“Our Lady of Sorrows”
EL ESCORIAL, SPAIN (1980-1992)
Luz Amparo Cuevas was the mother of seven children and wife of a doorman. She was a simple woman, working as a maid, who could neither read nor write. It was Holy Trinity Celebration Day, November 13, 1980, when she had her first apparition of the Virgin Mary. She lived in the valley of Prado Nuevo where the town of San Lorenzo del Escorial and the famous Escorial Monastery are located. Born to a very poor family, her mother had died when she was only six months old. A harsh stepmother sent her out on the streets to sell things with orders not to return until all her wares were sold. So there were nights that she slept outside, under a tree, or even with snow. When she was nine years old, she was arrested for begging for food on the streets. In jail she survived on flour and water. Despite these hardships, Amparo maintained her great love and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, often asking to go see her mother in heaven.
Her marriage was not easy as her husband struggled with alcoholism and constant unemployment. She was miraculously healed in Lourdes from a heart disease in 1977. She did not really know how to pray but always invoked Our Lady with childlike mildness, innocence, and a great compassion for others. Overseen and witnessed by several priests, the multitude of witnesses, along with her simple, generous, devoted nature exclude the possibility of a fraud or pathological illusion. She experienced 30 apparitions between November 13 of 1980 and April 4, 1992. She has received over 500 messages during this period of thirteen years.
“Many souls err, are lost, waiting for somebody to save them. The sin of impurity greatly offends Our Lord. A big part of the clergy – that is priests, bishops, and cardinals – are stepping on paths of perdition, and it is because of them that many souls are condemned.”
“The Holy Rosary is my favorite prayer. We could save the whole mankind with it. We could end a war with it if we wanted. You must meditate every mystery a little while praying it. It is important that you say the fifteen mysteries. I promise to assist anybody who prays the Rosary when that person dies.”
“They must have reconciliation with God every day. They must confess and consume the Sacred Host every first Saturday. It is very important to consume the Host with utmost devotion every month’s first Friday in my Son’s honor. We must be constant in receiving the Holy Eucharist.”
“Say prayers for the Pope, the priests, for peace in Spain and the world, and particularly for full conversion in Russia.”
“Pride leads to every other sin in the world. You must be humble and answer with humbleness every possible offense. With humbleness you can achieve anything and be less likely to fall into temptation.”
“There will come a Great Chastisement for all mankind – a chastisement the likes of which have never been seen. If you do not hear me, there will be thousands of deaths, and the church will suffer a great decay. There will be no work, and a new Great War will come. The Pope will be martyrized. You are very near the Last Times. The judgment over nations is very near. The Creator’s Day is coming.”
“God the Father will send two very big punishments. One will include wars, revolutions. The other one comes from Heaven. There will be great earthquakes in several nations. All Earth will be in darkness for three days. Nothing will be visible. The air will be unbreathable, and during those dark days, the only light will be provided by holy candles. The believers must stay at their homes, saying the Holy Rosary and asking God for Mercy. The punishment will end two-thirds of Mankind. Nothing will happen to those who are with God and the Virgin.”
“Before the punishment, there will be a warning from Heaven. Everybody will see it. It will seem as if the whole world is in flames. It will last 20 minutes, and many will die because of the shock. Those who believe in God and the Virgin will fall into a sort of ecstasy. After the warning and before the punishment, there will be a miracle.”
“My Son will destroy any bad herb, and He will prepare a glorious rebirth in His Mercy’s Time. Then will come Peace and reconciliation between men, mankind, and God. He will be served, adored, and glorified. Charity will shine everywhere. The new kings will be the right hand of the church. Gospel will be preached everywhere, and men will live in awe of God. The Holy Church will be mild, pious, strong, poor, and meticulous in imitating Jesus Christ’s Virtues.”
“Give your Merciful Mother’s messages to all in the world. You must realize that there are many who still do not know them.”
Dates of Visual Apparitions:
1980: November 13
1981: January 15, May 23, July 6, September 25, October 2, 14, 23, November 22, December 11, 18.
1982: January 15, March 19, April 2, July 3, November 19, 20, 26,
December 4, 22, 25.
1983: January 14, 22, February 5, March 27, July 20, November 5.
1989: February 4, July 1.
1992: April 4.
She still receives messages ever first Saturday of each month according to some sources.
The church has not dismissed her experiences and may be waiting to see if the prophecies come to pass before validating her experiences.
Geraldine is the wife and mother of a young family. She is a kind, generous, charitable person who wants to omit her last name from publicity to protect her private life and that of her family. Father Richard Masin, Father Michael Love, and Father Eugene Szondi have served as her spiritual directors over the years – and approve of her messages and experiences with Blessed Mary and Jesus. She also received approval and blessings from Bishop G. F. Mayne in her diocese.
At the age of 13 in 1976, she had just lost her sister Karen (12) after a long suffering. She had asked God to take her instead as she felt her sister was much more talented and worthy of life than herself. She used to punish herself and cry endlessly because she hated herself and could not bear the pain of the separation from her beloved sister. One day, as she was crying intensely while lying on her grandmother’s bed, she heard a “beautiful woman’s voice.” It was soft, loving, gentle – yet very clear and distinct:
“Stop punishing yourself. It is not your fault.”
She jumped up in fright because she thought she had been alone in the room. To her surprise, nobody was there. Despite the shock and puzzlement, she felt strangely calmed and at peace due to the soothing tone of the voice. She had blamed God for the death and turned away from Him, so she was not going to pray. But then the beautiful lady came to her in a strange dream:
“I had a dream that I was with a group of people going to Lourdes, when suddenly I am lost and on my own in what appeared to be a misty moorland at nighttime – yet I can see a grotto at the top of the hill in the distance, so I make my way there. Inside a cave I see a statue of Our Lady and a kneeler in front of it. I kneel down to ask Our Lady to help me pray. As I was trying to pray, something is pulling at my left arm to distract me. Then I felt a sharp pain in my arm as if something had bitten me.
I turned around to see a huge, black dog. I cried out to Our Lady, ‘Help me, please, I can’t pray.’ As I look up at the statue, it is gone! Then, I look to my right and see this beautiful lady standing beside me. The statue had come to life! She looked about 18, and she radiated calmness, serenity, and peacefulness; she was so beautiful. Then she held out her arms very gracefully and looked at the dog, saying, full of love,”
“Come dance with Me, Satan!”
The huge dog spun around backwards so fast that it drilled a huge hole in the concrete ground, and down he went underground in a puff of smoke. I could see that this dog was terrified of this woman and hated Her. Then she took me by the hand and walked outside with me. Then she said,”
“Geraldine, never be afraid to pray. Good always overcomes evil.”
“When I told my grandmother about the dream the next morning, she became overjoyed, very excited, and dropped to her knees, praising God, and thrilled that the Blessed Mother had appeared to me. But, I did not really believe this yet and was more worried about grandmother’s health. Although I had never been to Lourdes or seen any pictures, years later I did see a photo and recognized the Lourde’s grotto as the very same one that I had seen in my dream!”
Geraldine had another dream in which she saw her deceased sister dressed in black. As she ran to hug her she noted that her sister was upset with her over having had a recent and unresolved disagreement with their grandfather. Her sister urged her to “go quickly and make up with him.” Her sister was upset because Geraldine had been selfish and unkind. The next morning Geraldine told her mother and agreed to go visit grandfather on the next morning. But grandfather died from a heart attack that very night – and now Geraldine understood her sister’s urgency and why she was dressed in black. Grandfather then came to her in a few visions, upset and warning her about terrible times ahead for humanity – and angry if she did not believe him.
In 1986 Geraldine was expecting her fourth child and experienced a very difficult and painful pregnancy. At five months she had an accident and fractured her spine and could not walk for two months, spending weeks in the hospital. As the difficult birth approached, more pain and troubles occurred. But nothing was as horrific as the insensitive worker who was rough with her and yelled at her despite her being in excruciating pain. In desperation Geraldine offered up her pain to Jesus.
“Then all of a sudden, one moment I am lying there (in the hospital) in agony, and the next — I am in a completely different place, standing up free from all pain. I did not know where I was; I looked all around me and everything was brilliant light. In front of me to my left I saw a figure of a man, and it was as though the sun was shining from his face, but yet it did not hurt my eyes to look at him. He was brighter than the sun. At that moment I felt his great compassion for me, as if he felt sorry for me, and then he said, ‘Do not worry, this person belongs to the Wicked One.’ I knew he meant the nurse who had caused me to suffer much. Up until this moment in my life, I sometimes wondered if God or Heaven really existed. Now, in Jesus’ presence I was in awe and remembered thinking, ‘Oh, God, there really is a Supreme Being who watches over the whole earth and sees everything.’ Now I know for sure that there is a God! Then he said, ‘They are persecuting My people,’ and He raised His right hand as He wanted to punish the wicked people here on earth. I then felt tremendous anger coming from him and also felt His Almighty Power. Just as He was about to strike, something from my right stopped Him. I looked across to see what it was, and I saw a Lady sitting down. Coming from this woman were oceans and oceans of love. So much love – a love I have never known. All the love I have for my family, children, husband, mother, grandparents, relatives, everyone – all this put together is only a tear-drop compared to the love coming from this Lady – and a serenity, peacefulness, and gentleness on the same scale. Her love was stopping this Man from punishing the world, and I knew I must go through this Lady to get to this Man. She had a tremendous hold over Him, which was Love. In this love that I felt coming from Her I experienced the greatest ecstasy and happiness I had ever known. Then I realized He could refuse Her nothing. At this moment She said to me, ‘You are going to have a baby girl. Go back, they need you.’ And I was back in the hospital.”
In November of 1989 Geraldine received another heavenly gift:
“Many things had been going wrong … I needed my grandmother who had partly raised me and was missing her very much. I needed advice, and I was still grieving for her (she had died in 1982). With tears streaming down my face, I was thinking of how we used to talk – and of her loving ways – my heart breaking as I wished she was still here.”
“Then, to my surprise, I heard a woman’s voice speaking inside of me clearly. She said, ‘I am your Blessed Mother. I am speaking to you from within. Your earthly mother is not here with you right now so I have come to comfort you during your trials. However, your other mother (grandmother) is here with Me. Would you like to speak to her?’ At that moment I thought I was losing my mind … but yet … I felt peaceful and calm and very comforted and loved by this voice. So, I said, ‘Yes, I would.”
“The next thing I knew, somehow, I was flying in spirit through the sky. By my left side was an Angel guiding me, and I felt it was my Guardian Angel – and it was nighttime. I saw in the distance a city. As we approached this city, it was like a warm and peaceful Sunday afternoon because there was a holiness about it. I saw white stone houses with flat roofs and park bench seats outside. There were people sitting on the seats. As we got closer, I recognized some of the people. My grandmother was sitting on the right side and my sister, Karen, opposite her. My grandmother looked younger, and there was a beautiful glow about her. I could see she was looking forward to my being with her.”
“Then I found myself looking towards my sister. It was like looking through a camera as the focus moved from place to place. My sister looked about thirty years old now; she was twelve years old when she had died. Yet, her features were the same. She was beaming and so happy and smiling. She said, ‘I have someone very, very special here who is really looking forward to meeting you. Don’t worry, I am looking after her for you.’ At that moment my view shifted down to see that she was holding the hand of a little girl about nine years old. She had long hair tied back in a ponytail, and she wore a plain gray dress. I didn’t know who she was.”
“Then my sister said, ‘This is Geraldine Margaret.’ At that moment I nearly fainted with shock. I felt the hair stand up on the back of my head, and I felt hot, then cold, as I realized it was the little baby I had miscarried nine years earlier, and it was a girl. I was going to call her Margaret Geraldine after my grandmother, but instead, they called her after me. Then this experience ended. As I came out of the room, my husband said, ‘What’s the matter?’ as he could see by the look on my face that something had happened.”
“I cried continuously at the thought of having a daughter and not knowing her. Again, I was so upset – not knowing what to make of all this. Again, I heard this beautiful, soft, loving woman’s voice: ‘Do not be sad at what you have seen. Rejoice, rejoice, for your Father in Heaven has given you a wonderful gift.’ I stopped crying and was comforted, feeling a great peace.”
November 2, 1991
“My child, Jesus will guide you in all things. Do not be worried or concerned about anything. Trust in My Son because He wants only what is best for you. Dear child, Satan roams around like a roaring lion, waiting to devour you. Protect yourself, wear holy blessed objects. Pray, use holy water more, invoke the protection of My Son’s precious blood. Pray to St. Michael for protection. Rejoice in the blessings God has given you, as this is pleasing to Him. Tell all Our sons and daughters of My great love for them. I only wish to save them – the light of God will shine upon them if they repent.”
