Tilly was a small town about fourteen miles south of the English Channel, lying between the bigger towns of Bayeux and Caen. There was a school of seventy students staffed by three nuns. In March, 1896, at about 4:00 p.m. in the afternoon, a young boy glanced out of one of the school’s windows opening onto a field to see a “beautiful lady” slowly descending from the sky. As the boy reported this, the other children and the teacher in the classroom rushed to the windows and all saw the same scene. In extreme wonderment, they watched the Lady move here and there – as if uncertain where to land. She finally positioned herself in the air near a big elm tree across the open field.
The seventy students and three nuns evacuated the school and raced across the field to see the “beautiful lady” up close. All of them clearly saw the apparition. The beautiful lady was within an oval-like aura of brilliant greens, reds, pinks, blues, and yellows which emitted “rays.” Inside of these rays was the “beautiful Lady.” Her dress appeared to have been “opulent and Turkish” in style, but it scintillated and changed colors. The Lady stood out in some resplendent and astonishing fashion and was life-size or slightly larger.
Not only had the school’s occupants all seen the descending apparition, but others in the area had also seen her arrival. Soon, there was “a great concourse of the devout and curious” filling up the field, all of whom witnessed the resplendent Lady, too. Most knelt in awe and began praying. They all assumed that this was the Blessed Virgin Mary. After a short time, the apparition vanished.
Blessed Mary did return at frequent intervals in the days thereafter, which made the usual conduct of school activities nearly impossible with these heavenly distractions! The appearances of the “beautiful lady” continued sporadically for about four years. These supernatural appearances submerged Tilly-sur-Seulles beneath an enormous and continuous crowd of pilgrims, reporters, devout and curious, and platoons of both religious and skeptical investigators.
Even on days when the Lady did not appear, crowds of 400 to 2,000 waited for her anyway. The field and nearby trees became a “forest of candles” and effigies of the Holy Mother. When Our Lady did appear, the crowds would swell into the thousands. Skeptics became convinced that these events “surpassed comprehension.” Investigators arriving to debunk the appearances would see her and then have to wrestle with their own disbelief. Witnessing her appearance with their own eyes undermined their initial convictions to doubt and disbelieve.
A large number of witnesses also described seeing other features – including saints, angels, demons, devils, and other assorted imagery which would revolve around the central apparition of the Virgin Mary. It was not realized at that time that these swirling figures corresponded to the apocalyptic visions reported by the two young visionaries at La Salette in 1846. The apparition and its accompanying phenomena usually occurred during broad daylight. But these horrible figures were soon thought of as “disquieting” and phantom-like. Some began gossiping about them as being diabolical.
Many observed some of the witnesses going into “ecstasies, trances, fits, and convulsions.” Their eyes would fix on the apparition and could not be distracted. They could not be jolted by pin pricks, burning candles touching their fingers, or slaps to their faces. Our Lady, asking for prayer, spoke through many of those in ecstasies. Some reported unintelligible languages from various angels, demons, and phantoms.
Two visionaries, Paul Guerard and Marie Martel, had much enthusiastic support by the faithful during their trances or ecstasies. Others witnessed “combat between angels and disgusting creatures.”
It is estimated that the original descent of the Blessed Virgin was witnessed by at least one hundred people. Up to one thousand had observed her prior to the addition of any other beings or imagery. Many miraculous cures were claimed. Yet, certain medical doctors and psychiatrists attempted to explain these supernatural events as either “communicable hysteria” or “mass insanity.” Neither term is viewed with any credibility in today’s field of psychiatry.
Although the Blessed Virgin did not directly warn of what was to come to this area of France in the future, it is commonly known that she frequently appears just before some upheaval, disaster, or deadly event. It is significant that just fourteen years later the broad area around Tilly-sur-Seulles was plunged into World War I. The area became an apocalyptic wasteland of fighting, trenches, mud, deadly gas weapons, insanity, slime, disease, and death – with thousands of rotting bodies and mass graves. This area around Tilly and north to the beaches of Normandy became another massive graveyard during World War II. Some of the most intense and bitter fighting occurred in this area.
No known official investigation by the Catholic Church has ever been conducted. No explanations could ever account for the supernatural visits. Skeptics and investigators were impressed by the events that they witnessed; no answers could ever be found.
At the far western end of the country of France, about one mile from the coast of the English Channel is the small area called Kerizinen which was too small to qualify as a hamlet. Kerizinen only contained a few ancient and poor homes built of rock. On September 15, 1938, a sad and lonely woman, Jeanne-Louise Ramonet, was patiently knitting on an embankment while watching over her milk cow grazing in the meadow. It was one of those pale, sunny days typical of Brittany.
Since the age of two, she had been afflicted with a paralysis of her right leg, causing a serious limp. Her family had either grown and moved away or died from typhoid, so she remained alone in this small bleak home about the size of an average kitchen. Her health issues caused her education to be “very scanty.” In 1936, the parish priest arranged for a free trip to Lourdes with a group of sick people. Although she was not instantly healed in the waters at Lourdes, she did find her health improved enough after her return to walk better and get more work done.
On this day in 1938, a ”ball of light” suddenly appeared before her a few feet above the ground. The light expanded and developed a radiant periphery. In the middle of this “globe” there appeared a “young lady of great beauty.” Jeanne-Louise fell to her knees and the Lady immediately spoke,
“Be without fear! I mean you no evil! You will see me at different times in the years to come. I shall tell you then who I am and what I want from you. A new war threatens Europe. I shall delay it for some months, because I cannot remain deaf to so many prayers for peace arising toward me at this moment at Lourdes.”
Having said only this much, the Lady “rose slowly, slanting toward the north, and disappeared very high in the sky. Jeanne-Louise was stunned. She told nobody and kept the secret in her heart.
She said that she knew that this was the Virgin Mary – described as a “beautiful young lady of seventeen years old.” Her dress was a “very sweet” shimmering deep blue, and her eyes were of the same shimmering color. The dress was undulating at the bottom and had a white border. The sleeves also ended in white borders. A double white ribbon girded the dress at the waist. She wore a shining white mantle, held at the neck by a golden rectangular hook. The mantle covered her shoulders and extended to below her knees. A very light, extremely white veil covered her hair. She stood motionless as she spoke; her head was slightly inclined to the left. The arms were positioned as if in prayer, her fingers crossed on her chest. Her left arm was holding a rosary.
Nearly fourteen months later, on October 7, 1939, the feast of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary – and Jeanne-Louise’s 29th birthday, the Blessed Virgin made her second appearance and said,
“The world does not stop offending God with very grievous sins, especially sins of impurity, whence this war as a punishment for so many faults.”
“But heaven is not insensible to so much misery and comes to give you a means of salvation: peace, you will have it before long, if you know how to acquire it – but for that it is necessary that the people lead a life of prayers, of sacrifices, of penance. It is necessary that very often the children, particularly, be grouped to pray, to recite the rosary, followed by the “Parce Domine” for sinners. Tell your Director (the priest) that he should make public this message. I will give these words a supernatural force that will touch hearts.”
Jeanne-Louise immediately told the priest about the first two apparitions – as the Holy Mother had requested. But the priest forbid her to say a word about them. For the next eleven apparitions over the next nine years (until October 4, 1947), only Jeanne-Louise and her priest knew about them. Because Blessed Mary sternly admonished the priest in certain messages, the last two sentences of the second message and all of the thirteenth message are usually omitted. Apparitions that chastise the clergy are not easily heard or accepted.
The first and second messages accurately predicted a war – which began almost immediately; subsequent messages continued to predict the course of France’s sufferings. In the third message of December 1, 1939, we find Our Lady advising:
“Be sure to arm yourselves with prayer and sacrifice while your soldiers are using physical weapons.”
In the fifth message on April 2, 1940, Blessed Mary gives this warning,
“The prayers said are less in number than were said in the first months of the war. For this negligence, you (in France) will all go through sufferings, but mainly to your soldiers. Many will be made prisoners and many will die of privations and misery.”
In the sixth message of December 1, 1939, Our Lady advises:
“My children of France, serious hours will soon toll for you! The invasion of your country by the enemy is the danger that threatens you.”
It is highly unlikely that this poor, simple-minded woman in this isolated out-of-the-way locale could have any intelligent knowledge of the warfront or current advances. Her priests would similarly be isolated and unlikely to know anything either.
In the eighth message given to Jeanne-Louise on May 8, 1941, Blessed Mary tells us:
“Soon, Russia will bring help to the war – help which will be a hard blow to your enemies. But, beginning at this time, pray, pray a lot, O Christian souls, for this great enemy of the church – otherwise, after the war, the Communists will be seated nearly everywhere, and the church will receive harassments from them.”
As the Soviet threat would not even be realized until after 1946 – only by closeted government circles, it is inconceivable that simple Jeanne-Louise would have such insight or even educated guesses five years earlier. In fact, the public awareness that Communists would “be seated nearly everywhere” was not apparent until the mid-1950’s, seven years after the messages “went public.”
Immediately after the thirteenth apparition on October 4, 1947, Jeanne-Louise limped the two miles to the village priest at Plounevez-Lochrist to again tell what she had seen and heard from Blessed Mary. This time, though, the conversation between her and the priest “was overheard by a young girl who listened attentively” and then eagerly rushed to the village school with the details of the apparitions – which then spread to the village. But, most did not believe any of it. A few began praying in the meadow near Jeanne-Louise’s house – and asked her many questions as well.
Jeanne-Louise repeated all of the messages to those who inquired, word for word as retained clearly in her memory. This included the stern admonishments given to the clergy during the thirteenth apparition for their failure to publicly broadcast the messages, including the warnings and calls for prayer.
Soon, a small shrine was set up in the meadow. Flowers were deposited and candles were lit. Small groups began attending, especially when Jeanne-Louise narrated the new messages, #14 through #21.
In late May of 1949, a woman from Plounevez-Lochrist had become seriously ill. When brought to the hospital, she was declared a “desperate case with death imminent.” Visionary Jeanne-Louise joined others at the meadow shrine and began a novena to Our Lady of the Rosary of Kerizinen for that lady’s health. The 22nd apparition happened on May 24 during the novena. The others saw a “globe of light” descending over Jeanne’s house. Taking the flowers at the apparition site and weaving them into a wreath, the visionary asked several others to take them to the sick woman in the hospital.
