Additional Apparitions Of Mary At Famous Site Occurred Between 1921 and 1922
The physician who tended to famed seer Lúcia dos Santos in a cloistered Portuguese convent for fifteen years has revealed several key details about a seventh and previously unreported apparition of the Blessed Mother in the vicinity of Fatima.
While the existence of a seventh sighting in addition to the famous six appearances in 1917 has been known now for more than a week, since it was reported by a U.S. priest, the physician, Dr. Branca Paul, of Coimbra, says the visionary's diary adds the crucial additional detail that the apparition occurred several years after the initial world-shaking appearances.
That revelation is significant because it fulfills a promise the Blessed Mother had made when she first appeared to the three children on May 13 in 1917. "I am from Heaven," she had said. "I come to ask you to come here for six successive months, on the thirteenth day at the same hour. Later I will tell you what I want. And I will return a seventh time."
The seventh appearance was not realized until authorities plumbed through a diary kept in Sister Lúcia's cell and studied it in the wake of her 2005 death.
The first apparition was at a spot called Cova da Iria on May 13 -- ninety years ago this Sunday -- followed by others on June 13, July 13 (during which parts of the famed secrets were told), August 15 (in a nearby hamlet called Valinhos, due to the detention of the seers), September 13 back at the Cova, and October 13, when the legendary "miracle of the sun" occurred.
Up to now, it has not been known that a seventh major appearance occurred sometime while the seer was 14 -- which would place it from March of 1921 to March of 1922, since Lúcia was born on March 22, 1907, meaning it took place after the deaths of the two other seers and smack at the beginning of the Roaring Twenties, which led to the sort of debauchery against which Fatima has warned, and preceded another war. "She was 14 years old," Dr. Paul told Spirit Daily Tuesday. "It is described in her diary and authorities are collecting documents."
The apparition apparently occurred when young Lúcia sought prayer at the Cova after a new local bishop instructed her to move to Spain and cease speaking about the apparitions.
It was a suffering, notes an expert on Fatima, Thomas McCormack of Ireland, with which she could not cope.
"She went to Cova da Iria with a bucket of tears," he says, referring to the diary. "A hand touched her and she looked up and saw the Blessed Mother."
According to McCormack and Dr. Paul, who were visiting the Divine Mercy Sanctuary at St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish in Chicago, the Blessed Mother instructed Lúcia at that time to obey whatever the bishop told her.
The message was obedience -- a signal lesson, perhaps, for our own tumultuous time.
Mary also told Lúcia to learn to read and indeed the seer would become an accomplished writer, turning eloquent phrases in books of remembrance and also a recent work, Calls From the Message of Fatima.
Dr. Paul says she tended to Lúcia and other Carmelites nearly every day for that 15-year period and found the seer to be "very humble, very normal, full of joy, and always joking about everything you could imagine."
Her love, says Dr. Paul, was contemplative prayer.
She tended to chores in the garden and kitchen and fashioned rosaries. "She was exactly like any other sister," recalls the physician.
As far as Dr. Paul knows, there were no further apparitions -- although others have indicated that there may have been ongoing phenomena.
In Spain, Sister Lúcia reported visions of Mary and Jesus at a Dorothean convent in Pontevedra in 1925, 1926, and 1929. But these did not occur at the Cova and have been considered separate from the main apparitions. In interviews during the early 1990s, the seer reportedly smiled when visiting bishops asked if she still saw the Blessed Mother.
It's too early to tell if the seventh Cova apparition will enter into the main renditions of the apparitions, which along with Lourdes and Guadalupe stand as Catholicism's most famous. While it was connected because it was mentioned in the heart of the first apparitions, the separation of the seventh apparition from the others by four years; the fact that it occurred to only one of the seers; and its late revelation may permanently keep it at a distance from the main account.
Asked about other apparitions, such as Medjugorje, Dr. Paul says Sister Lúcia never commented, leaving it up to Church authorities.
For Sister Lúcia, it was Mass every day at eight in the morning, and then a full day of regular chores. In old age (she died at 97) the nun suffered typical ailments of the elderly, finally succumbing to congestive heart failure. She would have been one hundred this year.
Her diary is currently in the hands of the vice-postulator for the seers' cause, Father Luis Condor. It was in 1948 that the seer moved back to Portugal and became a Carmelite in her beloved nation.
[resources: Our Memories of Sister Lúcia, The Message of Fatima, Fatima is Forever, and Calls from the Message of Fatima]
[Further note: Speaking of Lúcia's cell in Coimbra, where the seer lived for more than fifty years, the superior, Sister Maria Celina de Jesus Crucificado, in the booklet Our Memories of Sister Lúcia, asked, "How many times did Our Lady appear there? We still don't know. But one day I witnessed something which showed me with what simplicity she approached both the supernatural and ordinary everyday life. It was in the year 2003, on May 26, I went with her to the lower choir in order to take a photograph of her with the image of the Immaculate Heart of Mary which had just been given to us.
"When I had taken the photograph, Sister Lúcia continued to gaze at the image," writes the superior. "I did not disturb her. Then, turning to me, she exclaimed: 'Our Lady is crying!' I think that, thanks to her extraordinary purity, her 'ingenuousness,' she who had been the recipient of so many visions that no one else had seen thought at that moment that I, too, could see what she saw."
Thinking Lúcia's statement was a question, Sister Crucificado says she at first replied that the statue was not weeping -- whereupon the Fatima seer, who died in February of 2005 at 97, "looked 'caught out,' so to speak, like a child whose mother finds her stealing jam! I thought I should not ask any questions."]
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Our Memories of Sister Lúcia, by Sister Maria Celina de Jesus Crucificado, the recollections of the cloistered nuns at Coimbra of their famous colleague, Fatima seer Lúcia dos Santos, with fresh insights and details about her life and an in-depth description of her final years, especially the last days she spent on earth -- how she handled her impending end, what occurred medically, and how in the end this sure-for-sainthood nun passed on. CLICK HERE