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Ninety-eight years ago today, the apparitions at Fatima reached their dramatic climax.
In the spring of 1917, a mysterious lady appeared to three small shepherd children. She had a message for the world: to repent from its wicked ways. She appeared six times to the children, telling them to make acts of reparation and to pray the Rosary. She made the request to consecrate Russia to her, and she predicted many of the events of the 20th century.
Word of the apparitions spread like wildfire through the hot summer of 1917 and generated intense interest. The children were interrogated by the authorities and accusations of fraud began to appear in the anti-clerical press.
But the mysterious Lady promised that all doubt would soon be laid to rest. She would give a sign and reveal her identity at last at noon, October 13, 1917.
October 13 arrived cold and damp, with a chilly rain falling throughout the morning. Upwards of 100 thousand people arrived anyway, hoping either to have their faith rewarded or to be there to laugh when the prophecy failed to pass.
When the clock struck 12, nothing happened. Many of the skeptics mocked the children, joking that the Lady was "late." But when the sun reached the sky's meridian and it became solar (or actual) noon, the rain abruptly stopped.
The Lady appeared to the three children, saying, "I want to tell you that a chapel is to be built here in my honor. I am the Lady of the Rosary. Continue always to pray the Rosary every day. The war [World War I] is going to end, and the soldiers will soon return to their homes."
Our Lady, with her identity now revealed, asked that people seek forgiveness and most of all, "Do not offend the Lord our God anymore, because He is already so much offended."
As Our Lady rose into the air, the entire mood changed. What was once a dreary, drizzling day evaporated, the sun broke free from the clouds and sharpened into view, suddenly taking on a clearly defined rim. The light it shone did not damage the eyes of the crowd. The witnesses are specific in pointing out that the sun was not occluded in any way by mist or clouds. In fact, it appeared as if clouds were passing behind the sun.
The sun "spun around in a mad whirl," according to one observer. It began to shine in different colors, which in turn cast purple, yellow and other hues across the entire landscape. Occasionally it would seem to lunge towards the earth, causing people to cry out in fear. In one of these photos, taken at the scene, you can clearly see the sun very close to the ground, far from where it was supposed to be at solar noon.
The events were seen by many people dozens of miles away. Bizarrely, some people, including some believers, saw nothing at all.
The show lasted 10 minutes. As the sun returned to its proper station, the stunned crowd was astonished to discover that their clothes, soaked through by the cold rain a handful of minutes previously, were completely dry.
The miracle of the sun continues to defy experts to this day. No eclipse or other astronomical event was observed on October 13, 1917. The miracle could not have been mass hysteria, because people observed the event miles away. It could not have been religious fervor, because many witnesses were indifferent or even hostile to the Faith.
Many have claimed it was the sun damaging the crowd's eyes or it was an optical illusion called a "sun dog." But people from 1917 would have seen sun dogs before, and ten minutes of staring at the sun, even with sunglasses, would sear your retinas permanently.
The Miracle of the Sun is a miracle that would be first rank even in the Bible itself. It was a profound act of God, endorsing our Lady's message in a spectacular way that confounds even modern science.
Don't be a fool. God would not grant us such a powerful confirmation of faith lightly. Every Catholic should take Our Lady’s message to heart:
Pray the Rosary
Make acts of reparation.