Although the good people were denied access to the dying patient’s room, the religious sisters agreed to deliver the flowers to her bed. As soon as the flowers touched her bed, the dying woman began to speak. All present were astonished and watched as her pulse and temperature became normal again. She was miraculously healed. Word of this miracle spread fast and attendance at the meadow shrine increased rapidly.
During the 23rd apparition on August 6, 1949, Jeanne-Louise asked the Blessed Virgin about the absence of good drinking water within a mile of the apparition site. Blessed Mary promised that she would “bring forth a source to gush water.” Three years later, on July 15, 1952, water started flowing from rocks and increased in its flow as more people desired it. The water is still flowing today, and many have claimed miraculous healings from using it.
On December 8, 1953, about a thousand people were reciting the rosary under gray clouds and a thin rain. Our Lady did not appear, but, at 3:00 p.m., as the prayers and Hail Mary’s came to a close, a “strange light attracted the eyes of all to the sky.” The clouds suddenly disappeared and a “very red sun detached itself from a part of the blue sky.” Witnessed by everyone present, the sun seemed to “fall down” and then split into two parts.
“The two halves began to turn in contrary directions, one from another, each one throwing out brilliant rays intensely colored and painting the same colors on everything in the neighborhood.”
The same phenomena were witnessed by larger numbers of people again during May, August, and October of 1954. During the October display, the “sun seemed to fall and emitted the same rays – but without splitting into two halves again.” And then another beautiful, supernatural display happened:
“It was as if a snow of light was flying around all of those in the meadow. The sky was serene, the air clean. The ‘snowflakes’ – which looked like flower petals – were formed at some height and were disappearing before touching the ground. The witnesses ran here and there to catch them, but their hands closed on air. Later, this prodigy occurred again. At times, there are perfumes that come by.”
News of these remarkable phenomena, attested to by over a thousand witnesses, now began to radiate through Brittany and the rest of France.
During the 24th apparition on December 9, 1949, Our Lady told Jeanne-Louise:
“Go to your bishop. I want him to organize prayers and pilgrimages on this site, and that a chapel be built here. The miracles performed by My Son in former times here upon this very land, I want them to happen again, especially in favor of sinners.”
Tradition indicated that a monastery had been built long ago in the meadow of the apparitions, and that Jesus had often appeared there!
Nonetheless, the bishop did nothing! Some of the townspeople compensated by constructing a small, forlorn, shed-like structure on the site. A life-size statue of the Virgin Mary was placed inside. Despite the small size, crowds as big as 6,000 people would gather around this “chapel” – especially on feast days, which must have embarrassed the local clergy.
During the lengthy 31st message of May 12, 1955, Or Lady asked,
“Ask your bishop to establish in the parish an Association of the Children of Mary, which I have spoken of in earlier years.” (This referred to a sanctuary for poor children as well as a school and hospital.)
But the bishop ignored the visionary’s words and request – and began increasing his public declarations against the apparitions at Kerizinen. No official inquiry was ever held for investigating these apparitions – despite the many supernatural occurrences witnessed by thousands.
Eventually, Jeanne-Louise would experience at least seventy-one apparitions of Our Lady. Some included secret messages not revealed; in others, the Virgin did not even speak even though she appeared to her. The Holy Mother was effectively stalemated at Kerizinen – as ultimately acknowledged by Our Lady, herself. During the 31st apparition on May 12, 1955, Blessed Mary concluded:
“The devil has unchained all his malice so that my apparitions not be accepted in Brittany, but, in spite of him I will triumph.”
It was later revealed that Jeanne-Louise had been given “an animated tableau” during the eleventh apparition on May 1, 1944. She was shown images of men hoisting a red flag, and priests trying to stop them. The priests were threatened, abused, and stones thrown at them. In a corner of the “tableau” the devil appeared very happy, encouraging the abuse of the priests. In another corner was a weeping Blessed Virgin. The inscription on the tableau read, “The Image of Communism.” What is significant is that the worldwide threat of Communism was not fully realized until after 1953. At the time of this “tableau,” the Soviet Communists were the much-appreciated allies of the West.
During 1961, Jeanne-Louise became increasing disabled and stayed home more frequently. After 1978, obscurity descended over these apparitions. Devout groups in Canada, France, and Belgium have worked to perpetuate the memory of holy events at Kerizinen.
Maggie Holguin was a humble housewife and factory worker, living in a small house in Lewis, Kansas, with her husband, Tomas, and her two young children, Anna Lee, and Thomas Jr. in 1996. Lewis is about 47 miles east of Dodge City. The diocese had been placed under the patroness of Our Lady of Guadalupe due to the majority of people in Dodge City being Hispanic. Therefore, it was perfect when Maggie’s sister in Mexico gave Maggie a six-inch plaster plaque of Our Lady of Guadalupe in 1995 which she had possessed since 1989.
On December 12, 1996 – the 465th anniversary of Our Lady’s miraculous image materializing on Juan Diego’s tilma in Mexico City, Maggie’s plaster plaque began to weep. Just four days earlier, the Diocese of Dodge City had announced that, due to a shortage of priests, it planned to close six parishes by July 1, 1997 and perhaps ten more by 2005. Was this why it started weeping?
Maggie had come home from her job at the manufacturing plant at 12:45 a.m. that night. As usual, she switched on a light in the corner of her living room to pray before the plaque of Our Lady of Guadalupe. As she was praying she noticed that tears were flowing from the eyes of Our Lady. She woke her husband and children; they, too, witnessed the plaque weeping off and on until 6:00 a.m. During that next day, a videotape was made that documented two more episodes of weeping at 1:30 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. The first time lasted ten minutes; the second recorded occurrence lasted just five minutes.
On December 13, several friends, neighbors, family members, and Maggie’s parish priest, Father William Vogel, were present in the home for an interview with a local newspaper reporter. At 11:00 a.m., while they were all there, the plaque began to weep clear tears. With a video recorder documenting the event, the tears soon turned to a substance that appeared to be thick blood.
On December 15, Father Vogel of St. Nicholas Catholic Church in Kinsley said that there was “no way to explain the events in a human way.” The Edwards County Sentinel even quoted the United Methodist Church’s minister as saying that these events were real and “messages from God.” The plaque wept again on Christmas morning – and has continued to do so, periodically, at least until 2001.
Another surprise happened on December 30, 1996, when Maggie suddenly began receiving messages from Our Lady. After a group in Maggie’s home had just finished praying the Rosary, the group heard Maggie speaking in a different voice that was “very sweet” and using words not normally used by Maggie. Maggie fainted at the end of the messages and did not remember the incident when she woke up. Eyewitness, Matilda Munoz, said that the voice directed those in attendance to help Her save the world with their prayers – to say the Rosary every day, which would help stop abortions and wars.
On January 10, 1997, Maggie came home from work early that day because she had had a strong pain in her chest for about five minutes. That night, while saying her prayers in front of the plaque of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a voice called to her. The house filled with the scent of roses. Maggie saw the full body of Our Lady. The Blessed Virgin told Maggie that the pain she had experienced earlier had also been shared by Her as well – because four abortions were taking place at that time. Our Lady shared other messages about stopping the wars and injustices in the world.
On January 25, 1997, Maggie awoke to find blood under her eyes. With her sister-in-law driving her to the emergency room, Dr. Robert Wray examined Maggie and could find no explanation or medical reason for blood to be coming from her eyes. In fact, Dr. Wray added that in his 35 years of optometry, he had never seen blood in the tears without a resulting laceration or injury.
On January 26, 1997, Maggie, her sister, Juana, and their collective four children, were returning from a grocery trip to Kinsley when they witnessed a bright light on the horizon. They lost sight of it until they were about three miles west of Lewis near the farm of Aaron and Denise Wheaton. When they saw the light again, they debated whether to stop or keep going. Although Maggie wanted to stop, Juana didn’t feel comfortable, so she accelerated the car in an attempt to pass through the light. Because Maggie had wanted to stop, she had started to open the car door. The next thing she knew was that she was outside of the car – and without any injuries! Juana had heard a tornadic-type wind and then noticed that Maggie was no longer in the car.
Maggie found herself kneeling in front of a row of cedar trees near the highway. Juana turned the car around, and then she and the children joined Maggie near the trees. They all saw the Virgin Mary appear as she stood and held Maggie’s hands while Maggie prayed. Maggie’s daughter, Anna Lee, said that she saw “sparkles” in the hair of Our Lady. The others could not hear the Blessed Virgin, but clearly understood that a conversation was taking place between Our Lady and Maggie.
Blessed Mary: “Why don’t you believe the message?”
Maggie: “I believe.”
Blessed Mary: “What do I have to do to make people believe? Do I have to give you stronger proof to have the children believe? Go home, and I’ll be waiting for you.”
Upon arriving home, they saw a little old man with a walker approaching Maggie’s home. Maggie hurried to help him up her stairs. As she walked in front of him and turned around to assist him, she saw the Blessed Virgin behind him with outstretched arms. The old man suddenly put aside his walker and walked up the stairs unaided. Inside, he did not wish to see the weeping plaque. Instead, he delivered a plastic bag with several copies of a Christian periodical about preparing for Christ’s Second Coming. When asked again about seeing the plaque, he said, “No, I came with Our Lady of Guadalupe!”
On February 12, 1997, Ash Wednesday, the plaque wept blood profusely again – having not done so for the past 16 days. The next day, February 13, Maggie awoke with blood coming from her forehead. On February 16, friends Phil and Mary Jo Thornberry from Overland Park and three others came to see the plaque. They witnessed dried tears of blood on the image while the house had the strong fragrance of roses. After praying the Rosary in Spanish with about 25 other people, blood appeared on Maggie’s forehead, left and right temple and back left side of her head. Photographed by Mary Jo, these “wounds” corresponded to the wounds resulting from Christ’s “crown of thorns.”
On March 8, 1997, about 50 people – including personnel from two Wichita television stations – were present when Maggie began to spontaneously bleed at 4:50 p.m. from her brow, palms, and backs of her hands. The strong scent of roses filled the air. Maggie carried this strong fragrance in her hair, on her skin, and with the bleeding brow. Two babies present were found to have the scent of roses in their hair as well.
