Damien F. Mackey
The Scriptures urge us not to forget the great works of the Lord. In Psalm 77:5-7 (Douay) we read of the “great things [God] commanded our fathers, that they should make the same known to their children …. The children that should be born and should rise up, and declare them to their children. That they may put their hope in God and may not forget the works of God: and may seek his commandments”.
And the prophet Habbakuk begged God (3:2): “LORD, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, LORD. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy”.
Never, though, was a great miracle wrought by God predicted months in advance, to the very hour, as was the great solar miracle at Fatima (Portugal), on the 13th of October, 1917:
“So that all may believe”.
It was meant for All of us!
Apparition of 13 July 1917
As the July date approached Lucia continued to be troubled by the words of her pastor that the devil might be behind the apparitions. Finally, she confided to Jacinta that she intended not to go. When the day finally dawned, however, her fears and anxieties disappeared, so that the noon hour found her in the Cova with Jacinta and Francisco, awaiting the arrival of the beautiful Lady.
The apparition of July 13th would prove to be in many ways the most controversial aspect of the message of Fátima, providing a secret in three parts which the children guarded zealously. The first two parts, the vision of hell and the prophecy of the future role of Russia and how to prevent it, would not be revealed until Sr. Lucia wrote them down in her third memoir, at the request of the bishop, in 1941. The third part, usually called the Third Secret, was only later communicated to the bishop, who sent it unread to Pope Pius XII.
Video A few moments after arriving at the Cova da Iria, near the holmoak, where a large number of people were praying the Rosary, we saw the flah of light once more, and a moment later Our Lady appeared on the holmoak.
“Lucia,” Jacinta said, “speak. Our Lady is talking to you.
“Yes?” said Lucia. She spoke humbly, asking pardon for her doubts with every gesture, and to the Lady: “What do you want of me?”
I want you to come back here on the thirteenth of next month. Continue to say the Rosary every day in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary, to obtain the peace of the world and the end of the war, because only she can obtain it.
“I would like to ask who you are, and if you will do a miracle so that everyone will know for certain that you have appeared to us.”
You must come here every month, and in October I will tell you who I am and what I want. I will then perform a miracle so that all may believe.
And from my book:
The Five First Saturdays of Our Lady of Fatima
The Great Solar Miracle
After the Lady had identified who She was, Lucia again asked her if She would cure the sick, and convert the sinners who had been recommended to her. Our Lady replied:
“I will cure or convert some of them. Others I will not. They must repent and beg pardon for their sins”.
Then, with a look of grief and in a suppliant tone of voice, She added:
“Men must not offend God any more for He is already very much offended”.
And opening her hands Our Lady, as She was rising to go away, projected beams of light onto the sun. Lucia cried:
“Look at the sun!”
And suddenly, as the crowd looked upwards, the clouds opened and exposed the blue sky with the sun at its zenith. But this sun did not dazzle. The people could look directly at it. It was like a shining silver plate. Then the sun trembled. It made some abrupt movements. It began to spin like a wheel of fire. Great shafts of coloured light flared out from its center in all directions, colouring in a most fantastic manner the clouds, trees, rocks, earth, and even the clothes and faces of the people gathered there, in alternating splashes of red, yellow, green, blue and violet
the full spectrum of rainbow colours. After about five minutes the sun stopped revolving in this fashion. A moment later, it resumed a second time its incredible motion, throwing out its light and colour like a huge display of fireworks. And once more, after a few minutes, the sun stopped its prodigious dance. After a short time, and for the third time, it resumed its spinning and fantastic colours. The crowd gazed spellbound.
Then came the awful climax. The sun seemed to be falling from the sky. Zig-zagging from sided to side, it plunged down towards the crowd below, sending out a heat increasingly intense, and causing the spectators to believe that this was indeed the end of the world. People stood wild-eyed, or sank to their knees in the mud, as the sun rushed towards them. A desperate cry went up from the crowd, begging God, or the Blessed Virgin
Mary, for mercy, asking pardon for their sins. The sun halted, stopping short in its precipitous fall, and then it climbed back to its place in the sky, where it regained its normal brilliance. Then the dazed people, who had just experienced the wonder of the age – or what Cardinal Laraana would later call “the greatest Divine intervention since the time of Our Lord” (Soul, Sep-Oct, 1990, p. 6) – found that another miracle had occurred. This apocalyptic scene, full of majesty and terror, had ended with a delicate gift, which showed the motherly tenderness of the Immaculate Heart of Mary for her children. Their sodden clothes were dry and comfortable, without a trace of mud and rain.