February 14, 1992
“Dear children, your Holy Mother speaks to you. Children so dear to My heart, help Me, please, I beg you, quickly. I tell you I suffer so much. Go to everyone you meet and tell them the Lord is coming. Oh, My children, My sorrow is immense – I see so much catastrophe ahead of you. Come quickly to Me, all of you, for protection. Pray, pray as never before. Help and console one another. I love you all and want you close to Me to save you from the Evil One who hates you and wants to destroy you and your families. Receive the Sacraments daily – time is of the essence. My Son’s wrath is about to come upon the whole world. Pray, pray, and offer all in reparation. Pray more, love more, suffer more. Walk with your Mother the road to Calvary along with My Divine Son, Jesus. My children, God has sent Me to warn you. Listen to the voice of the prophets, as you cannot imagine what the Father has prepared for those who offend Him continuously. Pray, I beg you, for My lost children. My beloved children who are faithful to Me, console your sorrowful Mother in constant prayer, penance, reparation, and fasting. I bless you …”
April 4, 1992 (from Jesus)
“Dear daughter, My beloved Mother and I are present; be not afraid, I hold you in the palm of My hand. We are so very much offended, My child, by the sins of the world. Oh, how My heart grieves. Many souls are doomed to perdition. How it grieves Me to see this. Console Me, My child, as the pain is unbearable. Why are they so blind? Why do they not listen to Me and My Blessed Mother, who loves them with a love beyond their imagination? The greatest joy awaits them in Paradise if only they would repent and turn away from sin. Oh, the sorrow in My poor Mother’s Heart! Console Her, My child, as She suffers greatly. Give some consolation to your Blessed Mother. My children, why do you deceive yourselves? Don’t you know that the Kingdom of God is upon you? Repent now while there is still time. Weep, My children, for your families, as the earth and Heavens above will shake to their very foundations with a terror the world has never known. Woe to the wicked as their fate is terrible. Pray, pray, pray continuously to lessen the punishment as you cannot imagine what God will send. But, fear not, My blessed beloved ones, who suffer for My sake. Be not afraid – I will be with you in all things. Come close to My Sacred Heart, and I will comfort you. Do all in My name, and I will bless you for this, and the greatest joy shall await you. You will glorify My Father in Heaven by your sacrifices. Do much penance, pray, fast, tell My priests I love them, and I suffer for them greatly. Arm yourselves urgently with My Holy Mother’s Rosary, as the Prince of Darkness is unchained from the abyss. In the Rosary you will find protection and consolation. The time is at hand. My loved ones, comfort one another, pray with and for each other. Suffer for souls, My chosen one, and the greatest joy in Heaven will be yours for all eternity.”
April 24, 1992
“My child, I, your Blessed Mother, am present. Do not be afraid. Satan cannot harm you as you have My motherly protection. But you must still arm yourself with prayer, especially My Holy Rosary. My daughter, please be guided by Me. Do not be deceived by the world. My daughter, prostrate yourself before Me and console Me as My heart aches for My children. My Holy Angels are present in veneration. I wish to make known through you the sufferings of My Immaculate Heart. Tell My beautiful children how much I love them and long to teach them. Oh, My child, the pain in My heart is unbearable. Help Me, I suffer greatly. Pray, pray, pray.”
June 11, 1992 (Jesus)
“Oh, My daughter, be silent and know that I am God. Have I ever abandoned you? Am I not at this present moment standing by you? Be not afraid for I am within you. Have courage, My child, and abide in Me who am all love. I have not forsaken you. The torment your soul has suffered is also a purification. Offer all to My Heavenly Father for all needy humanity. Beloved daughter, I see you suffer greatly, but do not distress yourself. I will be your shining light. You still doubt. But I understand this and you will grow. Your Spiritual Director will guide and help you greatly. What you will suffer now will not last long. Pray much and offer all, and this trial will pass quickly. I wish to use you to spread My messages. Do not worry – I will show you the way. Just write all that I say for now. I will sustain you in everything as you are Mine. You belong to Me and I love you. I will not let you suffer beyond your capacity. I must now let My Holy Mother speak as I feel that you need Her more now.”
(Mary:) “My child, do not be afraid. Satan cannot harm you. Angels surround you always and especially now. Turn off your television. Pray more. Do not be afraid. I have come to comfort you. Fear not, little one, and be at peace. My Son loves you.”
October 7, 1993
“My dear child, tell My Priest sons I am calling them together to prepare to do battle. The Church and the world are about to be thrown into great turmoil. Pray very much for the Holy Father (John Paul II), as He suffers greatly for the sins of humanity and is very distressed. He needs your constant support in prayer. Tell My sons I have chosen you to give these messages, which is the holy will of My Son. Prepare humanity now for the greatest battle since time began, which is about to begin. If you do not heed My warnings, you will not survive the terrible and evil time ahead: torrents of rain, hail, thunder, earthquakes, catastrophes, natural disasters, murders, corruption, incest, immorality, abortions, Priests and Religious losing faith and committing sacrileges against the Holy Name of My Son – these are taking place. How much more can He take? He is daily crucified. Help Me, please. I cannot hold back the justice of My Son any more. Please, My sons, prepare now as never before. I am gathering you now from the four corners of the earth to do battle. Put on the armor of God daily, and take up your cross and carry it with joy. Go in peace.”
February 15, 1991
“My children, listen to me – the Lord your God speaks. Let not your sins be numerous because there will soon be a great chastisement. Turn back to Me, My children, quickly as Satan is very strong. This is his kingdom. He now rules over much of the world, but My Kingdom is coming. There really is another life. You are just passing through here. Do not let the world deceive you – it does not have anything to offer that is lasting. Store up in Heaven your treasures and soon you will be with Me in Paradise. Believe, My children, justice will come. Take refuge in Me. Do no harm and you will receive a peace this world cannot give you. Come to Me, My children, and I will give you rest. The people of this world will hate you as they hated Me before you, but do not fear, My child, I have overcome the world. Satan is very powerful, My children. Pray the Rosary often. This is a very powerful weapon. Do not concern yourselves with material things. Live simply and go to church as this is the only time when you are in My Real Presence. Go to Confession at least once a month with the intention of changing afterwards.”
February 6, 1995 (Jesus)
“Beloved, I wish to tell you of the great things I have planned for this generation. Woe to the wicked for their time is over. They will lie in the streets covered in their blood for the sufferings My children have cried out to Me in vengeance. I have a great punishment for mankind – the like of which has never been seen before, or will be again. This will be the very worst of My Judgment. Terror will sweep the earth. The love of many will grow cold and cease to exist. Many will be plunged into Hell. My Angels are in readiness for this day; they await My word. The Heavens, My child, will be pierced with the cries of many, but in vain. I have said, ‘No more!’ This day will come very suddenly. I wish you to prepare with much prayer and sacrifice, because much will be asked of My chosen children. The Evil One is poisoning people’s minds, perverting them and causing them to pervert others, inciting them to murder and destroying many before this terrible day. There will be many innocent victims at this time. Pray for them and their families. My beloved, do everything Father tells you on My behalf. My beloved, the grace of God is upon you and this work. I am allowing all these things to prepare you for My Kingdom. Beloved, accept all with love for Me. The Evil One is trying to destroy your peace. Offer everything for love of God … Go in peace.”
There are hundreds of more messages given to Geraldine from Jesus and Blessed Mary that cannot be all listed here. At one point, a medal was requested to be created that would display the Divine Mercy image of Jesus on the front with these words: “He who believes in me will never die / Jesus / The Light of the World.” The backside of the medal displays the Sacred Heart of Jesus next to the Immaculate Heart of Mary with these words: “Unite the World / The Immaculate Conception and the Sacred Heart of Jesus.”
February 10, 1995 (Blessed Mary)
“My child, this Medal will be for the conversion of many. Many graces and blessings, healings and spiritual healings will come from the faith people have in this devotion. The name of this Medal, My child, is ‘The Medal of Divine Mercy.’ I have come to ask for devotion to Our Two Hearts and to My Beloved Son’s Divine Mercy. Those who ask Us under these titles will receive abundant blessings, and the grace of My Son will be given them. This devotion will be spread world-wide and will amaze you. But it is the will and work of My Divine Son, so it will bear much fruit. Go, My children, and spread this devotion everywhere as it is so necessary for the salvation of the world. My Son blesses you as do I. Go in peace.”
On April 15, 1980, the sacristan, Bernardo Martinez (age 50), witnessed the statue of Mary in the chapel light up on its own. Recently, the sacristy lights had mysteriously illuminated on two other occasions. Thinking that Mary might be mad at him for arguing with others, he set out to seek forgiveness from those people. But they laughed at his story and ridiculed him. He begged Mary to not request anything more of him because it was causing him troubles. He even avoided going near the statue.
Bernardo was close to his breaking point both physically and emotionally due to illness, being out of work, and not being able to care for his family well. To cheer himself up, he went to the river to fish. When it began to rain around 1:00 p.m., he decided to sit under a tree and wait. He dozed for a short time but woke with a start and an unexplained fear. He decided to pray the Rosary. By 3:00 p.m., he decided to gather his fish and head home. Returning from this fishing trip on May 8, 1980, Bernardo saw two lightning flashes. On the second flash the Virgin Mary appeared to him. He felt immobilized and could not run or yell. But he was surprised that he felt no fear. He thought that he might just be envisioning the same statue in his mind – and perhaps was dreaming, but when he passed his hand over his eyes and looked again, he saw that she had human skin and eyes that moved and blinked. “She is alive!” he thought to himself – because his tongue would not move to speak. He felt numb – his lower jaw and tongue were stiff as if asleep. His whole body was immobilized – only his thoughts in his mind could be active.
She was so beautiful – wearing a long white dress with bare feet resting upon an extremely white cloud. She had a celestial cord around her waist, long sleeves, and a veil of a pale cream color with gold embroidery covering her. She extended her arms and rays of light, “stronger than the sun,” emanated from her hands. The rays touched his chest – and he was able to speak again, so he asked her name.
“She answered me with the sweetest voice I have ever heard from any woman – sweeter than the softest voice.” He saw her move her lips and say that her name was Mary. He knew she was alive and real because she actually responded to him!
B: “Where do you come from?”
M: “I come from Heaven. I am the Mother of Jesus.”
B: “What is it that you want?”
M: “I want the Rosary to be prayed every day.”
B: “Yes, we are praying it – The priest brought us the intentions of the San Francisco parish so that we would unite ourselves with them.”
M: “I don’t want it (Rosary) prayed only in the month of May. I want it to be prayed permanently, within the family, including the children old enough to understand – to be prayed at a set hour when there are no problems with the work in the home.
Love each other. Fulfill your obligations. Make peace. Don’t ask our Lord for peace, because if you do not make it, there will be no peace. Renew the Five First Saturdays. You received many graces when all of you did this.”
Mary added that prayers should not be rushed or said in a mechanical fashion. She told him to read the Bible passages that go along with the mysteries of the Rosary.
M: “Nicaragua has suffered much since the earthquake. She is threatened with even more suffering. She will continue to suffer if you don’t change. Pray! Pray, my son, the Rosary for all the world. Tell believers and non-believers that the world is threatened by grave dangers. I ask the Lord to appease His Justice, but if you don’t change, you will hasten the arrival of a Third World War.”
B: “Lady, I don’t want problems. I have many in the church. Tell this to another person.”
M: “No, because Our Lord has selected you to give this message.”
Bernardo was frightened to spread Mary’s message because of the persecution he had endured earlier. He kept the vision to himself for eight days until Mary appeared again.
M: “Why have you not told what I sent you to tell?”
B: “Lady, it is that I am afraid. I am afraid of being the ridicule of the people, afraid that they will laugh at me, that they will not believe me. Those who will not believe this will laugh at me. They will say that I am crazy.”
M: “Do not be afraid. I am going to help you. And tell the priest.”
Bernardo described Mary looking upward toward Heaven, and the cloud that held her slowly elevated her. She was in a ray of light, and when she reached a certain height, she disappeared.
So Bernardo began telling people and his priest – who encouraged him to keep sharing with others what he had witnessed. On June 8, 1980, Mary appeared again, giving him four visions – “which were like movies in the sky.” The first vision was of the first Christians, singing and marching towards Heaven. They were dressed in white – their bodies glowing with light. The second vision was of another group of people also dressed in white. They held illuminated rosaries in their hands. The leader read from a book, and after meditating on the reading, they prayed an Our Father and ten Hail Marys. Mary explained that they were the first ones to whom she had given the Rosary. She wanted everyone to pray the Rosary like they were doing it. In the third vision, Bernardo saw a group of men dressed in brown robes. Mary explained that these were the Franciscans. “They received the Rosary from the hands of the first ones.” In the fourth vision, he saw a large group, as big as an army, of people in normal dress, all holding rosaries. Light radiated from their bodies, and they were beautiful. He wanted to join them and go with them even though he was not illuminated, himself.
