The most important apparitions in the 20thcentury took place between 13 May and 13 October 1917 in Fatima, Portugal, in a place called Cova da Iria, located about 85 miles north of Lisbon. During this period a figure of a Lady appeared six times to three children: Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco and passed to them certain information which later became known as the secrets of Fatima. When the apparitions ended, about 50,000 people witnessed a very unusual display in the sky which made a lasting impression on believers and skeptics alike. It was the first ever public manifestation of an previously announced inexplicable phenomenon.
Click on the thumbnails below to see actual photographs taken at the time of the 50,000 strong crowd.
Thanks to the presence of mind of Lucia, who, during the meeting on July 13 asked the Lady for a “miracle” for people to believe in the authenticity of the apparitions, the entire character, scope and the impact of these events changed. The Lady promised that she would perform a “miracle” on October 13 for every one to see. This information was widely circulated in Portugal, and because of this, the display was witnessed by many thousands of people who received 3 months notice prior to the event.The display in the sky commenced straight after the apparition finished. All the witnesses stated that they could watch it directly without squinting. So why did this phenomenon pass into history, as “the miracle of the sun”? Probably because the disc was of a similar size and position in the sky to the sun.The luminous disc did not shine brightly and was not blinding. The disc had a distinct edge and was of silver-blue color but not like the moon. The color was clear and rich, having the opalescence of a pearl. Witnesses with a technical background described it as a disc of opaque or frosted glass, illuminated from behind, with a rainbow of iridescence on its periphery. Some of the witnesses claimed that the colors of the disc were lively and strong, and changing from white, red and blue to orange, yellow or green. Some compared it to stained glass. It looked as thought the periphery of the disc was more colorful and iridescent than the center and changed cyclically, according to some repeating pattern. The color changes were not random and rapid, but slow and regular. The disc sometimes looked as if it was surrounded with an aureole of flames, at other times by yellow or purple rays. At one moment the flames disappeared and the disc became dull silver-blue again. One of the witnesses noticed that the clouds, moving at that time from west to east, were not obstructed from view by the disc but looked as if they passed behind it.The disc did not stay in one place but moved in the sky. All witnesses agreed – it revolved on its axis. Some people noticed that it whirled very quickly. In the opinion of Goncalo Almeida Garrett, a professor of mathematics, only the peripheries of the disc carried out this rotary motion. The movements were not uniform but repeated three times after intervals. There are descriptions comparing the disc to a turning wheel of fireworks, with flashes of sparks of light on its border, similar to a Catherine wheel. Apart from the whirling, witnesses noticed other movements. They describe that the disc “danced”, “jumped” or “trembled” through the almost diaphanous clouds. The most dramatic scene happened when “the sun fell down to the earth”. The whirling disc appeared to approach the earth, and its movement was very elaborate. It looked as though the disc was spinning, descending in slow zigzags, or moving down in a spiral. When the disc descended so low that it looked as if was touching the tips of the trees, a panic seized some people. Next, the disc started climbing back up at a very slow, snail-like pace, all the way to it’s initial position. The entire display lasted about 10 minutes.Witnesses noticed not only extraordinary colors of the disc and the clouds, they also claimed that the people, the trees, the fields and the entire surrounding area looked colorful. Some said that everything around them turned yellow, others gold, purple, blue, orange, green or metallic. Some witnesses noticed that the color of the surroundings changed with the color of the disc. The illumination was patchy and the witnesses mentioned seeing stains of various colors. The intensity and the shapes of these colorful patches varied with time, as if under the influence of air movement.
Click on the video link below to hear more on the display.
