The following is a small hint of the latest book, first available January 2001 - and titled “The Intimate Life of Sister Lucia.” Approximately 10 years ago the late Fr. Antonio Maria Martins, SJ - sold Fr. Fox the rights to the book which could only be published now. Most of the book has never appeared in print before.
Our Blessed Mother who appeared in the Cova da Iria near Fatima, Portugal to Lucia and her two little shepherd cousins, Jacinta and Francisco, told the ten year old Lucia to learn to read. In 1917 most girls in Portugal did not go to school, only boys. Lucia's mother however knew how to read and was quite a catechist. The neighboring children came to her home when she would teach her own children catechism. Maria Rosa Santos told her children she did not want to be ashamed when the priest examined the children regarding their knowledge of the catechism. This he did in the presence of parishioners.
Something that many, even devotees of Fatima, have still not discovered is that in time for the Great Jubilee 2000 a 5th Memoir and then a 6th Memoir by Sister Lucia was published in Portugal, edited by Fr. Louis Kondor, SVD, Secretary of the Little Shepherds' Causes.
When the Mons. Luciano Guerra, Rector of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal came to our 1989 national Fatima Family Apostolate Congress in Alexandria, SD he announced that Sister Lucia would soon be coming out with a fifth memoir on her father. Mention of Lucia's father in former memoirs were incomplete and he wished to make the Santos' home a place of reflection about the family.
While the Fatima Family Apostolate does not publish the 5th and 6th memoirs, they can be obtained in Fatima at the Postulation Center.
In the 5th memoir, first published in March 1990, Sister Lucia cherishes fond memories of her father and shares intimate thoughts. She speaks of the compassion of her father for the poor. The Santos home was open to everyone in any need.
Lucia's father taught her when but a small child to make the Sign of the Cross, the Our Father, Hail Mary, the Creed, how to prepare for Confession, the Act of Contrition, the Commandments of God, etc.
When Lucia's mother saw how the child had learned her catechism so well from her father she said to Manuel, "You are indeed a very good man! May you always be so!" Lucia's father answered: "God has given me the best woman in the world!" Lucia wrote: "This is what made me believe that my mother was the best in the world, and, when the other children came to our patio to play with me, I used to ask them: "Is your mother good? My mother is the best in the world!""
Lucia tells of the gentleness of her father, "always serene and tranquil." Her father always showed great confidence in the protection of Our Lady. Lucia tells how on the 13th of October 1917, because of the rumors that the children would be killed, her parents for the first and last time, accompanied her to the Cova, saying: "If she is going to die, we want to die also at her side." When the crowd on the 13th was so great that Lucia got separated from her parents, her father broke through the crowd to take her by the hand up to the little holm-oak tree. (Lucia wrote this to Fr. Kondor on April 16, 1989).
It is precious to note that Lucia kept for many years two crochet needles with which her mother and her two older sisters, Maria and Teresa, taught her to crochet, when she was still a child. One was made of metal and the other of bone. With the one of medal Lucia taught Jacinta to make narrow lace to decorate underclothing. Lucia kept these needles in memory of her mother and childhood. Only on March 15, 1989 did Lucia, with the permission of her Mother Prioress, detach herself from these needles, together with an Imitation of Christ book which her mother had sent to Porto for her when in school there. She sent them to the Rector of the Fatima Sanctuary to place in the house belonging to her parents "which today is Hers, for the glory of God and joy of our pilgrim brothers and sisters."
An old American movie on Fatima had portrayed Lucia's father as a rather weak character who imbibed too much. Lucia however, wrote of her father: "Despite the great mystery of human weakness, my father never went to excess, to the point of losing his balance, nor failing in the awareness of his duties as a Christian and practicing Catholic, always maintaining the dignity of his personality as head and father of the family, faithful to his matrimonial promises, friend of his wife and children, preserving peace and serenity in his home."
