Queen of the Universe, Heede, Germany, 1937-1945

“Queen of the Universe”
HEEDE, GERMANY  (1937-1945) 

Four girls, Anna Schulte, sisters Margaret Ganseforth (13) and Greta Ganseforth (11), and Susanna Bruns, began receiving visits from Our Lady in November of 1937.  The two sisters were going to church for All Saints Day on November 1 when they passed by the church cemetery.  Suddenly, they perceived a “floating light” about 100 feet away, hovering about a meter above the ground.  In the blazing light formed the image of a beautiful lady holding a child.  The two figures wore dazzling crowns on their heads.  The girls were spellbound by the incredible beauty of the lady, who smiled kindly at them.

Frightened, they entered the church and reported that they had seen the Virgin Mary with the Divine Child in her arms.  Anna Schulte, surprised and curious, left the church to go explore the designated area.  After the ceremony, the two sisters, along with Anna, Adele Bruns (15) and her sister, Susanna Bruns, all returned to the site of the apparition in the cemetery.

It’s there – between the two cypresses!” exclaimed Margaret.

The vision of Mary remained silent.  All the girls saw the Virgin Mary except Adele, who impatiently stated that she was going to leave because she did not believe these stories.  Margaret and Greta told their mother – who then alerted Father Staelberg, the priest of the parish.  But news of these events was received in the village with the predictable skepticism and laughter.  It was not until the villagers started noticing the dramatic change in the four girls’ behavior did they begin to consider the appearances more seriously.  The usual playful and giddy girls had changed their manner of living to a more serious demeanor with fervent and long prayers while impatiently anticipating Our Lady’s next appearance.

On November 2, at the same time of the day, Our Lady appeared again but without the baby Jesus.  Blessed Mary’s hands were clasped in prayer.

On the third apparition, on November 5, Our Lady began asking the girls questions.  Mary is standing on a white cloud with a luminous halo “about 30-40 cm surrounding her.”  Her age seems to be 18 or 19.

“She wore a golden crown, richly worked … a long white dress fitted at the waist by a cord … a non-transparent white veil falls on each side, doing some folds, and hides her hair … On her left hand, covered by the veil, sits the Christ Child.  She raises her arm.”

By the November 7th apparition more villagers were beginning to believe as 4,000 to 5,000 were in attendance, surrounding the four girls.  Several priests witnessed the apparition.

The "Queen of the Universe" in Heede, Germany
The “Queen of the Universe” in Heede, Germany

More than 7,000 returned to the site the next day on November 8.  But the civil authorities forbade Father Staelberg from accompanying the girls.  Another priest was present that day from Herkenhoff and reported these details:

“Suddenly, the (four) girls fell to their knees, all together, without one or another making a signal to her companions … They posed several questions to the apparition.  After a quarter of an hour – during which they continued to be constantly stiff, eyes fixed on a precise point – their questions seemed unanswered, even when they spoke.  When Greta was alongside me later, she told me that she had wondered how the Mother of God feels.  The response she received was a sad countenance. Greta said, ‘The Mother of God was very sad and very bright.’”

There were an estimated 100 visits by Our Lady to these four girls in Heede.  Here are some highlights:

April 5, 1939 – Margaret was alone for this apparition.  “I saw the Mother of God directly in front of me, standing two feet away, and asked her how she would like to be invoked.”  She replied, “as Queen of the Universe and Queen of the Poor Souls in Purgatory.” When asked what prayer she would like to honor her, she indicated the “Litany of Laurentanas.”

May 12, 1939 – The Virgin appeared 13 times in May, including twice in the initial location and for a full day on each of the 6th and 12th.  On May 12, Greta asked, “Will we have diseases?”  Mary replied, “Not yet.”  Then Greta asked, “Can we come here every day?” – to which Mary responded, “Yes.”

But then the number of occurrences decreased.  Many were fearful of visiting Heede because Hitler ruled Germany and forbade participation in this “superstitious nonsense.”  The Gestapo forcefully took the children to an insane asylum and strictly forbade the pilgrimages.  After one month, the children were released but disregarded the orders of the Gestapo and resumed their visits to the place of the apparitions.  The Queen of Heaven was not subject to the Hitler regime, of course, and continued her appearances in secret locations now.

Greta Ganseforth received a stigmata in 1939.  On October 19, 1940, Our Lady gave the four girls a “secret” intended for the Pope.  Blessed Mary warned them, “Do not say anything to anyone other than the Holy Pope of Rome.”  The message was placed in a sealed envelope that was carried by Bishop Berning to Pope Pius XII.

The Virgin also showed them visions of future catastrophes and warned them that a horrifying event called a “Minor Judgment” was in store for the future.  She urged them to pray constantly, especially the Rosary, which she said has “immeasurable power” for the conversion of sinners.  “The world is about to drink the dregs of the Chalice of Divine Wrath.”  Despite Our Lady’s incredible beauty, she was usually solemn-faced, stern, or even shedding tears.

The apparitions of the Blessed Mother came to an end at 8:30 p.m. on November 3, 1940.  Each girl received a “secret” from Mother Mary, who then spoke,

“Be good and faithful to the will of God.  Pray often – especially the Rosary.  Now farewell, my children, until we meet in Heaven.”

On July 23, 1942, Bishop Berning made the following remarks during his homily:

“From Heede came a rich blessing.  I could see that Marian devotion dramatically increased — that sacramental life, in particular, has flourished dramatically in this parish.”

Greta Ganseforth began receiving visits from Jesus starting in 1945.  Her spiritual director gave her orders to keep a diary of her mystical events.  She did not see the Blessed Virgin again but did hear her voice on numerous occasions, speaking to her from a brilliant light.

There was an occasion when a school dance was being prepared which apparently was going to exceed Catholic norms for modesty and decency.  At the request of Jesus, Greta sought to have the dance cancelled or at least modified so that it would not be a dangerous occasion of sin for the youth.  Greta even appealed to the parents of the students to not go against the warning from Jesus, who stated,

“If they proceed with that dance, all involved will have to answer to Me at their Judgment.”

The dance for October 21, 1945, was cancelled.  Along with this event and a number of miraculous healings, other parish priests and clergymen finally believed.  Here are more of the messages that Greta received from the visits with Jesus:

“Men did not listen to My Most Holy Mother when she appeared to them at Fatima and admonished them to do penance.  Now I, Myself, am coming at the last hour to warn and admonish mankind!  The times are very serious!  Men should at last do penance, turn away from their sins and pray, pray much in order that the wrath of God may be mitigated.  Particularly the Holy Rosary should be prayed very often.  The Rosary is very powerful with God.  Worldly pleasures and amusements should be resricted.

Men do not listen to My voice.  They harden their hearts; they resist My grace.  They do not wish to have anything to do with My Mercy, My Love, My merits.  Mankind is worse than before the deluge.  Mankind is suffocating in sin.  Hatred and greed rule their hearts.  This is the work of the devil.  They live in great darkness.  Through the wounds that bled, Mercy will again gain victory over justice.  My faithful souls should not be asleep now like the disciples on Mt. Olivet.  They should pray without ceasing and gain all they can for themselves and for others.

Tremendous things are in preparation; it will be terrible as never before since the foundation of the world.  All those, who in these grave times have suffered so much, are martyrs and form the seed for the renovation of the Church.  They were privileged to participate in My captivity, in My scourging, in My crown of thorns, and My Way of the Cross.

The Blessed Virgin Mary and all the choirs of angels will be active during these events.  Hell believes that it is sure of the harvest, but I will snatch it away from them.  I will come with My peace.  Many curse me now, but these sufferings will come over mankind that they may be saved through it … Many expiate all they can for those who curse Me now …

With a few faithful I will build up My kingdom.  As a flash of lightning this Kingdom will come … much faster than mankind will realize.  I will give them a special light.  For some this light will be a blessing; for others, darkness.  The light will come like the Star that showed the way to the wise men.  Mankind will experience My love and My power ,,, My beloved, the hour comes closer.  Pray without ceasing!

Those who are not in the State of Grace (when the Minor Judgment happens) – it will be frightful for them.”

On March 7, 1946, Bishop Berning authorized a statue of the “Mary, Queen of the Universe” to be made for placement in the church cemetery – as directed by the visionaries.  Finally, after years of investigation, the Bishop of Osnabruck declared on June 3, 1959, the following:

“The apparitions are undeniable proof of the seriousness and authenticity of these manifestations … In the apparitions and messages of Heede we find nothing contrary to the Faith.  Indeed, their similarity to the approved apparitions of Fatima, Lourdes, and La Salette give good indications of their authenticity.”


The Virgin of the Poor, Banneux, Belgium, 1933

“The Virgin of the Poor”

Mariette Beco was the oldest of seven children in a poor family that lived mainly on produce from their little vegetable garden.  Banneux is a small village at the edge of the Ardennes Mountains.  On January 15, 1933, Mariette (11) was looking out the window down the road for her father to return as she watched over two of her ill brothers.  As she peered through the curtains into the dark winter evening, she saw a bright glowing shape hovering near the vegetable garden.  She rubbed her eyes in disbelief, but a second look now saw the glowing figure of a very beautiful woman, wearing a flowing white gown, white veil, and brilliant blue sash.  The woman held a Rosary in her right hand and was nodding and smiling at Mariette.  She rubbed her eyes, shook her head, and looked again — but the vision did not go away.  She removed a burning oil lamp and placed into the next room, certain that it must be casting reflections.  But when she returned to the window, the beautiful glowing lady was still there!  She insisted that her mother come see, but she refused.  Finally, the mother was persuaded to take a quick look, and she admitted she saw something white hovering over the garden — but none of the other details that her daughter was seeing.  She was forbidden to go outside, and the apparition vanished.

Visionary Mariette Beco in 1933.
Visionary Mariette Beco in 1933.