M: “No! You are still lacking. You have to tell the people what you have seen and heard. I have shown you the glory of Our Lord, and you people will acquire this if you are obedient to Our Lord, to the Lord’s Word – if you persevere in praying the Holy Rosary and put into practice the Lord’s Word.”
Bernardo only shared these visions with the priest, knowing that the church must approve them first. The priest gave Bernardo approval and permission to spread the visions.
On July 8, 1980, an angel presented him with a vision of a prophecy. The angel told Bernardo to tell a certain woman how and when her brother would get released from jail because he was innocent. He had a message for another woman regarding her alcoholic father and brother and her own problems teaching in a communist school. Finally, the angel foretold that his own cousin would be assaulted and later killed. All of these prophecies came to pass exactly as the angel had described.
On October 13, 1980, on the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, a large glowing circle appeared above the ground in front of fifty people that had gathered to say the Holy Rosary. Everyone saw the light that came from the sky – a single ray – like a powerful spotlight that illuminated the circle in front of them. Then the people noticed that a circle had also formed in the sky. “It was like a ring around the sun – but it’s not the sun!” The circle began to radiate all the colors of the rainbow (at exactly 3:00 p.m.) – which danced about the sky.
“It was 3:00 p.m. in the afternoon. One could feel a small breeze that moved softly. Pleasant – like a fresh shower – but which did not wet us. While we observed this, we were silent and continued seeing that circle of light which gave off colored lights from the exact center, where the sun is at twelve noon. All of a sudden, a lightning flash – the same as the other times – then, a second flash. I lowered my eyes, and I saw the Lady.”
She appeared on her little cloud which rested above a pile of flowers that the group had brought. She extended her hands, and rays of light reached out to everyone, causing some to cry with joy. Bernardo begged her to appear to all of those present as they did not all believe in his vision. Mary’s face became pale and her clothes turned gray, appearing as Our Lady of Sorrows.
“It saddens me to see the hardness of those persons’ hearts. But you will have to pray for them so that they will change. Pray the Rosary. Meditate on the mysteries. Listen to the Word of God spoken in them. Love one another. Love each other. Forgive each other. Make peace. Don’t ask for peace without making peace, because if you don’t make it, it does no good to ask for it. Fulfill your obligations. Put into practice the Word of God. Seek ways to please God. Serve your neighbor — as that way you will please Him. They ask of me things that are unimportant. Ask for Faith in order to have strength so that each can carry his own cross. The suffering of this world cannot be removed. That is the way life is. There are problems with the husband, with the wife, with the children, with the brothers. Talk, converse, so that the problems will be resolved in peace. Do not turn to violence. Never turn to violence. Pray for faith in order that you will have patience. You will no longer see me in this place.”
B: “Don’t leave us, my Mother! Don’t leave us, my Mother! Don’t leave us, my Mother!”
M: “Do not be grieved. I am with all of you even though you do not see me. I am the Mother of All you sinners. Love one another. Forgive each other. Make peace … Pray, pray, my son, for all the world. Grave dangers threaten the world. The Mother never forgets Her children, and I have not forgotten what you suffer. Invoke me with these words, Holy Virgin, You are my Mother, the Mother to all of us sinners.”
As she departed, the little cloud seemed to be pushing her back up to Heaven. At this, the messages from Mary were completed. These six apparitions were officially approved by the church in 1982, and, shortly after that, Bernardo Martinez was ordained a priest. The local bishop, Monsignor Vega published his approval of these apparitions on November 13, 1983.
Most of the 202,000 Nicaraguans who reside in the United States fled to this country in the 1980’s when the brutal war in Nicaragua broke out between the Sandinistas and the Contras.
The visions occurred at the Coptic Orthodox Church of St. Mary in Zeitoun, a busy Cairo suburb which lies close to the road taken by the Holy Family during their flight into Egypt. It is interesting to note that the land in which the church stands originally belonged to a family of devout Copts named Khalil. In 1920, one of the family was about to build on it, when the Blessed Virgin appeared to him in a dream and told him to build a Coptic Church in her honor on the site – and that in 50 years she would bless it in a special way. And, 50 years later, Mary was appearing to thousands over this church!
Relations between the Coptic Orthodox Church and Rome, already close in 1968, were further enhanced by the return of the major part of Saint Mark’s relics by Pope Paul VI from Venice to Egypt early in that year. This act of fraternal charity seems to have set the stage for the extraordinary visions of Mary in the following month.
The Virgin Mary first appeared privately to the priest of St. Mary’s church, Father Constantine Moussa. On one evening she appeared in the church on the steps by the altar. When she spoke to him, he fainted and fell to the floor. Being a humble man who did not wish to draw any attention to himself, he did not reveal this visitation until just before he died in 1984. He revealed to the Chairman of the Papal Committee that the Virgin Mary had described the nature of her impending visit with him and had told him, “Be ready!” Little did he know that millions would be coming to this church to see her.
On Tuesday, April 2, 1968, at 8:30 p.m. two Moslem workmen, standing at the gate to their work garage across from the church, were startled by the appearance of a “lady in white,” kneeling beside the cross at the top of the church’s dome. One of the workmen, Farouk Mohammed Atwa, pointed his bandaged finger toward the lady, fearing that it might be a nun about to commit suicide, and said, “Lady, don’t jump! Don’t jump.” Feeling a sense of desperation, he dashed off to call the fire brigade and the rescue squad while others ran across the street to summon the priest, Father Constantine. At that moment, the lady rose to her feet, revealing herself as a luminous being, dressed in shimmering robes of light. One woman cried out, “Our Lady Mary!” At that moment, a flight of glowing white doves appeared from nowhere and hovered around the apparition. Then everything faded away into the dark sky, leaving spectators below speechless. Farouk Atwa’s bandaged finger was full of gangrene and due to be amputated the next day. But when he arrived at the hospital the next morning, the surgeon was astonished to find his finger completely healed – the first recorded miraculous healing in Zeitoun.
Exactly a week later, there was another apparition, then another and another in rapid succession. They always took place at night and were generally preceded by mysterious lights, flashing silently over the church like a canopy of shooting stars or “a shower of diamonds made of light.” Minutes later, formations of luminous doves would appear and fly around the floodlit church. Eyewitnesses described them as “strange bird-like creatures made of light” which flew with “astonishing swiftness without moving their wings.” They always maintained a definite formation and then disappeared “like melting snowflakes.” Shortly after, a blinding explosion of light would engulf the church roof. As it diminished it would shape itself into the brilliant form of Our Lady. She would be seen in a long white robe and veil of bluish-white light. The stunned spectators below could see her garments blowing in the warm night breeze. A dazzling halo shone around her head. Her radiance was so intense – “like the sun in human form” – that it was almost impossible to discern her features. The vision would glide with effortless ease across the domes, bowing and greeting the amazed crowds below. Occasionally, she would appear above or between the palm trees in the church courtyard, or emerge in a globe of light from either one of the four corner domes or other structures.
Sometimes she would be seen with the infant Jesus cradled in her arms – or with St. Joseph and the Christ child at about age 12. A dazzling crown of light sometimes shone above her head, giving an impression of unearthly and sublime majesty. News of the apparitions spread like fire across Egypt, attracting multitudes of Christians, Jews, Moslems, other religions, and even disbelievers and atheists. Within a few weeks, the crowds reached an estimated 250,000 people every night! These differing religions had all come together, praying together, singing together – in praise to Blessed Mary. She would acknowledge the massive crowds below, waving at them, holding out an olive branch – which would generate an ecstatic cheer from the masses.
Occasionally, people could see billowing red clouds of incense-smelling smoke rising around the vision. The clouds sometimes poured from sealed stain glass windows in the domes – “it would take a million censers to produce it.”
In the early hours of April 13, Wagih Rizk Matta, a photographer, succeeded in photographing the vision for the first time – overcoming an inexplicable sensation of immobility which prevented the vast majority of people from operating their cameras. Having taken the pictures, he then became aware of being completely healed from an old injury to his arm! (Doctors confirmed his miraculous healing.)
Apparitions might last a few minutes or as long as nine hours (8 p.m. till 5 a.m., May 4 & 5, June 8 & 9, 1968) – long enough for people to run home and bring their families and neighbors back. The Coptic Pope personally sent Bishop Athanasius to make a detailed investigation – and then the Bishop had his own experience:
“Suddenly, there she was – standing in full figure. The crowd was tremendous. It was too difficult to move among the people. But I worked my way to in front of the figure. There she was, five or six meters above the dome, high in the sky, full figure – like a phosphorescent statue, but not stiff like a statue. There was movement of the body and clothing … Our Lady looked to the north – she waved her hand. She blessed the people, sometimes in the direction where we stood. Her garments swayed in the wind. She was quiet, full of glory. It was something really supernatural … very, very heavenly … Some people were reciting verses from the Koran. Some were praying in Greek. Others were singing Coptic hymns … I tried to distinguish the face and features … there was something about the eyes and mouth I could see … the apparition slowly faded away …”
On another night, Bishop Athanasius attempted to approach the apparition of Mary from inside the church. He locked all the doors, turned off all the lights, and headed toward the roof. He had just seen her full figure on the roof when he had been outside just minutes before. As he approached the ladder to the roof from the second floor, he had an inexplicable experience. He started shaking uncontrollably – in fact, the ladder that he was on was also shaking hard. He felt frozen in his tracks, unable to move, and sensing that something unusual was very close by. The people outside were cheering that they could see her. He retreated back down and back outside to see that she was standing just 3 feet from where he had been!
Pope Paul VI also sent two investigators to Zeitoun who saw the apparition with their own eyes as well. However, Rome does not have “jurisdiction” in Egypt as they have their own Pope and system, so no Roman Pope has to render any decision, judgment, or proclamation on an event in a Coptic Orthodox environment. Similarly, the Copts felt it unnecessary to rule on Fatima in 1917. Nevertheless, the Vatican was intrigued and very interested in what was happening in Zeitoun!
Pearl Zaki is an American from Minneapolis who traveled to Cairo to see the apparitions for herself – and was not disappointed on August 12, 1968:
“I walked slowly around behind the crowd of about four thousand people gathered in front of the church. Suddenly, I heard a cry come up from somewhere in the crowd and saw many of them rising from their chairs and the ground to surge forward en masse. I had seen what looked like a flash of flame cover the front of the church. Again I saw a flash of yellowish orange light shaped like a big flame covering the whole front of the church and lasting about five seconds. It repeated twice more. I felt myself drawn to her and praying aloud … The large dome became engulfed in a brilliant blue white light, as if it were melting, and the edges of light on top of the lighted dome appeared to roll inward so that one’s eyes were directed to the very center in front of the cross. The whole light suddenly vanished, then reappeared. I could see in faint outline the erect, white, statue-like figure. Her arms were at Her side. Then they moved slowly upward into the position of hands folded in prayer. Two flashes of light like meteors or shooting stars came from behind the dome to form a cross over her head, and then all became dark.”
(August 18, 1968) “At 4:00 a.m. without warning, the whole front of the church suddenly lit up in the purest of white light. We saw the Virgin Mary as a white statue, standing as if ten feet tall in the garden in front of the church. I had a side view of her as one sees a white statue in profile with hands held in prayer. After a few seconds, the figure appeared to bend and move spirit-like through the wall. As we waited with anticipation, a thick fog-like cloud rolled in over the church and covered it completely. The sky above the domes of the church became a reddish-purple hue, and a fragrance like incense filled the air. One could reach out as if to touch it or move his hand through what seemed like a thick film of heavy air. (99% of the time there are no clouds in Egypt.) My son saw her silhouette in a kneeling position at the front of the dome.”
Often in a burst of light, she would appear out of what seemed to be nothing. A cloud that would form and become brighter and brighter – and eventually she would appear in this great illumination. Then, within this illumination, the outline of her figure would appear brighter and brighter. She bowed her head, moved her hands as to bless the multitudes, turned from side to side, and moved as if gliding on the church roof and domes. When she turned to move to the other side of the church, the back of her head could be seen. On some occasions she appeared to be ascending above the large dome into the sky. There were times when it appeared as if a door – a crack of light in the sky—would open, and she would “step out of heaven” or a “sanctuary door” – and then leave by the same means. Other times she would fade into a silhouette, then a cloud, and then disappear. Those who saw her features the clearest report a youthful, healthy-looking, beautiful lady with beautiful eyes, hair, and hands. At the time of her visits, most people became transfixed in wonder, amazement, or a state of ecstasy to the degree that all actions became impossible. Arms and fingers could not move to adjust cameras or take pictures.
