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Pilgrimage Moments: Visiting the convent of Sister Lucia

Length - 07:01
Published - Mar 2024
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4

This clip comes from the BBC series: Pilgrimage – The Road Through Portugal.

The Pilgrims visit the Carmelite convent where Lucia – one of the children who witnessed the miracle at Fatima – eventually lived as a nun until she died in 2005.

Bobby helps the Pilgrims to delve deeper into Sister Lucia’s story, and they meet Sister Anna Sophia, a Carmelite nun who had the privilege of knowing Sister Lucia in the final years of her life. She paints a vivid picture of Sister Lucia’s character, describing her as joyous, humble, and deeply humane.

However, Pentecostal Christian Shane finds it challenging to connect with Sister Anna Sophia’s account due to his belief that people should be free to pray directly to God without intermediary figures.

Watch full episodes on BBC iPlayer.

Pilgrimage Moments: Visiting the convent of Sister Lucia

Bobby:    We love our hills now, don't we now. We do love a good hill.


Sue:         A hill and a good start.


Narrator: Sue, Vicky, Millie, Shane and Bobby are going to a convent with an extraordinary connection to the sanctuary at Fatima.


Bobby:    So I think direction wise we are heading. So going up there but there will be a reward. This is the convent that Sister Lucia joined.


Narrator: Sister Lucia was one of three shepherd children from Fatima, who in 1917 reported seeing apparitions of the Virgin Mary who told them to pray the Rosary to bring peace to the world and end the Great War. Lucia's cousins Francisco and Jacinta died of the Spanish flu aged only ten and nine. Lucia dedicated herself to a religious life. She became a nun in 1926 and lived at the convent in Coimbra until she died in her 90s.


Millie:     When did she pass away? I think 2005.


Bobby:    2005 on 15th February. It became a national day of mourning. Oh, really? Portugal, she's like a mega, mega star.


Vicky:      Is it still a convent with practicing nuns and that?


Bobby:    It is. Yeah.


Vicky:      This is amazing. I've actually ever met a nun. The closest I've got is I watched Sister Act. Oh, it's very nice.


Narrator: The pilgrims make their way up to the Saint Teresa convent, which was Sister Lucia's home for 57 years.


Sue:         Look at this. Oh, look at it.


Millie:     What's he looking at?


Sue:         But there's a really big statue of Lucia. Oh it's of Lucia.


Bobby:    Yeah, we can see she went up to 98, so she.


Vicky:      Did nearly 100. I tell you, she had a good innings.


Sue:         Are we allowed to go up and look?


Vicky:      Yeah, let's have a look. For some reason, I didn't picture her with glasses.


Sue:         Oh, wow. I could be her sister. Look.


Bobby:    Hello.


Sue:         You look. She looks lovely.


Millie:     Yeah.


Sue:         98. Fabulous.


Narrator: It's a cloistered Carmelite convent, which means the nuns have very little contact with the outside world. Hello. Once the pilgrims have been let in. Bobby, the only Catholic in the group, shares what he knows about the story.


Bobby:    Obviously, we have Lucia there. Yeah, after she joined the convent. Yeah. Dedicated her life to Virgin Mary. And then here we have a younger cousins, Francisco and Jacinta, dressed in this sort of traditional Portuguese. Can you see what he's got in his hand? It looks like a crutch. I think it's a shepherd's stick.


Millie:     Mhm.


Sue:         No, they were the ones that died. Weren't they?


Bobby:    The cousins. Yes. It is sort of surreal to think our whole pilgrimage together, our journey, meeting all these people is all because of her and their cousins, their visions and how the story spread.


Sue:         But you know what I meant to ask you. Is there any documented evidence that they constantly were ridiculed by everybody else, saying they made it up? It's fantasy even.


Bobby:    Yeah. Even Lucia's mother.


Millie:     Yeah.


Bobby:    Um, beat her, saying rescind these visions that you had.


Millie:     But she didn't believe them. Yeah.


Bobby:    The mothers, they stopped making up these.


Sue:         Well, you see, it's so farfetched. It's like that term, you know. What about the fairies at the bottom of the garden?


Narrator: As Carmelites. The sisters can only speak two hours a day. But the pilgrims have been given special permission to meet a nun who knew Lucia during the last ten years of her life. Sister Ana Sofia. Hello.


Nun:        Welcome, welcome.


Millie:     I'm sorry for my ignorance, but what are the bars for?


Nun:        Yeah. Okay.


Sue:         Like us pilgrims when we're walking. No luxury, no nothing. Yes, it's the same.


Nun:        Yeah, yeah, yeah.


Bobby:    What was Sister Lucia like when you met her?


Bobby:    When Lucia had the apparitions as a child, Lucia's mother didn't believe and said, oh, Lucia tell everyone it didn't happen. What do you think about that?


Sue:         Yes that's true.


Vicky:      It's lovely to hear about from someone who actually met her. I feel like that's. Yeah, that's pretty impressive. You're amazing. Fantastic.


Sue:         Thank you. Thank you very much.


Nun:        Thank you. God bless you.


Sue:         Thank you very much.


Nun:        Have a nice travel.


Millie:     Yes, yes. God bless you.


Nun:        You pray for you. Thank you.


Sue:         Thank you so much. She was so good. That lady I mean terrific. I mean her answers and everything. She was.


Millie:     Really nice.


Narrator:  As a Pentecostal born again Christian sister Ana Sofia's account didn't resonate with Shane.


Shane:     The story was very interesting up until a point. Then it was like, I get what's going on here. I believe the, the, the intent is, is there, and the prayers and the praying for the people. And it's all very, very real. And they certainly believe it. But it's almost those prayers have no authority because they haven't a direct line to God. They're still going. They're still worshiping technically false idols, which is the only person meant to be worshiped as God himself. Not Mary, not Lucia, not Luke anything. The true route is direct to God, and anything that gets in the way is getting in your way.

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