At school the next day Mariette told her story to her best friend, Josephine Leonard, who just laughed at her.  But Josephine was surprised at how hurt she seemed and began to wonder if there was really something to it.  The two girls went to see the parish priest, Father Louis Jamin, after school.  Mariette’s behavior and attitude had dramatically changed.  She decided now to not skip school as she had been doing, take her studies seriously and prepare thoroughly, and attend the local parish to pray every morning before school.  No longer was she a mischievous, unruly, careless truant.

Nobody believed her story except her father.  It was he who accompanied her to the garden three nights later on January 18 at seven in the evening to observe her next encounter.  She suddenly knelt on the frozen ground, started praying the Rosary, and saw the “Lady in white” descending from the sky in the distance.  The image was small at first but glowing brightly and getting closer as she floated down between two pine trees.  Her father watched in amazement as she raised her arms as if greeting someone.  Mariette was delighted at how close Mary was this time — hovering just a few feet above the ground on a small gray cloud of smoke.

The site of the apparitions in Banneux in 1933.
The site of the apparitions in Banneux in 1933.

The father was impressed by his daughter’s words and behavior, so he rode on his bike to get others as witnesses.  As they returned, they found her leaving the garden area and entering the road, drawn down the road as if in a trance.  Mariette said, “She is calling me.”  They watched in amazement as she was thrown to her knees twice on the pavement in the cold, twelve-degree air and started praying earnestly.  It sounded like her knees cracked on the frozen ground.  They followed her to a stream where Mary had led her and stated,

Plunge your hand into the water.  This spring is to be dedicated to me.”

Then Mariette returned home and went right to bed.  Her father, amazed and moved by the whole event, summoned Father Jamin and told him everything he had witnessed.  Then the father made an appointment for a confessional the next day so that he could return to the Church again.  That same evening, at 7:00 p.m., Mariette saw the Blessed Virgin again.  Now as many as 20 others were observing her visitations.  Mariette asked her, “Who are you, madame?”

I am the Virgin of the Poor.

Again, she was led to the icy-cold stream.  Mary explained to her,

This small brook is to be reserved for all nations to relieve the sick.”

Mariette did not even know the words “nations” or “relieve” yet, but reported them to the others.  Our Lady returned the following evening again, this time stating that she wanted a little chapel built in her honor at Banneux.  After this vision, Mariette fainted.  The Blessed Virgin did not return for several weeks.  Many scoffed at Mariette, teased her, criticized and laughed at her.

The Virgin Mary begins appearing to Mariette Beco.
The Virgin Mary begins appearing to Mariette Beco.

Then on February 11, Our Lady appeared to Mariette and guided her to the spring again.

I come to relieve the suffering.”

The Virgin Mary also said that ‘it would be pleasing’ to her if Mariette made her first Communion.  So she went to Father Jamin, who in turn wanted some kind of a sign that this was really the Virgin.

On February 15, Mariette went out into the garden with her mother and a rosary.  Immediately, the Virgin appeared, and Mariette quickly dropped to her knees.

Mariette:           “Holy Mother, Father Jamin asked me to ask you to give us a sign.

Virgin Mary:    “Believe in me, and I will believe in you!  Pray very much.”

On February 20, Blessed Mary emphasized in a grave tone,

“My dear child, pray very much … … Au Revoir (good-bye).”

Blessed Mary leads Mariette to a stream that will heal others.
Blessed Mary leads Mariette to a stream that will heal others.

On March 2, in the pouring rain, Mariette returned to the garden at 7:00 p.m.  On this occasion of her last apparition, Mary told her, “I am the Mother of God.”  Others witnessing these events remarked how Mariette’s speech would become rapid and high-pitched while having conversations with Our Blessed Mother.

The stream began providing amazing cases of miraculous healings:  a fractured skull, deafness, broken jaw, cerebrospinal meningitis, paralysis, and many more.  Benito Garcia from Spain had a badly injured right arm.  His wife had heard stories of the healing waters and insisted that they walk from Barcelona to Banneux.  Benito thrust his injured arm into the spring and felt it to be boiling hot.  He exclaimed,

“I have come all the way from Spain.  If you are indeed the Virgin of the Poor, then prove it to me!”

The Virgin of the Poor in Banneux, Belgium.
The Virgin of the Poor in Banneux, Belgium.

He withdrew the drain-tube from his arm, and the wound healed immediately in front of many witnesses!  Bishop Kerkhof documented at least twenty miraculous cures between 1933 and 1938.

A little chapel was built — keeping it small due to Mary’s specific request.  It was dedicated on the Feast of the Assumption in 1933.  Mariette was interrogated so often that she wished that she had just kept the whole matter to herself, not saying one word about her visions.

The house and apparition site today as a place of pilgrimage.
The house and apparition site today as a place of pilgrimage.

During the Second World War, Cardinal Van Roey issued an encyclical in which he declared that the events surrounding the apparitions were worthy of serious study.  On August 22, 1949, the Bishop of Liege affirmed in a pastoral letter that the eight appearances made by Our Lady to Mariette were to be believed.  Banneux is now one of the most visited shrines of Our Lady in northern Europe.


The Virgin with the Golden Heart, Beauraing, Belgium, 1932-1933

“The Virgin with the Golden Heart”
BEAURAING, BELGIUM  (1932-1933) 

On the evening of November 29, 1932, Albert Voisin (11) and sister Fernande Voisin (15) met up with their best friends, Gilberte (9) and Andree (14) Degeimbre to walk to the convent academy to meet Albert’s sister, Gilberte Voisin (13), who was staying late to study until 6:30 p.m.  They entered the grounds and passed a small Lourdes grotto in front of the railway embankment that skirted the convent garden.  Albert saw her first and said that he saw the Virgin Mary, dressed in white, walking above the railroad bridge.  The children scoffed and ignored him until they saw her too — just as he had described.  The girls looked and could see the luminous figure of a lady dressed in white, walking in mid-air, her feet hidden by a little cloud.  Now they were pounding on the convent door, but the irritated nun, Sister Valeria, could not see anything in the sky.  When Albert’s sister came to the doorway, she immediately saw the glowing lady also.  They raced to their homes fearfully, but no adults would believe their incredible story, and they were sent to bed in disgrace for such lies.  Sister Valeria reported the incident to Mother Superior Theophile, who scolded her for such nonsense.

The next night it happened again, but this time they were delighted to see her — yet still nobody believed them.  Adults began to suspect tricksters perpetrating a hoax, so at least six adults trailed the children on the third night in a protective and investigative manner.  The five children shrieked with delight when they saw her —even closer this time where they could see her beautiful features in greater detail.  Her feet were hidden by a little cloud as she floated only a couple feet above the ground in front of them.  She was dressed in a glowing white gown, hands joined in prayer, blue eyes raised toward Heaven with rays of light surrounding her head.  But she reached outward with her arms and then disappeared.  The children ran to find the adults who had spread out to watch for pranksters.

The five visionary children in Beauraing, Belgium, 1933.
The five visionary children in Beauraing, Belgium, 1933.

Suddenly, the children were overwhelmed as Mary re-appeared near the shrubs of the convent entry gate.  But the adults could not see what all the children had reacted to.  One mother decided to return later that night with three of the older kids to investigate further.  The three dropped hard to their knees, simultaneously, on the cobble-stoned street, reciting the Hail Mary “as one voice” of a high pitch.  The mother was impressed that they seemed to be looking at the same exact yet invisible object.  As she approached where they were gazing, her own daughter cautioned her not to walk into Mary as it might offend or disrespect Mary.  The mother began to believe.

Mother Theophile addressed all the children severely in school and said that there would be “no talk of visions.”  On the next evening, Mother Theophile padlocked the convent’s garden gate and let dogs loose in the yard as a further disincentive to the curious.  But this did not deter the children or the curious adults.

On December 2, during the next vision, Albert asked if she was the Immaculate Virgin.  She nodded yes to the two girls.  When asked what she wanted from them, she replied, “Always be good.”  The adults heard the girls answer in unison as if one voice, “Yes, we will always be good.”  More visits continued with more people gathering to watch as word continued to spread quickly.

The Virgin Mary appears to the children much to their amazement.
The Virgin Mary appears to the children much to their amazement.

On Sunday, December 4, the children assembled at about 6:30 p.m. – this time bringing with them a little boy with polio and the blind uncle of the Degeimbre girls.  Again, they asked Mary if she was indeed the Blessed Virgin, to which she nodded yes.  They asked her to heal the two sick people, but there was no obvious response.

On December 5, the children were being watched by a very large crowd when Albert asked the Virgin for some sign to convince the adults that the visions were authentic.  On the 6th, Blessed Mary appeared with a Rosary, so the children immediately began to pray it.  She asked them to be present on the 8th.

By December 8, on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, up to 15,000 were in attendance near the convent.  During this beautiful visitation only visible to the children, Dr. Maistriaux studied the children carefully — lighting a match under Gilberte’s hand, getting no response or burns.  Pinching, pin pricks, and shining bright lights never affected their eyes nor broke their concentration.  The local priest, Father Lambert, and the church authorities were taking a very cautious and prudent attitude, refusing to get involved.  The local bishop ordered his priests not to go to the site.

The apparitions did not occur every night, but the children assembled and prayed the Rosary anyway.  When she did appear, they would all drop to their knees in unison.  When questioned afterwards, separately, they stated that Mary told them that her last apparition would take place soon.

The railroad bridge and convent where the apparitions occurred.
The railroad bridge and convent where the apparitions occurred.

Nine thousand people showed up on December 29, hoping for some miracle.  On that evening, Fernande Voisin claimed to have seen the Virgin reveal a golden heart, radiating heavenly rays of light.  On December 30, Gilberte Voisin and Andree Degeimbre also witnessed the golden heart of Mary – along with Fernande, who heard Our Lady state, “Pray, pray very much.”  On the last day of 1932, all the children saw Mary’s golden heart.

On January 1, 1933, Blessed Mary spoke to Gilberte Voisin, asking her to “Pray ALWAYS!”

On January 2, Mary indicated that January 3 would be her last visit, but that she would speak to each of them separately.

