As the thirteen colonies fought fiercely to gain independence from corrupt British rule, General George Washington was the commander-in-chief of the pitiful, struggling army. The soldiers were weary, starving, ragged, and without enough warm clothing for the bitter winter in Valley Forge. George Washington knelt in the snow in front of his troops and prayed to God for blessings upon his dedicated and suffering men.
General George Washington experienced an apparition of a “Beautiful Lady” clothed with the sun, who appeared to him during those dark days of starvation and defeat at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. Mysterious and unidentified, this lady appeared to Washington to encourage, guide, and warn him about future events in this country that had been entrusted to God through the Immaculate Heart of Mary one year earlier by the first bishop of the thirteen colonies, Jesuit John Carroll.
Anthony Sherman, a colleague of Washington and an eyewitness to the event, recounts the story – which was first published in the December 1880 issue of the National Tribune:
“George Washington would hardly have been the type of man one would expect to be seeking visionary manifestations or to be easily taken in by them. From the opening of the American Revolution we experienced all phases of fortune, now good, now ill, one time victorious and another time conquered. The darkest period we had, I think, was when Washington, after several reverses, retreated to Valley Forge, where he resolved to pass the winter of 1777. Ah! I have often seen the tears course down our dear commander’s careworn cheeks, as he would be conversing with confidential officers about the condition of his poor soldiers. You have doubtless heard the story of Washington going to the thicket to pray. It was not only true, but he often used to pray in secret for aid and comfort from God, the Interposition of whose Divine Providence brought us safely through the darkest days of tribulation.”
“One day – I remember it well – the chilly wind whistled through the leafless trees, though the sky was cloudless, and the sun shone brightly. He remained in his quarters nearly all afternoon alone. When he came out, I noticed that his face was a shade paler than usual, and there seemed to be something on his mind of more than ordinary importance. Returning just after dark, he dispatched an orderly to the quarters of another officer, who was presently in attendance. After a preliminary conversation of about half an hour, Washington, gazing upon us with that strange look of dignity, which he alone could command, said,
‘I do not know whether it is owing to the anxiety of my mind, but this afternoon, as I was sitting at this table engaged in preparing a dispatch, something disturbed me. Looking up, I saw, standing opposite me, a singularly beautiful female. So astonished was I, for I had given strict orders not to be disturbed, that it was some moments before I found language to inquire the purpose of her presence. A second, third, even a fourth time did I repeat my question but received no answer from my mysterious visitor – except a slight raising of her eyes. By this time, I felt strange sensations spreading through me. I would have risen, but the riveted gaze of the being before me rendered volition impossible. I essayed once more to address her, but my tongue had become useless. Even thought itself had become paralyzed. A new influence, mysterious, potent, irresistible, took possession of me. All I could do was to gaze steadily at my unknown visitor. Gradually, the surrounding atmosphere filled with sensation and grew luminous. Everything about me seemed to rarefy, the mysterious visitor, herself, becoming more airy and yet more distinct to my sight than before. I now began to feel as one dying, or rather to experience the sensation which I have sometimes imagined accompanies dissolution. I did not think, I did not reason, I did not move. All, alike, were impossible. I was conscious only of gazing fixedly at my companion. Presently, I heard a voice say:
“Son of the Republic, look and learn!”
At the same time, my visitor extended her arm eastward. I looked and beheld a heavy white vapor rising at some distance, fold upon fold. This gradually dissipated, and I watched before me lay spread out in one vast plain all the countries of the world: Europe, Asia, Africa, and America, the billows of the Atlantic Ocean, and between America and Asia lay the Pacific.
“Son of the Republic, look and learn.”
At that moment I beheld a dark shadowy being, standing, or rather floating in mid-air between Europe and America. Dipping water out of the ocean with his right hand, he cast it upon America, while that in his left hand went upon the European countries. Immediately, a cloud arose from these countries and joined in mid-ocean. For a while it remained stationary, and then it moved slowly westward until it enveloped America in its folds. Sharp flashes of lightning gleamed through at intervals, and I heard the smothered groans of the American people. A second time the angel dipped water from the ocean and sprinkled it as before. The dark cloud was then drawn back to the ocean in whose heaving bellows it sank from view. A third time I heard the mysterious voice say:
“Son of the Republic, look and learn.”