Catechism taught in the Santos home
Even though Sister Lucia made good mention of her mother in her original famous four memoirs, written decades earlier, (between the years 1935 and 1941) Mons. Luciano Guerra, Rector of the Shrine in Fatima, asked Sister Lucia to write a special one on her mother. The Sixth Memoir was begun in 1992 and completed by March 25, 1993, and delivered to the Rector on June 23, 1993.
Sister Lucia in the 6th Memoir tells us that during Lent, after the evening meal, Maria Rosa, her mother, used to teach the catechism to the whole family. Sometimes young people came to their house and often stayed the night as they had come from a distance.
It is beautiful to behold Lucia sharing her intimate thoughts of her mother and home life and the teaching of our holy Catholic faith. When it came to the Ten Commandments her mother would say: "First, to love God above all things. This is the one that confuses me most because I never know whether I love God more than my husband and children, but God is so good that He will forgive me and have mercy on me."
Lucia wrote: "And she would go on, listing all the commandments. When she came to the sixth, which requires us to be chaste, she would stop again and say: "We have to be very careful about this, too, because there are many temptations and many dangers. And you, turning to my brother and sisters, "must be very careful not to let yourselves be deceived, nor have any dealings with anyone who suggests such things to you. The grace of God first and foremost, [then] our good name, our own personal honor and dignity. God gave me the grace of offering Him the pure flower of my chastity on the day I was married, when I placed it on His altar and received, in exchange, other flowers, namely the new lives which He wanted to give me. In this way, God has helped me and blessed me." And then she would go on, reciting, after the Commandments of God, those of the Church, the theological virtues, the works of mercy, and so on, as they were printed and taught in the catechism book that was used in those days."
The children would each be asked catechism questions in their turn within the home. When it finally came time for the youngest, Lucia, "Sometimes my father would say: "She doesn"t need to, as she hasn"t yet made her First Communion." But her mother would reply: "Yes, she does, because the parish priests put her standing on top of the cupboard in the sacristy and asks her the questions to which the others don"t know the answers, so she has to have it all on the tip of her tongue."
Lucia said that she would listen to, and repeat, everything, parrot-fashion, without understanding the words or the meaning. "Nevertheless, they were being absorbed by my spirit and stored in my memory, so much so that today I remember them with an intense longing for those happy times when innocence takes in and stores up everything as happy memories for later times."
Finally Lucia wrote: "The Law of God and of His Church were the bedrock of my mother's great virtue, a fact which those who knew her and had dealings with her well knew how to appreciate and admire.
Canon Galamba, who was mentioned earlier used to say of Lucia's mother: "You know, your mother is more like a woman of Old Testament times than a woman of today."
Parents sensed unity in Christ in Marriage
Lucia in thinking of her mother did not hesitate to say: "My mother was a saint." She was humble, a woman of great faith, who loved justice and truth, was full of charity, and was always ready to help people both in household and outside it."
Sister Lucia writes that her father used to say to his mother "You and I are one." Therefore Sister Lucia found it quite impossible to speak of one without speaking of the other.
Sister Lucia said her mother gave this advice about whom to marry when her sister had two choices of dating: "No-one can tell which of them will be better. What you must do is to choose one who is a good Christian, fulfills his duties, and is a worker, honest and respected. having nothing to do with anyone who wants to make you commit sin. Rather, turn your back on him as this is a sign that he is neither honest nor chaste, and such people will never make you happy. It is better to remain unmarried than to marry the wrong person."
At these remarks from Maria Rosa Lucia's father joined in: "I am going to tell you something that perhaps I have never yet told you. When I asked your mother to go out with me, the first thing we agreed between us was to keep the flower of our chastity pure until the day of our wedding so that we could offer it to God in exchange for his blessing and any children He chose to give us. And He has blessed us with this little brood."
