To Make The Guitars Laugh
Coimbra appears as if out of nowhere at a surprise turn in the road and the imagination instantly catapults back to the age of martyrs and saints. The incorrupt remains of St. Elizabeth of Portugal are preserved in the Basilica there on the hillside. Atop the hill, where the renowned fado festivals occur each spring, the University of Coimbra resonates like an exquisitely crafted guitar to the murmur of the heart of Portugal. Coimbra is proud. With good reason. Here in this fabled city rising upon the banks of the Mondego River is housed the Secret. The sole surviving seer from the Cova da Iria lives here behind very high walls.
The Carmel of Coimbra rests on the side of the hill, a massive white enclave with emerald green doors, a bejewelled rock on one finger of this historic mountain. Here where Rua Santa Teresa intersects with Avenida Dias da Silva, Lucy dos Santos has withstood the curiosity of the world through the second half of the most rapidly changing century in history.
Born seven months before Pius X published his condemnation of modernism, she has seen seven other popes take the Chair of Peter. Indeed, she has met several of them in person. Arriving here at this cloister shortly after the end of the Second World War, she has followed the Korean War, Vietnam, and the Persian Gulf conflict. She has watched Communism devour much of the world. She even now observes its supposed and much publicized ‘collapse.’
Born before the birth of radio, she has lived to see pictures radioed back from Pluto. She has survived the countless tyrants, dictators and madmen who have promised the world thousand-year reichs, the burial of capitalism and the extermination of the Church. Of her life lived in private, away from the prying eyes of media entrepreneurs and religious fanatics, we know next to nothing. Time may bring us precise details of her hidden life in written accounts but of her actual life we can be sure of only one thing — she says her Rosary each day.
Photographs of this unique Carmelite taken in adult life reveal a dramatic face exuding confidence in the presence of popes and pilgrims — on occasion she has returned to the great monumental shrine now surrounding the azinhiera tree. There is in her face an obvious joy, the source of which must surely reach all the way back to that day in October, 1917, very near the Feast of Tabernacles that Jesus so loved, when the sun left its tent in the sky and educated the souls and hearts of 70,000 people in that famous Cova in Portugal.
There is in her countenance ample evidence of a lifetime of conscientious responsibility. But one special ingredient outshines all others. In her eyes there is freedom. Freedom born of the miniature winds that move the trees on the hills of Aljustrel, cool the rocks of the Cabeço, bend the flowers in the Cova da Iria. Freedom like the crafted winds spun by the flashing fingers of the fado players. Freedom from this world. It is the secret of the saints. It is this that makes the guitars laugh.
Upon beholding the Carmel of Coimbra one is reminded that God is the greatest of all storytellers. Behind these towering walls of Carmel, He put this specially chosen woman. And there He kept her very well. Like a princess in a castle keep, she grips our imagination, holds us in wonder, lest the rest of the story He is telling be tugged from our minds.
Many have tried to scale the heights of the Great Secret. None can prove they have succeeded. Many have tried to lure the keeper of the Secret into the light of day to unfurl those ‘24 lines on one lined sheet of paper’ which contain the Secret. All have failed.
For 48 years, since departing her previous convent in Tuy to arrive here, she has been the focus of relentless scrutiny, outrageous speculation, misplaced devotion, political and ecclesiastical pressure. But at no time was her resolve more challenged, her personality more taxed, her very integrity more threatened, than in the year 1992, when it seemed all the world wanted to breach the white walls of this Carmel.
The concentration of pressure resulted from one reality; the fact that Sister Lucy has been silenced since 1960. Yet those who refuse to acknowledge that John Paul II has clearly and publicly said that the Consecration of Russia as requested by Our Lady of Fatima is not done, continue to try to bolster their position by fraudulently claiming that Sister Lucy agrees with them. They are only able to do this because she cannot respond and defend herself publicly without the permission of Cardinal Ratzinger himself.
As J. Kaess explains, “The Fatima establishment keeps insisting” that the consecration has been done. But “they cannot produce a single shred of evidence.” First “Russia was not mentioned in the (1984) ceremony and they can't prove that any more than a few hundred bishops were involved.” Second, “the 1984 Consecration was not a public act. Even though there was a public ceremony, not a single person in the world knew anything about it having anything to do with the Collegial Consecration until five years later when the ‘writing was on the wall’ in the Soviet Union.”1
Alas for the establishment, the Catholic world has a longer memory than the establishment banked on. After waiting 40 years for the Consecration of Russia, Catholics were suddenly being told in the late 80's, “Oh, by the way, that was done back in '84.” But, of course, the whole world knows that it was not done in '84. The most devout, attentive, loyal supporters of the Pope had not heard a thing about it. Suddenly, in 1989, pictures and articles appeared in publications far and wide showing the consecration by John Paul II that took place in St. Peter's Square, March 25, 1984.
