Sister Lucia and interpretation of the third part of the Secret

By Kevin J. Symonds, M.A. –

In his Theological Commentary on the third part of the secret of Fátima, Cardinal Ratzinger stated that Sister Lúcia “received the vision but not its interpretation.”[1] This statement conflicts with new information in the biography A Pathway Under the Gaze of Mary. In this book, it is revealed that Sister may have received an interpretation. The present article discusses this matter.

First, it is necessary to provide the statement from Ratzinger. He wrote:

[T]he interpretation offered by Cardinal Sodano in his statement of 13 May was first put personally to Sister Lucia. Sister Lucia responded by pointing out that she had received the vision but not its interpretation. The interpretation, she said, belonged not to the visionary but to the Church. After reading the text, however, she said that this interpretation corresponded to what she had experienced and that on her part she thought the interpretation correct (emphases mine).

Upon what statement from Sister Lúcia was Ratzinger basing the above claim? Internal evidence suggests that it was another quote that is directly attributed to Sister Lúcia during her conversation with (then) Archbishop Bertone in April, 2000.[2] Sister Lúcia is quoted as saying, “I wrote down what I saw; however it was not for me to interpret it, but for the Pope.”[3]

In her private journal, quoted in A Pathway Under the Gaze of Mary, Sister wrote down the following words of Our Lady from January, 1944, “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” (emphases mine).[4] How is it possible for Cardinal Ratzinger to claim that Sister Lúcia was not given an interpretation and yet she herself apparently indicates otherwise in her private journal?

Consider that in Ratzinger’s text, there are no quotation marks. One can thus safely presume that the exact words of Sister Lúcia are not being provided. Instead, what appears to be the case is that Ratzinger was giving his own understanding of what was said during the April, 2000 conversation between Sister and Bertone. That context was provided earlier in the book The Message of Fatima (as quoted above) wherein appeared Ratzinger’s Theological Commentary. If it was for the Pope to interpret the vision—not Sister Lúcia—then it would seem she would not have an interpretation.

In the light of the information presented in A Pathway Under the Gaze of Mary, we now have reason to question the Cardinal’s understanding of Sister’s comment. An important aspect of Sister Lúcia’s interior life was her reticence to discuss her spiritual experiences. She usually did so only under religious obedience.[5] What if this reticence affected her statement? Is it possible that there was a deeper meaning behind Sister’s words? Such is quite possible.

Consider that Sister Lúcia’s answer, upon closer examination, does not say a word about whether she received an interpretation. The quote attributed to her simply states that she wrote down what she saw, but it was not for her to interpret it. In these words, nothing whatsoever is said about her receiving an interpretation. If nothing was said, then Sister never actually denied having received one. All she stated was that it was up to the Church, in the person of the Pope, to decide what the vision meant.

In conclusion, the apparent difficulty between the respective texts is resolved when one looks more carefully at what was said. The quote from April, 2000 attributed to Sister Lúcia explains Ratzinger’s comment in his Theological Commentary. Upon closer inspection, there was no denial from Sister concerning her receiving an interpretation. She simply stated that it was up to the Pope, not her, to decide what the vision meant. This fact reflects a deep humility and obedience towards the Church on the part of Sister—one worthy of emulation.


[1] Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, The Message of Fatima. (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2000), 39.

[2] Ibid., 28-29.

[3] Ibid., 29. See also “Calls” from the Message of Fatima (Fatima, Portugal: Secretariado dos Pastorinhos, 2001), 131-132; 167.

[4] Carmelo de Santa Teresa – Coimbra, A Pathway Under the Gaze of Mary. (Washington, New Jersey: World Apostolate of Fatima, 2015), 243. I emended the translation after consulting the Portuguese original. See also “Calls” from the Message of Fatima (Fatima, Portugal: Secretariado dos Pastorinhos, 2001), 90.

[5] Cf. Dr. Antonio Maria Martins, S.J., Memórias e Cartas de Irmã Lúcia. (Porto, Portugal: Simão Guimarães, Filhos, LDA, 1973), 365; Fr. Robert J. Fox, edit. Documents on Fatima & Memoirs of Sister Lucia. (Fatima Family Apostolate, 2002), 449; Sister Maria Celina de Jesus Crucificado, OCD, Our Memories of Sister Lucia. (Coimbra, Portugal: Carmelo de Coimbra, 2005), 10; Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone, The Last Secret of Fatima. (New York: Doubleday, 2008), 83.

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  1. I have read so much about this message including that it explained the violent death of a pope. This would explaine the shooting of JP2 in which he gives credit to MARYfor his survival. Is this no longer the valid explanation of the secret? Or are we to expect another? I am have said this before but never received an adequate response.

