I chose to visit on the 13th of the month, as each month on that date they hold a procession from the Black Madonna Chapel down to the Grotto of Our Lady of Fatima. Various nationalities were represented among the attendees and parts of the rosary and chanting were conducted in Maltese and Filipino (Tagalog).
The phenomenon of ‘apparitions’ features repeatedly at these chapels. Events claimed as miracles often involve Mary in conjunction with the Sun. While the most famous historical cases are those of Fatima and Lourdes, both the reported appearances of Mary and the incidences of Black Madonnas occur worldwide. The Byzantine-style icon in the Black Madonna Chapel is a focal point at Marian Valley.
The most well-known Miracle of the Sun occurred on Sunday 13th October 1917, witnessed by a large crowd, numbered in the tens of thousands, gathered near Fátima, Portugal. One of the very many vivid accounts was recorded by Father John De Marchi,:
“As if like a bolt from the blue, the clouds were wrenched apart, and the Sun at its zenith appeared in all its splendour. It began to revolve vertiginously on its axis, like the most magnificent firewheel that could be imagined, taking on all the colours of the rainbow and sending forth multicoloured flashes of light, producing the most astounding effect. This sublime and incomparable spectacle, which was repeated three distinct times, lasted for about ten minutes.”
Medjugorje is a town located in the Herzegovina region of Bosnia and Herzegovina, close to the border of Croatia. On the 24th June 1981 the town experienced something akin to Fatima, with the Sun dancing in the sky and six children claiming to have received a message delivered from the Virgin Mary.
There is another case of similar occurrences in the town of Conyers, Georgia, USA, where, at noon on the thirteenth day of every month, thousands of worshipers gather to pray and sing, hoping to record the flickering of the Sun or perhaps the “opening of the door to heaven.” It began with Nancy Fowler, who claims to communicate with the Virgin Mary. Devotees report that the Sun becomes pure white light and that a smaller white disc sometimes circles it. The solar disc also ‘blinks.’
The Divine Mercy Shrine, which is located in Divine Mercy Hills, Misamis Oriental, Philippines is yet another prominent location where this occurs. At the initial gathering on what has become known as Divine Mercy Sunday, in April 2001, a rainbow first appeared over the head of statue of Jesus and along with an inexplicable solar event that was witnessed by 10,000 attendees - and continues to occur on subsequent Feast Days of the Divine Mercy. It is seen with the naked eye; the Sun changes form and colour and is said to look like an opaque disk that is ‘spinning like a pinwheel in the sky.’