SR LUCIA, the oldest of the three children who saw Our Lady at Fatima, died four years ago without any of the doubts which assailed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, the visionary’s personal physician told The Universe in an exclusive interview.
Dr Branca Paul, who was Sr Lucia’s physician for the last 15 years of the Carmelite nun’s life, was in Dublin last week to speak at a Fatima conference in All Hallows College in Dublin.
“Sr Lucia was the most humble, joyful and cheerful person I ever met in my life,” the doctor recalled. “She joked about everything and with everyone. She even joked about her death. She used tell me ‘when I’m in heaven I’ll be looking for you’.”
On another occasion, she made a joke in regard to her cousins Jacinta and Francisco, the other Fatima visionaries, who died while still children. “They left me with the hot potato in my hands,” she said, referring to her life-long task of spreading the messages Our Lady gave to them.
Sr Lucia did not lose her mental faculties, Dr Paul said. “Her mind was very clear to the very end, to the day of her death. She was ill for the last three months and died from heart failure at the age of 97. She had arthritis and pains in her bones and began to suffer from her heart in old age, but in several ways she was good and in her mind particularly.”
According to Dr Paul, Sr Lucia’s last words were: “I’m going to heaven with Our Lord and Our Lady and the little shepherds.”
The cause of canonisation for Sr Lucia, who has been named a Servant of God, was opened last year, and Dr Paul said: “I think Sr Lucia is a saint. Many people ask for the intercession of Sr Lucia and there are many stories of favours being granted. These are being collected for the process of beatification, but they have to be verified.”
Dr Paul, who was a lapsed Catholic when she began looking after Sr Lucia, is now a keen member of the Fatima apostolate, spreading the message Our Lady gave to the three shepherd children in 1917. The many conversations she had with Sr Lucia helped her return to the practice of her faith.
“I saw her many times. Not every day, but each time it was necessary, night or day, and in the last times, both night and day.”
Among the topics she discussed with Sr Lucia were heaven and hell, visions of which the shepherd children had been granted at the time of the apparitions.
“She said people don’t want to believe in hell, but it is a terrible place and it really exists, not flames as we can imagine, but souls burning in flames of despair.
“God is love and happiness, and people who can’t, during all eternity, be near God, near this love and happiness, become full of hate and despair and become unhappy and burn in suffering.
“This suffering is why Jacinta became so frightened that all she wanted to do was to make sacrifices and pray to save souls from hell.
“Sr Lucia said that no words can describe heaven. It is a feeling of love that is for eternity. And we must remember that God is always ready to forgive us, but He needs our participation. True happiness only comes from God.”
Dr Paul was very impressed with the humility of Sr Lucia. “You couldn’t distinguish her from any other nun in the convent. She did all the work that the other nuns did – in the kitchen, the garden, embroidery, making rosary beads – and she loved to be before the Blessed Sacrament.”
When I asked Dr Paul, what Sr Lucia regarded as the most important aspect of the message she received from Our Lady, she replied: “The most important thing is to fulfil the will of God, as expressed in the ten commandments. The values of the world are not the correct values. We have to obey God and love God and love each other in the true sense of the word.
“We are very far from God, we offend Him and have to face this and repent of our bad ways, go back to the ten commandments and do the will of God.”
Sr Lucia was asked by Our Lady to learn to read and write, and it was only when meditating on the scriptures that she finally understood why Our Lady made that request. As a result, she wrote a book ‘Calls’ from the Message of Fatima, which has recently been made available in 12 languages and on a set of two DVDs by Irish businessman, Thomas McCormack.
The books and DVDs are available in English, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, German, French, Polish, Latvian, Slovak, Russian, Chinese and Arabic through the website www.thecalltofatima.com.