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Sainthood Cause for Fatima Visionary Is Moving Ahead

Sister Lucia dos Santos, one of three children who saw Our Lady of Fatima in 1917, is seen in a 2000 file photo. (Photo: Catholic News Service/Paulo Carrico, EPA)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – The Diocese of Coimbra concluded its phase of the sainthood cause of Carmelite Sister Lucia dos Santos, one of the three children who saw Our Lady of Fatima in 1917.

Bishop Virgilio Antunes of Coimbra formally closed the local phase of investigation into her life and holiness Feb. 13 in the Carmelite convent of St. Teresa in Coimbra, where she resided until her death in 2005 at the age of 97.

The ceremony included the sealing of 50 volumes – 15,000 pages – of evidence and witness testimonies detailing the life of Sister Lucia. The sealed documents were to be shipped to the Congregation for Saints’ Causes at the Vatican.

After a thorough review of the materials and a judgment that Sister Lucia heroically lived the Christian virtues, her cause still would require the recognition of two miracles – one for beatification and another for canonization – attributed to her intercession.

The Marian apparitions at Fatima began on May 13, 1917, when 10-year-old Lucia, along with her cousins Francisco and Jacinta Marto, reported seeing the Virgin Mary.

The apparitions continued once a month until Oct. 13, 1917, and later were declared worthy of belief by the Catholic Church.

Father Romano Gambalunga, postulator of the visionary’s cause, said that while “Lucia is already a saint in the eyes” of many people, “the prudent path of the church is that she is proposed to all, not just those who believe.”

“Lucia became holy over the years, not because of the apparitions,” Father Gambalunga told Agencia Ecclesia, the news agency of the Portuguese bishops’ conference.

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