Sister Lucia's Last Moments
Mother Superior Says Visionary Was Filled With Light

ROME, SEPT. 25, 2007 (Zenit.org).- When Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone's book about the last Fatima visionary was presented, guests got a chance to watch a video about Sister Lucia's final moments, related by her Mother Superior.

At Friday's presentation of "L'Ultima Veggente di Fatima" (The Last Fatima Visionary), written by the Pope's secretary of state, those in attendance saw a video reporting on the Convent of Coimbra, in Portugal, where Sister Lucia lived for the last 57 years of her life.

The visionary occupied the same cell during all those decades, and from there "she flew to heaven," said the superior of the Carmelite community, Sister Maria Celina of Jesus Crucified.

First impression

Recalling her first impressions of Sister Lucia, the superior said, "When I entered, it took me eight days to recognize Sister Lucia. When one of the sisters asked me: 'Mother, should I bring you a piece of bread to eat tonight?' I said to myself that this could not be Sister Lucia. And yet it was her."

Sister Maria Celina recalled how the visionary would stand at the end of the path leading to a statue of the Blessed Virgin, and scold her cousins who also witnessed the apparitions, "You went to heaven and left me here alone."

The superior said that Sister Lucia always denied any talk of a "fourth secret of Fatima." Sister Lucia would say of people who spread rumors of the alleged secret that "they are never satisfied; that they should do what Our Lady asked, that this is the most important thing. When someone would say: ‘Sister Lucia, they say there is another secret' […] she would look at them ironically. 'If there is one,' she would say, 'I wish they would tell it to me: I know of no other secrets.'"

Sister Maria Celina said that the visionary was never satisfied with the image made of Our Lady.

"The image of Our Lady was not how she wanted it," the superior said. "Sometimes she seemed ugly to her because it did not correspond to her exact memories; it was not what the artist derived from her description. It is somewhat like what happened with St. Bernadette."

Joyous nun

Sister Maria Celina described Sister Lucia as a woman religious who "emanated joy."

"I lived with her for 28 years and I saw a person who, the older she got, the more she developed an evangelical childhood," she said. "She seemed again to be the child who had the apparitions in the Cova de Ira. The heavier her body became, the lighter her spirit became."

Speaking of Sister Lucia's last hours, the superior said: "When she needed assistance we placed her bed at the center of the cell and we were around her, together with the bishop of Leiria-Fatima. I was kneeling down next to her. Sister Lucia looked at everyone and then looked at me at the end. It was a long look, but in her eyes there was a deep light, which I carry in my soul.

"I pray to her always and I know she prays for us. There are things that have no need of words: A gesture or a thought is sufficient. Sister Lucia had a hearing problem. Now she doesn’t anymore. Now she understands everything without words."

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Bertone shows original Third Fatima Secret letter on TV

Appearing on an Italian TV station, Holy See Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, has shown the original copy of Fatima Sister Lucia's letter detailing the so-called Third Secret revealed to her by Our Lady.

Catholic News reports that Cardinal Bertone showed the letter, which was first revealed in 2000, on the program "Port a Porta" on the Rai Uno network.

He first opened an orange envelope with a translation in Italian of the letter, and then he opened a white envelope and showed the original letter written in 1944.

The cardinal read the phrase that appears on the outside of the envelope: "Through express order of Our Lady, this envelope can be opened in 1960". Inside is the letter in which Sr Lucia revealed the Third Secret of the Fatima apparitions of 1917.

In 2000 Pope John Paul II decided to reveal the secret, which did not refer to any worldwide catastrophe, but rather to the attempt on his life on 13 May 1981.

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"The Last Fatima Visionary: My Meetings With Sister Lucia"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 20, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the Pope's introduction to Cardinal Bertone's book "The Last Fatima Visionary: My Meetings With Sister Lucia" (Rai Eri/Rizzoli). The book was written in collaboration with Giuseppe De Carli.