But there was another aspect to Our Lady‟s Miracle that only the three children witnessed. Corresponding to the three distinct movements of the sun, separated by the moments of pause, Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco saw three distinct tableaux representing, successively, the Joyful, the Sorrowful and the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary. In the first tableau they saw the three members of the Holy Family; with Our Lady of the Rosary to the right of the sun and more brilliant than the sun, wearing a white dress and a blue mantle. To the left, dressed in red, was St. Joseph with the Infant Jesus blessing the world. Next, Our Divine Lord appeared as a grown man, lovingly blessing the world. To the left was Our Lady of Sorrows, clad in purple. Finally, Our Lady of Sorrows was replaced by Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the Scapular in her hand. The Miracle of the sun at Fatima, therefore, was absolutely a Rosary miracle. It seemed even to move to the pulse and rhythm of a Rosary being recited. Its approximately fifteen minutes‟ duration might also have been intended to represent one of the conditions of the Five First Saturday devotion: fifteen minutes of meditation on the Mysteries of the Rosary, while keeping Our Lady company.
So That All May Believe: The “Miracle of the Sun”
October 12, 2014 by Kathy Schiffer
It was raining at the Cova da Iria on October 13, 1917–raining so much, in fact, that the crowds gathered there, their clothing drenched and dripping, slipped in the puddles and along the trails of mud. Those who had umbrellas opened them against the downpour, but they were still splashed and sodden. All waited, their eyes on three peasant children who had promised a miracle.
And then, at high noon, something remarkable happened: The clouds broke, and the sun appeared in the sky. Unlike any other day, the sun began to revolve in the sky–an opaque, spinning disc. It cast multicolored lights across the landscape, the people, and the surrounding clouds. Without warning, the sun began to careen across the sky, zigging and zagging toward the earth. Three times it approached, then receded. The panicked crowd erupted in screams; but there was no evading it. The end of the earth, some believed, was at hand.
The event lasted ten minutes, and then the sun, just as mysteriously, stopped and receded back toward its place in the heavens. The frightened witnesses murmured as they looked about. The rainwater had evaporated and their clothing, which had been soaked through to their skin, was now completely dry. So, too, was the ground: As if transformed by a sorcerer’s wand, the pathways and trails of mud were as dry as on a hot summer day.
According to Fr. John De Marchi, an Italian Catholic priest and researcher who spent seven years in Fatima, 110 miles north of Lisbon, studying the phenomenon and interviewing witnesses,
“Engineers that have studied the case reckoned that an incredible amount of energy would have been necessary to dry up those pools of water that had formed on the field in a few minutes as it was reported by witnesses.”
* * * * *
IT SOUNDS LIKE SCIENCE FICTION, or lore from the pen of Edgar Allan Poe. And the event may well have been written off as an illusion, but for the extensive news coverage it received at the time.
Gathered in the Cova da Iria near Fatima, an insignificant rural community in the countryside in Ourém in western Portugal, about 110 miles north of Lisbon, were an estimated 40,000 to 100,000 witnesses. Among them were reporters from the New York Times and from O Século, Portugal’s most widely circulated and influential newspaper. Believers and unbelievers, converts and skeptics, simple farmers and world-renowned scientists and academics–hundreds of witnesses recounted what they’d seen that historic day:
Reporter Avelino de Almeida, writing for the pro-government, anti-clerical O Século, had been skeptical. Almeida had covered earlier apparitions with satire, mocking the three children who had proclaimed the events there at Fatima. This time, though, he witnessed the events firsthand and wrote:
“Before the astonished eyes of the crowd, whose aspect was biblical as they stood bare-headed, eagerly searching the sky, the sun trembled, made sudden incredible movements outside all cosmic laws — the sun ‘danced’ according to the typical expression of the people.”
Dr. Domingos Pinto Coelho, a noted lawyer from Lisbon and chairman of the Bar Association, reporting in the newspaper Ordem, wrote:
“The sun, at one moment surrounded with scarlet flame, at another aureoled in yellow and deep purple, seemed to be in an exceedingly swift and whirling movement, at times appearing to be loosened from the sky and to be approaching the earth, strongly radiating heat.”
A reporter for the Lisbon newspaper O Dia wrote:
“…The silver sun, enveloped in the same gauzy grey light, was seen to whirl and turn in the circle of broken clouds… The light turned a beautiful blue, as if it had come through the stained-glass windows of a cathedral, and spread itself over the people who knelt with outstretched hands… people wept and prayed with uncovered heads, in the presence of a miracle they had awaited. The seconds seemed like hours, so vivid were they.”