I cast my eyes upon America and beheld villages, towns, and cities springing up, one after another, until the whole land from the Atlantic to the Pacific was dotted with them. Again, I heard the voice say:
“Son of the Republic, the end of the century comes. Look and learn.”
And with this, the dark, shadowy angel turned its face southward, and from Africa an ill-omened specter approached our land. It flitted slowly over every town and city of the land. The inhabitants presently set themselves in battle array against each other. As I continued to look, I saw the bright angel – on whose brow rested a crown of light — on which was traced the word UNION, place an American flag between the divided nations and say,
“Remember, ye are brethren.”
Instantly, the inhabitants, casting from them weapons, became friends once more and united around the National Standard. Again, I heard the voice of my most beautiful and mysterious visitor say:
“Son of the Republic, look and learn.”
At this, the dark, shadowy angel placed a trumpet to his mouth and blew three distinct blasts. Taking water from the ocean, he sprinkled it upon Europe, Asia, and Africa. Then my eyes beheld a fearful scene. From each of these countries arose dark black clouds that were soon joined into one. Throughout this mass there gleamed a bright red light by which I saw hordes of armed men, who, moving with the cloud marched by land and sailed by sea to America, which country was enveloped in the volume of cloud. And I saw these vast armies devastate the whole country and burn the villages, towns, and cities that I saw springing up. As my ears listened to the thundering of the cannon, the clashing of the swords, and the shouts and cries of millions in mortal combat, I again heard the mysterious voice say:
“Son of the Republic, look and learn.”
As the voice ceased, the bright angel, for the last time, dipped water from the ocean and sprinkled it upon America. Instantly, the dark cloud rolled back, together with the armies it had brought, leaving the inhabitants of the land victorious. Once more, I beheld villages, towns, and cities springing up where I had seen them before – while the bright angel, planting the azure standard he had brought in the middle of them, cried in a loud voice:
“While the stars remain and the heavens send down dew upon the earth, so long shall the Union last.”
And taking from her angelic brow the crown on which was blazoned the word UNION, she placed it upon the National Standard while people, kneeling down, said, ‘Amen.’ The scene instantly began to fade away, and I saw nothing but the rising, curling vapor I had first beheld. This also disappeared, and I found myself once more gazing upon the mysterious beautiful visitor, who said:
“Son of the Republic, what you have seen is thus: three great perils will come upon the Republic. The most fearful is the third, but the whole world united shall not prevail upon her. Let every child of the Republic learn to live for God, His land, and the Union.”
With those words the beautiful visitor and the bright angel accompanying her disappeared from my sight.’
Such, my friend, were the very words I heard from Washington’s own lips. America will do well to profit by them.”
Thus, George Washington had an experience which sounds exactly like those of visionaries who encounter the Blessed Virgin Mary. They see the “beautiful lady” in the bright light and are mesmerized into a state of ecstasy – in which they, too, feel immobilized and held in a gaze with Blessed Mary while she imparts visions, predictions, messages, and even warnings. Angels often accompany Blessed Mary as well – as this happened for George Washington as well. Can you figure out what the three great perils were? Revolutionary War? Civil War? Others? This story just shows how much Heaven was involved from the start in America and how Our Heavenly Mother has always been with us here in America.
Birgitta Birgersdotter was born in 1303 in Uppland, Sweden. Her father, Birger Persson, was a knight and one of the richest landowners. Her mother, Ingeborg, was related to Swedish kings. At the age of eight years old, she had her first encounter with Blessed Mary. She awoke one night and saw a “beautiful lady” in shining white clothes, holding a gleaming crown in her hands. She was sitting on a beautiful altar. Then the Blessed Virgin spoke to her,
“Come, Birgitta … Do you want to have this crown?”
Recognizing the lovely lady as the Blessed Virgin, Birgitta sprang from her bed and knelt in front of her at her feet. She eagerly nodded YES to the Virgin’s question. Then she saw and distinctly felt Our Lady gently place it on her head. Many years later, as St. Bridget, she stated that she could never forget this decisive experience, for it made her understand that she was to live her life as a burning sacrifice of love for God in return for the crown of eternal life.
