Mary had promised a miracle to convince the many sneering unbelievers that her apparitions to the three shepherd children were authentic. Lucia’s parents were especially anxious and jumpy, taking it all out on their now famous daughter. What will happen? What if nothing happens and neighbors carry out their threats to severely punish the children? The Church would be discredited and its enemies would celebrate and cry out that the people were duped by a hoax perpetrated by the Church. They would gloat with endless repetitions of “I told you so”. The local pastor was of no help. In fact he exhorted the children to admit they made it all up……a hoax, halucination, or witchcraft. Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta had no doubt whatsoever.
The long awaited day finally arrived, foggy and pouring rain since the night before as thousands from all over Portugal came to Fatima since the day before by foot, donkey, oxcart, horse and buggy as well as bicycles and autos to witness the miracle the children told them to expect. Many had expected to camp out during the night. They sloshed through the mud for miles, many barefoot to save their shoes. Despite umbrellas and raincoats, the people were soaked and cold from the rain, now a drizzle. Streams of people, the faithful and the curious, came. Their ardent faith showed in the singing and praying, many the Rosary. The skeptical daily newspapers from Lisbon, the capital, sent reporters and photographers, reporting what they saw. It’s all on the public record in the archives of the newspapers……O Dia and O Seculo of Lisbon and Ordem of Oporto, etc.
By 10 am the skies were overcast for a while and the rain resumed along with a chilly autumn wind. The children were getting ready as people overflowed into their homes, making a mess while many others waited outside. In tears Lucia’s mother even feared for the life of her daughter. Outside it was a sea of mud. The children were calm. As they left for the Cova da Iria, the rain increased into a torrent. It was difficult to get through the great crowd.
|Francisco, Lucia, and Jacinta Praying before or during the arrival of Mary|
It was noon by the sun (1:30 pm official time). Some had doubts until there was a flash of light in the East. “Silence, silence, Our Lady is coming!”, Lucia cried out. Mary’s feet rested upon the tree adorned with flowers and ribbons as the branches bent forward. “What does Your Grace want of me?”, Lucia asked Our Lady. “I want a chapel to be built here in My honor. I am Our Lady of the Rosary. Continue to say the Rosary everyday. The war will end soon and the soldiers will return to their homes.” “I have many things to ask of you: to heal some sick people and to convert some sinners, etc.” “Some, yes; others, no." With tenderness and pain, she said: "People must amend their lives and ask pardon for their sins. They must not offend Our Lord any more for He is already too much offended.” “Do you want anything more?’ “Nothing more.” “Then neither will I ask anything more of you.”
As she departed, Mary opened her hands which emitted a flood of light. While rising, Mary pointed toward the sun and Lucia did the same, then announcing: “There she goes”. The all morning downpour suddenly stopped and the clouds parted. The sun was now pale as the moon, like a silver disk. St. Joseph appeared with the Holy Family, holding in his left hand the child Jesus. Both made the sign of the cross three times over the world while Mary stood to the right of the sun, dressed in the blue and white robes of Our Lady of the Rosary. Only Lucia saw Our Lord dressed in red as the Divine Redeemer, blessing the world as Mary had foretold. Beside Him stood Our Lady, now dressed in the purple robes of Our Lady of Sorrows. Finally the Blessed Virgin appeared again to Lucia, this time in all her ethereal brightness, clothed in the simple brown robes of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel holding a scapular.
|Part of the throng of over 70,000 awestruck people witness the Miracle of the Sun. |
The people saw none of this, but they did see supernatural phenomena as taken from eye witness accounts, including that which is well reported in archived Portuguese newspapers that were biased against the Church. Thus the Miracle of the Sun is probably the best documented miracle ever. Contradictions among accounts are minimal. Everyone could easily see that the sun took on extraordinary colors. It seemed to be continually fading and glowing in one fashion, then another. It threw shafts of light, painting everything in different colors……blue, purple, white, spots of yellow, all the colors of the rainbow.