On March 17, 1997, a man and woman traveled from Texas to see this miraculous plaque. But the man asked Maggie if he could cut off Mary’s head on the plaque to see inside and determine if any trickery was involved. Maggie was greatly upset by this request and asked him to leave. As the couple was leaving, the man made a fist and struck Maggie in the mouth, cutting her lower lip and causing it to bleed. When this man, Jose Louis Colocios, arrived back in Texas, his car caught on fire. His face was disfigured from burns when he could not get out of the car in time. He then heard a strange voice that said,
“You didn’t hit her; you hit Me – and you are going to receive your punishment. Whatever you did to her will go away, but you will always have the punishment. You will always remember Maggie.”
The man returned to Maggie’s home on March 31 with a hand-written apology to Maggie. He told her about being trapped in the burning car and suffering the burns on his face. He asked for her forgiveness. He wrote this following statement:
“I plead with everybody who sees this note. Never spread bad rumors about this lady. She is a saint. Do the same to Our Mother (Virgin Mary). Please forgive me, and tell the Virgin Mary to forgive me, too. I plead.”
On March 28, 1997, the morning of Good Friday, Maggie felt her heart pounding hard while she was doing the dishes. When she pulled her sweatshirt away at the neckline to see her chest, she could see that she was bleeding right over the sternum. Several visitors witnessed this three-inch in diameter area of blood that appeared to form both the face of Jesus and a skull. When Maggie’s husband, Tomas, came home for lunch, he stated that the scent of roses was so strong that it overwhelmed him as he entered the house. She filled Tomas in on what had happened and the messages she had received from Blessed Mary. The stigmata continued throughout the remainder of Holy Week and through Easter Sunday.
On June 7, 1997, Maggie noticed that her feet were severely swollen and hurting. At 3:00 a.m. she found blood on the tops of her feet. Maggie had now received the wounds of Christ in her feet – having previously had the crown of thorns, wound in her chest, and stigmata in her hands.
On June 11, 1997, Maggie received a long message from Our Lady about future events – including how we should prepare for the 72 hours (three days) of darkness.
“Go, my little girl. Go tell the world what kinds of things are going to happen. Man does not listen to the commandments that God has given. The devil controls the world and is making people hate each other. They are making weapons that can destroy the world in minutes. Very difficult times will come for the Church. The people will lose faith.
God will permit the natural elements (cold, smoke, fire, hail, earthquakes) to slowly destroy the life on earth. The ones who do not believe will die. The ones who believe in Our Father but base their lives on material things will lose millions and their lives in seconds. The ones who survive will wish they were with the dead. God will punish the ones who do not want to believe in Him. The ones who believe and are faithful will survive and believe even more. I am calling on everyone to get closer to My Son. God helps the world, and the ones who do not listen – it will be worse for them.
As the mother of Jesus, I tell you to start praying and repenting today. Pray for the conversion of the world because there is not much time left.
My little children, believe me, the time is here for everyone to start praying and to repent. Pass the message to your family, friends, and the whole world. We are getting closer to the last days before the catastrophe. The catastrophe will be in the center of the Catholic Church. It will be dead everywhere because of the errors made by the demented and followers of Satan. These men, then – only then, will control the world. In the end, the ones who survive will proclaim God’s name every moment. In His glory they will serve Him like they did before the world became so perverted. Everywhere will be peace, and confidence in ourselves will be back, but the punishment is coming anyway. The 72 hours of darkness will be coming, and it will give life to a new generation of good people. On one cold night, ten minutes before midnight, a large earthquake will shake the whole earth for eight hours.
This will be the third signal that God is the Commander of the earth. The ones who proclaim the prophecy need not be afraid. Kneel down and ask God for His mercy. Do not go out and do not let anyone into your house. Only the faithful will not be in the hands of Satan and will survive the catastrophe.
Prepare. Your Holy Mother has given these signals. The night will be very cold. The wind will be blowing very hard, and the earth will be shaking. Do not look outside or be curious because that is the hour of God. Light the holy candle because that will be the only light for three days. Kneel down under the cross and pray the Rosary. After every ten Hail Mary’s say, “Oh, my Jesus, forgive us our sins and save us from the fires of Hell, Lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of Your mercy. Mary, protect us. Jesus and Mary, we love you. Save our world.” Say five times the Hail, Holy Queen. Say five times the Apostles Creed. The Rosary is the secret of My Immaculate Heart. My little children, do not ignore this message. Meditate on it.”
On September 21, 1997, A CAT scan was performed on the plaque of Our Lady of Guadalupe to rule out any possibility of fraud. Bishop Stanley Schlarman had recommended this examination. Certified radiologist, Dr. James Nixon, of the Western Plains Regional Hospital in Dodge City, declared:
“The plaque is a plaster structure with no unusual fluid reservoir or tubes near the eyes or elsewhere in or about the object.”
On December 8, 1997, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, the plaque again wept.
On December 12, 1997, the one year anniversary of these visitations, more than one hundred people celebrated in prayer and meditation. The plaque was brought in to a Spanish Mass that evening; hundreds came to view the plaque that weekend.
On Saturday morning, December 13, Maggie’s home filled with the fragrance of roses while several families were praying with Maggie. The containers that held holy water in the room also smelled and tasted of roses. Maggie began to perspire a mixture of oil and blood from her face. And the plaque wept again the next day while the visiting religious observed.
Another Spanish Mass was held on January 6, 1998 with Maggie bringing the plaque with her. Our Lady began to cry tears of blood – which led Father Vogel to state,
“I am a firm believer in this religious miracle that has happened with Maggie. Many people want to exploit her, and many people have caused her emotional pain, but they must realize that she is not the source of this. This is happening to her through no doing of her own.”
On February 25, 1998, Ash Wednesday, Maggie returned home to find her home filled with the fragrance of roses. When she entered the room where her plaque and shrine were placed, she found drops of blood-tinged stains under the glass of a framed picture that was hanging on the wall next to the plaque. The picture, taken by a woman from Colorado, shows a crucifix on an altar. But a round white Host had appeared mysteriously in front of the body of Christ. On this day, the Host had changed to a rosy color. Spots of blood were clearly seen on it and on the palms of the hands of Jesus. While Maggie was exploring this, the plaque began weeping bloody tears again. Father Vogel was alerted, and when he came to Maggie’s house, he opened the holy water container and discovered the strong fragrance of roses.
A family from Oklahoma came to see the plaque and prayed the rosary for a family member in St. Louis who had been bedridden with a heart condition. The next time they talked with him, he described how he had suddenly felt better, could get out of bed, and had been feeling great ever since then. With further questions, they learned that it had been the same exact day and hour as their prayers in front of Our Lady’s plaque.
A local girl, who had been severely injured in a car wreck at age two, had suffered a gash in her leg that had required 857 stitches. Four years later, she re-injured the leg, leaving a quarter-size hole that skin grafts failed to close. It remained open for three more years until December 13, 1996, when the girl visited Maggie’s home. The hole in her leg miraculously closed up while they were there. Everyone hailed it as a miracle.
Peggy Teddy, a woman from Overland Park, Kansas, was in the final stage of cancer with doctors only giving her one more month to live. Accompanied by her sister and some of her friends, they visited Maggie’s home on Good Friday, April 10, 1998. Peggy recalls smelling roses as she entered the shrine room to pray the rosary with everyone. When Peggy returned home, she started regaining her strength somehow. The tumors in her brain had stopped growing. Her life was spared and their prayers were answered!
Samples of blood coming from the plaque and from blood appearing on Maggie were collected and submitted for testing at the Analytic Genetic Testing Center in Denver, Colorado. The DNA matched from the separate samples, immediately suggesting that Maggie’s own blood had been placed on the plaque somehow. But, the opposite is actually more true: The plaque’s supernatural weeping tears were matching the unexplained supernatural appearance of blood on Maggie. Remember that doctors could not find a wound or source for the bleeding on Maggie. And they never drew a blood sample that was clearly taken from Maggie’s body. The DNA results only prove that the two locations of unexplained tears and supernatural bleeding matched – and that none of this blood was seen coming from Maggie nor taken from within her body for analysis.
Besides, the plaque has wept in other people’s homes when Maggie was not even present. Most other times there have been groups of witnesses observing copious tears, etc.
Bishop Schlarman stated in March of 1997 that the Church did not have enough evidence yet to make any final ruling. He added that this does not mean that supernatural or miraculous events are not occurring, but that the Church is not ready to rule on it. He does not want to discourage or encourage the faithful from visiting Maggie’s home. He states,
“Maggie is a humble, uncomplicated woman of simple faith. Her only plea had been for prayer to stop violence like war, abortion, and drugs.”
So, why Lewis, Kansas? Why did the Mother of God choose this location for these appearances and miraculous events? Was it because so many parishes were closing soon due to a lack of available priests? Or was it because Kansas was known at that time as the “abortion capital of the world” – largely due to Dr. George Tiller’s abortion practice in Wichita that accommodated women from all over the world for late-term abortions? Our Lady of Guadalupe is the icon for the Pro-Life movement to stop abortions. Any connection?
The plaque of Our Lady of Guadalupe still weeps, periodically. On the infamous day of 9-11 (September 11, 2001), the plaque wept tears. Maggie had a heart attack in December of 2001. During Lent of 2002, she again suffered from stigmata in her hands and feet and shoulder. Many still report prayers answered as well as miraculous healings.
Nick-named “The Black Madonna,” Our Lady of Czestochowa was reputedly painted by St. Luke. Legend suggests that he painted it on a cedar table top from the house of the Holy Family. However, it was centuries of soot from votive candles in front of the painting that caused it to slowly turn black. It is said that St. Helena discovered it in Jerusalem in the year 326. She took it to Constantinople to present it to her son, Constantine the Great. It was then displayed for veneration by the public. Known also as the Queen of Poland, this great icon has preserved the faith of the Polish people and is believed to be responsible for miraculous interventions in the history of Poland.
In 1382, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Wladyslaw Opolczyk, Duke of Opole, advisor to Louis of Anjou, King of Poland and Hungary (who now possessed the painting), asking him to place it in the mountaintop monastery of Jasna Gora in Czestochowa. The prince did exactly as the beautiful Virgin Mary asked. The icon soon became the source of numerous miracles recorded in a book at the monastery.