It was as if the FBI issued a news release in 1989 saying, “Oh, by the way, Walt Disney killed Kennedy. We proved it back in '84.”
Cardinals, bishops and priests, and the faithful knew full well it had not been done. And as Father Gruner keeps saying, ‘... time is running out’.
Whoever the individual was behind that very transparent maneuver, he is a man never to be envied. In the circles where hoodwinking is a fine art, the supposed consecration whitewash was worse than a hoax, it was a faux-pas, a terrible mistake. By 1992, the establishment was dangling naked at the end of its tether. People wanted an explanation. The ruse of '89, designed to convince the faithful that the consecration was done, had exposed the Big Lie at home. By November of that year, the “Fatima Establishment” had been proclaiming that, in five letters supposedly written by Sister Lucy, the last living Fatima seer was confirming the Consecration of Russia had been done. The establishment now found that it had to scurry to provide more specific proofs that Fatima is finished.
March 21, 1992, the first incident. The chain of events this day triggered would turn 1992 into a rollercoaster ride for the establishment. That it was the direct result of the pressure applied relentlessly by Father Nicholas Gruner and his Apostolate was clearly confirmed from the onset by one of the most credible voices of the entire Fatima phenomenon.
Abbé Caillon writes, “The event was triggered off by a certain Father Gruner who ‘runs a review on Fatima’ (author's emphasis ) in North America and who maintains that the consecration of Russia has not been made.”2
Father Messias Coelho explained (to Abbé Caillon), “This interview took place on the initiative of Doctor Lacerda, who was irritated with Father Gruner's campaigns.”3 In a letter dated December 20, 1991, addressed to Father Gruner's representative, Doctor Lacerda stated, “Pope John Paul II effected this consecration on March 25, 1984. And what Gorbachev has done since 1985 can only be explained by this consecration”.4
“It was necessary, therefore,” says Abbé Caillon, “to go to the source.”
On Saturday, March 21, 1992, a delegation of four people went to the Carmel of Coimbra to consult with the seer. It was the feast of St. Benedict, no longer much celebrated or even noted in the new liturgical calendar. But there was irony in the date. The obliteration of Monte Casino in World War II was nothing compared to what this meeting would do to the credibility of Fortress Lucy.
The group was comprised of the Apostolic Delegate to Portugal, Monsignor Luciano Angeloni; his secretary, Doctor Francis de Lacerda, and Father Messias Coelho, a longstanding Portuguese Fatimist who had, up until 1988, steadfastly maintained, along with Father Gruner and so many others, that the act of consecration of the world made on March 25, 1984, had not met the requirements given by Our Lady of Fatima.
Abbé Caillon reports, “The interview lasted one and a half hours. Sister Lucy declared that the consecration of Russia has been made.”5
What? Sister Lucy says the consecration has been made? Even the most bold of the anti-Fatima forces hesitated crowing the news to the world at large. One would expect such world-shaking words to be immediately blasted from the housetops ad mare usque ad mare. They were not. Instead, a peculiar calm followed what should have been a grand victory for the anti-Fatima establishment. But an event was fast approaching that would provide a stage for the announcement.
Between May 8-12, 1992, an international congress on ‘Fatima and Peace’ took place in the Paul VI Center in Fatima as a build-up to the 75th anniversary of the first apparition in the Cova. About five hundred persons attended. It was the ideal setting for the great announcement.
Among those attending was Father Gruner, who was invited to endure hearing his entire life's work being dismissed by one particular speaker. Bishop Jose da Cruz Policarpo characterized those who still work for the consecration of Russia, (such as Father Gruner, although his name was not mentioned) as, “... inclined to a simplistic reading of history and with a taste for myth and the pseudo-eschatalogical ...” who accuse “... the popes and bishops of being responsible for the world 's calamities through failing to accomplish the request of Our Lady of Fatima.” (Bishop da Cruz Policarpo, formerly auxiliary bishop of Lisbon and now rector of the Portuguese Catholic University has been characterized as a ‘... man of the Left, known for his progressive positions ...’)6
But no great announcement of the supposed words of Sister Lucy of March 21 was made from the podium.
In an address on May 13, Cardinal Sodano, the newly-appointed Secretary of State, mentioned the past consecration attempts of the Popes but did not mention that the only Pope to formulate an explicit (albeit incomplete) consecration of Russia was Pope Pius XII in 1952.
No great announcement of the words of March 21 followed this address either.
In a private conversation with Abbé Caillon, Father Messias Coelho reported part of the contents of the March 21 meeting: “Lucy said that the consecration had been made, that she has always said so, that she had never asked anything concerning Russia, but only concerning the union of the bishops. And since this union was imperfect, the fruits will not be as good as might have been imagined.”7
Father Coelho added, “That there were things that Lucy said which he could not report because the Nuncio had forbidden him.”8 So now there was a fourth secret of Fatima. No matter how strenuously the anti-Fatima forces tried to bend Sister Lucy to the shape demanded by their program, she would always say something which had to be hidden from the faithful. This would suggest, later on, that perhaps what was needed was a Sister Lucy whose words would be entirely theirs.
