PART 4 of the series of Fatima Centenary talks in 2017
The Solar Spectacle of OUR LADY of FATIMA
One hundred years ago this very day, the final public apparitions at Fatima concluded with the solar spectacle now known as the “Miracle of the Sun”: the greatest miracle in the entire history of the Church, and probably the world – where three children foretold the actual day and hour of its occurrence.
This is a quote from Sister Lucia’s memoirs:
“The 13th of October 1917:
We left home quite early, expecting that we would be delayed along the way. Masses of people thronged the roads. The rain fell in torrents. My mother, her heart torn with uncertainty as to what was going to happen, and fearing it would be the last day of my life, wanted to accompany me.
“On the way, the scenes of the previous month, still more numerous and moving, were repeated. Not even the muddy roads could prevent these people from kneeling in the most humble and suppliant of attitudes. We reached the Holm oak in the Cova da Iria. Once there, moved by an interior impulse, I asked the people to shut their umbrellas and say the Rosary. A little later, we saw the flash of light, and then Our Lady appeared on the Holm oak.
‘What do you want of me?’
‘I want to tell you that a chapel is to be built here in my honour. I am the Lady of the Rosary. Continue always to pray the Rosary every day. The war is going to end, and the soldiers will soon return to their homes.’
‘I have many things to ask you: the cure of some sick persons, the conversion of sinners, and other things….’
‘Some yes, but not others. They must amend their lives and ask forgiveness for their sins.’
“Looking very sad, Our Lady said: ‘Do not offend the Lord our God any more, because He is already so much offended.’
“Then, opening her hands, she made them reflect on the sun, and as she ascended, the reflection of her own light continued to be projected on the sun itself.
“Here is the reason why I cried out to the people to look at the sun. My aim was not to call their attention to the sun, because I was not even aware of their presence. I was moved to do so under the guidance of an interior impulse.
“After Our Lady had disappeared into the immense distance of the firmament, we beheld Saint Joseph with the Child Jesus and Our Lady robed in white with a blue mantle, beside the sun. Saint Joseph and the Child Jesus appeared to bless the world, for they traced the Sign of the Cross with their hands. When, a little later, this apparition disappeared, I saw Our Lord and Our Lady; it seemed to me that it was Our Lady of Dolours. Our Lord appeared to bless the world in the same manner as Saint Joseph had done. This apparition also vanished, and I saw Our Lady once more, this time resembling Our Lady of Carmel.”
This ends Sister Lucia’s recollections of that day. Her memoirs have no recording of the actual miracle which took place.
Eye Witness Descriptions:
Amongst my collection of books, I have an old volume called “FATIMA, the Facts”, published in 1950 with an imprimatur. I will quote now from this because the following are some of the many eye-witness descriptions given by people who were present on the day to experience the Miracle. And remember, this book was published only 33 years after the events.
Chapter 27 begins with Lucy’s words, “Look at the sun!” And the father of Saint Jacinta, Ti Marto, is reported saying: “We looked easily at the sun, which did not blind us. It seemed to flicker on and off, first one way and then another.It shot rays in different directions and painted everything in different colours – the trees, the people, the air and the ground. What was most extraordinary was that the sun did not hurt our eyes at all. Everything was still and quiet; everyone was looking upwards. At a certain moment the sun seemed to stop and then began to move and dance until it seemed that it was detached from the sky and was falling on us. It was a terrible moment!”
Two principal Lisbon newspapers covered the event. On the 17th of October 1917, one of these, O Dia, printed this report:
“At one o’clock in the afternoon, midday by the sun, the rain stopped. The sky, pearly grey in colour, illuminated the vast arid landscape with a strange light. The sun had a transparent gauzy veil so that the eyes could easily be fixed upon it. The grey mother-of-pearl tone turned into a sheet of silver which broke up as the clouds were torn apart and the silver sun, enveloped in the same gauzy grey lilght, was seen to whirl and turn in the circle of broken clouds. A cry went up from every mouth and people fell on their knees on the muddy ground…
“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. The blue faded slowly and then the light seemed to pass through yellow glass. Yellow stains fell against white handkerchiefs, against the dark skirts of the women. They were repeated on the trees, on the stones and on the serra. People wept and prayed with uncovered heads in the presence of the miracle they had awaited. The seconds seemed like hours, so vivid were they.”
On the night of that same 13th October, Father Manuel Pereira da Silva wrote the following description:
“The sun appeared with its circumference well defined. It came down as if to the height of the clouds and began to whirl giddily upon itself like a captive ball of fire. With some interruptions, this lasted about eight minutes. The atmosphere darkened and the features of each person became yellow. Everyone knelt in the mud.”
