COIMBRA, Portugal (CNS): Carmelite Sister Lucia dos Santos, the last of three Fatima visionaries, died on February 13 in her cloistered convent in Coimbra, Portugal at the age of 97.
The Portuguese government declared February 15, the date of her funeral, as a national day of mourning.
On May 13, 1917, when she was just 10 years old, Sr Lucia and her two younger cousins said they saw the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima, near their home. The apparitions continued once a month until October 13, 1917.
A Vatican spokesman, Passionist Father Ciro Benedettini, said Pope John Paul II, who began his Lenten retreat on February 13, offered special prayers for the nun, whom he met three times at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima.
The Pope also asked Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone of Genoa, Italy to preside at the nun’s funeral in Coimbra’s cathedral. The cardinal, former secretary of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, met Sr Lucia and discussed the apparitions with her several times in preparation for the 2000 publication of the so-called “Third Secret of Fatima”.
While her cousins, Francisco and Jacinta Marto, died at a young age – as Our Lady of Fatima apparently told them they would – it was left to Sr Lucia to transcribe the messages of Fatima, including the third section.
Bishop Serafim de Sousa Ferreira Silva of Leiria-Fatima told Radio Renascenca, Portugal’s main Catholic radio station, that Sr Lucia was exemplary for her “witness, vivacity, fidelity and courage”.