Visions of Fatima
Visions of Fatima is a collection of photographic images inspired by the celestial phenomenon known as the Miracle of the Sun that occurred in Fatima, Portugal on October 13, 1917 and is associated with coinciding apparitions of the Virgin Mary.
The subject of these abstract prismatic works is a statue of Our Lady of Fatima, which is another name for the Virgin Mary, given after she appeared in Fatima. With the use of a light prism, I explore how light refractions and vibrant colors create an impression of otherworldliness, evoking a sense of wonder and awe that thousands of witnesses of the Miracle of the Sun experienced.
In May of 1917 the Virgin Mary first appeared to three shepherd children who were tending their flock of sheep on a family pasture. She appeared to the children every 13th of the month for the next five months. She told them to pray, do penance, and have devotion to her Immaculate Heart through which God grants graces. During her apparition in September, Mary told the shepherd children that she would perform a miracle “so that all may believe”.
Word of this message spread, and on October 13, as many as 70,000 to 100,000 people descended onto the pasture, awaiting to hear what message was conveyed to the shepherd children. As the crowd began to gather, soldiers sent by the anti-Catholic government forcibly blocked people from entering the pasture. Devotees were physically assaulted and wounded, but undeterred. With the onslaught of steadfast spectators, the soldiers desisted. Torrential rains began to soak the assemblage. But still, they remained undeterred.
The crowd consisted of rich and poor, young and old, educated and uneducated, believers and skeptics. No one except the visionary children saw the apparition of the Virgin Mary. Of those children, only the two girls heard her. But all the spectators saw the Miracle of the Sun.
During the apparition of the Virgin Mary, the rain subsided, and the sun appeared and could be viewed without harm to the cornea. Witnesses described what they saw as the sun dancing, spinning, and changing colors. The sun appeared to drop from the sky. Witnesses recall feeling radiant heat from the disconcertingly close orb. Some people feared the world was ending. Others were moved to belief in the trinitarian God proclaimed by the apparition.
In response to the question “Can a scientist take the Miracle of the Sun seriously?” former particle physicist Fr. Andrew Pinsent says, “Why not?” He explains how systems in nature behave predictably in isolation. But should an intervening force act on the system, the system is no longer predictable.
While I cannot intervene on a system and cause movement outside of cosmic laws, I can manipulate the light that hits the lens of my camera. When I look through the lens, I am looking past the subject, asking myself, what is being shown to me that I cannot see? It is my hope that Visions of Fatima helps the viewer see beyond the image hanging before them and open themselves to wonder.
“It is the response to a wonder that guides you to the original Presence behind it.” - Father Lorenzo Albacete, aerospace physicist