Author and investigative journalist Philip Coppens recently posted an intriguing article about the apparition of the Virgin Mary at Fatima and his theory that the Catholic Church, through a series of manipulations, created one of the most elaborate historical lies that formed the backdrop of major political events. Below is the preamble to his article:
"In the last two centuries, the Church has made apparitions of the Virgin Mary an evermore important part of the Christian religious experience and doctrine. Some critics argue the popularity of the Catholic Faith is largely maintained by the popularity of the Virgin Mary. The so-called “Marian Era”, i.e. the period when the Virgin Mary began to appear and offer messages to those that saw her, began in the early 19th century, with a series of apparitions, of which Lourdes is no doubt the most famous. But the most intriguing apparition occurred in the early 20th century, in the Portuguese hamlet of Fatima.
The Virgin Mary is said to have appeared at Fatima six times, starting on May 13, 1917, with a final apparition on October 13, 1917, when she performed a great sun miracle, “which all shall see so that they may believe”. On the second or third apparition, the three young witnesses were allegedly given three secrets by the Virgin Mary. Two secrets were revealed in subsequent years, but the so-called “Third Secret of Fatima” was kept secret by the Vatican for almost a century. As a result, there was endless speculation about the nature and its importance. Rightfully so, as the Second Secret was linked with major political events of the 20th century. But what if all of these “secrets” were fabricated by the Vatican, for political and religious reasons?" - The Lies of Fatima http://www.philipcoppens.com/fatima.html
Regardless of Coppens' hypothesis, the event on October 13, 1917 was an anomaly caused by 'something' supernatural. It was referred to as The Miracle of the Sun http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracle_of_the_Sun in which 30,000 to 100,000 people, who were gathered near Fátima, Portugal, claimed to have witnessed extraordinary solar activity. But what could it have been?
French-born venture capitalist, computer scientist, author, ufologist and former astronomer Jacques Vallée is notable for co-developing the first computerized mapping of Mars for NASA and for his work at SRI International in creating ARPANET, a precursor to the modern Internet. Along with his mentor, astronomer J. Allen Hynek, Vallée carefully studied the phenomenon of UFOs for many years and served as the real-life model for the character portrayed by François Truffaut in Steven Spielberg's film Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
Vallée contributed to the investigation of the Miracle at Fatima and his work has been used to support the Fatima UFO Hypothesis. Vallée is one of the first people to speculate publicly about the possibility that the "solar dance" at Fatima was a UFO. The idea of UFOs was not unknown in 1917, but most of the people in attendance at the Fatima apparitions would not have attributed the claimed phenomena there to UFOs, let alone to extraterrestrials. Vallée has also speculated about the possibility that other religious apparitions may have been the result of UFO activity including Our Lady of Lourdes and the revelations to Joseph Smith. Vallée and other researchers have advocated further study of unusual phenomena in the academic community. They don't believe that this should be handled solely by theologians.