“Our Lady of Akita”
AKITA, JAPAN (1973-1981)
Born in 1931, Agnes Katsuko Sasagawa was always a frail child. She had her appendix removed at age 19, but due to a hospital error with the anesthesia, she became paralyzed. After ten years of immobility while being cared for by a Catholic nun, she made a spontaneous and miraculous recovery. In May of 1973, she entered the convent of the Handmaids of the Eucharist in Yuzawadai, a suburb of Akita. One month earlier she had been suddenly afflicted with total deafness.
On June 12, 1973, Sister Agnes Sasagawa (age 42) entered the convent chapel, focused on preparing for the Eucharist. She was still adjusting to her recent loss of all hearing. Suddenly, as she approached the altar to open the tabernacle door, a brilliant light broke forth — brighter and whiter than the sun. Overwhelmed, she dropped to her knees and prayed for the next hour — feeling as if she was being held there by some heavy force. She was able to leave after that. The next day, as she opened the tabernacle door again, the brilliant light poured forth once more. On the third day, June 14, a red flame encompassed the white light inside the tabernacle, but no other nuns had seen this “tabernacle fire.” The fourth sighting occurred on eve of the feast of the Sacred Heart and had the addition of “an adoring crowd of spiritual beings” or angels, who were clearly worshiping the Host on the altar.
On June 28, she experienced a sharp pain in the palm of her left hand. A small, rose-colored cross was etched across her palm and remained, painfully, for 3 days. But, on July 5, the pain returned in her left hand, and it bled more than she could conceal from others. Tears flowed from her eyes as she let another nun help bandage her hand. This was no illusion! That night, she rose to pray at 3:00 a.m., and a voice came to her despite her deafness and said,
“Be not afraid. Pray with fervor, not only because of your sins, but in reparation for those of all people. The world today wounds the most Sacred Heart of Our Lord by its ingratitude and injuries. The wounds of Mary are much deeper and more sorrowful than yours. Let us go to pray in the chapel together.”
A beautiful figure suddenly stood next to her right shoulder. “I am the one who is with you and watches over you.” (her guardian angel) The angel led her to the chapel and then disappeared. Sister Agnes approached a tall statue of Mary and knelt before her. Suddenly, the statue became instantly ablaze and bathed in a brilliant light — as if the statue was coming to life! Though deaf, she heard the statue speak to her:
“My daughter, my novice, you have obeyed me well in abandoning all to follow me. Do you suffer much because of the handicap which deafness causes you? You will be assuredly healed. Be patient, it is the last trial. Does the wound in your hand give you pain? Pray in reparation for the sins of humanity. Each person in this community is my irreplaceable daughter. Pray very much for the pope, bishops, and priests. Since your baptism, you have always prayed faithfully for them. Continue to pray very much …”
The next morning, Sister Agnes asked Sister Kotake to inspect the statue. She found a cross-shaped wound, bleeding, in the right hand of the wooden statue of Mary. Sometimes it gushed blood, profusely. Sister Agnes’ hand continued to have bouts of intense pain as well. Sister Agnes’s wound appeared on Thursday evenings, grew worse on Fridays, and disappeared each Sunday – as if commemorating the passion and death of Jesus.
On July 26, the Feast of St. Anne, the Mother of the Virgin Mary, her wound became more painful than ever. At the same time, the statue in the chapel began to bleed more profusely. She went to Bishop Ito to reveal her pain and suffering; he advised going to a doctor. But she went to the chapel, first, to pray for strength. There, she suddenly heard the voice of the angel again:
“Our pain will come to an end today. Pray to the Sacred Heart and the Precious Blood. Pray for the sins of the whole world. Tell the Bishop that the blood is shed today for the last time.”
At once the pain left, and the wound in her hand was healed. The statue also ceased its bleeding at the same time – though the imprint of the wound remained in the wood.
On August 3, she heard the statue of Mary state to her,
“Many men in this world grieve the Lord. I seek souls to console Him. In order to appease the anger of the Heavenly Father, I wish, with my Son to search for souls who will make reparations for sinners and for the ungrateful by offering up their sufferings and poverty to God on their behalf. In order that the world might know the wrath of the Heavenly Father toward today’s world, He is preparing to inflict a great chastisement on all mankind. With my Son, many times I have tried to appease the wrath of the Heavenly Father. I have prevented the coming of the chastisement by offering the sufferings of His Son on the cross, His precious Blood, and the compassionate souls who console the Heavenly Father, a cohort of victim souls overflowing with love. Prayer, penance, honest poverty, and courageous acts of sacrifices can soften His anger. Obedience is the foundation of all things…”
On September 29, with another nun at her side, Sister Agnes saw the statue of Mary ablaze with light again. For the first time, the companion with her was able to see the unearthly light and gasped with excitement. The statue’s hands glowed brightly and the wound was healed finally. But, later that night, when the statue glowed again, tears began flowing from the statue’s eyes. The tears had a wonderful fragrance of flowers that persisted for 17 days!
“I am weeping because humanity is not accepting my motherly invitation to conversion. The (public) signs of my immense sorrow … are not believed in. Man is becoming ever more corrupt, godless, wicked, and cruel. A chastisement worse than the flood is about to come upon this poor and perverted humanity. Fire will descend from heaven. This will be the sign that God in His justice has — as of now — fixed the hour of His great manifestation. … I am weeping because the Church is continuing along the road of division, of loss of the true faith … I am weeping because, in great numbers, the souls of my children are being lost and going to hell. … Prepare yourselves to receive Christ in the splendor of His glory, because the great day of the Lord has even now arrived.”
On October 13, the 57th anniversary of the last apparition at Fatima, Sister Agnes was healed from deafness during the benediction of that church service and was delighted at hearing the church bells ring! She telephoned Bishop Ito to report that Mary’s promise of restoring her hearing had come true.
On January 4, 1975, one of the nuns ran to the office of their chaplain, Father Yasuda, to tell him that the statue had begun to shed tears again. The weeping was extraordinarily lifelike. The church documented a total of 101 incidents of the statue shedding tears over the next six years, finally ending on September 15, 1981, the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows.
Professor Eiji Okuhara, a doctor and biochemist, analyzed three fluids coming from the statue: blood, tears, and perspiration. A colleague, Dr. Kaoru Sagisaka, was given the samples without any history and blindly made his conclusions:
“The matter adhering to the gauze is human blood. The sweat and tears absorbed in the pieces of cotton are also of human origin.”
Repeated independent analyses revealed human blood of Type B, tears and perspiration both of Type AB. The statue continued to shed tears — 12 times in 1978 and, finally, three times in 1981. Some miracles were connected as well (healing of a brain tumor).
Sister Agnes lost her hearing again on March 6, 1975. Two doctors who examined her declared that she would never hear again. But on May 1, 1982, the guardian angel told her that her hearing would be returned again – this time permanently! And it did happen on May 30, the Feast of Pentecost. The two doctors could offer no explanation that would account for this miracle healing.
After three commissions studied the events at Akita, Bishop Ito finally declared at Easter in 1984 that these events were supernatural and worthy of belief. Cardinal Ratzinger of the Sacred Congregation in Rome declared in 1988 that the apparitions had been authentic revelations of the Divine.