How the display in the sky could have been achievedAfter examining the witnesses’ statements, there is not the slightest doubt that it was not the sun which moved in the sky, but it was a kind of optical illusion.To make a whirling and dancing disc visible at the same time to thousands of people, an image visible in a large area had to be produced. One could assume that for generating such an image an optical projection method was applied. Suppose that the image was projected on a screen positioned at a distance of 0.6 miles from Cova da Iria at a height of 0.6 miles , the diameter of the disc should be about 30 ft. To generate such an image it is possible that several lasers were used, generating strong, colorful, monochromatic light beams which were projected on special clouds, acting as a screen.Application of lasers for the disc optical projection is confirmed by several observations. The disc was colorful, but surface colors were not uniform – silvery in the middle and glittering in all sorts of colors at its periphery. During the whirling, the rotary disc motion could be seen not at its center, but mainly at the rim. Assuming that the image was created by the superposition of several laser beams of different colors, it is very difficult outside laboratory conditions to obtain perfect overlap of all beams. Where the overlap was precise, observers could see a uniform, silver color, but on the periphery, where the superposition was not accurate, they saw various colors. It is well known that when a laser beam is passing through the earth’s atmosphere, due to diversified air temperature and and associated uneven air densities it is deflected similar as by a glass prism. Since the air temperature varies, the beam deflection also will be continuously changing. This phenomena were observed by witnesses as shaking or dancing of the disc. It is possible to observe a similar phenomenon at night, such as twinkling stars. This observation confirms that the optical beams used for display traveled a long way through the atmosphere.As during the apparitions, a screen was essential for projecting the image of the disc. This function in this case was also performed by clouds, however they were not natural clouds. These special, small clouds had to be continuously produced, because when one disappeared, in its place appeared a new one. During the display the disc came close to the ground, so we could conclude that the screen created from these peculiar clouds stretched from the surface of the earth, all the way to the height of at least 0.6 miles.Since the disc was in the same place in the sky where the sun was, it was necessary to limit considerably the intensity of the sun's rays. And for this purpose artificially made clouds were used. The blockage of the sun’s rays had to be very effective, because none of the observers looking in the direction of the sun were blinded by them. The artificial clouds were probably generated by heating an area of the earth using infrared radiation. This is supported by the statements of some witnesses who testified that their soaked through clothing, after the show, was completely dry. Many persons noticed that both the people and the landscape in their neighborhood had changed color, as if illuminated by colored lights. The colors changed non-stop through all the colors of the rainbow. What is interesting is that the witnesses observed that certain areas were more strongly and others less illuminated, and that looked like colored patches. Such a phenomenon can only exist when monochromatic light is used as the source of light, and this observation confirms the application of lasers for the optical projection of the disc.The above scientific analysis does not give an answer to the question of how the events in Fatima were really staged. It will not be possible to establish true events and we will most probably never learn what specific technical solutions were used in Fatima. The purpose of this analysis is to establish that everything the witnesses and visionaries saw and heard is possible to explain and would be possible to stage, applying techniques based on the known laws of physics. Perhaps we are still unable to reproduce the Fatima events, but we know the technical solutions which could be applied to design similar displays..
Predictions of the events in FatimaThe fact that the apparitions in Fatima were predicted a few months earlier distinguishes them from all other supernatural events. This fact is omitted by both the Catholic Church and skeptical authors. We can separate the predictions in to two groups: the ones which appeared in the Portuguese national press before or on May 13, 1917, and the ones which were handed over by the central figure of the events, Lucia dos Santos.The first prediction was published in Lisbon on March 10, 1917, in one of the most important newspapers in Portugal, still in print, Diario de Noticias. It was in the form of an announcement with the title printed in bold letters: 135917, see Fig. 1, which, it would be easy to decipher, refers to the date – 13.05.1917– the day of the first apparition in Fatima.The text is a little mysterious and looks like an encrypted message, and in a cursory translation it reads: “Do not forget the happy day in which our suffering will end. The war in which we participate will end. A. and C.”Do we know who this announcement originated? On February 7, 1917 a group of spiritualists in Lisbon had one of its regular meetings. One of them, Carlos Calderon, a famous Lisbon trance medium, created a message by method of “automatic writing”. It read as follows:“Do not judge. The one who would judge you would not be pleased with your prejudice. Have faith and patience. It is not normal for us to predict the future. Secrets of the future are not penetrable, although sometimes God lets lift slightly a corner of the veil which covers them. Have confidence in our prophecy. The day May 13 