In 1430, the Tatars took control over Jasna Gora. The Hussites stormed the monastery in 1430 and plundered the sanctuary. They stole the treasured painting and carried it away. But when the Hussites placed it in their wagon, the horses refused to move. Frustrated, one man threw the painting to the ground and struck it with his sword. He inflicted two deep slashes on the face of the Madonna. When he tried to strike the painting a third time, he fell down in unusual agony and writhed in pain until he died.
Artists have tried to paint over the slashes and fix the appearance of Blessed Mary, but the slashes refuse to be covered over with each attempt. After awhile they would strangely reappear.
During the religious wars of the 17th century, the Protestant and Catholic powers vied for dominance in Europe. In 1655, King Charles X Gustav of Sweden launched an invasion known as the Deluge. Protestant Swedish soldiers soon overran Catholic Poland, desecrating churches and plundering the countryside. The monastery of Jasna Gora (Polish for “Bright Mountain”) stood like a bastion in the medieval city of Czestochowa, the last remaining holdout. The King of Sweden ordered General Burchard Miller to take over 2,250 soldiers and 19 cannons to take this last fortress. Jasna Gora only had 70 religious, a handful of nobles and their servants, plus 160 infantrymen.
But they also had Our Lady of Czestochowa – the “Black Madonna” painting.
Father Augustyn Kordecki struck the thick table with his clenched fist, “We must NOT let them take her!” Others agreed and stood firm to defend her with their lives. The monks unanimously approved, “It is better to die worthily than to live impiously.” Father Kordecki encouraged everyone to believe that the Blessed Virgin “who in such an extreme necessity would not fail them with her help.” He ordered that the Blessed Sacrament be carried in procession along the walls and bastions. Father Kordecki personally blessed the cannons, cannonballs, bullets, and barrels of powder.
General Burchard Miller sent a written peace proposal to “avoid unnecessary bloodshed” but Jasna Gora answered with fierce cannonfire. The General sent another delegate to plead for a truce because the Polish resistance was foolish since the rest of the country had already surrendered. After taking time to celebrate the Feast of Our Lady that Sunday, Jasna Gora again responded with an emphatic “No!”
Infuriated, the Swedish Protestant army began a furious assault for three days on Jasna Gora. Yet, in the midst of the noisy bombardment, a pious and sacred hymn was mysteriously heard coming from the height of the tower of the sanctuary. None of the religious were responsible for this supernatural music. This encouraged the defenders to fight even harder! From that time on, it was typical to hear the beautiful hymns emanating from the majestic tower during fierce battles.
A bomb was launched by the Swedes toward that tower and chapel where the miraculous painting of Our Lady of Czestochowa hung. But the bomb was “turned back toward the enemy as if it had been touched by an invisible force, spreading a terrible fire through the air.”
Frustrated by failed efforts to acquire a treaty or surrender, General Miller stepped up the attack with a brutal bombardment of the monastery. It was like “hell itself was vomiting against the sacred icon.” Meanwhile, the monks carried the Holy Eucharist in a procession along the walls with cannoballs flying right past their heads. With winter coming on harshly now, the Swedes had to light bonfires at night to stay warm – making them easy lit-up targets for cannonfire to strike from Jasna Gora. Their movements also showed up easily against the white snow, adding to their vulnerability to be targeted. At one point a fog helped the Swedes to secretly advance. But a monk chose to “cry out for help from the powers of God against the spells of the enemy.” This tactic cleared the fog away and exposed the Swedes again.
Some of the nobles in Jasna Gora began thinking they should make peace while they were still able to. But Father Kordecki replied,
“But the enemy will not concede all that we demand. We desire that the place consecrated to the Virgin Most Pure never be stained by the impious feet of the heretics. You, dear sirs, overcome by adversities, desire to reach an accord so that, relieving yourselves of the unhappiness of the siege and the discomforts of the war, you will then be able to enjoy an agreeable peace … Do you think that, if we surrender, you will be free? The capitulation will become for you, then, a spring of misfortunes and defeats. But if, on the contrary, bearing the slight inconveniences, we overcome the obstinacy of our enemies with the help of God, then we should surely win a certain stable peace.”
With the Swedes getting some reinforcements and bigger guns from Krakow, the attack became fiercer on Christmas Day. Cannonballs actually broke through the walls and bounced around the corridors and stairways, creating must debris and dust. By sundown the biggest gun was mysteriously silenced. An eyewitness reported that the last shot from the cannon had bounced back from the wall, hitting the cannon and destroying it as well as killing the gunner. The celebration of Christmas was never interrupted by war.
The Swedes finally retreated, stating that Jasna Gora had been defended “miraculously.” General Miller revealed later that what convinced him to withdraw was a strange visit by a noble lady. Her words and menacing face severely warned him. This was undoubtedly the Blessed Virgin’s visit to him.
Other stories surfaced from the Swedes of sightings of the Virgin Mary.
“What witch is this that is to be found in your cloister of Czestochowa, who, covered with a blue mantle, sallies from the cloister and walks the walls, resting from time to time on the bastions – and whose sight makes our people drop with terror?”
Father Kordecki writes,
“The Swedes affirmed that some of them saw a Lady on the walls, pointing the cannons and furnishing with her own hands the necessary arms to the defenders who were in the trenches.”
Another reliable source offered this account:
“General Miller observed with great attention, here in the church, the picture of Our Lady of Czestochowa, and since his interpreter asked us to give him a small copy of the image, we gave it to him, and Miller took it from his hands. Thus it became clear to us that General Miller wanted to find out if the vision he had seen that night was similar to the picture”.
Upon viewing the picture, General Miller said,
“It is absolutely not comparable to that virgin who appeared to me – for it is not possible to see anything comparable on earth. Something of the celestial and divine, which frightened me from the beginning, shone in her face.”
The King of Poland then proclaimed the Blessed Virgin to be the Queen and Mother of Poland in an elegant and emotional declaration.
On September 14, 1920, the Russian army was camping on the banks of the River Vistula and was on the verge of attacking Warsaw. It is believed that the Russians changed their plans and withdrew when they encountered a vision of the Blessed Virgin in the skies over Warsaw. And when the Germans left Poland in 1945, they tried to blow up Jasna Gora and its precious icon – but without any success for some unknown reason.
Claude Newman was a twenty-year old African American who was sitting on Death Row in a Mississippi prison in 1943. His crime was that of ambushing and shooting a man named Sid Cook – the abusive and horrible second husband of his beloved grandmother. Although the murder may have felt emotionally justified, Claude found himself, nevertheless, awaiting execution in this Mississippi prison near Vicksburg.
One day, he noticed a medal hanging around the neck of a fellow prisoner. Claude asked the young man what it was. The other prisoner responded by cursing and throwing the medal to the ground. “Take it,” he said. The medal was a Miraculous Medal of Our Lady of Graces. Claude knew nothing about it, who was actually pictured on it, or what it represented. Nevertheless, Claude picked up the oval trinket and hung it around his neck.
During that night, Claude was awakened by a touch on his wrist. Looking around he beheld a glowing supernatural vision – “the most beautiful woman that God ever created.” The lady calmed the frightened prisoner and said,
“If you would like me to be your Mother, and you My child, send for a priest of the Catholic Church.”
Then the “beautiful woman” simply vanished. “A ghost! A ghost!” screamed Claude. He begged and pleaded for a Catholic priest to come see him.
The next morning, Father Robert O’Leary, SVD, was summoned (This priest was the one who preserved these details and documented these events.) After listening to the extraordinary experience that Claude described, the priest discovered that Claude was illiterate and knew nearly nothing about religion. So, the priest began to slowly and carefully teach him about the Catholic faith. Four other prisoners, who were deeply impressed by Claude’s experience and details, joined into the teachings of Catholicism. Occasionally, two sisters from Father O’Leary’s church joined the catechetical team to teach these inmates.
Several weeks later, when Father introduced the sacrament of Confession, Claude unexpectedly blurted out,
“Oh, I know about that! The Lady told me that when we go to Confession, we are kneeling down not before a priest, but before the cross of Her Son. And that when we are truly sorry for our sins, and we confess our sins, the Blood He shed flows down over us and washes us free from all sins.”
The priest and nuns were stunned at this new revelation coming out of Claude’s mouth. Seeing their shock and surprise, Claude heartily apologized,
“Oh, don’t be angry – don’t be angry. I didn’t mean to blurt it out!”
Assuring Claude that he was far from angry, Father O’Leary asked Claude if he had seen the Lady again. Taking the priest aside, Claude admitted that he had.
“She told me that if you doubted me or showed hesitancy, I was to remind you that lying in a ditch in Holland (during the war) in 1940, you made a vow to Her which She’s still waiting for you to keep.”
This truth of this amazing revelation firmly convinced Father O’Leary of the authenticity of Claude’s experiences. In fact, during the war, Father O’Leary had prayed through Blessed Mary’s intercession for his own survival – promising to build a church in honor of the Immaculate Conception if he lived to do so. There was no way that this prisoner on Death Row could have known about that priest’s prayerful promise in 1940. And the Virgin Mary – through Claude – was correct. Father O’Leary had not built that promised church yet. With new inspiration and determination, this priest made sure that the church was finally built. His promise was fulfilled with its completion in 1947, and it is still standing today in Clarksdale, Mississippi.
As Father O’Leary and Claude Newman returned to the class on Confession, Claude told his classmates,
“You should not be afraid of Confession. You’re really telling God your sins, not the priest. You know, the Lady said that Confession is something like a telephone. We talk through the priest to God, and God talks back to us through the priest.”
About a week later, when Father O’Leary and the sisters were preparing to teach on the Blessed Sacrament, Claude asked if he could share what the Lady had told him about the Eucharist. The catechist joyfully acquiesced, and Claude shared with everyone,
“The Lady told me that in Communion, I will only see what looks like a piece of bread. But she told me that it is really and truly Her Son, and that He will be with me just as He was with Her before He was born in Bethlehem. She told me that I should spend my time like She did during Her lifetime with Him, in loving Him, adoring Him, thanking Him, praising Him, and asking Him for blessings. I shouldn’t be distracted or bothered by anybody else or anything else, but I should spend those few minutes in my thoughts alone with Him.”
