Photo: People viewing the reputed ‘Dance of the Sun’ at Fatima on 13 October 1917
During the Fatima apparitions attributed to the Virgin Mary, as early as July 1917, it was claimed that the Virgin Mary had promised a ‘Miracle of the Sun’. A crowd of about 70,000 people, including news reporters and photographers, gathered at the Cova da Iria. After the incessant rain, when a thin layer of clouds cloaked the silver disc of the sun, 10-year-old Lucia, one of the three Portuguese shepherd children to whom Virgin Mary gave visions, called out to the crowd to look at the sun. It is believed that the sun appeared to change colors and to rotate like a fire wheel. For some people the sun appeared to fall from the sky, for others it zigzagged. The phenomenon is claimed to have been witnessed by most people in the crowd as well as people many miles away.
Columnist Avelino de Almeida of O Século, Portugal's most influential newspaper, reported, "Before the astonished eyes of the crowd, whose aspect was biblical as they stood bare-headed, eagerly searching the sky, the sun trembled, made sudden incredible movements outside all cosmic laws - the sun 'danced' according to the typical expression of the people." According to reports from poet Afonso Lopes Vieira and school teacher Delfina Lopes with her students and other witnesses in the town of Alburita, the solar phenomenon was visible from up to forty kilometers away. Despite these assertions, not all witnesses reported seeing the sun ‘dance’. No movement or other phenomenon of the sun was registered by scientists at the time.