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IN THE NEWS


FATIMA MESSENGER DIES
(Melbourne Herald Sun, Feb 16, 2005)

Sister Lucia Santos Sister Lucia Santos, the last survivor of the three children to whom the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared at Fatima, has died in Portugal at the age of 97.

Sister Lucia, a Roman Catholic nun, had been ill for three months and died at the Convent of Carmelitas in Coibra, north of Lisbon.

Lucia and two of her cousins, siblings Jacinta and Francisco, in 1917 said the Virgin Mary had been appearing to them once a month, predicting events like world wars, the re-emergency of Christianity in Russia and the 1981 attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II.

The appearances took place on the 13th day of each month in Fatima, a town 110 kms north of Lisbon. The first sighting was on May 13 and the appearance took place for another five months, ending abruptly in October that year.

Shortly after, Jacinta and Francisco died of respiratory diseases. Lucia became a nun, writing two memoirs while living in convents. The Catholic Church later built a shrine in Fatima, which is visited each year by millions. More than 100,00 pilgrims from dozens of countries routinely attend the annual commemorations of the sightings.

The Pope visited three times since becoming pontiff, spending a few minutes with Lucia during a 1991 trip to the site. He has claimed 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 the Pope credits the Virgin's intercession for his survival. In 2000, he visited Fatima to beatify Jacinta and Francisco.

Named Lucia de Jesus dos Santos when she was born on March 22 1907, inrecent years Lucia suffered blindness and deafness.

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