October 13th, 1917 - Miracle of the Sun, Fatima
Although an hundred thousand individuals, from many diverse faiths and from no faith, spread out even over several miles, saw the “miracle of the sun,” at Fatima in Portugal on 13 October 1917, yet not a single shred of astronomical data indicates that the sun really did “dance” on that day.
What is the believer to make of this fact? How ought we to respond to the doubts of many who claim that, since the sun does not seem to have moved at all from his normal place in the heavens (at least, no scientific observatory noted any such motion), the event must have been nothing more than mass-hysteria?
In 2011, we wrote an article [here] discussing the nature of the Miracle of Fatima. At that time, we indicated that the “miracle of the sun” was indeed a real miracle, but had nothing to do with the sun at all.
The evidence: Something happened
It must be clear to all that something wondrous did indeed happen that day at the Cova da Iria. Estimates of those present range from 30,000 to over 100,000 individuals – but what is most striking is not merely the sheer mass of witnesses, but the fact that many of those present were non-believers, communists, and others for whom we have no reason to suppose a religious conviction or desire which would induce either the fabrication of testimony or an hallucination.
Additionally, even among the many Catholic believers present, a good number of these doubted the message of the children and had no expectation of witnessing a miracle on that day. These too, then, cannot be reasonable supposed to have fabricated the event in their imaginations.
Although the testimony of exactly how the sun moved varies to some degree, we must propose that those present saw something phenomenal as can be garnered from the statements of witnesses who describe how the sun “danced” in the sky and then came crashing toward the earth at a rapid speed! Then, suddenly, the sun returned to his place in the sky, and the crowd was astonished to find that their cloths and the earth which had been soaking wet due to a hard rain, were now completely dry.
So terrifying was this event that, it is said, many person fell to the earth or hid under rocks and trees. Many thought that the time of the universal judgment had arrived, and so they quite literally cried out their sins at the top of their voice, begging the Lord’s pardon. It would take quite a lot for any of us to confess our sins publicly in this manner! Certainly, something great was occurring to move people to such an intense fear of the Lord.
Furthermore, the witnesses of the event are not limited simply to those present in the field outside of Fatima. We note that there were some as far as eleven miles away who claim to have seen the sun move in this miraculous fashion.
All of this seems to preclude any theory either of mass-hysteria or mass-deception. Those present saw something marvelous on that day: It appeared that the sun danced in the sky and then fell towards the earth (drying the people, their clothes, and the ground), before returning to the heavens.
The evidence: The sun didn’t move
On the other hand, it is a simple fact that the sun did not move. We know this on two accounts: First, none of the observatories throughout the world noticed any such movement in the sun. Second, although many people from even several miles away witnessed something marvelous on 13 October 1917, the vast majority of the human population witnessed no such miracle. Additionally, while it is quite awesome that the wet land was dried by the “miracle of the sun,” the rest of the water on earth was in no greater measure dried by this event.
Hence, for all these reasons, we must conclude that the sun in no way moved during the “miracle of the sun” in Fatima. If it had, the whole world would have seen the event, it would have been registered in many astronomical observatories, and a great bit of dampness throughout the earth’s surface would have evaporated.
A possible explanations
We already have noted that various explanations are impossible – mass-hysteria, hallucinations, intentional deception. Together with these, we add any real change in the sun himself.
One possible explanation comes from a Catholic priest and scientist, Fr Stanley Jaki. Fr Jaki indicates that it is likely that, as the sun did not move, the event was the result of a sudden temperature inversion combined with countless additional natural phenomena which made it appear to all present (and even within several miles of the field) that the sun was falling from the sky.
Fr Jaki insists that this even would nevertheless be a natural “miracle” insofar as the collusion of so many diverse natural elements at the very time which had been predicted by the Mother of God through the children is so great as to be supernatural in origin.
For a positive article about Fr Jaki’s research, see Stacy Transacos’ writing [here].
The best answer: A miracle of biblical proportions
For our part, we do not hold peace with Fr Jaki. Indeed, his explanation reduces the miracle to an essential natural event. Furthermore, the number of natural factors which would have had to come together to make his event even a remote possibility is so great as to be entirely improbable. While it is true that Fr Jaki would respond: “That is what makes it a miracle!” We reply: “Then it is more probable to propose a real miracle.”
Therefore, it seems most likely that a new object was formed in the sky, perhaps several hundred feet in the air above the field. It was filled with an intense light and also seems to have produced an intense heat. This newly created atmospheric ball was moved (it seems) by angels and is most closely comparable to the Pillar of Fire or (perhaps) to the Star of Bethlehem.
We propose that the angels, directed by our Lady, made this massive “ball” of dust or gas which then shone so bright by the infusion of light as to hide the sun from view. This angelic ball or mass would resemble something like an extremely dense cloud, which was then filled with light of many different colors. This object would then appear to all present in the field, as well as to those within several miles of the event, as being the sun himself, crashing to earth!
The postulation of such an object as this “mini-sun” would explain why the rest of the world saw no change in the sun. Furthermore, we would see clearly why those present would have been so awestruck and terrified – for something really was crashing toward earth, something majestic and great, an angelic “mini-sun”!
By this postulation, we have not only a miracle, but a miracle of biblical proportions which harkens back to the Exodus from the land of slavery and to the Light for revelation to the gentiles given in the Christ Child.
Our Lady of Fatima, Pray for us!