Prelude to October 13, 1917: the great rain

In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened.  And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights.  On the very same day Noah and his sons, Shem and Ham and Japheth, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons with them entered the ark (Genesis 7:11-13)

April 19, 2017                                                                                                                                   Wednesday in the Octave of Easter

The Miracle of the Sun is the great event of the modern times.  The events of October 13, 1917 are like in their suspension of the normal natural course of events to the great miracles of the Old Testament: the crossing of the Red Sea (Exodus 14:9-31), the crossing of the Jordan river into the Promised Land (Joshua 3:7-17), the sun and the moon standing still (Joshua 10:9-14), and the shadow moving backward on the sundial of Ahaz (Isaiah 38:4-8, 2 Kings 20:8-11).  One might even make the argument that October 13, 1917 was even greater than any of these events because Our Lady predicted three separate times on July 13, on August 19, and on September 13 that a great miracle would be done around midday on October 13, 1917.  God did not tell Moses in advance not to worry about the Egyptians because He was going to take care of them in the Red Sea, but Our Lady did tell that to Lucia and Jacinta who told it to Francisco and anyone else who would listen.

This great event occurred in front of 70,000 witnesses who all knew in advance to expect something great that day and who all likely would have come down on the children pretty hard if nothing happened.  There were great fears for the lives of the children.  Even Lucia’s mother, Maria Rosa, who thought flat out that her daughter was either making all of this stuff up or being deceived by the devil, decided to go with her daughter on October 13 to the Cova da Iria.  She was convinced that there would be no miracle and that the crowd would turn on the poor child so she resolved to die with her daughter.

But there was a great miracle.  The strange thing is now, a century later, that this greatest event of modern times is covered by a blanket of silence.  It is not so much denied as it is just not talked about, and in the not talking about it the thing tends to be forgotten.  I doubt that even one in a thousand Catholics who attend Mass on Sunday even know anything about the events of October 13, 1917, and maybe one in a hundred thousand might appreciate them for what they are.  This should not be surprising given the nature of the ridiculous pseudo-gnostic death cult that has sought from the shadows to control the affairs of men since the 18th century and has driven even the idea of God from almost every facet of human life and sadly wormed its way into the highest positions of the Church.

So we will tell the story of the Miracle of the Sun here.  It will take more than one post.  I want to start with the poetic description of the all night rain over the Cova da Iria on October 12-13, 1917 that William Thomas Walsh gives on pp. 135-39 of Our Lady of Fatima because it gives not only a good description of the rain but of the tenor of the times in that disastrous year in human history: 1917.

That afternoon the sky became overclouded, and a fine cold mist began to fall over the gloomy autumnal expanse of the Serra da Aire.  Shepherds in Aljustrel locked the beasts up early, for it was plain that thick weather was brewing in the northeast.

What a night!  It was as if the devil, somewhere in the ice and snow that could never slake the burning of his pain, had resolved to destroy with one blow all that remained of the Europe which had so long been his battleground against the Thing he hated most.  Somewhere in the dark misery of Siberia, he was permitted, heaven knows why, to disturb the equilibrium of the air, setting in motion a cold and cutting blast that shrieked across the continent to the western sea.  It may have passed howling over a cabin in Finland where a little lynx-eyed man who called himself Lenin was waiting to enter St. Petersburg (he had lately sown the seeds of revolution there), and to begin, in a very few weeks, the transformation and destruction of all that world which owed what was best and noblest in it to the teachings of Christ.  It screamed in mockery over vast armaments moving stealthily through Germany to prepare for the “peace through victory” drive of 1918.  It scourged poor wretches of both armies into the cover of slimy dugouts all along the western front, and plastered with mud the Italian fugitives from Caporetto.  It seemed to echo and enlarge the despair that was settling over the vineyards of war-wearied France, where Haig stood, as he said, with his back to the wall.  Finally it dashed itself against the Pyrenees, and then, as if it had gathered up all the hatreds and discontents of disobedient men and all the rebellious powers of a corrupted nature in its mad career from the Baltic to Cape Saint Vincent, it let them all loose on the little country that has never been permanently conquered, the land where she who treads upon the serpent’s head has long been honored, the terra da Santa Maria.

Darkness fell swiftly, with blacker clouds scudding from the northeast, and huge shapeless masses of fog drifting along the mountain sides and down the river valleys to the ocean.  As the drizzle thickened to a fine, cold, slanting rain, the wind whipped to a gale, bent under it the waving and moaning plumes of the pine forests near Leiria; it ripped the square sails of ancient windmills on the gray heights of the Serra da Aire; it scattered pale glistening leaves of poplars and aspens across the swollen Tagus; it flattened the plucked and reddened vineyards of Braga and the withered gardens of Moita and Fátima; it went roaring across hundreds of miles of narrow beaches until the frothy Atlantic bellowed back in anger, and cast up vengeful floods into village streets.  The rain fell steadily, pitilessly.

Yet there were thousands of human beings and many beasts on the roads of the little Republic that night.  For faith is stronger than doubt, and love is hardier than hate.  Devout Catholics in every village had heard by this time that Our Lady had promised to return to Cova da Iria to perform a miracle on October 13.  Rain or shine, that was all they needed to know.  Peasant families slung their wicker baskets and earthen water jugs over their shoulders, or packed them in panniers on the backs of burros, and started out under the lowering skies.  Fathers and mothers carried sick or lame children in their arms for incredible distances.  Fishermen left their nets and boats on the beaches of the Vieira and took to the oozy roads.  Farmhands from Monte Real, sailors from ships in the harbors of Porto or Algarve, factory workere from Lisboa, serranas from Minde or Soublio, ladies and gentlemen, scrubwomen, waiters, young and old, rich and poor, all sorts of people (but most of them humble, most of them barefoot, most of them workers and their families) were plodding through the mud under the pelting rain that night, like a great scattered army converging upon Fátima, hoping to find there some favor of health or conversion, forgiveness of sin, consolation for sorrow, the beginning of a better life, the blessing of the Mother of God.

It made no difference to these devotees if saturated trousers or skirts sloshed around their tired legs as their bare feet plowed the mud or splattered the puddles of bad roads.  Laughter was heard among groups of several families as they walked along together.  Fragments of old hymns would echo back from the wet cliffs, or come floating down out of the darkness of a lonely road.  “Ave, Ave, Ave Maria!”  Not for nothing had the ancestors of these people sung the Salve Regina on the decks of galleons in the Indian Ocean or whalers in the China Sea.

This description of the pilgrims marching toward Fatima is in its way an excellent metaphor for the Church and her march through history.  She gathers her humble children from the mountains and from the fields, from the factories and the harbors, from the streets and the forests, from the deserts and the bayous and they take their place with her, singing ancient hymns and thanking God for that great gift of the Immaculate Heart of his most holy Mother and all that she conceived, on the march through the terrible stormy night of history.  And it is a storm that will grow much darker and much more terrible, the devil knowing how short his time is now, as she approaches her final goal: to meet her Lord who stands waiting for his Bride when dawn breaks on the far shore of the Resurrection and the final Judgement of the human race.

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