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Sister Lucia Marto, 97; She Reported Seeing Virgin Mary in Fatima, Portugal

From Associated Press

Sister Lucia Marto, the last of three children who in 1917 claimed to have seen the Virgin Mary in a series of apparitions in Fatima, Portugal, has died, Portuguese media reported. She was 97.

Sister Lucia, a Roman Catholic nun, had been ill for three months and died Sunday at the Convent of Carmelitas in Coimbra, 120 miles north of Lisbon, TSF radio reported, citing family sources.

For the record:

12:00 a.m. Feb. 19, 2005 For The Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday February 19, 2005 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 3 inches; 130 words Type of Material: Correction
Santos obituary -- The obituary in Tuesday’s California section of the last of the three children who said they saw the Virgin Mary in a series of apparitions in Fatima in 1917 identified the deceased as Sister Lucia Marto. Her name was Lucia de Jesus dos Santos. The obituary also described the three prophecies attributed to Sister Lucia, and said the third prophecy, which was kept secret until it was released by the Vatican in 2000, foretold the 1981 attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II. The third prophecy was interpreted by some as foretelling the assassination attempt, but later in 2000 the Vatican’s top theologian explained Lucia’s text as an interpretation of Christian suffering in the 20th century and emphasized that the prophecy was not connected to specific events.

Lucia and two of her cousins, siblings Jacinta and Francisco, said in 1917 that the Virgin Mary had been appearing before them once a month and predicting events. The appearances took place on the 13th day of each month in Fatima, about 70 miles north of Lisbon. Sister Lucia died Feb. 13.

The first sighting was May 13, and the appearances continued for five months, ending abruptly in October.

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Shortly after, Jacinta and Francisco died of respiratory diseases. But Lucia, deeply influenced by her spiritual experience and the death of her cousins, became a nun.

She penned two memoirs while living in convents. Her writings detailed the prophecies, the first being that World War I would end, only to be followed by a more terrible conflict if humankind did not stop offending God. The second noted that Christianity would reemerge in Russia, then under Communism.

A third prophecy was kept secret for decades, until it was released by the Vatican in 2000. That prophecy foretold the 1981 attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II.

The Catholic Church built a shrine in Fatima, which is visited each year by millions of people from around the world. More than 100,000 people from dozens of countries attend the annual commemoration of the sightings.

The pope has visited three times since becoming pontiff in 1978, spending a few minutes with Lucia during a 1991 trip to the site. He has said the Virgin of Fatima saved his life after he was shot by a Turkish gunman in St. Peter’s Square in 1981. The attack, on May 13, coincided with the feast day of Our Lady of Fatima, and John Paul credits the Virgin’s intercession for his survival.

In 2000, he visited Fatima to beatify Jacinta and Francisco.

The funeral was scheduled for today, TSF reported.


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