THE WHOLE TRUTH ABOUT FATIMA, VOLUME II
THE SECRET AND THE CHURCH
“Jesus Wishes to Use You”
(1917 – 1925)
TO understand the life of our three seers from within, in its most profound truth, we must look at it in the very light of God, who in His Providence fixed for each of them a distinct vocation in the service of the great design of Love revealed by His Most Holy Mother at Fatima. In other words, we must always go back to the apparition of June 13 when, just as in the Annunciation, their personal futures were prophetically revealed.
Our Lady had announced at that time : « Jacinta and Francisco, I will take them (to Heaven) soon, but you, Lucy, will remain here for a certain time. Jesus wishes to use you to make Me known and loved. He wishes to establish in the world devotion to My Immaculate Heart… »
Before becoming, at the appointed hour, the messenger of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and Her desires as regards the Church and the world, Lucy had two essential tasks to accomplish. First of all, she was to give unceasing testimony, clear and forceful testimony, concerning everything she had seen and heard, at least concerning everything she could make known at the moment. Then she had to obey the pressing request which the Blessed Virgin Mary had addressed to her the same day : « I want you to learn how to read so that I can tell you what I want. » 1 Thus she would have to read, study, and develop her mind before being able to pass on the messages of Heaven to the Church : « Jesus wishes to use you, to make Me known and loved. »
I. LUCY, WITNESS OF THE APPARITIONS
Going back in time a little bit, let us return to the eldest of our three seers after the great apparition of October 13, 1917. She reports in her Memoirs :
« My mother had to sell our flock. We kept only three sheep, which we took along with us when we went to the fields. Whenever we stayed at home, we kept them in the pen and fed them there. My mother then sent me to school, 2 and in my free time, she wanted me to learn weaving and sewing. In this way, she had me safe in the house, and didn’t have to waste any time looking for me. » 3
LUCY, THE PRINCIPAL WITNESS
After October 13, Lucy writes, « almost every day, from then on, people went to the Cova da Iria to implore the protection of our Heavenly Mother. Everybody wanted to see the seers, to question them, and to recite the Rosary with them.
« At times, I was so tired of saying the same thing over and over again, and also of praying, that I looked for any pretext for excusing myself, and making my escape. But those poor people were so insistent that I had to make an effort, and indeed no small effort, in order to satisfy them. I then repeated my usual prayer deep down in my heart : “ O my God, it is for love of You, in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary, for the conversion of sinners, and for the Holy Father. ” 4
Since Jacinta bitterly regretted having spoken too much, and since Francisco with great humility always showed himself extremely circumspect, the duty of responding to visitors’ questions fell principally to Lucy. Lucy records an example : « One day, I asked Francisco : “ When you are questioned, why do you put your head down and not want to answer ? ” “ Because I want you to answer, and Jacinta too. I didn’t hear anything. I can only say that I saw. Then, supposing I said something you didn’t want me to say ? ” » 5 Lucy adds : « As Jacinta was in the habit of putting her head down, keeping her eyes fixed on the ground and scarcely uttering a word during the interrogations, I was usually called upon to satisfy the curiosity of the pilgrims. » 6
Very often also, our three seers made themselves scarce when people approached who looked like they had come to ask questions. Far from desiring to be seen and honoured by the visitors, they fled company as much as they could. Sometimes this led to a clever ruse :
« In this connection (Lucy writes), it might be good to relate here an incident which shows to what extent Jacinta sought to escape from the people who came looking for her.
« We were on our way to Fatima one day, and approaching the main road, when we noticed a group of ladies and gentlemen get out of a car. We knew without the slightest doubt that they were looking for us. Escape was impossible, for they would see us. We continued on our way, hoping to pass by without being recognised. On reaching us, the ladies asked if we knew the little shepherds to whom Our Lady had appeared. We said we did. “ Do you know where they live ? ” We gave them precise directions, and ran off to hide in the fields among the brambles. Jacinta was so delighted with the result of her little stratagem, that she exclaimed : “ We must do this always when they don’t know us by sight. ” 7
« Another day, we were sitting in the shade of two fig trees overhanging the road that runs by my cousins’ house. Francisco began to play a little way off. He saw several ladies coming towards us and ran back to warn us. We promptly climbed up the fig trees. In those days it was the fashion to wear hats with brims as wide as a sieve, and we were sure that with such headgear, those people would never catch sight of us up there. As soon as the ladies had gone by, we came down as fast as we could, took to our heels and hid in a cornfield. ” 8
Who could blame our three shepherds for taking such an attitude ? On the contrary, it is gratifying to see them react as regular children, with joyous simplicity, and good-natured “ mischievousness ”. But on a more profound level, in this way they demonstrated true humility : they are so convinced they have nothing to teach their visitors, who already surely know everything they could tell them. No, we can truthfully say that the apparitions did not go to their head ! Far from taking advantage of their role as little seers, it costs them an effort to receive the pilgrims and answer them. « I offer Our Lord all the sacrifices I can think of », Francisco said. « Sometimes (not “ always ”, for that would be asking too much !) I don’t even run away from all those people, just in order to make sacrifices ! » 9 Jacinta said the same thing on one occasion, when Lucy and Francisco were running away from these pesky strangers as fast as their legs could carry them : « I’m not going to hide. I’m going to offer this sacrifice to Our Lord. » 10
THE PRIESTS : MERCILESS INQUISITORS
« I was continually being summoned to the house of the parish priest. On one occasion, a priest from Torres Novas 11 came to question me. When he did so, he went into such minute details and tried so hard to trip me up that afterwards I felt some scruples about having concealed certain things from him. I consulted my cousins on the matter :
« “ I don’t know ”, I told them, “ if we are doing wrong by not telling everything, when they ask us if Our Lady told us anything else. When we just say that She told us a secret, I don’t know whether we are lying or not, by saying nothing about the rest. ” “ I don’t know ”, replied Jacinta. “ That’s up to you ! You’re the one who does not want us to say anything ! ” “ Of course I don’t want you to say anything ”, I answered. “ Why, they’ll start asking us what sort of mortifications we are practising ! And that would be the last straw !…
« I was left with my misgivings, and had no idea as to how I was to resolve my doubt. A little while later, another priest appeared ; he was from Santarem. He looked like a brother of the first I’ve just spoken of, or at least they seemed to have rehearsed things together : asking the same questions, making the same attempts to trip me up, laughing and making fun of me in the same way ; in fact their very height and features were almost identical.
« After this interrogation, my doubt was stronger than ever, and I really did not know what course of action to follow. I constantly pleaded with Our Lord and Our Lady to tell me what to do. “ O my God, and my dearest Mother in Heaven, You know that I do not want to offend You by telling lies ; but You are well aware that it would not be right to tell them all that You told me ! ” » 12
It was also this constant concern to preserve their Secret intact, which moved our three seers to flee from interrogations, especially those of the priests, some of whom had no scruples about using the most odious procedures with them : threats, insults, lies. 13
Lucy recalls :
« This habit we had of making good our escape, whenever possible, was yet another cause for complaint on the part of the parish priest. He bitterly complained of the way we tried to avoid priests in particular. His Reverence was certainly right. It was priests especially who put us through the most rigorous cross-examinations, and then returned to question us all over again. Whenever we found ourselves in the presence of a priest, we prepared to offer to God one of our greatest sacrifices ! » 14
SOME “ GOOD SHEPHERDS ”
THE DEAN OF OLIVAL : “ HE WAS MY FIRST SPIRITUAL DIRECTOR. ” Some priests, fortunately, were an exception, and they were able to recognise the sincerity of the seers, admire their candour, their piety, and their generosity. We have already mentioned Canon Formigao, who was undoubtedly the first of these “ good shepherds ”. 15 But Lucy was soon to find, in the person of Father Faustino Jacinto Ferreira, the dean of Olival, a wise and kind advisor, a real spiritual Father.
Lucy was still tormented over her deliberately incomplete responses to the priest from Torres Novas, as well as his brother, when she met Father Faustino :
« In the midst of this perplexity, I had the happiness of speaking to the Vicar of Olival. I do not know why, but His Reverence inspired confidence, and I confided my doubt to him… » 16 What was I to say to those who asked if the Holy Virgin had said something more, and avoid lying ? This priest said to us : « You do well, my little ones, to keep the secret of your souls between God and yourselves. When they put that question to you, just answer : “ Yes, She did say more, but it’s a secret. ” If they question you further on this subject, think of the Secret that the Lady made known to you, and say : “ Our Lady told us not to say anything to anybody ; for this reason, we are saying nothing. ” In this way, you can keep your secret under cover of Our Lady’s. » « How well I understood the explanation and guidance of this venerable old priest », comments Lucy. 17
« He also gave us some further instructions on the spiritual life. Above all, he taught us to give pleasure to Our Lord in everything, and how to offer Him countless little sacrifices. “ If you feel like eating something, my children ”, he would say, “ leave it, and eat something else instead ; and thus offer a sacrifice to God. If you feel inclined to play, do not do so, and offer to God another sacrifice. If people question you, and you cannot avoid answering them, it is God who wills it so : offer Him this sacrifice, too. ”
« This holy priest spoke a language that I could really understand, and I loved him dearly.
« From then on, he never lost sight of my soul. Now and then, he called me in to see me, or kept in touch with me through a pious widow called Mrs. Emilia, who lived in a little hamlet near Olival. She was very devout, and often went to pray at the Cova da Iria. After that, she used to come to our house and ask them to let me go and spend a few days with her. Afterwards, she took me to visit the Reverend Vicar.
« He was kind enough to invite me to remain for two or three days as company for one of his sisters. At such times, he was patient enough to spend whole hours alone with me, teaching me the practice of virtue and guiding me with his own wise counsels.
« Even though at that time I did not understand anything about spiritual direction, I can truly say that he was my first spiritual director. I cherish, therefore, grateful and holy memories of this saintly priest. » 18
“ THE SECRET OF THE KING’S DAUGHTER… ” Around the same time, Lucy also received the visit of another priest who counselled her with great discretion. She writes :
« I remember, besides, a saying that I heard from a holy priest when I was only eleven years old. Like so many others, he came to question me, and asked among other things, about a matter about which I did not wish to speak. After he had exhausted his whole repertoire of questions, without succeeding in obtaining a satisfactory answer on this subject, realising perhaps that he was touching on too delicate a matter, the good priest gave me his blessing and said : “ You are right, my child. The secret of the king’s daughter should remain hidden in the depths of her heart. ”
« At the time, I did not understand the meaning of what he said, but I realised that he approved of my manner of acting. I did not forget his words, however, and I understand them now. This saintly priest was at that time Vicar of Torres Novas. Little does he know all the good that these few words did for my soul, and that is why I remember him with such gratitude. » 19
LUCY QUESTIONED BY A SAINT : THE VISIT OF FR. CRUZ. Lucy writes : « One day we were told that a priest was coming to see us who was very holy and who could tell what was going on in people’s inmost hearts. This meant that he would find out whether we were telling the truth or not. Full of joy, Jacinta exclaimed : “ When is this Father coming ? If he can really tell, then he’ll know we’re telling the truth. ” 20 Had the arrival of good Father Cruz been announced to the children beforehand ? This is quite possible, for he enjoyed a great reputation for sanctity in all Portugal. 21 In any case, Lucy tells us how he came to Aljustrel one day to interrogate the three seers :
« When he had finished, he asked us to show him the spot where Our Lady had appeared to us. On the way we walked on either side of His Reverence, who was riding a donkey so small that his feet almost touched the ground.