By January 3, some 35,000 people had traveled to the tiny site, clogging roads by mid-day.  Ninety doctors had applied for special reserved sites to study the children.  After two decades of the Rosary, four of the five children dropped to their knees in unison, leaving Fernande, the oldest in tears because she could not see anything.  The four children received private personal messages from Mary that night.  Mary explained to Gilberte Voisin that the main promise of Beauraing is, “I will convert sinners.”  To Andree, Mary said, “I am the Mother of God, the Queen of Heaven. Pray always.”

The children kneel all at once before Mary near the convent gate.
The children kneel all at once before Mary near the convent gate.

Fernande Voisin was heartbroken that she had not seen or heard Mary at all this time.  She began praying the Rosary as the other children began to leave. Suddenly, many people saw a flash of light “like a ball of fire” envelope the hawthorn tree, throwing sparks, and creating a clap of thunder.  The Virgin had returned to meet with Fernande after all and asked her, “Do you love My Son and Me?”  Fernande replied that she did.  Our Lady then stated, “Then sacrifice yourself for me.”  With that said, the Virgin glowed with extraordinary brilliance and extended her arms so that the girl could see her golden heart with rays of light.  Then Blessed Mary said, “Goodbye.”

Within a few weeks of the last visit, reports of miracle healings began.  A young girl, Pauline Dereppe, was healed of a severe bone disease after praying at Beauraing.  A middle-aged woman, Madame Van Laer, was cured of her tuberculosis.  As this news spread, two and a half million pilgrims traveled to Beauraing in 1933!

In May of 1933, the Bishop of Namur set up a committee to evaluate the visions.  In 1943 Bishop Charue authorized public devotions to Mary at Beauraing.  Finally, in July of 1949, the apparitions were finally approved by the investigating committee (after 16 years).

Many more appearances of the Virgin occur over the next months.
Many more appearances of the Virgin occur over the next months.

“The Commission has thoroughly studied the events, and we are convinced of the supernatural character of the visions.  We are able in all serenity and prudence to affirm that the Queen of Heaven appeared to the children of Beauraing during the winter of 1932-1933, especially to show us in her maternal Heart the anxious appeal for prayer and the promise of her powerful mediation for the conversion of sinners.”

Albert Voisin became a missionary schoolmaster in the Belgian Congo.  Others married and raised children.  Pope John Paul II visited the official shrine on May 18, 1985.  The Beauraing cemetery now contains the tombs of Andree Degeimbre and Fernande Voisin.

"The Virgin with the Golden Heart"
“The Virgin with the Golden Heart”


Our Lady of Victory, Wigratzbad, Germany, 1919 and 1938

“Our Lady of Victory”
WIGRATZBAD, GERMANY  (1919, 1938) 

Antonie Radler (20) contracted the Spanish Influenza in 1919 and was gravely ill.  Her mother prayed desperately to the Blessed Virgin for help.  Suddenly, Blessed Mary appeared at her bedside and laid her hands upon the young victim.  Antonie was instantly healed.

Fully recovered, Antonie was working one day in her father’s butcher shop when the Gestapo arrived and ordered her to replace the painting of the Virgin on the wall with that of the Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler.  She was also ordered to salute him in the Nazi fashion, saying, “Heil Hitler.”  Antonie refused and barely escaped several attempts upon her life.  She always maintained that her Guardian Angel – in the form of a mysterious cyclist – protected her.

The Virgin Mary with Jesus in Wigratzbad, Germany
The Virgin Mary with Jesus in Wigratzbad, Germany

The parents were so delighted with her escape from harm that they erected a small Lourdes grotto in their garden.  It was blessed by Father Basch on October 11, 1936, the feast day for the Maternity of Mary.  A month later, while praying before the statue, Antonie saw Blessed Mary smile sweetly and then heard the words,

O Beloved Lady of Victory, conceived without sin, pray for us.

Then, on December 15, 1936, while praying at the Lourdes grotto in their garden (during the octave of the Immaculate Conception), and while reciting the third sorrowful mystery of the Rosary, Antonie heard an “angelic chorus” singing these words,

O Mary!  Immaculate, conceived without sin.  Beloved Lady of Victory, pray for us.

A second appearance of the Blessed Virgin happened to a young girl named Cecilia Geyer on February 22, 1938.  It was about 6:30 a.m. when Cecilia heard a “murmur” and then saw Our Lady appear in a bright cloud.

Suddenly, I found myself in the little grotto of Antonie and heard this message:

“Build a chapel here for me.  I shall trample underfoot the serpent’s head.  People will come here in large numbers, and I wll pour upon them a flood of graces.  St. Joseph,  St. Anthony, and the souls in Purgatory will help you.

Go now and worship My Son in the Blessed Sacrament.”

Realizing that all the churches were closed at that hour, Cecilia asked Mary where should she go?

“Before my astonished eyes there appeared a chapel in the place designated by Our Lady.  Inside, on the altar, was Jesus in a monstrance, surrounded by beautiful rays of light.”

Work began on the chapel on July 2, 1938.  All went well until the night of November 21, when Antonie was arrested by the Nazis and jailed in the local prison.  She underwent numerous interrogations.

On the night of December 7-8, Antonie witnessed a large bright cloud forming and rising in her jail cell.  Suddenly, the Virgin Mary appeared to her and announced her impending release.  She would spend Christmas with her family; Antonie was indeed released on December 18, the Feast of the Expectation of Our Lady.

Today, the chapel built at the site of the apparitions is host to an estimated 500,000 pilgrims each year.  Although no official statement was made by Bishop Stimpfle, he was frequently known to say,

I know that Wigratzbad is authentic!


Our Lady of Fatima, Portugal, 1916-1917

“Our Lady of Fatima”

Lucia Santos (9) and her two cousins, Francisco Marto (8) and Jacinta Marto (6), were herding sheep when what they thought was an early summer rainstorm caused them to seek shelter in a cave. A sudden stiff breeze whipped the tree branches and caused them to be afraid. Suddenly, in front of them, appeared a shining, young, incredibly handsome man who was “more brilliant than a crystal penetrated by rays of the sun.” He began walking toward them over the tops of the olive trees as if following the sun’s rays to the ground at the entrance of the cave. He told them he was the Angel of Peace and taught them a prayer of adoration.

The three visionaries: Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta in 1917.
The three visionaries: Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta in 1917.

“My God, I believe, I adore, I hope, and I love You! I ask pardon of You for all those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope, and do not love You. Pray thus; the Hearts of Jesus and Mary are attentive to the voice of your supplication.”

He saw them again later that summer and again in the autumn of 1916. They learned about praying frequently and sacrifices. He interrupted their play:

“What are you doing? Pray! Pray a great deal! The most Holy Hearts of Jesus and Mary have merciful designs for you. Offer prayers and sacrifices constantly to the Most High. This will draw peace upon your country. I am its guardian angel, the Angel of Portugal. Above all, accept and endure with submission the suffering which the Lord will send you.”

On another day, while pasturing their sheep, the children decided to pray near the cave as the angel had urged them to do. They became aware of an extraordinary light shining on them. When they looked up, the angel was standing over them. In his left hand, he held a chalice with a Host suspended above it. Drops of blood fell from the Host into the chalice. Leaving the chalice suspended in mid-air, the angel knelt down and made them repeat three times:

“Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I offer you the most precious Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for all the outrages, sacrileges, and indifference with which He, Himself, is offended. And through the infinite merits of His most Sacred Heart and of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of You the conversion of poor sinners.”

Then he took the chalice and Host with both hands, giving the Host to Lucia and sharing the chalice between Jacinta and Francisco. (from Lucia’s “Second Memoir”)

“Take and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, horribly outraged by ungrateful men. Make reparations for their crimes and console your God.”

But, wait a minute – only priests can convert the bread and wine into the Body and Blood. How can an angel do this? This question was raised in later apparitions, and the answer from Heaven was this: Yes, only priests can do this; Angels are borrowing the consecrated Host and wine from tabernacles of parishes. So, was any parish nearby missing anything?

The Angel of Portugal meets with the three children in 1916.
The Angel of Portugal meets with the three children in 1916.

Not well known until now is the fact that a local parish 18 miles away had their Host strangely missing from within the locked tabernacle about that same time. The chalice was present, but it had been moved to a different position inside the tabernacle. The priest was so dumbfounded — as he held the only key — that he never told anybody other than his bishop. It bothered him for years as he could not explain the disappearance of these precious items entrusted to his care and protection. Several months before he died, he confessed this inexplicable incident to others.

On Sunday, May 13, 1917, a flash of light from a clear blue sky interrupted their play. They ran down a slope toward a tree only to have another flash of dazzling light send them back 100 yards in another direction. Then they saw a large ball of light settling on the top of a small evergreen tree. Inside the glowing ball was the figure of a beautiful woman of all white, more brilliant than the sun, more clear and more intense. She defied gravity by standing on the top of this tender shrub. The intense light enveloped the children, just three feet away. They were terrified, but her soft voice calmed them and melted their fears away.

“Don’t be afraid. I won’t hurt you. I am from Heaven. I want to you to come here on the 13th of every month at the same hour for 6 months. Then I will tell you who I am and what I want. You will all go to heaven someday. Are you willing to suffer all that would happen to you as reparation for sins and for the conversion of sinners?”

Lucia answered “Yes” quickly for all three of them. Streams of light flowed from her hands to the soil of the Earth. They felt deeply connected and dropped to their knees, praying as they had been taught by the angel. Mary told them to say the Rosary to obtain peace for the world and the end of war. Then she glided away into the eastern sky until she was so small that they could no longer see her. Only Francisco was unable to hear her although he saw everything. Since the younger ones could not keep a secret easily, soon many knew what had happened. Lucia’s father dismissed it completely, and her mother was outraged by what she assumed was a great and shameful lie. All three children were saddened by the negativity and doubts of others.

