Solar Storm Northern Lights, Fatima and the Light Show That Preceded World War II

M. Scott Moon

On the Catholic calendar, May 13 is the feast of Our Lady of Fatima. Each year on this day, a million or so people gather to pray at the Fatima shrine in Portugal. While even non-Catholics have heard of Lourdes, few have heard of Fatima. However, its importance in the history of the 20th century is hard to ignore. Belief in the apparition that occurred in that small Portuguese hamlet in 1917 can be said to have inspired millions. It helped shape the map of Europe as decisively as the voices heard by Joan of Arc centuries earlier when that teenager rewrote the maps of England and France.


This year, the solar storm generating Northern Lights well into the American South oddly recalled the historical events associated with Fatima. Those events included strange lights in the sky, the "dancing of the Sun"  before 100,000 people in October of that year, and the fate of world peace. It all occurred as millions were dying on the Western Front in World War I, and the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia was about to turn the world upside down. 

The predictions Mary revealed at Fatima were given to three shepherd children. Two were siblings -- Jacinta, age 7, Francisco, age 9, and their cousin Lucia, age 10. The apparitions, which occurred monthly until October 1917, included astounding predictions. One of these, the famous Third Secret, which predicted an attack on the pope, was to remain in the Vatican archives until 2000. The other prediction was that a worse war would soon break out if people did not repent. 

The two siblings died in 1919 and 1920 in the Spanish Flu Pandemic after World War I and are canonized saints. Lucia, who became a cloistered nun, died in 2005. In the May 1917 apparition, Mary asked the children to make sacrifices and pray the rosary for the end of World War I. In the July apparition, the children saw a vision of hell and received an astounding message. Like the biblical message of Jonah, it was a conditional prediction of what would happen if people didn't turn to God. It reads:

“You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved, and there will be peace. The war is going to end; but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the Pontificate of Pius XI. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that he is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father.


“To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart and the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays. If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated. In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.”

On Jan. 25, 1938, Lucia, by then a nun, saw from her convent that strange light. It was seen in the night sky across Europe. She was convinced it marked the next phase of Mary's warning. In little over a month, on March 13, 1938, Austria was annexed by Nazi Germany, and on September 3, 1939, the world was again at war. It would put world peace on hold until 1991 in both its World War and Cold War phases. Experts in solar phenomena even call the 1939 event the Fatima storm.

The story of Fatima has inspired many books and films, including this Cold War-era documentary narrated by Ricardo Montalban. It includes an interview with eyewitnesses, British writer Malcolm Muggeridge, and others. Jack Warner even produced a Hollywood film about Fatima in the 1950s. In 2000 the Vatican also prepared an extensive document after the long-awaited Third Secret was released. 

On May 13, 1981, Pope John Paul II was gunned down at point-blank range by an Islamic assassin in St. Peter's Square. There was wide speculation that the assailant was the catspaw of Russian intelligence. The pope's injuries were much more serious than people realized at the time, and his survival was anything but certain. While recuperating in the hospital, it is believed he asked for Fatima information to be brought to him from the Vatican to study.


A year later, on May 13, 1982 John Paul II went to Fatima to thank Our Lady of Fatima for saving his life. The bullet was presented at the shrine and now forms part of her statue's crown amidst the jewels and gold. "I seemed to recognize in the coincidence of the dates a special call to come to this place...The Lady of the message [of Fatima] seems to have read with special insight the ‘signs of the times,’ the signs of our time." 

On March 25, 1984, in St. Peter’s Square, in union with the bishops of the world and the faithful who recited the consecration at Sunday Mass around the world the pope fulfilled the final request for a consecration made at Fatima, according to Sr. Lucia. Within a few years, communism was retreating all across Europe, and the Soviet Union ceased to exist. All without war and without a nuclear armageddon. 

Is this a coincidence, or is it the power of prayer? Has the call to daily prayer and the fulfillment of our ordinary duties in life made as a gift of ourselves to Jesus and Mary made a difference? Have these actions by millions of ordinary people done more to keep the world out of war than many diplomatic efforts, as worthy as they may be? 

As the world is again racked by war and the threat of expanding conflict in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, perhaps prayer and the fulfillment of our daily work for God's glory are needed now more than ever. Maybe the light show in the sky on the eve of the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima is just a reminder that world peace is literally in our hands.



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