Do you recognize this name? Probably not. She is more well known as, simply, Sister Lucy. But why is she known at all? In 1917, Lucia was best friends with her young cousins, Jacinta and Francesco. They were only 6 and 8 years old. Lucia was almost 10. They all lived in a small hamlet in the mountains of Portugal, not too far from Fatima. School was optional back then, so the children did not attend the school. Lucia’s mother was the most educated woman in the hamlet. She had books, with pictures, and told stories to the village children about saints and God. The three cousins knew the stories well. Both sets of parents worked hard to make a living. Lucia’s father grew vegetables on land he owned just outside the hamlet in an area called the Cova da Iria. The families also owned sheep. The children’s chore was to take the sheep every morning out to the Cova and let them graze on the rocky hills. The children could then play and have lunch outside and then bring the sheep home to the corralled area for the night. Saying the Rosary at noon was a very important part of Portuguese culture. So, the children brought their Rosaries with them every day. But they made a game of it, screaming “Hail Mary!” and waiting for the echo. Thus, to them, every Hail Mary counted double! One day in May, the sky, without getting dark, started showing lightening. The children scrambled up a rock and into a shallow opening to protect themselves from the expected rain. No rain came. But a light moved from the horizon towards them, stopping over a holm oak tree. The children stepped out from the little cave and went to the tree. A beautiful young lady, dressed all in white, stood there. The children had no doubt that such a beautiful lady was from Heaven, even before she told them. Lucy spoke to the lady. And she responded. Jacinta saw the lady but did not speak to her. Francesco saw the lady but could not hear her. The lady said she would come again on the 13 th of each month and she would teach them about God. Then she left. The children decided that they would tell no one about what they had seen. But Jacinta, being only 6, blurted out the news to her mother by nighttime. Everyone thought that the children had made up a story. Lucy’s mother was the angriest of all. She accused Lucy of leading the children into sin for telling such a tale. She did not believe them for months. The parents tried to make the children confess their lie to the priest. They would not. Some of the villagers believed them, however. When the 13 th of the next month came along, people followed the three children to the Cova to see what would happen. They saw the light. They saw the children kneel. They even heard Lucia speak. But they did not see a beautiful lady. The next month, July, the lady gave the three children three secrets about the future. The news spread! In August, the government took the children and put them in jail in another town. They were threatened with death if they didn’t recant their ‘lie’. Of course, they did not recant. The lady appeared to them alone three days later, after their release. By September, news had spread all over southern Portugal and 13,000 people showed up on the 13 th. The vegetable garden was ruined by people stomping all over it. Lucia’s mother was so angry that her daughter’s lie had destroyed their livelihood. The lady promised a sign in October to prove she had been there. In October, around 70,000 people came by car, truck or foot to watch the ‘proof’. It had rained all night. The land was ankle deep in mud. All of a sudden, the rain stopped and everyone was dry within ten minutes. The children knelt, a sign that the lady was there. Then, the miracle began. The sun began to swirl around, sending flames of color towards the people. Many in the throng became frightened as the sun seemed to get closer and closer. They cried out in prayer, thinking this was the end of the world. It went on for ten minutes. In a village 25 miles away, people saw it, too. Newspaper reporters took pictures of the area to prove the miracle had happened. The newspapers all around Europe contained stories about this. Many believed, even Lucia’s mother. The children had been taught by the lady, who finally revealed that she was the Blessed Virgin Mary, to do much penance, praying for sinners. Francesco and Jacinta were told that they would go to Heaven soon, but that Lucia had to learn to read and write because she would have to stay on earth for a while. The two youngest children died of the Spanish flu in 1919 and 1920. Lucia became a nun and wrote about her cousins, penances and the secrets before she died. Francesco and Jacinta were declared saints by Pope John Paul II in 2000. We pray that Sr. Lucia will be canonized some day too.