Finally, the catechumens (inmates) were received into the Church. The baptismal records of St. Mary’s parish in Vicksburg record Claude’s baptismal day as January 16, 1944. He was actually scheduled for execution just four days later on January 20th.
As Sheriff Williamson asked Claude Newman if he had any last requests, he could not believe what the young prisoner told him:
“Well, all my friends are all shook up. The jailor is all shook up. But you don’t understand. I’m not going to die – only this body is. I’m going to be with Her. So, then I would like to have a party.”
And so, Claude Newman had his party with cake and ice cream, and his fellow inmates were allowed to attend.
On the morning of his execution, Claude was full of joy. As he prepared with Father O’Leary, Sheriff Williamson rushed in, shouting that the governor had granted a two-week reprieve. To the sheriff’s amazement, Claude broke down in tears, sobbing and crying inconsolably. Through his tears he said,
“But you don’t understand! If you ever saw Her face and looked into Her eyes, you wouldn’t want to live another day (without Her)! What have I done wrong these past weeks that God would refuse me my going home? Why must I still remain here for two weeks?”
Then Father O’Leary had an inspiration – and perhaps a reason why. There was another prisoner, James Hughs, also on death row for murder. Despite having been raised Catholic, he had led a horribly immoral life. Furthermore, James had a particular hatred for Claude and all priests as well.
Father O’Leary proposed to Claude that he offer his disappointment on not being executed that day for the conversion of James Hughs. Claude spent his final two weeks generously offering his prayers for the salvation of his troubled fellow inmate.
Finally, Claude Newman was executed on February 4, 1944. Father O’Leary testified,
“I have never seen anybody go to his death as joyfully and as happily. Even the official witnesses and the newspaper reporters were amazed. They said they couldn’t understand how anyone could sit in the electric chair beaming with happiness.”
When the time came for James Hughs to be executed, he violently refused all spiritual assistance, cursing and blaspheming – even while seated on the electric chair. Had Claude’s prayerful efforts all been in vain? The sheriff asked James if he had any last words. Suddenly, looking to a corner of the room, there was a surprised – then horrified, look on his face. James suddenly shouted, “Get me a priest!”
Father O’Leary was in the room, so he approached James and heard his full confession. Then, Sheriff Williamson, who could not bear his own curiosity, asked the condemned man what was in the corner. James explained that he had seen Claude Newman with the Blessed Virgin standing behind him with her hands on his shoulders. Claude had obtained from Our Lady that James be given a glimpse of his place in hell — where he was about to go! What James saw filled him with such horror that he screamed for the priest. Having confessed his sins, he could now die in peace.
Once again, the simple wearing of the Miraculous Medal of Our Lady of Graces called down Our Lady’s maternal gaze, saving not just the soul of Claude Newman, but of many souls in that Mississippi prison.
In Loreto, Italy, a small house enclosed in a grand basilica is believed to be the house where the Virgin Mary lived and raised Jesus. On May 12th of 1291, the angels moved the house to a small town named Tersatto in Croatia. Very early in the morning the neighbors discovered it, and they were astonished to see this house without a foundation. They could not explain how it arrived there. Some days later, the Virgin Mary appeared to a priest of that place and explained to him where the house came from. She said,
“You should know that the house that was recently brought to your land is the same house in which I was born and grew up. Here, in the Annunciation of the Archangel Gabriel, I conceived the Creator of all things. Here, the Word became flesh. The altar that was moved with the house was consecrated by Peter, the Prince of the Apostles. This house has come from Nazareth to your land by the power of God for whom nothing is impossible. Now, so that you can give a testimony of this, be healed. Your unexpected and sudden healing will confirm the truth that I have declared to you today.”
The priest who had been sick for a long time was healed immediately and announced to the people about the miracle that had occurred. Pilgrimages to the Holy House began. The residents of this small town built a simple building over the Holy House to protect it from the elements of nature.
After the three years and seven months, the house disappeared from Tersatto on the night of December 10, 1294 — never to return again. On that same day of December 10, some shepherds in the region of Loreto, Italy reported to have seen a house flying over the ocean, held by angels. There was an angel dressed with a red cape (St. Michael) who directed the others; the Virgin Mary with the Child Jesus were seated on the house. The angels lowered the house on the place named Banderuola. Many arrived to visit this holy house, but there were also some who went to mug the pilgrims. For this reason, people stopped going there, and the house was again moved by the angels to a hill in the middle of a farm. The Holy House would not remain there for much longer either. The farm belonged to two brothers who began to argue over who was the owner of the house.
For a third time the house was moved to another hill, placing it in the middle of the path. This is the place that it has occupied for 700 years. The residents of Recanati and Loreto truly did not know the story of the Holy House; they only knew of the miracles that took place there. Two years later, the Virgin Mary appeared to a hermit named Paul, and she told him the origin and the history of the Holy House:
“It was kept in the city of Nazareth until — with the permission of God — those who honored this house were thrown out by the enemies. Since it was no longer honored and it was in danger of being profaned, my Son wanted to transfer it from Nazareth to Yugoslavia and from there to your land.”
Paul then told this story to the townspeople and they began a process to verify the authenticity of the house. They first went to Tersatto and later to Nazareth. All of the descriptions of the interior elements and other details correlated. In Nazareth they discovered that it truly was the house of the Virgin Mary. The measurements of its foundation (left behind) were exactly the same as those of the little house in Loreto.
A story recounts that the Bishop of Portugal visited the Holy House and wanted to take a stone to build a church in honor of the Virgin of Loreto. The Pope gave him permission, so the Bishop sent his secretary to remove the stone and take it back with him. The Bishop suddenly became sick — and when his secretary arrived, the Bishop was almost dead. The Bishop asked a few religious sisters to pray for him and, some days later, he received this message, “Our Lady says: ‘If the Bishop wants to recover, he should return to the Virgin Mary what he has taken from her’.” The secretary and Bishop were astonished about this since no one had known about the stone being taken from the Holy House. The secretary departed immediately to Loreto with the stone. When the secretary returned, the Bishop had been completely healed. For this reason, over the centuries, the Popes have prohibited the removal of any part of the Holy House under threat of ex-communication. (127)(128)
In 1920, Pope Benedict XV declared Our Lady of Loreto as patroness of pilots. Seven years later, her medal hung on board Charles Lindbergh’s plane on his famous flight across the Atlantic Ocean. He stated that the medal’s rapping against the control panel woke him when he fell asleep at the controls – thus saving his life. (67:20)
With the death of the last great Albanian leader in January of 1467, the Turkish army poured into Albania, occupying all its fortresses, cities and provinces with the exception of Scutari, in the north of the country. However, the city’s capacity to resist was limited, and its capture was expected at any moment. With its fall, Christian Albania would be defeated. Faced with this prospect, those who wished to practice their faith in Christian lands began a sad exodus. Two men named Giorgio and De Sclavis also studied the possibility of fleeing, but something kept them in Scutari, near the church with the miraculous painting. In this church the faithful Christians venerated an eggshell-thin fresco of Our Lady which had mysteriously descended from the heavens two hundred years before. According to tradition, it had come from the east. Having poured out innumerable graces over the whole population, its church became the principal center of pilgrimage in Albania. Their great Albanian leader, himself, had visited this shrine more than once to ardently ask Our Lady for victory in battle. Now the shrine was threatened with imminent destruction and profanation.
The two Albanians were torn by the idea of leaving the great treasure of Albania in the hands of the enemy in order to flee the Turkish terror. In their perplexity, they went to the old church to ask their Blessed Mother for the good counsel they needed. That night, the Virgin Mary inspired both of them in their sleep. She commanded them to prepare to leave their country, adding that the miraculous fresco was also going to leave Scutari for another country to escape profanation at the hands of the Turks. Finally, she ordered them to follow the painting wherever it went.
The next morning, the two friends went to the shrine. Suddenly, they saw the picture detach itself from the wall on which it had hung. Leaving its niche, it hovered for a moment and was then suddenly wrapped in a white cloud through which the image continued to be visible. The painting left the church and floated out of Scutari. It traveled slowly through the air at a considerable altitude and advanced in the direction of the Adriatic Sea at a speed that allowed the two walkers to follow. After covering some twenty-four miles, they reached the coast.
Without stopping, the picture left the land and advanced over the waters of the Adriatic Sea while the faithful Giorgio and De Sclavis continued to follow, walking on the waves. When night would fall, the mysterious cloud, which had protected them with its shade from the heat of the sun during the day, guided them by night with light, like the column of fire in the desert that guided the Jews in their exodus from Egypt.
They traveled day and night until they reached the Italian coast. There, they continued following the miraculous picture, climbing mountains, fording rivers and passing through valleys. Finally, they reached the vast plain of Lazio from where they could see the towers and domes of Rome. Upon reaching the gates of the city, the cloud suddenly disappeared before their disappointed eyes. Giorgio and De Sclavis began to search the city, going from church to church, asking if the painting had descended there. All their attempts to find the painting failed, and the Romans disregarded these two foreigners with their strange and incredible tale.
Meanwhile, in Genazzano, a charming medieval town about thirty miles south of Rome, financial difficulties had prevented the necessary and urgent restoration of the ancient temple there. Petruccia de Nocera had been left a modest fortune following the death of her husband in 1436. Living alone, she dedicated most of her time to prayer and services in the church of the Mother of Good Counsel. It grieved her to see the deplorable state of the sacred premises of the attached ancient chapel, and she prayed fervently that they would be restored. Finally, she resolved to take the initiative. After obtaining permission from the friars, she donated her goods to initiate the restoration in the hope that others would help complete it once it was commenced.
Petruccia, who was already eighty years old, found that her generous offering was scarcely enough to complete the first phase of the new construction of the chapel. To make matters worse, no one came forth to help. To her dismay, the building had hardly risen three feet when construction came to a halt due to lack of resources.