Yet, when June 13th came around, the three children and a number of bystanders returned to the site for Mary’s 2nd visit — and they were not disappointed. As only the children saw the light approach, bystanders noted that the sun seemed to dim in the cloudless sky. And, although the adults could not see Mary, they did witness a wispy pillar of smoke next to the holm oak. They could not clearly hear Mary’s voice, but they did report a small sound – “like the buzzing of a bee.”

The Virgin Mary appears on May 13, 1917 to the three kids.
The Virgin Mary appears on May 13, 1917 to the three kids.

This time when the Lady appeared, she said that she would be taking Jacinta and Francisco with her to heaven rather soon, but that Lucia would remain on Earth “for some time longer” to help promote her Immaculate Heart to the world. The rays of light extended from her hands again, and they felt the connection along with a vision of the Immaculate Heart – “a heart encircled by thorns that pierced it, in front of Our Lady’s right palm.” A crowd of about 50 witnesses observed the little cloud (that Mary had stood upon) rise slowly and retreat toward the east. The top branches and leaves of the holm oak were also bent as if a weight had just been on top (where Mary had appeared).

Again the doubts, ridicule, and abrasive comments soured the children’s desire to return in July, but, at the last moment they all decided to keep their rendezvous with the Lady. Two to three thousand people were already waiting for them there! Mary again insisted that they pray the Rosary fervently. Mary called herself the Lady of the Rosary. Then, the Lady did something entirely different — her rays of light poured through the children into the earth below them, opening up a view of Hell:

“The rays of light seemed to penetrate the earth, and we saw, as it were, a sea of fire. Plunged in this fire were demons and souls in human form, like transparent burning embers, all blackened or burnished bronze, floating about in the conflagration, now raised into the air by the flames that issued from within themselves, together with great clouds of smoke, now falling back on every side like sparks in huge fires, without weight or equilibrium, amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear. The demons could be distinguished by their terrifying and repellent likeness to frightful and unknown animals, black and transparent like burning coals.”

The Lady then shared some prophecies if offenses against God did not stop.

“You have seen Hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world a devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved, and there will be peace. The war (World War I) is going to end; but if the people do not cease offending God, a worse one (World War II) will break out during the pontificate of Pius XI (whom nobody had heard of at this date). When you see a night, illuminated by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given to you by God that He is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father.”

“To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays. If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace.”

Blessed Mary meets the three shepherd children again on June 13.
Blessed Mary meets the three shepherd children again on June 13.

And if Russia was not consecrated to her, many terrible things would happen throughout the world. One awful event would involve a pope. Another vision showed tall buildings being destroyed. A final secret was to be kept to themselves. The publicity toward the children was endless on every day. Lucia later reported the details of these visions:

“At the left of Our Lady and a little above, we saw an angel with a flaming sword in his left hand. Flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire – but they died in contact with the splendor that Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand. Pointing to the earth with his right hand, the angel cried out in a loud voice, ‘Penance! Penance! Penance!’ And we saw in an immense light that is God, something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it – a bishop dressed in white. We had the impression that it was the Holy Father. Other bishops, priests, men and women religious, were going up a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big cross of rough-hewn trunks, as of a cork tree with the bark. Before reaching there, the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins, and half trembling with halting step – afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way. Having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of the big cross, he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him. And, in the same manner, there died, one after another, the other bishops, priests, men and women religious, and various lay people of different ranks and positions. Beneath the two arms of the cross, there were two angels – each with a crystal aspersorium in his hand, in which they gathered up the blood of the martyrs and with it sprinkled the souls that were making their way to God.”

The Virgin Mary concluded with this:

“When you pray the Rosary, say, after each mystery: O my Jesus, forgive us, save us from the fires of Hell. Lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who are most in need.”

Arturo Santos, the administrator or mayor of Ourem, arrived on the much anticipated August 13 apparition date in a carriage drawn by two black horses. Pacing and acting nervously, he offered to protect the children from the growing crowds and escort them to the site in his carriage. Although they refused, he changed tactics and said they needed to visit the priest, Father Ferreira, in Fatima before the event. The three children and their two fathers agreed to go, and the children were indeed questioned by the priest. But then Santos suddenly urged them to hurry up — and quickly loaded them back into the carriage, taking off before the two fathers could react and catch up. According to Lucia, it was masterfully orchestrated.

Jacinta, Lucia, and Francisco ready to meet Mary again on July 13.
Jacinta, Lucia, and Francisco ready to meet Mary again on July 13.

News of the abduction reached the 18,000 waiting for the children, nearly inciting a riot among those who had gathered at the apparition site with great anticipation. But these many thousands were not to be disappointed as Mary did give them a number of signs that she had kept her promise to be present. There were two loud explosions – like cannon fire – that came from the holm oak where she had always appeared. People began to flee in fear. But then, strangely, the people were pulled toward the tree as if by an electric current. Some fainted – others were afraid. The clouds took on a fantastic sequence of colors: blood red to pink to blue to indigo. There were flashes like lightning. A wispy pillar of smoke rose next to the tree. Some spoke of a falling of roses! Every person had some level of experience that day and came away feeling great awe and inspiration.

Lucia later reported that the children were ushered off to Ourem where they were locked in a room and told that they would not be let out until they revealed the secret that Our Lady had entrusted in them. This caused them to miss their August 13th rendezvous with Mary. An elderly lady tried to squeeze the secret from them but failed. The authorities offered a bribe of gold coins and jewelry – which also failed. So they were then locked in the prison area of the council building. They were shown a cauldron of oil placed over a fire and told that if they had not revealed the secret by the time the oil boiled, then they would be either hung or have their heads chopped off.

They were taken to a foul-smelling detention cell and thrown in with adult male prisoners. The other prisoners became impressed – even inspired – by the strong religious conviction of the young visionaries and their lack of fear in the face of death threats. The children decided to recite prayers, recognize their suffering as necessary, and get the other prisoners on their knees to pray with them. Afterwards, the prisoners decided to cheer up the children with songs, harmonica music, and dancing.

The Virgin Mary shares many predictions and visions on September 13.
The Virgin Mary shares many predictions and visions on September 13.

The children realized that if they were put to death, it would be the ultimate sacrifice, and they could go to heaven sooner! When they faced the authorities at the crucial moment of decision — as the oil finally had boiled, they were filled with sweet peace, fearless conviction, and steadfast devotion to Mary’s wishes. Santos had lost his advantage over the children since they had decided to become joyous martyrs, so he drove them back home on August 15. A crowd cheered their return, but others were gathering to assault Mr. Santos – so he left rather quickly. (He was removed from office on December 8 of that same year.)

Blessed Mary met the children instead on the 19th of August in Valinhos. Lucia was with Francisco and her older brother John when she became aware of the signs that a supernatural visit was coming: a sudden cooling of the air, the paling of the sun, and a flash of light. She had to bribe her excited brother with two pennies to leave and go find Jacinta quickly. Just as they returned to the field, a second flash of light occurred and the “brilliant Lady” appeared over another holm oak tree.

“I want you to continue to come on the thirteenth and to continue to say the Rosary every day. In the last month, in October, I shall perform a miracle so that all may believe in My apparitions. If they had not taken you to the village, the miracle would have been greater. St. Joseph will come with the baby Jesus to give peace to the world. Our Lord also will come to bless the people. Besides, Our Lady of the Rosary and Our Lady of Sorrows will come. (Lucia asks about the donations that have been left at the site) Have two litters made. One is to be carried by you and Jacinta and two other girls dressed in white. The other one is to be carried by Francisco and three other boys. The litters are for the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, and the money that is left over will help towards the construction of a chapel that is to be built. Pray! Pray a great deal and make sacrifices for sinners, for many souls go to Hell for not having someone to pray and make sacrifices for them.”

 A huge crowd gathers to see the miracle on October 13, 1917.
A huge crowd gathers to see the miracle on October 13, 1917.

Lucia’s brother John was frustrated that he could not see or hear the Blessed Mary, but he was satisfied with hearing “a clap of thunder similar to the firing of a gun” as Mary departed. Jacinta broke off a small branch that Our Lady had rested her feet upon, which had been touched by her magnificent robe, and took it home. On the way, Lucia’s mother demanded, skeptically, to hold the branch. She was shocked to behold a “magnificent fragrance” that she could not identify – and was a changed woman from this point forward.

With the dawn of September 13th, crowds of people surrounded the children’s homes, overflowing on the roads, immobilizing movement, and demanding the children pray to Mary for certain things. As the children finally made their way to the apparition site, it is estimated that as many as 30,000 awaited them. Lucia was almost finished reciting the Rosary when the flash of light came. Then a globe of light appeared before the crowd – but this time, thousands could witness it, including three priests: Vicar General of Leiria, Monsignor John Quaresma, and Father Manuel do Carmo Gois. Here is the Monsignor’s detailed eyewitness account:

“At noontime, silence fell on the crowd, and a low whispering of prayers could be heard. Suddenly, cries of joy filled the air, many voices praising the Blessed Virgin. Arms were raised to point to something above, ‘Look! Don’t you see?’ I, too, raised my eyes to probe the amplitude of the skies, hoping to see what the other fortunate eyes were seeing before me. There was not a single cloud in the whole blue sky, yet to my great astonishment, I saw clearly and distinctly a luminous globe, coming from the east to the west, gliding slowly and majestically through space. My friend also looked up and had the happiness of enjoying the same unexpected but enchanting apparition. Suddenly, the globe with its extraordinary light disappeared before our eyes. There was a little girl near us, about the same age as Lucia. She was excited with joy and kept saying, ‘I still see Her … now She is coming down to the foot of the hill.’

The stunning Miracle of the Sun brings the crowd to their knees.
The stunning Miracle of the Sun brings the crowd to their knees.

Lucia then asked the vision of Mary, hovering over the holm oak tree, “What do you want of me?”

“Let the people continue to say the Rosary every day to obtain the end of the war. In October, I will perform a miracle so that all may believe. (When Lucia offered two letters and a bottle of cologne as gifts from the people, Mary said:) None of that is necessary for Heaven.”

