Benedict XVI announced he will dispense with the five-year waiting period established by Canon Law to open the cause of beatification of Sister Lucia, one of the three Fatima visionaries.
The news was announced today in the cathedral of Coimbra, Portugal, by Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, on the third anniversary of the Carmelite’s death.
The Holy Father dispensed with the established waiting period once before for the cause of Pope John Paul II. Benedict XVI made the announcement on May 13, the feast of Our Lady of Fatima, some 42 days after the Pontiff’s death in 2005.
Lucia de Jesus dos Santos was 10 years old when she said she saw for the first time, on May 13, 1917, a lady whom she later identified as the Blessed Virgin Mary, in the Cova de Iria.
She saw the vision with her cousins Francisco and Jacinta Marto, who were beatified by John Paul II in Fatima, in 2000.
In a pastoral letter dated Oct. 13, 1930, the bishop of Leiria-Fatima, José Alves Correia da Silva, declared the apparitions of Fatima worthy of faith and allowed public devotion. Since then, the shrine has become a center of spirituality and pilgrimage of international scope.
Born in Aljustrel in 1907, Lucia moved to Oporto in 1921, and at 14 was admitted as a boarder in the School of the Sisters of St. Dorothy in Vilar, on the city’s outskirts.
On Oct. 24, 1925, she entered the Institute of the Sisters of St. Dorothy and at the same time was admitted as a postulant in the congregation’s convent in Tuy, Spain, near the Portuguese border. She made her first vows on Oct. 3, 1928, and her perpetual vows on Oct. 3, 1934, receiving the name Sister Mary of the Sorrowful Mother.
She returned to Portugal in 1946 and two years later entered the Carmelite convent of St. Teresa in Coimbra, where she made her profession as a Discalced Carmelite on May 31, 1949, taking the name Sister Maria Lucia of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart.
She wrote two volumes, one entitled "Memories" and the other "Appeals of the Fatima Message." In her writings, she recounts how the Virgin Mary and Child Jesus appeared to her on other occasions, years after the initial apparitions.
The mortal remains of the Carmelite were moved in 2006 to the Shrine of Fatima. The body of the nun, who died at age 97, is buried next to Jacinta. Francisco is buried in the same basilica.