Open or publish? A question on the third part of the secret of Fatima

Bishop da Silva ordered Sister Lucia to write down the third part of the secret in 1943, fearing she was dying.

By Kevin J. Symonds, MA

In the year 1960, there was a general expectation that the third part of the secret of Fátima was going to be opened, read and published. When this expectation was not met, there was general disappointment. Recent information, however, has come to light which questions the notion of whether or not the third part was intended by heaven for publication in 1960.

The communication of the secret of Fátima in July, 1917 came with the direct order from the Blessed Virgin not to reveal it to anyone—a command which the children took seriously, even to the point of risking their lives. After the deaths of Francisco (1919) and Jacinta (1920), Sister Lúcia became the sole witness to the apparitions. She was reluctant to discuss her supernatural experiences and usually did so under religious obedience.

The secret of July, 1917 was revealed, gradually, and spoken of in terms of it having three parts. The first two were revealed by September, 1941 in the Third Memoir with more details being provided in the Fourth Memoir. Shortly after writing the Fourth Memoir, Sister Lúcia became gravely ill. This illness forced Bishop da Silva to order her to write down the third part. Sister Lúcia experienced anguish in her soul that was resolved by a further apparition of Our Lady in early January, 1944.

Prior to 2013, not much was known about this particular apparition of Our Lady. There was no (known) writing available to the public providing an account of the event. This fact changed with the publication of the Carmelite Sisters’ biography A Pathway Under the Gaze of Mary.[1] In her private diary, Sister Lúcia wrote about the experience and the Sisters included it in the biography. Sister wrote that Our Lady stated:

“Do not be afraid, God wanted to prove your obedience, faith and humility. Be at peace and write what they order you, [not however what is given you to understand of its meaning]. After writing it, place it in an envelope, close and seal it and write on the outside that this can be opened in 1960 [que só pode ser aberto em 1960] by the Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon or by the Bishop of Leiria.”[2]

The words of Our Lady at the end of the above citation say nothing about publishing the text, only that it can be opened (aberto) in 1960. According to Sister Lúcia’s recounting of the event, Our Lady only instructed her to:

  1. Write what was ordered of her,
  2. place the text in an envelope,
  3. close and seal the envelope,
  4. write on the outside of the envelope that it can be opened in 1960 by the cardinal patriarch of Lisbon or the bishop of Leiria.

Nowhere does Our Lady say that the text was to be published. If she did, then Sister Lúcia did not record this detail in her diary, something that would be a curious omission. Nevertheless, the narrative as provided by Sister Lúcia compels researchers to examine the matter.

Any such examination must first establish whether or not Sister Lúcia actually declared that the third part of the secret was to be published in 1960. From 1944-1960, there are several statements to this effect that were published by reputable sources. To arrive, however, at any sort of certainty, one must turn to a letter that Sister Lúcia wrote to Mother Cunha Mattos on Jan. 9, 1952. Published by Fr. Antonio Maria Martins in 1986, Sister claims in her letter that the third part can be “divulged” (divulgarse) in 1960, but not before.[3]

Given the above letter, how does one resolve the matter of what Sister Lúcia apparently believed about the text with what Our Lady actually stated in 1944? Was the text being published in 1960 Sister’s own interpretation of what Our Lady said? The norms of the Church on discerning private revelation make provision for visionaries providing their own interpretation

In the end, how is one to resolve the present question? Only time will tell. As more information continues to reveal itself, Fátima scholars will, to be sure, have some work to do in this notable and controversial area of Fátima’s history.


[1] Carmelo de Santa Teresa – Coimbra, Um Caminho sob o Olhar de Maria: Biografia da Irmã Lúcia de Jesus e do Coração Imaculado, O.C.D. (Coimbra, Portugal: Edições Carmelo, 2013), 120-122.

[2] Um Caminho sob o Olhar de Maria, 266. The English translation is taken from A Pathway Under the Gaze of Mary. (Washington, New Jersey: World Apostolate of Fatima, 2015), 243. I have taken the liberty of slightly emending the translation (indicated by the texts in brackets) after consulting the Portuguese original.

[3] Martins, Fr. António Maria. “El secreto de Fátima.” Ephemerides Mariologicae 36 (1986): 348. The original language of the letter is not specified.

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  1. A prophecy can only be judged after its fulfilled. So, look at the evidence post 1960. Worldwide social upheaval and moral turpitude. The Church implodes following a council that divided the Church which Pius VI remarking the smoke of Satan entered the sanctuary Massive loss of priests and religious, leaving behind a much higher than normal percentage of homosexuals in the ranks. Pointing toward massive priest abuses. The mass is decimated in 1969 with even Pius VI lamenting the loss. Moral depravity in entertainment ramps up after the council and riddles The world with porn.

    Need more evidence?

  2. Say the rosary for our blessed Virgin Mary

  3. Of the two copies, each in its own envelope, inside the bigger envelope, both were made by Lucia, one kept in Vatican Archives (published in 2000) and one left in papal apartment in desk drawer with an Italian translation and a few interpretive notes added in the hand of John XXIII and Paul VI (the one brought to John Paul in the hospital when he was shot). The Holy Office opens claimed apparitions, which require investigation, and they share the pope’s authority which is supreme for Catholics. So, we could just ask a Catholic how to settle the “issue,” since they have a Pope.

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