On October 13, 1917, “a rehearsal of the end of time” took place in Fatima (R.P. Calmel). Just as Our Lord performs miracles to confirm the truth of his doctrine, so God allowed the great miracle of the sun to support the requests of Our Lady of Fatima. Let us take them seriously, especially the daily rosary!
In July and August, Our Lady promised that she would perform “a miracle so that everyone would believe”. In September, she renewed her promise, specifying that it would be in October1.
It was Saturday, October 13, 1917. It had rained all night long; the roads and paths had become muddy potholes. At ten o'clock, the sky was covered with clouds and the rain began to fall again. Yet pilgrims continued to flock to the place where the Virgin is said to have appeared. About 70,000 people are present, the majority of them peasants, but also notables and people from the city who have arrived by car. Most of them came in the hope of seeing the miracle. But there were also many curious and unbelieving people, including practicing Catholics like a certain Dr. Almeida Garrett. Others were delighted at the idea that this would be an opportunity to put an end to the deception of Fatima. Among the latter was Avelino de Almeida, the editor of Lisbon's major anti-clerical and Masonic daily, O Seculo.
The families of the visionaries are worried: “And if nothing happened, what would be the reaction of those who came from far away to see the miracle?” João Marto, eleven years old, brother of Francisco and Jacinta, preferred to hide under his bed to escape the possible anger of the people. He won't see anything of the incredible event that is coming! It's not that he really doubted the apparitions of the Virgin, but a great miracle, so many people, it's all very impressive, and then you never know! Lucia’s mother, Maria Rosa, fearing that this day would be the last in her daughter's life, her heart torn by the uncertainty of what was going to happen, wanted to go with her; she said with Antonio, her husband: “If our daughter has to die, we want to die by her side.”2 But Lucia was very calm: “What the Lady has promised will be fulfilled.”
The crowd was very large. Jacinta was frightened and could not stop crying, but Lucy consoled her. As the three children approached, the people tried to make way for them. From the Cova da Iria, thousands of voices joined in the recitation of the Rosary or the singing of hymns. The three children are in front of the small holm oak, already much mutilated by popular devotion, decorated with flowers and silk ribbons.
At noon, solar time, Lucy shuddered and cried out, “:A flash of lightning!” And looking up to the sky, “Here it is... Here it is!”...
Her face becomes more and more beautiful3; delighted in ecstasy, Lucia asks:
“Who are you, Madam, and what do you want from me?”
“I am Our Lady of the Rosary and I want in this place a chapel in my honor.”
After recommending, for the sixth time, to continue to pray the rosary every day, the Vision promises to grant some prayer intentions, others not:
“It is necessary that men correct themselves, that they ask forgiveness for their sins.”
And taking on a sadder air, with a pleading voice:
“Let them no longer offend Our Lord, who is already too offended!”
Then Our Lady opened her hands and reflected them on the sun, which suddenly became visible. And as She rose to the sky, the reflection of Her own light continued to shine on the sun.4 At that very moment, Lucia shouted to the crowd:
“OLHEM PARA O SOL !”, "LOOK AT THE SUN!”
The sun suddenly took the shape of a huge silver disk.
It shone with intensity, but did not blind. “It was possible to stare at it without the slightest discomfort,” wrote Avelino de Almeid5. “People could look at the sun as they would look at the moon”6. Suddenly, the star began to shake, to “bailar”, to dance7, to shake with sudden movements, to finally turn on itself at a dizzying speed, “like a wheel of fire, taking all the colors of the rainbow” (Maria do Carmo).
“A light, whose color varied from moment to moment, was reflected on people and things,” observed Dr. Pereira Gens. Suddenly a clamor was heard,” said Dr. Almeida Garrett, “like a cry of anguish from the whole crowd. The sun, indeed, maintaining its fast movement of rotation, seemed to detach itself from the firmament and, blood red, to advance towards the earth by threatening to crush us of its igneous mass. Those were some terrifying seconds! “It seemed to detach itself from the firmament and rush towards us”8. “A man without religion,” testifies Father Inacio Lourenço, “was as if paralyzed, frozen, his eyes fixed on the sun. Then I saw him tremble from head to toe, raise his hands to heaven, and fall to his knees in the mud, shouting, 'Our Lady! Our Lady!’”
... Meanwhile, the people continued to shout and cry, and to ask God for forgiveness for their sins ... Then we ran to the two chapels of the village, which were filled in a few moments9!