Around age ten, Bridget (Birgitta) was praying one evening before a crucifix. Suddenly, she saw the living Christ bleeding on the cross and heard Him say,
“See how I am wounded?”
Stricken with horror by the vividness of His suffering, the 10-year old Bridget exclaimed,
Oh, Lord, who did that to you?”
“Those who scorn Me and neglect My Love.”
After losing her own mother as a young girl, Bridget turned to the Blessed Mother for help. Once, when she was working on a particularly difficult piece of embroidery, she asked Blessed Mary for assistance. A short time later, one of her cousins came into the room and was astonished to see “a beautiful lady bending over her and directing her work.” Then, Our Lady suddenly vanished in front of them.
At the age of fourteen, Bridget was obliged by her family to marry – but God gave her an unusually devout young husband named Ulf (or Wulf), with whom she lived in deep spiritual harmony and pure Christian happiness for 28 years. Bridget and her husband prayed only for children who would serve Him well. Regarding Bridget’s prayers, Blessed Mary had this to say:
“Hear me, you who pray to God with all your heart that your children may please Him. Truly, such a prayer is pleasing to God. And there is no mother who loves My Son more than anything on earth – and who prays for this grace for her children whom I would not be ready to help at once to fulfill her prayer. Also, there is no widow who faithfully prays for help to remain a widow until death, in order to honor God, whose wish I would not be ready to fulfill at once, for I, too, was like a widow, as on earth I had a son who had no physical father. Also, there is no young woman who prays to God to keep her virginity until death whom I would not be ready to protect and to strengthen, because I am truly a Virgin myself.”
On one occasion when Bridget was suffering in childbirth, a mysterious lady was seen standing by her bed and relieving her pains. Later, Blessed Mary reminded Bridget of this help, saying,
“When you had trouble in childbirth, I, Mary, came to you. So, you would be ungrateful if you did not love me. Therefore, strive that your children may be mine, too. The daughter of Joachim, who is the Mother of God, wishes to be like a mother to the children of Ulf and Birgitta.”
They had four sons and four daughters. Her second daughter is now honored as St. Catherine of Sweden.
At the age of 45, Bridget’s devout husband entered a Cistercian monastery and died a year later. For many years, Bridget had been leading the life of a saintly member of the Third Order of St. Francis. Now she gave herself entirely to God and, beginning in 1346, a wonderful series of mystical experiences and divine conversations began. Her confessors carefully recorded them in the nine books of her Revelations.
When personally training Bridget in sanctity, the Blessed Virgin often instructed her on such varied subjects as modesty in dress, dancing and various ways of practicing true Christian wisdom and humility. For her future work in correcting and converting extraordinary sinners, Bridget was shown in case after case how great God’s mercy and how powerful Mary’s intercession for them are, if only they ask for it.
One day, the glorious Mother of God appeared to Bridget and said,
“I am Mary, the Queen of Heaven and the Queen of Angels. My Son loves you with His whole heart; therefore, love Him, too. When you have Him, you have all virtues.”
Later, Our Lord accepted Bridget as a mystical spouse. Blessed Mary said sweetly,
“As My Son has given you the name of His new spouse, so I now call you my Daughter-in-Law. For God and I want to show our will to our friends in the world through you.”
On another occasion the Blessed Mother told to Bridget,
“I am the Mother of Mercy, the joy of the just, and the gate to God for sinners.
In the fire of Purgatory there is no suffering that through my intercession would not be more easily bearable than otherwise. No one is so damned that, as long as he lives, he will lack my mercy. No one is so far from God, if he is not completely accursed, that he may not come back to God and obtain mercy when he appeals to me.”