On April 25, 1467, the feast day of the city’s patron, Saint Mark, a solemn celebration began with Mass. It was Saturday, and the crowd began to gather in front of the church of the Mother of Good Counsel. The only discrepant note in the celebration was the unfinished work of Petruccia’s ancient chapel. At about four in the afternoon, everyone heard the chords of a beautiful melody that seemed to come from heaven. The people looked up toward the towers of the churches and saw a white cloud that shone with a thousand luminous rays; it gradually neared the stupefied crowd to the sound of an exceptionally beautiful melody. The cloud descended on the church of the Mother of Good Counsel and poised over the wall of the unfinished chapel of Saint Biagio, which Petruccia had started.
Suddenly, the bells of the old tower began to ring by themselves, and the other bells of the town rang miraculously in unison. The rays that emanated from the little cloud faded away, and the cloud itself gradually vanished, revealing a beautiful object to the enchanted gaze of the spectators. It was a painting that represented Our Lady tenderly holding her Divine Son in her arms. Almost immediately, the Virgin Mary began to cure the sick and grant countless consolations, the memory of which was recorded for posterity by the local ecclesiastical authority.
Shortly thereafter, amazing news came to Rome: a picture of Our Lady had appeared in the skies of Genazzano to the sound of beautiful music and had come to rest over the wall of a church that was being rebuilt. The two Albanians rushed to find their country’s beloved treasure miraculously suspended in the air next to the wall of the chapel where it remains to this day. Although some inhabitants found the strangers’ story difficult to believe, careful investigation later proved that the two were telling the truth, and that the image was indeed the same one that had graced the shrine in Scutari for two hundred years. This miraculous painting had made the incredible journey, carried by the angels, upon the request and direction of the Blessed Virgin as foretold to these two devoted gentlemen.
Rosa Quattrini was born January 26, 1909, in Santominto, Italy. Her parents were very devout and pious – especially the father, who had an intense devotion to the Rosary. If he came home late at night, he would wake the children in order to recite the Rosary as a family. The father was a poor farmer and died when she was just two years old. Her three sisters entered religious life into three different Orders. One was a missionary in Brazil; another worked with lepers in Ceylon; the third was a Carmelite. Rosa’s husband, Joseph, was a helpful, good-natured, and courteous man who made sure things kept running smoothly when the apparitions began happening on their property.
After becoming the mother of three children, Rosa developed ill health over ten years and felt like she was going to die one day. She was rushed to the hospital but doctors discovered that she had tumors that were “too far advanced” and had caused other serious complications. They told the family just to take her home to die.
While very ill and awaiting death at home, Rosa was visited by a peasant lady whom her Aunt Adele had allowed to come into the house. This youthful and beautiful visitor, wearing a multi-colored skirt, blouse, and a kerchief over her head, asked for alms for Padre Pio for three candles to light in the church. The aunt replied that they were short in funds to do this and also had a sick relative, but the visitor then insisted upon meeting Rosa. Rosa replied that she had great faith in Padre Pio.
When the church bells began ringing the Angelus, the beautiful female visitor asked Rosa to recite it with her. Then she invited her to recite five Our Father’s, five Hail Mary’s, and five Gloria’s in honor of the five wounds of Our Lord and to include Padre Pio in the intentions. After finishing these prayers, the youthful visitor asked Rosa to stand up. Rosa replied that she was too ill to do so – but the lady visitor took her by the hand and Rosa was surprised that she could stand. The visitor then placed her hand on the ailing part of Rosa’s body — and Rosa was instantly cured of all illness.
The mysterious visitor then instructed Aunt Adele to get a glass of water — to which the visitor added three grams of earth from the Holy Land, three dried olive leaves, and a small portion of a blessed candle – and instructed Rosa to drink this at 5:00 a.m. the next morning, coinciding with the beginning of Padre Pio’s Mass. This miraculous cure took
Place on Friday, September 29, 1961, the feast day of St. Michael, the Archangel.
After this, Rosa had a strong desire to visit Padre Pio in San Giovanni Rotondo. A friend helped her to afford nice clothes and some trip money; she hooked up with a pilgrim group to go. Upon arriving at the plaza in front of the church, a lady called out Rosa’s name. Rosa recognized the lady as the same visitor who had called upon her and brought about her healing. The beautiful lady responded, “Yes, I am the Madonna of Consolation of the Afflicted.”
During confession, Padre Pio told Rosa to prepare herself for an important mission; he ordered her to help the sick in a hospital in nearby Piacenza, a city of 100,000 people. Rosa did as he asked and stayed there, helping the sick – even visiting their homes for two years. After that, Padre Pio told Rosa to go home and await a mission from the Blessed Virgin.
On Friday, October 16, 1964, Rosa had a friend visiting her when she got the funny sensation that something was about to happen. Then a voice told her to “go out of the room.” Rosa obeyed and went outside, drawn toward the pear tree near the vineyard. She began reciting the Rosary with her friend. After completing the first decade, a blinding light enveloped the pear tree. In Her first appearance to Rosa, Blessed Mary appeared just over the pear tree. Our Lady indicated that she has made herself known to many but few have heard or heeded Her. She asked for Rosa’s help. However, Rosa insisted that she was too plain, simple, and ignorant – and nobody would believe her anyway!
Blessed Mary said, “Do not fear. I will give signs (so that others may believe). I will give you messages, and you must make them known to the world.” She further reassured Rosa that the Virgin would “do everything” as long as Rosa agreed to this mission. The first miraculous sign came in the early fall of that year with the sudden bursting into blossom of that same pear tree where Blessed Mary had appeared. The large mass of white blossoms produced a very strong and sweet fragrance. On September 29, 1967, on the feast day of St. Michael, the pear tree again burst into blossom, and the pilgrims took many pictures. The flowers remained on the tree for many days without hardly any sign of deterioration.
Exactly three years after Blessed Mary’s promise to provide “signs,” she permitted her own image to be photographed over the pear tree. She confirmed this with the following words in her own message given on May 30, 1968:
“Now I will tell you a secret. I will tell you who took the photograph in which My image came out, despite the fact that you do not believe …”
During many of the apparitions the sun would begin to spin or whirl in its orbit and throw out multi-colored shafts of light. At times it would be dimmed to such a degree that gazing at it would not have any ill effect in the least on the eyes. This might last throughout the entire length of time of the apparition. On one occasion it was shaded so much that only a thin ridge of light on the outer section of the sun could be visible, giving the appearance of a glowing ring. The Blessed Virgin requested that photographs be taken during the apparitions. Rosa would sometimes stop the praying of the Rosary for a moment to announce, “Start taking pictures.” Rosa was even told at times which person was to take the pictures.
Many different “signs” were captured in these different photographs (both color and black and white): white glowing crosses in the sky, spinning sun at the intersection of some of these crosses, perfect circles comprised of little light rays or “icicles,” a circle of ten beads, various rays of light, triangles in the sky, horizontal bars or vertical columns of light, image of a monk suspended in the air, or a double sun, etc. Doctor Pierre Weber, a research engineer at the National Office for Study and Research in Air and Space in Paris, together with specialists in different fields of research into space and meteorology, “diligently and very seriously examined the photographs.” After days of examination and debate, they lapsed into silence without a single good explanation for any of them.
Miracle were reported as well. People have been cured of blindness, deafness, paralysis, and other ailments. Others have been converted; thousands have been strengthened in their faith and their resolutions to live more in conformity with the teachings of our Lord. A well next to the pear tree was known to have water with miraculous healing properties. Our Lady had instructed that the well be dug in that spot after the first apparition on October 16, 1964.
Strong and exquisite fragrances — similar to the aromas that Padre Pio encountered in his church – occurred in Rosa’s chapel and in the waiting room. Sometimes this sweet perfume could be smelled all the way from the house of Rosa to the local church by those on their way to Mass.
The first foreign visitors that arrived on the scene were three cousins of Sister Lucia, the Fatima visionary. However, nobody understood how they could have known about these manifestations or even found this little town of 150 inhabitants about 70 kilometers from Milan.
One should ponder how Rosa could possibly reply so eloquently to the large amount of mail received every day. Considering Rosa’s education and background, it was humanly impossible for her to reply so adequately, quickly, and intelligently to the many complex issues raised by those writing the letters. Rosa would do so by sitting or praying in front of a beautiful statue of Our Lady while listening to her secretary Margherita read each letter. Rosa states that the Blessed Mother would give her the answer, stating it slowly for her secretary so that she could write each “heavenly response” precisely as Rosa heard it given to her.
When observed during an apparition, Rosa appears to be in a trance with her head gazing upward and slow to react to things around her. She only blinks her eyes occasionally. Sometimes Rosa will utter a few words like, “St. Michael has appeared” or “Our Lady has a message for everyone.”
On December 8, 1967, on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, about 2,000 persons were present for this apparition. At least half were from the foreign countries of France, Switzerland, Germany, Yugoslavia, Austria, Ecuador, Canada, and the United States. The sun was seen spinning for over an hour and throwing out multi-colored rays. It was completely darkened with only an outer rim of the sun visible – like during an eclipse. Exactly one year later on the same date, an estimated 10,000 people were now in attendance. Miss Turner from New York was fortunate to see an outline of Our Lady.
February 11, 1967
“Say the Rosary often. Here at my feet promise to say the Rosary. I promise you the glory of heaven. Go often to receive Jesus.”
June 2, 1967
“Use your prayers and the Holy Rosary – which is such a powerful weapon, my children. Say the Rosary and leave all other works which are so useless. The important thing is to save the world.”
June 30, 1967
“Your Heavenly Father loves you and wants to be loved with the recitation of the Holy Rosary. The rosary is the most available weapon you have to save yourselves. Mothers, get your children to pray.”
March 22, 1968
“Make holy hours and say the Rosary a lot because it is a most powerful weapon for salvation.”
October 27, 1968 (from Jesus)
“The Heart of My Mother will triumph, and My reign will come into the entire world. If you listen, you will have an abundance of graces, but if you do not listen to My word, great chastisements will come. … Do not preoccupy yourselves so with material affairs! Time passes quickly – and death approaches. The chastisements are drawing near.”
March 21, 1969
“I cry so much. I have tears of blood which have been brought out by the sight of so many of my children on the brink of the pit. … Pray, my dear children, in these times that are so terrible. Make hours of adoration and of reparation for the serious sins that humanity is committing. In silence you will understand. I am the Mother of Sorrow who goes about so much to console my children.”
