Fatima Seer Stood As Most Famous Nun In The World, Her Passing Seen To Be Prophetic
She was arguably (with St. Bernadette of Lourdes) the most famous Marian seer in history, a 97-year-old who had first seen the Blessed Mother in 1917 at the age of 10, with cousins Francisco, 9, and Jacinta, 7 -- whose deaths preceded her own by more than eighty years.
In all that time she had been cloistered in convents, most recently in Coimbra, Portugal, a Carmelite who had lived out her vocation in stunningly successful fashion -- never desiring publicity, never making claims beyond what the Blessed Mother told her, never appearing on TV -- not only the most famous seer of the twentieth century but with Mother Teresa of Calcutta the most famous nun in the world.
Her name was Lucia de Jesus dos Santos -- that was her given name once she became a religious (known too as Sister Lucy of the Immaculate Heart) -- and she was also recipient of the famous Third Secret of Fatima, her death Sunday, after several weeks of infirmity, no doubt impressing many who have closely followed such matters as of potential prophetic significance.
Although unusually healthy and agile -- physically and mentally -- during the past several years, Sister Lucia (born Lucia Abobora), and just weeks away from her 98th birthday, was known to suffer prolonged bouts with cold-like ailments in a cell that had to be warmed with a space heater, occasionally missing Mass. "She had been weak for several weeks and had not left her cell," Coimbra Bishop Albino Cleto told the Church's Radio Renascenca Sunday.
It was actually in 1915, in the midst of the chaos of World War I, that Sister Lucia and her cousins had their first supernatural experience.
"We were just about to start praying the Rosary when I saw, poised in the air above the trees that stretched down to the valley which lay at our feet, what appeared to be a cloud in human form," Lucia later wrote -- in prose becoming of a first-rate writer.
It looked like a statue made of snow or a person wrapped in a sheet, and turned out to be an angel who had come to announce the Blessed Mother.
So forceful was the presence of God, Lucia later recalled, that it "almost annihilated us." The angel came twice more before the famous 1917 apparitions of the Blessed Mother on land Lucia's father owned.
The angel had explained that God was deeply offended by the evil in the world and gave Lucia the words to a new prayer of reparation -- at one point handing them a chalice from which they drank the Blood of Jesus.
On May 13, 1917, the Virgin Mary herself appeared. "It was a lady dressed all in white," recalled Lucia, "more brilliant than the sun, shedding rays of light clearer and stronger than a crystal glass filled with the most sparkling water and pierced by the burning rays of the sun."
The Blessed Mother was to appear almost every month until a final apparition on October 13, 1917 -- during which tens of thousands witnessed the "miracle of the sun."
Spinning and throwing off stupendous rays of crimson, causing reflections of green, red, orange, blue, and violet as it gyrated at least three times, the solar orb shuddered and began to plunge toward earth in zig-zag fashion -- convincing even observers who were secular reporters or atheists. At one point it rotated with a disc or Host at its center.
In her prophetic secrets, the Virgin told the Fatima seers -- most particularly Lucia, who conveyed the messages -- that World War I was about to end, but that if mankind did not repent, there would be a worse war to follow, one that would be announced by a "great sign." According to Sister Lucia, this occurred in 1938 when there was an extraordinary display of the aurora borealis from across Europe, from London to Africa, and across North America, a display that struck terror into the hearts of many and was followed by entry into World War Two.
The Blessed Mother asked for consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart and Communion of reparation on the first Saturday of every month, and the seers were also given a prayer that would become part of the Rosary for many devout ("Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those most in need of Thy Mercy").
The connection between evil in the world and world events was a watershed in Mariology. In her last 15 years, receiving visitors at Coimbra, Sister Lucia made clear that the requested consecration was fulfilled when in 1984 John Paul II -- who credited Our Lady of Fatima with saving his life when he was shot on her feast day of May 13, 1981 -- consecrated the world and implicitly Russia to her Immaculate Heart. When asked how she knew it had been accepted, Sister Lucia pointed to the phenomenal collapse of Communism right after the consecration and hinted that she still experienced communication from the Blessed Mother, who had affirmed it.
It was Russia that served as the main issue in the secrets, and on May 13, 2000, the Vatican began release of the Third Secret, which envisioned the shooting of a "bishop in white" (John Paul is the Bishop of Rome) and an angel ready to torch the world but halted from doing so by the Virgin.
The secret also symbolized the incredible suffering of those martyred under Communism; it was just weeks after the last Fatima apparition that Lenin assumed power in Russia, which the Blessed Mother had specifically named as ready to turn against God.
John Paul II has privately speculated that the fulfillment of Fatima is now at Medjugorje in Bosnia-Hercegovina, where seers have claimed to have received secrets since just after the 1981 shooting. Whether those secrets may soon begin to materialize, and whether Sister Lucia's death is a sign of the times -- an indication, along with major natural events, that the world is entering an exciting but precarious time -- are likely to preoccupy many of those who have followed the incredible story of Sister Lucia and her two cousins, who died in 1919 and 1920. Many are those who have believed that her death would foretell of major events that may now be on the horizon, her death on the 13th -- the anniversary day of those months when Mary did appear -- one more sign from Heaven.
Feb 13, 2005