I’ll See Your Nineveh Eclipse, and Raise You One Miracle of the Sun

By John Zmirak Published on April 8, 2024

I was fascinated and edified by our editor Karla Dial’s column on the possible prophetic significance of the imminent total eclipse, which just happens by sheer bizarre coincidence to be passing through tons of American towns called “Nineveh.” I’m glad we also ran Jay Richards’s thoughtful column about the rationally demonstrable Providential purpose behind the fact that total eclipses ever happen at all. (They only happen in that tiny bandwidth of possible planets where intelligent life could arise, observe such eclipses, and use them to do the science that shows us God’s design in nature. But sure, that’s a total coincidence too.)

And I’m happy that Bishop Joseph Strickland is holding a special eucharist today to counter the actions of Freemasons and satanists who are holding occult rituals during the eclipse. As we New Yorkers like to say, “It couldn’t hurt!”

Once when I was talking to my old friend Eric Metaxas about the “gifts of the Spirit,” I told him, “I’m basically a cessationist, except if a relic of a saint is involved. Bring in the incorrupt hand of a martyred bishop, and all bets are off.”

Now, strictly speaking, I was kidding. In fact, as a Catholic I believe that miraculous cures, prophetic messages, and other direct instances of God’s direct intervention happen with some regularity.

Does God Still Send His Messengers?

First a crucial caveat: We Catholics hold with most of the broader Church that the public revelation that is binding on all the faithful ended with the death of the last apostle, St. John. Every truth required for salvation was already being taught, and all the crucial events were complete, by that point. Anything else we come to teach must be implicit in all of that and must have formed part of the apostolic faith. So we scoff at the claims of Mohammed, and use the Book of Mormon to line our parrot cages. When Pope Francis teaches something that contradicts apostolic tradition and/or the Bible, we know it’s heresy.

But private revelations still can happen, and if our church’s authorities examine them and find them helpful, we’re free to believe in them.

For example, most Catholics (with the Vatican’s encouragement) believe that the Virgin Mary has appeared to some people over the centuries, serving roughly the role that angels did in the Bible. She crosses the boundary of life and death, as Moses and Elias did at Jesus’s Transfiguration — and for the same reason, to bear witness to some crucial truth. Or to warn us, as Jonah and Elijah did in the course of their earthly lives.

Now I’m not trying to convince Protestant readers to believe this. (Though Karla did convince me to embrace her Nineveh fast!) But since we’re all looking up at the sky today, I thought I’d tell you the story of another astronomical event that has had religious implications: The “Miracle of the Sun” witnessed by tens of thousands of people in Fatima, Portugal, on October 13, 1917.

The Sun Whirled in the Sky

The setting was the little cove where three Portuguese children claimed that the Virgin Mary had been appearing to them for months. As Wikipedia summarizes, based on dozens of sources (both religious and skeptical):

Newspapers published testimony from witnesses who said that they had seen extraordinary solar activity, such as the Sun appearing to “dance” or zig-zag in the sky, advance towards the Earth, or emit multicolored light and radiant colors. According to these reports, the event lasted approximately ten minutes.

Nonbelievers, including local Freemasons who had come to scoff, attested to seeing the same thing — though they didn’t credit it to a miracle.

Here’s a well-done, balanced documentary on the Fatima story from the History Channel. It’s well worth watching:


The Fatima phenomenon is complex, and its implications dragged out for decades. I’ll just summarize them briefly. Among the messages the children said they received from the Virgin Mary were calls to fervent prayer, repentance from sin, and a public witness to the many threats posed by secularism and rationalism. They were granted a vision of Hell, and of souls falling into it “like leaves in the autumn” because of sins of the flesh. There were also three “secret” messages which the lead visionary, Sister Lucia, wrote down but didn’t share except with church authorities, who sat on them for years.

Predicting the Russian Revolution and World War II

One message warned that unless sinners repented, Russia would “spread her errors throughout the world.” What’s remarkable about this “secret” is that Sister Lucia received it months before Russia succumbed to a Communist revolution, which would persecute all believers and launch a drive for world revolution. At the time, the Bolsheviks were still an obscure sect of political cranks. This message, when revealed years later, galvanized Catholics in the struggle against atheistic Communism, even playing a part in Pope John Paul II’s campaign on behalf of Solidarity — the union whose brave resistance in Poland helped bring down the Berlin Wall.

Another message warned that unless people turned back to God, we would see another and more terrible world war (and this message came while the First World War was still raging).

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The third “secret” was entrusted to the bishop with the instruction that Our Lady wanted it revealed in 1960. Pope John XXIII refused to do that, instead launching the upbeat and recklessly hopeful Second Vatican Council — in whose wake a mass apostasy convulsed the Catholic Church, culminating in the reign of Pope Francis, who (as I’ve argued here and elsewhere) is persecuting faithful Catholics and promoting a new, secularized gospel of globalist humanism.

What was in that third secret? In 2000, Pope John Paul II released a text which predicted mass persecution of the church, and apparently the assassination of a pope — as John Paul himself was almost killed in 1981.

It’s Nineveh Time in America

But some Catholics in a position to know (who claimed to have seen the original text of the “secret”) said that the whole message was never made public. Author Malachi Martin, once a priest and a close advisor to Pope Paul VI, suggested that the “secret” predicted the apostasy of the highest ranks in the church, including the pope himself. I used to scoff at Martin and his claims (and did so in print a decade ago).

But now I’m not so sure. What if the failure of believers to embrace repentance and sacrifice really did make possible the spread of Communist tyranny, the outbreak of World War II (and hence the Holocaust), and then the mass defection of Christians from biblical morality and faith? Ignoring signs from Heaven carries a price.

So maybe let’s think about what we see in the sky today with Nineveh and Fatima in mind.


John Zmirak is a senior editor at The Stream and author or coauthor of ten books, including The Politically Incorrect Guide to Immigration and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Catholicism. His upcoming book is No Second Amendment, No First.

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