Mary Ann Van Hoof was born on July 31, 1909, to Matthias Bieber and his wife, Elizabeth Gallman. Her father, Matthias, was mean and anti-religious. They were very poor; Mary Ann had to attend her herding and milking chores instead of school by the eighth grade. Then she worked as a cook in a restaurant seven days a week. She married, got pregnant, and then learned that her husband was already married! After getting away from this physically abusive and deceptive man, she finally married Fred Van Hoof in 1934. They had eight children, one of whom died as an infant.
While praying on the winter night of November 12, 1949, Mary Ann, now age forty, heard a disturbance in the hall. She saw a white light and a figure with a veil on its head. She assumed it must be one of her kids. She retreated to her bedroom and was surprised that this figure followed her. It stopped about four feet from the bed and watched her, silently. “It was sort of bluish and light-colored in the front.” Mary Ann became terribly frightened.
The next supernatural event occurred on April 7, 1950, when Mary Ann saw the body of Jesus on the crucifix become “all aglow and twice its size.” Then she heard a voice say,
“Yes, pray, my child. Pray, pray, pray hard. My child, your cross is heavy to bear, but the people all over the world are facing a heavier cross and sorrow with the enemy of God unless you pray. Pray hard with all your heart. I will return, outside, when the flowers bloom and the trees and grass are green.”
On Pentecost Sunday, May 28, 1950, Mary Ann reports:
“I saw a flash of light, sort of like when the sun reflects across the windshield. Thinking a car drove up outside, I looked and saw a blue mist behind the four little ash trees out there, and something told me that this was the approach of a saint. At that time I always called her a saint because I didn’t know who she really was. I went out. And as soon as I went out, this blue mist floated through the tips of the trees and then formed into Our Lady. She lowered herself, smiling, with her arms extended.”
Blessed Mary positioned herself in the air about two feet off the ground. She stood on a small cloud with bare feet and pink roses surrounding them. She had a blue veil on and a blue robe with a few gold stars near the bottom. She wore a cream-colored gown underneath with a golden cord around her neck. On one end of the cord was a small globe of the earth; on the other end was a large tassel. She had a large crucifix about four or five inches long and a large rosary in her hand. The rosary beads were white. On the crucifix Jesus lacks the crown of thorns and is nailed through his wrists not his hands.
Mary Ann describes more features of Our Lady: deep blue eyes, oval-shaped face, pointed chin, and golden-colored hair (from what she could see under the veil). She says,
“Oh, she was so radiant and beautiful. An artist couldn’t paint her to do her justice. The Lady’s arms seem always extended as if she was going to embrace me as I walked toward her. I’m pretty sure I hear her with the ears of my head. I just hear. It seems she blots out everything. Like the family asked me a couple of times if I noticed a train going by, which I didn’t.”
On the next day, May 29, 1950, Blessed Mary returned and urged America with this:
“Wake up, America! The enemy of God is creeping all over America! All religions must work together against the enemy of God! Pray! Pray! Pray for this. You must pray and convert Russia!”
In her appearances on May 30, June 4, June 16, August 15, and October 7, Blessed Mary vowed to return on these same dates and Trinity Sunday every year for as long as Mary Ann lived.
With 1,425 people gathered at the Van Hoof home on June 16, 1950, the Blessed Virgin delivers her first major message, which, in no uncertain terms, criticized the clergy.
“To the priests of America, archbishops and bishops: There are too many of you whose desires in earthly goods and pleasures go before your duties. Humble yourselves and be an example to your people. Remember: you are workers of Christ here on earth. You must put more effort to call your flock back into the fold.
For, if you will not hear me now, you, who are getting weak, will suffer terribly from violence and penance similar to the purged (Communist) countries. As you all know, the atomic bomb with its destruction is in the hands of the enemy.
Tell this to your priests and all other priests all over America and all over the world. There are too many priests who put luxuries and good times before their duties to God…
Priests and ministers must not war between themselves. Jealousies and hatred between religions is just what the enemy is looking for. Priests must be real shepherds, showing the way of Truth and the way of God’s law regardless of religion and color.”
Nine days later on June 25, 1950, the Korean War began. Because of the embarrassing, critical tone of this message toward the religious, bishops were not eager to approve these apparitions and tried to deflect public attention elsewhere. Efforts to discredit Mary Ann Van Hoof failed and thousands more took interest. In fact, the Blessed Virgin even predicted that at least 100,000 people would attend the next promised apparition on August 15, 1950.
More than 100,000 people attended the August 15 apparition event. Local trains even added an extra stop by Mary Ann’s house because so many people were getting on and off there. Visionary Mary Ann knelt at noon, and the Blessed Virgin appeared while thousands surrounded the place. Here are excerpts from the Virgin’s lengthy message:
“All religions must go together against the enemy of God, for he is very strong right now. Remember your Commandments, the Way of the Cross – for the Enemy of God is all over America. You would be surprised if the sheep’s clothing were taken off and how they would spring up, all around you – even some that act like Christians – they have Satan in their hearts.
The priests cannot carry on alone – nor can the Catholics carry on alone. That’s why all religions must work together, not in jealousy and hatred, but in love. Love thy neighbor. Profanity and blasphemy hurts Our Lord.
Bullets will only destroy and keep destroying … But all of you must remember my warnings of Fatima, Lipa, and La Salette. I warned you then – I’m warning you again. The beginning (of the destruction) is now in Korea; it will not end there unless we pray. It’s only beginning (in Korea) – half of America is involved with the Enemy of God.”
Although four years prior to any public fears developing about Communism, Blessed Mary predicted many things that would be taking place soon. After August 15, she told Mary Ann of how the devil was affecting every branch of government, the civil service, the news media, the armed services, the Pentagon, the priesthood, and even Protestant ministers. Blessed Mary exposed the fact that 30,000 Communists were trained as priests to infiltrate the Catholic Church. Our Lady also revealed how the drug culture would develop as well as abortions and “satanic” music and art (around 1968).
Asking for all the religions to work together was viewed as outrageous and became yet another reason for the lack of ecclesiastical support for these apparitions. However, the supernatural events continued and were well-observed.
On a Friday in Lent in 1951, in the presence of numerous people and cameras, Mary Ann Van Hoof received the stigmata of the Crown of Thorns – which was visible and photographed between 2:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. The same stigmata reoccurred on a Friday in Lent in 1952 under similar conditions. Examined by doctors, these “holy wounds” were “tangible surface and subcutaneous marks that caused considerable pain.”
Our Lady identified herself as Queen of the Holy Rosary, Mediatrix of Peace. She also foretold of racial difficulties and Masonic conspiracies. Miraculous cures conversions, and witnessed miracles occurred at or near the apparition site just outside the Van Hoof home all throughout these apparitions. An extensive accounting of these miracles between 1950 and 1966 was listed in the Testimonials of Pilgrims, published by “For My God and My Country, Inc.”
Yet, an ecclesiastical “silence” was imposed on Mary Ann in 1974 by Bishop Frederick Freking of La Crosse, Wisconsin. However, The Blessed Virgin reportedly told Mary Ann in 1975 to continue her work because “the term obedience was being used loosely by a church hierarchy that does not always follow the directives of the pope.” But Mary Ann remained in hiding.
Veneration of the apparition at Necedah has been a passionate grassroots effort. The shrines at Necedah consist of a complex of seven buildings donated by devoted workers’ money and labor. The Shrine of the Queen of the Holy Rosary, Mediatrix of Peace, produces extensive amounts of literature. Mary Ann Van Hoof died in 1984.