* * *

To Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone
Vatican Secretary of State

Venerable Brother, Sister Lucia entrusts so many memories to the book "The Last Fatima Visionary" that treat of events that have marked the history of the last part of the 20th century. She has entrusted them to this book so that they do not remain merely precious baggage of personal emotions, but be handed over to the collective memory as they are not without significance for secular history.

In reality, during that memorable time that was the Jubilee Year of 2000, we experienced together the chapter that treats of the publication of the third Fatima secret: I, as the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and you, as the secretary of the same dicastery. The great Pontiff who preceded me, John Paul II, fecund with prophetic inspirations and personally convinced that the "maternal hand" of the Virgin had deflected the bullet that could have been fatal for him, saw that the time had come to remove the veil of mystery that covered the last part of the secret that the Virgin had consigned to the three little shepherds of Fatima. The congregation, which conserved the precious document written by Sister Lucia, was put in charge.

It was a time of light, not only because the message could thus be known by all, but also because the truth could be unveiled in the midst of the confusion of apocalyptic interpretations and speculations that circulated in the Church and created anxiety among the faithful instead of inviting them to prayer and penance. Nevertheless, on the other hand, one could see the comforting development of Marian piety, authentic font of Christian life, around the imposing shrine of Fatima and in every part of the world where devotion to the Virgin, under the influence of the apparitions of Fatima, took deep root in the faith of the people, inviting men and women to consecrate themselves to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

The conversations between the visionary, the last remaining of the three shepherd children, and you, a bishop sent by the Pope, have been important not only for the verification of the veridicality of the facts, but also as an occasion to know the limpid freshness of the soul of Sister Lucia, the intelligence of the heart typical of her femininity, transferred into a robust Christian faith. Through this humble nun, there shines the role of the Virgin Mary who with her maternal hand accompanies the Christian through life's bitterness.

I myself oversaw the drafting of the theological commentary on the event, after having intensely prayed and deeply meditated on the contents of the pages written by Sister Lucia. I was deeply affected by the consoling promise of the Most Holy Virgin, which was like a synthesis and precious seal: "My Immaculate Heart will triumph." As it had been written, "Mary's 'fiat,' the word of her heart, changed the history of the world, because it introduced the Savior into this world -- because thanks to this 'yes' God could become man among us and he will remain such forever."

And again, "From the time that God himself has a human heart and directed human freedom toward the good, toward God, freedom for evil does not have the last word." The message of Fatima is a further confirmation of this.

I invoke the protection of the Most Holy Virgin for all those who will read the testimony offered with this book and to you, dear cardinal, and to Doctor Giuseppe De Carli, who shared the work of producing this memoir, I impart the apostolic blessing.

From the Vatican, Feb. 22, 2007.

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Sister Lucia's Unpublished Writings Released
Visionary Reflects on Marian Apparitions

ROME, JUNE 2, 2006 (Zenit.org).- A small book of unpublished writings by Fatima visionary Sister Lucia will soon be published in Italy.

The 64-page volume, entitled "The Message of Fatima," focuses on the message of Our Lady of Fatima in relation to events that have taken place.

The young Lucia dos Santos witnessed the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima that began on May 13, 1917, along with Francisco Marto and Jacinta Marto. Sister Lucia died at age 97 in February 2005.

For 45 years, the Holy See did not reveal the content of the so-called third secret of Fatima, while Sister Lucia lived in religious silence.

The unpublished text has been edited by the Carmel of Coimbra, Portugal, and issued by the Little Shepherds' Secretariat.

The imprimatur, dated Feb. 13, is by retired Bishop Serafim de Sousa Ferreira e Silva of Leiria-Fatima.

In the introduction, Father Geremia Carlo Vechina, Sister Lucia's confessor, reveals that the visionary had already worked on the editing of the writings, at the request of the then general superior of the order, the future Cardinal Anastasio Alberto Ballestrero, on the occasion of his visit to Coimbra in 1955.