« As we went along, he taught us a litany of ejaculations, two of which Jacinta made her own and never stopped repeating ever afterwards : “ O my Jesus, I love You ! Sweet Heart of Mary, be my salvation ! ” » 22
Thanks to the favourable judgment of these few priests, the prejudices of the clergy evaporated, and the apparitions could finally be recognised by the Bishop of Leiria. We shall see what an important role Canon Formigao and the Dean of Olival were to play during the canonical process. As for Father Cruz, he was the first priest to dare openly preach devotion to Our Lady of Fatima. In his report on Jacinta, Doctor Lisboa testifies to this :
« I saw him at Fatima during the first visits I made over there. I heard him give – for the first time in a church at Lisbon – a public allocution exhorting people to pray to Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima, at a time when most of the clergy was still afraid to show any sentiments favourable to the apparitions. » 23
THE TENACIOUS OPPOSITION OF THE PARISH PRIEST OF FATIMA
These resolutely favourable judgments on the three seers – emanating, what is more, from priests with great common sense, pious and zealous priests who were unquestionably “ men of God ” – are extremely valuable for us. They compensate for the enigmatic, bewildering attitude of the parish priest of Fatima, who continued taking a “ hard line ” position against the apparitions. Clearly he was intellectually convinced of the supernatural character of the apparitions, 24 especially after October 13, 1917. Nevertheless, he still kept a latent animosity with respect to the seers, which was noticeable on every occasion.
Why this persistent rancour ? It is not difficult to guess some of the reasons : because he was an enterprising and imperious, somewhat domineering man, the secrecy and extreme reserve of the children towards him irritated him ; it offended and exasperated him. And now, the nascent beginnings of the pilgrimage to Fatima constituted an open competition to the work he was trying to accomplish in the parish. The pilgrimage did not have the approval of the Patriarch ; it was neither approved nor disapproved ; this meant that the parish priest was “ left hanging ”, which caused him to become bitter and spiteful towards the children. Granted, to handle such a delicate situation irreproachably, the parish priest would have needed total detachment, and uncommon qualities of soul…
What is certain, in any case, is that our three seers, and especially Lucy, had much to suffer from the perplexities and resentment of their parish priest. In her Memoirs, Lucy mentions the growing irritation on his part :
« The parish priest questioned me for the last time. The events had duly come to an end at the appointed time, and still His Reverence did not know what to say about the whole affair. He was also beginning to show his displeasure. “ Why are all those people going to prostrate themselves in prayer in a deserted spot like that, while here the living God of our altars, in the Most Holy Sacrament, is left all alone, abandoned, in the tabernacle ? What’s all the money for, the money they leave for no purpose whatsoever under the holm-oak, while the church, which is still under repairs, cannot be completed for lack of funds ? ”
« I understood perfectly why he spoke like that, but what could I do ! If I had been given authority over the hearts of those people, I would certainly have led them to the parish church, but as I did not, I offered to God yet another sacrifice. » 25
Another episode, which clearly shows the stubborn animosity of the parish priest, Father Ferreira, with regard to the seers, has almost invariably been omitted by historians. Sister Lucy, however, albeit without any trace of bitterness, saw fit to relate the whole episode in her Memoirs. And she is right, for in this painful history, the rank prejudice of the parish priest becomes obvious, as do some of his character flaws. It shows especially on this occasion, when two holy and prudent priests dared to take up, against him, the defence of the seer. The incident most probably took place in the autumn of 1918. Here is the account given in the Memoirs : 26
« One fine day, my sisters were asked to go with some other girls to help with the vintage on the property of a wealthy man of Pe de Cao… 27 My mother decided to let them go, as long as I could go too… » The Solemn Communion of the parish was to take place while they were away. But since Lucy had already renewed it each year since the age of six, Maria Rosa judged that she could be dispensed from it, as well as the catechism classes to prepare the children. As soon as school was over, Lucy went home to continue her sewing and weaving. Her account continues :
« The good priest did not take kindly to my absence from catechism classes. One day, on my way home from school, his sister sent another child after me. She caught up with me on the road to Aljustrel… Thinking that I was just wanted for questioning, I excused myself, saying that my mother had told me to go home right after school. Without further ado, I took to my heels across the fields like a mad thing, in search of a hiding place where no one could find me.
« But this time, the prank cost me dearly. Some days later, there was a big feast in the parish, and several priests came from all around to sing the Mass. When it was over, the parish priest sent for me, and in front of all those priests, reprimanded me severely for not attending the catechism lessons, and for not running back to his sister when she had sent for me. In short, all my faults and failings were brought to light, and the sermon went on for quite a long while.
« At last, though I don’t know how, a holy priest appeared on the scene, and sought to plead my cause. He tried to excuse me, saying that perhaps my mother had not given me permission. But the good priest replied : “ Her mother ! Why, she’s a saint ! But as for this one, it remains to be seen what she’ll turn out to be ! ” The good priest, who later became Vicar of Torres Novas, 28 then asked me very kindly why I had not been to the catechism classes. I therefore told him of my mother’s decision.
« His Reverence did not seem to believe me, and sent for my sister Gloria who was over by the church, to find out the truth of the matter. Having found that indeed things were just as I had said, he came to this conclusion : “ Well then ! Either the child is going to attend the catechism classes for the days still remaining, and afterwards come to me for confession, and then make her Solemn Communion with the rest of the children, or she’s never going to receive Communion again in this parish ! ” »
Gloria, and then Maria Rosa herself went over to the presbytery. They tried to explain that if the parish priest insisted on this order, someone else would have to take the little child over to Torres Novas. Their efforts were in vain. They begged the priest to consider the distance and difficulty of the trip. Again in vain. The stubborn priest would not change his mind. No matter what, Lucy would have to renew her Solemn Communion ! Lucy’s account continues :
« I think I must have had a cold sweat at the mere idea of having to go to confession to the parish priest ! What fear I had before him ! I cried with anguish. On the day before the Solemn Communion, His Reverence sent for all the children to go to church in the afternoon to make their confession. As I went, anguish gripped my heart as in a vice. »
THE INTERVENTION OF GOOD FR. CRUZ. Just as in the case of Lucy’s First Communion in 1913, it so happened (by a marvellous act of Providence !) that Father Cruz was there to intervene :
« As I entered the church, I saw that there were several priests hearing confessions. There at the end of the church was Reverend Father Cruz from Lisbon. I had spoken to His Reverence before, and I liked him very much indeed. Without noticing that the parish priest was in an open confessional halfway up the church, I thought to myself : “ First, I’ll go and make my confession to Father Cruz and ask him what I am to do, and then I’ll go to the parish priest. ”
« Father Cruz received me with the greatest kindness. After hearing my confession, he gave me some advice, telling me that if I did not want to go to the parish priest, I should not do so; and that he could not refuse me Communion for something like that. I was radiant with joy on hearing this advice and said my penance. Then I made good my escape from the church, for fear lest somebody might call me back.
« Next day, I went to the church all dressed in white, still afraid that I might be refused Communion. But His Reverence contented himself with letting me know, when the feast was over, that my lack of obedience in going to another priest had not passed unnoticed. » 29
THE DEPARTURE OF FATHER FERREIRA. Since he did not fear to manifest his irritation publicly, Father Ferreira’s position became more and more unbearable. Ti Marto told Canon Barthas : « Father Ferreira was the last person in the whole country to believe in the apparitions… » Around this time, the neighbouring faithful organised a procession from Moita to the Cova da Iria. A priest from the area preached a sermon. 30 « That annoyed Father Ferreira (Ti Marto said). Soon, he began saying that he wanted to leave the area, so upset was he. Indeed, he left the parish of his own accord, even before a successor was named. » 31 He left Fatima in the beginning of June, 1919.
Here is Lucy’s version of the facts : « The good priest grew more and more displeased and perplexed concerning these events until, one day, he left the parish. The news then went around that His Reverence had left on account of me. » In fact, as Father Alonso points out, he had also run into numerous difficulties with his parishioners regarding the construction of a church, and this was equally the cause of his departure.
Lucy, however, was to suffer cruelly for it : « Several pious ( ?) women, whenever they met me, gave vent to their displeasure by insulting me ; and sometimes they sent me on my way with a couple of blows or kicks. » 32
II. IN THE SCHOOL OF SUFFERING :
« WILL I REMAIN HERE ALL ALONE ? »
APRIL 4, 1919 : THE DEATH OF FRANCISCO
After 1919, death was to strike several times among Sister Lucy’s loved ones ; her painful loneliness became deeper and deeper… On April 4, it was Francisco who flew on to Heaven. The evening before, when night was already falling, they had spoken for the last time :
« “ Goodbye, then, Francisco ! Till we meet in Heaven, goodbye !… ” Heaven was drawing near for him. He took his flight to Heaven the following day in the arms of his Heavenly Mother.
« I could never describe how much I missed him. This grief was a thorn that pierced my heart for years to come. It is a memory of the past that echoes forever unto eternity. » 33
JULY 1, 1919 : JACINTA AT VILA NOVA DE OUREM
Three months later, Lucy had to endure another separation : Jacinta left Aljustrel for the hospital of Vila Nova de Ourem… During this three month separation, the two friends could meet only twice, and for such short visits !
JULY 31, 1919 : THE DEATH OF ANTONIO
« Once again (Lucy writes) Our Lord came knocking at my door to ask yet another sacrifice, and not a small one either. My father was a healthy man, and robust ; he said he had never known what it was to have a headache. But, in less than twenty-four hours, an attack of double pneumonia carried him off into eternity.
« My sorrow was so great that I thought I would die as well. He was the only one who never failed to show himself to be my friend, and the only one who defended me when disputes arose at home on account of me.
« “ My God ! My God ! ” I exclaimed in the privacy of my room. “ I never thought You had so much suffering in store for me ! But I suffer for love of You, in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary, for the Holy Father and for the conversion of sinners. ” » 34
In this intense sorrow, Maria Rosa and her family nevertheless had one consolation : Antonio died reconciled with God. He had gone to confession a few days before on the feast of Our Lady of the Nettles. 35
On August 31, Lucy had the joy of seeing Jacinta again as the latter returned to Aljustrel, even more ill than before her stay at the hospital. We may believe that for the two confidantes of Our Lady, these last months spent together were at the same time both sweet and cruelly sorrowful. For the little child’s health grew alarmingly worse, and one sad day in December, Lucy learned that her companion was about to leave. This time, indeed, Jacinta was leaving for good, for Our Lady Herself had come to announce it to her : « She hugged me and wept : “ I will never see you again ! You won’t be coming to visit me there. Oh please, pray hard for me, because I am going to die alone… ” » 36
And Lucy grew sad, just as on June 13, 1917, when Our Lady had foretold what would happen for the first time. Lucy wept because she would have to « stay all alone ». She said to Jacinta : « It won’t be long now till you go to Heaven. But what about me ! » Jacinta in her turn tried to console Lucy : « You poor thing ! Don’t cry ! I’ll pray lots and lots for you when I’m there. As for you, that’s the way Our Lady wants it. If She wanted that for me, I’d gladly stay and suffer more for sinners. » 37
WINTER 1919 : THE ILLNESS OF MARIA ROSA
For Lucy, in this year 1919, there was no lack of opportunities to offer sacrifices :
« Such suffering on my part must have been pleasing to Our Lord (she writes), because He was about to prepare a most bitter chalice for me which He was soon to give me to drink.
