I was over at Benedetto XVI Forum and was looking at this page that has a ton of nice photos of Pope Benedict's trip to Africa last weekend.
On that page I came across this interesting bit of news:
Beninese see solar phenomena during Benedict XVI’s visit
Translated from the Italian service of Vatican Insider Nov. 21, 2011
The day after the Mass celebrated by Benedict XVI at Contonou’s Friendship Stadium, even the bishops of Benin are now wondering about the extraordinary phenomenon around 8:00 a.m. attested to by the 80,000 faithful who had gathered for the Pope’s Mass.
They saw the sun and the moon at the same time – an extremely rare occurrence in Africa at the latitude of Benin – and this aroused great wonder among the faithful, as Vatican news director Fr. Federico Lombardi pointed out to newsmen yesterday.
Some witnesses even claimed to have seen the sun move but that they they were able to look directly at the sun as long as they could without being blinded. Many Africans of course interpreted the phenomenon as something associated with the presence of the Pope. But African bishops and media are now more than interested because it has also been claimed that the phenomenon [of the moving, non-blinding sun] was reportedly not an isolated incident but one that took place many times during the visit.
Monsignor Renè-Marie Ehuzu, bishop of Porto Novo and president of the Benin bishops’ Commission for Social Ministry, who was the principal coordinator for the Pope’s visit, told the Italian news agency AGI that “On Saturday afternoon, while the Pope was en route to St. Rita’s parish in a Cotonou suburb, he stopped to bless the patients of a nearbyhospital, a similar phenomenon occurred, so that afterwards, many of the patients went to the hospital chapel to offer up a thanksgiving prayer”.
“During the three days of the visit,” Mon. Ehuzu said, “there have been testimonials to such occurrences with pictures captured on their cellphone cameras by those who saw them, some of them priests. I personally cannot offer an explanation but I do not think it is a result of mass hysteria”.
“The moon at this time of year is actually seen quite close to the sun, but usually as a pale sickle in the dawn light, and impossible to see when the sun is out. So if it could be seen with the sun, it could mean it was because the brightness of the sun itself was subdued which explains why the witnesses say they could look at it without being blinded”.
Some Catholics have pointed out that the phenomena described in Benin resemble those associated with the apparitions of Mary in Fatima. It is well-known that the ‘miracle of the sun’ took place in Fatima on the days following a Marian apparition, and many times in Rome at Tre Fontane [I have to research the Tre Fontana allusion – I’m reading about it for the first time.]
In Cova da Iria, Fatima, as the three shepherd children prayed on October 13, 2917, as the news reports said at the time, the sun appeared a like a giant wheel on fire which spun and emanated multicolored light. It stopped spinning three times, and after the last pause, it seemed to detach itself from the firmament to hurl itself into the earth. A similar phenomenon was observed by thousands of faithful at Tre Fontane [the site where the Apostle Paul is believed to have been beheaded] on April 12, 1947, and then again in 1968 and in 1980. In Fatima, it was repeated on May 13, 1918. At Tre Fontane, the description of the first occurrence was similar to that at Fatima, without the final impression of the sun hurling itself towards the earth, but the next time, it was described to resemble a host, as if the sun itself had been covered by a gigantic host.
A private note by Pius XII, published in Andrea Tornielli’s 2009 book on the late Pope, recounts that he saw a similar phenomenon of the sun while walking in the Vatican Gardens in 1950, and that the Pope took this as a sign confirming the validity of the dogma of Mary’s Assumption that he was about to proclaim.