Perhaps the greatest proof of the miracle was the fact that the sun, appearing as a pale disk with a silver tint, did not bother the eyes. The surroundings seemed to darken. The sun stopped its play of light and began to tremble and dance until it seemed that this spinning ball of fire was falling from the sky onto the terrified crowd who fell to their knees on the muddy ground in their Sunday best, weeping and praying.
The multitude of over 70,000 people screamed in terror. Some begged for mercy or made acts of contrition. “Our Lady, save us”. Some said that they saw the smiling face of Mary herself. Lucia reassured the people: “Everything is going to be all right. Pray and pray hard. Pray the rosary every day for sinners around the world, that God was too much offended.” Finally, the sun returned to its normal place in the sky.
Finally, the sun returned to its normal place in the sky. Everyone gave a sigh of relief, grateful to be still alive. All agreed that this ten minute spectacular episode was the most awe-inspiring sight they had ever seen.
Incredible was the fact that the people, previously standing in pouring rain, soaked to the bone, noticed that after a few minutes of a strong wind, the ground and their clothes were perfectly dry as though they came out of the laundry. Our Lord rewarded them for braving the elements. Many of the sick and crippled were cured in Fatima.
Fr. Inácio Lourenco, testified on what he saw as a nine year old boy in the village of Alburitel ten miles away from Fatima, also visible up to 25 miles away. It was similar to what the people saw in Fatima. Inácio was in school at the time, but upon hearing the cries and exclamations of the people outside, teacher and students ran out. People cried and wept on the street. A godless man, who was making fun of those “stupid people” who went to Fatima, trembled, crying out on his knees: “Our Lady, Our Lady”. Everyone was crying and weeping, asking God to forgive their sins. When the miracle was over, the people ran to the village’s two chapels.
A poet 30 miles away did not expect to see the miracle and did when he looked out of his window. Even those on ships at sea off the coast of Portugal 70 miles away saw that something was going on in the direction of Fatima.
Lucia asked Mary for a sign so that the skeptics would believe that her apparitions and message were real. The miracle was pre-announced and it happened. Even the secular newspapers reported it although those outside of Portugal did not pick it up.
It was a real wake-up call to be always ready for when it's one's time to die. It was scary, a case of tough love from Mary's perspective of eternity. Her mission for the rest of time is to nurture our faith, lead us to her Son and ultimately to Heaven. We can only speculate how many people repented that day and are now in Heaven.
Almost all who witnessed the miracle were convinced. Still, after reading the newspaper accounts of the miracle, many atheists refused to believe, resorting to their standard rationalization that it was an illusion and that science someday will be able to explain it. Their blind “faith” in nothing was undeterred.
Yet Mary’s message continues to resound in the world 100 years later as thousands continue to make pilgrimages to Fatima and the church that she requested. The question is: Will we listen and follow the Fatima message? Or wait for a loving chastisement to set us straight? Help Mary spread her message among family and friends!
The Miracle of the Sun
An Eyewitness Account by Dr. José Maria de Almeida Garrett, Professor at the Faculty of Sciences of Coimbra, Portugal
"It must have been 1:30 p.m when there arose, at the exact spot where the children were, a column of smoke, thin, fine and bluish, which extended up to perhaps two meters above their heads, and evaporated at that height. This phenomenon, perfectly visible to the naked eye, lasted for a few seconds. Not having noted how long it had lasted, I cannot say whether it was more or less than a minute. The smoke dissipated abruptly, and after some time, it came back to occur a second time, then a third time.
"The sky, which had been overcast all day, suddenly cleared; the rain stopped and it looked as if the sun were about to fill with light the countryside that the wintery morning had made so gloomy. I was looking at the spot of the apparitions in a serene, if cold, expectation of something happening and with diminishing curiosity because a long time had passed without anything to excite my attention. The sun, a few moments before, had broken through the thick layer of clouds which hid it and now shone clearly and intensely.