That work was sent to Rome by order of Pope Paul VI, but "it remained forgotten in the Vatican Archives," noted Father Vechina.

Skeptical

In the essay, Sister Lucia says that on May 15, 1982, she received an invitation from Father Vechina, then provincial of the Order of Discalced Carmelites, "to write all the details that refer to the message of Fatima, from the beginning."

The visionary said she remained skeptical, fearful that she didn't have the authorization of the Holy See to write on such questions.

Her doubts vanished when she had the opportunity to speak with Cardinal Eduardo Pironio, then prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Religious, during his visit to the community on Sept. 9, 1983.

In the first part of the book, Sister Lucia wonders why the Lord chose "such poor and ignorant children" for carrying out his plans. She goes on to explain that the Lord "wants pure hearts to act in them as he wishes," as written in the Gospel: "Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God."

Sister Lucia then addresses all the instances of meetings with the Virgin, the requests to pray the rosary, respect for the Commandments, the mysteries of the Most Holy Trinity, the practice of the Eucharist and above all the Christian meaning of suffering.

"The Lady," she writes, invited the little shepherds to "offer to God" and "to endure all the sufferings he wills to send you, as an act of reparation for the sins with which he is offended, and of supplication for the conversion of sinners."

The visionary recounts that the little shepherds, "not worried about the sufferings the Lord might send them, gave themselves totally to the will of God and, without knowing it -- as they did not know the Scriptures -- responded like Christ, when he said: 'Here I am Father, I have come to do your will.'"

World War II

Further on, Sister Lucia recounts unpublished details, as when, referring to World War I, Mary said: "The war is about to end but if mankind does not cease to offend God, a worse one will begin during Pius XI's pontificate."

The visionary explained that history witnessed "the outbreak of an atheist war against the faith, against God and against the People of God. A war that sought to exterminate Judaism from which Jesus Christ, the Virgin and the Apostles came, who transmitted to us the Word of God and the gift of faith, hope and charity, a people chosen by God, chosen from the beginning: 'salvation comes from the Jews.'"

The religious then wrote about Communist Russia and the wars promoted in the world due of the errors spread by Russia.

Sister Lucia recalls the Blessed Virgin's request for the "consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart."

"If you listen to my request" -- the Lady said to Sister Lucia -- "Russia will be converted and there will be peace. If you do not, she will spread her errors in the world, causing wars and persecutions against the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will suffer much and several nations will be destroyed."

After all this, however, the Lady told the little shepherds: "The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, which will be converted and a time of peace will be granted to the world. In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph."

This part of the Lady's message is explained by Sister Lucia with the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which Pope John Paul II carried out in Rome on March 25, 1984.

In Italy, the book, being issued by St. Clement Publications, goes on sale June 10. The book will eventually be published in other languages.

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Sister Lucia's Death Stirs Memories at Vatican

Papal Letter Arrived to Her on the Day She Died

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 14, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The news of Sister Lucia's death, the last living witness of the Virgin Mary's apparitions in Fatima, Portugal, is "very sad" for John Paul II, says a Vatican prefect.

"We know very well the profound friendship that existed" between the nun and the Pope, said Portuguese Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for Sainthood Causes, in a report by the Catholic agency Ecclesia. The Holy Father is currently on a spiritual retreat at the Vatican.

The cardinal was commenting on the nun's death, which occurred Sunday in the convent of Coimbra. Sister Maria Lucia of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart was 97.

"They met several times, and for John Paul II they were always moments of great spirituality," the cardinal said. "The Pope has always said that the Virgin Mary saved him from the attack in St. Peter's Square on May 13, 1981. And Fatima and the little shepherds have a very special place in his heart."

The Holy Father has credited the intervention of the Virgin of Fatima with saving his life in the 1981 attack by Mehmet Ali Agca.