Sister Lucia brings out clearly in her 6th memoir the importance of parents being in harmony in discipline of children. "If my brother or one of my sisters asked Mother for permission to go somewhere unusual, such as a wedding to which they had been invited, a party or a local fiesta and such like, my mother would want to know whether they had already asked my father if they could go. If they said "no," she would say: ""Go and ask him and we"ll see what he says." If they went to ask my father first, they would get the same reply: "Go and ask your mother, and we"ll see what she says." Thus, they always agreed tranquillity with each other."
Maria Rosa was so charitable, not only to her children, but everyone in the area that Sister Lucia in 1992 could write: "My mother was a kind of second mother to everyone and many people used to say just this: that they had found in her a second mother and that they turned to her as if she really were their mother." In her great charity helping so many in need Marie Rosa would accept payment from no one.
Marriage is the Tree of Life
"My mother used to say that matrimony was the tree of life that God planted in the garden of the world, and that the fruit of these trees were the children, who had to be brought up with great love and educated with great care because they had come to bring on earth the new life with which God enriches us, and it is they who, in turn, will take care of their parents, in sickness and old age, until God chooses to transfer them from earth to heaven."
Maria Rosa used to love to have family reunions from time to time. She would say: "They promote joy, unity and peace between all."
The mother and father worked hard. When the children came of age, they too would be engaged in working. Sister Lucia, remembering the good times in the home in the evening, working on the spinning jenny asked years ago that it not ever be removed from their home.
Maria Rosa was so upset at the time of the apparitions for it seemed to her that such a thing could not be true: "Are we worthy of such a thing? Get this out of your head, child, and tell the truth!" In 1992 Sister Lucia wrote: "My mother was right. Humanly speaking, it was impossible. We were very far from being worthy of such a grace! What she did not realize was that, from one moment to the next, God is able, from mere stones, to raise up children to Abraham. God allowed it all to happen as it did so that she could ascent the steps of her steep Calvary by the light of faith alone. Now when I read in Sacred Scripture what the Book of proverbs has to say about the virtuous woman, I seem to see there a portrait of my mother: "Who can find a virtuous woman? She is far more precious than jewels."..."
Sister Lucia wrote that "it seemed as if my mother could only say "yes." She never refused her services when asked, and, on many occasions, it was she herself who offered her help. ... Even in my cradle I shared my mother's milk with another child, a little orphan girl whose mother had died when she was born, and I did not suffer in consequence, for I grew up strong and healthy, without any kind of illness."
"My mother used to say that children come to prolong the lives of those who give them their physical being, that they were like plants that, placed in the earth as seeds, burst forth with new life, clothed with fresh foliage and strength, yielding flowers and fruits of all kinds, enriching the earth and filling it with delicate scents and perfumes. That's what children are like with the grace and candor of their innocence, as are pure and chaste young people, smiling at the tomorrow that is approaching like a new garden, where fresh smiling rosebuds are bursting into bloom."
Sister Lucia in 1992 also shared stories that involved her mother and members of her family's friends intervening out of respect for human life. Once when a doctor gave a pre-mature child up as not capable of living and it was to be left to die, or gotten rid of, a family member preserved the child for life and succeeded.
While Sister Lucia writes of the "Cavalry" that the apparitions brought to her mother Lucia herself would have much to sacrifice. She would never be able to live a normal life again, certainly not in Aljustrel or the parish territory of Fatima where she was known.
When Lucia was about 15 she tells how she was sent away to school where no one would know where she was. The Diocese of Leiria [in which Fatima is] was restored and the Bishop Jose Alves Correia da Silva, as soon as he took possession of the Diocese, [now known as Leiria-Fatima] wanted to discover everything about the happenings at Fatima, and the location of the sole survivor of the three little shepherds. Lucia was asked to be brought to Leiria.
Let Lucia tell about it herself.