« My mother fell so seriously ill that, at one stage, we thought she was dying. » Maria dos Anjos, who also left us an account of the event, was more specific : « She had violent attacks of coughing, and the doctor said that they were cardiac failures. We all wept, because we had already lost our father… » 38
Sister Lucy continues : « All her children gathered around her bed to receive her last blessing, and to kiss the hand of their dying mother.
« As I was the youngest, my turn came last. When my poor mother saw me, she brightened a little, flung her arms around my neck and, with a deep sigh, exclaimed : “ My poor daughter, what will become of you without your mother ! I am dying with my heart pierced through because of you. ” Then, bursting into tears and sobbing bitterly, she clasped me more and more tightly in her arms. My eldest sister forcibly pulled me away from my mother, took me to the kitchen and forbade me to go back to the sick room, saying : “ Mother is going to die of grief because of all the trouble you’ve given her ! ” I knelt down, put my head on a bench, and in a distress more bitter than any I had ever known before, I made the offering of my sacrifice to Our Dear Lord.
« A few minutes later, my two older sisters, thinking the case was hopeless, came to me and said : “ Lucy ! If it is true that you saw Our Lady, go right now to the Cova da Iria, and ask Her to cure our mother. Promise Her whatever you wish and we’ll do it ; and then we’ll believe ! ”
« Without losing a moment, I set out. So as not to be seen, I made my way across the fields across some bypaths, reciting the Rosary along the way. Once there, I placed my request before Our Lady and unburdened myself of all my sorrow, shedding copious tears. I then went home, comforted by the hope that my beloved Mother in Heaven would hear my prayer and restore health to my mother on earth.
« When I reached home, my mother was already feeling somewhat better. Three days later, she was able to resume her work around the house.
« I had promised the Most Holy Virgin that, if She granted me what I asked, I would go there in nine days in succession, together with my sisters, pray the Rosary and go on our knees from the roadway to the holm-oak tree ; and on the ninth day we would take nine poor children with us, and afterwards give them a meal… » 39
Maria dos Anjos recalls that Lucy had also brought a little bit of earth from the Cova da Iria. Lucy asked her sister to prepare a herbal drink for their mother. Maria Rosa was intrigued by « such dirty water », but she drank it nevertheless… No doubt we will think : now there is a strange idea ! But at Lourdes, as a sign of penance, had not Our Lady asked Bernadette to « drink of the fountain », from which there came only « a little bit of water which resembled mud », and then to eat the herbs there ?
In any case, Maria dos Anjos observes :« The cardiac problems disappeared on the spot. Nor did she have any more problems with suffocation. She was breathing well. Her heart was working better, and soon she was able to get up. She was not entirely healed, and she did not recover all her strength. Nevertheless, she could still work a great deal after that ; indeed she seemed younger than her age.
« We, her daughters, did not hesitate to go to the Cova da Iria, to keep the promise we had made. Nine days in a row – after supper, because we had to work for our bread, and also so as not to be noticed – we went on our knees, from the place where the porch is now, over to the little chapel, where we recited the Rosary. Our mother also made the novena, walking behind us. » 40
Inspired by Our Lady, Lucy had just made with her sisters a penitential gesture which would soon become familiar to the pilgrims of Fatima : they can still be seen today, advancing on their knees, crossing the esplanade clear through to the Capelinha.
BRIEF VISITS AWAY FROM HOME : « I AM NEITHER A SAINT… NOR A LIAR ! »
« Several people who came from a distance to see us, noticing that I looked very pale and anaemic, asked my mother to let me go and spend a few days in their homes, saying the change of air would do me good. With this end in view, my mother gave her consent, and they took me with them, now to one place, now to another.
« When away from home like this, I did not always meet with esteem and affection. While there were some who admired me and considered me a saint, there were always others who heaped abuse on me and called me a hypocrite, a visionary and a sorceress. This was the good Lord’s way of throwing salt into the water to prevent it from going bad.
« Thanks to this Divine Providence, I went through the fire without being burned, or without becoming acquainted with the little worm of vanity which has the habit of gnawing its way into everything. On such occasions, I used to say to myself : “ They are all mistaken. I’m not a saint, as some say, and I’m not a liar either, as others say. Only God knows what I am. ”
« When I got home, I would run to see Jacinta, who said : “ Listen ! Don’t go away again. I have been so lonely for you ! Since you went away, I have not spoken to anyone. I don’t know how to talk to other people. ” » 41
JANUARY 21, 1920 : JACINTA’S DEPARTURE
Finally, in January of 1920, it was decided that Jacinta would leave for Lisbon to have an operation. On January 21, the feast of Saint Agnes, the hour of the final separation arrived for these two confidantes of the Blessed Virgin, who were united to each other by so many extraordinary graces received together. What a heart-rending scene !
« How sad I was to find myself alone ! In such a short space of time, Our Dear Lord had taken to Heaven my beloved father, and then Francisco; 42 and now He was taking Jacinta, whom I was never to see again in this world.
« As soon as I could, I slipped away to the Cabeço, and hid within our cave among the rocks. There, alone with God, I poured forth my grief and shed tears in abundance. Coming back down the slope, everything reminded me of my dear companions : the stones on which we had so often sat, the flowers I no longer picked, not having anyone to take them to; Valinhos, where the three of us had enjoyed the delights of paradise ! As though I had lost all sense of reality, and still half distracted, I went into my aunt’s house one day and made for Jacinta’s room, calling out to her. Her sister, Teresa, seeing me like that, barred the way, and reminded me that Jacinta was no longer there ! » 43
FEBRUARY 20, 1920 : JACINTA’S DEATH
As Our Lady had predicted, during the long month Jacinta was at Lisbon, Lucy was not able to visit her a single time. They never saw each other again.
« Shortly afterwards (she writes in her Memoirs) news arrived that she had taken flight to Heaven. Her body was then brought back to Vila Nova de Ourem. My aunt took me there one day to pray beside the mortal remains of her little daughter, in the hope of thus distracting me. But for a long time after, my sorrow seemed only to grow ever greater. Whenever I found the cemetery open, I went and sat by Francisco’s grave, or beside my father’s, and there I spent long hours. » 44
THE FIRST ATTEMPT TO PLACE LUCY IN A BOARDING SCHOOL
« During her last days, Jacinta requested insistently several times that the Reverend Doctor Manuel Formigao be called to her. She affirmed that Our Lady, during an apparition, had commanded her to pass on two messages to this venerable priest…
« The first concerned Lucy, already an adolescent, who as long as she remained on this earth was exposed to grave dangers. It was a warning Our Lady sent her for her to reflect on, and begin a more fervent life. » 45
What were these « grave dangers » of the spiritual order which threatened Lucy ? They can easily be guessed. This was the time of the development of the pilgrimage, which rapidly grew, in spite of all the vain efforts of the Masonic government to oppose it. Every thirteenth of the month saw thousands of people come to the Cova da Iria. And, since the hierarchical authority took a non-committal view, Lucy found herself at the head of the movement. More than ever, everybody wanted to see her, ask her questions. At times she was threatened by the members of the Masonic sect, but more often she was flattered, the object of adulation and formally taken for a saint. The situation of the seer became more and more perilous for her soul. For she was still only an adolescent, only thirteen years old, with neither instruction nor a solid spiritual formation…
Already, since October 13, 1917, Canon Formigao thought it better that the seers leave Fatima. 46 Now he decided to intervene. The first time the suggestion had been made to Maria Rosa to place her daughter in a boarding school, so that Lucy could « learn to pray and read », she replied sharply : « If this is for her to learn how to pray, I’ll teach her ! » 47 But in the end she was convinced and accepted Canon Formigao’s wise suggestion. Thus it was agreed that Maria Rosa would accompany Lucy to Lisbon and take advantage of the trip to try to improve her health, consulting the doctors in the capital. Here we must let Sister Lucy speak again, and describe what happened :
THE SOJOURN AT LISBON AND SANTAREM : (JULY 7 – AUGUST 12, 1920)
« My mother, thank God, decided some time after this to go to Lisbon, and to take me with her. Through the kindness of Father Formigao, a good lady received us into her house, and offered to pay for my education in a boarding school, if I was willing to remain. My mother and I gratefully accepted the offer of this charitable lady, whose name was Dona Assunçao Avelar.
« My mother, after consulting the doctors, found that she needed an operation for kidneys and spinal column, but the doctors would not be responsible for her life, since she also suffered from a cardiac lesion. She therefore went home, leaving me in the care of this lady.
« When everything was ready, and the day arranged for my entering the boarding school, I was informed that the government was aware that I was in Lisbon, and was seeking my whereabouts. They, therefore, took me to Santarem, to Father Formigao’s house, for several days [August 6 to August 12, according to Father Alonso] without even being allowed out to Mass… All these happenings distracted me somewhat, and so the oppressive sadness began to disappear. » 48
This first unsuccessful attempt at removing Lucy from the place of the apparitions did not change the mind of the prudent Canon Formigao. During this time the diocese of Leiria, providentially restored by a brief of Benedict XV dated January 17, 1918, finally received its new Shepherd after a long and painful wait. Appointed bishop on January 15, 1920, and consecrated on July 25, Bishop da Silva had solemnly taken possession of his diocese on August 5.
Right away Fatima became one of his major preoccupations. The new bishop still did not have a definite opinion on the nature of the events at the Cova da Iria ; first he desired to be better informed. This is why he spoke with Canon Formigao as soon as he could. During a long conversation which took place on September 15, 1920, « together they dealt with three principal points : sending Lucy away into seclusion, the possibility of beginning a public cult at the Cova da Iria, and setting up a canonical process to investigate the events. » 49
Months passed… and it was only in June of the following year that Canon Formigao’s project could finally take shape. Bishop da Silva himself chose for Lucy the College of the Dorothean Sisters at Vilar, near Porto, where he had been chaplain. Moreover, being originally from the diocese of Porto, he still had some friends who could help in the formation of the seer. 50
JUNE 13, 1921 : THE FIRST ENCOUNTER WITH BISHOP DA SILVA
Now we must quote a long passage from the Memoirs where Sister Lucy describes her first visit to the bishop’s house. This account is full of freshness and spontaneity.