April 25, 1969
“Jesus is all Love, Jesus is all Mercy. Pray, pray, so that Jesus will have pity. Jesus will console your heart because the times are sad, my dear children. The demon is carrying on a great battle; he is free to do all that he wants up to the point to which the Eternal Father gives him permission. … I am the Mother; I am the Queen; I am the Advocate; I am the Dispenser of Graces; I am the Mother of the Afflicted; I am the Mother of Consolation, and I can give everything to those who come to Me, to all of them.”
May 8, 1969
“I want you to hold your Rosary beads in your hands. This Rosary is the secure port of your salvation. For this I have come upon the earth: I want everyone to recite the Holy Rosary which is the most powerful weapon for saving yourselves, for receiving graces, and for obtaining comfort during the sad hours. Hold the Holy Rosary beads tightly in your hands. Put them around your neck and don’t forget them!”
August 2, 1969
“Often come to me with the recital of the Rosary. Don’t abandon the weapon of the Rosary but keep it tight in your hands since it will bring you safety in every danger.”
August 6, 1969
“If you have Jesus in your hearts and your weapon, the Rosary, in your hands, I will not abandon you. I will always help you and I will give you strength to win every battle.”
August 15, 1969
“Here, near you, I am surrounded by angels, the saints, and with all your guardian angels … Be serene, my dear children, pray, pray, pray and be quiet because the enemy is working havoc. The fights are becoming hard, but you will obtain the victory in everything and through everything because I am the Mother and Co-Redemptrix of everyone. … Pray for all young people so they can blossom in the world and be the model, the example like Jesus was when He was on this earth. I love young people very much. Even My Son, Jesus, was surrounded by young people whom He loved very much. Upon them I am showering many graces, many blessings, and much love and peace for their hearts. Young people, young people, come under My mantle. Draw near to Me because I am the Mother of everyone, the Mother of Love and of Counsel. I am the Advocate, the dispenser of Graces, and I love you very much.”
August 16, 1969
“Promise Me, My children – promise Me to deliver the souls most forsaken from purgatory! You can achieve this by your prayers, by your sacrifices, by reciting the holy Rosary with Jesus in your hearts. … You shall thus deliver many souls! Listen to Me, because they pray for you, they help you and assist you all along your way!”
September 12, 1969
“Pray for everyone, for those that do not believe, for those that do not love Me, and for those that do not want to know Me … that I am the Mother of God … your Mother … that I can save you. Yes, my dear children, always be prepared, always keep your eyes on Heaven and ask for mercy for everyone, for those that offend Me a lot. With prayer and penance you will receive everything. Do not get tired, my dear children. Throw yourselves at My feet and ask for graces. Stay under My mantle where you will always be protected. I call all the world to My feet. I inspire everyone, and I send my guardian angels of Heaven to everyone of the world because I want you all to be saved.”
October 24, 1969
“My dear children, I am here in your midst with many angels and saints. … The Archangel Raphael is the one who stands by Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament along with three cherubim and three seraphim. They stand vigil night and day, and they adore Him, they thank Him, and they love Him. You, too, my children, should go often to the foot of the tabernacle where Jesus really and truly is in the Blessed Sacrament. Knock at the door of the tabernacle so that Jesus will open it, and so He will open your hearts and set them on fire with love for Him. Knock, knock – because Jesus can give you everything, many material and spiritual gifts because Jesus is the source of graces. He is merciful, and He can give you much love, and He can even purify your hearts with love for Him. Go often – go to the feet of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. … Many, many souls are being lost because they do not listen to my motherly word, and because they no longer practice the Holy Rosary.”
November 9, 1969
“I come to this place, my beloved children, to enrich you with graces, with love, with faith, and with great mercy, for I am the Mother of all. I call you night and day to this place, but few among listen to Me. Many mock Me, many joke about Me, many insult Me. … My dear children, I call you. I am here night and day to call you, for I am your Mother, Mother of all – Help of Christians – Help of the Poor – Help of the Needy – of the Afflicted. I come to console you. I am the Advocate – the Dispensatrix of all graces, to those who have recourse to Me. Do not ask for anything but faith and prayer. With faith and prayer you will conquer all and have all, for the Mercy of God will cover you and save you.”
November 28, 1969
“St. Michael will defend you from all danger, but stay united to Me and Jesus – with the Rosary – with Jesus in your hearts! I repeat, the Holy Rosary! Let the Holy Rosary be recited! I have repeated many times that with the Rosary you have the strength to overcome any temptation, every obstacle, or anything that is to come!”
December 6, 1969
“Why are things going so bad in the world? Because they have abandoned the Holy Rosary which I have always announced for centuries.”
January 16, 1970
“It is always the Rosary I present to you wherever I go. By the Rosary you receive so many graces, so much help, so much power. Recite it with faith and love.”
March 26, 1970 (from Jesus)
“May the Holy Spirit enlighten you with His love. That you may understand that My Mother and yours come to save you, that My Mother suffers much for you. She suffered much at the foot of the Cross when I was dying on the Cross. That My blood purifies you and sanctifies you for Heaven. I am the Living Jesus. I want to enter into your heart to inflame it. I want to enrich it with graces – spiritual and temporal graces. Come! Come to the Eucharistic Banquet! Come, and do not delay. I will pardon you. Make a good examination of conscience. Prepare your heart, pure as snow, and I will enter into your heart with much love. Do not think so much of the things of the world! Everything ends. I put you on this earth so that you would come anew into My arms above, where I await you with so much love. Everything passes here below! If you listen, I, beside My Heavenly Father, will lessen the chastisements.”
April 17, 1970
“Hold tightly to Me with your Rosary which is your strength, your sustenance, your defense on this earth, and, above all, at the hour of your death. The Rosary is your most powerful armor.”
May 16, 1970
“Don’t cease praying! Don’t cease. Pray with your Rosary – your armor! I ask you with such insistence. All families should recite the Rosary!”
In the small town of Perryville on the eastern side of Missouri, about an hour south of St. Louis, something inspirational has been happening every month since June of 2003. It began with a farmer and part-time construction worker named Neal. This humble, hard-working man in his late forties came from a family of eleven children; he had six brothers and four sisters. Neal has lived in Perryville all of his life, attending all 12 years of Catholic school. He has two children from a failed, “Godless” marriage and eight children from his present marriage of the past 17 years.
His mother was a devoted Catholic who constantly reminded him, “If you don’t have God in your life, you have nothing.” In second grade he wanted to become a priest – and “played Mass” in his basement by rolling out the bread to make the host and using a metallic shot glass of his father’s for the chalice. But, as he advanced into high school, he became distracted by sports, girls, partying, and activities with his friends. By his young adult years, he had strayed far from the Church and is not proud of those days. And his Mom kept reminding him that he did not have God in his life.
Then things began to happen. In 1995, his brother showed him a fascinating picture that he had taken of a nun in a parking lot – and in the sun was the image of a Miraculous Medal! Neal thought that this was amazing. About four months later, a Catholic prayers book appeared on the seat of his truck. Thumbing through it one day, its prayers started triggering memories of his devoted days, years ago, as a young Catholic. But when he came to the “Hail Mary,” he had a vivid flashback to his first Communion. He became overwhelmed, emotionally, realizing how far he had strayed from his Faith. At that moment he began praying the Rosary again on a regular basis.
Then, other things began happening. His mother’s religious friends from her prayer circle (whom he had called “Holy Rollers”) started running into him everywhere he went, often giving him a direct message or piece of information about prayer groups, parish missions, or religious presentations. August 11, 2000 will stick in his memory forever; a friend of his became adamant and persistent about his attending a special presentation on Mary at another parish, 12 miles away from his own, on the Feast Day of the Assumption. He had politely agreed to attend several times, knowing that he probably wouldn’t – until his friend took his arm, looked him in the eyes, and insisted one last time. Neal felt God in his actions at that moment – and sincerely agreed to attend. Much to his surprise, his wife easily agreed to attend the event with him at this distant parish.
Strange things began happening to Neal as the anticipated event began. As the speaker began, Neal felt a force pressing him forward and his emotions building within, until he could not hold back the tears any longer – fearing that he would disturb others around him. When he looked up at the speaker, the church appeared “smoke-filled” – and he could only see the speaker and his wife. They both had halos over their heads “just like you see in pictures of the saints.” The more the speaker talked about Mary, the brighter the halos became, until they were as bright as the sun! The light became a full image behind the speaker, and then the image of Mary in this bright light leaned her head forward for Neal to see for the first time in his life. She did not speak, but Neal said,
“She was dressed fully in white, enclosed like in the sun – bright as the sun, yet it didn’t hurt your eyes to look at her. She did not say one word, yet everything became infused and known to me in that moment. Our Lady wants us to know that God is real. And he loves each and every one of you. He has Mercy for each and every one of you, but we have to ask for His Mercy. We also have to live our life according to God’s Will. We have to give ourselves to God. We cannot sit idle. We have to always present ourselves in a charitable, meek gentleness towards each other and even to those we don’t even know. God wants others to see Christ in us.”
“St. Joseph was obedient in every way to God. The Blessed Mother wants you to know that Joseph is the role model for men. Wives, be submissive to your husbands in all things. Husbands, love your wives as Jesus loved the Church. God flourishes in such a marriage. The man must bring the church into the home. Honor and respect help keep a balance – along with including God in the marriage.”
In 2002, Neal had an opportunity to go to Medjugorje with a group, but his wife needed to stay home. He felt a great sense of being “homesick” after he arrived and wished that she had been able to come with him. Suddenly, he was calmed by this message,
“While you are here – and whatever I ask you to do from here on, you need to give it your best effort – and all of yourself to others …”
Around 7:00 p.m. on the last night there, Neal and a few others decided to make one last trek on the long, rugged path up Cross Mountain, stopping at the various Stations of the Cross along the way. At the fourth station (where Jesus sees his Mother), Neal suddenly was overwhelmed by a strong scent of roses – “so intense that you could almost taste them!” He fell down on the large rocks as if unconscious, but suffered no cuts, bruises, or injuries. He had an intense desire at that moment to be with Mary and Jesus in heaven. He felt like “a million bits of information were being dispersed all at once.” Then he heard Blessed Mary say to him,
“I have much for you to do … Never waste a moment to serve God.”