"Suddenly I heard the uproar of thousands of voices, and I saw the whole multitude spread out in that vast space at my feet...turn their backs to that spot where, until then, all their expectations had been focused, and look at the sun on the other side. I turned around, too, toward the point commanding their gaze and I could see the sun, like a very clear disc, with its sharp edge, which gleamed without hurting the sight. It could not be confused with the sun seen through a fog (there was no fog at that moment), for it was neither veiled nor dim. At Fatima, it kept its light and heat, and stood out clearly in the sky, with a sharp edge, like a large gaming table. The most astonishing thing was to be able to stare at the solar disc for a long time, brilliant with light and heat, without hurting the eyes or damaging the retina. [During this time], the sun's disc did not remain immobile, it had a giddy motion, [but] not like the twinkling of a star in all its brilliance for it spun round upon itself in a mad whirl.
"During the solar phenomenon, which I have just described, there were also changes of color in the atmosphere. Looking at the sun, I noticed that everything was becoming darkened. I looked first at the nearest objects and then extended my glance further afield as far as the horizon. I saw everything had assumed an amethyst color. Objects around me, the sky and the atmosphere, were of the same color. Everything both near and far had changed, taking on the color of old yellow damask. People looked as if they were suffering from jaundice and I recall a sensation of amusement at seeing them look so ugly and unattractive. My own hand was the same color.
"Then, suddenly, one heard a clamor, a cry of anguish breaking from all the people. The sun, whirling wildly, seemed all at once to loosen itself from the firmament and, blood red, advance threateningly upon the earth as if to crush us with its huge and fiery weight. The sensation during those moments was truly terrible.
"All the phenomena which I have described were observed by me in a calm and serene state of mind without any emotional disturbance. It is for others to interpret and explain them. Finally, I must declare that never, before or after October 13 , have I observed similar atmospheric or solar phenomena."
Professor Almeida Garrett's full account may be found in Novos Documentos de Fatima (Loyala editions, San Paulo, 1984)
Questions That Come Up
* It is often asked why the Blessed Mother would reveal horrifying images to innocent children such as the visions of Hell? To many people this seems incongruent with a pure, loving, gentle Mother who loves us and is in Heaven. It would almost seem like child abuse?
Secondly, during the miracle of the sun, which the Blessed Mother orchestrated to help prove to people that indeed it was her that the children were seeing, why again would part of that miracle be the horrifying moment when the sun seem to come charging toward the earth? The accounts of the eye witnesses all say they were terrified and thought the sun was going to crash on top of them and that this was the end of the world.
I've never heard that interesting and valid question. To anybody who would ask me, I would say this. I don't think Mary's showing Hell to the children and the horrifying aspects of the Miracle of the Sun are incongruent with her as a pure, loving, gentle, mother. Is tough love incongruent?
First of all, Mary, as the ultimate missionary and messenger of God, does not go off on her own to bring souls to her Son. She is completely subservient to the will of her Son. Since the Immaculate Heart and the Sacred Heart are united as one, Mary knows exactly what her Son wills. I'm sure that Our Lord sends Mary on every mission the same as He sends each one of us on a special mission. Mary would not do anything that does not conform to the will of her Son. In any event she has no power of her own, only that given to her by God to be used as He wills. All of Mary's actions are from the perspective of eternity for our good and to get us to Heaven. That's what it is all about.
We can only speculate why Mary, following the will of her Son, would show the children Hell and permit the horrifying aspects of the Miracle of the Sun. There is no way that we can get into the mind of God. He knows what He is doing; His ways are not our ways. His mind is beyond our comprehension and the greatest human brain.
