70,000 GATHER FOR THE PROMISED MIRACLE
By now, all Portugal was stirred by the events taking place at Fatima, suddenly the most important spot in the land. Particularly were the newspapers interested, especially in the statement that a great miracle was to take place. Many reporters and photographers were on hand to record the events, or to prove that the statements were nothing more than lies.
On the days preceding October 13th, all roads led to Fatima, with people coming from all parts of the land in any form of transportation they could find. Many walked for miles over the rough fields. It rained all the night of the 12th and the morning of the 13th. By noon, more than 70,000 had crowded into the Cova. Standing in mud up to their ankles, they huddled together under umbrellas, seeking protection from the relentless rain as they prayed their rosaries.
Shortly after noon the Lady arrived for her final appearance. She told the children:
“I am the Lady of the Rosary. I have come to warn the faithful to amend their lives and to ask pardon for their sins. They must not offend Our Lord anymore, for He is already too grievously offended by the sins of men. People must say the Rosary. Let them continue saying it every day.”
THE SUN WHIRLS IN THE SKY
As the Lady was about to leave, she pointed to the sun. Lucy excitedly repeated the gesture, and the people looked into the sky. The rain had ceased, the clouds parted, and the sun shone forth, but not in its usual brilliance. Instead, it appeared like a silver disc, pale as the moon, at which all could gaze without straining their eyes.
Suddenly, impelled by some mysterious force, the disc began to whirl in the sky, casting off great shafts of multicolored light. Red, green, blue, yellow, violet—the 7 enormous rays shot across the sky at all angles, lighting up the entire countryside for many miles around, but particularly the upturned faces of those 70,000 spellbound people. After three minutes the wonder stopped, but was resumed again a second and a third time—three times in all—within about 12 minutes.
It seemed that the whole world was on fire, with the sun spinning at a greater speed each time. Then a gasp of terror rose from the crowd, for the sun seemed to tear itself from the heavens and come crashing down upon the horrified multitude. “It’s the end of the world!” shrieked one woman. “Dear God, don’t let me die in my sins!” implored another. “Holy Virgin, protect us!” cried a third. All were on their knees in terror, asking pardon for their sins.
Just when it seemed that the ball of fire would fall upon and destroy them, the miracle ceased and the sun resumed its normal place in the sky, shining forth as peacefully as ever. When the people arose from the ground, cries of astonishment were heard on all sides. Their clothes, which had been soaking wet and muddy, now were clean and dry. Many of the sick and crippled had been cured of their afflictions.
THE CHILDREN ENJOY SPECIAL VISIONS
While the miracle of the sun was taking place, the children alone were privileged to witness several remarkable visions in the heavens. As Our Lady had promised, St. Joseph had come with the Holy Family and he had blessed the world. Then, Our Lady appeared as the Mother of Sorrows, accompanied by her Divine Son, who also blessed the world. Finally, Lucy had seen the Blessed Virgin Mary, dressed in the brown robes of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, crowned as Queen of Heaven and Earth, holding a brown Scapular in her hand, with her infant Son upon her knee. However, in none of these visions had any of the figures spoken to the children. Truly, it had been a great day for Portugal.
The reporters, many of whom had come to scoff, gave long and detailed accounts of what had taken place, while the newspapers published many photographs of the great crowds and of the children. Although these were released to the entire world (copies are on file in the U.S. Congressional Library), few people outside Portugal paid any attention to these events, and newspapers in most other countries ignored the story completely.