Back in Missouri, in June of 2003, Neal was working in the fields when he again experienced a strong scent of roses and felt that Blessed Mary was nearby. She asked him to begin praying at the Grotto on the 13th of every month for the next 13 months. The grotto that she was referring to happened to be on the grounds of the National Shrine of the Miraculous Medal – right there in Perryville! The Vincentian community of priests resides there – one of whom is Father Oscar Lukefahr, a well-known writer of Catholic educational materials. The church, St. Mary’s of the Barrens, was founded in 1818. The Shrine was built in 1929 to honor Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. The Grotto was built on the beautiful grounds by seminarians during World War I with completion in 1920. The statue of Mary, for a niche high in the rock wall of the Grotto, arrived on August 5 (Mary’s actual birth date!) of that same year.
Neal prayed the Rosary at the Grotto for three months by himself. He placed some of her messages to him, anonymously, in the local paper, potentially for anyone’s inspiration. After the three months, Mary asked him to bring five friends – and stated that a television station would eventually be involved later on. By June of 2004, Neal made it public about what was happening at the Grotto. Sure enough, Channel 12 TV from Cape Girardeau appeared during December of 2004 to do a story about the events at the Grotto for their 10:00 p.m. newscast. When that first 13 months had passed, Mary indicated to Neal that she was pleased with the devotions and prayers taking place at the Grotto – and asked him to keep coming on the 13th of every month, indefinitely.
In June of 2013, ten years later, Neal has never missed a month and still receives a message from Our Lady on each occasion. He continues to be faithful and devoted to her requests, never knowing if there will be an endpoint to it all. When asked if it is hard to keep this dedication going, he replied,
“When the Mother of God asks you to do something, you feel compelled to listen!”
Neal describes Our Lady as coming to him in a vision, surrounded by clouds and mist. She wears a long white gown with gold trim and a gold sash. There appear to be stars on her gown, but Neal says that they are actually floating just above her dress and all around her. She has long, wavy, brown hair with a gold crown on top of her head. The crown appears to have dark green emeralds encircling it and twelve little crosses around the top, representing the twelve apostles. She has a blue mantle over her white gown. Neal feels disconnected from everything and everyone else around him when she comes – “I only see Mary.” Sometimes, there are saints or angels with her.
Neal states that when she comes, he can see her and know exactly where she is without looking around for her. “I don’t know how heaven does that, but that’s what I see.” He says that she will often walk through the praying crowd, blessing them, and hearing their thoughts. At times, she will tell him, “A woman in the crowd is wondering about …(some issue); tell her …(Mary’s reply).” Blessed Mary told Neal this:
“Darkness has filled the earth. If the prayer of St. Gertrude is prayed between each decade in union with the Rosary, a thousand souls will be released from Purgatory for each Hail Mary.”
I had the opportunity to personally visit this Grotto to pray with the group and talk with Neal on May 13 (first Fatima apparition) and October 13 (Fatima’s Miracle of the Sun) in 2013. As a psychiatric therapist, I can attest to Neal’s grounded, sane, and humble manner – free of any obvious disorder or delusions. Some members of the Marian Association attend the Shrine every month. We all have had the experience of “smelling the roses that are not present” and feeling a great peace and unity while praying the Rosary there. Some have captured some fascinating photos of the sun with doves, crosses, and especially rose petals appearing in the photographs.
Perryville is in the diocese of St. Louis; the archbishop and area priests are aware of Neal allegedly receiving messages from Our Blessed Mother. They are accepting of the activities going on at the Grotto but have neither condemned nor officially approved of them at this point in time. Decide for yourself what is happening in Perryville – as it is within driving distance for most of us. Here are just a few of the messages from those visits:
May 13, 2013:
“Our world is full of much darkness. It seems that Evil is prevailing. My people, for those who are faithful to God, who hold true to His Word, those are devoted to my Immaculate Heart, St. Joseph’s Most Chaste Heart, and Jesus’ Most Sacred Heart, you will prevail in everything. Evil will not succumb you. We must remain true to God in all things, living our everyday life for God. You are to be that Torch of Light to others in a world of darkness. You have nothing to fear if you keep your eyes on Christ at all times. You are to reflect the Holy Family. I am calling on all of you to carry that torch of Christ’s light to the whole world.”
“So many wonder what tomorrow may bring. Tomorrow will take care of itself. You just need to live in the present of each and every day. Never deny Jesus. Men, devote yourself to St. Joseph. He was obedient to God in all things; learn this obedience so that you can be good priests of your households. As a good mother I come here each and every month to encourage you, to guide you in wisdom and truth. Learn the true faith of the Church. God will never fail you. God is in control of all things, and He knows all things. He sees the hearts and minds and souls of all of you.”
“God sees good here. If you saw what your prayers are doing – and the power of your prayers, you would never cease praying.”
Warraq al-Hadar is a small island in the Nile River in the Giza governorate, a part of Greater Cairo. This is a very poor district. December is a Marian month and Nativity Fast on the Coptic Calendar. During this month the Coptic Church celebrates a special Midnight Praise dedicated to the Holy Virgin and the Incarnation.
The apparitions began at the Church of the Virgin Mary and Archangel Michael in Al-Warraq. Hassan, a Muslim neighbor, was sitting at his local coffee shop across the street when he saw a strong light coming from the church around 8:30 p.m. More people on the street began to notice the light and saw a bird circling above the church. Around 2:00 a.m., a vision of the Virgin Mary appeared in her blue and white robes.
Father Dawoud of this same church reports how that first night developed after neighbors began calling the church, worried about why the large crowds were suddenly gathering:
“The phone calls poured in; many people said that they had just seen an apparition of Virgin Mary on the right dome of the church.”
Muslim neighbors were among the callers. A dear friend of Father Dawoud, Haj Rashad, the neighborhood distributor of gas cylinders, filed this report:
“What are you doing here (inside the church), Father? I have just seen Our Lady Mary with my own eyes! Go and see for yourself.”
“At first we thought that a little kid was playing with a flashlight, but then the light intensified and moved from the tree in front of the church entrance up to the right dome. An embodiment of the Virgin Mary could be easily recognized. It stayed there for a while. I have captured the scene with my mobile phone.”
Anba Theodosius, Bishop of Giza, issued this statement:
“On Friday, December 11, 2009, at 1:00 a.m. the Holy Virgin appeared in her full height in luminous robes above the middle dome of church named after her – Virgin Mary and Archangel Michael Coptic Orthodox Church in Al-Warraq. She was described as wearing a pure white dress with a royal blue belt. She had a crown on her head, above which appeared the cross on top of the dome. The crosses on top of the church’s domes and towers glowed brightly with light. Blessed Mary moved between the domes and on to the top of the church gate between its two twin towers. All of the local residents saw her! The apparition lasted from 1:00 a.m. until 4:00 a.m. on Friday. Many cameras and cell phones took pictures. Some 3,000 people from the neighborhood, surrounding areas, and passers-by gathered in the street in front of the church to see the apparition.
Since Friday, the huge crowds gathered in the vicinity of the church have been seeing luminous white pigeons soaring above the church during various times of the night. They also saw a star emerge suddenly in the night sky and travel some 200 meters across the sky and disappear. The huge crowds never stopped singing hymns and praises for the Holy Virgin.”
The scene, as described, along with photos and videos, was broadcast on Amr Adib’s talk show, “Cairo Today” on December 13, 2009. The news spread like wildfire; crowds flocked to Giza to catch a glimpse of Our Lady.
Bishop Theodosius adds that it is important to investigate the event fully:
“I stayed up all night on Sunday. I saw doves appear suddenly in the sky. They flew in circles in front of the church before they vanished into thin air. They were floating rather like hovering with their wings. It is uncommon for doves to fly at night.”
The event had a different dimension for security forces. Selim, a policeman, pointed out that he had been on duty at the site for seven hours already and did not expect to be relieved for another five hours. Father Dawoud said that the police were exerting a tremendous effort and were being very cooperative. Father Dawoud also praised church neighbors, many of whom allowed visitors to view the church from the roofs of their buildings.
For several weeks, a silent crowd running in the thousands gathered in front of the church, gazing up into the sky in the early morning hours. Whenever the mysterious light appeared over the church tower, the crowd was jolted into a frenzy of astonished cries.
Many of the local Muslims did not deny the sightings, but claimed they were hoaxed with laser beams – although no evidence or proof of those claims ever surfaced.
For the Muslim named Rami, it was a different reaction:
“It was her! – with her blue and white clothes.”
Kawkab Munir Shehata, age 39, is convinced of what she saw. In fact, the mother of two says that the Virgin Mary restored the sight that she had lost in her left eye.
“It was about 3:40 a.m. I felt immense pain, which lasted about a quarter of an hour. Then I was ecstatic to find out that I could see clearly. Now, my left eye is even better than my right one.”
By December 22 of 2009, more than 200,000 Christians and Muslims had witnessed the apparitions on the domes of this church in Warraq al-Hadar. Apparition lights in the night sky could be seen several kilometers away from the church. The full silhouette of the Blessed Holy Virgin dressed in a light blue gown could be clearly seen over the domes and between the church crosses. People used their mobile phones to make videos of the apparitions and share them via Bluetooth and on YouTube. These events received wide media coverage in Egyptian newspapers and Arabic TV channels.
For some, the apparition of the Virgin Mary is a response to a recent article that appeared in a periodical published by Al-Azhar University that questioned the foundations of Christianity. Father Fishay comments:
“Maybe her appearance is to bring people closer together. Maybe it will bring about the end of the state of tensions between Muslims and Christians – and an end to extremism. Maybe it will bring back forgiveness like there once used to be in Egypt.”
Maybe it was a sign of hope for Egypt’s Copts, who are 10 percent of the country’s population, and have lived far too long on the margins of society – often victims of violence.
Bishop Theodosius concludes, talking to Al-Ahram Weekly:
“If the sightings continue, a fact-finding committee will be formed to investigate the matter, and they will submit their report to Pope Shenouda III, on which basis he may issue a papal declaration.”
According to the International Marian Research Institute in Dayton, Ohio, these apparitions were indeed investigated and officially approved by the Coptic Pope, Shenouda III.