“After ten minutes, the sun returned to its place ... When everyone was convinced that the danger had passed, there was an explosion of joy. Everyone burst into shouts of thanksgiving: miracle! Miracle! Blessed be Our Lady! The academician, Marques da Cruz, also noted the following fact: “This immense crowd was all wet, because the rain had not stopped since dawn. But, although this fact may seem incredible, after the great miracle, everyone had their clothes completely dry, which was the object of general astonishment...”.
I was able to speak personally, in August 1990, with an elderly couple since, 73 years before, they had witnessed the miracle of the sun; their look, and their story, simple, without “embellishments”, the emotion that still inhabited them, said a lot about what they experienced at that time: “There were so many people, so many people ... and then an immense fear, ... the prayer ... toda a gente rezava, all were praying ...”!
One day, while visiting the house where Jacinta and Francisco were born, I witnessed a conversation between an official guide of the Shrine and a pilgrim. The subject was very interesting: the solar miracle of October 13, 191710.
“But how could this phenomenon occur, given that elsewhere the sun was stationary?” the pilgrim asked.
“Oh, it was like a play of reflections of many colors, a bit like the effect of the sun's rays passing through a stained glass window...”, replied the guide.
In short, the description made by the guide evoked rather the lights of a big lark's mirror or of an improved kaleidoscope, and was summed up in that! It was necessary to rectify and clarify these statements, under the approving eye of João Marto, who was there.
Sister Lucia's memoirs and the many testimonies of those who witnessed the miracle of the sun are very clear: it was a scene of apocalypse, a sort of “rehearsal of the end of times” (Fr. Calmel). It is unique in the history of the apparitions of Our Lady: several tens of thousands of people, not counting those within a radius of 40 km, experienced the greatest anguish of their lives: the “powerful Virgin” commanded the sun, which threatened to crash down on them11.
“This phenomenon, which no astronomical observatory recorded, and which therefore was not natural, occurred in the presence of all social categories and classes, believers and non-believers, journalists from the main Portuguese newspapers and even people from miles away, which destroys any kind of explanation of a collective illusion”.
Just as Our Lord performs miracles to confirm the truth of His doctrine, so God allowed this great miracle of October 13 to support the requests of Our Lady of Fatima. Let us take them seriously, especially the daily rosary!
2021... Under the sun of Fatima, thousands of visitors stroll by, pilgrims who are generally carefree or simple tourists. Its rays are silent; the terrible warning of October 13, 1917 seems to belong to the past, like a grace that no longer returns, or a punishment that is approaching...
By Abbé Bertrand Labouche
- 1. The following lines are inspired in large part by the Memoirs of Sister Lucia, the work of Canon Barthas, Fatima, Merveille inouïe, and that of Brother François de Marie des Anges
- 2. From the second Memoir of Sister Lucy, p. 84
- 3. According to an eyewitness statement on November 13, 1917.
- 4. Lucie's Fourth Memoir.
- 5. Article from the anti-clerical newspaper "O Seculo", October 15, 1917.
- 6. Testimony of Maria do Carmo.
- 7. Article from the anti-clerical newspaper "O Seculo", October 15, 1917.
- 8. Alfredo da Silva Santos.
- 9. The witness, Father Inacio Lourenço, who was 9 years old at the time, lived in the village of Alburitel, located 18 km from Fatima. All the villagers confirmed his story in every way.
- 10. It will be repeated for Pius XII, in 1950, on the occasion of the proclamation of the dogma of the Assumption - See at the end of this book, in " Documents annexes ", n° 1
- 11. The recent film, "The 13th Day," is well done, especially the sun miracle scene. Read an interesting review in the July-August 2016 issue of Fideliter, No. 232.
- The following lines are inspired in large part by the Memoirs of Sister Lucia, the work of Canon Barthas, Fatima, Merveille inouïe, and that of Brother François de Marie des Anges.
- From the second Memoir of Sister Lucy, p. 84.
- According to an eyewitness statement on November 13, 1917.
- Lucie's Fourth Memoir.
- Article from the anti-clerical newspaper "O Seculo", October 15, 1917.
- Testimony of Maria do Carmo.
- Article from the anti-clerical newspaper "O Seculo", October 15, 1917.
- Alfredo da Silva Santos.
- The witness, Father Inacio Lourenço, who was 9 years old at the time, lived in the village of Alburitel, located 18 km from Fatima. All the villagers confirmed his story in every way.
- It will be repeated for Pius XII, in 1950, on the occasion of the proclamation of the dogma of the Assumption - See at the end of this book, in " Documents annexes ", n° 1
- The recent film, "The 13th Day," is well done, especially the sun miracle scene. Read an interesting review in the July-August 2016 issue of Fideliter, No. 232.