By Jean M. Heimann
On Sunday in October 13, 1917, at midday, a crowd of approximately 100,000 spectators gathered on a rainy day in a wet, soggy field to witness the miracle that was about to take place. The people had gathered there because three shepherd children had predicted that at high noon Our Lady who had appeared to them several times would perform a great miracle in a field near Fatima, Portugal called Cova da Iria.
“Silence, Silence, Our Lady is coming!” Lucia shouted out, over the din of the crowd, as she saw the bright flash of light in the sky over the holm oak tree. Everyone grew quiet; a holy hush came over the crowd as they instantly fell to their knees. It was as if there was an electrically charged current running through the crowd, as they waited in eager anticipation of the miraculous appearance of the Mother of God.
Suddenly, she appeared. Our Lady was dressed all in white with brilliant beams of bright light emanating from her. She rested her luminous white feet upon the small evergreen tree, adorned with flowers and ribbons.
Lucia asked: “What does Your Grace wish of me?”
Our Lady answered: “I wish to tell you that I want a chapel built here in my honor. I am the Lady of the Rosary. Continue to pray the rosary every day. The war is going to end, and the soldiers will soon return to their homes.”
Lucia: “I have many things to ask you: if you would cure some sick persons, and if you would convert some sinners…”
Our Lady: “Some yes, others no. They must amend their lives and ask forgiveness for their sins.” Growing gloomier, she added, “Let them offend Our Lord no more for He is already much offended.”
Then, as Our Lady opened her hands, they began glowing, and as she stood up, her own radiant rays bonded with the bright blaze of the sun.
At that moment, Lucia cried out, “Look at the sun!”
Once Our Lady had vanished, three visions followed in succession, which symbolized the joyful, sorrowful, and glorious mysteries. Lucia alone viewed all three visions; Francisco and Jacinta saw only the first.
First, Saint Joseph appeared by the sun with the Child Jesus and Our Lady of the Rosary. It was the Holy Family. The Virgin was dressed in white with a blue mantle. Saint Joseph was also dressed in white, and the Child Jesus in light red. Saint Joseph blessed the crowd, making the Sign of the Cross three times. The Child Jesus did the same.
Second, there was a vision of Our Lady of Sorrows and of Our Lord overwhelmed with sorrow on the way to Calvary. Our Lord made the Sign of the Cross to bless the people.
Finally, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, crowned queen of heaven and earth, appeared in a glorious vision holding the Child Jesus near her heart.
While these three visions transpired, the crowd of 70,000 spectators witnessed the miracle of the sun. It had rained throughout the apparition. At the end of the discussion between Our Lady and Lucia –Lucia cried out, “Look at the sun!”
The crowd stood up and looked up at the sky, entranced by an amazing array of visions. The clouds parted, exposing the sun as an enormous silver disc, shining with extreme intensity. Then, the huge disk started to “dance.” The sun spun swiftly like a revolving ball of fire. Then it stopped abruptly for a moment, only to start spinning again. Its outer edges turned scarlet red; spinning, it scattered its fiery flames across the sky. The reflection of the flames changed the colors of everything around them– the trees, the people, the earth, and even the air. Shimmering shades of yellow, blue, and white colors painted the environment. Finally, the ball of fire trembled, shook, and then plunged in a zigzag pattern toward the terrified crowd.
Fearing that this was the end of the world, the people dropped to their knees and cried out in unison, weeping and praying, begging God to have mercy on them.
All this lasted about ten minutes. Finally, the sun zigzagged back to its original spot in the sky and returned to normal.
Surprisingly, people noticed that their clothes, soaking wet from the rain, had dried.
The miracle of the sun was also seen by several witnesses up to twenty-five miles away from the apparition site.
The Portugal news and other newspapers at that time reported the miraculous event.
On October 13, 1930 at the Cova da Iria, before a crowd of over 100,000 pilgrims, the Bishop of Leiria read his pastoral letter which ended with the following declaration:
“We deem it well: 1. to declare worthy of belief the vision of the shepherds at the Cova da Iria, in the Parish of Fatima, of this Diocese, on the thirteenth day of the months from May to October, 1917; 2. to give official permission for the cult of Our Lady of Fatima.”
What does our Lady ask of us today? She continues to plead with us to pray the Rosary daily. The Rosary is one of the most powerful weapons in our arsenal for spiritual warfare. It is a grace-filled contemplative prayer that aids us in bringing about a more fruitful spiritual life for not only for our own souls, but for the souls of others. It is a powerful way to bring souls to conversion. Some of the most hardened sinners will turn back to God when we pray the Rosary, asking for Our Lady’s intercession. Praying the Rosary is one of the most effective ways of putting an end to the greatest evils of our time.
The True Story of Fatima: A Complete Account of the Fatima Apparitions