“Queen of the Universe”
HEEDE, GERMANY (1937-1945)
Four girls, Anna Schulte, sisters Margaret Ganseforth (13) and Greta Ganseforth (11), and Susanna Bruns, began receiving visits from Our Lady in November of 1937. The two sisters were going to church for All Saints Day on November 1 when they passed by the church cemetery. Suddenly, they perceived a “floating light” about 100 feet away, hovering about a meter above the ground. In the blazing light formed the image of a beautiful lady holding a child. The two figures wore dazzling crowns on their heads. The girls were spellbound by the incredible beauty of the lady, who smiled kindly at them.
Frightened, they entered the church and reported that they had seen the Virgin Mary with the Divine Child in her arms. Anna Schulte, surprised and curious, left the church to go explore the designated area. After the ceremony, the two sisters, along with Anna, Adele Bruns (15) and her sister, Susanna Bruns, all returned to the site of the apparition in the cemetery.
“It’s there – between the two cypresses!” exclaimed Margaret.
The vision of Mary remained silent. All the girls saw the Virgin Mary except Adele, who impatiently stated that she was going to leave because she did not believe these stories. Margaret and Greta told their mother – who then alerted Father Staelberg, the priest of the parish. But news of these events was received in the village with the predictable skepticism and laughter. It was not until the villagers started noticing the dramatic change in the four girls’ behavior did they begin to consider the appearances more seriously. The usual playful and giddy girls had changed their manner of living to a more serious demeanor with fervent and long prayers while impatiently anticipating Our Lady’s next appearance.
On November 2, at the same time of the day, Our Lady appeared again but without the baby Jesus. Blessed Mary’s hands were clasped in prayer.
On the third apparition, on November 5, Our Lady began asking the girls questions. Mary is standing on a white cloud with a luminous halo “about 30-40 cm surrounding her.” Her age seems to be 18 or 19.
“She wore a golden crown, richly worked … a long white dress fitted at the waist by a cord … a non-transparent white veil falls on each side, doing some folds, and hides her hair … On her left hand, covered by the veil, sits the Christ Child. She raises her arm.”
By the November 7th apparition more villagers were beginning to believe as 4,000 to 5,000 were in attendance, surrounding the four girls. Several priests witnessed the apparition.
More than 7,000 returned to the site the next day on November 8. But the civil authorities forbade Father Staelberg from accompanying the girls. Another priest was present that day from Herkenhoff and reported these details:
“Suddenly, the (four) girls fell to their knees, all together, without one or another making a signal to her companions … They posed several questions to the apparition. After a quarter of an hour – during which they continued to be constantly stiff, eyes fixed on a precise point – their questions seemed unanswered, even when they spoke. When Greta was alongside me later, she told me that she had wondered how the Mother of God feels. The response she received was a sad countenance. Greta said, ‘The Mother of God was very sad and very bright.’”
There were an estimated 100 visits by Our Lady to these four girls in Heede. Here are some highlights:
April 5, 1939 – Margaret was alone for this apparition. “I saw the Mother of God directly in front of me, standing two feet away, and asked her how she would like to be invoked.” She replied, “as Queen of the Universe and Queen of the Poor Souls in Purgatory.” When asked what prayer she would like to honor her, she indicated the “Litany of Laurentanas.”
May 12, 1939 – The Virgin appeared 13 times in May, including twice in the initial location and for a full day on each of the 6th and 12th. On May 12, Greta asked, “Will we have diseases?” Mary replied, “Not yet.” Then Greta asked, “Can we come here every day?” – to which Mary responded, “Yes.”
But then the number of occurrences decreased. Many were fearful of visiting Heede because Hitler ruled Germany and forbade participation in this “superstitious nonsense.” The Gestapo forcefully took the children to an insane asylum and strictly forbade the pilgrimages. After one month, the children were released but disregarded the orders of the Gestapo and resumed their visits to the place of the apparitions. The Queen of Heaven was not subject to the Hitler regime, of course, and continued her appearances in secret locations now.
Greta Ganseforth received a stigmata in 1939. On October 19, 1940, Our Lady gave the four girls a “secret” intended for the Pope. Blessed Mary warned them, “Do not say anything to anyone other than the Holy Pope of Rome.” The message was placed in a sealed envelope that was carried by Bishop Berning to Pope Pius XII.