The Blessed Virgin also explained to Bridget that her Immaculate Heart was so full of compassion for the sufferings of sinning humans because she had herself suffered so much from their sins. Blessed Mary told Bridget,
“From My Son’s birth until His death, I was filled with grief. Tears used to come into my eyes when I gazed at His hands and feet, which the nails were going to pierce … when I meditated on His future Passion … and when I saw the Prophets’ sayings concerning Him all being fulfilled … and now I look at all the human beings on earth to see whether maybe there are a few who feel compassion for me and who think of my sorrows, but I find very few who meditate on my suffering and sorrows. Therefore, my daughter, do not forget me, for I am forgotten and ignored by many. See my grief and imitate me as well as you can. Meditate on my sorrows and my tears — and mourn that the friends of God are so few … I am grieved over the enemies of My Son in the world who now crucify Him worse than the Jews formerly did. With their vices they crucify My Son in a spiritual way more cruelly and more fearfully than those who crucified Him physically.”
In the year 1350, Jesus sent Bridget to Italy to convert certain princes and rulers, monks and prelates, with forceful warnings that unless they changed their way of living, they would soon suffer grievous punishments – which did invariably overtake those who refused to reform. Jesus told Bridget:
“Know that I do not speak to you for your own sake only, but also for the salvation of all Christians … Know also that when it pleases Me, men shall come who will take up the words of the divine Revelations with joy and consolation … My words, which you often hear in spiritual visions, like a wholesome drink, satisfy those who thirst for true love, give warmth to the cold, cheer the sorrowful, and heal those whose souls are sick.”
Through her, Jesus also transmitted several messages to His Vicar in Avignon, France (where the Popes resided for 70 years), bidding him to return to Rome. Once Our Lord pointed out to Bridget a section of the city of Rome around St. Peter’s basilica and told her that one day:
“A Pope who loves the Church as much as did He, Himself, and His friends would possess that place in peace …”
This amazing prophecy came true more than 550 years later with the creation of Vatican City in 1929.
After 33 years of “miracle-working” and inspiring holiness in Rome, Bridget suffered a painful and prolonged illness. Blessed Mary appeared one last time just before she died and told her these words:
“Blessed Francis, too, was sick for a long time … You may ask why your illness has lasted so very long … I answer you – that My Son and I love you. When My Son told you as you entered the Church of His Holy Sepulcher, that all your sins were forgiven, He did not say that you would not suffer any more during the rest of your life on earth. For it is the will of God that the love of men should correspond to the love of God, and that earlier negligences should be expiated in patience and sickness … Truly, My Daughter, the doctors do not pay attention to what death means – for that man dies — who cuts himself off from God and becomes hardened in sin. And he who does not believe in God and who does not love his Creator is also dead. But, whoever fears God at all times and cleanses himself from his sins through frequent Confession – whoever yearns for union with his God has life and shall not die!”
Bridget’s God-given treasures of divine wisdom acquired from her contacts with Jesus and Mary were fully approved by several popes. Sadly, they were allowed to fall into neglect – apart from an 1888 out-of-print German book. The complete Revelations of St. Bridget remained in Swedish until the great Danish Catholic writer, Johannes Joergensen, developed a two-volume biography during World War II that was translated into English. Recently, St. Bridget’s Revelations has finally been published in English.
Bridget died on July 23, 1373. She became St. Bridget with her canonization on October 7, 1391 by Pope Boniface IX. The Council of Basel confirmed the orthodoxy of the messages and revelations in 1436.
The history of the image begins with the sculptor, Amilcare Santini, who modeled it in three days “under artistic inspiration.” It was made of plaster dissolved in water and poured into a mold and turned out to dry in the sun. It was then sprayed with a varnish to render it suitable for painting. After it was colored, varnished and polished, ordinary screws were used to attach the image to a panel of black opaline. The panel measures 39 by 33 centimeters, the figure 29 by 22 centimeters. The plaque was mass-produced in Tuscany, Italy and then shipped to Syracuse for retail.
The plaque was purchased a s a wedding gift for Antonina and Angelo Iannuso, who were married on March 21, 1953. They admitted that they were tepid and neglectful Christians, yet they hung the image with some devotion on the wall behind their bed. Angelo was a laborer who had taken his bride to live in the home of his brother on Via Degli Orti 11. When his wife discovered that she was pregnant, her condition was accompanied by toxemia that expressed itself in convulsions that at times brought on temporary blindness.