Dr. Almeida Garrett, professor of natural sciences at the University of Coimbra, was present and was frightened by the spinning sun. Afterward, he wrote:
“The sun’s disc did not remain immobile. This was not the sparkling of a heavenly body, for it spun round on itself in a mad whirl, when suddenly a clamor was heard from all the people. The sun, whirling, seemed to loosen itself from the firmament and advance threateningly upon the earth as if to crush us with its huge fiery weight. The sensation during those moments was terrible.”
Dr. Manuel Formigão, a priest and professor at the seminary at Santarém, had attended an earlier apparition in September, and had questioned the three children on several occasions. Father Formigão wrote:
“As if like a bolt from the blue, the clouds were wrenched apart, and the sun at its zenith appeared in all its splendor. It began to revolve vertiginously on its axis, like the most magnificent firewheel that could be imagined, taking on all the colors of the rainbow and sending forth multicolored flashes of light, producing the most astounding effect. This sublime and incomparable spectacle, which was repeated three distinct times, lasted for about ten minutes. The immense multitude , overcome by the evidence of such a tremendous prodigy, threw themselves on their knees.”
Rev. Joaquim Lourenço, a Portuguese priest who had been only a child at the time of the event, watched from a distance of eleven miles, in the town of Alburitel. Writing later about his boyhood experience, he said:
“I feel incapable of describing what I saw. I looked fixedly at the sun, which seemed pale and did not hurt my eyes. Looking like a ball of snow, revolving on itself, it suddenly seemed to come down in a zig-zag, menacing the earth. Terrified, I ran and hid myself among the people, who were weeping and expecting the end of the world at any moment.”
Portuguese poet Afonso Lopes Vieira witnessed the event from his Lisbon home. Vieira wrote:
“On that day of October 13, 1917, without remembering the predictions of the children, I was enchanted by a remarkable spectacle in the sky of a kind I had never seen before. I saw it from this veranda…”
Even Pope Benedict XV, walking hundreds of miles away in the Vatican Gardens, is reported to have seen the sun quivering in the sky.
And from my Fatima book again:
Full of Scriptural Imagery
All in one, the great Miracle of the 13th of October, 1917, incorporated some of the most spectacular elements of renowned Old Testament miracles. Fr. Smolenski (op. cit., pp. 11-12) has compared Noah‟s time for instance, when it rained for forty days and forty nights, with Fatima on that day, when everything was drenched with rain. The dove with the branch indicated that the storm had subsided; Our Lady’s presence over the holm-oak tree was Heaven’s peace. The Ark landed on solid earth; Fatima was dry because of the miracle. God re-established the covenant of peace by means of Noah; Our Lady asked that Consecration be made to her Immaculate Heart. The rainbow became the sign of peace; the whole area of the Fatima miracle reflected all the colours of the rainbow during the sun’s dance. “As Noah’s sons inherited the covenant of peace, brought to mind by the presence of the rainbow, so Mary, Image of the Church as the servant of God, would have her children be the bearers of her peace to a re-energized and re-evangelized creation”.
Other comparisons with Old Testament miracles appear in Soul magazine (Sep-Oct, 1990, p. 6). For instance, the sun‟s leaving the entire area dry at the Cova da Iria reminds one of the dry path through the Red Sea. Or of Joshua’s own solar miracle, when, at his command, the sun gave its light two hours after sunset. Again, reminiscent of the sun’s fall, was Elijah’s calling down of fire from the sky as a challenge to the pagan priests. (Elijah is of course already linked to the Carmelites, and the Scapular, due to his association with Mount Carmel, and his miraculous mantle). Finally, we could add to these the miraculous alteration affected on the sundial, as cause by the prophet Isaiah for the benefit of king Hezekiah. Pope Pius XII, when instituting the feast of The Queenship of Mary with his encyclical, Ad Caeli Reginam, in 1954, likened Our Lady to the rainbow in the Genesis account of Noah and in Ecclesiasticus:
“Is She not a rainbow in the clouds, reaching towards God, a promise of peace? (Cf. Genesis 9:13). „Look upon the rainbow, and bless Him that made it; it is very beautiful in its brightness. It encompasses the heaven about with the circle of its glory, the hands of the Most High have displayed it‟ (Ecclesiasticus 43:11- 12)”.
But undoubtedly, more than anything else, it was the stupendous character of the Miracle of the Sun – coupled with the fact that it had been predicted to the very hour, months in advance – that sets Fatima apart from all of the Old Testament manifestations of God, and even from the preceding Marian apparitions. Pope Paul VI referred to it simply as “Signum Magnum”, “The Great Sign”.
13th October 2015