Sonia Demetrious saw her four times in May of 1968:
“I saw different pictures of the Holy Family on six occasions. Sometimes she stood for 2-3 hours. I saw her appearing on top of the dome, one time in between the two palm trees, and another time at the side of the church. On one occasion I saw five little angels under the Virgin Mary – as if carrying her up from the Church.”
Siham Shenouda saw the Virgin Mary from 2:30 a.m. until 5:00 a.m. on April 29, 1968:
“She was fluorescent and colored – and at times with beings as two to four angels hovering around her. She was holding the Baby Jesus and appeared as if smiling. … She was very, very tall – all in blue, and she held her hands out and up as if praying. I was astonished, trembling, and crying.”
Bishop Gregorious saw the Virgin Mary on numerous occasions:
“Nine out of ten times the Virgin Mary would appear, move to the edge of the church roof and, by way of greeting, bow to the multitudes and bless them with her hand holding the cross or an olive branch. Then, she almost always turned back to the cross on the roof in an attitude of prayer – bowing before it, kneeling before it, and then found prostrate before the cross.”
Numerous miraculous healings have been documented. Two girls, blind since birth, studying at a school for the blind, fully regained their sight. A 34-year old mute, Adel Abdel Malek, unable to speak since birth, was cured and able to speak. A Muslim girl with a malignant tumor on the side of her head visited an apparition of Mary at the church the night before her surgery and showed up the next day completely free of her tumor. Miss Madiha Mohammed Said, age 20, had lost her sight and speech, and had failed all medical efforts to improve her condition. On June 4, 1968, her two brothers took her to the church, asking the priest to pray for her. Suddenly, she cried out in a loud voice, “I see the apparition of the Blessed Virgin!” In that instant she regained both her eyesight and her power of speech. Cases of paralysis were cured – one woman arrived in her wheelchair at the church, felt burning electrical sensations, and then walked away.
Authorities wanted to rule out any pranks, hoaxes, or clever light shows. Police searched an area up to 15 miles out from the church, extensively, for any kind of device that might create such an effect. At one point they initiated a power blackout in the area so that nothing electrical could be possibly utilized to create these images. And the radiant Virgin Mary, her flying luminous doves, and the eerie heavenly lights continued to materialize just as brilliantly as ever during the power outage – much to the delight of thousands in the dark. Laser light shows were not in existence yet – and certainly could not have produced moving, three-dimensional images. Holography was in its infancy and could only produce a one-foot by one-foot, stationary, two-tone image at the distance of a half mile at the cost of $500,000 dollars. Mary was life-size and even larger, moving from one side of the church to the other, and in many different colors – reddish, yellowish, golden, blue, and white. Even careful scrutiny and computer enhancement of the photos taken indicate no trick photography whatsoever. This was before digital cameras, digital manipulations, and Photoshop were invented. In fact, color print film had just come out about four years earlier.
Therefore, the visits of the Virgin Mary were authenticated by the Church on May 5, 1968 – just one month after she began appearing. This unprecedented quick and vast approval was due to her dramatic and frequent appearances which most investigators or skeptics were able to witness, themselves, first-hand. The official statement by the Coptic Pope, Anba Kyrillos VI, states:
“The appearances have been witnessed by many thousands of citizens and foreigners belonging to different religions and sects, together with groups of religious organizations and scientific and professional personages and all other categories of people, who have proclaimed and announced their witnesses, confirming the certainty of the Virgin’s appearances – all giving the same particulars as to description and form and time and place, thus proving a whole agreement in witnessing that has elevated the matter of appearance above any doubt or any lack of proof or evidence.
The Papal Residence has collected the evidences that have been looked after by authorized personalities and committees of clergymen who have been pursuing and investigating and who even had the chance to observe the blessed apparition for themselves and recording their research and witness in official reports which they submitted. The Papal Residence, by issuing this statement, declares with complete faith, great rejoicing, and with gratitude submitted through self-humiliation to Almighty God that the Blessed Virgin Mary has appeared numerous times in clear and steady forms during many different nights for varying periods, that reached in some of them to more than two hours continually, since the second of April 1968 up to now in the Coptic Orthodox Church in Zeitoun, Cairo, that is in Matariya Road through which the Holy Family had passed during their settlement in Egypt as well-known, historically.”
There were several other encounters with Mary during these times worthy of reporting.
Several high-ranking officials obtained a private story while visiting the home of one of the district’s leading Moslems. He admitted that he had been antagonistic toward visitors in the beginning because his house was near the church, and he would throw stones at them as they had to pass close by his house. He tried to call the police and have them arrested. But then, he said that Our Lady appeared to him and asked him why he behaved in this manner. She begged him not to continue in this fashion and commanded him to paint the sign of the cross on his house. Although remaining a practicing Muslim, he is now convinced of the authenticity of the visions and painted forty huge white crosses!
A priest confirmed the validity of the following encounter with two doctors. These two Muslim doctors were traveling from Alexandria through the desert area of the Wadi-al-Natrun Valley into Cairo. There are monasteries located along this road. While driving along, they encountered a young lady walking along the road in the hot desert sun. They felt obliged to offer her a ride. As they drew near, they saw she was dressed as a nun. With the monasteries in the area they didn’t think of this as unusual. She accepted their generous offer, and as they were riding along, she questioned them about Zeitoun. Did they know that the Virgin Mary was appearing there? Had they been to Zeitoun, etc.? They said, “No, we are busy men and Muslim. We would not go there.” As they came to the pyramid area, she asked to be let out – but not before convincing the doctors that they should visit Zeitoun. Upon questioning her, they learned that she was traveling to Zeitoun. They realized that they couldn’t leave her out in this area as it was a great distance to Zeitoun. They offered to take her there. When they arrived at Zeitoun, they turned to open the door for her to get out. People standing around the car by them then saw a dove fly out of the car’s back seat. The doctors became “mad men,” searching under the car and all around it for the young lady. All the people laughed at them and told them that there was no lady. Didn’t they see the dove flying out of the car?
On Friday, April 14, 1972, forty people were traveling on a bus from Alexandria to the Coventry of St. Bishoi to baptize a baby named Mary. Written testimonies from three of the passengers, Mrs. Flora Abdel Malek (a doctor’s wife), Father Boctor Zaki (a pastor), and Mr. Aziz Soadalla (member of church committee) were sent to the national newspaper. The mother of the baby, Kathy Kapel Khalil, an architect, had died 5 months earlier and could not see her dream of this baptism become a reality. Grandfather Khalil took his daughter’s baby for this baptism to fulfill her dream. At a distance of 10 miles away from the Coventry, the bus broke down, and they had to find another form of transportation. The driver of a big truck agreed to give everybody a ride. After a while, they saw a nun in her uniform walking along the road, carrying her Bible. They were surprised to see her alone in such a deserted area where there were no other people or transports. Father Boctor asked the truck driver to stop and then invited the nun to join them. She came and raised her hand, saying, “Peace.” Father Boctor seated her next to the grandmother of the child and offered her water to drink, but she did not. Then he gave her an orange. She peeled it, but did not eat it. She gave it to the child who ate it all. When they arrived at the Coventry and got out of the truck, she stood in front of the whole group and raised her hand, saying, “Peace.” Then a bright light appeared, and suddenly she vanished – right before all of their eyes! Then they knew who she was!
By early 1970 the frequency of the apparitions had diminished to an average of one per month. The last glorious and final public sighting was on May 29, 1971. Crowds thinned out over those years, but it is estimated that 3 out of every 4 Egyptians had seen her by now – many had numerous sightings. It is estimated that 40 million people encountered her heavenly presence – including President Nasser of Egypt! It is theorized that she never spoke or relayed any verbal messages due to the diversity of the crowds and varying beliefs. In this case, her image alone was truly worth a thousand words! Conversions and miracles continue to this day. And she would return to other parts of Egypt several more times in the next 30 years.
Born in 1931, Agnes Katsuko Sasagawa was always a frail child. She had her appendix removed at age 19, but due to a hospital error with the anesthesia, she became paralyzed. After ten years of immobility while being cared for by a Catholic nun, she made a spontaneous and miraculous recovery. In May of 1973, she entered the convent of the Handmaids of the Eucharist in Yuzawadai, a suburb of Akita. One month earlier she had been suddenly afflicted with total deafness.
On June 12, 1973, Sister Agnes Sasagawa (age 42) entered the convent chapel, focused on preparing for the Eucharist. She was still adjusting to her recent loss of all hearing. Suddenly, as she approached the altar to open the tabernacle door, a brilliant light broke forth — brighter and whiter than the sun. Overwhelmed, she dropped to her knees and prayed for the next hour — feeling as if she was being held there by some heavy force. She was able to leave after that. The next day, as she opened the tabernacle door again, the brilliant light poured forth once more. On the third day, June 14, a red flame encompassed the white light inside the tabernacle, but no other nuns had seen this “tabernacle fire.” The fourth sighting occurred on eve of the feast of the Sacred Heart and had the addition of “an adoring crowd of spiritual beings” or angels, who were clearly worshiping the Host on the altar.
On June 28, she experienced a sharp pain in the palm of her left hand. A small, rose-colored cross was etched across her palm and remained, painfully, for 3 days. But, on July 5, the pain returned in her left hand, and it bled more than she could conceal from others. Tears flowed from her eyes as she let another nun help bandage her hand. This was no illusion! That night, she rose to pray at 3:00 a.m., and a voice came to her despite her deafness and said,
“Be not afraid. Pray with fervor, not only because of your sins, but in reparation for those of all people. The world today wounds the most Sacred Heart of Our Lord by its ingratitude and injuries. The wounds of Mary are much deeper and more sorrowful than yours. Let us go to pray in the chapel together.”
A beautiful figure suddenly stood next to her right shoulder. “I am the one who is with you and watches over you.” (her guardian angel) The angel led her to the chapel and then disappeared. Sister Agnes approached a tall statue of Mary and knelt before her. Suddenly, the statue became instantly ablaze and bathed in a brilliant light — as if the statue was coming to life! Though deaf, she heard the statue speak to her:
“My daughter, my novice, you have obeyed me well in abandoning all to follow me. Do you suffer much because of the handicap which deafness causes you? You will be assuredly healed. Be patient, it is the last trial. Does the wound in your hand give you pain? Pray in reparation for the sins of humanity. Each person in this community is my irreplaceable daughter. Pray very much for the pope, bishops, and priests. Since your baptism, you have always prayed faithfully for them. Continue to pray very much …”
The next morning, Sister Agnes asked Sister Kotake to inspect the statue. She found a cross-shaped wound, bleeding, in the right hand of the wooden statue of Mary. Sometimes it gushed blood, profusely. Sister Agnes’ hand continued to have bouts of intense pain as well. Sister Agnes’s wound appeared on Thursday evenings, grew worse on Fridays, and disappeared each Sunday – as if commemorating the passion and death of Jesus.
On July 26, the Feast of St. Anne, the Mother of the Virgin Mary, her wound became more painful than ever. At the same time, the statue in the chapel began to bleed more profusely. She went to Bishop Ito to reveal her pain and suffering; he advised going to a doctor. But she went to the chapel, first, to pray for strength. There, she suddenly heard the voice of the angel again:
“Our pain will come to an end today. Pray to the Sacred Heart and the Precious Blood. Pray for the sins of the whole world. Tell the Bishop that the blood is shed today for the last time.”
At once the pain left, and the wound in her hand was healed. The statue also ceased its bleeding at the same time – though the imprint of the wound remained in the wood.
On August 3, she heard the statue of Mary state to her,
“Many men in this world grieve the Lord. I seek souls to console Him. In order to appease the anger of the Heavenly Father, I wish, with my Son to search for souls who will make reparations for sinners and for the ungrateful by offering up their sufferings and poverty to God on their behalf. In order that the world might know the wrath of the Heavenly Father toward today’s world, He is preparing to inflict a great chastisement on all mankind. With my Son, many times I have tried to appease the wrath of the Heavenly Father. I have prevented the coming of the chastisement by offering the sufferings of His Son on the cross, His precious Blood, and the compassionate souls who console the Heavenly Father, a cohort of victim souls overflowing with love. Prayer, penance, honest poverty, and courageous acts of sacrifices can soften His anger. Obedience is the foundation of all things…”
On September 29, with another nun at her side, Sister Agnes saw the statue of Mary ablaze with light again. For the first time, the companion with her was able to see the unearthly light and gasped with excitement. The statue’s hands glowed brightly and the wound was healed finally. But, later that night, when the statue glowed again, tears began flowing from the statue’s eyes. The tears had a wonderful fragrance of flowers that persisted for 17 days!
