By Fr. C.G. Arevalo, S.J.
Loyola School of Theology

When Mrs. Cory Aquino was Philippine president in 1988, she made her official visit to the Vatican on 18 June that year. That was a really memorable event in her life. We are told that Pope John Paul II, as he read his message, departed from his text to tell her that she represented for him the Filipino people’s special love for Our Lady, and that he trusted she would foster that special love (“pueblo amante de Maria”) in her years as leader in our land.

Surely, she has helped keep that love for Mary, Mother of Jesus, alive and ardent among our people through all the years she has been a public figure. It is something she continues to do till the present. She continues to be an ever-active “apostle of the Rosary.” She is thus simply living out her authentic devotion to Our Blessed Mother, something very deep and very real in her own life.

Here we would like to say a little about a special rosary she has had since the year 1986 when the People Power “revolution” (EDSA UNO) brought her to the presidency in an historic and unique way, -with “People Power as Prayer Power.”

In September of 1986, Jaime Cardinal Sin and then-Ambassador to the Vatican Mr. Howard Dee organized at Fatima in Portugal an International Theological Symposium on “the Alliance of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary,” with a number of outstanding European theologians participating. But the Cardinal took a day’s time-out during the meetings, to visit Sr. Lucia dos Santos, “the last seer of Fatima” at her Carmelite convent in Coimbra. –The Holy See (Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s office, in particular) had granted the privilege of the visit. Cardinal Sin went with Fr. Socrates Villegas. Sister Lucia, a member of the Carmelite community in Coimbra, was really happy to talk with the Cardinal. She had been told of the “People Power” events, and she assured the Cardinal that she and the other Sisters had prayed—prayed much—for our people’s peaceful liberation from the dictatorship. She seemed to be well informed about EDSA UNO.

Then Sr. Lucia did something the Cardinal did not expect. She took out a rosary which (she said) she herself made, bead by bead. She wanted Cardinal Sin to give it as her personal gift to Mrs. Aquino, and she said—somewhat surprisingly—“Tell her to take good care of it.” It was a promise of Our Lady’s blessing on President Cory during her presidency and beyond.

Let me now cite Mrs. Aquino herself: “Sister Lucia sent me this rosary which she herself made, with the message that I would be supported and protected in my presidency. She added, however, that more suffering would come my way. I now know that it was a prophetic message, as I had to fight back seven coup attempts to save my administration from power-grabbers in uniform. With Our Lady’s protection, I stood my ground and never left Malacañang, even when it was being attacked.”

We know that President Cory saw the seven coup attempts through, and finished her term, handing over the post to her duly elected successor, General Fidel Ramos, in 1992. The six years of her governance she constantly entrusted to the protection of Our Lady of Fatima, to Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart.

The year 1992 marked the 75th anniversary of the Fatima apparitions, and Mrs. Aquino, no longer head of state, went to Fatima that year, armed with the permission to visit the Carmel of Coimbra and to talk with Sister Lucia. Her daughter Kris accompanied her on this trip. She also brought a small group with her, who (unexpectedly!) were all allowed to see Sr. Lucia. The former Father General of the Comboni Fathers, Fr. Manuel Lopes, who had served in Manila before being elected Superior General, was present and acted as translator. He himself being from Portugal, could help in the conversation between Tita Cory and Sr. Lucia.

Again, let me quote Mrs. Aquino: “When I visited Sister Lucia in 1992, the first question she asked me was, ‘Do you still have the rosary I sent you?’ I replied, ‘Yes, but right now a niece who lives in Boston and is hoping to have a baby is borrowing it.’ –I feel so blessed and privileged to have this bond with Fatima and so I shared this rosary with relatives and friends.”