“ IF HE KNOWS EVERYTHING, HE KNOWS THAT I SPEAK THE TRUTH ! ” « It was about this time that Your Excellency was installed as Bishop of Leiria, and Our Dear Lord confided to your care this poor flock that had been so many years without a shepherd. There were some people who tried to frighten me about Your Excellency’s arrival, just as they had done before about another holy priest. They told me that Your Excellency knew everything, that you could read hearts and penetrate the depths of consciences, and that now you were going to discover all my deceptions. Far from frightening me, it made me earnestly desire to speak to you, and I thought to myself : “ If it’s true that he knows everything, he will know that I am speaking the truth ! ”
AT THE BISHOP OP LEIRIA’S RESIDENCE. « For this reason, as soon as a kind lady from Leiria offered to take me to see Your Excellency, I accepted her suggestion with joy. There was I, full of hope, in expectation of this happy moment. At last the day came, and the lady and I went to the Palace. We were invited to enter and shown to a room, where we were asked to wait for a little while.
« A few moments later, Your Excellency’s secretary came in, 51 and spoke kindly with Dona Gilda who accompanied me. From time to time, he asked me some questions. As I had already been twice to confession to this priest, I already knew him, and it was therefore a pleasure to talk to him.
A PAINFUL INTERROGATION. « A little later, Rev. Dr. Marques dos Santos came in, 52 wearing shoes with buckles, and wrapped in a great big cloak. As it was the first time that I had seen a priest dressed like this, it caught my attention. He then embarked on a whole repertoire of questions that seemed unending. Now and again, he laughed, as though making fun of my replies, and it seemed as if the moment when I could speak to Your Excellency would never come.
A ONE-ON-ONE INTERVIEW. « At last, your secretary returned to speak to the lady who was with me. He told her that when Your Excellency arrived, she was to make her apologies and take her leave, saying that she had to go elsewhere, since Your Excellency might wish to speak to me in private. I was delighted when I heard this message, and I thought to myself : as His Excellency knows everything, he won’t ask me many questions, and he will be alone with me. What a blessing !
“ A GOOD SHEPHERD. ” « When Your Excellency arrived, the good lady played her part very well, and so I had the happiness of speaking to you alone. I am not going to describe now what happened during this interview, because Your Excellency certainly remembers it better than I do.
« To tell the truth, when I saw Your Excellency receive me with such kindness, without in the least attempting to ask me any useless or curious questions, being concerned only for the good of my soul, and only too willing to take care of this poor little lamb that the Lord had just entrusted to you, then I was more convinced than ever that Your Excellency did indeed know everything ; and I did not hesitate for a moment to give myself completely into your hands.
« Thereupon, Your Excellency imposed certain conditions which, because of my nature, I found very easy : that is, to keep completely secret all that Your Excellency had said to me, and to be good. I kept my secret to myself, until the day when Your Excellency asked my mother’s consent. » 53
Through whose mediation did Bishop da Silva ask for Maria Rosa’s consent ? In any case, things were arranged quickly, very quickly, since the date for Lucy’s departure was fixed for June 16. 54 Lucy had just enough time to get ready and hastily prepare her things, and then bid adieu to the blessed places from which she was to be separated, for all time as she believed. However, she could not say goodbye to anybody, because the bishop had made her promise to keep the most absolute secrecy concerning her departure : “ My child, you will not tell anybody where you are going. ” “ Yes, Your Excellency ! ”
« “ When you go away you must come and say goodbye to me ”, Maria da Capelinha (now her greatest friend) had told her a fortnight before. “ Of course ”, Lucy had assured her. But the bishop’s command had to be rigorously obeyed. She must not say a word to anybody, not even to relatives and friends. No one must know that she was leaving Aljustrel perhaps for ever, and was going to disappear into the College of the Dorotheans in Vilar, near Porto. » 55
JUNE 15, 1921 : GOODBYE TO FATIMA
« Finally, the day of my departure was settled. The evening before, I went to bid farewell to all the familiar places so dear to us. My heart was torn with loneliness and longing, for I was sure I would never set foot again on the Cabeço, the Rock, Valinhos, or in the parish church where Our Dear Lord had begun His work of mercy, and the cemetery, where rested the mortal remains of my beloved father and of Francisco, whom I could still never forget.
« I said goodbye to our well, already illumined by the pale rays of the moon, and to the old threshing-floor where I had so often spent long hours contemplating the beauty of the starlit heavens, and the wonders of sunrise and sunset which so enraptured me. I loved to watch the rays of the sun reflected in the dew drops, so that the mountains seemed covered with pearls in the morning sunshine ; and in the evening, after a snowfall, to see the snowflakes sparkling on the pine trees was like a foretaste of the beauties of paradise. » 56
JUNE 16, 1921 : THE FINAL GRACE FROM THE COVA DA IRIA
« Without saying farewell to anyone, I left the next day at two o’clock in the morning, accompanied by my mother and a poor labourer named Manuel Correia, who was going to Leiria. I carried my secret with me, inviolate. We went by way of the Cova da Iria, so that I could bid it my last farewell. There, for the last time, I prayed my Rosary. As long as this place was still in sight, I kept turning around to say a last goodbye. » 57
What Sister Lucy did not write in her Memoirs, but confided to Canon Galamba during the course of her pilgrimage to Fatima from May 20-22, 1946, is that Our Lady then favoured her with a new apparition : « She recalled to me (Canon Galamba writes) how, on the day of her farewell to the Cova da Iria and departure for Porto, she had seen Our Lady once more, at the bottom of the little hill which faces the steps going up to the church. “ And She said nothing to you ? ” “ Nothing. ” But this vision, in this place and on this day, filled her soul with power to bear with love the cross which the Divine Spouse had placed upon her shoulders. » 58
After arriving at Leiria about nine in the morning, Lucy and her mother went to the bishop’s residence. Once again, Bishop da Silva made his recommendations to the seer : she was to remain absolutely incognito, neither telling anybody who she was, nor saying anything related to the apparitions of Fatima.
Lucy continues her account in the Memoirs, in a passage addressed to her bishop :
« There I met Dona Filomena Miranda, whom Your Excellency had charged to accompany me. This lady was later to be my godmother at confirmation. The train left at two o’clock in the afternoon, and there I was at the station, giving my poor mother a last embrace, leaving her overwhelmed with sorrow and shedding abundant tears. The train moved out, and with it went my poor heart plunged in an ocean of loneliness and filled with memories that I could never forget. » 59
Early next morning, Dona Filomena took her to Vilar, in a suburb of Porto, to the College of the Dorothean Sisters where she was expected.
III. AT THE COLLEGE OF VILAR 60
(JUNE 17, 1921 – OCTOBER 24, 1925)
A COOL WELCOME
Early in the morning of June 17, Lucy and her patroness knocked on the door of the college at Asilo de Vilar. As Mass was about to begin, they were taken right away to the chapel, and Lucy had the joy of being able to receive Holy Communion. Immediately after, she was presented to the superior of the institute, Mother Maria das Dores Magalhaes.
The historian Antero de Figueiredo, who romanticised the event somewhat, described the scene of this first encounter thus : 61
« Finally, Lucy arrived in the sacristy, where the chaplain and the directress were waiting for her… Fixing her kind and intelligent eyes on the rustic appearance of this fourteen-year-old peasant – a real “ mountain maid ”, with their way of looking at you, eyes half-closed, through thick eyebrows, with her thick lips and large mouth – the directress could not help saying to the chaplain, in a low voice, “ she sure is a wild animal ! ” »
Then she gave the seer the strict recommendations of the bishop, designed to conceal her identity from everyone :
« “ When people ask you your name, you will answer : My name is Maria das Dores. ” “ Yes, Mother Directress. ” “ When you are asked what parts you are from, you will answer : From around Lisbon. ” “ Yes, Mother Directress. ” “ You will never say anything to anyone regarding the events at Fatima. You will not ask anything. You will not answer anything. ” “ Yes, Mother Directress. ” “ You will not go on walks with the other girls, and you will not say why you do not go. Do you understand ? ” “ Yes, Mother Directress. ” » 62
Having donned the uniform of the boarding students, Lucy began a life in which everything would be new for her, beginning with her name. Later on she would admit how painful it was for her to give up her baptismal name : « It very much afflicted me (she later said) that I could not be named Maria of Jesus rather than Maria das Dores (Maria of Sorrows), since I was already called Lucy of Jesus. » 63 This borrowed name, which was not yet a religious name, was more than a symbol, it was the mark of the hard sacrifices demanded of her by the absolute silence she had promised on everything concerning Fatima. Although it was easy for her to keep silence regarding herself, to say nothing about Fatima, ever – this no doubt cost her much more. As for not knowing anything of what was going on there, or very little, gleaned now and then from the rare visits she received – this was a sorrowful trial for Lucy, which did not go away with time. Although she was happy in her new life as a boarding student, completely devoted to the life of prayer and study, nevertheless this double separation – from her family and from the blessed spot of the apparitions – was a cruel suffering for her during her stay at Vilar… in addition to a supernatural trial, the deprivation of spiritual consolations.
THE LETTERS OF MARIA DAS DORES
Today we have a direct and very moving testimony of Lucy’s life as a young student. In 1979 a series of twenty-five of her letters written between 1921 and 1925 was published ; they are almost all addressed to her mother. These letters are documents of the highest importance for us. 64 They are especially important because they help us discover, through an incomparable firsthand view, what a simple, courageous, humble and modest soul Our Lady chose for Her messenger.
Without going too much into the news of her family which occupies her for the most part, we will nevertheless use these letters as a thread connecting our own account.
A SOLID AND PRACTICAL FORMATION
Four days after her arrival, Lucy already took up her pen to write to her mother and reassure her. By July 4, Lucy is concerned, and writes :
« My dear mother, I write you this letter because, right up until today I have not had any news from you. I have written to you and I still have not had a response… I am anxious to know how you are doing.
« My dear mother, do not worry, for I am doing quite well. My Sister-Professors are very good to me, and Mother Directress is very kind. She encourages me very much, which is what I need… »
At this point Lucy urgently requested news about each and every one of her relatives and friends.
She took up her pen again on July 17 :
« My dear mother, I have received your letter and it is a great joy for me to know that you are in good health… But I was very sad to learn of the death of my cousin Teresa (one of Francisco and Jacinta’s sisters). Let me know what illness she had, because she died very suddenly.
« I have already said some prayers for her and I have asked my companions to do the same. They all said they would, and the Sisters did too. My aunt must be very sad ! Poor dear ! She must be conformed to the will of God…
« I ask you to pray to Our Lady for me ; so that She gives me a good memory to pursue my studies. Right now I am learning how to make the responses at Mass, but for that, I have to be able to read Latin… »
When Lucy first entered Vilar, her handwriting was very inconsistent, with numerous spelling mistakes. She applied herself and rapidly made great progress. However, the education given at the college was much more practical than theoretical. The most varied subjects were taught there, and Lucy always retained a rather imprecise spelling. Later on, when she had to write down her recollections, only her great natural talent made up for her lack of literary formation.