At three in the morning on Saturday, August 29, 1953, Antonina suffered a seizure that left her blind. At about 8:30 a.m. that morning, her sight was miraculously restored. When she was able to see, her eyes were on the Madonna, which, to Antonina’s amazement was weeping effusive tears. In her own words, Antonina reports:
“I opened my eyes and stared at the image of the Madonna above the bedhead. To my great amazement, I saw that the effigy was weeping. I called my sister-in-law Grazie and my aunt, Antonian Sgarlata, who came to my side, showing them the tears. At first they thought it was a hallucination due to my illness, but when I insisted, they went close up to the plaque and could well see that tears were really falling from the eyes of the Madonna, and that some tears ran down her cheeks onto the bedhead. Taken by fright they took it out the front door, calling the neighbors, and they too confirmed the phenomenon…”
The weeping was not continual, but happened about six or seven times that morning, and also again in the evening, when the husband had returned home. By now it was apparent that Antonina’s illness, which had puzzled her doctors, was cured, and all this led to the conversion of the couple, and many others. Over the next two days the weeping continued at intervals, and were witnessed by thousands of people, even when the plaque was moved from the bedroom to a little altar outside the house.
One of the many visitors who examined the plaque at close range was Mario Messina, who was highly regarded in the neighborhood. After observing the slow formation of the tears, he removed the image from the wall, looked at it thoroughly, and was satisfied that the tears were not the result of an internal reservoir. After the plaque was dried, two tears immediately reappeared.
News of the phenomenon spread rapidly throughout the city, bringing crowds that forced their way indoors and gathered in the streets around the house. The security inspector, with the couple’s permission, hung the plaque on the outside of the house to satisfy the curiosity of the people. Later, seeing that the crowds showed no sign of diminishing, the picture was taken to the constabulary (police) in an effort to reduce the confusion. The image wept while outside the building and during its transport, but, after 40 minutes at the police station where it did not weep, it was returned to the Iannuso home.
On Sunday, August 30 at 2:00 in the morning, the weeping image was placed on a cushion and displayed for the curious who had remained in the street throughout the night. The plaque was nailed above the main door on Monday, and its tears were collected by the people on pieces of cloth and wads of cotton. During this time skeptics became convinced, and many of the sick were healed. That same Monday, to protect the plaque from falling, it was brought to an improvised altar outside the home of the Lucca family who lived across the street. After the recitation of the Rosary, it was returned.
Three priests visited the home during this time, one of whom notified the chancery. It assembled a group of clergy, four of scientific background and three for reputable witnesses, to comprise an investigating commission. On the specific instructions of the chancellor, the group met at the Iannuso home on Tuesday, Sept. 1 to study the phenomenon, collecting a sample of tears for analysis. The plaque was examined while it wept and while the liquid collected in the cavity formed by the hand over the heart. The commission examined the smooth finish and found no pores or irregularities on the surface. The backing was removed and the unfinished gypsum was scrutinized and found to be dry, even though tears collected on the reverse. Six coats of nitrocellulose colors were counted on the image; these were covered with varnish. Using a sterilized pipette, a sample of tears was collected, placed in a sterile vial, and taken to the provincial laboratory to be examined by doctors and chemists.
Following this through investigation, the image continued weeping for another 51 minutes, but at 11:40 in the morning the tears stopped, never to begin again. The sample of tears was scientifically compared to tears from an adult and a child. Following a detailed analysis, the doctors reached this conclusion:
“The liquid examined is shown to be made up of a watery solution of sodium chloride in which traces of protein and nuclei of a silver composition of excretory substances of the quaternary type, the same as found in the human secretions used as a comparison during the analysis. The appearance, the alkalinity and the composition induce one to consider that the liquid examined is analogous to human tears.”
The report was dated September 9, 1953 and signed by the examining doctors, Drs. Michele Cassola, Francesco Cotzie, Leopoldo La Rosa and Mario Marietta. The facts of the case were sent to Rome on September 10, to Cardinal Pizzardo, secretary of the Holy Office.