    • The complete text of the third part of the secret was disclosed by the Church in June of 2000. Sister Lucia said there is no more to the secret. She left the interpretation of the secret up to the Church to determine. She may have had an understanding of what it meant, but Our Lady directed her not to write that down (as referenced in her private notes published in her biography, “A Pathway Under the Gaze of Mary.”) Some Fatima followers want to believe that Sister Lucia went ahead and wrote her understanding of it down anyway and passed it on to the Church. However, she was obedient almost to a fault. If the Blessed Mother told her not to write down her understanding of the secret, it’s because she wanted the Church to interpret it. Sister Lucia said on many occasions, “I wrote what I saw. The interpretation of it is up to the Church.”

      If you read the contents of the third secret, there are many things one could glean from this; however, Cardinal Ratzinger wrote an extensive theological commentary on this that is available on our website (linked from The Secret of Fatima tab under About Fatima) and on the Vatican website.
      I suppose it is like trying to interpret the Book of Revelations; every age can find something in it that pertains to them.

    • Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict) wrote a theological commentary, which he said was an “attempt” to interpret it. According to him the word “penance” is the key to understanding the third secret. He refers to his meeting with Sr. Lucia, who told him that the purpose of all the apparitions was to help people grow in faith, hope and charity. A call to penance was a call to conversion. Pope John Paul II, when he read the secret, identified himself as the pope that was shot down; however, he was miraculously saved and he attributed that to the intercession of Our Lady of Fatima. He then went on, just one year later, to do all he could to get the consecration done. After two attempts in 1982 and 1984, Sister Lucia affirmed to him that the 1984 consecration “was accepted by Heaven.”

      Sister Lucia wrote to John Paul II in 1982 and said, “The third part of the secret refers to Our Lady’s words: ‘If not [Russia] will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated.” She was given an understanding of its meaning but was not allowed to write that down.

      I would encourage you to read Cardinal Ratzinger’s theological commentary. He said in 2010 that we would be mistaken to believe the Fatima prophecies are complete. In other words, we are living out the third secret. Even John Paul II understood that after the consecration, all was not well with the world. While communism fell in the Soviet Union, the spirit of Communism was still alive and he warned that Marxism could soon be replaced by a new version of atheism, and would strive to destroy the roots of human and Christian morality.

      Sister Lucia told Cardinal Caffarra in 1981, “The final reign of Satan against God will be on marriage and the family.” Cardinal Caffarra was quoted this year as saying he believes we are living in the time that Lucia prophesied. It seems as if what John Paul II warned about is happening and we are living it. Cardinal Caffarra said Satan is attacking the two pillars of Genesis — the creation of man/woman and their special dignity as human beings (now we claim to be without gender and are messing with genetics, and all kinds of crazy stuff), and the union of the man and the woman. Christians are labeled “haters.” Good is called evil and evil good. This has rapidly come to the forefront in our culture and society, as if suddenly the mask of Satan has been peeled off and we can see how he has been operating in our culture for years without us knowing.

      God always gives us the easy way first – he asked for the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart in 1929. Our Lady asked for the Communion of First Saturdays in 1925 (that’s the part we are to do). The consecration was done late, as Jesus foretold to Lucia, and how many people practiced then or now the First Saturdays? Therefore, we are now facing the hard way – living through the third secret. There is enough imagery in the Third Secret already – half a city in ruins, people heading for the cross and martyred along the way, the bishop in white shot down. Is this the Church making its way to Calvary with Christ? The angel about to strike the earth with a flaming sword saying Penance, penance, penance.

      What more do we need from the third secret? There’s plenty there to ponder. Are we doing the penance that was requested, is the real question.

  2. The message of Fatima is repentance along with the Consecration of Russia (by the Pope and ALL Bishops) to the Immaculate Heart of Mary or alternatively, a severe chastisement for the world. The Consecration has not been done and the world at large has not repented, whilst the Catholic Church under Vatican II has dispensed with the True Catholic Faith and has apostatized from the top down, in accordance with True Catholic Prophecy. Therefore the message for ‘our age’ is that a severe chastisement is on the way.

    • The Consecration of Russia was performed by Pope St John Paul with all the.Bishops. Sister Lucia reported that Mary had said the Consecration was valid.

  3. Just a theory, Cardinal Ratzinger, Pope Benedict knew everything about the Fatima messages. He became pope, and tried to fix things knowing what Our Lady actually predicted. Then, after much work, and little success, and much push back from those in the church who are working against the church, he devised another plan. Keep in mind he is super smart. Smarter than those who are working against the church. His plan is to fake his resignation. He resigned, but not properly, meaning he is still pope. If you look at the requirements of a papal resignation, and prior resignations, they must be entire and complete. You can’t keep part of the papacy, the prayerfull part, and resign the active part. You must leave and go away, stop dressing like a pope, and being referred to as pope in anyway. Otherwise you are still pope. He knew this, because he studied it closely. Yet he has said he can not resign the entire papacy. He said he kept part of it. So did he pull a fast one on those who would change the church, and by doing so, he had them reveal their plans, and who all the players are. Is this God’s way of revealing the evil that was hidden within? And it would make everything they did, null and void, because in reality they have absolutely no authority!

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