In these reports of the witnesses, there is a frequent mention of the mud at Fatima, which dried up after the sun plunged toward the earth. In the last few days we have seen images on the television news of the slaughter of allied troops at Passchendaele during World War One. That fateful day was twenty-four hours prior to Fatima on October 12th 1917 and film footage and stills show the endless mud caused by torrential downpours. It was through these sorts of conditions that the 70,000 pilgrims merged on Fatima from various parts of Europe.
Returning to the book now… where it was reported that after the great miracle a middle-aged, well-dressed woman turned to a lad who looked like a university student, and asked him with some emotion: “My son, do you still doubt the existence of God?” “No, mother,” he answered with his eyes swimming in tears, “now it is impossible!”
The following passage is taken from a letter written by Dona Maria do Carmo da Cruz Menezes:
“Suddenly the rain stopped and the sun broke through, casting its rays on the earth. It seemed to be falling on that vast crowd of people and it spun like a fire-wheel, taking on all the colours of the rainbow. We ourselves took on these colours, with our clothes and even the earth itself. One heard cries and saw many people in tears. Deeply impressed, I said to myself: “My God, how great is Your power!”
The author of the book says, “It is interesting to note that the phenomenon was seen not only in the Cova da Iria but was noticed by people kilometres away. This fact destroys any possible hypothesis of collective hallucination as the Bishop of Leira observed in his pastoral letter on Fatima.
“The poet Afonso Lopes Vieira saw the prodigy from his residence some forty kilometres distant from Fatima. ‘On that day, 13th October 2017,’ he wrote, ‘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 verandah’.”
In his pastoral letter on the apparitions, D. Jose Alves Correia da Silva, Bishop of Leiria, wrote many words of confirmation about the supernatural nature of what he had observed at Fatima:
“The solar phenomenon of 13th October, described in newspapers of the time, was of a most marvelous nature and caused the deepest impression on those who had the good fortune to witness it. This phenomenon, which was not registered in any astronomical observatory, and could not, therefore, have been of natural origin, was witnessed by people of every category and class, by believers as well as unbelievers, journalists of the principal daily papers, and even by people kilometres away, a fact which destroys any theory of collective hallucination.”
Finally we have an extremely interesting account which was left by the late Father Inacio Lourenco, which has been verified by various people in his parish:
“I was only nine years old at this time and I went to the local village school (18 kilometres from Fatima). At about midday we were surprised by the shouts and cries of some men and women who were passing in the street in front of the school. The teacher, a good, pious woman, though nervous and impressionable, was the first to run into the road with the children after her.
“Outside the people were shouting and weeping and pointing to the sun, ignoring the agitated questions of the school mistress. It was the great Miracle, which one could see quite distinctly from the top of the hill where my village was situated – the Miracle of the sun, accompanied by all its extraordinary phenomena.
“I feel incapable of describing what I saw and felt. I looked fixedly at the sun, which seemed pale and did not hurt the eyes. Looking like a ball of snow revolving on itself, it suddenly seemed to come down in a zigzag, 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.
“Near us was an unbeliever who had spent the morning mocking at the simpletons who had gone to Fatima just to see an ordinary girl. He now seemed to be paralyzed, his eyes fixed on the sun. Afterwards he trembled from head to foot, and lifting up his arms, fell on his knees in the mud, crying out to Our Lady.
“Meanwhile the people continued to cry out and to weep, asking God to pardon their sins. We all ran to the two chapels in the village, which were soon filled to overflowing. During those long moments of the solar prodigy objects around us turned all colours of the rainbow. We saw ourselves blue,yellow, red, etc. All these strange phenomena increased the fears of the people. After about ten minutes the sun, now dull and pallid, returned to its place in the sky. When the people realized that the danger was over there was an explosion of joy and everyone joined in thanksgiving and praise to Our Lady….”
And to close, let’s return to another part of Sister Lucia’s memoirs:
“Now here we are at the 13th of October. You already know all that happened on that day. Of all the words spoken at this Apparition, the ones most deeply engraved upon my heart were those of the request made by our heavenly Mother: ‘Do not offend Our Lord and God any more, because He is already so much offended!’
“How loving a complaint, how tender a request! Who will grant me to make it echo through the whole world, so that all the children of our Mother in heaven may hear the sound of her voice!”
(FATIMA in Lucia’s Own Words, 11th edition September 2000)
Completed on Friday 13 October 2017
Anniversary of Fatima’s Miracle of the Sun