Many who know about the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima in 1917 would also have heard about the miracle of the dancing sun which occurred during the last of the apparitions on October 13th 1917.
As early as July 1917, the Blessed Virgin Mary had promised a miracle for the last of her apparitions on 13th October, so that all would believe. What happened then became known as “Miracle of the Sun”.
A crowd believed to number approximately 70,000, including newspaper reporters and photographers, gathered at the Cova da Iria. The incessant rain had finally ceased and a thin layer of clouds cloaked the silver disc of the sun.
Witnesses said later it could be looked upon without hurting the eyes. Lúcia, moved by what she said was an interior impulse, called out to the crowd to look at the sun. Witnesses later spoke of the sun appearing to change colors and rotate like a wheel. Not everyone saw the same things, and witnesses gave varying descriptions of the “sun’s dance”.
The phenomenon was witnessed by most people in the crowd as well as people many miles away. While the crowd was staring at the sun, Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta said later they were seeing lovely images of the Holy Family, Our Lady of Sorrows with Jesus Christ, and then Our Lady of Mount Carmel. They said they saw Saint Joseph and Jesus bless the people.
Eye Witness Accounts
Columnist Avelino de Almeida of O Século (Portugal’s most influential newspaper, which was pro-government in policy and avowedly anti-clerical), reported the following:
“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.”
Eye specialist Dr. Domingos Pinto Coelho, writing for the newspaper Ordem reported:
“The sun, at one moment surrounded with scarlet flame, at another aureoled in yellow and deep purple, seemed to be in an exceeding fast and whirling movement, at times appearing to be loosened from the sky and to be approaching the earth, strongly radiating heat”.
The special reporter for the 17 October 1917 edition of the Lisbon daily, O Dia, reported the following:
“…the silver sun, enveloped in the same gauzy purple 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.”
No movement or other phenomenon of the sun was registered by scientists at the time. According to contemporary reports from poet Afonso Lopes Vieira and schoolteacher Delfina Lopes with her students and other witnesses in the town of Alburita, the solar phenomenon was visible from up to forty kilometers away.
Not all witnesses reported seeing the sun “dance”. Some people only saw the radiant colors, and others, including some believers, saw nothing at all.
In addition to the Miracle of the Sun, the seers at Fátima indicated that the lady prophesied a great sign in the night sky which would precede a second great war. On January 25, 1938, bright lights, an aurora borealis appeared all over the northern hemisphere, including in places as far south as North Africa, Bermuda and California.
It was the widest occurrence of the aurora since 1709 and people in Paris and elsewhere believed a great fire was burning and fire departments were called. Lúcia, the sole surviving seer at the time, indicated that it was the sign foretold and so apprised her superior and the bishop in letters the following day.
Just over a month later, Hitler seized Austria and eight months later invaded Czechoslovakia.
May the name of the LORD be praised now and forever, amen.