Discover the real Sister Lucia New book reveals wit,
lively personality, and incredible memory of the remaining Fatima
"The Intimate Life of Sister Lucia" unique?
The text is mostly the never-before-published private letters of Sr.
Lucia. The great Fatima scholar, the late Fr. Antonio Martins, SJ, and
I provide commentary to the letters, so the reader puts them in the
proper context and sees the deeper meaning in terms of Sr. Lucia's life
and mission. In the chapters, we follow the chronology of her life and
major developments, such as her decision to leave the Dorothean
Congregation for the Carmelites. I had the original Portuguese text
translated into English by Portuguese Jesuit priests laboring in Brazil.
book includes correspondence by her to many people at various times in
her life. She writes to friends, family members, superiors, priests,
bishops, and others. And this is the visionary of Fatima who was given
a worldwide mission to influence popes and the universal Church, as
well as the history of the world, at the age of only 10! Now she is in
her 95th year.
we think that saints or holy people are stuffy and sad. What makes this
book unique is that it brings out the humanity of Sr. Lucia. It
captures her wit, her almost photographic memory, and reveals her to be
quite an extrovert. We also discover how much she had to suffer for Our
Lady and the message of Fatima, what a profound sense of obedience she
had, and her evangelical spirit.
One needs to keep in mind that there is no comparison between "The
Intimate Life of Sister Lucia" and her memoirs, which were published in
1974. She wrote them under holy obedience to get the message of Fatima
out to the world. We might think instead of St. Therese of Lisieux and
her private letters, which have proven to be most valuable in
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Apostolate is dedicated to the sanctification of the family and the
individual through spreading the Fatima message. A non-profit
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Family Apostolate was started at the encouragement of the Pontifical
Council for the Laity, and is endorsed by the Vatican's Pontifical
Council for the Family. It is now an international Apostolate, having
members all over the world and publishes a 52-page quarterly
magazine called theImmaculate
Why have you
published the book now?
That is a story in itself. It was a number of years
ago that I received the documents from Fr. Martins, my coauthor.
decided to collaborate on the book, and he sold me the English rights.
Back then, Fr. Martins told
me not to publish it until Sr. Lucia had passed away. Both of us
expected that she would have died by now. She was already in her 70s
when this agreement was made.
Then came the
release of the Third Part of the Fatima Secret last year and the death
of Fr. Martins. I was getting older myself, too. And I thought if
something happened to me, what would happen to these letters?
So, shortly after
Fr. Martin's death, I went to the late Fr. John Hardon, SJ, who was
then the theological advisor for the Fatima Family Apostolate. I asked
Fr. Hardon, "Am I free to publish it?" And he said, "Publish it."
Can you give us an
example of Sr. Lucia's wit and excellent memory?
Certainly. Let me share a brief excerpt with you. The
visionary is writing to Mother Cunha Mattos, a Superior, on September
14, 1946. Her wit sparkles as she shares in detail about the special
relationship she enjoyed with His Holiness, Pope Pius XII.
... Now for some
good news. Yesterday, His Lordship, the Bishop of Gurza and Rev. Fr.
Vernocchi were here. They came to bring me a rosary that the Holy
Father sent me. It is like a dream ... . Father Vernocchi was in Rome
and when he had kissed the ring of the Holy Father, he asked a blessing
The Holy Father
said, "For Sr. Lucia? Which one? The one from Fatima?"
"Yes, Most Holy
"Then take her
this rosary as well."
He opened a
drawer and took out a rosary. He looked at it and said, "This is a
black one. For her a white one would be better, just like Our Lady's."
He went back to
the drawer, picked out a white one, put it inside a little purse with
the pontifical arms on it, gave it to Fr. Vernocchi and said, "Take
this to Sr. Lucia with my blessing."
What goodness ...
what thoughtfulness of Our Lord and Our Dearest Heavenly Mother. ...
Tomorrow I must write and thank him. The bearer of my letter will be
His Lordship, the Bishop of Gurza, who is going there Monday of next
week. He offered to take anything that I wanted to send. See if you
want to send anything.
When we read
letters like that and see how God and the Blessed Mother have used this
human being, it makes us feel that we have a chance.
Let me tell you
another charming story that shows her great intelligence and wit. To
get to see and interview her, one must have the permission of the pope.
This one theologian finally got permission to interview her.
Of the Angel who
brought the three children of Fatima Holy Communion, the theologian
said, "I don't think that the Angel should have said the prayer to the
Blessed Trinity." Sister Lucia answered, "I do not know whether the
Angel was a theologian or not, but I do know that the Angel said that
What about Sr. Lucia being an
A good example is how much she enjoys telling amusing
stories when she is with her fellow sisters. She laughs and laughs. And
she can get them laughing, too.
One of her
favorites is of the time shortly after the apparitions, when she was
just a child during World War I. The locals had told her and the other
children that the enemy soldiers, who were tall, would come and get
them if they misbehaved. So, when a tall Portuguese man came and asked
her to walk with him to the Cova da Iria to pray the rosary -- she was
scared to death that when they got there, he was going to kill her.
Actually, the man
was seeking God's will about proposing to a young woman. It turns out
that the man became the grandfather of the Carmelite nun who, until
recently, served as Prioress of the Carmel in Fatima. And she thought
he was a soldier who was out to get her.
Even in her
childhood, Sr. Lucia behaved as an extrovert. She would organize the
local children as if they were having a Eucharistic procession through
Can you tell us
about Sr. Lucia's evangelical spirit?
