GREENVILLE — October 13 marks the 100th Anniversary of the “Miracle of the Sun” at Fatima, Portugal.
Many Roman Catholics believe in this miracle, including some from Greenville, who celebrated the anniversary, Saturday, in front of the Greenville City Building. They prayed with their rosaries, reciting prayers in unison. The rosary is a string of beads on which scripture-based prayers are said, beginning with “The Apostles’ Creed” and including the “Lord’s Prayer” and the “Hail Mary.” It focuses on the four sets of mysteries, which center on the life of Jesus Christ, including: Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious and Luminous. The Rosary can be said privately or with a group.
Barbara Rethlake, of Greenville, attends St. Mary’s Church. She and two other church members: Ann Kolb and Ginny Metzcar, have organized the “Miracle of the Sun” event the past six years, close to the anniversary of October 13.
“We are praying in reparation for the sins of our country,” Rethlake said. “That is what she (Mary, the Virgin Mother of Jesus) told us 100 years ago. She said to pray for our defense, to help us go in the right direction, to help stop war and to keep everybody where they need to be; close to God. She performed the miracle to tell everyone, because people didn’t believe her.”
Rethlake is referring to published and recorded accounts in history about the “Miracle of the Sun”. According to ewtn.com/fatima, this is how the story goes:
“In rural Portugal, 1916, it would have been usual to see children leading their family flocks to pasture. This is what the children of the Marto and Santos families, cousins all, did on many days. Often it was Lucia Santos, Francisco Marto and his sister Jacinta. Two favorite grazing areas were the hillside facing Aljustrel, near an outcropping called Loca do Cabeco (Place of the Head) and the Cova da Iria (Cove of Irene) at some distance beyond Fátima. Here the three children had three separate apparitions of an angel, each with a message of offering sacrifice to God, in reparation for the sins by which He is offended, to bring peace to the country.
“Almost eight months had passed since the last apparition of the angel, and Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta continued to practice what the Angel had taught them, praying and offering sacrifices to the Lord. Lucia was now ten- years-old, Francisco would be nine in June and Jacinta had just turned seven in March, when on May 13, 1917, they chose to pasture their sheep in a hilly depression known as the Cova da Iria, or Cove of Irene. It was there, with one exception, that the Blessed Virgin under the title of ‘Our Lady of the Rosary’ appeared on six occasions in 1917, and a seventh time in 1920 (to Lucia alone).
“During the night of October 12 it had rained throughout, soaking the ground and the pilgrims who made their way to Fátima from all directions, by the thousands. By foot, by cart and even by car they came, entering the bowl of the Cova from the Fátima-Leiria road, which today still passes in front of the large square of the Basilica. From there, they made their way down the gently slope to the place where a trestle had been erected over the little holm oak of the apparitions. Today on the site is the modern glass and steel Capelhina (little chapel), enclosing the first chapel built there and the statue of ‘Our Lady of the Rosary’ of Fátima where the holm oak had stood.
“As the ‘Lady of the Rosary’ rises toward the east, she turns the palms of her hands toward the dark sky. While the rain had stopped, dark clouds continued to obscure the sun, which suddenly bursts through them and is seen to be a soft spinning disk of silver. From this point two distinct apparitions were seen, that of the phenomenon of the sun seen by the 70,000 or so spectators and that beheld by the children alone. Lucia describes the latter in her memoirs. After our Lady had disappeared into the immense distance of the firmament, we beheld St. Joseph with the Child Jesus and Our Lady robed in white with a blue mantle, beside the sun. St. Joseph and the Child Jesus seemed to bless the world, for they traced the Sign of the Cross with their hands. This was the last of the apparitions of Fátima for Jacinta and Francisco.”
“Jesus wants us to change,” Rethlake said. “That is what Mary is trying to tell us, to come back and to stay.”
Rethlake said praying the rosary and praying in general makes her feel good. She said especially during the anniversary of the “Mircale of the Sun” or when many people are praying at the same time, she imagines everyone rejoicing in heaven. While the special occasions are a good time to pray, Rethlake encourages a regular practice.
“Our hope is not to convert people, but to make them more aware of things that are going on in the world,” she said. “I think people know about how crazy the world is right now, but they just don’t know what to do. Praying is the biggest way to help. It takes 15-20 minutes to pray the rosary. Doing so makes you feel like you have done something for yourself and for the world, to help bring graces to us.”
For more information about “The Miracle of the Sun” or the rosary, visit https://www.ewtn.com/fatima/
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