“I am weeping because humanity is not accepting my motherly invitation to conversion. The (public) signs of my immense sorrow … are not believed in. Man is becoming ever more corrupt, godless, wicked, and cruel. A chastisement worse than the flood is about to come upon this poor and perverted humanity. Fire will descend from heaven. This will be the sign that God in His justice has — as of now — fixed the hour of His great manifestation. … I am weeping because the Church is continuing along the road of division, of loss of the true faith … I am weeping because, in great numbers, the souls of my children are being lost and going to hell. … Prepare yourselves to receive Christ in the splendor of His glory, because the great day of the Lord has even now arrived.”
On October 13, the 57th anniversary of the last apparition at Fatima, Sister Agnes was healed from deafness during the benediction of that church service and was delighted at hearing the church bells ring! She telephoned Bishop Ito to report that Mary’s promise of restoring her hearing had come true.
On January 4, 1975, one of the nuns ran to the office of their chaplain, Father Yasuda, to tell him that the statue had begun to shed tears again. The weeping was extraordinarily lifelike. The church documented a total of 101 incidents of the statue shedding tears over the next six years, finally ending on September 15, 1981, the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows.
Professor Eiji Okuhara, a doctor and biochemist, analyzed three fluids coming from the statue: blood, tears, and perspiration. A colleague, Dr. Kaoru Sagisaka, was given the samples without any history and blindly made his conclusions:
“The matter adhering to the gauze is human blood. The sweat and tears absorbed in the pieces of cotton are also of human origin.”
Repeated independent analyses revealed human blood of Type B, tears and perspiration both of Type AB. The statue continued to shed tears — 12 times in 1978 and, finally, three times in 1981. Some miracles were connected as well (healing of a brain tumor).
Sister Agnes lost her hearing again on March 6, 1975. Two doctors who examined her declared that she would never hear again. But on May 1, 1982, the guardian angel told her that her hearing would be returned again – this time permanently! And it did happen on May 30, the Feast of Pentecost. The two doctors could offer no explanation that would account for this miracle healing.
After three commissions studied the events at Akita, Bishop Ito finally declared at Easter in 1984 that these events were supernatural and worthy of belief. Cardinal Ratzinger of the Sacred Congregation in Rome declared in 1988 that the apparitions had been authentic revelations of the Divine.
An 18-year old girl, Ramute Macvyte, was walking through fields of clover at 11:00 p.m. on Friday, July 13, 1962. Coming from the barn past the cows, she saw an unusual light. As she got closer, she said that it resembled the big altar from the Skiemoniu parish. Many candles were burning on it. Standing on the altar was Holy Mary – wearing a white gown with blue ribbons. Her hands were held as a priest saying Holy Mass. Over her head were dark heavens where many stars glistened. Her hair was blonde and fell to her feet.
Ramute was frightened and wanted to run home to tell her parents so that they could come see. But, after starting to run home, she thought that she should ask Mary if she would wait for her to come back. Turning around, she saw that everything had disappeared. She tied up the cow and went home to tell her mother what she had seen. But her mother suggested that she might have imagined it all. Ramute insisted that it was true and had lasted for 5 minutes.
On Saturday, July 14, her mother told Grasilda Duntiene from Janonis what Ramute had seen. Ramute also shared her story directly with this lady – and then all agreed that she should return to the same spot at the same time that night. Despite asking her mother and sister Anna to go with her, they refused — only because it was raining. So Ramute took her Rosary with her and left. When she got to the corner of the barn, she became frightened and started reciting the Rosary. Slowly she moved forward, and when she was near the well, Mary appeared to her. She suddenly fell to her knees. This time, Mary was standing on a little table covered with a white cloth with golden crosses. Mary appeared exactly the same as the day before but with a crown on her head. Her left hand was toward her breast and holding a branch. She couldn’t see her feet (covered by the white robe) but leaned forward to kiss the area where her feet would be.
“Why, Holy Mary, did you appear a second time to me? Why don’t you appear to priests and bishops and holy people rather than to such an insignificant piece of dust?”
Mary: “My pure child, you are worth it.”
R: “Holy Mary, keep mankind from death and sickness.”
Mary: “I will help mankind if man turns to prayer, and I will protect you from death; otherwise you would have died this month near St. James’ day (July 25). Friday would have been your day of death. Ask people not to eat meat on Fridays. Ask those who believe my holy words to say a small prayer. To the non-believers, say nothing.”
Ramute said that Mary was crying golden tears which fell like 5-kopeck coins.
Around the table golden clover bloomed. She asked Mary if she could have some of each.
“The clover and the tears are of no value. I will do something greater to make people start to pray, and the whole world will sparkle and shimmer. There is no greater fortune than what you have seen today.”
Ramute was crying the whole time, and Mary told her to stop and go home, happier, to awaken her brothers, sisters, and parents. When they say their prayers, she is to tell them then what she has seen.
Mary: “And now I leave you a long, healthy, happy life.”
R: “When will you again appear?”
Mary: “I will not appear here again. I will appear in Egypt soon with two angels. If anything goes wrong, come here to pray, and I will give you advice.”
Then Mary floated over her head and disappeared. Ramute went home and did as Mary had asked.
On July 15 many uniformed military men chased people and beat them to keep them away from the apparition site. The state authorities had forbidden people to go there to pray. Yet, on July 25, Marijona Tamasoniene and her two daughters, Aldona and Elizabeth, and their children, Genute and Stasyte, traveled from Zaltiskiu to seek the site in order to pray there. Cautioned by Ramute’s parents not to do so, they begged to hide instead in a haystack near the barn and pray there. Ramute’s mother and sister, Anna, coaxed them to come out of the haystack, and, as they did, the haystack and clover disappeared, and a bright light appeared. Ramute’s mother fell to her knees – feeling “as if she were thrown to the ground by its brilliant projections”. All of them saw the strange light. Anna ran into the house to tell Ramute and her father what she had seen. The father ran out of the house just in time to see the light fading away.
One important aspect of these encounters was Mary’s announcement that she would soon appear in Egypt – which she did — just six years later!
“Our Lady of Garabandal”
GARABANDAL, SPAIN (1961-1965)
On Sunday, June 18, 1961, the people of the small town of Garabandal often congregated in the village square following Mass at their little church. Two girls, Conchita Gonzalez, age 12, and Mari Cruz Gonzalez, (a second cousin) age 11, decided to sneak away to a nearby apple tree in the yard of their schoolteacher while their parents caught up on gossip. Two other friends, Mari Loli Mazon, age 12, and Jacinta Gonzalez, age 12, had seen them sneak away and followed them. At first they accused the first two of stealing with threats of telling on them, but soon they were all laughing and eating apples. They all fled when they heard their teacher’s loud voice inside her home. They began to feel guilty for their actions and started throwing stones at an imagined location for the Devil so as to please their saddened guardian angels. They grew weary of that play and were startled by a loud clap of thunder.
Suddenly, in the rocky lane, Conchita saw a very bright beautiful figure surrounded by a brilliant light. Stunned and speechless, she pointed to the apparition. The girls were first worried about Conchita’s actions until they looked and saw the apparition also – and exclaimed, “An angel!” The angel looked at them but said nothing and disappeared. Frightened, the four girls ran back to the village square, hid behind the church and cried. Their teacher knew them well and could tell they had definitely seen something. They described the angel as a small, nine-year old, childlike figure – but of great strength. He wore a long, blue, seamless robe. He had large, pinkish wings. His eyes were black. The teacher was convinced by their consistent description and strong emotions, but when each girl went home, their families were full of doubt and disbelief.
The local priest, Father Valentin, questioned each of the girls on the following day and was impressed, so he began keeping careful records. Although the angel did not return that next day, Conchita heard a voice that night during her prayers, “Don’t worry. You shall see me again.”
On Tuesday, June 20, 1961, the four girls returned to the rocky lane to pray the Rosary. As they were finishing and rising from their knees, they saw a very bright light which enveloped each of them where they could not see anything else but the light. It terrified them and left them shaken. They did not want to talk to anybody but the priest this time.
On Wednesday, June 21, 1961, they returned to the rocky lane to pray – accompanied now by several adults. After their prayers, the angel appeared. Conchita asked the angel what the priest had suggested (Who are you? Why are you here?), but the angel just smiled and disappeared. The adults were amazed by the physical transformation that the girls had gone into — an “ecstasy” – faces became “pale, transparent-like, and glowing with beautiful expressions.” They radiated an indescribable beauty which impressed the villagers.
On Thursday, June 22, the priest joined more villagers as they observed the girls going into an “ecstasy” following their prayers in the rocky lane – as the angel appeared again.
Following the same routine and angelic appearance on Friday, June 23, the priest took the four girls into the church and questioned them closely. He then publicly pronounced the supernatural events as genuine and probably of “God’s work.”
On Saturday, June 24, the angel said a word which meant “it is necessary that” and held a sign that contained Roman numerals on it. When the girls responded that they did not understand, the angel just smiled at them.
By Sunday, June 25, people were coming from all the nearby villages as word of the visions spread – including five priests and many doctors. One doctor tried to lift Conchita during her kneeling ecstasy, getting her only barely off the ground, and dropped her hard on her knees. Others could hear the sound of bones breaking. Yet, Conchita remained unaware of that action, and the villagers found her unharmed without a scratch or bruise after her ecstasy was over. The other girls found lumps, marks, and pin pricks where they had been tested during their ecstasies by the doctors. The doctors were amazed that none of the girls reacted in any fashion, yet had the marks and bruises from their tests. Because the girls were in the light of the angel and oblivious to anything else around them, they were often surprised at how dark the day had become when the enveloping light of the angel had gone. From June 28-30 the angel reappeared, would not answer questions, and just smiled back at them.
But, on Saturday, July 1, 1961, the angel finally revealed why he had come. He announced that the Virgin Mary will appear on the next day, Sunday, as Our Lady of Mount Carmel and would explain more to them. The girls were so excited and talked for two hours with the angel while the villagers could tell that something very special was happening!
Sunday, July 2, 1961, was greatly anticipated as word spread like wildfire that Mary was expected to appear in Garabandal. The Spanish Civil Guard escorted and protected the four little girls. Many priests and doctors were present. Soon, after 6:00 p.m. in the rocky lane, the Virgin Mary suddenly appeared before them. There was light all around her with two angels standing on either side of her. The angel that they had been seeing was now recognized as St. Michael.
Blessed Mary had a white robe with faint patterns of flowers on it and a blue mantle. She wore a crown with twelve golden stars and held a large brown Scapular (similar to Mount Carmel) in her hand. There was a mountain on one part of the scapular and a white cross on another part. Mary’s long dark hair was parted in the middle and down to her waist. The girls were stunned by the beauty of her face – dainty nose, pretty mouth and slightly full lips – as if she were only 17 years old. Her voice was sweet and pure – and not like any other voice that they had ever heard. To her right they saw a square of red fire which framed a triangle (Trinity) that contained a large eye (God) and some other writing that they could not read. They all conversed in simple, everyday terms as if they were daughters sharing with their Mother. Mary listened lovingly to their simple questions and little stories.
“I am the Lady of Mount Carmel! I have come for all my children.”
When Mary confirmed St. Michael’s identity, Jacinta giggled and said she had a brother named Michael “but without the saint part.” Mary then taught them how to say the Rosary more slowly and with meaning, meditating on the mysteries. Mary said she would return tomorrow – and had been so kind, gentle, and loving with the girls. The girls were thrilled, in love with her already, and so sad to see her go. The villagers were impressed, inspired, and uplifted. This, then, began a series of 2,000 apparitions which would occur with the four girls over the next four years!
The second time Mary appeared to them, she was holding the baby Jesus in her arms. They described Jesus as an infant, but “when He looked at us, He seemed to know us completely … and smiled.” Thrilled with seeing him, and just being themselves, they entertained the small child with little games and kisses. They picked up small pebbles for Him to play with. But Mary touched the pebbles, kissed them, and told the girls to give them to the people. The villagers observed the girls handing these stones up to be kissed – which started a major new trend of giving Mary items to be kissed and blessed. Mary seemed to like the idea and complied with the kissing of rosaries, religious medals, wedding rings, or crucifixes.
