Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

When the Sun Danced: Myth, Miracles, and Modernity in Early Twentieth-Century Portugal

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

When the Sun Danced: Myth, Miracles, and Modernity in Early Twentieth-Century Portugal

Article excerpt

When the Sun Danced: Myth, Miracles, and Modernity in Early Twentieth-Century Portugal. By Jeffrey S. Bennett. [Studies in Religion and Culture.] (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press. 2012. Pp. xiv, 238. $55.00 clothbound, ISBN 978-0-8139-3248-4; $24.50 paperback, ISBN 978-0-8139-3249-1.) Jeffrey

S. Bennett's When the Sun Danced:Myth, Miracles and Modernity in Early Twentieth Century Portugal is a very welcome and important addition to the literature. Bennett's mastery of the subject shines throughout the pages of this book. Bennett also shows considerable courage in selecting to study Fátima, given the complexity of the case as well as the significant controversies surrounding the apparitions. The

book consists of five chapters plus an introduction. The author's account of the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary to three shepherd children at Fátima on the thirteenth day of six consecutive months in 1917, starting on May 13, demonstrates a deep grasp of the historical drama. Bennett introduces the topic in his first chapter, "Signs of the Times." The next two chapters detail the historical events surrounding the apparitions. His final two chapters offer a subtle analysis of the theological and political implications of the apparitions. Bennett cleverly inverses the title of the first chapter, "Signs of the Times," to "Time and the Signs" in his concluding chapter-perhaps signaling the movement from the children discerning their private revelations from heaven at the beginning of the story and then on to how their discernment and activities subsequently influenced societal cultural consciousness and ontological awareness in Portugal during Antonio de Oliveira Salazar's New State in the 1930s. Social

scientists need to treat the consequences of wide-scale, popular religiosity more completely-not as a theological reality, but as a political one. Certainly, some cases have taken on more lasting political life than others, but all cases of popular devotion offer a revealing window into the political culture and life of a country. In this regard, Bennett's new work is an especially important addition to the literature: Fátima has exercised a lasting and significant political impact on Portuguese politics since 1917 and requires serious scholarly treatment. …

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