Lucia shouted to the people as Mary rose to leave, “If you want to see Our Lady, look that way (to the East).” When the crowd looked, hundreds or more saw the luminous globe ascending towards Heaven. But thousands who were present also witnessed other supernatural details: a sudden cooling of the air, a dimming of the sun – so much so that thousands could see the stars at mid-day, a white mist surrounding the holm oak and the children, and a shower of white, iridescent flower petals that vanished upon reaching the ground.

Visionary Jacinta.
Visionary Jacinta.

October 13 was rainy and windy, but more than 70,000-100,000 were present to see the miracle that Mary had promised. Finally there would be proof of either a divine presence or a hoax. So skeptics as well as believers were all present together. Reporters were sent from even the most skeptical newspapers.

Promptly at noon, Mary arrived with the usual flash of light. Her snow-white feet rested upon the flowers and ribbons which adorned the tree. The faces of the children assumed an unworldly expression, their features more delicate, their color mellow, their eyes intent upon the Lady. And they were strangely dry in the pouring rain.

“I want a chapel to be built here in My honor. I am Our Lady of the Rosary. Continue to say the Rosary every day. The war will end soon and the soldiers will return to their homes. People must amend their lives and ask pardon for their sins. They must not offend Our Lord any more for He is already too much offended.”

The Blessed Virgin opened Her hands, which emitted a flood of light. While she was rising, she pointed them toward the sun, and the light gleaming from her hands brightened the sun itself.

“Look at the sun!” cried out Lucia. The rainclouds rolled back to reveal a dimmer sun — like a white disc that people could stare at without hurting their eyes. The huge crowds watched the sun bob up and down like a bright silver top. Then, it began spinning, rotating upon itself with exceedingly great speed, shooting off every imaginable color, then plunged toward the earth in a zigzag fashion. Many of the 70,000 witnesses thought they were going to die and dropped to their knees, but the sun stopped abruptly and returned to its normal position and brightness. All rain-soaked clothing was suddenly dry on every drenched person, and mud puddles were completely gone. Here are six eyewitness accounts (the last one is from Jacinta’s father):

The incorrupt body of Jacinta 15 years after her death.
The incorrupt body of Jacinta 15 years after her death.

“Suddenly the people broke out with a cry of extreme anguish. The sun, still rotating, had unloosened itself from the skies and came hurtling towards the earth. This huge, fiery millstone threatened to crush us with its weight. It was a dreadful sensation. During this solar occurrence, the air took on successive different colors. While looking at the sun, I noticed that everything around me darkened. Everything had the color of an amethyst – the sky, the air, everything and everybody. A little oak nearby was casting a heavy purple shadow on the ground. This did not give the impression of being an eclipse. While still looking at the sun, I noticed that the air had cleared. Everything far and near had changed now. Now everybody and everything looked yellow!”

“The sun was sometimes surrounded by blood-red flames. At other times it was aureoled with yellow and soft purple. Again, it seemed possessor of the swiftest rotation and then seemed to detach itself from the heavens, come near the earth, and give forth a tremendous heat.”

“The sun came out with a well-defined rim and seemed to come down to the height of the clouds. It started to rotate intermittently around itself like a wheel of fireworks for about eight minutes. Everything became almost dark, and the people’s features became yellow. All were kneeling in mud.”

“It looked to me as a luminous disc, with a bright, well-defined rim. It did not hurt the eyes. It looked like a small, brightly polished wheel of iridescent mother-of-pearl. The sun was not opaque, veiled, or diffused. It gave light and heat and was brightly outlined by a beveled rim.”

“The sun cast different colors, yellow, blue, and white. It trembled constantly. It looked like a revolving ball of fire falling upon the people. As the sun hurled itself towards the earth in a mighty zigzag motion, the multitude cried out in terror, ‘We are all going to die here.’ At last the sun swerved back to its orbit and rested in the sky. Everyone gave a sigh of relief. We were still alive.”

“We could look at the sun with ease. It seemed to be continually fading and glowing in one fashion, then another. It threw shafts of light one way and another, painting everything in different colors – the people, the trees, the earth, even the air. Everybody stood still and quiet, gazing at the sun. At a certain point, the sun stopped its play of light and then started dancing. It stopped once more and again started dancing until it seemed to loosen itself from the skies and fall upon the people. It was a moment of terrible suspense.”

Visionary Lucia becomes a nun in the early 1920's.
Visionary Lucia becomes a nun in the early 1920’s.

The Miracle of the Sun was also witnessed from other nearby cities within 600 square miles. This account comes from a priest who vividly recalls that day as a nine-year old boy, living in the village of Alburitel, ten miles away from Fatima:

“About noon, we were startled by the cries and exclamations of the people going by our school. The teacher was the first to run outside to the street with all the children following her. The people cried and wept on the street; they were all pointing towards the sun. It was the Miracle promised by Our Lady. I feel unable to describe it as I saw it and felt it at the time. I was gazing at the sun; it looked so pale to me – it did not blind. It was like a ball of snow, rotating upon itself. All of a sudden, it seemed to be falling, zigzag, threatening the earth. Seized with fear, I hid myself amidst the people. Everyone was crying, waiting for the end of the world. Nearby, there was a godless man who had spent the morning making fun of the simpletons who had gone to Fatima just to see a girl. I looked at him, and he was numbed, his eyes riveted on the sun. I saw him tremble from head to foot. Then he raised his hands towards Heaven, as he was kneeling there in the mud, and cried out, ‘Our Lady, Our Lady.’ During the minutes that the miracle lasted, everything around us reflected all the colors of the rainbow. We looked at each other, and one seemed blue, another yellow, red, and so on. After ten minutes, the sun resumed its place as pale and without splendor.”

While this was going on, the three children were treated to their own private visions. To the left of the pale sun appeared St. Joseph, holding the Child Jesus in his left arm. Both he and Jesus raised their right hands and made the Sign of the Cross three times over the world. Our Lady stood in all of her brilliance to the right of the sun, dressed in her blue and white robes of Our Lady of the Rosary. Only Lucia was privileged to gaze upon Jesus, dressed in red as the Divine Redeemer, blessing the world as foretold by Mary. Beside Him stood Our Lady, dressed now in the purple robes of Our Lady of Sorrows, but without the sword. Finally, the Blessed Virgin appeared again to Lucia in all of her ethereal brightness, clothed in the simple brown robes of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

Sister Lucia receives another visit on December 10, 1925.
Sister Lucia receives another visit on December 10, 1925.

After a long study and careful interrogation of many witnesses, the Bishop of Leiria made the following proclamation:

“The children long before set the day and hour at which it was to take place. The news spread quickly over the whole of Portugal, and although the day was chilly and pouring rain, many thousands of people gathered. They saw the different manifestations of the sun paying homage to the Queen of Heaven and Earth, who is more radiant than the sun in all its splendor. This phenomenon, which no astronomical observatory registered, was not natural. It was seen by people of all classes, members of the Church and non-Catholics. It was seen by reporters of the principal newspapers and by people many miles away.”

After the last apparition on October 13, 1917, the three children tried to return to their ordinary routine life. But the general public continued to seek them out and ask a thousand questions. Francisco and Jacinta’s parents sold their flocks and kept the children closer to home so that they would be more available to speak with inquisitive visitors. The two children would escape whenever possible, often hiding in the rock area where the angel first met with them. Lucia would join them there, when possible, as she was still shepherding her family’s sheep. Together they would recite the Rosary and reminisce about the many things Our Lady had shared with them. They continued to keep the “secrets” to themselves, although Mary’s mention of the “conversion of Russia” was confusing. Lucia thought Russia might be the name of a wicked woman!

Francisco knew that he would be taken to heaven relatively soon, so school studies seemed pointless. Praying the Rosary became his primary activity. He told people,

“I liked to see the Angel so much, but I liked Our Lady much more. What I liked best about the apparitions was seeing Our Lord in that light that the Blessed Virgin put into our hearts. I love God very much. He is so sad because of so many sins. We must not commit even the smallest sin.”

Often while the girls played among the rocks, Francisco would go off by himself and pray alone. One day the girls heard him shouting in distress – so uncharacteristic of his nature! The cries were electric with fear and shocked the girls. They came upon him, trembling with fright, and unable to rise from his knees. His voice shaking, he told them,

“It was one of those huge beasts that we saw in Hell. He was right there, breathing out flames!”

Sister Lucia is given an important vision on June 13, 1929.
Sister Lucia is given an important vision on June 13, 1929.

The girls encouraged him not to ever think again about what they had seen in Hell.

Many people asked for the children to pray for them. One peasant woman and her son knelt before Francisco, asking Our Lady to cure her husband’s illness and keep him home and from going to war. Francisco asked them to pray the Rosary with him. Much later, the lady happily returned to report that Our Lady had granted both of her requests!

Jacinta also had several miracles attributed to her. One day, a woman with a foul disease fell to her knees before Jacinta. Jacinta knelt beside her, said three Hail Mary’s, and assured her with an unusual certainty that she would be healed. And the woman was indeed cured.

On another occasion, Aunt Vitoria’son had left their Fatima home and had not been heard from in some time. The woman sought Lucia but found Jacinta instead. Jacinta pleaded very much to Our Lady to help him find his way back home. The man had been jailed in Torres Novas until he managed to escape, fleeing to the hills where he had become lost. Fearful, he fell to his knees and prayed. A few minutes later, the image of Jacinta appeared to him, took him by the hand, and led him to the main road and gave him directions. Then she vanished before his eyes. By morning he had found his way home, thanks to her good directions. But, Jacinta had never been to that area, nor had she actually been with this man in person, according to her.

On another occasion, a soldier about to leave for the war had a sick wife at home and three small children. He wept like a child, begging Jacinta for either a cure for his sick wife or a change in his military orders. She told him to pray the Rosary with her and then assured him that Our Lady would grant his requests. Several months later, he brought his wife and children back with him, happily reporting that his orders were changed at the last moment and his wife had been healed as promised.