Miraculous cures were claimed and crowds of faithful gathered in the town. The local archbishop arrived the next day to make inquiries and to speak to witnesses. As reports of miraculous healings began to spread, there was the formation of a medical commission. Archbishop Baranzini returned on September 8 with other ecclesiastics to say the rosary, and to explain to the crowd the meaning of these tears. He said that they were tears of sorrow and distress, a sign to a society and culture which had gone astray.
Archbishop Baranzini returned on September 19, to preach again to the growing crowds, telling them that these were the tears of a mother, weeping because of the persecutions her children were suffering in the East, and because of the loss of faith in the West. During September and October over a million pilgrims visited the plaster figure of Mary, which had been moved to a more prominent location.
Archbishop Baranzini went to Rome on September 24, and met Pope Pius XII on September 27. In December of 1953, the bishops of Sicily met to pass official judgement, and their leader, Cardinal Ruffini, explained their positive decision in the following statement:
“The bishops of Sicily, gathered together for their regular conference at Palermo, have heard the full report by His Excellency, Archbishop Ettore Baranzini of Syracuse, on the weeping of an image of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Having weighed carefully all the related evidence contained in the original documents, the bishops have unanimously judged that the reality of the weeping cannot be held in doubt. We express the desire that such a manifestation of the Heavenly Mother may inspire all to salutary penance and to a livelier devotion towards the Immaculate Heart of Mary and that there may be the prompt construction of a sanctuary to perpetuate the memory of the miracle.”
On October 17, 1954, Pope Pius XII stated the following during a radio broadcast:
“We acknowledge the unanimous declaration of the Episcopal Conference held in Sicily on the reality of that event. Will men understand the mysterious language of those tears?”
The medical commission that was nominated on October 7, 1953 to seriously and scientifically examine the nature of extraordinary cures (worked through the intercession of the Weeping Madonna of Syracuse) considered 290 cases of which 105 were of “special interest.” These miracles were reported within a few years of the incident.
The first person to experience a miracle of healing was also the first to observe the weeping. From the time Antonina Iannuso first saw the tears, she recovered completely from severe toxemia and gave birth to a healthy son on December 25, 1953. Archbishop Baranzini officiated at the infant’s Baptism.
The same astonishment experienced by the people of Syracuse at the time of the miracle was felt by those around the world who read about the occurrence in local newspapers or heard about it on radio or television. It has been tabulated that reports even reached India, China, Japan and Vietnam. In Italy alone more than 2,000 articles appeared in 225 papers and magazines, while hundreds of articles appeared in 93 foreign newspapers in 21 different nations. Rarely is an event of religious interest given such worldwide attention.
The question of condensation is likewise rejected since it would have covered the whole statue and would not have originated only from the corners of the eyes. Condensation would have collected on nearby objects as well, which did not occur, and, if it had been present, it certainly would not have been salty. The physicians and scientists who studied the event could offer no natural explanation for the occurrence and deemed it extraordinary in several documents.
The reliquary presented to Archbishop Baranzini on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of his ordination is of special interest since it contains the tears collected by the medical commission for their chemical analysis. The reliquary is comprised of three layers. The bottom contains, in addition to cloths that had been saturated with tears, one of the vials that contained the tears collected by the commission and cotton wool that absorbed some of the tears on another occasion. The second layer has four panels depicting the events. The third and highest layer has a crystal urn which holds another of the vials used for the collection of the samples. The tears within it are now crystallized.
The little house on Via Degli Orti 11, where the Madonna first shed her tears, is now an oratory where Mass is often celebrated. The image itself is enshrined above the main altar of the Santuario Madonna Delle Lacrima, built specifically to accommodate the crowds that continually gather in prayer before the holy image.
Mantara was a small town in 1908 near Saida, Lebanon (called Sidon at the time of the apparitions). Sidon was a very ancient city and one of the great eastern Mediterranean seaports of the Phoenicians, having been established long before 1400 B.C. It is often mentioned in the Bible and was once famous for its beautiful groves of cedar trees, vigorous trade, lignite mines, oranges, purple dyes, and glassware. It is even thought that glass-blowing was invented there in pre-Roman times.
