Pope Venerable Pius XII saw the Miracle of the Sun in 1950, which he took as confirmation of an important declaration.
Pope Venerable Pius XII saw the Miracle of the Sun in 1950. At that time, he faced a decision. He wanted to make clear to all Catholics that the Virgin Mary was assumed into heaven.
The understanding of this was already widespread and it had been a traditional belief of Catholics since ancient times. However, it had recently become a topic of discussion and it required affirmation.
To accomplish this, Pope Pius XII chose to declare it an official dogma of the Church, and to stamp his declaration ex cathedra which means “from the chair” of the pope. This is a case of the Pope using his authority to teach infallibly on a very specific dogma.
But was it the right thing to do?
At the same time Pope Pius XII was making his decision to affirm the dogma, he experienced the Miracle of the Sun.
The Miracle of the Sun is associated with Marian apparitions and most famously occurred in 1917 at Fatima, Portugal. On October 13 of that year, tens of thousands of people gathered in Fatima to witness a promised miracle. Our Lady did not disappoint. Thousands of people watched in awe as the sun danced, changed color, and performed spectacular movements across the sky for about ten minutes.
On October 30, and again on the next two days, and finally on November 8, the Pope saw the miracle himself. Each time, he described the Sun as dimming so it did not hurt his eyes, and as having a halo. It then danced around the sky for short periods of time.
Pope Pius XII saw this as an affirmation that his teaching on the Assumption of the Virgin Mary was the right thing to do.