ROME, (Zenit.org). – According to his own testimony, the Pope who declared the dogma of the Assumption saw the “miracle of the sun” four times.
This information is confirmed by a handwritten, unpublished note from Pope Pius XII, which is part of the “Pius XII: The Man and the Pontificate” display. The display opened in the Vatican to the public on November 4 and will run until January 6. A commissioner of the display and a Vatican reporter for the Italian daily Il Giornale, Andrea Tornielli, told the Rome-based ZENIT news service that the note was found in the Pacelli family archives.
It describes the “miracle of the sun,” an episode that until now had
only been affirmed by the indirect testimony of Cardinal Federico
Tedeschini (1873-1959), who recounted in a homily that the Holy Father
had seen the miracle.
Pius XII wrote, “I have seen the ‘miracle of the sun,’ this is the pure
truth.” The miracle of the sun is most known as the episode that
occurred in Fatima, Portugal, on October 13, 1917.
According to the Fatima visionaries, Mary had said there would be a miracle that day so that people would come to believe.
Thousands had gathered at the site of the visions, and the sun
“danced,” reportedly drying instantaneously the rain-soaked land and
Pius XII’s note says that he saw the miracle in the year he was to
proclaim the dogma of the Assumption, 1950, while he walked in the
He said he saw the phenomenon various times, considering it a confirmation of his plan to declare the dogma.
The papal note says that at 4 pm on October 30, 1950, during his
“habitual walk in the Vatican Gardens, reading and studying,” having
arrived to the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes, “toward the top of the
hill […] I was awestruck by a phenomenon that before now I had never
“The sun, which was still quite high, looked like a pale, opaque
sphere, entirely surrounded by a luminous circle,” he recounted. And
one could look at the sun, “without the slightest bother. There was a
very light little cloud in front of it.”
The Holy Father’s note goes on to describe “the opaque sphere” that
“moved outward slightly, either spinning, or moving from left to right
and vice versa. But within the sphere, you could see marked movements
with total clarity and without interruption.” Pius XII said he saw the
same phenomenon “the 31st of October and November 1, the day of the
definition of the dogma of the Assumption, and then again on November
8, and after that, no more.”
The Pope acknowledged that on other days at about the same hour, he
tried to see if the phenomenon would be repeated, “but in vain – I
couldn’t fix my gaze [on the sun] for even an instant; my eyes would be
Pius XII spoke about the incident with a few cardinals and close
collaborators, such that Sister Pascalina Lehnert, the nun in charge of
the papal apartments, declared that “Pius XII was very convinced of the
reality of the extraordinary phenomenon, which he had seen on four
Tornielli told ZENIT that there was always a close link between the life of Eugenio Pacelli and the mystery of the Virgin Mary.
“Since childhood,” he said, “Eugenio Pacelli was devoted [to Our Lady]
and was registered in the Congregation of the Assumption, which had a
chapel close to the Church of Jesus. It was a devotion that seemed
prophetic, since he would be precisely the one to declare the dogma of
the Assumption in 1950.”
The future Pope celebrated his first Mass on April 3, 1899, at the
altar of the icon of Mary “Salus Populi Romani” in the Basilica of St
“And then,” Tornielli continued, “Eugenio Pacelli received episcopal
ordination from Pope Benedict XV in the Sistine Chapel on May 13, 1917,
the day of the first apparition of the Virgin of Fatima.”
As Pope, in 1940, he approved the Fatima apparitions, and in 1942, consecrated the entire world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
As well, Pius XII often spoke with Sister Lucia, the visionary of
Fatima, and he asked her to transcribe the messages she received from
“He thus became the first Pope to know the “third secret of Fatima,” which Pope John Paul II would later make public.