What Does The Death of Lucia Mean?
From Brazil To Fatima For The Funeral Mass
Last week on Thursday I moved out of Fatima for good and went to Salvador Bahia, Brazil and said that I would only return for the death of Lucia.† On Monday the Brazilian papers reported that Lucia had died on Sunday and within a few hours I was on a plane back to Fatima.† I arrived in Lisbon at 2:00 PM and made it to the funeral Mass of Lucia at 4:00 PM - well almost.† I† guess that God did not want me to leave Fatima, but I wish he would have told me before the move.† Anyway, we will see what comes of this as time goes on.
When I arrived at the airport I took a taxi to a friends house in Fatima, and he rushed me off to Coimbra at 100 miles an hour.† However, a mile from the new basilica we ran out of gas, and walked the rest of the way.† Outside were thousands of people who could not get in and TV cameras lining the streets and in front of the Basilica. Satellite discs were spread out everywhere and all of Portugal could watch live for 4 to 5 hours the Mass and procession back to the Convent.†
The political campaign for Prime Minister in Portugal, which had taken up TV time all month shut down and no one campaigned during Lucia's final Mass.† In fact, all government shut down.
I could not get in the Basilica but there was a large TV
screen outside and Bishop Cleto, who was at Sister Lucia's side together with
her Carmelite sisters during the final moments of her life, said Sister Lucia
read the Holy Father's message that was sent last Saturday in which he
encouraged her to pray in order to be able to "live this moment of
pain, suffering and offering with the spirit of Easter."
The congregation saved its longest, most emotional applause until a message of John Paul II for the occasion was read out. The applause resounded through the aisles of the Cathedral of Coimbra, before Sr Lucia's little coffin decorated with white lace. The Holy Father said:
"I recall with emotion my
meetings with her, filled with a chain of spiritual friendship. I always felt
sustained by Sr Lucia especially in difficult moments of trial and suffering. I
love to think that waiting to greet her in her holy passage from earth to
heaven was She who Sr Lucia saw in Fatima many years ago."
Hundreds of men, women and children came from all over
Portugal, some even from abroad, to pay their last respects to Sr Lucia. The
congregation were well aware of the mysterious bond - built on prophecies,
affection and suffering - which for all these years united the Portuguese
sister to the
Polish Pope. Many are sure that because of this tie, John Paul II will be able
to allow a dispensation, as he has already done for Mother Teresa of Calcutta,
to shorten the period leading up to the beatification of a woman already
canonized for some time by the people. "Sr Lucia is a saint,"
reiterated the faithful, who on Sunday queued for hours for a chance to glimpse
Sr Lucia for the last time and to pray before her. First in the Carmelite
convent, where for 50 years, Sr Lucia lived out a commitment of silence and
obedience to the mystery which marked her life, and where, at the same time, she
lived out the Mission entrusted to her by the Madonna 90 years ago: prayer and
penitence for the salvation of the world. In the Cathedral, when the coffin was
taken out to return to Carmel, hundreds of people started to wave
white handkerchiefs, repeating the refrain of a song dedicated to the Madonna
of Fatima. "One day, we will see you again up there". We were sure
that, as John Paul II said, she was greeted by the beautiful Lady who appeared
to her for the first time in 1917.†
Although† police did not let us
too close to the funeral car caring the coffin of Lucia, we were able to march
behind it singing songs and waving white handkerchiefs.† We followed it to and inside the Convent of
Cardinal Tacrcisio Bertone presided over the funeral as papal representative. He too had met Sr Lucia several times. The last was in 2003, when the visionary - elderly by then, but no less tenacious - gave him her stick to deliver as a gift to John Paul II, thus offering even "physical" support to an evermore sick and suffering Pope.
"The life of Lucia will be examined," said Bertone. "Certainly it will not be as simple as it was for Jacinta and Francesco, because Sr Lucia wrote proficiently, and some texts are not even known as yet. But I am sure that soon, she will join her two little cousins already honored at the altars."
Lucia kept a diary for most of her years in the convent and someday this will be made known.
One of the known writings left by Sr Lucia was her request that for one year, her body would remain in the Carmelite Convent of Coimbra, in an unmarked grave without a tombstone, like those of all the other sisters. Later, after a year she will be moved alongside Jacinta and Francesco in the sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima.
"A humble person, she recollected
herself in prayer whenever she could," said Bishop Albino Cleto of
Coimbra. "She was always available to people who requested an interview
but shied away from contacts that spelled publicity or protocol. She was a true
†Cardinal Josť da Cruz Policarpo, patriarch of Lisbon, told reporters that Sister Lucia was faithful. "We have lost a religious who practiced her vocation through simplicity of life, not seeking to be influential," he said.
"Sister Lucia inspired confidence because of the peace in which she lived," added Bishop Jo„o Alves, the retired head of the Coimbra Diocese, according to the Ecclesia agency. "A peace that resided in faith and a constant union with God.
"She was a very serene person and interested in the problems of life, especially those of the poor. Although she was in a convent of contemplatives, I have proof that she kept herself informed about the great concerns of the world and of the Church."
The prelate, who had several meetings with the visionary, said he had "a very pleasant and positive memory" of her.
The death of the last witness of the 1917 Fatima apparitions is, humanly speaking, a great loss, the bishop continued, because we lack "the possibility of seeing and hearing a privileged witness of the faith."
He added: "We have the consolation of knowing that Sister Lucia, close to God, will not forget us."
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, John Paul II's special envoy to
the funeral of Sister Lucia, recalled the last of the Fatima visionaries as
"an exceptional woman, but simple."