On October 10, 1921, she wrote :
« My dear mother, I am more and more happy… My work is to be at study and in the work room. Here we learn everything, cooking, braid-work. Everything is useful… »
Lucy even learned how to type. But she excelled especially in sewing. She had a particular taste for embroidery, in which she developed a real mastery. 65 Intelligent and clever, she quickly attained high honours. As we have said, it was to avoid revealing her real identity and for no other reason that she was not presented for examinations. 66
MEANWHILE, AT FATIMA
By October 2, 1921, more than three months had gone by since Lucy had left Aljustrel. She had received no news of the Cova da Iria, and this silence weighed heavily on her. She dared to ask her mother about this discreetly, after first reminding her, somewhat clumsily, of the reasons for her reserve :
« The letters are read by the Mother Directress, and by the Sister who teaches us reading… 67 Do many people continue to go there ? Is it nice ? Do the women of Valado continue to write ?… »
This is all she permitted herself to say regarding the pilgrimage which was so close to her heart. Later on, she would confide that sometimes a frightful doubt tormented her. Here is Figueiredo’s account of this recollection :
« It occurred to me that it was all over. I felt a profound bitterness to see that the Most Holy Virgin would never be venerated there as She requested to be. I often thought of that, and this thought never left my mind, and it afflicted me. »The author continues : « But Lucy, always humble and submissive, murmured : “ If all is finished, it is because Our Lord permits it so. For my part, I have done everything that Our Lady has inspired me to do and requested me to do. Everything. ” » 68
If Lucy’s ignorance concerning Fatima was not always as complete as has been claimed, we know nevertheless that the Directress of the college, Mother Magalhaes, had agreed to accept the seer only out of deference to Bishop da Silva, and was at the time hardly favourable to the apparitions of Fatima. She was also rigorous in applying the rule of absolute silence on this subject. « She watched carefully, so that no news of Fatima came into the house : visitors, letters, journals. Treating all her boarding students with equal kindness, she was somewhat cold to Lucy, or at least made sure that she was not given more consideration than the others. » 69
AN EVIDENT MODESTY
October 23, 1921 : Bishop da Silva came to the college and Lucy « spent a moment with him ». However, she said nothing to her mother about this conversation. Eager as always for news of Aljustrel, she concluded : « Do not forget to write me and tell me everything going on over there, all right ? »
On December 18, 1921 she wrote :
« Finally, I cannot say anything about my coming over there. (Had she perhaps hoped to spend part of her Christmas vacation there ?) As far as my studies go, I am still on the honour roll. Look how quickly Christmas is coming around ! Are you going to kill the pig ? I assure you that this gave me a little thought ; I cannot forget how much work that makes before going to Mass ! »
We deliberately quote this excerpt to show how natural the seer is, not to say banal and prosaic. Except for two or three passages where she permits herself to express a few counsels or remonstrances concerning her brother or sisters, all her letters are in this vein, which shows her extremely great modesty. We do not find a single line in which she tries to play herself up in any way. Nothing leads us to believe that she does not consider herself the most ordinary girl. No, it cannot be said that the apparitions went to her head ! And yet, in the recesses of her soul, she remembers them and from them still nourishes her life of piety ! She is always ready to give a firm witness on this subject.
1922 : FIRST ACCOUNT OF THE APPARITIONS
It was surely her confessor, Father Pereira Lopes, then a professor at the seminary of Porto 70, who asked Lucy to give this first account of the apparitions, which she drew up on January 5, 1922. Under the title, “ The Events of 1917 ”, Lucy briefly describes the six apparitions of Our Lady. In spite of its stylistic errors and omissions, this account demonstrates, apart from its historical importance, the charming ingenuity of the seer, who concludes : « May I be excused for writing so badly, but I am unable to do better ; I am still a student. » 71
Let us recall here that it was also during this same year, 1922, that Lucy, so desirous of making known the messages received from Heaven, taught the two prayers of the Angel to one of her companions, without of course referring to the circumstances in which she had learned them. 72
A PAINFUL LONELINESS
Since this is the best way of making her known, let us continue to glean some excerpts from the letters of our boarding student. On January 2, 1922, she wrote :
« It seems that Dona Filomena 73 is going to leave this summer to be with you ; it would be a great pleasure for me to go there with her ; but if that is not possible, patience ! I am resigned to the will of God. I would very much like to write to several ladies, especially the ladies of Valado and Dona Emilia, as well as those of Olival (with whom I stayed frequently), but this is not possible and you know the reason. If you will, recommend me to those who ask for news of me, and I forget none of those who are recommended to my prayers. »
On February 2, 1922, Lucy wrote to her mother again, always expressing the same affection, the same touching tenderness :
« It is already almost two months that I have had no news from over there, and every day I prayed to Our Lady so that you might send me some news. Are you feeling better ? Since Caroline is at home, she must remember every morning to bring some milk to you in bed so that you will be strong enough to be waiting for me when I come. »
Maria Rosa sent some money to get a photograph of her daughter. But since the Directress was either too busy to drive Lucy into town, or absent, the affair went on for months.
« IN THE HANDS OF SHE WHO CAN DO EVERYTHING »
On April 16, 1922, Lucy wrote to her mother :
« I received your letter yesterday… I see that you are very worried about me. You should not be so worried, because I am quite well. If only you could see what good health I am in now ! It also seems to me that you are somewhat wanting in confidence towards Our Lady. You can be sure that She protects me ; I am in the hands of She who can do everything and that is why we must put all our confidence in Her. (There follows a long list of relatives or dear friends about whom she asked for news.) It would be my pleasure to write to them, but there is a reason why I cannot write to anyone, and you know what it is. Dona Filomena came on the fifteenth of this month, and she gave me more winter clothes and scissors. She told me the Capelinha had been burned. » 74
THE TERRIBLE TRIAL OF SEPARATION
The letter of June 4, 1922, is a sad cry of alarm, which shows what anguish her concern for her relatives caused her :
« I no longer know what I must think : it is almost two months that I have not heard anything from over there. I do not know if you are living or dead. I have written two letters and still there is no answer… If they had been written to someone else, I could believe I had been forgotten. But the heart of a mother takes longer to forget her daughter. You cannot imagine how sad I feel when I see the Sister arrive at recreation time with letters for my companions, and I have neither sad nor happy news to console me. Every day, I pray to my dear Heavenly Mother to give me some news of my family, but it seems that She no longer hears me. Imagine how sad I am… ! »
As she informs her mother that the photograph will not arrive until later on (it still has not been done !), Lucy ends on a humorous note regarding herself :
« You will be astonished to see how portly I am. In the country you have never seen anyone so fat. You can almost compare me with our aunt from Leiria ! » 75
« MY GREATEST SORROW... »
On June 29, she congratulates her brother Manuel on his recent marriage. However, no doubt realising his weakness, and fearing he might follow the bad example of his father, she dared to speak firmly to him, going straight to the point :
« I would also like to ask something of you. It is, that you never forget your duties towards your spouse and that you always go to Mass on Sunday ; and, after Mass, go back to the house. Do not waste time in the cafés for this is the disgrace of many men, and you have seen and you know what this leads to. » 76
Two months later, on September 12, it was for her sisters that she was concerned : Gloria and Caroline, after several disappointments, were still not married. Lucy did not think they were as serious as they ought to have been :
« Here (she writes) I have always the same joy. My greatest sorrow is to know that my sisters do not realise the evils there are in life ; they think only about boys, who seek only to deceive them !
« I am also sad not only that I cannot visit my family but also you know where…
« God willing, before long you will have the pleasure of receiving my photographs, but pray to God that it not be the cause of my departure… You know why I speak this way. In the world, there are very intelligent people, and they jump to conclusions. I do not want to be put out into the street. I cannot explain myself further. »
Lucy is always haunted by the same thought : to keep her identity secret, at any price ! Without this, she thought, she risked being sent home immediately.
On November 27, 1922, she was full of joy :
« His Excellency, the bishop, has given me the following news : “ I will come to see you soon… » Lucy concludes the letter : « I would like to ask another favour of you : to make a communion for me, and to make a little visit to Our Lady in the Cova da Iria, to ask Her to remember me once again, and to thank Her for the graces I have received. »
However, by January 7, 1923, she had still not gone to Fatima :
« I do not know when I will come. I am waiting to be told when I can do that. I have only been told that I will be able to spend some time at home soon, but I don’t know when. »
In the end, this trip to Fatima, which was continually put off, never took place at all. Lucy did not see the Cova da Iria again until 1946 !
AUGUST 26, 1923 : LUCY ENTERS THE “ DAUGHTERS OF MARY ”
It is now more than two years since the seer left Fatima. Although the separation was always very sad for her, she made great progress in her studies and her religious knowledge, as well as in her behaviour. This was not without some imperfections when she first entered college. « Maria of Sorrows (notes Canon Barthas) remained for a long time the little mountain maiden of Aljustrel. With her directors, she was simple but not naive. Sometimes her character came out in her relations with her companions : rather dry responses to questions, stubbornness, some rude manners. However, if she realised that she may have hurt somebody, she immediately grew very gentle and asked pardon. » 77 In this regard, she corrected herself little by little. With time, the way she applied herself to all the tasks assigned her, and above all her profound humility gained her the esteem of her directors, and even of Mother Magalhaes. The latter recognised that her first impression of Lucy had been too hasty and completely changed her opinion of her.
« What was especially striking about her », notes Canon Barthas, continuing his account based on testimonies about Lucy, « was her calm and equilibrium, the way she always kept an even temper. There was nothing about her that smacked of the neurotic, or even the “ nervous ” or sentimental type. » 78 One of her directors declared : « I only saw her weep once, and that was when she thought of her home town. »
The day of her entrance into the “ Daughters of Mary ”, where only the most exemplary students were admitted, Lucy received a signal grace. Later on she was to consider it one of the greatest graces given to her in her entire existence. Indeed, in the brief list of “ principal dates ” of her life, drawn up by her on May 13, 1936, undoubtedly at the request of her confessor, she makes this note : « August 26, 1923. She enters as a Daughter of Mary at Asilo de Vilar. It was the first time since 1917 that Our Lady appeared to her again. » 79 After a long account of the apparitions, written the same date, she is more explicit :
« After six years of real trials (since 1917), it was on this day, August 26, 1923, that Our Lady for the first time came back to visit me. This was when I entered the Daughters of Mary.