When we asked Mrs. Aquino the names of some of the people who had borrowed her rosary, usually at a time of crisis or health need (a grave surgical procedure, for instance) or when begging for some important grace from the Lord, she texted in reply: “Some names I remember, among the people who have prayed using the rosary given by Sister Lucia: Teddy Benigno, Chino Roces, Ed Angara, Violy Drilon, Bea Zobel and her daughter, Titoy Pardo, Sasa Lichauco, Doding Carlos, Meldy Cojuangco and her son Tony, Sr. Christine Tan, Mercy Tuason, Howard Dee and Dodo Dee, Arben Santos, Bettina Osmeña, and … my sisters, my children and grandchildren.”

The list goes quite a bit longer, for sure, and there are moving stories connected with many of the “borrowings.” The story of the last weeks of Mr. Chino Roces’ life is surely one worth telling. The heroic “Chino” had asked Mrs. Aquino to let him borrow the rosary as he waited for death. He prayed it daily with his loved ones, returning filial devotion to Our Lady when the end came.

Sr. Lucia’s rosary has become somewhat “legendary” already. Mrs. Aquino has been touched by accounts of how much healing, and strength, and comfort (even miracles!) the rosary has brought to those who have borrowed it. But she has also wondered, as others have, why so humbly and saintly a person as Sr. Lucia was so insistent that she “take good care of the rosary.” One of those who were with Mrs. Aquino at Fatima in 1992 said, “It seems to me that the Sisters at Coimbra know that Our Blessed Mother sill appeared to Sr. Lucia, from time to time, even in her late years. (It is interesting to note that Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, SDB, the present Vatican Secretary of State, who “officially interviewed” Sister Lucia more than once before her death, has said the same: “Sister Lucia received visits from the Blessed Mother in later years of her life.” Some of the Sisters believe that Our Lady, during one of her visits, held the rosary in her own hands and blessed it for Mrs. Aquino, promising her presence and strength to her in times specially of suffering and need. That is why Sr. Lucia reminded Tita Cory to take good care of the rosary. Our Lady had held it in her own hands.

Mrs. Aquino’s final comment on trusting Our Blessed Mother and praying to her? Here are her own words:

“What are the lessons of Fatima, which I have experienced in my own life, and which I can share with you? When people talk of Fatima, they invariably focus on the secrets of Fatima. These are the ‘three secrets’ of Fatima which Ninoy and I discovered:

“First is the power of prayer, especially the daily praying of the rosary of Our Lady.

“Second is the acceptance in faith of God’s plan in our own lives, and the entrustment of our lives to Mary.

“Third is the spirit of sacrifice to carry out God’s designs, after the example of Mary, offering personal sacrifice for a greater good toward God’s purposes.

“These three elements are actually intertwined, as one leads to the others, to complete the process of one’s total conversion.”

Sister Lucia dos Santos died in Coimbra on 13 February 2005. She had earlier witnessed the beatification of her two cousins, Francisco and Giacinta Marto, on 13 May 2000 in Fatima. Now that, as we hope and trust, she has joined her cousins in heaven, we know she prays with Tita Cory whenever she prays with the “special rosary” in her hands, as (for sure!) she joins us when we pray the rosary too, that God be ever more glorified, and that Mary our Mother may be with us “now and at the hour of death.”

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16 comments on “Sister Lucia of Fatima: Her Rosary and Mrs. Cory Aquino
  1. Belinda Giron Biscocho says:

    Even at death, Tita Cory converted me back. From here in USA, just by watching on tv, her necrological rites, the eulogy on her filial devotion to the Rosary of the Blessed Mother, her paintings of the Rosary, dying on Mother Mary’s First Saturday of August – brought shivers to my soul, jolted me into penance and restored my faith. A deep spiritual transforming welled in me. Even though I have not literally touched the Rosary from Sister/Blessed Lucia, I was blessed that Tita Cory touched my soul and melted my disbelief. This moved me, in 2010, with 3 friends, started the weekly house to house Rosary devotion and Divine Mercy, to date, as a mission and apostolate for life. Sister/Blessed Lucia continues to inspire beyond 2005…Tita Cory’s mission did not end with her earthly life…did not stop in 2009…The spiritual impact of the Rosary from Sister/Blessed Lucia is beyond the physical Rosary…it is the POWER OF THE ROSARY itself…transcending over and beyond time, distance and geographical boundaries, that could melt the hardest hearts. . . YES Sister/Blessed Lucia… YES…Tita Cory…we shall “TAKE CARE OF THE ROSARY,” as we multiply to more homes, more families and more communities . . . until we join you in Rosary in heaven with our Blessed Mother Mary, the Divine Mercy, the Blessed Trinity and all the angels and saints.