The Virgin also showed them visions of future catastrophes and warned them that a horrifying event called a “Minor Judgment” was in store for the future. She urged them to pray constantly, especially the Rosary, which she said has “immeasurable power” for the conversion of sinners. “The world is about to drink the dregs of the Chalice of Divine Wrath.” Despite Our Lady’s incredible beauty, she was usually solemn-faced, stern, or even shedding tears.
The apparitions of the Blessed Mother came to an end at 8:30 p.m. on November 3, 1940. Each girl received a “secret” from Mother Mary, who then spoke,
“Be good and faithful to the will of God. Pray often – especially the Rosary. Now farewell, my children, until we meet in Heaven.”
On July 23, 1942, Bishop Berning made the following remarks during his homily:
“From Heede came a rich blessing. I could see that Marian devotion dramatically increased — that sacramental life, in particular, has flourished dramatically in this parish.”
Greta Ganseforth began receiving visits from Jesus starting in 1945. Her spiritual director gave her orders to keep a diary of her mystical events. She did not see the Blessed Virgin again but did hear her voice on numerous occasions, speaking to her from a brilliant light.
There was an occasion when a school dance was being prepared which apparently was going to exceed Catholic norms for modesty and decency. At the request of Jesus, Greta sought to have the dance cancelled or at least modified so that it would not be a dangerous occasion of sin for the youth. Greta even appealed to the parents of the students to not go against the warning from Jesus, who stated,
“If they proceed with that dance, all involved will have to answer to Me at their Judgment.”
The dance for October 21, 1945, was cancelled. Along with this event and a number of miraculous healings, other parish priests and clergymen finally believed. Here are more of the messages that Greta received from the visits with Jesus:
“Men did not listen to My Most Holy Mother when she appeared to them at Fatima and admonished them to do penance. Now I, Myself, am coming at the last hour to warn and admonish mankind! The times are very serious! Men should at last do penance, turn away from their sins and pray, pray much in order that the wrath of God may be mitigated. Particularly the Holy Rosary should be prayed very often. The Rosary is very powerful with God. Worldly pleasures and amusements should be resricted.
Men do not listen to My voice. They harden their hearts; they resist My grace. They do not wish to have anything to do with My Mercy, My Love, My merits. Mankind is worse than before the deluge. Mankind is suffocating in sin. Hatred and greed rule their hearts. This is the work of the devil. They live in great darkness. Through the wounds that bled, Mercy will again gain victory over justice. My faithful souls should not be asleep now like the disciples on Mt. Olivet. They should pray without ceasing and gain all they can for themselves and for others.
Tremendous things are in preparation; it will be terrible as never before since the foundation of the world. All those, who in these grave times have suffered so much, are martyrs and form the seed for the renovation of the Church. They were privileged to participate in My captivity, in My scourging, in My crown of thorns, and My Way of the Cross.
The Blessed Virgin Mary and all the choirs of angels will be active during these events. Hell believes that it is sure of the harvest, but I will snatch it away from them. I will come with My peace. Many curse me now, but these sufferings will come over mankind that they may be saved through it … Many expiate all they can for those who curse Me now …
With a few faithful I will build up My kingdom. As a flash of lightning this Kingdom will come … much faster than mankind will realize. I will give them a special light. For some this light will be a blessing; for others, darkness. The light will come like the Star that showed the way to the wise men. Mankind will experience My love and My power ,,, My beloved, the hour comes closer. Pray without ceasing!
Those who are not in the State of Grace (when the Minor Judgment happens) – it will be frightful for them.”
On March 7, 1946, Bishop Berning authorized a statue of the “Mary, Queen of the Universe” to be made for placement in the church cemetery – as directed by the visionaries. Finally, after years of investigation, the Bishop of Osnabruck declared on June 3, 1959, the following:
“The apparitions are undeniable proof of the seriousness and authenticity of these manifestations … In the apparitions and messages of Heede we find nothing contrary to the Faith. Indeed, their similarity to the approved apparitions of Fatima, Lourdes, and La Salette give good indications of their authenticity.”