In thanksgiving, the Pope traveled to Fatima on May 13, 1982. There he placed the bullet that wounded him in the crown of the image of the Virgin of Fatima.

Over the past few weeks, Sister Lucia's health condition had worsened. When receiving this news, John Paul II sent her a message last Saturday.

Bishop Albino Cleto of Coimbra confirmed that Sister Lucia heard the reading of the papal message on Sunday and, being "very affected" by it, asked if she could personally read the text of the fax.

"It was, perhaps, the last reaction she had in relation to the life around her," added the bishop in statements to Ecclesia.

In his message, the Holy Father said that, on hearing of her illness, he prayed to God that the religious would be able to live "the moment of pain and suffering" with a "paschal spirit," and he ended his message imparting his blessing to her.

Enclosed in her convent cell, Sister Lucia died surrounded by her sisters in religion, and by the bishop of Coimbra, her doctors, and the nurse attending her.

Her death was due to her advanced age; she would have been 98 on March 22.

John Paul II met with Sister Lucia on three visits to the Fatima shrine: in 1982, in 1991, and on May 13, 2000, the day he beatified the other Fatima visionaries, Francisco and Jacinta.
 

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"No More Secrets," Visionary Said in 2001

Sister Lucia Confirmed That Russia Had Been Consecrated to Mary

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 14, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The Fatima secret has been totally revealed by the Vatican, and Russia has already been consecrated as Mary requested, confirmed Sister Maria Lucia of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart.

The witness of the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin of Fatima made this statement to the then secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, on Nov. 17, 2001, contradicting those who say that the Church still has secrets about the Marian apparition.

The content of the interview held between the Vatican representative and Sister Lucia in the convent of Coimbra, Portugal, where she resided, was made public by the Vatican press office on Dec. 20, 2001.

The text of the document states: "In recent months, especially following the sad events of the September 11 terrorist attacks, articles appeared in newspapers alleging new revelations by Sister Lucia, announcements of letters of warning to the Pope, and apocalyptic reinterpretations of the Fatima message."

"Moreover, emphasis was placed on the suspicion that the Holy See had not published the entire text of the third part of the secret, and some 'Fatimist' movements have repeated the accusation that the Holy Father has yet to consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary," the document continues.

As a result, the Vatican note clarifies, it was considered necessary that Archbishop Bertone go personally "to clarify and obtain direct information from the visionary."

The meeting was held in the presence of Father Luis Kondor, vice postulator of the cause of Blessed Francisco and Jacinta (the other Fatima visionaries), and of the prioress of St. Teresa's Carmelite Convent.

The conversation took place on the afternoon of that Nov. 17 and lasted more than two hours. Sister Lucia, then 94, "was in great form -- lucid and vivacious," the Vatican envoy said.

The meeting addressed the question of the third part of the secret of Fatima. The Portuguese religious said that she had read "carefully and meditated on the fascicle published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and confirms everything that is written," the Vatican statement noted.

When the archbishop explained that there are doubts that part of the secret remains unknown, Sister Lucia replied: "Everything has been published; there are no more secrets."

"If I had received new revelations, I would not have communicated them to anyone, but I would have told them directly to the Holy Father," the religious added.

There was then talk about the statements of Nicholas Gruner, a Canadian priest suspended "a divinis," who is collecting signatures insisting that the Pope finally consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and alleging that this has never been done.

Sister Lucia told the archbishop: "The Carmel community has rejected the forms for the collection of signatures. I have already said that the consecration requested by Our Lady was done in 1984, and it has been accepted in heaven."

Lastly, the conversation turned to Sister Lucia's personal life. Some press articles suggested that her concern robbed her of sleep and that she was praying night and day.

The religious answered: "It's not true. How would I be able to pray during the day if I did not sleep at night? How many things they attribute to me! How many things they make me do! They should read my book; the advice and appeals that correspond to Our Lady's wishes are there. Prayer and penance, with great faith in God's power, will save the world."