Lucia dos Santos, the oldest Fatima visionary, was born on March 22, 1907 in the hamlet of Aljustrel in the Province of Fatima, Portugal. Her parents were Antonio dos Santos and Maria Rosa. Lucia was the youngest of seven children, six girls and one boy.
The dos Santos were a God-fearing, practicing Catholic family, prayer being an integral part of their lives. Though peasants, they were of modest means, and owners of property. No poor person was turned away from their door without a good meal.
Happy and quick witted, young Lucia picked up her catechism from listening to her mother teach it to her siblings.
She was also an innocent, candid soul and was allowed to make her First Communion at the then early age of six at which time she was deeply touched by Our Lord. In her words, “I felt transformed in God…From that day on, I lost the attraction I was beginning to feel for the things of the world…”
With her cousins, Francisco and Jacinta, she pastured their families’ sheep. Her cousins looked up to her, and trusted her implicitly.
When Our Lady appeared to the three on May 13, 1917 at Cova da Iria, Lucia, then aged ten, naturally took the lead in addressing the apparition and was always the sole interlocutor. During the second apparition, she was told that she was to remain on earth for some time, while her cousins would be soon taken to heaven.
After the apparitions and the death of her cousins, Lucia was admitted as a pupil at the school of the Sisters of Saint Dorothy at Vilar. In 1925 she was accepted as a postulant in the congregation’s convent of Tuy, just over the Spanish border. She was professed as a Dorothean sister in 1934 receiving the name of Sister Maria of Sorrows.
In 1948, she left the Dorothean Institute to enter the Carmel of Saint Joseph in Coimbra where she took the name of Sister Maria Lucia of the Immaculate Heart. On May 13, 1949 she was professed as a Discalced Carmelite.
She returned to Fatima on the occasion of four Papal visits, the last of which was to attend the beatification of her cousins Francisco and Jacinta by Pope John Paul II on May 13, 2000.
Sister Lucia wrote her memoirs, a warm, candid account of all that happened to her and her cousins.
In English this memoir is entitled, Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words.
Sister Lucia died on February 13, 2005 at age ninety-seven of cardio-respiratory failure due to advanced age.