Fatima – Oct. 13, 1917:
Tension was high in the dos Santos household on the 13th of October as people were crowding the Cova da Iria in anticipation of the announced miracle. Lucy had asked the Lady from heaven to provide a miracle to help people believe, to which the Lady agreed as well as to give her identity in October. Lucy’s incredulous mother was afraid of what might happen to her daughter should there be no miracle.
An all-night heavy rain turned the field to mud but that did not deter an estimated 70,000 people, including an atheistic journalist from the leading Lisbon paper and some unbelieving seminarians who came to be amused by the credulous farm folk.
When the apparition began, the mysterious, beautiful young woman finally identified herself, “I am the Lady of the Rosary”, thus emphasizing its importance.
Then Lucy exclaimed, “Look at the sun!” At that, the thick black clouds suddenly parted revealing a spinning sun plunging towards them. The seminarians were among those who, terrified, fell to their knees, crying out for mercy. It looked like the end of the world was upon them. After about ten minutes, during which the Cova was blanketed in many colors, the sun resumed its normal place in the sky. The people were astounded to see the earth completely dry and their muddied clothes as clean as though just washed and ironed.
During that “dancing of the sun”, as it was described, Lucy, Jacinta and Francisco saw tableaus of St. Joseph with the Child Jesus blessing the world for peace, then Our Lady of Sorrows and finally Our Lady of Mount Carmel. With the crowds pressing in on them, the children had to be escorted home by a circle of guards.
In this way, Our Lady proved that her message, with its plan for world peace, was authentic.
The journalist gave an honest front-page report with many pictures. The seminarians, when priests, returned to assist the many confessions at the shrine. At this time, our soldiers were landing in Europe to participate in the “War to end all wars”, so this event was reported in the back pages of only a few American newspapers.
As for the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart, Pope Pius XII made such a consecration in 1942 with an implicit reference to Russia and without the required participation of other bishops. Our Lady told Lucy that, although incomplete, God would honor that consecration by shortening the war. The tide of the war was now going to shift in favor of the Allies.
In her May 1917 apparition, Our Lady promised that, if what she counseled was heeded, the war would end and the soldiers would return home. The second part of that statement is important because it emphasized where God wanted those men to be, not at war killing each other, but at home enjoying their families, providing for and nurturing them.
Father Stanley Smolenski, spma, is director of the Shrine of Our Lady of South Carolina in Kingstree and director of Marian programs for the Diocese of Charleston. He is a consecrated hermit. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.