As to show innocent children hell, the Angel of Peace prepared Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta for their great mission in three apparitions in 1916. Mary continued that spiritual formation. Thus the children had an amazing amount of spiritual maturity and holiness, more than we can develop in a lifetime. They could handle seeing Hell, especially through actual grace. Mary is acting not only as mother of the three children, but also as mother of all humanity. The apparitions and message are directed not only to the three children, but also to all humanity. Any mother would or should vividly show the consequences and dangers to her children of their deeds........both to body and soul. An example might be the danger of running onto the street and its consequences. Mary wanted to show all mankind the reality of hell (not theoretically) and that Our Lord is not only a God of mercy, but also of justice. As a loving mother, she had to tell it like it is. Mother Mary continues trying through the Fatima message to mobilize us to pray (the rosary especially), make sacrifices, and offer up crosses for the conversion of sinners. Showing Hell, vividly demonstrates the urgency in a very convincing way not easily forgotten.
As for the horrifying aspects of the Miracle of the Sun, it's a wake up call to straighten out our lives. It demonstrates the power of God. It took 9/11 to wake us up at least for a while. The Miracle of the Sun must have had a deep and lasting impression on the 70,000 plus people, not to mention all of Portugal (it got little newspaper coverage outside of the country) and millions in the generations that followed to the present. I wonder how many of the 70,000+ made it to Heaven because of the Miracle of the Sun. Without the horrifying aspect, the Miracle of the Sun would have been more like a glorified fireworks display. Of course the sudden drying of the drenched people and their ability to see the sun were miraculous. What people remember today from the Fatima story is the horrifying aspect, not the beautiful aspects.
I hope that during this centennial year the Fatima Message gets through. I fear that the way the world is going this is our last chance to live the Fatima Message and thus avoid a loving chastisement.
* Did World War II start during the reign of Pius XI as Mary prophesized or during the reign of Pius XII?
The official start of World War II is considered to be September 1, 1939 when Germany invaded Poland. Pope Pius XI died on February 10, 1939. Since Hitler annexed Austria on March 13, 1938, it can be said that World War II really started on that date. Furthermore, during the might of the great unknown light of January 25-26, 1938, leaders of the Soviet Union were plotting a deal to make with Germany to divide up Poland, ceding western Poland to Germany and taking eastern Poland for the Soviet Union. Both sides probably saw it as the 4th Partition. From 1795 to 1918, Germany, Austria, and Russia each took a third of Poland, wiping the country off the map for 123 years. The Soviets craftily believed that Germany would be blamed and the allies would retaliate against Germany. From the perspective of Heaven World War II did indeed start during the reign of Pius XI.
* Was the Miracle of the Sun a vision or was it really the sun? An explanation of the Shroud of Turin can be hypothesized as a burst of radiation when the soul of Christ entered His body at the Resurrection. But what about the Miracle of the Sun? We can only speculate. The sun apparently gave enough physical heat aided by the wind to dry the ground and everyone’s clothes as though fresh out of the laundry. The Miracle was clearly seen ten miles away and beyond……up to 25 miles. Ships at sea off the coast of Portugal 70 miles away saw that something was going on in the direction of Fatima. Yet the phenomena was not noticed by any astronomical observatory around the globe.
https://wafusa.org/witness-to-the-miracle-of-the-sun/ - An interview of Dominic Reis, whose father was an eye witness to the Miracle of the sun.
www.bluearmy.com or https://wafusa.org/ - the website of the Blue Army or World Apostolate of Fatima (WAF).
www.americaneedsfatima.org – America Needs Fatima website.
http://www.fatima.org/essentials/facts/miracle.asp - the Fatima Center and Fatima Network website.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3ChLUPkJlo – Our Lady of Fatima, the 13th Day
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hI--srx4tc – The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima 1952 movie.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxZBxEJz1v8 – the message of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima for the 100th anniversary.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWzPU1oeViM – The Venerable Bishop Fulton J. Sheen’s talk on Our Lady of Fatima.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEoQ_3nDGoY – Our Lady of Fatima Centenary Conference. It’s hours long.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WnpwnaaptUk – 1957 interview of Sr. Lucia.