1917 Miracle of the Sun

Around noon on an October Sunday in 1917, crowds, estimated to number between 30,000 to 100,000, assembled near Fatima, Portugal to see if the prediction of a miracle would take place.

"The Miracle of the Sun" did in fact occur before the thousands of witnesses, including newspaper journalists and scientists who had shown up looking for a story or an explanation. Thirteen years later, the Roman Catholic Church would also confirm the event, officially declaring it a miracle.

Lasting approximately 10 minutes, a strange, supernatural solar event impressed both believers and skeptics alike.

The Miracle of the Sun: What Did They See?
Eye-witnesses said they first saw rain dissipate and the skies clear. Next, the sun appeared in the sky like a solid, subdued, spinning orb - almost like a ball of snow in the sky. As it spun, the sun scattered colored lights (red, yellow, blue, purple) across the field, the people, and the cloudy sky. Then, the sun was described as appearing to move toward the earth, zig-zagging and radiating heat at frightened viewers. It was said that everything that had been wet from the preceding rain was instantly dried: the field, their clothes, etc. At its peak, many observers became very alarmed, frantic and ducking, thinking they were witnessing the end of the world.

The solar miracle was said to have been seen happening as far away as Rome where Pope Pius XII would later confess to having witnessed the event himself from the gardens of the Vatican. Many of the people who were there that day were interviewed by newspapers, scientists, and others who attempted to determine what actually happened; some wanted to verify the miracle while others sought to debunk it as a naturally occuring phenomenon. One thing is clear: Most of the people collectively saw something that, to them, was unexplainable. And despite their best efforts, scientists have not been able to accurately explain what happened to the crowd in that Portugese field, though several theories have been offered.

What Brought the Crowds?
Three children (Lúcia Santos, Jacinta Marto, and Francisco Marto) who had been reporting visitations from the "Lady of Fatima" (believed to be Mary, the mother of Jesus) had proclaimed that at "high noon" on Sunday, October 13th a miracle would be performed by the lady at a field, not far from Fatima, known as Cova da Iria. The miracle was to confirm the lady's messages to the children and convince witnesses of her visitation. While the crowd saw the dancing of the sun, the children reported seeing visions of Jesus, Saint Mary (Our Lady of Sorrows, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel) and Saint Joseph.