"The Bishop put me sitting on a sofa beside him and began to question me about the apparitions. I replied to his questions to the best of my knowledge and ability. he then asked me if I would like to leave Fatima and go to Porto, to study and be educated in a boarding school. I replied that there was already a lady in Lisbon, who had been a good friend to me, in whose house I had stayed for a time, and that she was arranging for me to go to a boarding school to study and be educated. The Bishop replied that I would be better off in Porto because I needed to be somewhere where I was not known, and that this would not be possible in Lisbon, where I was already well known; that Porto would be better as I was yet unknown there; that I would not speak about the apparitions in Fatima to anyone, nor about my parents and family, except to give their names, without saying where they lived.
Special sacrifices asked of Lucia
"No-one would visit me, except the ladies to whose care he intended to entrust me, so that they could keep an eye on me; that these ladies too, were very good and would see to it that I lacked nothing; that I was not to write to anyone except my mother but I was to send my letter to the Vicar of Olival, who would be responsible for delivering them to my mother, and that she would do the same with any letters she wrote to me, sending them to the Vicar of Olival to be sent on to me c/o His Lordship; that I would not return to Fatima for the holidays nor for any other purpose without his permission. I said that I would have to ask my mother's permission about all that, and that I did not know whether she would agree because, since she had already promised Dona AssunÁ„o that she would allow me to stay with her, I did not know whether or not she would now agree to allow me to go somewhere else. The Bishop then said that he would be responsible for seeking my mother's permission; that I was not to divulge anything of what had been said between us to anyone and that I was to do my best to say nothing more about the apparitions or reply to questions during the rest of my stay in Fatima. I replied that this would be difficult as the people were very insistent and refused to go away until I had given them an answer to their questions.
"The Bishop smiled and gave me his blessing, which I received kneeling and kissing his blessed ring. ... When I returned to Fatima, I carefully kept my secret, but the joy I had felt when I bade farewell to the Bishop did not last long. I began to think of Dona AssunÁ„o, whom I was so fond of and who had been so good to me; of my sisters whom I would lose touch with and would not be able to write to. I thought too, of my uncles and aunts and all my other relatives, of my home where I had spent such an innocent and happy childhood! I thought of Cova da Iria, the CabeÁo, Valinhos, the well where we had tasted the delights of heaven! [To be faced with leaving all that], just like that, for always! And to go I knew not where, to Porto, but I did not even know where Porto was, nor did I know anyone there. These thoughts and reflections made me so sad that going to Porto seemed to me like being buried alive, and I said to myself: "No, I won"t go. I prefer to go to Lisbon or to Santarem. If I am there, I can come back to Fatima from time to time, see my family and keep in touch with them. If I go to Porto, none of this will be possible! No, I won"t go! I said "yes' to the Bishop but now I say that I have changed my mind and I don"t want to go there!
"I don"t know how much time passed with me in this state of mind. Then, one day, the parish priest of Fatima told my mother that the Vicar of Olival wanted to talk to her and that she was to go to Olival to see him, taking me with her. ...
"Rev. Fr. Vicar began by telling my mother that he had summoned her at the behest of the Bishop in order to ask her permission for me to go to Porto instead of returning to Lisbon or Santarem. [I was to be] entrusted to the care of the Bishop, and of a lady whom the Bishop would appoint to be responsible for me, to help me in any way I needed, and to pay all the expenses for my schooling and education.
"When my mother heard this, she was clearly very doubtful about it all.....
[Finally], my mother said that since it was the Bishop himself who had asked, and if he would assume full responsibility, subject to her right to come and fetch me if, at any time, she should learn that I was not well or not happy, and provided I myself was willing to go, she would agree to the arrangement. And then she added: "And then we"ll see whether, once she leaves Fatima, all this business will come to an end."" This response of Lucia's mother reminds me of what Maria dos Ajos, sister of Lucia once told of their mother. "Mother, who found it so hard to believe that Our Lady would appear to one of her children used to say, "If Our Lady really is appearing in the Cova da Iria the story of it will travel to the ends of the earth."" She was right.
