Photograph by Benoliel published in the newspaper Ilustração Portuguesa (29/10/1917).  
Photograph by Benoliel published in the newspaper Ilustração Portuguesa (29/10/1917).  
Photograph by Benoliel published in the newspaper Ilustração Portuguesa (29/10/1917).  
Photograph by Benoliel published in the newspaper Ilustração Portuguesa (29/10/1917).  
Photograph by Benoliel published in the newspaper Ilustração Portuguesa (29/10/1917).  
Photograph by Benoliel published in the newspaper Ilustração Portuguesa (29/10/1917).  
Photograph by Benoliel published in the newspaper Ilustração Portuguesa (29/10/1917).  
Photograph by Benoliel published in the newspaper Ilustração Portuguesa (29/10/1917).  
Photograph by Benoliel published in the newspaper Ilustração Portuguesa (29/10/1917).  

The miracle, an instrument of conversion, has been regarded by the church as an argument that certifies the truthfulness and supernatural nature of an apparition or revelation. In Cova da Iria the ‘sun dance’, watched by 70,000 spectators, meant the approval of the dedication of Fatima.

Starting from the description provided by José María Almeida Garret(1), an eye witness to the phenomenon, this series recreates the event as a hyperbolic account of a natural phenomenon. Depending on their observations, the photographs more or less resemble an atmospheric prodigy. Almeida’s description, as an individual, exemplifies the criticism levelled at the argument of collective testimony as a guarantee of the authenticity of the miracle put forward by Thomas de Quincey(2).

On the other hand, the aim of confronting the old concept of miracle with its modern equivalent, the special effect, is to delve more deeply into the fact that the miraculous presupposes a certain technical element, found in theatrical traditions such as the deus ex machina and the comedies of the saints; and the technical element in turn depends on a certain ‘belief system’, i.e. the spectators’ perception.

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1 António Maria S. J. Martins: Novos documentos de Fátima. São Paulo: Edições Loyola, 1984.
2 De Quincey argued that in this case the testimony cannot be considered collective, but individual. The different witnesses “have a common interest, and in two separate ways they are liable to a suspicion of collusion: first, because the same motives which act upon one probably act upon the rest. In this respect, they are under a common influence; secondly, because, if not the motives, at any rate the [witnesses] themselves, act upon each other. In this respect, they are under a reciprocal influence. They are to be reasoned about as one individual”. Thomas de Quincey, “On Hume's Argument Against Miracles”.

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