Chapter 3

“So That People Will Believe….”

During the apparition of Our Lady of Fatima on July 13, 1917, Lucy asked Our Lady “to perform a miracle so that people will believe that You are appearing to us.” In reply Our Lady promised that on October 13th of that year “I will perform a miracle so that everyone may see and believe.”

What happened on October 13, 1917 was unique in salvation history: a public miracle whose occurrence was literally scheduled in advance by the Mother of God. And Our Lady kept Her appointment. That day in a driving rainstorm some 70,000 people, believers and non-believers alike, assembled in the Cova da Iria, where Our Lady had been appearing to the three children, to see whether or not what the children had been claiming was true. They received a proof no rational human being could deny. At exactly the time and place predicted, the Miracle of the Sun occurred.

Beginning at precisely midday, when the sun was at its zenith, the vast crowd witnessed the sun defy all of the laws of physics. First, the sun’s appearance was altered so that it became like a silver disc and one could look at it directly without the least discomfort or damage to the eyes. Then, spinning about in the sky, the sun threw off a splendid array of colors which bathed and transformed the landscape. Finally, in a moment of sheer terror, the sun plummeted down upon the Cova as if to incinerate everyone there, before returning to its normal appearance and place in the sky. As the sun descended, people fell to their knees, pleading for God’s mercy. Sinners and non-believers converted on the spot. “Miracle! Miracle!” the people shouted throughout the crowd.

Secular journalists, scientists, and even the most virulently anti-Catholic members of the crowd all witnessed the same thing. The eyewitness account of Dr. José Maria de Almeida Garrett, professor at the Faculty of Sciences of Coimbra, Portugal, is typical:

“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 [1917], have I observed similar atmospheric or solar phenomena.”

There was another astounding aspect to the miracle. The rain-soaked Cova, steeped in mud, was suddenly bone dry, as was the clothing of all the people who had been standing in the rain. The heat of the descending sun had instantly evaporated every drop of moisture, yet no one had been harmed by this enormous burst of solar energy.

Even more dramatic than all of this, however, were the instantaneous cures of thousands of people of various ailments who stood in the Cova—another undeniable sign of direct divine intervention.

The promises and the warnings that had been given by Our Lady of Fatima were verified as authentic beyond all doubt by the Miracle of the Sun—an unprecedented, pre-announced public miracle that even non-believers had witnessed and could not deny. It is most telling, however, that the one member of the crowd who did not see the miracle (or at least would not admit to seeing it) was Arturo de Oliveira Santos, Mayor of Ourem, not far from the village of Fatima. Known as “the Tinsmith” because he was a blacksmith by trade, this fierce Masonic opponent of the apparitions had kidnapped the children the previous August and threatened them with death if they would not recant what they had seen and heard. Even under threat of death, however, the children would not deny what they had witnessed—yet another sign of the credibility of the apparitions and of the witnesses chosen by God to convey their contents to the world.

The Miracle of the Sun makes a mockery of later claims that the Message of Fatima is just a “private revelation” that Catholics can take or leave as they see fit. God would not work a public miracle to authenticate a Message we have the option of disregarding. No message from Heaven is dispensable, least of all this one. The words of Our Lady of Fatima were meant by God to be heeded by the entire Church for the welfare of souls and the safety of the world. The threat of the annihilation of nations was no “private revelation” but a warning to us all.

Our Lady of Fatima would soon return to keep Her promise with respect to the Consecration of Russia and the Five First Saturdays devotion. On the day of the Miracle of the Sun itself, however, Our Lady revealed three of the prescriptions for carrying out the Fatima Message we have already touched upon.

First, Our Lady held out the Brown Scapular, indicating She wants us all to wear it, placing ourselves under Her special protection and thereby assuring us of salvation. Sister Lucy has said the Rosary and the Scapular are inseparable.

Second, Our Lady said this of Herself: “I am the Lady of the Rosary. May you continue always to pray the Rosary every day.”

Third, Our Lady called for repentance and the amendment of lives in order to avoid divine punishments. In explaining why some people would be cured that day but not others, She said: “They must amend their lives and ask pardon for their sins. Do not offend the Lord Our God any more, for He is already too much offended!”

The Brown Scapular, the Rosary, repentance and amendment—these were the principal prescriptions the Mother of God gave to Her children, as the world awaited Her return with further instructions.

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