Whether or not one affirms that the statements made by the Roman Catechism and the Holy Office about the centrality of the earth in the universe are binding, one must surely be struck by the relation between St Robert Bellarmine, the Fatima apparitions, and the date of May 13th. It was Bellarmine who was charged with telling Galileo of ‘the declaration made by the Holy Father and published by the Sacred Congregation of the Index, whose content is that the doctrine attributed to Copernicus is contrary to Holy Scripture and therefore cannot be defended or held’ (Bellarmine’s own words). Of all the church’s doctors, it was Bellarmine to whom it fell to make this declaration.

Bellarmine was beatified on May 13th, 1923, and this date was assigned as his feast day, where it still remains on the calendar of the ordo antiquior. Why this date was chosen I have been unable to discover: it is not the day of his death. However, 6 years earlier, on May 13th 1917 there had taken place the first of the apparitions of our Lady at Fatima, and this date was later to be assigned for this feast day. These apparitions were validated by the miracle of the sun, which was seen by a vast crowd to fall from its orbit towards the earth. If God had wanted to give a ocular proof of the Bellarmine declaration, it is hard to see what more striking one He could have offered. 

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