  2. Lucy says:

    I read with great faith and have a special trust in Our Lady of Fatima. I pray to Sister Lucia to intercede for me for a miracle to happen and that she may be made a Saint soon. Prayer is power, especially in the Rosary. Crown Mary with a rose for each “Hail Mary” said.

  3. Ugwuja Johnson Udoka says:

    I was very elated when I read this article. May the Immaculate Heart of Mary protect the suffering faithful all over the world as it did to President Aquino. The Holy Rosary made the three children of Fatima precious before the eyes of God. May we imitate them. Please, pray your Rosary daily!

  4. i hope and pray that every filipino will learn to pray the rosary everyday!

  5. aris cristobal says:

    No administration in the world can survived 7 coup attempts, devastating earthquake and volcanic eruption but because Mama Mary promised Her special protection Tita Cory survived it all. What a wonderful feeling to know that we always have our Mother in Heaven on our side.
    Tita Cory please pray for us now that you are in heaven. Please help me to imitate you to be truly a Marian devotee.

  6. Marianne says:

    Thank you for sharing the beautiful story of Mrs. Aquino’s love for Our Lady, Her Rosary, and Fatima.

  7. Apollo says:

    May I very strongly suggest that, after the mandatory 5-year waiting period has expired, Tita Cory’s cause for beatification be introduced.

  8. Grace says:

    I wish I could have so much faith like Mrs. Aquino or Tita Cory. I try to pray my rosary everyday. I am now more inspired to pray it every single day. I pray to the Blessed Mother that when I’ll die, I will enjoy the Sabbatine Privilege, that she will visit me at the hour of my death… to die peacefully in her arms.

  9. Tess Grefal says:

    I was there during the EDSA Revolution praying the rosary with everyone else! This article brings back the memory of God’s miracle at EDSA through the powerful intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. May God be praised forever and Mary be blessed for her motherly intercession for all of us! Thank you for this powerful article!!!

  10. praise God for He loves us so much..letting us know that we really need a mother…tru the rosary we can be with her ,,Mama Mary…lets all pray the rosary and be devoted to her like President Cory..let us immitate her….

  11. Brian says:

    Thank you for this touching aritcle.

  12. Doug Pounds says:

    What a wonderful story. Fatima has so influenced my life and the life of my children. Thank you Blessed Mother and thank you Sister Lucia (No doubt to be Saint Lucia some day).

  13. Ben Cal says:


    I’m deeply touched of this narration about former President Cory Aquino’s firm belief on the power of the Holy Rosary. It was the power of prayer that saved President Aquino’s government against nine (not 7 coup attempt), which incidentally, as a journalist covered the seven coups, because the other two happened in Northern Mindanao and the other in Cagayan Valley. Through Mary, our Mother, God will hear our prayers. Glory be to God in the highest! Ben Cal

  14. jean says:

    Have sister lucia of fatima pray for my daughter’s recovery of drugs.

  15. Noelangelo Kristofferson says:

    Whenever I could come back home, I sponsor the Sto. Nino carrosa participation of Biak na Bato Street, in Barangay Sto. Nino, Q.C., during the annual feast of the Sto. Nino. I always give away free T-shirts to the devotees who goes with my Sto. Nino image, and I chose the color YELLOW, AND YELLOW GOLD, as a sign of unity and gratefulness to Pres. Cory Aquino.

  16. renzo mercado says:

    I was deeply inpired by the testimonies above. May the Blessed Virgin Mary continously interceed for us! Ave Ave Ave Maria!

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