Precinct 333

Sunday, February 13, 2005

RIP -- Sister Lucia de Jesus dos Santos

She was one of the most important Catholic figures of the twentieth century. Many knew her name, but few saw her after she became a cloistered Carmelite nun. After nearly a century of life, and nearly nine decades after she and her cousins claimed to have seen the Virgin mary at Fatima, portugal, Sister Lucia de Jesus dos Santos has passed on to her heavenly reward.

LISBON (Reuters) - Lucia de Jesus dos Santos, the last of three children who claimed to see the Virgin at Fatima and who revealed a vision the Catholic Church said foretold the attempt to kill Pope John Paul, died on Sunday, the Church said.

Dos Santos, 97, who later became a nun, was the eldest of the shepherd children who in 1917 told of seeing apparitions of the Virgin Mary six times. She died at her Carmelite convent at Coimbra in central Portugal.

"She had been weak for several weeks and had not left her cell," Coimbra Bishop Albino Cleto told the Church's Radio Renascenca.

Like the story of the visions at Lourdes, the Fatima visions have great following among Catholics. Like Lourdes, the visions were given not to the powerful or famous, but rather to simple children of the porest class.

The events at Fatima unfolded against a backdrop of religious persecution under anti-clerical factions that ruled Portugal after the overthrow of the monarchy in 1910.

In 1916 she experienced her first vision, when an angel appeared to the children, she wrote in her memoirs.

On May 13, 1917, the Virgin Mary appeared to her and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marta on an oak tree. On her last appearance before an estimated 50,000 onlookers, witnesses claim to have experienced a 15-minute spectacle of bright lights and rainbow colors.

In her memoirs, dos Santos said the Virgin Mary appeared to the children six times in 1917. Jacinta and Francisco died in the influenza pandemic in 1919 and 1920.

The two were beatified, the last step to sainthood, by Pope John Paul during his Fatima visit in 2000.

V. Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord.
R. And may perpetual light shine upon her.
V. May the souls of the faithfully departed through the mercy of God rest in peace.
R. Amen.


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