On this day, in 1917, the visionaries at Fatima, Lucia Santos, age 10, Blessed Francisco Marto, age 9, and Blessed Jacinta Marto, age 7, said they saw Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. They had seen an angel in 1916, and on May 13th, 1917, they saw a Lady. She appeared to them again in June, July, August, and September. She told the children she would identify herself in October, and that a miracle would occur. The children reported the prediction, and thousands of people were on hand on October 13th.
The rain stopped, the clouds parted, and the sun began to spin. For ten minutes the solar phenomenon continued. The witnesses saw brilliant colors, and the dancing sun seemed to approach.
The Wikipedia article on the Miracle of the Sun includes quotations from witnesses' accounts.
Francisco and Jacinto did not live long after their visions. Francisco died in the 1918 flu epidemic, and Jacinto died a year later, perhaps of the flu, perhaps of lung cancer. Lucia, who became a Dorothean nun first and then a Carmelite, lived to be 97. Click here to read her obituary in the New York Times.
Click here for the web site of the Sanctuary of Fatima. The Archbishop of Moscow, Paolo Pezzi, is presiding over today's events at the shrine.
Click here for the live camera in the little chapel at the site of the apparitions.
The Wikipedia article on Our Lady of Fatima includes a section on Popes and Fatima. Catholics are not required to believe in apparitions and personal revelations, but "Popes Pius XII, Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI all voiced their acceptance of the supernatural origin of the Fátima events in unusually clear and strong terms."
Pope Benedict has authorized shortening the canonical timetable for the process of beatification of Sister Lucia.
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