The most accurate version of the reported apparitions is probably the account of Archimandrite Nicola Halabi from Sidon. This version was taken down in German in 1911 by Baroness von Uexkull. Then a French translation eventually was prepared. The baroness’s account seems reliable with many details and the names of numerous witnesses.
Mantara was a hamlet “suburb” of Sidon on a western foothill of Mt. Lebanon. Groupings of poor huts comprised this small village. There was a Christian Coptic church with a large grotto nearby. It had long been claimed that several apparitions of St. Mary Magdalene had occurred there in the past – as well as some of the Holy Virgin. Interestingly, historical descriptions indicated that St. Mary Magdalene was not as beautiful or majestic as the Blessed Virgin. She was seen as smaller and “more blonde.”
It is said that St. Mary Magdalene requested that this grotto “be one of total silence with no one partaking of food.” This shallow cave was accepted as a place of silent prayer and was often silently visited by “expectant” pilgrims. It became known as “the Place of Deep Silent Expectancy for those of anxious heart awaiting the return of Jesus Christ.” Inside the grotto an altar and two small rooms made from stone walls became known as “the chapel.”
During the months of 1908, many began reporting that a “glow” had begun to appear at intervals in or near the Mantara grotto. Many felt that these were supernatural signs that something more was about to happen. Therefore, Archimandrite Nicola Halabi began celebrating Masses there. Despite the growing interest, nearly four years passed before anything further happened.
In the early morning of June 11, 1911, Archimandrite Halabi had conducted a morning Mass in the grotto for about 60 people. Afterwards, there was a celebration at the village church for the resident French vice-consul. Later, about 5:00 p.m., a group of about 50 church women returned to the grotto to eat supper. At about 7:00 p.m., as seven of the women approached the grotto, “they were suddenly blinded by a large burst of light that emanated from the altar (in the grotto) which stood inside the roughly constructed little stone chapel, approximately ten meters from the grotto entrance.”
At first the women thought that the burst of light might be a reflection from the setting sun in back of them. However, the intensity of the light increased and began radiating many wonderful colors. The silence was broken by the excited women’s exclamations. Soon, an estimated sixty more people crowded into the grotto. All of them were also “blinded by the light.” The light was sudden, intense, and very difficult to look at directly. In a short time, the intense light became “softer, luminous clouds” from which “radiated beautiful and glorious multicolored rays and other shining lights.” In the central portion of it all was “a woman holding the Christ Child.”
The apparition occurred in the small “altar room” in the grotto – which did not allow for very many people at one time. Soon cries were heard for others to have their turn at seeing the apparition in that small stone walled room inside the cave. They agreed to take turns until all sixty people present had witnessed the apparition. Everyone was able to see her!
Women ran down the hill from the grotto screaming out the news that an apparition of the Virgin Mary was taking place. The news was quickly broadcast to the other villages. Soon a “very large number” of people wanted to get into the grotto room to see. Among them was Archimandrite Halabi and quite likely the resident vice-consul. The apparition lasted for two to three hours. Everyone who managed to get to the grotto was able to see her. Many took a second, third and even fourth turn going back in again to see Blessed Mary holding Jesus in the glowing light.
The record given by Baroness von Uexkull gives the names of the first sixty principal witnesses. After the news reached Sidon, it is estimated that another 400 people arrived and saw the apparition also. The light emanating from the grotto extended about 500 feet out. The quality of the light was described as pink and blue, slightly undulating and “penetrated with a brilliant golden and pure-white central core.” This “central core” of white light “bathed” the forms of Blessed Mary and baby Jesus. Local newspapers carried the eyewitness accounts.
Neither figure spoke but remained silent. Yet, both clearly looked out over the assembled crowd and made eye contact. The Virgin “received all graciously” by nodding her head and “with movements of her eyes and motions of her hands reaching outward.” She had a “pleasant smile.” Only the upper half of the figures could be seen in the intense light.
For some years after 1911, large numbers of pilgrims visited the grotto annually. But the advance of the Great War and being less known due its being under the Coptic jurisdiction rather than the Roman Catholic, led to it disappearing into obscurity.
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)