Events To Commemorate

     If you’re not a devotee of unusual holidays, you might not know that today is National M&M Day. The M&M, one of America’s iconic candies, is exceptionally versatile. Not only can you eat them “raw” or bake them into cookies and brownies, you can also play Go with them. The rules differ only slightly from “classical” Go:

  • Each player chooses one color of M&Ms for his pieces.
  • Captured pieces become the capturer’s property to do with as he likes.
  • At the end of the game, whatever pieces are still on the board are eaten by the winner.

     I suggest purchasing the pound bag to supply an M&M Go game.

     But enough of that. One hundred six years ago today, the most famous Marian apparition of modern times occurred in Fatima, Portugal. Our Lady appeared to a huge crowd – estimated at 75,000 souls – and produced a miracle, as she had promised Lucia Dos Santos, Jacinta and Francisco Marto: The Miracle of the Sun.

     Aleteia reports an account of the miracle from a professor of natural sciences who witnessed it:

     According to various sources, Dr. Gonçalo de Almeida Garrett, Professor of Natural Sciences at Coimbra University, was there and later recalled what occurred. (As a note, some claim the account was actually given by Dr. Garrett’s son, Dr. José Almeida Garrett.)

     Dr. Garrett explains in his account that at first nothing extraordinary occurred.

     I was looking at the place of the apparitions, in a serene, if cold, expectation of something happening, and with diminishing curiosity, because a long time had passed without anything to excite my attention. Then I heard a shout from thousands of voices and saw the multitude suddenly turn its back and shoulders away from the point toward which up to now it had directed its attention, and turn to look at the sky on the opposite side.

     What happened next defied all scientific reasoning.

     It must have been nearly two o’clock by the legal time, and about midday by the sun. The sun, a few moments before, had broken through the thick layer of clouds which hid it, and shone clearly and intensely. I veered to the magnet which seemed to be drawing all eyes, and saw it as a disc with a clean-cut rim, luminous and shining, but which did not hurt the eyes. I do not agree with the comparison which I have heard made in Fátima—that of a dull silver disc. It was a clearer, richer, brighter color, having something of the luster of a pearl. It did not in the least resemble the moon on a clear night because one saw it and felt it to be a living body. It was not spheric like the moon, nor did it have the same color, tone, or shading. It looked like a glazed wheel made of mother-of-pearl. It could not be confused, either, with the sun seen through fog (for there was no fog at the time), because it was not opaque, diffused or veiled. In Fátima it gave light and heat and appeared clear-cut with a well-defined rim.

     At first he feared what was happening and tried to turn away.

     During the solar phenomenon, which I have just described in detail, there were changes of color in the atmosphere. Looking at the sun, I noticed that everything around was becoming darkened. I looked first at the nearest objects and then extended my glance further afield as far as the horizon. I saw everything an amethyst color. Objects around me, the sky and the atmosphere, were of the same color. An oak tree nearby threw a shadow of this color on the ground.

     Fearing that I was suffering from an affection of the retina, an improbable explanation because in that case one could not see things purple-colored, I turned away and shut my eyes, keeping my hands before them to intercept the light. With my back still turned, I opened my eyes and saw that the landscape was the same purple color as before.

     At the end of it, Dr. Garrett affirmed that he was in his right mind and was not suffering from a hallucination.

     And in fact everything, both near and far, had changed, taking on the color of old yellow damask. People looked as if they were suffering from jaundice, and I recall a sensation of amusement at seeing them look so ugly and unattractive. My own hand was the same color. All the phenomena which I have described were observed by me in a calm and serene state of mind, and without any emotional disturbance. It is for others to interpret and explain them.

     Catholics venerate Our Lady not as divine, but as the highest of the saints, who has her divine Son’s ear.

     A beautiful dramatic story of the apparitions, which occurred from May 13 to October 13, 1917, is available in the movie The 13th Day. I recommend it highly.