« She said that She agreed to be my true Heavenly Mother, since I had left my earthly mother for the love of Her. Again She recommended to me prayer and sacrifice for sinners, saying that a great number are damned because they have no one to pray and sacrifice for them. » 80
Although she was completely successful in hiding from everybody the fact that she was the seer of Fatima, Lucy could not conceal her tender devotion towards her Heavenly Mother : « I did not have particular devotion towards the Most Holy Virgin (one of her directresses declared), but after meeting Maria of Sorrows I became very fervent towards the Mother of God. » 81
After her reception in the group of Daughters of Mary, Lucy began helping the nuns in the formation of the young boarding students : thus she became monitor of the dormitory for the smallest ones, and since she was also in charge of supervising their recreations, once again she demonstrated her great talents as catechist. With charm she was able to relate all kinds of stories and accounts, and she loved to explain the Passion of Our Lord or the life of the Most Holy Virgin. Just as at Aljustrel, the children had a very special attraction to her. As for her companions, they appreciated her frankness and cheerfulness, because Maria liked to laugh and joke. But it was surely her purity of soul, her interior peace and union with God which made her presence so pleasant. 82
In spite of everything, she still suffered much because of the lack of news from Fatima. « Dona Filomena has not come for four months », she wrote on December 9, 1923. She did not complain about it, but it did cause her suffering. Here is another passage from a letter to her mother of March 19, 1924 :
« I would like to ask a favour of you ; ask the same thing of Caroline, Maria Julia and Gloria : say one “ Hail Mary ” for me when you go to the Cova da Iria, so that Our Lady grants me a certain grace. Write to me and tell me how Manuel (her brother) is behaving ; as well as my brothers-in-law (Gloria and Caroline are now married), because I would like to know something about how my sisters are doing. For even though I have not written, after Jesus and Mary, I love my family. »
Far from being the mark of an imperfection, is not this strong attachment to her family demonstrated by Lucy in all her letters instead the sign of a great richness of heart ? Because this tender affection towards her family does not flinch before sacrifices and is completely impregnated with supernatural charity, it places our seer in good company. We might recall the letters of Father de Foucauld, or those of Saint Théophane Vénard, which were so pleasing to Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, and precisely for the same reason ! 83
On April 13, 1924, after wishing her mother a happy Easter, « I hope you celebrate the feast very joyously, in the midst of the whole family. » She adds :
« As for me, I will spend the feast in the midst of my directresses and companions. It is true that I have many regrets, but patience ! Let us offer this sacrifice to Our Lord in satisfaction for our sins and He will recompense us. Do not think, mother, that I am not doing well. I am very happy, I could not be better, but don’t be surprised that I feel some nostalgia, because it is three years since I have been over there, and I have not seen any one in the family. »
It even seems that the project of a visit to Aljustrel was deliberately abandoned. This is why Lucy’s mother decided to pay her a visit : twice Maria Rosa made this journey, but only twice. She wished – and how understandably ! – that her daughter could write to her directly, without always going through the Superior… Lucy wisely answered :
« I cannot do that, because that would be going against the will of His Grace, the bishop, and I must contrive in every way not to displease him, because I could never repay all the favours he has done for me. »
Full of gratitude and out of obedience, Lucy was able to stay faithful to all her promises, showing signs of a rare force of soul. She had succeeded so well in making it forgotten who she really was, that Mother Paiva, who succeeded Mother Magalhaes as Directress of the college, came to believe that perhaps Lucy herself had forgotten. One day, to reassure herself, Mother Paiva asked her :
« “ Do you remember what took place at Fatima between Our Lady and you ? Surely you have forgotten… ” Then Lucy lowered her head, blushed violently and said : “ Do I remember ? Of course, I always remember it ! ” » 84
Moreover, she had an opportunity to give a striking proof of it, that very same year.
THE CANONICAL PROCESS : JULY 8, 1924
The work of the diocesan canonical process in view of official recognition of the apparitions was slowly advancing. The process was opened on May 3, 1922, but it was only two years later that it proceeded to the interrogation of the seer. Thus the judges of the tribunal, named by Bishop da Silva, went under the strictest secrecy to Asilo de Vilar. 85
Lucy responded with perfect clarity, thus leaving a precious document for the history of Fatima. Canon Formigao later explained the impression left on him by Lucy’s deposition :
« Going over the verbal process will not fail to profoundly impress whoever reads it in good faith. Every response of the seer, every one of her declarations gives overwhelming evidence of the sincerity of her declarations, the truth of her deposition. She expresses herself with serenity, a calmness, a simplicity, such firmness and intimate conviction, and at the same time such great humility – as if dealing with questions which did not concern her – that her deposition leaves nothing to be desired. On every point imaginable, in no way is her deposition inferior to that of Saint Bernadette Soubirous. » 86
In response to a final question : « Are you quite certain that the Blessed Virgin really appeared to you ? » Lucy responded by this firm and solemn declaration : « I have the certitude that I saw Her and that I am not mistaken. Even if they were to kill me, nobody could make me say the contrary. » 87
“ SHOULD I NOT HAVE SAID EVERYTHING ? ” Although Lucy had no doubt about the reality of the apparitions, Lucy was soon to be tormented by another doubt : the fear of having broken the oath taken over the Gospels. She had not said everything since, as we know, she made no reference to the themes of the great Secret, being content to reiterate her testimony concerning what she had already revealed in 1917.
Lucy explains it this way in her Memoirs :
« Whenever I was interrogated, I experienced an interior inspiration which directed me how to answer, without either failing in truth or revealing what should remain hidden for the time being. In this respect, I still have just this one doubt : Should I not have said everything in the canonical inquiry ? But I have no scruples about having kept silence, because at that time I had as yet no realisation of the importance of this particular interrogation. I regarded it, at the time, as being just like the many other interrogations to which I was accustomed. The only thing I thought strange was the order to take the oath. But as it was my confessor who told me to do so, and as I was swearing to the truth, I took the oath without any difficulty. Little did I suspect at that moment that the devil would make the most of this, in order to torment me with endless scruples later on. But, thank God, all that is over now.
« There was yet another reason which confirmed me in my conviction that I did well to remain silent. In the course of the canonical inquiry, one of the interrogators, Father Marques dos Santos, thought he could extend his questionnaire somewhat, and began therefore to ask more searching questions. Before answering, I looked inquisitively at my confessor. His Reverence saved me from my predicament, and answered on my behalf. He reminded the interrogator that he was exceeding his rights in this matter. » 88
THE RELIGIOUS VOCATION
Lucy always maintained an extreme reserve on the secrets of her soul. She would communicate them only with misgivings, and when her role as messenger of the Blessed Virgin necessarily demanded it. This constant supernatural discretion, which made her jealously keep hidden the treasures of grace poured out into her soul, could create the risk of misleading us on the profundity of her union with God, and the generosity of her life of sacrifice. 89
We know however, that when she was at Asilo de Vilar, around 1923-1924, Lucy had a strong desire to enter Carmel. « At that time (Father Alonso writes) the recent canonisation of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus 90 attracted many souls to Carmel, and Lucy was one of them. » 91 Granted, she had read the Saint’s autobiography, The Story of A Soul, with enthusiasm, and “ the little way of spiritual childhood ” pleased her a great deal. Yet there was undoubtedly something more to this call to a Carmelite vocation. Was it not her Heavenly Mother who had invited Lucy into Her Order ? Was it not the same Heavenly Mother who appeared in the sky at the Cova da Iria on October 13, 1917, clothed with the habit of Carmel and holding the Holy Scapular in Her hand ?
Timidly, Lucy opened her heart to her Superior, Mother Magalhaes. In a word, the latter discouraged her from entertaining such a desire : « You wouldn’t be able to take such austerity. Choose a more simple rule. » This opinion, as well as the advice of her directors (Msgr. Pereira Lopes and the chaplain of the college, Dr. Manuel Ferreira da Silva), who were naturally inclined to the institute of the Dorotheans, convinced Lucy that there lay her vocation. Besides, did she not owe everything to this institute which had welcomed her ? 91a Let us admire the immense modesty and perfect purity of intention presupposed by such docility !
Barthas relates this significant anecdote about Lucy. One day, Lucy had said to Mother Magalhaes :
« “ Mother, I would like to be a Dorothean Sister. ” “ But you are so young, my daughter ! And why do you want to be a Sister ? ” “ To have more freedom to go to chapel. ” “ But you are so young, you must wait. ” [In fact she was only seventeen.] Lucy was silent, obeyed, and waited more than a year. When she was eighteen, the Mother Superior said to her : “ Are you still thinking of becoming a nun ? ” “ I think of it all the time, I desire it, I want it ! ” “ Well ? ” “ I was told that I have to wait. I have waited. ” » 92
LUCY’S CONFIRMATION : AUGUST 24, 1925. On August 24, Lucy received confirmation. The ceremony took place at Formigueira, which is the country home situated near Braga where Bishop da Silva generally went on vacation. Lucy’s sponsor was her benefactor and friend, Dona Filomena Morais de Miranda.
Bishop da Silva, who had himself chosen the institute of the Dorothean Sisters for the formation of the seer, greatly rejoiced at her vocation. He gladly gave her permission to leave Porto for Tuy, where the novitiate of the congregation was located.
THE THANKSGIVING OF A “ MISERABLE SINNER ”. The very next day, Lucy hastened to write to Canon Formigao, and tell him the good news. She felt unworthy of such a grace – she, such a miserable sinner – but she lets us see the habitual sentiments of her humble soul in this letter :
« I could never thank Your Reverence for all the acts of charity you have done for me. But I confide myself to my Heavenly Mother, so that one day She might repay Your Reverence and all the other charitable souls who have helped me, this miserable sinner, with so much tenderness and love.
« I hope to enter the Institute of Saint Dorothy in Spain at the end of October or early November. Because I am so unworthy of such a great grace, I ask Your Reverence to do me one more act of charity : to thank Jesus for me and ask of Him that I do the Divine Will in all things…
« May Your Reverence please excuse this humble sinner who will never forget you before Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament and Mary Most Holy. Your Reverence, I am your most humble servant and respectfully ask your blessing.
Maria Lucia de Jesus Santos » 93
Another letter, written to Bishop da Silva at the end of September or beginning of October, lets us see once again the perfection of this soul on the eve of her entrance into religious life. The bishop had told her of the death of a dear friend and asked her for prayers. Let us admire the generosity with which the seer responded to his request. She promises :
« If God preserves my life, every day for two months I will offer for that soul the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, communion, the Rosary and the Way of the Cross. For the rest of my life, I will never forget to recommend her to God in my poor prayers. »
Having prayed much and asked others to pray 94 for two of her nieces to be accepted at Asilo de Vilar, her heart overflowed with gratitude that they were accepted :
« I just received yet another favour from my Mother in Heaven, and I cannot fail to tell you about it… Your Most Reverend Excellency cannot imagine how profoundly grateful I am towards my dear Mother in Heaven, because She alone can so love such a poor sinner like me. » 95
AT TUY, ENTRANCE INTO RELIGIOUS LIFE
The hour for “ farewells ” struck at the college on October 24. That morning, the Directress went down to the recreation room for a solemn breakfast. The little girls, who were all moved and in tears, said goodbye to Lucy, whose true identity was then revealed. Little gifts were exchanged and finally the girls separated. 96
Accompanied by the Reverend Mother Provincial, Mother Monfalim, 97 Lucy took the train to Tuy, an old city of Spanish Galicia, near the border. We have two documents of the highest interest regarding the arrival of our seer at the Provincial house. A few days after, probably before the end of October, Lucy gave a detailed account to her bishop, Msgr. da Silva, and her spiritual director at Vilar, Msgr. Pereira Lopes. 98
Let us follow first Lucy’s letter to her confessor. It is full of charming, childlike candour :
« I will respectfully tell Your Reverence about my trip and tell you how I am doing so far.