Portugal officially observed a day of mourning. "All the country's agencies have paused to render homage to the great figure of a 'little shepherdess' who with the 'hidden' strength of prayer and faith was able to touch the hearts of all," said the Vatican's semiofficial newspaper, L'Osservatore
Romano, remembering the Carmelite nun.
"Those eyes have gently closed which saw the eyes of the Virgin," the newspaper said, describing the death of Sister Maria Lucia, which occurred at 5:25 p.m. Sunday, in the Carmelite Convent of St. Teresa in Coimbra.
"An uninterrupted pilgrimage of faithful has surrounded with affection and prayer the body of Sister Lucia exposed in the Carmel chapel," the newspaper said. "The people have lived this significant experience of conversion, 'proposed' with silent simplicity, through praying the rosary and
participating in the Mass."
Cardinal Bertone described Sister Lucia on Vatican Radio as "a luminous person, full of joy over the events of which she had been the recipient and at the same time full of friendship, friendship for Jesus, friendship for Mary, Mother of Jesus and our Mother."
She was "an exceptional woman, but simple; a woman full of prayer, of grace, of friendship with humanity because she was the recipient of a great hope for humanity," he said.
Sister Lucia kept "with great devotion to Mary and with a sense of mission of which she had been made participant," said the cardinal.
"I think that many know that one of the last works of this visionary of Fatima is her book 'Appeals of the Fatima Message,'" the prelate continued. "She felt strongly this call to prayer, to penance, to conversion, and she felt invested with this mission to proclaim, to propagate the appeals of the
Virgin of Fatima."
"She asked permission from the Holy See and the Pope to publish this book and so multiply the message of Fatima to thousands of people whom it has reached," added the former secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
In the cardinal's opinion, the spiritual legacy of Sister Lucia is "great closeness to God and to Mary . the first cooperator of the proclamation of the Kingdom with Jesus and, therefore, the principal cooperator in salvation."
Sister Lucia "saw Mary, was favored by Mary because of her simplicity of heart, together with the other two little shepherds, and leaves, precisely, this memory and commitment: to be, with Mary, cooperators in salvation," said Cardinal Bertone.
He said Sister Lucia also leaves us "the spirituality of being with God for the salvation of the world through the simplest of ways: prayer, sanctification of one's own life, of one's work, penance, reparation for the sins of the world and, consequently, a help that can transform the hearts of
people of all times for the salvation of the world."
What Does Her Death Mean Now?
For many years people have speculated why Sister Lucia has lived so long.† Some say that she would live to see the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.† Others that she would not die until the peace promised at Fatima.† Others believe that the Holy Father will die when Lucia does. The Portuguese believe that she stayed to protect Portugal.† None of this has been proven true but as Lucia said, the story of Fatima is only half done, the second half will have to come with her prayers in Heaven. As for the sensationalism of some, Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said:
"Over the last few months and
especially following the sad event of the terrorist attack of September 11,
articles have appeared in various newspapers regarding presumed new revelations
by Sister Lucy, announcements of warning letters to the Pope and apocalyptic
re-interpretations of the message of Fatima.
"Moreover, emphasis has been given to the suspicion that the Holy See has not published the integral text of the third part of the 'secret,' and some 'Fatima' movements have repeated the accusation that the Holy Father has not yet consecrated Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
"For this reason, in order to obtain clarification and information directly from the surviving visionary, it was considered necessary to organize a meeting with Sister Lucy. This took place in the presence of the prioress of the Carmelite convent of St. Teresa and of Fr. Luis Kondor S.V.D., vice-postulator of the causes of Blessed Francisco and Jacinta; and with the permission of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and of the bishops of Leiria-Fatima and Coimbra."
"The meeting, which lasted more than two hours, took place on the afternoon of Saturday, November 17. Sister Lucy, who will be 95 on March 22 next year, was in good health, lucid and vivacious. She first of all professed her love for and devotion to the Holy Father. She prays much for him and for the Church as a whole."
"With reference to the third part of the secret of Fatima, she affirmed that she had attentively read and meditated upon the booklet published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and confirmed everything that was written there. To whoever imagines that some part of the secret has been hidden, she replied: "Everything has been published; no secret remains." To those who speak and write of new revelations she said: "There is no truth in this. If I had received new revelations I would have told no-one, but I would have communicated them directly to the Holy Father."
Sister Lucy was asked: "What do you say to the persistent affirmations of Fr. Gruner who is gathering signatures in order that the Pope may finally consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which has never been done?". She replied: "The Carmelite Community has rejected the forms for gathering the signatures. I have already said that the consecration that Our Lady desired was accomplished in 1984 and was accepted in heaven."
"Is it true," the communique concludes, "that Sister Lucy is extremely worried by recent events and does not sleep but prays night and day?".
Sister Lucy replied: "It is not true. How could I pray during the day if I did not rest at night? How many things are attributed to me! How many things I am supposed to have done! Let them read my book, there are the advice and appeals that correspond to Our Lady's wishes. Prayer and penitence, accompanied by an immense faith in God, will save the world."
What does the death of Lucia mean?† It is just a half way page turned in the saga of Fatima.† Fatima has already changed the world and it will continue to do so until we reach a peaceful generation, with at least a unity among Christians and a world where governments and faith are in harmony.† Those who want to scream and holler that there is no peace and things are getting worse, are right in many ways but I trust that Our Lady will keep Her promise and I for one will keep that faith that She will.
I flew from Brazil to Portugal to pay my respects to the greatest seer of our time, someone I have seen 11 times before her death, and I will miss her, but she is already showing her powerful prayers in Heaven for me.† So I implore everyone to go through Lucia for your needs and intercession.