Witness to the Miracle of the Sun

By Alice Reis Israel –

Dominic Reis, left, gave witness to the miracle of the sun on many television and radio shows in the 1950s, including Bishop Fulton Sheen’s “Life is Worth Living,” and John Haffert’s Blue Army television show.

Fatima has a special place in my heart because of my father, Dominic Reis. His birthday was May 13 and he was 17 years old at the time of the apparitions. He was at the Cova da Iria in Fatima with his parents on October 13, when the great miracle of the sun occurred. This miracle was foretold by Our Lady to the three shepherd children in the June and September apparitions. Seventy thousand to 100,000 people witnessed the miracle and it was reported in newspapers all over Portugal.

His parents, Manuel and Rose Campanha Reis, talked about going to the apparition site when they heard that the miracle was going to happen. They lived 100 miles from Fatima in a village near Porto. They made the decision to go on October 11 and left on the train at the next morning.

The Portuguese government at the time was very anti-religious and the authorities were opposed to the faithful gathering at the Cova. Priests could not talk about Fatima in their churches because of the government. When they arrived at the Cova, there were soldiers trying to block the people. My father was injured by a bayonet puncture through his left hand as he tried to protect his father from the charging soldiers, rushing toward the crowds of people. My father said there were so many people pushing forward that the soldiers finally gave up. They were able to move closer and were about 75 to 100 feet from where the children were kneeling in front of the holm oak tree.

He believed Our Lady was standing on the small holm oak tree because the branches and leaves bent forward during the apparition. They knew Our Lady was talking to the children because they could see Lucia talking back. The rains were heavy all morning and now it was raining harder. He stayed close to his mother and father.

The spectacular solar event begins

This would have been the scene the Reis family encountered coming into Fatima.

As my father described it: “There was a good three inches of water where I stood and mud on the ground. I was soaking wet. Then around noon time, the sun started breaking through the clouds and we could see the sun. Now it was raining just like you open a faucet in your house. Rain! And then suddenly the rain stopped. The sun started to roll from one place to another, changing blue, yellow, all colors. Then we see the sun come toward the children, toward the tree. Everyone was hollering out. We were all so afraid. Some started to confess their sins openly before everyone. Even my mother grabbed me to herself and started to cry, saying…’Dominic, this is the end of the world.’”

I could look at the sun without pain in my eyes. Everyone around me was making a tremendous noise. Because of all the noise, I was looking at the crowd as the sun was actually falling. It had turned upon itself and fallen down. I could feel the heat because it was coming so close. At that moment, I saw it on my left shoulder. It was on my shoulder and I could have touched it. The people around me were very much afraid that this was the end of the world.”

Then the sun went into the trees where the little children were and within minutes the children got up and turned around toward the people. Lucia said that everything is going to be all right. Pray and pray hard. Pray the rosary every day for sinners around the world, that God was too much offended. Within minutes, the sun went back the way it came in.”

As soon as the sun went back in the right place the wind started to blow real hard, but the trees didn’t move at all. In a few minutes the ground was dry, even our clothes had dried and looked as though they had just come from the laundry.”

I believed. I thought: Either I’m out of my mind or this was a miracle, a real miracle.”

Coming to America

After the apparitions, when my father was 20, he came to America and never saw his parents again. His parents were disappointed that he left, but he came because he felt he had been given a gift and he wanted to spread God’s message. He spent the rest of his life spreading the message of Our Lady of Fatima and telling his story as a witness to this great miracle.

My father also built a reproduction of the Fatima scene on the grounds of Our Lady of the Rosary parish in Holyoke,   Mass., near where he lived. He duplicated the Cova da Iria scene, its figures and how the terrain looked. He was a stone mason by trade and was a custodian of the parish for many years. Recently, I found the only picture of my father standing in front of the scene of the Cova. I have been searching for this picture for 50 years.

He was a frequent guest on radio and television stations in the 1950s, and was giving speeches, going to colleges, traveling here and there. Whoever asked, he would stop and talk. He was known to help people in any way he could and to pray with people. He was interviewed by The Blue Army founder, Mr. John Haffert, who wrote a book about the witnesses to the miracle of the sun. During this period, he was also interviewed by Bishop Fulton J. Sheen. I traveled with him to New York to do the programs and met Bishop Sheen. I remember his penetrating eyes; he had the most magnificent eyes.

Dad died on September 17, 1961. No one knew that he had black lung disease because my parents kept it from us. At the end, I was the only one who was allowed to come in and take care of him. He wanted to die at home, but his pain was so great I called the ambulance. I was 17 years old at the time, a senior in high school.

I have my father’s rosaries. He always carried them with him and always prayed, and was never embarrassed to do so. He adored Our Lady and when he prayed, he went into another world. He was in that Hail Mary and would live it, as if he was going back in time when he was present at the Cova. That was a grace he was given.

He was a leader, outspoken where the Church was concerned, but a quiet man. He also spoke of the importance of going to Mass, praying daily and saying the Rosary. He loved to tell the story of Fatima, knowing the gift he had been given.

Open your hearts to Our Lady

Alice Reis Israel is sharing her story for the first time this year.

The story and the message of Fatima is not just another pious Marian devotion. It is known as the “peace plan from Heaven.”

St. John Paul II said the message of Fatima is so steeped in the Gospel message and the whole of Tradition that it imposes a commitment on the part of the Church to spread it. He also said the message of Fatima is more important today than in 1917. That is because the errors of atheistic communism stemming from Russia that Our Lady warned about have spread around the world, and we certainly see the damage to our culture and to the faith of millions of people, even here in this country.

Please open your hearts to Our Lady, for she told little Lucia, the oldest Fatima seer, “Are you suffering a lot? Do not worry. I will never forsake you. My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God.”

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4 Comments
  1. I wish I could have met your father. He did what Our Lady wanted people to do. Thank God for Our Lady of Fatima and your father’s testimony.

  2. Your father was so blessed to have been a witness and when the “sun touched his shoulder” I believe that it was God’s plan for your father to come to this country, build the Fatima statue and spread the word.

  3. Today in El Paso Texas, we will do the Rally for Our Lady Of Fatima. I am so honored and happy and out of my mind with love and gratefulness for being able to kneel and pray my Rosary on this awesome day. It encourages me to pray the Rosary every day, I ask you to pray for us so Our Mother, Our Beautiful Mother be pleased with what we are doing today at NOON. AT noon where ever you are…join us…you will be mentioned in this Rally.

  4. We did prayers as what the Blessed mother told the 3 Sheperd is going to happening. All the persecuting and war happening right now, I believe very much that the rosary is very powerful. We need to pray and encourage more people to say the rosary.

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