The Apparition of October 13, 1917 and the Miracle of the Sun

And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth distress of nations in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken (Luke 21:25-26).

April 27, 2017

I will begin here with an excerpt from William Thomas Walsh’s Our Lady of Fatima (pp. 142-44) where he describes the journey of the children and their parents from Aljustrel to the Cova da Iria and the moments that passed just prior to the Apparition:

It was a long and slow journey.  The highroad was crowded all the way from Fátima to Cova da Iria.  Men and women were kneeling in the thick slime on both sides, imploring their prayers.  Hands reached out to touch them.  Wet burros brushed against them.  Umbrellas threatened to poke out their eyes.  But what a sight when at last they arrived near the scene of the apparitions!  Fully 70,000 men, women, and children, people of all ages and conditions, were standing patiently in the rain waiting for them-a dark mass under innumerable black umbrellas, dripping sombreros, soaked blankets.  They were packed so densely between the highway and the azinheira that the children were able to get through only with the help of a chauffeur, who seized Jacinta and mounted her on his shoulder, crying, “Make way for the children who saw Our Lady!”

Ti Marto followed with Lucia and Francisco.  When they reached the place of the apparitions, he was surprised to find his wife already there.  He had forgotten her in his anxiety for Jacinta.  “My Olimpia turned up from another direction, I don’t know from where,” he confesses.

At all events there she was close to the stump of the azinheira, which Maria Carreira had lovingly draped, along with her alms table, under garlands of flowers.  The crowd lurched and swayed this way and that, ducked umbrellas, huddled together for warmth, scanned the leaden eastern sky.  Loud voices were repeating the Rosary in various rhythmical cadences.  A priest who had been praying all night in the rain and mud was reading his breviary and from time to time nervously fingering his watch.  Presently he turned to the children and asked at what hour Our Lady was going to arrive.

“At midday,” replied Lucia.

He glanced at his watch again, and said, disapprovingly: “It is midday already.  Our Lady is not a liar.  We shall see.”

Nearly all the people now were saying the Rosary. “Avé, Maria, cheia de graça… Santa Maria, Mãi de Deus, rogai por nos pecadores…”

“Put down your umbrellas!” cried Lucia-why she never knew-and one after another they obeyed, although the rain was still falling.  “Put down your umbrellas!” said one after another.  They all stood patiently in the rain.

A few minutes more passed.  The priest looked at his watch again.

“Midday is past,” he said with gloomy finality.  “Away with all this!  It is an illusion.”

He began to push the three children with his hands, if we may trust the memory of Maria Carreira.  But Lucia, almost in tears, refused to budge, saying.

“Whoever wants to go, can go, but I’m not going.  Our Lady told us to come.  We saw her other times and we’re going to see her now.”

Disappointed murmurs and grumblings began to be heard among the bystanders.  Then of a sudden Lucia looked toward the east and cried:

“Jacinta, kneel down, for now I see Our Lady there.  I can see the flash!”

“Watch out daughter!”  It was the shrill voice of Maria Rosa.  “Don’t let yourself be deceived!”

Lucia did not hear the warning.  Those near her noticed that her face had become flushed and transparently beautiful.  She was gazing rapturously now at the Lady herself, who stood in a flood of white light on the flowers that Maria Carreira had draped on the stump of the azinheira.  Jacinta and Francisco, on either side of her, stared likewise, both radiant, both quite oblivious of the multitude around them.

I will continue with the account of this Apparition here for Sister Lucia’s account in Volume IV of her memoir, as published in the 1998 version of Fatima in Lucia’s own words (pp. 177-79):

A little later, we saw the flash of light, and then Our Lady appeared on the holmoak.

“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, Your Excellency, 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 St. Joseph with the Child Jesus and Our Lady robed in white with a blue mantle, beside the sun.  St. 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 St. Joseph had done.  This apparition also vanished, and I saw Our Lady once more, this time resembling Our Lady of Carmel.

