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Who was Lucia dos Santos?

Born on March 28, 1907, in Aljustrel, Portugal, Venerable Lúcia dos Santos is primarily recognized for being one of the three shepherd children that witnessed the apparition of Our Lady of Fatima. As we celebrate the anniversary of her birth, we invite you to learn more about her life and legacy and where you can find her portrayed at the Basilica.

Lúcia and the Miracle of Fatima

Ven. Lúcia Dos Santos portrayed in the Rosary Garden

The child of Portuguese shepherds, or “pastorinhos,” Lúcia was only 10 years old when she and her cousins saw the Blessed Mother appear on May 13, 1917. Mary asked them to say the Rosary every day, and to come back on the 13th of each month. Our Lady appeared to the children five more times, culminating with the “Miracle of the Sun” on October 13, 1917, where thousands gathered to see her and witnessed the sun dance in the sky, according to accounts. During her appearances, Mary told the children her name was “Our Lady of the Rosary,” and gave them a three-part message known as the “Secret,” which Lúcia would later write about in her memoirs. The first part was a vision of hell, while the second predicted the end of World War I and the possibility of World War II. The third part of the secret was the story of a “bishop clothed in white” who was killed, which was believed to be a foreshadowing of the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II in 1981.

Within a few years of the apparitions, Lúcia’s cousins both died from influenza, and Lúcia alone remained to continue sharing their story of the Miracle of Fatima – as Our Lady had foretold in her second apparition:

“I shall take Jacinta and Francisco soon, but you will remain a little longer, since Jesus wishes you to make me known and loved on earth. He wishes also for you to establish devotion in the world to my Immaculate Heart.”

Lúcia’s Life and Ministry

When she was 14 years old, Lúcia moved to Vilar where she enrolled at a school run by the Sisters of St. Dorothy, a decision partially influenced by the skepticism she faced following her experience at Fatima. A few months after her 18th birthday, Lúcia sought to enter Holy Life and began her postulancy with the Institute of the Sisters of St. Dorothy in a Spanish convent just outside of Portugal. Three years passed before she made her first vows, and another six passed before she made her perpetual vows.

Our Lady of Fatima portrayed in the Rosary Garden

At the age of 39, Lúcia joined the convent of St. Teresa in Coimbra, where she became a Discalced Carmelite on May 31, 1949, taking the name Sister Maria Lúcia of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart. There she quietly spent the rest of her days in contemplation, writing two books containing memoirs of her life and the apparitions at Fatima. However, Lúcia later returned to Fatima on three separate occasions. The first time she went back to observe the 50th anniversary of the apparitions, the second time to meet with Pope John Paul II and receive his gratitude for warning him of an assassination attempt, and the third to be present at the beatification of her cousins and fellow witnesses of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima.

Lúcia passed away of old age on February 13, 2005, and her body was kept at the convent in Coimbra for a year before it was placed at the Basilica of Our Lady of Fátima alongside those of her cousins. On June 22, 2023, Pope Francis declared her Venerable. Lúcia is portrayed in a sculpture in the Rosary Garden alongside depictions of her cousins and Our Lady of Fatima.


“Saints Jacinta and Francisco Marto,” Franciscan Media.

“Sister Lucia dos Santos,” The Guardian.

“Venerable Lúcia dos Santos,” EWTN.

Learn more about the Miracles of Fatima

Although it has been over a century since the miracles of Fatima took place, they continue to inspire the faithful across the globe. Today, we invite you to read a collection of posts from the Basilica blog reflecting on the different facets of this Marian devotion and how it is honored in our art.

10 Saint Quotes for Easter
Good Friday at the Basilica: Exposition of the Relics of Christ’s Passion