A HUNDRED years ago today, the sun danced in Fatima, Portugal. This was witnessed by, according to newspaper accounts, some 70,000 people. This was the culmination, the miracle promised by Our Lady of the Rosary to three children to whom she appeared monthly for six months starting May 13, 1917, at the Cova da Iria (Peaceful Hollow).
The three children—Lucia dos Santos (born March 28, 1907), and Francisco (born June 11, 1908) and Jacinta (born March 11, 1910) Marto—were praying the rosary when the “Angel of Peace” appeared to them and taught them how to pray properly. After the third visit from the Angel, on May 13, a Lady appeared to them who said she was from heaven and told them to pray the rosary every day, and to see her again in the same place the following month.
In June, the Lady appeared again and told them to see her the following month, to pray the rosary every day, and to learn to read. Before the July apparition, Lucia was taken by her mother Maria Rosa, and Francisco and Jacinta, by their father Ti Marto to the parish priest who did not believe it was Our Lady whom they saw.
So in July, Lucia almost did not go. The apparition appeared again. This time Our Lady asked them to pray the rosary “in order to obtain peace of the world and the end of the war (WWI).” Some people had started to believe in the apparition and asked Lucia to ask the Lady for a cure for themselves or their loved ones. When the Lady left, Lucia wrote: “The rays of light seemed to penetrate the earth and we saw, as it were, a sea of fire. Plunged in this fire were demons and souls in human form, like transparent burning embers. All blackened and burnished bronze, floating about in the conflagration…”
The Lady told them they had just seen a vision of hell, a vision that so affected them that they prayed for sinners and made sacrifices. It was also in this vision that the Lady told them she would perform a miracle for all to see in October when she would tell them who she was.
On August 13, the children didn’t see Our Lady because they were “kidnapped” by the Mayor. On August 19, instead, only Lucia and Jacinto (with his older brother Joao, who did not see or hear anything) were there when the Lady appeared. Lucia asked what would be done with the money people would leave in the place and she was told to make two containers for the fiesta of Our Lady of the Rosary: one was to be carried by Jacinta and two other girls, and the other, by Francisco and three boys. The money left over after the fiesta would be used to make a chapel in the place.
The story of the apparitions had spread and on Sept. 13, and a crowd of about 30,000 was present. Again, there were petitions for people to be cured and the Lady promised to cure some of them. In this apparition, there were strange occurrences. The first was that about noon, dusk seemed to have fallen. And the other one was a ball of fire witnessed by some. According to the Padre Joao Quaresma: “To my great astonishment, I saw clearly and distinctly, a luminous globe coming from the east and moving to the west, gliding slowly and majestically through space...Then suddenly this globe, giving off an extraordinary light, disappeared from my sight…”
On Saturday, Oct. 13, the weather condition in Fatima was appalling. Still, newspaper accounts tell that 70,000 people had converged in the area to witness the promised miracle. When the children arrived in the area, Lucia asked the people to shut their umbrellas and pray the rosary. As in previous apparitions, there was a thin column of blue smoke visible by everyone. At this apparition, the Lady revealed herself: “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.”
When Our Lady ascended back to heaven, “the reflection of her own light continued to be projected onto the sun itself. At this point, Lucia cried out, “Look at the sun!” From the O Dia newspaper of Oct. 10, 2017, is this description:
“At one o’clock in the afternoon, midday by the sun, the rain stopped. The sky, pearly grey in color, illuminated the vast landscape with a strange light. The sun had a transparent gauze veil so the eyes could easily be fixed on it. The grey, mother-of-pearl tone turned into a sheet of silver which broke up as the clouds were torn apart and the silver sun, enveloped in the same gauzy grey light, was seen to whirl and turn in the circle of broken clouds. A cry went up from every mouth and people fell on their knees on the muddy ground. The light turned a beautiful hue as if it had come through the stained glass windows of a cathedral and spread itself over the people who knelt with outstretched hands. The blue faded slowly and the light seemed to pass through yellow glass. Yellow stains fell on white handkerchiefs, against the dark skirts of the women. They were repeated on trees, on the stone and on the serra. People wept and prayed with uncovered heads in the presence of a miracle they had witnessed. The seconds seemed like hours, so vivid were they.”
Avelino Almeda in the Seculo newspaper wrote: “The sun trembled, made sudden incredible movements outside all cosmic laws—the sun ‘danced’ according to the typical expression of the people. They began to ask each other what they had seen. The great majority admitted to having seen the trembling and dancing of the sun; others affirmed that they saw the face of the Blessed Virgin; others, again, saw that the sun whirled on itself like a giant Catherine-wheel and that it lowered itself to the earth as if to burn in its rays. Some said they saw it change colors successively.”
Lucia wrote that, instead of the dancing sun, “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 it was the Lady of Dolours. Our Lord appeared to bless the world in the same manner that St. Joseph had done. This apparition also vanished, and I saw Our Lady once more, this time resembling Our Lady of Mount Carmel.”
Francisco died April 4, 1919 and Jacinta died Feb. 20, 1920. Our Lady had told them they would die soon after the apparitions; they have recently been canonized; Lucia was told she had a mission to fulfill and so would live long. Our Lady continued to appear to her on several occasions. She died on Feb. 13, 2005.
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on October 13, 2017.
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