the sheep in the Cova de Iria, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to the children. The apparitions would continue monthly on the 13th of the month until October 1917 (except for August, when the children were taken by the mayor). At each apparition, Our Blessed Mother encouraged the children to pray the rosary and to make sacrifices. She also communicated certain prophecies of the future.
In the second apparition, June 13, Lucia asked Our Blessed Mother, “Will you take us to heaven?” She 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.” While Jacinta and Francisco died shortly after the apparitions, as Our Blessed Mother had predicted, Lucia remained to fulfill her mission. She wrote two books, Memoirs, recounting the events of Fátima in her own words, and Calls from the Message of Fátima, giving answers to the many questions about living the message of Fátima.
At age 14, Lucia 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, Portugal where she made her profession as a Discalced Carmelite on May 31, 1949. Lucia took the name Sister Maria Lucia of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart.
She received visions and messages from both Mary and Jesus on several more occasions throughout her life, including the visions in 1925 that led to the Five First Saturday devotions, which include saying the rosary, receiving communion and confession, and meditation during the first Saturday of five consecutive months.
In 1967, Sister Maria Lucia traveled to Fátima to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the apparitions, presided over by Pope Paul VI. She went again in 1982, when Pope John Paul II came to the Shrine on May 13 that year to give thanks for the saving of his life during the assassination attempt of May 13 1981, and again when the Pope came there in 1991, and finally in 2000, at the beatification of Jacinta and Francisco.
On February 13, 2005, 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. Sister Maria Lucia was buried at the Carmelite convent in Coimbra. Abiding by her wishes to be buried at the convent for a year before being removed to Fátima, Sister Maria Lucia’s coffin was moved in February 2006 and is now buried in the Basilica of Fátima next to the sepulchre of Sister Lucia’s cousins Saint Jacinta and Saint Francisco Marto.
On February 13, 2017, Sister Maria Lúcia was accorded the title Servant of God, as the first major step toward her canonization.