The Miracle of the Sun

The three children were enraptured with the vision of Our Lady, and Lucia in particular with the last phase of the Apparition with the appearance of St. Joseph and Our Lord and Our Lady in her various manifestations, and they did not see the Miracle of the Sun.  But it was not meant for them to see.  It was meant for those 70,000 in the Cova da Iria.  Here is how William Thomas Walsh describes this great miracle on pp. 145-46 of Our Lady of Fatima:

What they all did see, however, was something stupendous, unheard of, almost apocalyptic.  The sun stood forth in the clear zenith like a great silver disk which, though bright as any sun they had ever seen, they could look straight at without blinking, and with a unique and delightful satisfaction.  This lasted but a moment.  While they gazed, the huge ball began to “dance”-that was the word all the beholders applied to it.  Now it was whirling rapidly like a gigantic fire-wheel.  After doing this for some time, it stopped.  Then it rotated again, with dizzy sickening speed.  Finally there appeared on the rim a border of crimson, which flung across the sky, as from a hellish vortex, blood red streamers of flame, reflecting to the earth, to the trees and shrubs, to the upturned faces and the clothes all sorts of brilliant colors in succession: green, red, orange, blue, violet, the whole spectrum in fact.  Madly gyrating in this manner three times, the fiery orb seemed to tremble, to shudder, and then to plunge precipitately, in a mighty zigzag, toward the crowd.

A fearful cry broke from the lips of thousands of terrified persons as they fell upon their knees, thinking the end of the world had come.  Some said that the air became warmer at that instant; they would not have been surprised if everything about them had burst into flames, enveloping and consuming them.

Ai Jesús, we are all going to die here!”

“Save us, Jesus!  Our Lady, save us!”

“Oh, my God, I am sorry-”  And one began the Act of Contrition.

Some who had come to jeer fell on their faces and broke into sobs and abject prayers.

The Marques do Cruz said, “Oh my God, how great is Thy power!”

This had lasted about ten minutes, perhaps.  Then all saw the sun begin to climb, in the same zigzag manner, to where it had appeared before.  It became tranquil, then dazzling.  No one could look at it any longer.  It was the sun of every day.

The people stared at one another in joy and amazement.  “Miracle!  Miracle!  The children were right!  Our Lady made the miracle!  Blessed be God!  Blessed be Our Lady!”  The shouts were taken up all over the Cova da Iria.  Some were laughing, others weeping with joy.  Many were making the discovery that their drenched clothes had in some unexplained manner become perfectly dry.

That testimony is based on the memory of eyewitnesses reported to William Thomas Walsh that he published approximately thirty years after the events in Our Lady of Fatima.

But Walsh next recounts an eyewitness account contemporary to the events published in the Lisbon newspaper O Seculo on October 17, 1917, four days after the events.  This newspaper generally supported the policies of Portugal’s at the time fiercely anti-Catholic government.  The author of the article is a man named Avelino de Almeida, managing editor of O Seculo, who was a public Freemason and, while he was not as eager to ridicule those who believe as some of his cohorts in that stupid death cult, he did retain that strong dislike for all aspects of religion, and of Catholicism in particular, that is necessary to thrive in the Masonic orders.  Despite all that here is what he reported to his Lisbon readers on October 17, 1917:

“a spectacle unique and incredible if one had not been a witness of it…  One can see the immense crowd turn toward the sun, which reveals itself free of the clouds in full noon.  The great start of day makes one think of a silver plaque, and it is possible to look straight at it without the least discomfort.  It does not burn, it does not blind.  It might be like an eclipse.  But now bursts forth a colossal clamor, and we hear the nearest spectators crying, ‘Miracle, miracle!  Marvel, marvel!’

Before the astonished eyes of the people, whose attitude carries us back to biblical times and who, full of terror, heads uncovered, gaze into the blue of the sky, the sun has trembled, and the sun has made some brusque movements, unprecedented and outside of all cosmic laws-the sun has ‘danced,’ according to the typical expression of the peasants…  An old man whose stature and face, at once gentle and energetic, recall those of Paul Deroulède, turns toward the sun and recites the Credo with loud cries from beginning to end.  I ask his name.  It is Senhor João Maria Amado de Melo Ramalho da Cunha Vasoncelos.  I see him afterwards addressing those about him who have kept their hats on, begging them vehemently to uncover before so extraordinary a demonstration of the existence of God.  Similar scenes are repeated in all places…

The  people ask one another if they have seen anything and what they have seen.  The greatest number avow that they have seen the trembling and dancing of the sun.  Others, however, declare that they have seen the smiling face of the Virgin herself; swear that the sun turned around on itself like a wheel of fireworks; that it fell. almost to the point of burning the earth with its rays..  Another tells that he has seen it change color successively…

Pray the Rosary every day.  Offer sacrifices for sinners.  Many souls go to hell because there is no one to pray and to sacrifice for them.

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