The Rev. Fr. Vicar smiled at Mrs. Santos strong position about her daughter and the apparitions and turned to Lucia saying: "And does the little one want to go to Porto or not?" Lucia replied: "I would have preferred to go to Lisbon, but in order to do what His Lordship the Bishop asks, and subject to the conditions outlined by my mother, then I will go to Porto."
It was a sad long walk home for Lucia and her mother, comforting each other along the way. They offered "each step to God as so many acts of love."
On June 13th, a lady named Dona Filomena Miranda came to the dos Santos house in Aljustrel to get Lucia. It was arranged that on June 16th Lucia would go to Porto. It is heart-rending to read how Lucia says "At 2 A.M. on the morning of the 16th the alarm clock went off... She tells again in 1992 as she did in the earlier memoirs. "We set off by the pale light of Our Lady's lamp, the moon, passing the Cova da Iria on the way, where we stopped to say the Rosary...." Lucia had related in earlier memoirs the heart-rending experience it was making a departure from the area where she had met and talked to the Mother of God, herded sheep, etc. with her cousins, Jacinta and Francisco, now gone to heaven.
The late Father Antonio Maria Martins, S.J. who has prepared the chapters of this book, from here on until the final chapter which final chapter is again my own, at times questions Lucia's memory and whether she is romanticizing, or interjecting thoughts she gained from religious life and more mature experiences later. While mistakes may have been made about dates in Lucia's memory at times, I would not be as willing to accept some of the suggestions good Father Martins makes that Lucia is not describing the conditions correctly but later speaking from her imagination or spiritual thoughts then exaggerated. Perhaps Fr. Martins forgets at times, the keen intellect and memory which was that of Sister Lucia through the years. It showed itself yet in the year 2000 when papal representatives came in April to meet with her. She met with His Holiness Pope John Paul II on May 13, 2000 just before the solemn Mass of the beatifications.
The exactitude of Sister Lucia's memories and her relating of the prophecies and their fulfillment through the years have been profound. Her insights into spirituality and good judgement are impressive. When I was receiving word in Fatima in 1989 that God had accepted the Collegial Consecration of 1984 and in regard to Russia, "the Lord will keep His word" and was asked to publish her position in the [Immaculate Heart] Messenger of the Fatima Family Apostolate, not a single country had yet given up Communism. But it was all to happen the second half of 1989 and thereafter.
Many years ago when I asked Bishop John Venancio, former bishop of Leiria-Fatima whether Sister Lucia was a mystic, he answered, "The apparitions [of 1917] themselves show that." It appears, through the years the intimate spiritual life of Sister Lucia has been in close touch with the Holy Spirit and we know by some revelations made known, such as those of December 10, 1925 and again June 13, 1929, the role of Sister Lucia did not end in 1917. Our Lady had said that she would remain on earth for some time longer after Jacinta and Francisco for God desires to use her. It appears she has permitted herself to be used well in openness to the Holy Spirit.
While the pages of our book, The Intimate Life of Sister Lucia, written with the help of the late Fr. Antonio Maria Martins, S.J. - tell of the human side of Sister Lucia - her need to struggle for perfection throughout life, the very human touch and sensitivity of this shepherd girl, transformed so as to touch millions, is at the same time, spiritually encouraging for us all. Sister Lucia will be remembered as one of the great mystics of the 20th century who lived into the beginning of the 21 century and the beginning of the Third Millennium.
Heaven in 1917 was well aware of the growing crisis of faith and the crisis of the family which was gradually developing into the sad situation found at the end of the 20th century. After years of meditating the events of Fatima more and more is it being realized the strong call for holiness in the family to be found in the Fatima events. In 1989 Msgr. Luciano Guerra, Rector at Fatima, when he came to the national FFA Congress told me, "Father, you are in a favorite position, long having experience with the Fatima movement and dedicating your Apostolate now to the total family."