Yes. In her correspondence, we learn of her great
evangelical spirit. She enjoyed teaching catechism when she was a
Dorothean Sister. In fact, she wanted to be a missionary to Africa. She
was always making rosaries -- hundreds and hundreds of rosaries -- to
be sent to the missionaries in Africa. She would make them every free
moment she had.
We learn that she
would write others and ask them to send her wire for making the
rosaries. She wanted the better kind of wire to make durable rosaries.
What do you mean
when you say that Sr. Lucia suffered a great deal and had a profound
sense of obedience?
As I edited this
correspondence, I was amazed to discover how much she had suffered both
physically and spiritually, and how she was humiliated again and again.
And she always responded to God and Our Lady's call, even though by
nature she has a strong will and a fiery disposition. I learned how she
cooperated with God's grace through her submission and obedience to His
will. She learned obedient faith.
One great example
of this concerns her writing down the Third Part of the Secret. I had
always wondered, why did she labor so long and why was it so painful
for her to put it into writing? She had a profound sense of obedience
and yet she kept delaying.
For many decades,
I had thought it was simply because of her illness at the time. She was
suffering a great deal physically then. But, from reading these
letters, I've discovered the real reason was that she had a tremendous
sense of obedience to God and her bishop. She had been told by Heaven
that it was not to be revealed for a long time, and the bishop was
saying to put it in writing. (Scroll down to "The Personal Story:
Behind the Fatima Secret.")
I'd like to share
a personal example of her profound obedience. On one occasion, I waited
in her Carmel's chapel for three hours, while Fr. Louis Kondor, SVD --
the international vice-postulator for the beatification cause of
Jacinta and Francisco -- tried to get an interview for me with her. His
secretary was also teaching her how to operate a computer. (Jacinta and
Francisco, Sr. Lucia's fellow visionaries, were beatified last year.)
This was some 15 years ago.
He told her all
about me, and I waited for three hours. I never got to see her. She
told Fr. Kondor, "I would like to see Fr. Fox, but I am afraid that I
would commit the sin of disobedience because I do not have the
permission of the Holy Father." Since I had waited so long, he made her
promise solemnly that she would pray for me and the Fatima Family
Apostolate. Father Kondor said that her obedience was so profound, he
was tempted some day to have a movie made simply about it.
Would you say then
that her sense of obedience has been very important to her mission?
Definitely. This profound obedience or what I like to
call, "obedient faith" is a key to understanding her life and mission.
She never faltered in her call. The reason she has never faltered is
because of her obedient faith. In the introduction to "The Intimate
Life of Sister Lucia," I point out how Our Lady is the primary example
of obedient faith in the New Testament, and then how Sr. Lucia is a
prime example of it in communicating the Fatima message to the world --
and that message is a reaffirmation or echo of the Gospel.
How can we be inspired by the
witness of Sr. Lucia?
reminds us of the importance of being obedient to the Church. That is
an important message that all of us need to hear today.
some have gotten into the Fatima movement and have put their own
judgments above that of the Magisterium, the Holy Father and the
bishops. And typically they do not have the theological or scriptural
background which is needed. If these souls would take Sr. Lucia's
example of obedient faith to heart, they would be effective and not
destructive in spreading the message of Our Lady of Fatima.
The personal story:
Behind the Fatima Secret
These excerpts from "The Intimate Life of
Sister Lucia" demonstrate her profound obedience in protecting the
Third Part of the Secret of Fatima. (The commentary is in bold.) We
also see the intense physical suffering and mental anguish she endured.
She finally wrote the Third Part down at the direction of Our Lady and
dated it January 3, 1944, Tuy, Portugal.
She put the problem to the Bishop of Gurza, telling him of the state of
Tuy Oct. 10, 1943
Very Reverend and Dear Bishop,
I received Your Lordship's letter in Pontevedra, but only today did I
find the strength to write.
Thanks be to God, I am again in Tuy. I came with the operation still
open, with the wound oozing pus. But it looks like it is healing quite
With great difficulty I walk to the chapel, where I hadn't had the
pleasure of going for a long time. If the good Lord does not have
something else to send me, or doesn't let me go back on what He has
already asked me, I will be able to begin working in a short while. But
may His will be done. I don't ask Him for health or sickness, life or
death. May He send me whatever is most pleasing to Him. He knows how I
will give Him most pleasure and glory. It is the only thing I have in
At the moment, I am worried by the wish of the Bishop of Leiria. When
he came here, he told me that if I wanted to, he thought it best to put
in writing the remaining Part of the Secret. The reason wasn't that it
could be published right away; but rather that it would be down in
But to my mind, writing it down is in some way revealing it, and I
still don't have Our Lord's permission for that. But since I am
accustomed to seeing the Will of God in the wishes of my Superiors, I
am looking at the obedience and I don't know what to do. I would prefer
a direct order on which I could fall back, in the presence of God, and
say with confidence, "They ordered me to do it, Lord." ...
[Sr. Lucia], then, did not know what to do. She suffered terribly. She
prayed as she had never prayed before. She asked God and the Heart of
Mary to come to her aid. Heaven answered her humble and fervent
prayers. The Heart of the Mother of God once more showed it was
faithful to what it had promised: "I will never leave you. My
Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the pathway that will lead to
God." It is Mother Cunha Mattos [one of the Superiors] who is going to
relate what happened [next]:
On Jan. 2, 1944, Our Lady appeared in the Infirmary [to Sr. Lucia as
she was convalescing], on the wall that faces the corridor of the rooms
of Mother Meirelas and Mother Cabral. ...
The Third Part of the Secret, which Sr. Lucia wrote down on Jan. 3,
1944, obviously was done when she got comfort and permission through
Our Lady appearing to her in the Infirmary on Jan. 2, 1944, to go ahead
and write it down.