With so many people and so many items piled up for blessing, it would be impossible for the girls to know what item belonged to whom. But during their ecstasies, they not only returned every item correctly to each individual, but their eyes never left Mary – as if she was guiding them to the rightful owners! And, despite some people and priests trying to trick or test the girls, they never made a mistake. Many times people would notice the sweet smell of roses coming from an object kissed by Our Lady. Sometimes Mary would ask the girls to “have (name) kiss the crucifix,” and they would always go right to that stranger in the crowd.
Blessed Mary explained that Jesus would perform miracles through objects kissed by her, and that those who wear them with faith and confidence would make their Purgatory on this earth with suffering corresponding to what they would have endured in Purgatory. Mary added that God bestows special graces upon those who believe and have faith. Many physical cures (hundreds associated with Garabandal) and conversions have been obtained by simply touching the objects kissed by Mary.
The physical actions of these girls impressed many doctors and specialists. As they would fall to their knees with each ecstasy, they would often land on sharp stones and rocks and remain kneeling for extremely long periods of time without moving – with no bruising, cuts, scrapes, or marks. The girls would look in the same direction, at the same spot, and would change direction simultaneously if watching something that moved. Their eyes did not blink or react to efforts to make them blink. Their heads were often tilted backward in very awkward positions looking upward for long periods without discomfort. They were pinched, poked, stuck with needles, and had bright lights shined in their eyes – but none of the four girls ever reacted during their ecstasies. A group of strong men would lift them and drop them – but never would they become hurt, bruised, or injured as anybody else would have. Reflexes, heartbeats, eyes, ears, noses, sensitivity to pain, etc. were all monitored by specialists who concluded that these girls would not react to any outside stimuli. Not even hot summers or the bitter cold of winter affected them.
The girls described “three warnings” that they would receive to indicate that Mary would be coming soon. The first was a slight feeling of joy and anticipation. The second call was more like an overflowing of happiness with a great desire. The third calling was an urgent feeling, and the girls would rush to the place where the apparition was to occur. Father Valentin decided to test the girls one day without their knowing it. He had the girls separated in different homes to see if they were influencing each other in any way. By the “third call” the girls all left their homes simultaneously, arriving at the rocky lane at the same moment, and falling to their knees into an ecstasy all at the same time! During an ecstasy they reported that they could only see Mary, each other, and anything that her brilliant light illuminated. They were unaware of other people, doctors running tests, crowds, time of day, weather, etc. It was like they had entered Mary’s protective and supernatural realm as long as Mary was present. When they spoke with Mary, others present would hear a low, guttural, husky voice or whisper instead of their normal voices.
Villagers noted many other odd behaviors – being thrown backward to the ground simultaneously without injury or pain, levitating off the floor several inches, moving at incredible speed either forward or backward over the rugged terrain with heads looking up the whole time, never running into anything, never falling or stumbling. Despite adults running at full speed to keep up, the girls were never tired or winded – it was as if they were gliding along effortlessly without even looking at the ground as long as they kept Mary in their vision.
On one occasion, observers saw two of the girls walk over a small footbridge while the other two just glided over the small stream as if walking on air! Even when barefoot, their feet were never harmed by sharp rocks, glass, and dangerous terrain. In fact, their bare feet stayed very clean despite the dirty village streets – something that nobody there could fake. Sometimes, during their ecstasies, they would lift each other up without any difficulty to receive a kiss from Mary. After their ecstasies, they could not even begin to lift each other up without struggling and falling. They maintained an aura of peacefulness and normality during the rest of their day – which amazed and inspired villagers.
Mercedes Salisach, a writer from Barcelona, was present when Mary Loli rose from a position of lying on the floor into the air – levitating about ten inches above the floor. She reports:
“I took a stick and passed it under her. There was nothing but air underneath her! The expression on her face as she gazed upward was beautiful – just beautiful …”
Two Jesuit priests, Father Luis Andrei and his brother Father Ramon had gone to Garabandal out of curiosity. As Father Ramon watched an ecstasy he began to have serious doubts, so he thought to himself, “If this is authentic, let the apparition cease for one of them.” At that very moment Mary Loli came out of her trance and looked at Father Ramon, smiling. A few moments later, she went back into her ecstasy – and Jacinta asked her why she had left. Mary Loli asked Mary what had happened. Father Ramon was able to hear Mary Loli say, “Oh! That’s why? It was so he would believe!”
On another occasion, both priests closely observed all four girls in an ecstasy in the church. They were begging Mary for proof or some miracle as so many people still did not believe them. They made an ecstatic march, backwards, to the altar, dropped to their knees in unison, and recited a Rosary beautifully. Mary told them to pray at the cluster of pines near the village that evening. The girls kept pleading and insisting on a miracle. Later, their ecstatic march took them to all of the places where apparitions had occurred, ending finally at the cluster of pines. They continued asking for proof from Mary. Suddenly, Father Luis Andreu turned pale and went into an ecstasy. The four girls were amazed that they could see him there with them in the light of Mary. He exclaimed, “A miracle! A miracle! A miracle!” Mary explained to the girls that she allowed him to see her and that he was also seeing The Miracle. Then the girls heard Mary tell the priest, “You will soon be with me.” Afterwards, Father Luis met with Father Valentin and insisted that what the girls are reporting is genuine. Father Luis told others,
“How happy I am! I am overflowing with happiness! The Virgin Mary gave me such a gift! I do not harbor the slightest doubt about the reality of what has happened to the children! It is the truth! … How fortunate it is to have a mother in Heaven. We need not fear the supernatural life. I cannot have the slightest doubt about their vision. This is the happiest day of my life.”
Riding with friends in a car, he became very quiet, bowed his head, sighed … and was gone. Dead at age 36 – despite being in good health – just as Mary had predicted, he “died of intense joy.”
A few days later, the four girls had a very unusual experience. While in ecstasy, they all saw an unusual light and heard Father Luis’ voice, calling each of them by name. He had messages for his brother Ramon and their mother, “Be happy and content, for I am in Heaven, and I see you every day.” Father Ramon did not believe that the girls were talking with his dead brother — until they revealed secrets spoken from Luis that only the two brothers could have known! Later on, his mother was getting ready for bed when she heard a voice say, “Luis is coming.” Suddenly, her bedroom was illuminated, and she saw her son, Luis with two priests. No words were necessary — just seeing him one last time and knowing he was happy in Heaven was good enough for his mother. On July 18, 1964, Holy Mary told Conchita that Father Luis was indeed in Heaven – and foretold that on the day after The Miracle in the pine grove, his body would be found incorrupt.
On various occasions, St. Michael appeared and told the girls to prepare for communion by praying the “I Confess to God.” Then he would administer Communion to them. Villagers would observe them stick their tongues out to receive the host, but could never see the host. The girls never realized that the host was actually invisible as they could feel it and swallow it quite naturally. After Communion, St. Michael taught them to give thanks to God through the prayer of St. Ignatius Loyola. On June 22, 1962, he told Conchita that he would give her a visible host during Communion – which was when she first learned that the host had NOT been visible. The Virgin Mary told Conchita that the date for this miracle would be July 18, 1962. Word of this spread like fire, and there was a joyous celebration and much anticipation on that day. However, as the day wore on, many people became disappointed and went home. Finally, at 1:40 a.m., Conchita left her home in ecstasy, and the lingering crowd eagerly accompanied her. Several eyewitnesses reported seeing this miracle:
Benjamin Gomez: “I was so close … inches from her face … I looked in her mouth … nothing … I turned my head just for an instant. When I looked back, the Host was on her tongue. It was white – out of this world … like snow, a snowflake upon which the sun’s rays were striking …”
Pepe Diez: “I was scarcely 18 inches away from her face … She kept her tongue out like that for about a minute. As I stood there – my eyes riveted to her, something incredible happened! Without moving my eyes for a fraction of a second, suddenly a neat, precise, and well-formed Host appeared miraculously on Conchita’s tongue … Her tongue was out and bare, and then all of a sudden the Host was there! I did not see how it came. It was instantaneous! … It was just there!”
Alejandro Damians: “There was a great deal of confusion – crowding, pushing, people trying to see … I crouched over, and Conchita was on her knees. I took the (movie) camera out of the bag and looked through the lens without making any adjustments … I was sure I could see her head and shot. I caught the last seconds of the miracle (on movie film). I would not exchange the bliss which I felt in those moments for anything in this world. It was a joy, deep and intense, which I cannot explain.”
This was the evidence that so many people were looking for! Because church law states that one can partake in Communion only one time per day, St. Michael had waited until the early hours of the next morning because Conchita had already been to Mass earlier on the anticipated day with all of its celebrations. But the pictures served as proof for those who had given up and left earlier that evening.
Father George Costigan – also a retired U.S. Army Colonel, had lost all vision in one eye due to cancer. He was drawn to Mary’s messages in Garabandal that emphasized Prayer, Penance, and Sacrifice. He decided to visit Garabandal, unannounced in everyday clothing, and was greeted much to his surprise by a 5-year old girl who spoke perfect English. She asked him if he would like for Jacinta to put her hand on his forehead. He asked the child why she would want to do that. The little child replied,
“Aren’t you the priest who has cancer?”
He was speechless. How could this tiny child possibly know him or his condition and speak to him in perfect English? He decided that this must be an angel. Minutes later, without any greeting, introduction, or identification, Jacinta arrived (in ecstasy) and promptly placed her hand on Father Costigan’s forehead. A short time later, during Mass, his eyesight was fully restored, perfectly, with the last Hail Mary of the Rosary.
There were two formal messages that Our Lady gave to the world through these girls. The first one was given to all four girls on July 4, 1961:
“The sign beneath the angel had a message that I am going to give you in order that you may announce it publicly on the 18th of October. … We must make many sacrifices, perform penance, and visit the Blessed Sacrament frequently. But first, we must lead good lives. If we do not, a chastisement will befall us. The cup is already filling up, and if the people do not change, a very great chastisement will come upon us.”
The second message for the world was given to only Conchita on June 18, 1965:
“As my message of October 18 has not been complied with and has not been made known to the world, I am advising you that this is the last one. Before, the cup was filling up. Now, it is flowing over. Many cardinals, many bishops, and many priests are on the road to perdition – and are taking many souls with them. Less and less importance is being given to the Eucharist. You should turn the wrath of God away from yourselves by your efforts. If you ask His forgiveness with sincere hearts, He will pardon you. I, your mother, through the intercession of St. Michael the Archangel, ask you to amend your lives. You are now receiving the last warnings. I love you very much and do not want your condemnation. Pray to us with sincerity and we will grant your requests. You should make more sacrifices. Think about the passion of Jesus.”
Mary also foretold that there would be only two more popes after Pope Paul VI – and that one would have a very short reign. But this did NOT mean that the world would come to an end. Mary also told the girls that they would contradict each other and doubt that they had even seen the apparitions – even deny seeing Mary — in the future! The girls were stunned that she could suggest that they would ever do that, but years later, under great pressure, stress, and threats, all four girls did deny these events with three of them moving to the United States to feel safe (and eventually marry husbands there). Of course, the three that moved away felt safe enough later to affirm their beliefs again.
The Blessed Virgin revealed that a 3-stage process would occur in the future. First, there will be a Warning that will “draw the good closer to God and warn the wicked that the end of time is coming.” The Warning will be seen and experienced by everyone everywhere. Each person will find himself alone with his conscience before God, able to know all his sins and what his sins have caused. One would not only become aware of his sins but would feel them deeply and their impact upon others. Hopefully, this could influence a worldwide “purification” before The Miracle happens. The year that this will happen was only revealed to Mari Loli. The Miracle would follow the Warning within the same year.
The Miracle will be a supernatural public display in the area of the pines “that will prove and manifest God’s love to us in a most outstanding way.” It will be visible to all in the village and surrounding areas. The sick that will be present shall be cured; the sinners present will all be converted. A sign of The Miracle will remain forever at the pines – but cannot be touched – just photographed. Conchita is the only visionary to know the year, month, and day of The Miracle – and can announce when it will happen, eight days in advance. It is supposed to happen within 12 months of the Warning and occur on a Thursday evening at 8:30 p.m., probably between March and May. It will be in Conchita’s lifetime, and she is approximately 63 years old, now, in 2013.
The Chastisement is conditional and can be avoided if the world heeds the messages of the Blessed Virgin. Conchita has seen a preview and warns that when it comes it will be “worse than being enveloped in fire.” Mari Loli and Jacinta were also given a preview during a vision on June 21, 1962. Their screams of terror and gestures to fend off some frightening danger greatly affected all the observers — who then began praying.
