At the end of the apparitions of Mary in 1917 at Fatima, an apparition of the sun, was reportedly viewed by thousands of people. The sun was variously described as changing colour and spinning etc.

The Following Work Explains the Miracle of the Sun
It is written by Professor Auguste Meessen
Institute of Physics, Catholic Univeristy of Louvain.


His thesis was that the miracle was an optical effect caused by looking at the sun for a time.  Retinal after-images cause dancing effects.   Bleaching of photosensitive retinal cells causes usually temporary damage and is responsible for the flashes of colour.  ‘Apparitions and Miracles of the Sun’ International Forum in Porto "Science, Religion and Conscience" October 23–25, 2003 ISSN: 1645-6564

Auguste Meessen, Institute of Physics, Catholic University of Louvain : wrote, "In November 2002, I looked directly into the sun, at about 4 p.m. The sun was relatively low above the horizon and its light intensity was attenuated, although the sky was clear. I was able to look right into the sun and was amazed to see that the sun was immediately converted into a grey disc, surrounded by a brilliant ring.  The grey disc was practically uniform, while the surrounding ring was somewhat irregular and flamboyant, but did not extend beyond the solar disk. It coincided with its rim. I stopped the experiment, since I wanted to be prudent, but I had experienced myself the initial phase of a typical “miracle of the sun” and I could explain it. The sun became grey, since my eyes immediately responded to its great luminosity by an automatic reduction of their sensitivity…

He tried it again in December 2002, "I looked straight at the sun during a much longer time. After some minutes, I saw impressive colours, up to 2 or 3 times the diameter of the sun. They changed, but were mainly pink, deep blue, red and green. Further away, the sky became progressively more luminous. I stopped there, since I understood that these colours resulted from the fact that the red, green and blue sensitive pigments are bleached and regenerated at different rates".

All authorities on the solar miracle say there were reliable witnesses who saw nothing. Scholar Mike Dash has determined that about half saw something. There is no evidence that something started happening above and got their attention. No they all got a cue to look up at the one time and then they started seeing things. This does not look like a true miracle. The contradictions are quite serious - some of those who saw signs did not report the sun racing down the sky towards them. Others did and panicked. Some said the sun took a path and others said it kept in its place and just spinned. Fr S Jaki found a witness who said that the miraculous drying of clothes was a myth. And relatively few witnesses say their clothes dried instantly. Spinning sun visions are quite common and it seems true to form that they were seen again at Fatima after the solar miracle. The "miracle" would have two ingredients, suggestion and what happens when you look at the sun with your naked eyes.

However, enough data are on hand to force one to recognize the meteorological nature of “the miracle of the sun” and to look askance at the phrase, “the sun danced over Fatima.” That the miracle was not solar, that it did not imply any “solar activity” in the scientific sense of that term, is indicated by the fact that nothing unusual was registered by observatories about the sun at that hour. Prior to that hour rain was coming down heavily over the area from the late morning hours on, with the clouds being driven fast by a westerly wind across the sky. A cold air mass was obviously moving in from the Atlantic, only at about 40 kms from Fatima, which itself is at about 15 kms to the east from the line where the land begins to form a plateau well over 300 meters above sea level. The hollow field, Cova da Iria, outside Fatima is itself at about 370 meters. An actual view of the geographic situation is a great help for an understanding of the true physical nature of “the miracle of the sun,” especially when one takes a close look at cloud patterns typical over the Cova.

I feel that at this juncture I must summarize my explanation of the miracle. It began at about 12:45 pm, solar time, after the rain suddenly stopped, and lasted about ten to fifteen minutes. During all that time, the sun, that had not been seen for hours, appeared through thin clouds, which one careful observer described as cirrus clouds. Suddenly the sun’s image turned into a wheel of fire which for the people there resembled a “rodo de fuogo” familiar to them in fireworks. The physical core of that wheel was, as we now have to conjecture, an air lens full of ice crystals, as cirrus clouds are. Such crystals can readily refract the sun’s rays into various colors of the rainbow.

The references to the strong west-east wind and to the continued drift of clouds may account for the interplay of two streams of air that could give a twist, in a way analogous to the formation of tornadoes, to put that lens-shaped air mass into rotation. Since many present there suddenly felt a marked increase in temperature, it is clear that a sudden temperature inversion must have taken place. The cold and warm air masses could conceivably propel that rotating air lens in an elliptical orbit first toward the earth, and then push it up, as if it were a boomerang, back to its original position. Meanwhile the ice crystals in it acted as so many means of refraction for the sun’s rays. Some eyewitnesses claimed that the “wheel of fire” descended and re-ascended three times; according to others this happened twice. Overwhelmed by an extraordinary sight that prompted most of the crowd to fall on their knees, even “detached” observers could not perform as coolly as they would have wished. Only one observer, a lawyer, stated three decades later that the path of descent and ascent was elliptical with small circles superimposed on it.

Such an observation would make eminent sense to anyone familiar with fluid dynamics or even with the workings of a boomerang. There is indeed plenty of scientific information on hand to approach the miracle of the sun scientifically. This is, however, not to suggest that one could reproduce the event say in a wind tunnel. The carefully co-ordinated interplay of so many physical factors would by itself be a miracle, even if one does not wish to see anything more in what actually happened. Clearly, the “miracle” of the sun was not a mere meteorological phenomenon, however rare. Otherwise it would have been observed before and after, regardless of the presence of devout crowds or not. I merely claim, which I did in my other writings on miracles, that in producing miracles God often makes use of a natural substratum by greatly enhancing its physical components and their interactions. One can indeed say, though not in the sense intended by some Fatima writers, that the fingers of the Mother of God played with the rays of the sun at that extraordinary hour at Fatima.

Stanley L. Jaki. A Mind’s Matter: An Intellectual Autobiography (Cambridge U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2002), Chapter 13 “A Portuguese Proverb.”


The miracle at most would be God using nature to say something. It is not a miracle as in a dead man rising. An unbeliever can say it is just all nature and is proof that nature can do such extraordinary things to us that even a well-supported miracle claim can be put down to being a non-miracle. It could be nature making our mistakes coincide so that you no longer know they are mistakes and you have what looks like a true miracle.


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