Entering into this debate was a brilliant young religious from France whose dramatic analysis of the people and events of the Fatima story reveals a talent that is part John le Carre and part G.K. Chesterton, Brother François de Marie des Anges of the Catholic Counter Reformation.
Brother François dissected Father Coelho's report with razor sharp precision.
“It is in fact unlikely that Sister Lucy declared on March 21, 1992, that she had always said that the consecration of Russia had been made when a series of concordant testimonies going back to 1984, 1986, 1987 and 1989, a good number of them collected by Abbé Caillon himself — shows that during those years she often stated that the consecration of Russia still had not been done as willed by Our Lady. Besides, how is it possible to believe Sister Lucy confided that she had never said anything about Russia? There we have travestied both the request made at Tuy and Our Lady's promise!
“We know, in fact, that on several occasions during the last decade she explained why the acts of offering of May 13, 1982, and of March 25, 1984, which were practically identical, do not correspond with Our Lady's request, at the same time affirming that ‘God wants Russia to appear as the sole object of the consecration’. For the Divine plan to be fulfilled, the consecration of Russia alone is in fact necessary ‘because Russia is an immense, well defined territory, and her conversion will be seen and will thus be proof of what can be obtained through consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.’”9
Then Brother François added his most convincing argument.
“Furthermore,” he said, “if Sister Lucy had really said on March 21, 1992, that the consecration of Russia had been done, her declaration would not have remained secret, or ‘hidden’ to repeat the word used by Abbé Caillon. Firstly, the Apostolic Nuncio, Monsignor Luciano Angeloni, would have made it known on emerging from this parlor. Secondly, Father Messias Coelho would have published it in his review Mensagem de Fatima, and to be precise in his number which appeared a few weeks later for May (No. 189). Then Father Fox would not have failed to mention it in the July issue of his quarterly periodical, Fatima Family Messenger. Thirdly, Doctor Lacerda would have used this declaration of Lucy's as an unanswerable argument in his controversy with Father Gruner's representative at Fatima. Fourthly, the Rector of Fatima Sanctuary (Monsignor Guerra) would have referred to it when questioned by Abbé Laurentin.
“Fifthly, Abbé Caillon would have learned this news, not in the corridors of this Congress, but from the mouth of Monsignor Policarpo when he delivered his communication ‘Fatima, Peace and Russia’ mentioned previously.”10
The accusation demanded a response. One came.
Monsignor Luciano Angeloni's letter to Brother François of August 4, 1992, seems to let the steam out of the kettle: “On my last visit of this March 21st, I was accompanied by two specialists in Fatima affairs, who had asked me to provide them with the opportunity of returning to see Sister Lucy (whom they had not met since 1983). Without it being necessary to make known the news in question, I can tell you that there was no conversation. There were no special declarations. It was simply a visit on my part, during which those who had asked to accompany me wished to see Sister Lucy again. They spoke with her about various current matters — matters, for example, which have been published in her Memoirs.”11
In other words, not the kind of exchange that would spawn a grand announcement at the Congress. In fact, nothing worth even a whisper. So — someone lied.
Ironically, at the same congress, Cardinal Casaroli admitted to the result of his 30 years of Ostpolitik. “The Church, who seemed to pay so much attention to the great questions of disarmament and tensions between the two blocs, now seems powerless before the mosaic of conflicts breaking out in the world. The fact that the highest international authorities prove to be equally powerless affords us no consolation.”12
Brother François notes, regarding Cardinal Casaroli, that we have total collapse! but the former Secretary of State is not going to abjure his faith in Masonic humanism for all that.13 Nor, we might add, his decades of faithful service to the Vatican-Moscow Agreement.
Who could have guessed that all that had transpired so far in this busiest of years was merely a prelude to the drama to unfold on the 75th anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun?
1. J. Kaess, Strange Goings On In Fatima, The Fatima Crusader, Issue 44, Spring 1993, pg. 35.
2. The Catholic Counter-Reformation in the XXth Century, Aug-Sept 1992, pg. 4.
4. Doctor Lacerda, Letter to Father Gruner, dated Dec. 20, 1991, published in The Catholic Counter-Reformation in the XXth Century, Aug-Sept 1992 Issue, pg. 5.
5. The Catholic Counter-Reformation in the XXth Century, Aug-Sept 1992, pg. 4.
8. Ibid, pg. 5.
10. Ibid, pg. 5.
11. Ibid, pg. 5, footnote 2.
12. Ibid, pg. 4.