Father Valentin knew that the Bishop of Santandar must be informed about the events at Garabandal. The Bishop sent priests and doctors to investigate, and they agreed that Conchita should come talk to the Bishop and other specialists – who drilled her and pressured her, trying to convince her that she was wrong. Mary had told Conchita that she would not have any apparitions while in Santandar, so when Conchita told officials that she had not seen Mary (there), they took that as a denial of the events. But a commission was established to study the events at Garabandal. But they did NOT interview ANY of the adults in Garabandal who had been witnesses, NOR did they talk to Father Valentin, who had kept meticulous records of all the events from the beginning. At the end of 1962 Father Valentin was removed because he believed in the apparitions.
The new priest imposed many restrictions, yet, the apparitions, conversions, and healings continued. Then, Bishop Aldazabal proclaimed on October 7, 1962, that all priests and religious visitors would be prohibited from gathering at Garabandal.
Although local controversy continued over the next years, Rome felt differently about Garabandal and invited Conchita to be interviewed by the Sacred Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith. She met Pope Paul VI and Padre Pio as well. Pope Paul VI told Conchita, “I bless you, and, with me, the whole church blesses you.” In 1975, Jacinta also was invited to Rome and greeted favorably by many Cardinals and Bishops. She impressed the officials of the Sacred Congregation of Faith with her simplicity, sincerity, and dignity. They agreed with her request to lift restrictions against visiting priests, but it was still left to the local Bishop to do so.
In 1986, Bishop Val Gallo issued a new investigation and then lifted the restrictions finally in 1987. Although full approval is still elusive, officials are quick to say that they are NOT denying the events at Garabandal (just waiting for the prophecies).
“Our Lady of America”
ROME CITY, INDIANA, USA (1956-1958)
The story of Our Lady of America truly began on May 10, 1846, when one Archbishop and 22 U.S. Bishops met in Baltimore, Maryland, (the first Catholic diocese in the United States) for the 6th Provincial Council of Baltimore. On that date they petitioned Rome, Italy to have the Blessed Virgin, under the title of the Immaculate Conception, become Patroness of the United States (only 28 states at that time). In 1847 that petition was granted by Pope Pius IX, and Mary – under the title of her Immaculate Conception – became Patroness of the U.S.A.
It was not until eight years later, on December 8, 1854, that Pope Pius IX would define the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in his Apostolic Constitution, Ineffabilis Deus. Less than four years later, on the Feast of the Annunciation, March 25, 1858, Our Lady would confirm that dogma by identifying herself to Bernadette Soubirous in Lourdes, France, as “I am the Immaculate Conception.”
On September 12, 1930, at the age of 14, Mildred Neuzil entered the active religious congregation of the Sisters of the Precious Blood, a papal religious community. At age 17, Mildred made her first vows as a professed religious and received the name Sister Mary Ephrem. Her duties centered in Washington, D.C. until 1937 when she was sent to Cincinnati, Ohio. She began to have mystical experiences in 1938 – but assumed such things were common to all religious, so she paid very little attention to them.
Her eloquent locutions from Jesus in the 1940’s led her confessor to caution her about possibly having an overactive imagination. Rev. Paul Liebold, her spiritual director from 1940—1972, instructed her to start writing these experiences in her diary. While stationed in North Dakota in 1948, the messages became more pressing. Sister began to write them down more diligently. Various priests found nothing adverse to faith or morals in the messages which indicated a theological understanding that exceeded what Sister could have learned from her courses.
May 22, 1954: (from Jesus)
“My little white dove, if the world is dying, it is because it will not let Me give it life.
I am the resurrection and the life, and unless souls seek their life in Me, they will find only death and destruction. They fear man-made destroyers of life, yet destruction is in themselves. Man destroys himself through the evil that is in himself. Implements of war kill only that which is without. Man kills that within himself which none but he can kill. God is light; man is darkness, and unless he comes into the light, he will be forever darkness. The Voice of My Heart is the Voice of Mercy. If man will not listen, there is no more I can do, for he ties My hands.”
May 29, 1954: (from Jesus)
“My little white dove, do you know what I find most lacking in the world today? It is Faith. There are so few souls that believe in Me and My love. They profess their belief and their love, but they do not live this belief. Their hearts are cold, for without faith there can be no love. Pray and sacrifice yourself, My Child, that faith may once again find entrance into the hearts of man.”
July 11, 1954: (from Jesus)
“Children are not taught to love Me, because those who have charge over them have no time or patience to do so. My Heart grieves over My children in the world. Their hearts are being driven farther and farther away from Me. They will not even listen to My Mother, because they have never been taught to listen (to Her).”
“My Father is angry. If My children will not listen to My Heart, which is the Voice of Mercy and Instruction, punishment will come swiftly, and none shall be able to stay it. The pleadings of My Heart have held back the divine justice about to descend on an ungrateful and sinful generation. Woe to the parents who set a bad example to their children! Terrible will be their judgment. I will demand a strict accounting of every soul entrusted to their care. Woe to the children who disobey and show disrespect towards their parents! ‘Honor thy father and thy mother.’ On this shall they be judged most severely.
July 12-14, 1954: (from Jesus)
“Blessed are the homes that honor My Name and the Name of My Father.
Blessed are the homes where I am loved, for there the Holy Trinity dwells.
Blessed are the parents and children who have made a home for God in their hearts. Little secretary of My Heart, write these instructions for the sanctification of My people.
Return My people, for My Heart hungers and thirsts for your love. If you will not return, the just anger of My Father will descend upon you. What would you choose – My love or My Father’s anger? Choose, and as you choose, so shall it be done. I will not force your free will, for that is yours to use as you desire.”
In the autumn of 1954, Sister is graced with an appearance of St. Michael, the Angel of Peace, who offered her a sword (to conquer the world, the self, and the devil), a palm (for victory), and a cross (for the suffering she would be asked to endure in union with Jesus’ passion). As Sister was suspicious of the offer of a palm of victory – for she could think of no victory of hers deserving of such a reward. So then St. Michael asked her if she would accept the cross. When she agreed to accept the cross, St. Michael replied,
“Then you will accept the palm and the sword. With the sword the saints conquered themselves, the world, and the devil. I am the Angel of Peace; I come to those whose hearts are attuned to the Voice of God. To such as these I remain a perpetual light through blinding darkness. I was sent by Him who said, ‘I am the Light of the world.”
November 20, 1955 (appearance of St. Gabriel)
“I knelt down and asked him, ‘Who are you?’ He replied, ‘I am the Angel Gabriel. I have come to tell you that Our Lord is pleased with your effort to do good. He asks that you go to His Mother and learn great purity of heart.”
Following the visits of these two archangels, the apparitions of Our Lady began, and the favor and the responsibility to her children in America were made very clear.
September 25, 1956: Our Lady appeared to Sister Mildred Mary Neuzil, during a private Holy Hour in the chapel at Kneipp Springs in Rome City, Indiana. Our Lady said,
“I am pleased, my children, with the love and honor my children in America give to me, especially through my glorious and unique privilege of the Immaculate Conception. I promise to reward their love by working through the power of my Son’s Heart and my Immaculate Heart, miracles of grace among them. I do not promise miracles of the body, but of the soul. Let America continue and grow in its love for me, and I in return, in union with the Heart of My Son, promise to work wonders in her. My child, I desire that this be known.”
September 26, 1956: After Mass the next morning, the Feast of the North American Martyrs, Our Lady appeared to Sister, enveloped in a soft glow of light. Sister describes:
“What I noticed was the smile on Our Lady’s beautiful countenance and the lily She held in Her right hand. She wore a white veil, reaching almost to the waist, and a mantle and robe of pure white with not a single decoration of any kind. I noticed the green color of the lily stem in Her hand and the white sash or belt which She wore around Her waist. It seemed to be made of the same material as the robe. It was narrow – very narrow – and no ends of it could be seen at all. An oblong-shaped clasp or brooch held the ends of the mantle together at the top. It was all gold, as was the high and brilliant crown which She wore.
Her hair and eyes seemed of medium brown. Her feet were bare, but these I did not always see, as they were sometimes covered by the moving clouds on which Our Lady stood. She continued to smile. Then I saw Her Heart appear, encircled with red roses, the symbol of suffering as it was revealed to me, and sending forth flames of fire. With Her left hand Our Lady seemed to be holding up slightly the upper part of Her mantle, so that her Immaculate Heart could be seen. Then, solemnly and distinctly, in calm and majestic tones, I heard these words:”
“I am Our Lady of America. I desire that my children honor me, especially by the purity of their lives.”
“She was very beautiful, and her smile held me.” Later that day, Mary continued:
“My child, I entrust YOU with this message that you must make known to My children in America. I wish it to be the country dedicated to My purity. The wonders I will work will be the wonders of the soul. They must have faith and believe firmly in My love for them. I desire that they be the children of My Pure Heart. I desire, through My children of America, to further the cause of faith and purity among peoples and nations. Let them come to Me with confidence and simplicity, and I, their Mother, will teach them to become pure like to My Heart – that their own hearts may be more pleasing to the Heart of My Son.”
September 27, 1956: Our Lady appeared to Sister while she was in prayer. Mary was holding the world in Her hands. Tears from Her eyes were flowing down upon it. It was as though She longed to cleanse the earth from its guilt.
“I come to you, O Children of America, as a last resort. I plead with you to listen to My voice. Cleanse your souls in the Precious Blood of My Son. Live in His Heart, and take me in — that I may teach you to live in great purity of heart which is so pleasing to God. Be My army of chaste soldiers, ready to fight to the death to preserve the purity of your souls. I am the Immaculate One, Patroness of your land. Be my faithful children as I have been your faithful Mother. These are My words, O my daughter. Make them known to My children. I desire to make the whole of America my shrine by making every heart accessible to the love of My Son.”
October 13, 1956: Our Lady appears to Sister and describes Her desire for a National Basilica in Washington D.C. while holding a replica in both of her hands:
“This is My shrine, My daughter. I am very pleased with it. Tell My children I thank them. Let them finish it quickly and make it a place of pilgrimage. It will be a place of wonders. I promise this. I will bless all those who, either by prayers, labor, or material aid, help to erect this shrine.”
Three years later on November 20, 1959, the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C. was completed. It is the largest Catholic Church in the United States and in all of North and South America. It is the 8th largest Catholic Church in the world.
Bishop Liebold was so convinced of the authenticity of these messages that he officially approved her diary and the sketch of the medal that Our Lady had asked Sister Mildred to have struck: – Virgin Mary on the front; Christian family and Trinity on back.
“It is the United States that is to lead the world to peace, the peace of Christ, the peace that He brought with Him from Heaven. Dear children, unless the United States accepts and carries out faithfully the mandate given it by heaven to lead the world to peace, there will come upon it and all nations a great havoc of war and incredible suffering. If, however, the United States is faithful to this mandate from heaven and yet fails in the pursuit of peace because the rest of the world will not accept or cooperate, then the United States will not be burdened with the punishment about to fall…Weep then, dear children, weep with your mother over the sins of men.”
“It is the darkest hour, but if men will come to me, my Immaculate Heart will make it bright again with the mercy which my Son will rain down through my hands. Help me save those who will not save themselves. Help me bring once again the sunshine of God’s peace upon the world.”
“My faithful one, if my warnings are taken seriously and enough of my children strive constantly and faithfully to renew and reform themselves in their inward and outward lives, then there will be no nuclear war. What happens to the world depends upon those who live in it. There must be much more good than evil prevailing in order to prevent the holocaust that is so near approaching. Yet, I tell you, my daughter, even should such a destruction happen because there were not enough souls who took my warning seriously, there will remain a remnant, untouched by the chaos who, having been faithful in following me and spreading my warnings, will gradually inhabit the earth again with their dedicated and holy lives.”
Strong warnings were repeated by Our Lady throughout 1957 and 1958, and thereafter, indicating that the hour grows late (and the Cuban Missile Crisis was about to occur in 1961). In August of 1957, Mary stated,
“What I ask, have asked, and will continue to ask is for reformation of life. There must be sanctification from within. I will work miracles of grace only in those who ask for them and empty their souls of the love and attachment to sin and all that is displeasing to my Son. Souls who cling to sin cannot have their hands free to receive the treasures of grace that I hold out to them.”