« From my departure at Asilo to the train station, I was accompanied by the Most Excellent Mother Directress (Mother Paiva). From the train station to Tuy, I was accompanied by the Most Reverend Mother Provincial. We had a very nice trip. »
HER WELCOME AND TOTAL CONSECRATION IN THE CHAPEL. « As I entered the house, the Mother Provincial led me immediately to the chapel and asked me to consecrate myself entirely to Our Lord : “ My Jesus ! I give myself entirely to You. My Mother in Heaven, do Thou take care of me ! ”
« Right then tears of nostalgia and joy interrupted my prayer, because I had finally arrived at this place which I had desired so much. I wept for a moment. Then someone tapped me on the shoulder : “ Come to dinner ! ” I went, and took my recreation with the professed Sisters. »
The next part of the letter calls for a short explanation. The rule of the Dorothean Sisters, modelled on the Society of Jesus, envisions two kinds of religious : Choir Sisters and Oblate Sisters, who do manual tasks. In a spirit of renunciation, Lucy chose to serve as an Oblate Sister.
A TORMENTED NIGHT : FROM THANKSGIVING… « The following day (October 25) out of obedience, I got up a bit late. However, I had not slept at all. During the night, I thought only of my happiness and the graces I had received without meriting anything, and how to be good so as to please Our Lord. I also thought of the innumerable favours I had received from His Most Holy Mother and I asked Her to help me always, for without Her help I am nothing. »
… TO TEMPTATION. « I ardently desired the hour of rising to come to be able to rise and speak to Jesus in the Tabernacle, because I felt great sadness at the thought that I would never go back to my embroidery work, which was so pretty, and which I did with such gusto, when it was for Our Lord. 99
« It occurred to me that I had been very silly in wanting to be an Oblate Sister, because I would be occupied with the most humble tasks, and I would be like a maid for the other sisters. I felt sad ; and in spite of all my efforts I could not repulse such thoughts. If I pictured myself before Our Lady, the same thoughts kept coming back and it even seemed that a person was there, speaking to me and saying : “ Would you not please Our Lady more if you were still at Vilar, embroidering this golden veil which is for Her, rather than coming now to this house to do any old work ? ! ”
« If I thought of the beautiful child who so entranced me 100 – the mere thought of whom usually was enough for me to repulse the strongest temptation because immediately I would be entranced – this day it did no good, because I would think right away of the beautiful works I had done for Him. Finally, there was no way of repulsing such a temptation !
« I turned right away to Our Lady, and asked that the hour for going to Jesus arrive quickly. Then the time passed in an instant, and soon after I was in the chapel. But the temptation endured a long time. I looked at the Choir Sisters and their habit seemed beautiful to me ; and I looked at the Oblate Sisters and felt an aversion to them. I desired the moment of communion to come, for now I hoped only in Jesus in the Host. »
THE COMFORTING EFFECT Of COMMUNION. « That moment came before long, and as soon as I approached the Holy Table I felt comforted. I received Jesus and told Him of the whole struggle I had suffered until that point. I then said to Him : “ My Jesus, have compassion on me ! ”
« Then He deigned to speak to me interiorly, telling me that it would go very well if I imitated my Mother in Heaven, with joy. He told me : “ Listen, My daughter, your most Holy Mother knew how to embroider very well, and for the love of Me, She abandoned Her school and came to do housework : She swept, weaved the linen of Her house, Hers and My own, and never embroidered again ; She humbled Herself then, but is exalted now. And you, if you wish to be like Her, be happy and content now, and I will repay you one day. ”
« After that I was tranquil and content : already I felt more and more blessed, for I was near Jesus and among those who were already His spouses. I no longer desired anything, except to remain there and not to leave. »
THE SACRIFICE OF A LONGWAIT ? 101 « But when God gives a consolation, He also asks for a sacrifice : already the Mother Provincial had told me that I would not remain there. I thought that as I left there, the same thing would happen to me that happened to many postulants : to have to wait a year and a half before entering the novitiate. 102
« After breakfast, I went to the chapel, and as I thought of that, copious tears flowed. I said only : “ My Jesus, may Your Will be done ! ” Then the Novice Mistress called me and encouraged me : I had to be very good, and there would be no delay in entering the novitiate. Then I returned to the chapel, I recited a “ Memorare ” to Our Lady, for Her to grant me the favour of not having to wait long before beginning my postulancy.
« I had finished my prayer, when a Sister called for me to go and see the Mother Provincial. I went, and she told me straightaway that I had begun my postulancy on October 24 and that, if I were very good, it would end on April 24. Thus I would receive the habit at the first opportunity.
« It was yet another proof of the help and tender protection my Most Holy Mother gave me. » 103
“ TO BECOME A SAINT. ” « … That same day [October 25, 1925], I travelled to Pontevedra, where I am today, in the company of Reverend Mother Magalhaes. 104 I am happy ; I desire only to become a saint, to give greater honour and glory to God for the salvation of sinners and to make reparation for my sins. » 105
THE POSTULANCY AT PONTEVEDRA : OCTOBER 25, 1925 – JULY 20, 1926
The old and picturesque “ Travesia de Isabella II ” where Lucy arrived that Sunday evening, October 25, was renamed, very appropriately, “ Sister Lucy Street ”. As for the cell she occupied in the beautiful Dorothean convent – in fact it was the former abode of the Marquis of Riestra – it has since been turned into an oratory. These places are blessed, because, just as at the Cova da Iria, Valinhos, the Cabeço or Arneiro, Heaven visited the earth there. In fact, during her first stay at Pontevedra, which lasted until July 20, 1926, 106 Lucy would once again become the witness of wonderful apparitions. After four years of formation and trials in the crucible of suffering, Our Lady was to fulfil Her promise towards her : « But you, Lucy… Jesus wishes to use you to make Me known and loved. He wishes to establish in the world devotion to My Immaculate Heart. » 107
She was ready for this, she even aspired to it, having only one more desire in her soul : « to become a saint… to obtain the salvation of sinners and make reparation for sins. » A few weeks after she wrote these lines, Our Lady came to reveal to her Her great design for the salvation of sinners in our century of perdition : the Communion of reparation on the First Saturdays of the month.
THE TESTIMONY OF MOTHER MAGALHAES
Mother Maria Das Dores Magalhaes, who was Directress at Asilo de Vilar until September 1922, was Lucy’s Superior for more than a year : In 1932, she included, along with one of her letters to Bishop da Silva, « a paper » on which she stated the impression her boarding student made on her back then. Writing more than ten years after the events, Mother Magalhaes commits some errors on details. Moreover, her testimony is composed of a succession of notes, without any apparent order. However, her testimony takes on the greatest importance for us, because of its spontaneity. It alone would suffice to pulverise all the suspicions and calumnies of Father Dhanis regarding the seer :
AN EXEMPLARY SILENCE
« Lucy entered Asilo de Vilar at the age of eleven (sic), if I am not mistaken. (In fact she was fourteen.) I took Lucy in because I knew it was the will of His Excellency Bishop da Silva. I felt a great reluctance in receiving her, for I feared that people would find out she was staying there. Finally, she entered on the condition that she say nothing about what took place, and in spite of her young age, she kept silence on everything during the two and a half years she stayed with me. 1
« Lucy had also agreed beforehand that from now on, she would not be called Lucy, but Maria das Dores (Maria of Sorrows). And the little child never forgot the recommendation.
« She was also asked not to speak about the favours she had received from Our Lady, and she obeyed to the letter. »
« Although I had little or no belief in the apparitions, I noticed all the same that she was not an ordinary child.
« On numerous occasions the Sisters came to tell me that Lucy had something extraordinary with Our Lady [sic], because when she spoke of Her, she was always different from other people, and people noticed that she had an extraordinary love for the Most Holy Virgin. Her companions from Asilo often said that they never had a companion who could equal her in the charming narratives she always gave during recreation.
« As for obedience, she always distinguished herself because she always did the more perfect thing, without resisting, and always with a good heart. Many times her companions told me that Lucy always chose the less agreeable work for herself, leaving better tasks for others.
« And she did everything with a ravishing simplicity. One day, a lady came to Asilo. She had been sent by His Excellency the bishop. She was there to make a painting of Our Lady, such as Lucy had seen Her. I called her and locked her in a room with this lady. There they did their work. 2 I did not see the result, because I didn’t ask to see it. Lucy kept silence on everything and nobody knew the slightest thing about it, neither the nuns nor her companions.
« I never asked Lucy what took place at Fatima, because such was Bishop da Silva’s order. And that is why I could say nothing, or almost nothing. I will say only that her behaviour left no doubt about the extraordinary graces she had received from Heaven.
« When the boarding students would go out on walks, Lucy would always stay home. It was enough for me to tell her once. She always obeyed to the letter and never told anyone she had received this order, for whatever reason.
« It was said to me hundreds of times [sic] that Lucy was very obedient and very humble. It was recognised that she had an extraordinary prudence.
« Her companions often said that none of the children were so pious and that she was happiest in the chapel, so great was her piety. We never saw her seated there, but kneeling upright, her hands on the pew in front. Such was her posture ; it was enchanting. »
Here, Mother Magalhaes relates how, through her prayer, Lucy obtained the signal grace of beginning her postulancy the very day of her arrival at Tuy. 3 « It was an extraordinary grace, a favour granted to nobody else. »
« Right after, she went away to do her postulancy at Pontevedra, at the college. There she continued to be very edifying by a most exact obedience, a charming charity with her companions or the little girls, and especially by her most striking virtue : the simplicity with which she practiced all the virtues.
« I could relate other things, but I have completely forgotten about them since I had no intention of relating them. What I can say in the strictest truth is that Lucy had the good fortune of possessing in a very high degree the virtues of charity, obedience and simplicity.
« P.S. When she left for Pontevedra, there were only nineteen students. One day, I said to Lucy : “ I would like you to ask Our Lady to send other students. ” Before the end of the year, there were already forty-three ! I pretended not to have noticed such a grace, but in the depths of my heart I felt something extraordinary there. And since that time, there has always been an abundance of children. All the debts have been paid, and there were many. » 4
NOTE TO THE SECOND EDITION : A letter from Mother Magalhaes to Bishop da Silva on December 29, 1925 gives us her judgment on our seer after her entrance into the postulancy. In a subsequent appendix we will quote this testimony, the importance of which can hardly be exaggerated for the history of Fatima. 5
(1) Cf. our Vol. I, p. 165-169.
(2) Unlike Francisco, Lucy had never gone there, for up to then there had been only one school at Fatima, reserved for boys. The girls had to go to the hamlet of Boleiros, two miles away. But in 1917 a school for girls opened at Fatima. Cf. IV, p. 178, and Dom Jean-Nesmy, p. 143.
(3) II, p. 85-86.
(4) II, p. 82-83.
(5) IV, p. 135.
(6) II, p. 83.
(7) I, p. 38.
(8) II, p. 89.
(9) IV, p. 135.
(10) II, p. 89.
(11) No doubt referring to Canon Ferreira.
(12) II, p. 84.
(13) Cf., for example, the interrogation by Father Pocas, parish priest of Porto de Mos, who was finally disarmed by Jacinta’s tranquil assurance. Barthas, Fatima 1917-1968, p. 225-226.
(14) II, p. 89-90.
(15) Cf. our Vol. I, p. 290.
