Sister Lucy’s Funeral
Eyewitness Report from Coimbra, Portugal
by Bernadette Vesco
More than 1,000 people filled the Cathedral in Coimbra, Portugal, on February 15, for the funeral of the last Fatima seer, Sister Lucia dos Santos. Thousands more gathered outside of the Twelfth Century Cathedral to mourn the passing of the 97-year-old Carmelite nun, who had died on the afternoon of February 13, at her convent in Coimbra. Sister Lucy had been cloistered at the convent since 1948.
Virtually all of Portugal’s bishops attended the funeral, and Pope John Paul II sent Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone to preside over the ceremony. Portugal’s three main television stations provided live coverage of the event.
Flags flew at half-staff throughout the country that day, as Portugal’s Prime Minister, Pedro Santana Lopes, declared a national day of mourning. Though a general election loomed less than a week away, February 20, politicians temporarily suspended their campaigning because of Sister Lucy’s death.
According to an Agence France Presse report, in his eulogy for the departed seer, Portugal’s Primate, Cardinal Jose da Cruz Policarpo, stated that Lucy’s death has "opened a new bridge between Fatima and the heavens."
"With her alive," he said, "all the events which took place in Fatima were contemporary; her death marks the crossing of a frontier."
This sounds like yet another echo of the contention Fatima revisionists are wont to repeat when it comes to the timeliness of the Message: "Fatima is in the past."
The Ongoing Silencing of Sister Lucy
Yet some strange circumstances surrounding the death of Sister Lucy would seem to suggest that even the revisionists arent fully convinced that the frontier has been crossed and is now behind us.
Consider, for example, the step taken by Cardinal Ratzinger of sealing off Sister Lucys room following her death. On February 14, the day after Lucys death, noted Italian journalist Vittorio Messori reported on this fact in the Italian daily Corriere della Serra, in an article entitled "Secret of Fatima, Sealed in the Cell of Sister Lucia."
In this report Messori explains that according to the Bishop of Coimbra, Sister Lucy’s cell is where "she would have had other apparitions, where she kept a diary, where she wrote letters to the Pope, where she had undergone her mystical intuitions."
Messori stated that Sister Lucy’s convent cell "has already been sealed," by Cardinal Ratzinger and that "whatever is enclosed there will be passed through the sieve of trusted theologians and monsignors, sent, one supposes, by the same Cardinal Ratzinger who, as custodian of orthodoxy must keep at bay visionary temptations which always reemerge." (Editor’s Note: For what they mean by the word orthodoxy read the Sodano/Ratzinger Party Line. To understand this concept, read Chapter 8 and Chapter 11 of The Devil’s Final Battle.)
Also curious is the appearance of security around the Carmelite convent several months prior to Sister Lucy’s death. During the month preceding her death, one witness, a resident of Coimbra, noted two police cars outside of Sister Lucy’s convent, and several armed city policemen standing guard around the convent.
The day of the funeral also saw the sudden appearance of construction on several streets surrounding the convent. As a result, these streets were made inaccessible. Following the funeral, the visible police were still present and most of the construction, including that which served to block the streets, was cleared. This seems to suggest that both the guards and the construction were used to keep people far enough away from the convent so that whatever contents of Sister Lucy’s cell that need to pass through "the sieve" that Messori spoke of, which we can guess will be effective in filtering out everything that does not fit with the revisionist notion of the Message, could be removed.
At the Cathedral
One final sad note regarding the funeral of Sister Lucy: I cannot help thinking how different it must have been from the funerals of the other two Fatima seers, her cousins Francisco and Jacinta Marto, who died in 1919 and 1920, respectively.
Joanna Swords, from the Fatima Center, and I traveled to Portugal for the funeral. My companion was able to make it inside the Cathedral for the majority of the funeral, while I stood at the bottom of the Cathedral’s steps, in the midst of the crowd. A chain of guards prevented the common people from entering the church, though a TV screen was set up for us to view what was taking place inside.
The most striking differences between the funerals, apart from Mass itself (Francisco and Jacinta would have had the traditional Latin Mass while the Novus Ordo Mass was said for Lucy’s funeral), was a general atmosphere at Lucy’s funeral that I do not believe would have been found at the other funerals.
No doubt, there were present at Sister Lucy’s funeral good, pious believers, many of whom traveled far distances to attend. I do not mean to imply that all who attended were there out of curiosity or for the excitement of such a major event. But I was bothered by certain things I noticed, all of which point to a marked change that has taken place since the period when the Message was given.
Dismayed at Her Funeral
First, the funeral was a media circus. While the common attendee was held back from the Cathedral by rows of guards, the press had free rein of the area. They moved in and out of the church with no interference. Their constant movement and barraging of the prelates and dignitaries entering the Cathedral, and their continual motion during the Mass itself, was at the very least, distracting.
Also highly inappropriate were the number of cellular telephones that rang, inside and outside of the Cathedral, during the Mass. Many of these calls were answered and conversations ensued.
Whatever appropriate ambience was present for the funeral was again disturbed by the applause that followed Cardinal Policarpo’s eulogy, as well as another instance of applause before the end of the Mass.
Finally, I was greatly dismayed when, at Communion time, a priest exited the Cathedral to distribute Communion to the faithful outside. The people crowded the lone priest, who hurriedly gave the Hosts in the hand, and at least one person reached out a hand, over the heads of those in front of this person, hoping to receive Communion in this way. I was in the area where the priest approached to give out Communion, and was so appalled that I had to move across the courtyard to avoid further witnessing this spectacle. I can only imagine how the three children, who had received the Body and Blood of Our Lord so reverently at the hands of the Angel of Peace in 1916, would have reacted to this.
The Church’s Great Loss
There are many disputed aspects of the Message of Fatima, which could have been addressed had Sister Lucy been permitted to speak freely, which will continue to be distorted now that Lucy is gone. Perhaps the contents of her cell would have clarified many of these questions, but Cardinal Ratzinger has seen to it that these contents have become inaccessible. We can only implore the Fatima seers, who are now reunited, to pray for all of us on earth who are awaiting the true fulfillment of the Fatima requests.