Pope John XXIII sent a letter of glowing praise and dedication for this new church in September of 1959:
“There now rises up to heaven a shrine, high and massive, wondrously bright within … the Virgin Mother of God is our Mother, our Queen, the sure way by which we approach most speedily to Jesus Christ, who was given to us by Her. Let an altar of the Most Blessed Virgin be set up in the heart of each one of the faithful …”
On the vigil of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 21, 1954, a young girl, Anna, saw the Virgin Mary in a small church as she prayed after Mass. Mary was so beautiful that Anna cried with joy. Mary wore a glorious dress “all of white like shining lights” and a blue sash. On her head was a golden crown with twelve stars that twinkled with dazzling light. Mary said to her,
“My daughter, you see that I hold so many graces for my children which I am unable to give them because they do not ask for them. Our Father in Heaven respects the freedom of His beloved sons and daughters. Only if you turn to me and ask, am I permitted to bless you with the graces my Son has given to me for each of you.”
She shared this incident and message with many interested people outside the church. Then Anna saw Mary again, gazing at the valley below. Just then, a shrieking wind whipped through the grotto where they were gathered, extinguishing the candles and covering the people there with dust. Anna saw Mary extend her hands over the little group and consoled them with these words,
“I greatly desire to help poor sinners. A catastrophe is imminent – just as in the time of Noah. Many will die – not from flood but by fire, because certain of God’s children have so seriously disobeyed Him. Their offense has consequences that will harm many innocent people. Never in its history has humanity fallen so low. This is the age of the kingdom of Satan.”
At that very moment a sudden darkness descended upon the hill, though the valley below was bathed in sunshine. Anna saw the Virgin Mary weeping and saying,
“From this mountain I see the whole world and all its sinners. How God loves you, dear little children. How He longs to help you in your misery. From this spring of water which flows here, I will give abundance to anyone who comes in a spirit of faith with a repentant heart. Accept this gift and live as children of God, my dear little children.”
That evening, the villagers saw the mountain ablaze in an orange flame. Some said they heard the voices of angels singing throughout the night. From then on, pilgrims began to assemble on the hill to pray, to sing, and to drink or carry away the water from the brook. The signs in the sky made believers out of most of the people.
Anna saw the Virgin Mary on fifteen further occasions, teaching her to pray with her heart and other important things. Many of these apparitions were accompanied by phenomena such as a spinning sun, shooting stars, powerful winds, and unusual cloud formations.
Shortly thereafter, on May 15, 1955, St. Michael the Archangel appeared to the young girl in the grotto. Anna described him as “shining like the sun with a flaming sword which he brandished three times in a swooping gesture, leaving a trail of fire blazing through the heavens to eternity.”
As Anna gazed at the flaming heavens, the Blessed Mother appeared in the center of immense rays of brilliant light. As the pulsating rays spun and danced, Anna saw Mary attired in her traditional robes and tiara as Queen of the Ukraine. She stood on a black serpent – rendering it powerless with the point of her shoe if it tried to move. Mary spoke to her,
“None of you cooperate with me or are willing to make reparations for the sins and insults to my Son Jesus. Many who come here to this grotto do so out of curiosity. Their disbelief truly wounds my heart. Rome will be ruined and the Holy Father killed, but Rome will rise again and be renewed through my presence here on this mountain of Seredne. From this place, true faith will again spread throughout the world. There will be one church and one Pontiff, and there will be peace on earth, and mankind will marvel at my merciful heart.”
The KGB and official atheist media scorned the beliefs of the people of Seredne, limiting its impact to mostly the local families and some relatives abroad.
“Tabernacle of the Most High”
NGOME, KWAZULU-NATAL, SOUTH AFRICA (1955-1971)
Sr. Reinolda May was born on October 21, 1901, at Pfahlheim, a small village in the Diocese of Rottenburg in the south-western part of Germany. On March 1, 1922, she entered the convent of the Missionary Benedictines Sisters at Tutzing. Her religious profession took place on February 10, 1925. A few months later, she received the mission cross and left for South Africa on June 21, 1925. There she pronounced her final vows on February 12, 1928. She had not had any secondary education, was already in her mid-thirties, had only worked in the sewing room and her knowledge of English was rather scant. But she worked hard and achieved very good results. She was a very self-disciplined and level-headed person, who did not panic in moments of crisis, but always remained calm and composed. People who knew her well frequently remarked that she had “both feet firmly on the ground.” Sr. Reinolda was at the same time a very humble person who never put the spotlight on her own achievements.
Sr. Reinolda experienced the first unusual appearance on December 8, 1954, at the end of the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.
“I saw two figures at the table where everything had already been prepared for Mass. At the end of the table was a woman, dressed in white with a long white veil. In her right hand was something covered. It could have been a shield. Opposite her was a monk, dressed in black with raised hands, as at the consecration, holding something like an offering. Then something ascended towards heaven like incense. The figures disappeared as the priest took off his vestments. I could not see any meaning behind it all, but I also could not forget what I had seen. Not long afterwards, during holy communion, it became clear to me, as though somebody had told me: it is a veiled monstrance.”
Sister Reinolda May had her first experience in the presence of the Blessed Virgin on August 22, 1955, during Mass for the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Shortly after Holy Communion, Sister Reinolda felt herself drawn “into another atmosphere” where everything was viewed in a “spiritual manner.” Blessed Mary stood very near to her “in a wonderful light more beautiful than the sun.” The Virgin was robed all in white with a flowing veil from head to toe. Upon her breast rested a big Host surrounded by “a brilliant corona radiating life.” She was like a “living Monstrance.” Mary stood upon a globe; her hands and feet were not visible. Sister Reinolda remarks,
“I felt like I was entering a cloud, drawn by Mary, away from the earth. I had my eyes closed, but I saw so much light that for several days I was very much dazzled by the beauty and light that I had seen.”
She recalls Blessed Mary telling her:
“Call me ‘Tabernacle of the Most High.’ You, too, are such a tabernacle — believe it. I wish to be called upon this title for the glory of My Son. I wish that more such tabernacles be prepared. I mean human hearts. I wish that the altars be surrounded by praying people more frequently. Don’t be afraid. Make it known.”
When Sister asked to whom she should tell, Our Lady replied to “not be afraid” and “tell your priest.”
In October of 1955, Sister Reinolda had two more similar encounters. Immediately following Mass, the Blessed Virgin appeared in the same place in the same manner and with the same requests – but with these additional words:
“Make these words known to everybody. Do not be afraid. You are God’s tool.”
Then Sister Reinolda May reports that “Christ came out of this big Host and was in union with me.”
Her fourth encounter occurred on March 15, 1956. After Holy Mass the Blessed Virgin stood before Sister Reinolda with a more serious look upon her face. Mary said,
“My child, I know about your anxiety. (She bent down and drew Sister near to her) You asked for a sign?”
Sister Reinolda replied,
“Not for me – for the others, that they may believe. They do not believe me.”
Our Lady answered,
“I wish that a Shrine be erected for Me in the place where seven springs come together. There I will let my Graces flow in abundance. Many people shall turn to God.”
When Sister Reinolda asked where that special place was, Mary silently made a movement with her hand and pointed majestically upwards in a certain direction. Sister felt great happiness and reassurance afterwards. Blessed Mary remarked as she left,
“Do not be afraid. Make it known. It is My work. I shall see you again.”
The fifth encounter occurred on June 5, 1956. On the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, during the benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, Sister Reinolda had another vision. Mary came out of the Monstrance and approached as “a living Monstrance.” No message was given, but her method of appearance was profound, simple, and memorable.
The sixth encounter happened on March 15, 1957. The Virgin relayed this message:
“I come to strengthen you. I will make use of your nothingness. Be totally humble. (Mary paused and drew Sister closer) I want to save the world through the Host, My Fruit. I am completely One with the Host as I was One with Jesus under the Cross … Fearful things are in store for you unless you convert. … Yes, if the religious do not convert, and if the world does not convert.”
Again, Sister Reinolda May asked for some kind of sign so that others could believe also. The Blessed Virgin replied,
“You be all Love and readiness. All people who hear and believe these, My Words, are going to receive a sign from Me. Make all these Words known.”
Sister’s seventh encounter occurred on May 24, 1957. The Virgin appeared to her in a consoling and comforting manner. Mary told her quite clearly,
“Do not lose heart!”
In December of that same year of 1957, while visiting Ngome, Sister Reinolda May received a strong urge or “internal confirmation” that she had found the special location where seven springs meet. Now she was certain where Blessed Mary desired her Shrine to be erected.
Sister’s eighth encounter took place on April 17, 1958. Mary commanded her:
“Go to your place. Hurry up, the hour is advanced. I must keep back the streams of Grace with force because you do not make any effort to help Me. I am asking for help from you, My chosen ones.”
A bewildered Sister Reinolda responded immediately,
“What are we supposed to do?”
Our Lady replied,
“Be hosts. Prepare hosts for Me. Hosts who put themselves completely at My disposal. Only a flaming sea of hosts can drive back the hate of the godless world and retrain the angry Hand of the Father. Do not get tired. I find consolation in revealing Myself to you. I shall never abandon you.”
Sister Reinolda May inquired, “Where is the place of the springs?” Mary replied,
“On your property, on the mountain.”
With a movement of Her hand in the very same direction again, Blessed Mary indicated where that location would be.
“Do not be afraid. Make haste to make it known.”
On the Benedictine’s farm, the classroom of the school was used as the Chapel. A picture of “Mary, Tabernacle of the Most High” was painted, and it hung in the classroom until a chapel had been erected. On Pentecost Sunday, 1966, a ceremony was held to open and bless the Chapel. After the eighth encounter, twelve years passed before Our Lady brought another message.
The ninth encounter happened on March 23, 1970. Sister Reinolda describes the “horrible appearance of the devil” for two nights in a row. On the second night, she was awakened from her sleep. A bright light was all around her. Sister saw “Mary. Tabernacle of the Most High” standing beside her now. Blessed Mary took Sister Reinolda May into Her arms and consoled her. The Virgin said to her,
“I know about your anxiety. I stand by you. I shall not abandon you.” Before she disappeared, she said, “Look to the other side.”
There, standing on the other side of the room, was St. Michael in armor with a lance in his hands. On his right stood a cherubim robed in white with his arms folded. After about two minutes, they disappeared and so did the brilliant light. This was a great consolation for Sister Reinolda May.
The tenth and final visit occurred on May 2, 1971, while visiting Ngome. Before departing, Sister Reinolda made a last visit to the Chapel with a small group of women. A catechumen had complained that she was in trouble because she wanted to believe. One of her neighbors had called her names; they were quarreling. Sister prayed aloud with the women and asked Blessed Mary to help this woman and convert the man who had been a troublemaker.
“Suddenly I noticed that the picture (of Mary) was very much alive. She stepped forward and Her Face was immensely beautiful. In my excitement I shouted, ‘Look at Mary.’ I am convinced that the women saw Mary, too! I personally was so moved that I walked away silently. The same troublesome man asked the priest for pardon, and since then there has been peace.”
A chapel was built, and as it happened the site was also a place held sacred by the local Zulu population. It was consecrated at Pentecost 1966. The picture of “Our Lady the Tabernacle of the Most High” was placed in the chapel. Pilgrimage to the site began in March 1966, but soon afterward they were stopped by Bishop Bilgeri. From the first vision on, Sr. Reinolda shared her experiences with the local priests, who showed reluctance and referred her to the bishop, to whom she wrote a number of times in the next decade. He did not want the visions to be publicized, and while he consented to the painting and the small chapel, he refused to have a bigger church built; he maintained this attitude until his death, in 1973. Popular veneration at the shrine continued unabated; people traveled from far and wide to pray at the chapel and collect water from the springs. A 1976 commission headed by two Benedictine priests decided that the use of Ngome as a site of pilgrimage would bring great benefits, and that pilgrimage and veneration (though not the use of the spring water) should be allowed. Then-Bishop Bisaye, however, would not allow organized pilgrimages.
When Sr. Reinolda died in 1981, interest again increased. In 1984 a new church was built at the site; it was dedicated to the Virgin Mary without any specific or additional titles. In 1988, the Ngome Shrine committee was formed from priests of the diocese. By that time, Bishop Bisaye was wavering, saying he could and would not suppress the veneration. In 1989, the committee published a booklet, and postcards featuring the shrine were being printed.
Finally, in 1992, Bishop Bisaye blessed an open-air altar, part of a bigger chapel that replaced the little shrine, and allowed for the Marian Shrine to be designated a place of prayer, so that organized pilgrimage was now actively promoted. There are reports of miraculous and spontaneous healing at the shrine, and comparisons with Lourdes are drawn. The water from the spring is still collected, and visitors dip their feet in the water during prayer. The shrine is one of the most popular Christian pilgrimage sites in Africa. Sister Reinolda May’s apparitions were the first in a series of Marian visions in Africa.