(16) II, p. 84.
(17) I, p. 19.
(18) II, p. 84-85.
(19) I, p. 19. This refers to Father Antonio de Oliveira Reis († 1962).
(20) I, p. 40.
(21) Cf. our Vol. I, p. 39.
(22) I, p. 38-39.
(23) Quoted by De Marchi, p. 290. On May 13, 1920, Father Cruz was at Fatima to direct the prayers of the pilgrims (Barthas, Fatima 1917-1968, p. 239).
(24) The letter which he wrote on October 16 to the Patriarchate of Lisbon to request the appointment of a commission of inquiry clearly attests to this. As for the parochial investigation which he performed at the request of Msgr. De Lima Vidal, we shall speak about it again while recapping the history of the canonical process of Fatima.
(25) II, p. 83.
(26) II, p. 85-88.
(27) This refers to the agronomical engineer Mario Godinho; cf. Vol. I, p. 184, 351, 365.
(28) We suppose it refers to Father Antonio de Oliveira Reis († 1962), whom we have already mentioned.
(29) II, p. 87-88.
(30) Cf. De Marchi, p. 311.
(31) Fatima 1917-1968, p. 220.
(32) II, p. 88. Father Ferreira was transferred to Maceira on July 16, 1921, and then appointed parish priest of Santo Simon de Litem in 1926. He died there on January 26, 1945, after a long martyrdom caused by a facial cancer (cf. Fatima 1917-1968, p. 223; Alonso, Proceso diocesano, Eph. Mar., 1969, p. 281).
(33) IV, p. 151.
(34) II, p. 93.
(35) Cf. Uma Vida, p. 171-172.
(36) I, p. 44-45.
(37) I, p. 43.
(38) De Marchi, p. 249.
(39) II, p. 92-93.
(40) De Marchi, p. 249-250.
(41) II, p. 96.
(42) Here Sister Lucy is mistaken, since Francisco had died on April 4, 1919, and her father three and a half months later, on July 31.
(43) II, p. 97.
(44) II, p. 97.
(45) Fernando Leite, Jacinta de Fatima, p. 287-288 (Braga 1966). The second warning concerned Portugal.
(46) Cf. our Vol. I, p. 315.
(47) Dom Jean-Nesmy, p. 151.
(48) II, p. 97-98. On this stay of Lucy at Lisbon, and the reasons for her departure, cf. Alonso, O Dr. Formigao, p. 114-115.
(49) Alonso, Eph. Mar., 1969, p. 289-290.
(50) Cf. Alonso, Eph. Mar., 1972, p. 266.
(51) Father Augusto Maia († 1959).
(52) Msgr. Marques dos Santos (1892-1971).
(53) II, p. 98-99.
(54) This is the date furnished us by Sister Lucy herself in 1936, in a brief chronology of the principal events of her life undoubtedly written at her confessor’s request (Doc., p. 465).
(55) De Marchi, p. 210.
(56) II, p. 99-100.
(57) II, p. 100.
(58) Canon Galamba, Fatima Altar do Mundo, II, p. 133. Cf. our Vol. I, p. 125-126.
(59) II, p. 100.
(60) It was in 1873 that the Sisters of Saint Dorothy – the “ Dorothean Ladies ”, as they say in Portugal, or even quite simply “ the Dorotheans ” – took charge of “ Asilo de Vilar ”, founded in 1840 for the education of poor young women.
The congregation of Dorotheans is of Italian origin : founded in 1834 by Saint Paula Frassinetti (1809-1882), approved by Pius IX in 1863, it was already very solidly implanted in Portugal when the anti-religious revolution of 1910 broke out. Out of twelve houses then in existence, all of them disappeared and the religious were sent into exile. Only Asilo de Vilar, because of its beneficial character, was able to subsist. The religious, in secular garb, were able to remain there as professors and directresses (cf. Alonso, Eph. Mar., 1972, p. 268).
(61) This Portuguese author had the privilege, in 1935, of questioning Sister Lucy at great length. Out of obedience and in spite of an extreme reluctance, she was obliged to confide several memories to him (cf. IV, p. 179-182). Indeed his great work Fatima, which appeared in 1936, was for a long time one of the principal sources for this period of Sister Lucy’s life.
(62) Quoted by Alonso, Fatima, Espana, Rusia (=FER), p. 18-19.
(63) Alonso, FER, p. 19.
(64) A.M. Martins, Cartas da Irma Lucia, “ cartas ineditas ”, p. 98-117 (Porto, 1979). Since all the letters of this period which we quote in this chapter are drawn from this work, we shall content ourselves with indicating the date.
(65) Alonso, FER, p. 21.
(66) Cf. our Vol. I, p. 467.
(67) Cf. the letter of April 13, 1924 (infra, p. 225), which informs us how this reading of mail by the superiors was also painful to Lucy’s mother.
(68) Quoted by Alonso, FER, p. 15.
(69) Barthas, TPE, p. 222.
(70) Msgr. Pereira Lopes, born in 1880, died in 1969, having become vicar general of Porto.
(71) This text, conserved by Msgr. Pereira Lopes, was published for the first time by Father Martins dos Reis in 1973 in Uma Vida, p. 305-327.
(72) This companion of Lucy, who later became a religious, often recalled this memory. Cf. our Vol. I, p. 99-100.
(73) D. Maria Filomena Morais de Miranda (1879-1935). Since June 17, 1921, when she had presented Lucy to Asilo de Vilar, she continued to visit her. While bringing her little protégée the clothes she needed, she did not fail, as a great devotee of Our Lady of Fatima, to tell the seer about the latest news of the pilgrimage. Lucy loved her a great deal, and these rare visits were a real consolation to her.
(74) During the night of March 6, 1922, some sectarians had placed several cartons of dynamite which blew up the roof of the little chapel of the apparitions.
(75) The photograph in question shows that she greatly exaggerated a chubbiness which moreover hardly lasted.
(76) After emigrating to Brazil in 1923 where he lived in poverty, Manuel dos Santos died on April 30, 1977.
(77) TPE, p. 221.
(78) TPE, p 228.
(79) Doc., p. 465.
(80) Doc., p. 463. While affirming that this apparition was the first one since October 13, 1917, Lucy fails to mention that of June 16, 1921, no doubt because the Blessed Virgin left her no message that day. Moreover, as is most often the case with her, she notes her recollections as they come back to her at the instant when she is writing, without the intention of being exhaustive, or any concern for chronological exactness.
(81) Barthas, TPE, p. 227.
(82) We must quote here a passage from the Memoirs, where Sister Lucy ingenuously describes this mysterious attraction she always exercised over those near to her, at Aljustrel, at Vilar, and in religious life : « There was a dear chosen portion of the Lord’s flock, who showed me singular affection. These were the little children. They ran up to me, bubbling over with joy, and when they knew I was pasturing my sheep in the neighbourhood of our little village, whole groups of them used to come and spend the day with me. My mother used to say :
« “ I don’t know what attraction you have for children ! They run after you as if they were going to a feast ! ”
« … The same thing happened to me with my companions in Vilar ; and I would almost venture to say that it is happening to me now with my Sisters in religion. » (II, p. 101.)
(83) Here is what our “ Doctor of the little way of spiritual childhood ” declared, shortly before dying : « Théophane Vénard is a little saint, his life is completely ordinary. He loved the Immaculate Virgin a great deal, he loved his family a great deal… I too, greatly love my “ little ” family ! I do not understand the saints who do not love their family… ! » Histoire d’une âme, p. 251; Office Central de Lisieux, 1913. Cf. Derniers Entretiens, from May 21-26, 1897, p. 210-211; DDB, 1971.
(84) Alonso, FER, p. 21; Barthas, TPE, p. 229.
(85) They were Dr. Formigao, with whom we are very familiar, Msgr. Pereira Lopes, professor at the seminary of Porto, who, as the seer’s confessor, contented himself with performing the function of registrar, and Msgr. Marques dos Santos, professor at the seminary of Leiria.
(86) Quoted by Alonso, Eph. Mar., 1969, p. 314.
(87) Alonso, Eph. Mar., 1972, p. 270.
(88) IV, p. 158.
(89) Thus an apparition of the Child Jesus, which she surely had at Asilo de Vilar between 1923 and 1925, is known to us only by a simple allusion in a letter of October 1925 to Msgr. Pereira Lopes (Uma Vida, p. 329-331, and the commentary of Father Martins dos Reis, p. 333-334).
(90) On May 17, 1925.
(91) FER, p. 22. On Lucy’s vocation to Carmel, cf. our Vol. III, p. 154-156.
(92) TPE, p. 229-230.
(93) Cartas, p. 113.
(94) Letter to her mother, September 20, 1925.
(95) Cartas, p. 115.
(96) Cf. Alonso, Eph. Mar., 1972, p. 270.
(97) Mother Monfalim, who was Provincial since 1919, remained so until her death on May 31, 1937.
(98) The letter to Msgr. Pereira Lopes was published in 1973, in Uma Vida, p. 329-331. The one destined for Bishop da Silva is found in Cartas da Irma Lucia, p. 116-117.
(99) Msgr. Pereira Lopes had been well placed to understand the temptation of his spiritual directee, since at the request of his friends, the Vicomte of S. Joao da Pesqueira and his wife, Sister Lucy had embroidered for his particular chapel a splendid chasuble (cf. Uma Vida, p. 373).
(100) Allusion to an apparition of the Child Jesus, no doubt in 1924 or 1925.
(101) We combined the texts of the two letters, which complete each other on some details.
(102) In this case, the young recruit spent a year as an “ aspirant ”, before entering the postulancy properly speaking. For Lucy, who had already patiently waited a year at Asilo de Vilar, this new delay, which set back that much farther the happy day of her vows and reception of the habit, was a hard trial.
(103) Here the letter to Msgr. Pereira Lopes ends. The rest is taken solely from the letter to Bishop da Silva, to whom Lucy contented herself with recalling her peace and immense joy.
(104) Thus Lucy had once more, as superior, the Directress who had welcomed her to Asilo de Vilar.
(105) In conclusion, Lucy asks His Grace for the favour of being able to give her address to her mother. Prudence is still demanded, because Lucy began her religious life still incognito, under her borrowed name “ Mary of Sorrows ”. Even within the community, her companions were not to know that she was the Fatima seer.
(106) According to Father Martins, who was able to consult the diary of the Tuy community, it was on July 20, 1926 – and not on the 19th, as Father Gonçalves stated (Doc., p. 467), or the 16th, as Father Martins dos Reis thought – that Lucy entered the novitiate of Tuy (cf. FCM, p. 17, note 1).
(107) On June 13, 1917. Cf. our Vol. I, p. 167-169.
(1) Father Alonso points out the error of Mother Magalhaes, who was only with Lucy at Vilar for a year and three months.
(2) The person in question was D. Filomena Morais de Miranda. The interrogation she made on that occasion has been preserved for us.
(3) Cf. supra, the letter where Lucy herself recalls the event, p. 147.
(4) Quoted by Alonso, Eph. Mar., 1973, p. 34-37.
(5) Infra, Chapter XII, Appendix II.