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Miracle of the sun Fatima
Miracle of the sun Fatima (Source: Wikipedia)

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The Miracle of the Sun in Fatima and Other Sun Miracles

The Miracle of the Sun, also known as the Miracle of Fatima (Portugal), is a strange incident that took place on  October 13, 1917, when more than 70,000 individuals witnessed the sun dancing and rotating. This mysterious event was linked to the appearance of Maria to three shepherd children earlier that year.

The Miracle of the Sun in Fatima

What did more than 70,000 people really see when they were in Fatima on October 13, 1917? Was it mass hysteria? Was it a sign from God, or was it the intervention of another planet?

On October 13, 1917, it was raining in Fatima. Thousands of people had gathered there because three shepherd children had announced that a miracle would take place on that day. The people were wet and cold. The faithful prayed a rosary together with the children. The weather began to clear slightly, and the sun became faintly visible behind the thin veil of clouds.

Suddenly, the sun seemed to pull away from the sky. It spun around its axis, emitting different beams of light each time, and moved zigzagging along the sky. For a moment, it looked as if it was going to crash into the crowd, but at the last moment, the sun swung back to its normal place in the sky. Astonished and horrified, those present discovered that their clothes had dried in that brief moment.

This event, which would later be called the Miracle of the Sun, concluded a series of strange phenomena associated with the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima.

Miracle of the sun Fatima

Testimonies in the newspapers

Avelino de Almeida was a correspondent for the anti-Catholic newspaper O Seculo (The Century). He was a skeptic, but standing in the crowd on October 13, he wrote: 

“...one could see the immense multitude turn towards the sun, which appeared free from clouds and at its zenith. It looked like a plaque of dull silver and it was possible to look at it without the least discomfort. It might have been an eclipse which was taking place. But at that moment a great shout went up and one could hear the spectators nearest at hand shouting: "A miracle! A miracle!" Before the astonished eyes of the crowd, whose aspect was Biblical as they stood bareheaded, eagerly searching the sky, the sun trembled, made sudden incredible movements outside all cosmic laws - the sun "danced" according to the typical expression of the people.”

Newspaper fatima

Supernatural!

In November 1917, the local bishop started a canonical investigation of the event. He wanted to hear from witnesses and figure out if the supposed private revelations from Mary were in line with Catholic beliefs. The local priest who was in charge of the investigation was especially convinced by the fact that reporters, government officials, and other skeptics who were there all told the same story about strange things happening to the sun. 

In 1930, the Catholic Church declared the occurrence to have “supernatural characteristics.” Near the site in Fátima, a shrine was constructed, which attracted tens of thousands of devotees. In 1940 Pope Pius XII approved the Maria apparitions in Fatima.

Pius XII
Pope Pius XII (Public Domain Wikipedia)

Other Sun Miracles

Although the miracle of the sun is often attributed only to Fatima, there are other places and circumstances in which people have observed a solar miracle. A brief list:

1951 - The Vatican

In 1951 Pope Pius XII witnessed the miracle of the sun from the Vatican Gardens. In the midst of his prayer in the Vatican gardens, Pius XII witnessed a remarkable occurrence. According to the Zenit (a non-profit Catholic News Agency) the pope said that at 4 p.m. on Oct. 30, 1950, during his “habitual walk in the Vatican Gardens, reading and studying,” having arrived to the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes, “toward the top of the hill […] I was awestruck by a phenomenon that before now I had never seen.

“The sun, which was still quite high, looked like a pale, opaque sphere, entirely surrounded by a luminous circle,” he recounted. “And one could look at the sun, without the slightest bother. There was a very light little cloud in front of it.” 

The pope witnessed this phenomenon four times.

1981 - present: The Miracle of the Sun in Medugorje

But there is more. Even today the Sun Miracle can be witnessed. While I was researching this topic I found on Youtube a couple of video’s about the sun miracle in Medugorje (or Medjugorje) in Bosnie. 

This sun miracle takes place almost daily over the skies of Medugorje. Most afternoons, the Sun seems to zigzag and dance around the sky, move quickly toward the Earth, send out beams of light in different colors, and do other strange things. This happens so often that nobody knows why this miracle gets so little attention. 

Since six local children reported seeing visions of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1981, Medugorje has become an unofficial Catholic pilgrimage site. Stories of Marian apparitions on the Crnica hill in the Bijakovii hamlet began to circulate, and shortly thereafter, conflicts with Yugoslav state authorities commenced. Pilgrims were prohibited from entering. 

After the Bosnian war, people are free to visit the site and every year, tens of thousands of people go to Medugorje to see what they think is a sign from God. 

If you are interested you can visit this miraculous place for yourself. Flying to Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina, is the easiest way to get to Medugorje. From Mostar, it is only a 20 km ride by bus or taxi.

2001 and 2018: The Phillipines

There has also been a “Dancing Sun Miracle” in the Philippines. In 2001, while 10,000 people were celebrating Divine Mercy Sunday, something strange happened.

People were at the Divine Mercy Shrine in El Salvador City, Misamis Oriental, when the clouds broke and the sun appeared as a cloudy disc in the sky from behind the mountains. The sun danced, changed colors, spun like a pinwheel, and put on a very impressive show.

At the same time, a rainbow came out, and the head of the big statue of Christ at the shrine was right in the middle of it.

