5 Things to know about Venerable Lucia dos Santos

Lucia dos Santos Public Domain CNA 1 Lucia dos Santos via Public Domain.

Sister Lucia dos Santos, one of the Fatima visionaries, just had her cause for sainthood advanced by Pope Francis on June 22. 

Jacinta and Francisco Marto, the two other Fatima visionaries, were already canonized by Pope Francis 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.

So, who was Lucia dos Santos? Here are five things to know about this new venerable.

The oldest Fatima seer

Lucia was born on March 22, 1907, in Aljustrel, Portugal. She was the youngest of seven children. At 10 years old, she was the oldest of the shepherd children who witnessed apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary from May to October 1917. Her cousins, Jacinta and Francisco Marto, were 7 and 9, respectively.

Shortly after the early deaths of her cousins, Lucia was sent to attend school with the Dorothean Sisters of Villar at age 14, and in 1928 she became a sister of St. Dorothy. In 1946, she transferred to the convent of the Carmelite Sisters of Coimbra, Portugal, and took the name Sister Maria Lucia of the Immaculate Heart.

More messages from Jesus and Mary

Throughout the rest of her life, Lucia is believed to have received several visions and messages from both Mary and Jesus. A vision she received in 1925 led to the First Saturday devotions, which include praying the rosary, receiving Communion and confession, and meditating on the first Saturday of the month for five consecutive months.

In 1943, Our Lord appeared to Sister Lucia and told her that what he desired was for people to fulfill their daily duties and to make sacrifices in accordance with his law.

A ‘jokester’

Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, a Portuguese cardinal who was the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints from 1998–2008, knew Lucia personally during the last few years of her life. He called her a “jokester” with quite a sense of humor.

Martins said Lucia was always full of little quips and at one point jokingly threatened to stop sending rosaries to the pope if he didn’t allow the beatification of her cousins — Francisco and Jacinta Marto — to take place in Fatima rather than in Rome.

Her sense of humor wasn’t the only thing that stood out. The cardinal described her as “a very humble person, simple, very intelligent, and very confident.”

Friends with Pope John Paul II

Later in life, Sister Lucia became a friend of Pope John Paul II, who credited her visions with saving his life. It was Pope John Paul II who revealed the third secret of Fatima, which spoke of a “bishop in white” being shot by soldiers. Many linked this to the assassination attempt of Pope John Paul II on May 13, 1981.

The two met on multiple occasions, and Vatican sources said her death shocked the Holy Father, who was recovering from an illness at the time.

Sister Lúcia with Pope John Paul II in Fátima before the beatification of Lúcia's cousins Francisco and Jacinta Marto in 2000. Credit: Jornal O Bom Católico, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Sister Lúcia with Pope John Paul II in Fátima before the beatification of Lúcia's cousins Francisco and Jacinta Marto in 2000. Credit: Jornal O Bom Católico, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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Lived a long life 

Lucia died on Feb. 13, 2005, at the age of 97 at the Carmelite convent of St. Teresa in Coimbra, where she had lived since 1948.

Lucia’s cause for canonization opened in 2008, three years after her death, since 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 a decree signed on June 22, Pope Francis recognized Lucia’s heroic virtue and declared her “venerable.” The Church will now need to approve a miracle attributed to her intercession before she can be beatified.

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