As Francisco became gravely ill and unable to move from his bed, Our Lady appeared to both Francisco and Jacinta again. She stated that she would be coming for Francisco very soon and Jacinta would follow not long after. Jacinta eagerly confided in her cousin,

“Our Lady asked me if I still wanted to convert more sinners. I said yes. She wants me to go to two hospitals, but it is not to cure me. It is to suffer more for the love of God, the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the offenses committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary. My mother will take me there, and afterwards, I am to be left there alone – and will die alone.”

The Third Secret: A pope may be killed in the future.
The Third Secret: A pope may be killed in the future.

A woman visited Francisco’s sick room one day to ask him to pray that her husband and her son might be reconciled. Her husband had banished the son from their home, greatly upsetting the mother. Francisco reassured her, telling her not to worry because he would be going to heaven soon – and would ask Our Lady for that grace when he arrived. Sure enough, it was later learned that the father and son were reconciled on the very day that Francisco went to heaven!

After much suffering but no complaining, Francisco died quietly before age 11 from pneumonia on April 4, 1919. His skeletal remains were transferred from the Fatima cemetery to the great Fatima basilica on March 13, 1952.

Jacinta spent two months in St. Augustine’s hospital, and then returned home from September through December, 1919. She had many visits from Lucia during that last period of time at home. By mid-January she was sent to a second hospital – this time in Lisbon (as predicted by Mary), where she suffered through February with the foul-smelling rotting of her own body from purulent pleurisy and two infected ribs. She sent word to Lucia that Our Lady had appeared again to her, telling her of the exact day and hour that she would be taken to heaven. She also foretold some other matters. One doctor asked for her prayers, and she prayed for him – but told him that he would die soon – and he did. She told another one of her doctors that he and his daughter would die soon, and they did, shortly after her death. She also confided to Mother Godinho that a well-liked, young, dynamic priest “will turn out badly” – and later, he indeed abandoned the priesthood and took up living in open scandal.

Father De Marchi lists a number of teachings from Blessed Mary that Jacinta shared with Mother Godinho during her stay:

“The sins which cause most souls to go to hell are the sins of the flesh.”

“The world is perishing because the people do not meditate.”

“Many marriages are not of God and do not please Our Lord.”

“Wars are punishment for sin.”

“Priests must be very, very pure.”

“Confession is a Sacrament of Mercy, and we must confess with joy and trust. There can be no salvation without confession.”

“The Mother of God wants more virgin souls bound by a vow of chastity.”

Pope John Paul II visits Lucia after the Virgin saved his life.
Pope John Paul II visits Lucia after the Virgin saved his life.

Jacinta died at 10:30 p.m., alone, in her hospital bed, on February 20, 1920. A nun swore that tears of dried blood were on her face, suggesting that she shared something of her Savior’s agony. Doctors were amazed that after three days, her body smelled “as sweet as a bouquet of roses.” This was a surprising and drastic change in fragrance from the horrible, repulsive stench of her illness. She still looked alive in her coffin with cheeks and lips of a beautiful pink color. A number of witnesses testified to the extraordinary sweet odor emanating from her body. It was clearly the fragrance of flowers!

On September 12, 1935, her body was transferred to a memorial where people could honor her life. When the coffin was opened for positive identification, her parents, medics, clerics and a few others were stunned that her body had not yet decayed in 15 years! During her transfer to the final resting place in the great basilica in 1951, her coffin was opened again – and her body was still incorrupt with very little decay after 31 years.

After these two young visionaries died, a small chapel was built at the site of the apparitions in the Cova da Iria. But on March 6, 1922, two bombs were placed at the site – one in the chapel and one by the holm oak tree. The bomb in the chapel blew the roof off, but the one by the tree, where Mary had appeared, failed to explode. This attack enraged people, leading to a rebuilding of the chapel, and a grand procession of 60,000 faithful followers on May 13, 1923 to return the preserved statue of Our Lady to its home in the chapel.

Lucia became a nun and joined the Dorothean Convent in Tuy, Spain. On December 10, 1925, Blessed Mary appeared to Lucia in her room at the convent. The Child Jesus was at Mary’s side, elevated upon a luminous cloud of light. Our Lady placed one hand on Lucia’s shoulder while in the other hand she held a heart surrounded by sharp thorns. The Child Jesus spoke first:

“Have pity on the Heart of your Most Holy Mother. It is covered with thorns with which ungrateful men pierce It at every moment, and there is no one to remove them with an act of reparation.”

Then Blessed Mary added,

“My daughter, look at My Heart encircled with the thorns with which ungrateful men pierce It at every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude. Do you at least try to console Me and announce in My name that I promise to assist at the hour of death with the graces necessary for salvation for all those who, on the first Saturday of five consecutive months, go to Confession and receive Holy Communion, recite the Rosary and keep Me company for a quarter of an hour while meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary with the intention of making reparation to Me?”

Lucia could never forget this vision of Mary’s bleeding heart. She could not get her confessor or superior to spread this devotion. Two months passed, and on February 15, 1926, the Child Jesus appeared again to Lucia, inquiring if she had spread this devotion. Lucia explained the complications that her superior had had in trying to promote this by herself. The Child Jesus replied,

“It is true that your superior alone can do nothing, but with My grace, she can do all.”

While praying in the convent in 1927, Lucia received permission from Heaven to reveal the first two parts of the Secret: the vision of Hell, and the urgent need for devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Mary then explained further to Lucia,

“You have seen Hell, where the souls of sinners go. To save them, God wants to establish throughout the world the devotion to My Immaculate Heart. … I shall come later to ask for the Consecration of Russia to My Immaculate Heart.”

True to her word, the Virgin Mary appeared again to Lucia on June 13, 1929, while she was praying in the convent at Tuy, Spain, during the Holy Hour of Adoration and Reparation. In her own words, Sister Lucia writes:

“Suddenly, a supernatural light illuminated the whole chapel, and on the altar appeared a cross of light which reached to the ceiling. In a brighter part on the upper part of the cross, could be seen the face of a man and his body to the waist. On his breast was an equally luminous dove, and nailed to the cross, the body of another man.

Pope John Paul II meets Lucia in 2000; Luminous Mysteries in 2002.
Pope John Paul II meets Lucia in 2000; Luminous Mysteries in 2002.

A little below the waist, suspended in mid-air, was to be seen a Chalice and a large Host onto which fell some drops of Blood from the face of the Crucified and from a wound on His breast. These drops ran down over the Host and fell into the Chalice. Under the right arm of the Cross was Our Lady. Under the left arm of the Cross were some big letters, as if it were crystal-clear water running down over the altar, formed these words: Grace and Mercy.” Then Mary stated:

“The moment has come in which God asks the Holy Father to make, in union with all the bishops of the world, the Consecration of Russia to My Immaculate Heart, promising to save it by this means.”

Both Pope Pius XI and Pope Pius XII ignored her requests. On May 18, 1936, Father Goncalves, her confessor, challenged Lucia as to whether she should persist in this request. Lucia replied,

“I do not know. Recently, I was speaking with Our Lord and asked Him why He would not convert Russia without the Pope doing that consecration. Jesus replied, ‘Because I want My whole Church to recognize that consecration as a Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, so that later on it will put the devotion to the Immaculate Heart beside the devotion to My Sacred Heart’.”

On October 24, 1940, Sister Lucia was ordered by the Bishop of Gurza to write to the Pope and simply ask for the consecration of the world with only a “special mention” of Russia. She knew this was NOT what Mary had requested, so she prayed to Jesus. He responded that if the Pope were to respond to this favorably, He would reward that act by shortening the days of World War II – but that it would not bring about world peace until the consecration was specific to Russia. On December 2, 1940, Lucia made the request.

Pope Pius XII consecrated the world (with an oblique mention of Russia) on both October 31, 1942 and again on December 8, 1942. Winston Churchill notes in his writings on World War II that in early 1943 (almost immediately after the Pope’s act), “the hinges of fate” turned in favor of the Allies, and that thereafter the Allies won almost every battle, whereas before they had almost always lost. And Jesus confirmed his promise to Lucia again in early 1943 that “the present distress would be shortened.”

Sister Lucia finally wrote down the third part of the Fatima Secret on January 9, 1944.

During one of Our Blessed Mary’s apparitions in Montichiari, Italy, on Dec. 7, 1947, she appeared with two young children. Mary made a reference to one of her messages in Fatima. The visionary, Pierina Gilli, asked who the children were, and Mary replied, “Francisco and Jacinta.”

The Virgin Mary finally appeared to Lucia in May of 1952, and stated again,

“Make it known to the Holy Father that I am always awaiting the Consecration of Russia to My Immaculate Heart. Without the Consecration, Russia will not be able to convert, nor will the world have peace.”

On May 13, 1981, Pope John Paul II almost died from an attack by a would-be assassin. He traveled to meet Sister Lucia one year later on May 13, 1982 and thanked her for being saved by Our Lady of Fatima. The third secret had described a man clothed in white falling to the ground as though dead from gunshots. Doctors said that the bullet should have killed him but had traveled an odd, zigzag path to miss vital organs. That bullet fit neatly and permanently into the crown of Our Lady of Fatima’s statue when the Pope visited the Fatima shrine. The Pope had a statue of Fatima placed, facing Russia from his Poland, and on March 25, 1984, he consecrated the world to Mary’s Immaculate Heart in a joint effort with the world’s bishops in Rome. Within 5 years the Soviet Union was peacefully breaking apart and the Berlin Wall came down without a fight.

The Fatima, Portugal Basilica today.
The Fatima, Portugal Basilica today.

Sister Lucia was still adamant about what Mary had asked for back in 1917. Pope John Paul II had renewed the same prior consecration to the world both on May 13, 1982 and March 25, 1984 – but both efforts failed to target Russia specifically, and the bishops involved did not organize a ceremony of reparation in their dioceses. Sister Lucia continued to insist on the specific conversion of Russia to the Catholic faith.

