Miracle of the Sun

Zenit reports that Pope Pius XII experienced the “miracle of the sun.” From the pope’s diary:

The sun, which was still quite high, looked like a pale, opaque sphere, entirely surrounded by a luminous circle without the slightest bother. There was a very light little cloud in front of it.

“(T)he opaque sphere … 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.”

Don’t try this at home.

Let me repeat: don’t try this at home.

But anybody can see this phenomenon, though at great risk to their eyes. I saw it when I was a kid. The retina focuses on the sun, darkening it so the eyes can tolerate the brightness. Small movements of the eyes make the sun appear to dance or spin. It’s a biological reaction to a dangerous act that can put your eyes out. If the sun is behind a thin cloud, it works pretty well, though still with much danger.

According to Zenit, the pope “said he saw the phenomenon various times, considering it a confirmation of his plan to declare the dogma.”

The dogmatic declaration of the Assumption of the Blessed Mother into heaven is rooted in part on a biological reaction of the human retina.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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6 Responses to Miracle of the Sun

  1. Anne says:

    I’m not saying that there is no value in the dogma of the Assumption. However, isn’t this proof that certain teachings, even dogma, should be re-evaluated from time to time, especially as science evolves. The more we learn about our universe the more we see and experience true miracles.

  2. Tony says:

    So what are you saying, Todd? I fail to find the purpose of this particular post. Are you trying to use science to “disprove” ex-cathedra dogma?

    If so, I’m going to have to take you off my must read list since Catholic Sensibility will have become a near occasion to sin.

  3. Chase says:

    I don’t think it’s discounting the dogma, but merely providing a natural explanation for this particular phenomenon. For example, the plagues, which Pharaoh and the Egyptians suffered in the Old Testament, have natural explanations. Again, this is not undermining the role of God or his works, but rather shows how God uses nature and the physical world to manifest himself and his will. Personally, I find this sort of divine interaction more inspiring than that which is purely otherworldly.

  4. Todd says:


    Zenit reported the release of the pope’s journal pages. I’ve noted before that the silvery spinning sun seen in connection with Marian apparitions is not a miracle, but just the human eye adapting to a bright object.

    Pope Pius XII didn’t invent the Assumption any more than Pius IX cooked up the Immaculate conception. These reflections on the Blessed Mother were not dependent on dogmatic definition, at least not before 1854.

    I comment with great curiosity that a pope’s private experience with his eyes would influence a determination the Church did not seem to need for almost two millennia. Our Orthodox sisters and brothers have no less a devotion to Mary, yet what do they say about the Roman pronouncement?

  5. Fran says:

    Interesting thread. I have experienced this “miracle” which I was not looking for and which I almost never discuss.

    I only bring it up in the light of this post and thread.

    My issue with things of this nature is that they can derail us from what truly is.

    Before I sound any more like a pedantic jerk, which I do not want to sound like, let me leave it at that!

  6. Annette Hall says:

    Cannot resist: Here a 2010 comment from someone who started to witness this strange event unexpectedly during March 11, 2010. Several times now from different parts of the world. A sunset watcher who knows NEVER look directly into the sun fully knowing it can damage your eyes from staring into it, and yes, indeed the retina tries to focus into clarity and causes an effect “similar to” the spinning sun events. The reports are more frequent and in such specific detail they cannot be reproduced mechanically. Mass hysteria??? No I don’t believe that from the accounts of people from a wide variety of backgrounds. Searching for critical scientific explanation even having my own eyes checked for damage (which could contribiute to some halo type event) none being found whatsoever. However, miracle or not, more and more people are seeing this spinning event, who are thousands of miles apart, (without harm to their eyes or vision) during a pilgrimage or during the watching of a low setting sunset. If you are looking toward the sun and it leaves any kind of spot, or shadow after looking “toward” it, then wait until it sets lower as the atmosphere starts to filter more of the damaging rays that can affect your vision. If it hurts your eyes or leaves spots do not try this!!

    Don’t expect to see it, it never happens to me when I expected except once – but always
    after or during some kind of prayerful experience.

    The common thread seems to be believers or those among believers looking during a sunset or mild clouds(filtered) or perhaps in some enhanced state of prayerful concentration, reporting no spots or eye damage occuring, no distortion or shadowed vision afterwards.

    Bottom line, we do not know specifically what this is. As a believer, I know that the Creator of the Universe can do what He wants and show “signs and wonders” when and to whom he wants.

    Frequency and the location and type of people describing the same events are no coincidence. I would like to know other people, soberly and expecting to observe miracles of different kinds, but sharing this one – in different times and places. Deliberately I have not described the exact event.

    Comments please?

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