Divine Mercy Christ Statue
Divine Mercy Christ Statue, Fillipines

On another occasion (and location) on Sunday, April 8, 2018, people were celebrating the feast of Divine Mercy at a shrine in Marilog, Davao City. That’s when they saw the sun acting strangely. The sun appeared to pulse brighter and dimmer. The phenomenon was also witnessed by Father Gracioso Charcos, who claimed that he saw a vision of the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ in the light.

1988: Lubbock, Texas, St. John Neumann Church:

Maria started appearing to the parishioners of this church in February 1988. One of them, Mary Constancio, said that she had been told to tell other people about what they had seen and to get more people together. She informed the newspapers about the apparitions, and more and more people started coming to Lubbock. On the Feast of the Assumption, 12,000 people came to Lubbock to experience the phenomenon. At the end of the day, some people saw strange things happening with the sun, similar to The Miracle of the Sun in 1917.

Other posts related to Fatima

1992: Denver, Mother Cabrini Shrine

Theresa Lopez of Highland Ranch, which is near Denver, started seeing the Virgin Mary in 1990. Lopez soon saw in a vision that the Virgin Mary would show up on January 12, 1992, at the Mother Cabrini Shrine. People went to the site in large numbers, as it was said that it would become the “American Medjugorje.” 

That day, the Virgin Mary didn’t show up, but some people got permanent eye damage from staring into the sun in hopes of seeing Her. Ironically, Mother Cabrini’s beatification miracle involved restoring sight to a blind child, while the Shrine’s famous spring is known specifically for “curing” eye diseases.

1990-1998 Conyers, Atlanta

Nancy Fowler asserted that the Virgin Mary appeared to her and conveyed messages to all U.S. citizens. The texts included everything from condemnations to prayers and war warnings.
The alleged appearances of the Virgin Mary in Conyers, a suburb thirty miles east of Atlanta, changed this town in one of the leading Marian apparition locations in the nineties. Some pilgrims claim to have witnessed miracles, including the sun twirling and changing colors.

Possible scientific explanations for the sun dance

The miracle of the Sun is definitely interesting to scientists. But it is difficult to explain a phenomenon that so many people saw at the same time including all the stories the witnesses saw. I analyzed the following scientific explanations of The Miracle of the Sun and included links to the research notes.

Sun dogs

Sun Dog
Sundogs in Fargo, North Dakota (Wikipedia)

Artur Wirowski of the Lodz University of Technology has been looking into the Sun Miracles since 2012 and thinks it might have something to do with the weather. Clouds of ice crystals at a high altitude can make “false suns” and rainbow-colored bands called “sun dogs.” Sun Dances may be a more complicated version of these kinds of effects. You can find his scientific abstract here.

Joe Nickell also theorized in his article ‘the real secrets of Fatima’ people witnessed a sun dog. However, a sundog is a fixed event and cannot account for the claimed appearance of the “dancing sun.” Therefor, Nickell believes that these and other related events may be explained by momentary retinal distortion caused by looking at the intense light and/or by the effect of rapidly darting the eyes to avoid entirely fixed gazing.

A cloud of dust

In a 1989 article for the Journal of Meteorology, Steuart Campbell theorized that a cloud of stratospheric dust altered the appearance of the sun, making it possible to look at. He hypothesized that as a result, the sun only seemed yellow, blue, and violet, and to spin. I couldn’t find his original article on internet, but his hypothesis is cited by many other scientists.

Mass hysteria

Benjamin Radford writes there was probably an element of moderate mass hysteria involved, in which one person sees something and becomes enthusiastic about it, causing others to see similar things themselves. On his blog collective hallucinations and the Fatima Miracle, Manuel Alfons explores if this might be the explanation for The Miracle of the Sun.

Conclusion

I believe that some individuals who witnessed Sun Dogs or other solar phenomena interpreted them as divine signs.

But my problem with this in relation to Fatima is, that a wonder was predicted. Nobody knew what would happen, but something was supposed to happen on that October 13th. That is why so many people were there in the first place.

Even if there is a scientific explanation for what these people experienced, to me, it seems quite miraculous it took place on that specific – predicted – moment.

This opens the door to non-scientific explanations

Other posts related to Fatima

Possible non-scientific explanations for the sun dance

The dancing of the sun was really a miracle

The most obvious explanation is that we are really dealing with a miracle. God is really concerned with the world and sent Maria to warn us for the things that are about to happen. The three secrets of Fatima (e.g. the secrets Maria revealed to the children)  seem to have a relation with world events that were about to happen. 

The Dancing of the Sun was an UFO

José Barbosa Machado became fascinated by the photos on the official website of the Shrine of Fatima of the miracle. In 2008, he gained access to the archives to study the photographs. The negatives (on glass) were in fairly good condition. He uses the photographs to show that the objects in the sky should not be confused with the sun. He also quotes eyewitnesses.

According to José, the photographs show that the onlookers were not looking at the sun, but at another object that appears to be giving off light. He wrote a book about his findings, which I found on Scribd (I use Scribd for many of my research. It saves me a lot of money because they have lots of books and papers on subjects that interest me. If you want to try it out, use this link for a 60-days free trial instead of the normal 30-day trial).

Good reads

Staying in Fatima

If you would like to visit Fatima, you can book a hotel by filling in the dates below. The map will show you all the hotels that are available in the area on that specific date. 

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Visiting Fatima from Lisbon

If you are staying in Lisbon, consider a organized tour: 

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The Miracle of the Sun in Fatima and Other Sun Miracles

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