Jacinto Marto and Francisco Marto were beatified before a million pilgrims at Fatima by Pope John Paul II on May 13, 2000.

She did live “somewhat longer” — to the age of 97, dying on February 13, 2005. Her cause for sainthood was formally opened on February 13, 2008.

Today, millions visit the shrine at Fatima in Portugal every year. Pope Benedict XVI has stated that the message of Fatima is the most prophetic message of the 20th Century.

Our Lady of China, Dong Lu, China, 1900

“Our Lady of China”

 Dong Lu (or Tong Lu) was a very poor village, formerly called “the place of beggars.”  It was probably the poorest place in the whole region near Peiping, China.  The Vincentian Fathers started a Poor Mission in Dong Lu.  By 1900, there were about seven hundred to one thousand Christians gathered about the little hamlet.

The terrifying Boxer Rebellion sweeps across China in a deadly manner.
The terrifying Boxer Rebellion sweeps across China in a deadly manner.

Suddenly, the Boxer Rebellion swept through China and grew to such proportions that even small places like Dong Lu could not escape its fury.  In April of 1900, a force of 10,000 hostile soldiers attacked Dong Lu.  The Chinese priest of the village, Father Wu, prayed to Mary, asking for her help and protection.  Suddenly, a “woman in a white robe, surrounded by light” appeared in the sky.  It was the beautiful glowing image of the Virgin Mary.  The soldiers, in a senseless rage, started to fire their bullets into the sky at her.  But the apparition was not harmed and would not fade.

A simulation of what the Chinese saw in the sky: "a woman adorned with the sun"
A simulation of what the Chinese saw in the sky: “a woman adorned with the sun”

When the apparition did not fade, the attackers did not have any time to reorganize because a “fiery horseman,” probably St. Michael, came charging towards them, surrounded by “blazing flames of fire.”  The strange horseman put fear into the 10,000 rioters, and they scattered and fled – never to return.  After they disappeared over the horizon, Father Wu then confessed to his flock that he had invoked the help of Mary.

But, being barbaric fools, they shot into the sky at the Mother of God.
But, being barbaric fools, they shot into the sky at the Mother of God.

A new church was built on the site, and Father Wu placed a picture of Our Lady on the main altar.  He asked the painter to dress Our Lady in the royal robes of the dowager Empress Tzi-His.  The image of the Blessed Virgin in the royal robes of the pagan Empress with the Christ Child on her knees is a vivid expression of Chinese tradition.  Though her robes be pagan, she belongs to every age, to all people, and to every race.

St. Michael the Archangel appears on a flaming horse with a fiery sword.
St. Michael the Archangel appears on a flaming horse with a fiery sword.

The beautiful church was built in her honor as a constant reminder to the people of Mary’s loving and motherly protection.  The church became a famous place for pilgrimages, starting in 1924.  Pope Pius XI approved it as an official Marian Shrine in 1932.  But, during World War II, it was destroyed by Japanese bombs.

Fear scatters the 10,000 rebels as St. Michael charges at them.
Fear scatters the 10,000 rebels as St. Michael charges at them.

Yet, the Blessed Virgin would return to Dong Lu in dramatic fashion in 1995 before 30,000 worshippers.

The grateful Chinese honor Our Lady of China in Dong Lu.
The grateful Chinese honor Our Lady of China in Dong Lu.


Our Lady of Sorrows, Castelpetroso, Italy, 1888

“Our Lady of Sorrows”

 On March 22, 1888, the day before the Feast of the Compassion of Our Blessed Lady, two peasant women were shepherding their sheep on the hills in Southern Italy near the village of Castelpetroso.  Fabiana Cicchino (35-year old virgin) and Serafina Valentino (34-year old married woman) belonged to Pastine, a hamlet in the diocese of Bojano.  One of their sheep had strayed onto a hill nearest Castelpetroso.  Fabiana found the lost sheep in a ravine near some rocks.  But a strange light was coming from a crack in the rocks.  The rays of the bright light formed a clear image of Our Blessed Virgin on her knees with her eyes gazing toward heaven.  Her arms were outstretched in an act of imploring and offering of her Son, full of wounds and lying dead beneath her.  It was the image of the Pieta.

Mary appeared as Our Lady of Sorrows, wearing a deep red dress and a dark mantle.  She was a very beautiful, fair-skinned, young woman with disheveled hair and bleeding from wounds received from seven swords.  The Blessed Virgin never spoke.  When Serafina caught up to Fabiana, she could not see anything.

They returned home, crying, sobbing, trembling, and terrified.  People naturally inquired as to the cause of their emotions.  But very few believed them, and nobody paid much attention to their statements.

During the Solemnity of Easter on April 1, 1888, the same vision occurred again to these two women in the same location.  This time, Serafina also witnessed the apparition.  More people became curious after this encounter and began to believe that something was truly happening there.  People began to go to the mountain and visit the spot of the alleged apparitions, some 2,600 feet above sea level.  First, a child saw Mary; then an avowed heretic witnessed her also.  Others affirmed that they saw Our Blessed Virgin bearing her dead Son in her arms.

Statues mark the site of the apparitions in 1884 near Castelpetroso.
Statues mark the site of the apparitions in 1884 near Castelpetroso.

Pilgrimages began, and within a few days, some four thousand persons visited the spot – which was double the number of those living there.  Soon, this place which had been generally unknown, suddenly became the center of attraction to countless crowds from the neighboring countryside.  Of those who went, some testified that they saw the Blessed Virgin as Our Lady of Carmel, Our Lady of Grace, and also Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary.  But most of the time, she appeared as Our Lady of Sorrows.  She was usually alone but was also accompanied at times by St. Michael, St. Anthony, or St. Sebastian.  Among those who testified to these apparitions was a well-known disbeliever, who received the grace of seeing Our Lady four times in half an hour.

The apparitions were accompanied by another phenomenon; in May of 1888 the body of water at the foot of the mountain began bestowing miracles.  Soon, believers from other countries came in masses to behold and experience the extraordinary events and the fountain of miracles.  Angelo Verna, a six-year old mute boy, was given a drink of this water by his father and was completely healed by receiving the gift of speech.

The priest in the diocese treated the whole affair as delusional and preached against it.  A second priest, Don Luigi Ferrara, was also a disbeliever – until he saw her, too!

“I had many times derided those who visited the mountain on which these wonderful apparitions took place.  On May 16, 1888, however, I felt a desire to visit the place.  When I arrived, I began to look into one of the fissures, and I saw with great clearness Our Lady, like a statuette, with a little Child in her arms.  After a short interval I looked again at the same spot, and, in place of the Most Holy Virgin I saw, quite clearly, the dead Savior bearing the crown of thorns and all covered in blood.  Whenever I think of these visions on this mountain, I am moved to tears and cannot speak.”

News of the occurrences reached Msr. Francesco Macarone-Palmieri, Bishop of the diocese of Bojano.  While in Rome on business, he updated Pope Leo XIII on the events near Castelpetroso, adding that he should have liked the apparitions to have been confirmed by “some clear sign.”  The Pope replied by asking the Bishop if he did not think the apparitions in themselves were signs.  Pope Leo XIII asked the bishop to return to the site of the apparitions and make a further investigation.

Replica of what witnesses observed in the cave rocks.
Replica of what witnesses observed in the cave rocks.

On the morning of September 26, 1888, the Bishop returned to the site and had the privilege of witnessing the vision of Mary as Our Lady of Sorrows – just as Fabiana and Serafina had described.  After observing Our Lady on three occasions, he proceeded to file his official report:

“The Blessed Virgin appeared daily more frequently as the Mother of Sorrows, and, at other times, as Our Lady of Mount Carmel or the Queen of the Holy Rosary.  A number of persons affirmed that they saw apparitions of St. Michael, St. Anthony, St. Joseph, St. Sebastian, together with the Blessed Virgin, and also the Holy Face of Jesus surrounded by angels.

As the event became more widely known and acquired a high degree of credibility, I deemed it expedient to have an account reduced to writing and certified to by the depositions, under oath, of those who had been eye-witnesses of the prodigy.  The preparation of this report occupied several months.  When it was completed, I took it in person to Rome to submit it to the Sovereign Pontiff that the Holy See might pronounce authoritatively and definitely in the matter.

I, myself, can bear witness that I visited the sacred spot, and, after some time spent in prayer, saw the Apparition of the Blessed Virgin.  At first the image of Our Lady appeared faint and indistinct, but at length she appeared in the attitude and proportions of the representation of the Mother of Sorrows published in one of the numbers of the Servo di Maria.  Besides myself and the very large number of persons whose names are recorded in the official report, there are the Vicar-General of the diocese, the Archpriest of the Cathedral, and many other ecclesiastics, who also beheld the miraculous Apparitions.  With joyful heart, I affirm that the wonders happening in Castelpetroso are the last touches of the Divine Mercy, to call those who have gone far from the right way.”

In November of 1888, Count Charles Aquaderni, director of the magazine, Servo di Maria, went to the blessed rocks with his son, Augusto, who was sick with a serious bone tuberculosis.  Miraculously, the boy was healed at the site!

On December 18, 1889, Father Joseph Lais, a physicist, medical doctor, and sub-director of the Vatican Observatory, examined everything and was convinced that no optical illusion could be responsible for what people had been seeing.

“The observations I made of the character of the people lead me to recognize that they are profoundly convinced of the event having taken place.  Their simple and ingenuous demeanor does not suggest the suspicion that the fact should be, to some extent, fanciful or the effect of imagination.  The natural formation of the rocks excludes the theory of trickery.”

Castelpetroso cathedral today in Italy.
Castelpetroso cathedral today in Italy.

The Bishop of Bojano formed a committee in 1889 to begin collecting funds for a church to be built on the site of the apparitions.  Pope Leo XIII blessed their work, imparting the Apostolic Blessing to the members of the committee and to all those who contributed to the fund.  The cornerstone for a beautiful Gothic church was laid in May of 1890 in front of 30,000 faithful.  The layout symbolizes a heart with seven chapels at its center representing the seven sorrows of Mary, the seven swords piercing her heart.