will be one of happy days for the good souls of the world. Have faith and be good. Ego Sum Charitas ( I am Love). By yourself you should always have your friends, who will guide you and will help you in your work. Ego Sum Charitas. The bright light of the Morning Star will illuminate your road.Morning Star”Furtado de Mendonca, who was present at the séance in Lisbon, published a photocopy of the original received text in his book. Most of the text was written backwards in the same handwriting, from right to left in such a way that in order to read it was necessary to use a mirror. The last sentence and the signature were not reversed. In spite of the mystery and unclear meaning of the received message, spiritualists decided to place an advertisement in the newspaper.There is no other evidence that the spiritualists received such a message, but it is certain that they placed the advertisement. It is worth noticing that in the received message there is nothing about the war. Since the war was the most important event then in Portugal, perhaps mentioning it was supposed to enhance the attraction of the announcement, so the readers would pay more attention to it. It is also worth noticing that in the signature under the announcement the letter “C” probably refers to Carlos Calderon. Regardless of who placed this announcement and what his reason was, it is certain that the prophecy giving the date of May 13,1917 was published on March 10, 1917.The next prediction was published in Porto, where three leading Portuguese daily newspapers: Jornal de Noticias, O Primero de Janeiroand Libertadeplaced on May 13,1917 information under the title: “The war and the spiritualism. Sensational revelations”. The text of the note read as follows:“Yesterday we received a message, which we print below:Porto, 11 May 1917.Dear editors,It was communicated by the Spirits and different groups of spiritualists, that on the 13th of this month there will occur an event with respect to the war which will astonish all the people. I have the honor of signing.The spiritualist and the dedicated promoter of the truth. Antonio”.Jornal de Noticias printed only the letter with a brief explanation, but O Primeiro de Janeiro, apart from the note, placed a malicious and ironic commentary written by the very well known journalist Guedes de Oliveira, who had the reputation of an anticlerical Republican, like the majority of contemporary Portuguese journalists. Oliveira, among others, wrote:“Today is the 13th [...] the predicted event will have taken place and everyone will be so deeply shaken, as if an abyss had opened under our feet. The intervention by those who exist beyond the physical world [...] cannot be without consequence to us, and I am highly alarmed by this information, that I received from an eager promoter of the truth. It would never come to my mind, that we could be in such a close contact with beings from another world. [...] But now with the letter from Mr. Antonio I confess that all I lack, is the predicted event. [...] What mysterious powers could work upon terrestrial things with their inexplicable influences? How are they able, for example, to cause levitation of a cast iron table, without any physical contact?”It is worth noticing that rational and atheistic journalists, who were working at these three leading Portuguese newspapers and normally treated with contempt spiritualists and people dealing in paranormal phenomena, suddenly devoted so much attention in order to comment on such unimportant news.Information originating from a visionary herself belongs to the second group of predictions. During the apparition on July 13, Lucia asked the Lady for a miracle so people would believe in the authenticity of the apparitions. The Lady promised that a miracle would happen in three months time, so that everyone could see it. Thanks to this prediction, on October 13 in Cova da Iria, thousands of curious people gathered and most importantly many journalists arrived from the leading Portuguese newspapers. In spite of being anticlerical, these journalists provided an accurate and credible description of the events which took place in Fatima on that day and greatly contributed to the spread of information about the apparitions.Significance of predictionLet us consider why the existence of the predictions is so important in establishing the authenticity of these events. In everyday life, very often we find ourselves in situations which look very extraordinary, but they do not evoke great amazement. Let's assume that we were standing at a bus stop by the road and we noticed a yellow Rolls Royce passing by. Since we have never seen such a car, perhaps only on film, we would probably be very surprised, but it would not make a great impression on us. However, if somebody tried to estimate the probability of the meeting of such a car in the predicted place and time, it would turn out that he could have one chance in a billion perhaps.Let us consider a different event. We are strolling in a woodland and every now and then we notice rubbish left there by other people. When we see a chocolate wrapper under the bush, this view could spoil the entire pleasure of the walk, but certainly will not cause even the smallest surprise. However if somebody were to predict that at such and such hour, in a specific place we would find a piece of chocolate wrapper, for example, red foil with yellow stripes, the fact that such a prophecy came true makes the entire situation very extraordinary. It is hard to estimate the probability of such an event, but the odds certainly would be infinitesimal. Following these examples we could say that since predicting the place and time of some even very ordinary events is very difficult, prediction of such an improbable phenomenon as an apparition is completely impossible. Therefore we could conclude that the events in Fatima could only be predicted by the organizers of these apparitions.