On December 6, 1973, Pope Paul VI proclaimed the Blessed and Sorrowful Virgin Mary as Patroness of the region – upon a request by the Bishop of Molise.  Pope John Paul II visited the sanctuary as a pilgrim on March 19, 1995.  A community of friars and sisters has been established since 1993 — called the Franciscans of the Immaculate.


Our Lady of Pompeii, Italy, 1884

“Our Lady of Pompeii”

Bartolo Longo was the son of a doctor and a devout Catholic mother.  He went through a crisis of faith in his university years as he studied to become a lawyer.  He joined a sect and was ordained as a priest of Satan!  He publicly ridiculed Christianity and did all in his power to subvert Catholic influence.

A good friend, Vincent Pede, eventually showed Bartolo the gentleness of Christ and arranged for him to meet a saintly Dominican priest, Alberto Radente.  The Dominican had a deep, personal devotion to Mary and fostered the devotion of the Rosary.  Bartolo saw Mary as a “Refuge of Sinners” and attributed his own miraculous conversion to her.  Now he wanted to do penance for his past life and serve the Church that he had so viciously slandered.  He made a promise to work for the poor and destitute.

In 1872 he arrived in marshy, impoverished Pompeii, accompanied by two armed escorts for protection against bandits.  He was shocked and filled with great pity at the ignorance, poverty, and lack of religion of the inhabitants.  Discouraged and full of doubts, he distinctly heard a voice speak to him on October 9.  The voice said clearly that if he sought salvation, then he should promulgate the Rosary.  The voice said that this was Mary’s own promise.  He promised Our Lady in return that he would do everything in his power to do so: “I will not leave this valley until I have propagated your Rosary.”

St. Dominic and St. Catherine of Siena honor the Virgin Mary in a vision that healed Fortuna Agrelli.
St. Dominic and St. Catherine of Siena honor the Virgin Mary in a vision that healed Fortuna Agrelli.

Bartolo began teaching the catechism, spreading rosary devotions, and holding Rosary Festivals with games, races, and even a lottery.  From 1873 to 1875 he restored an old church, held an annual festival on the Feast of the Holy Rosary in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary, and obtained and restored a worn painting of Mary from a convent in Naples for this church.  The large painting was tattered, torn, cracked, and “worm-eaten,” arriving on its back in a wagon of manure.

The new shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary was completed in 1883.  Within the month, miraculous events began to take place at the shrine.  Four healings were recorded, including the following:

Fortuna Agrelli, a very ill young girl suffering three incurable diseases that most doctors had given up on, was joined by her family in saying a novena of Rosaries starting on February 16, 1884.  The Virgin Mary then appeared to her on March 3rd, sitting upon a high throne, profusely decorated with flowers.  She held the Divine Child on her lap and a Rosary in her hand; both were clad in gold-embroidered garments.  St. Dominic and St. Catherine of Siena accompanied them.  Fortuna asked Mary — as “the Queen of the Rosary”—for a cure for herself.

“You have invoked me by various titles and have always obtained favors from me.  Now, since you have called me by the title so pleasing to me, Queen of the Holy Rosary, I can no longer refuse the favor that you petition – for this name is most precious and dear to me.  Make three novenas, and you will obtain all.”

Fortuna did as Mary said and was completely cured.

Mary appeared to her again and said,

            “Whosoever desires to obtain favors from me should make three novenas of the prayers   of the Rosary in petition and three novenas in thanksgiving.”

And this is how the Rosary Novena devotion to Mary originated.  Many healings are attributed to Our Lady of Pompeii.  Between 1891 and 1894, hundreds of miracles have been officially recorded at the sanctuary.

The image of Our Lady of Pompeii represents Our Lady of the Rosary as Queen of Heaven.  In the image she and Jesus are handing out Rosaries to Saint Dominic and Saint Catherine of Siena.

The neoclassical pontifical shrine and Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii, in all of its frescoed, marble splendor, was dedicated in 1891.  This happened sixteen years after Bartolo Longo began to collect pennies from the peasants to build this temple to Blessed Mary.

On October 21, 1979, Pope John Paul II visited Pompeii in a national pilgrimage to Our Lady of Pompeii.  He beatified Bartolo Longo on October 26, 1980.  Blessed Bartolo, a Third Order Dominican, founded the Sisters of the Holy Rosary of Pompeii.  He established homes for the poor, for orphans, and for the children of people in prison.

Bartolo Longo was called the “Man of the Madonna” and the “Apostle of the Rosary.”


Our Lady of Knock, Ireland, 1879

“Our Lady of Knock”

On August 21, 1879, it was a very rainy day in the little village of Knock in the County Mayo.  Margaret Byrne (21) was walking in the torrential downpour to lock up the parish church nearby when she saw something brightly lit at the south end of the church near a large gable.  Because of the harsh rainfall, she did not investigate further.  She did not know that 30 minutes earlier, Mary McLoughlin (45), housekeeper of the parish priest, had casually noticed the same light.  In the unusual glow she saw three large figures silhouetted — and guessed that maybe some new statues had been delivered to the church.  It just so happened that Mary McLoughlin stopped by the Byrne household to visit.  When she decided to leave around 8:00 p.m., another Mary (29), sister of Margaret Byrne, decided to walk with the housekeeper as she returned home, and both saw the same unusual glow.  But Mary Byrne was more curious about these “new statues.”

People in Knock, Ireland hear of supernatural lights at the church.
People in Knock, Ireland hear of supernatural lights at the church.

When she investigated more closely, she jumped back and was startled.

They’re not statues!  They’re moving!  It’s the Blessed Virgin!

She identified them to be of the Blessed Virgin, St. Joseph, and St. John.  Mary Byrne ran back home to tell her mother and her brother.  Word spread quickly, and fourteen people gathered in the pouring rain to see this supernatural display.  Here is a combined account from those witnesses:

Villagers witness three bright figures floating above the ground.
Villagers witness three bright figures floating above the ground.

“The entire back wall of the church was bathed in a brilliant light, which could be seen from quite a distance away.  Everything was raised about two feet off the ground.  There was an altar, on top of which stood a Lamb with a Cross.  The altar and Lamb were surrounded by Angels, hovering above.  Around them were golden stars or small brilliant lights, glittering like glass balls.”

“To the left of the altar were the three figures:  St. Joseph on the left, Our Lady in the middle, and St. John the Evangelist on the right.  St. Joseph’s hair and beard were gray and he leaned in a respectful manner toward Mary.  St. John was dressed in Mass vestments with a bishop’s miter on his head, a book in his left hand, and his right hand raised in blessing.  Our Lady was life-sized; the other two were smaller.”

“The Virgin’s eyes were raised toward heaven with hands outstretched.  Mary was beautiful.  She wore a white gown and sash.  A veil flowed from the back of her head to her feet.  On top of her head was a gold crown.  Between the crown and the edge of the veil was a gold rose.  Mary was almost iridescent.” 

The Virgin Mary casts her eyes toward heaven at Knock.
The Virgin Mary casts her eyes toward heaven at Knock.

At first, no one dared to go very close to the images.  They stood or knelt at a distance in the rain, becoming soaked, but not caring.  Patrick Hill, age 14, dared to venture much closer and added even more detail:

“The figures were full and round, three-dimensional, as if they had a body and life.  They were about 2-3 feet out from the church wall.  They said nothing, but as we approached, they seemed to go back a little toward the gable.  I could see the pupils and iris of Our Lady’s eyes. I could see the smooth texture of her milky skin.  I was so close that I could see the lines and letters inside the book that St. John held.  I also saw the wings of the angels fluttering!”

Witnesses kneel in the rain to honor the supernatural scene.
Witnesses kneel in the rain to honor the supernatural scene.

A 74-year old lady was so filled with joy that she tried to embrace Mary’s feet, but could not find anything to touch – because Mary moved back a bit.  All of the witnesses agree that they saw the figures move in that hour and a half that they knelt before them.

All noted that, despite the pouring rain, the three figures all remained dry.  The ground beneath them and the church wall also remained completely dry.  All who passed by were blessed with the ability to see this event.  The glow from the church could be witnessed as much as a mile away – as farmer Patrick Walsh testified on the following day.

One year later, more people gather in hopes of a return
One year later, more people gather in hopes of a return

One of the participants, Judith Campbell, left the scene around 9:00 p.m. to check on her ailing mother at home.  Finding her mother lying on the floor passed out, she feared that her mother had died, trying to go out to see the vision at the church.  At 9:30 p.m., Judith summoned the others at the church to come help her, and they all ran to see what had happened.  But when they arrived at her mother’s home, she was okay now.  The people ran back to the church only to find that the lights and images were gone now.

Many healings and miracles have been documented at this shrine that honors family life.  Miracles began as early as ten days after the apparition.  A young girl, Delia Gordon, had experienced deafness and pain in her left ear.  While visiting the apparition site, her mother put a small piece of cement from the wall of the church into her ear.  Afterward, during Mass, Delia experienced an excruciating pain in her ear, followed by a complete healing of her deafness and no further pain.

Knock, Ireland today.
Knock, Ireland today.

In a publication regarding the Miracle of Knock, Father Tom Neary reports that 687 miraculous cures were documented in that first year from 1879-1880.  People were using the cement or grout from that church wall.  Eventually wooden planks had to be placed over the wall to preserve it.  Later a bigger church was built and raised to basilica status.

Pope John Paul II came to Knock, Ireland, for the 100th anniversary of the apparition in 1979.  He held Mass in the Basilica, anointed the sick, and prayed at the Shrine.  He presented a gold rose to the Shrine, in commemoration of the gold rose that Mary wore during the apparition.

Today statues mark the actual site of the visions in 1879.
Today statues mark the actual site of the visions in 1879.

An investigative commission returned a positive verdict, and this apparition was officially approved in 1936.