Divine Mercy Sunday April 28, 2019

The two rays denote Blood and Water. The pale ray stands for the Water which makes souls righteous. The red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls…

These two rays issued forth from the very depths of My tender mercy when My agonized Heart was opened by a lance on the Cross.

These rays shield souls from the wrath of My Father. Happy is the one who will dwell in their shelter, for the just hand of God shall not lay hold of him. I desire that the first Sunday after Easter be the Feast of Mercy.

Litany of the Divine Mercy

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

God, the Father of heaven, have mercy on us.
God, the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God, the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.

Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.

Divine Mercy, greatest attribute of God, we trust in You.
Divine Mercy, unfathomable love of the Sanctifier, we trust in You.
Divine Mercy, incomprehensible mystery of the Most Blessed Trinity, we trust in You.
Divine Mercy, expression of the greatest might of God, we trust in You.
Divine Mercy, in creation of heavenly spirits, we trust in You.
Divine Mercy, in calling us forth from nothingness to existence, we trust in You.
Divine Mercy, encompassing the whole universe, we trust in You.
Divine Mercy, endowing us with immortal life, we trust in You.
Divine Mercy, shielding us from deserved punishment, we trust in You.
Divine Mercy, lifting us from the misery of sin, we trust in You.
Divine Mercy, justifying us through the Person of the Incarnate Word, we trust in You.
Divine Mercy, which flowed out from the wounds of Christ, we trust in You.
Divine Mercy, gushing forth from the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we trust in You.
Divine Mercy, giving us the Blessed Virgin Mary as Mother of Mercy, we trust in You.
Divine Mercy, in revealing the mysteries of God, we trust in You.
Divine Mercy, in the founding of the Holy Church, we trust in You.
Divine Mercy, in instituting the Holy Sacraments, we trust in You.
Divine Mercy, first of all in the sacraments of Baptism and Penance, we trust in You.
Divine Mercy, in the Holy Eucharist and the sacrament of Holy Orders, we trust in You.
Divine Mercy, in calling us to the holy faith, we trust in You.
Divine Mercy, in the conversion of sinners, we trust in You.
Divine Mercy, in sanctifying the just, we trust in You.

Divine Mercy, in perfecting of the pious, we trust in You.
Divine Mercy, fount of help for the sick and the suffering, we trust in You.
Divine Mercy, sweet relief for anguished hearts, we trust in You.
Divine Mercy, only hope of despairing souls, we trust in You.
Divine Mercy, accompanying us in every moment of our life, we trust in You.
Divine Mercy, anticipating our needs with graces, we trust in You.
Divine Mercy, repose of the dying, we trust in You.
Divine Mercy, heavenly delight of the saved, we trust in You.
Divine Mercy, respite and relief of the souls in Purgatory, we trust in You.
Divine Mercy, crown of All Saints, we trust in You.
Divine Mercy, inexhaustible source of miracles, we trust in You.

Lamb of God, who revealed the greatest mercy in redeeming the world by dying on the cross, spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who mercifully offers Yourself for our sake in every holy Mass, graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takes away our sins with inexhaustible compassion, have mercy on us.

V: The Mercy of God is above all His works.
R:
 Hence, we will praise The Divine Mercy forever and ever. 

Let us pray:

Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, King of mercy, who with You and the Holy Spirit shows us mercy now and forever. Amen.

Medjugorje: Fulfillment of Fatima

The title that I have chosen for this last post may not make sense to those unfamiliar with apparitions of the Virgin Mary.  The Virgin Mary, being the mother of all humanity, has been solicitous for our salvation since Jesus was crucified.  In this last month of posting on this blog, I have tried to show how the Virgin Mary has appeared to some with messages urging us to draw closer to God for our own sake of salvation and the salvation of others.  Today, it is no different.  We have apparitions of the Virgin Mary occurring today and every day since June 24, 1981 to six children who have grown into adulthood and now middle age from east of Italy in what used to be Yugoslavia which is now in the modern day country of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Thirty-eight years of daily apparitions is a long time.   Our Lady has told the visionaries that what she started at Fatima, she will complete through Medjugorje which is the Triumph of Her Immaculate Heart. In Fatima our Lady came under the title of Our Lady of the Rosary which is the second to last invocations in the prayer of the Litany of Loreto.  In Medjugorje, she has called herself the Queen of Peace, the last invocation of the Holy Virgin in the Litany of Loreto. The apparitions and messages coming from Our Lady of Peace are under the control of the Vatican at this time. In 2017, the Vatican commission announced that they had approved as supernatural the first seven apparitions.  There have been hundreds of books written about Medjugorje. One estimate puts the number of people visiting Medjugorje since June 24, 1981 as 40 million. Spiritual wonders, dramatic healings and miracles occur at Medjugorje so that pilgrims experience the peace and love of God and then carry their belief home to their communities to enrich the lives of everyone around them.

Our Lady has given thousands of messages and she repeatedly describes the times we are living in as ‘a time of grace.”  She doesn’t tire of appealing to us to use this time of grace wisely.  She first used the words “time of grace” in a message in 1989 and since then has used the terminology about 70 times in the messages. Our Lady mentioned time of grace a few times a year and has spoken of it with greater frequency (especially during this last year when She used it eight times in Her messages).

In the message of February 25, 2018 she explains clearly what her expectations are for us during this time of grace.
February 25, 2018
Dear children! In this time of grace I am calling all of you to open yourselves and to live the commandments which God has given you, that they may lead you through the Sacraments on the way of conversion. The world and worldly temptations are testing you, but you, little children, look at God’s creatures which He has given to you in beauty and humility and, little children, love God above everything and He will lead you on the way of salvation. Thank you for having responded to my call.

In other messages she says, “do not forget that you live in a time of grace…little children make good use of this time of grace and come closer to my heart so that I can lead you to my Son Jesus…Wake up from the sleep of unbelief and sin, because this is a time of grace which God gives you…In this time of grace, when God has permitted me to be with you, little children, I call you anew to conversion….”
With a little more insistence Our Lady said on October 25, 2006, “Dear children! Today the Lord permitted me to tell you again that you live in a time of grace. You are not conscious, little children, that God is giving you a great opportunity to convert and to live in peace and love. You are so blind and attached to earthly things and think of earthly life. God sent me to lead you toward eternal life. I, little children, am not tired, although I see that your hearts are heavy and tired for everything that is a grace and a gift. Thank you for having responded to my call.

Time of grace implies that there is a certain window of opportunity for us to turn to the Lord with all our hearts just as a flower opens to the warmth of the sun. Once our mortal body dies, we will face God and it will be too late to make changes. Now it is our time of grace to know, love, and serve God and in the process attract others to know, love, and serve God. As this beautiful love story between God and us manifests, peace will reign in our lives. This is what the Queen of Peace has been telling us.
Sister Mildred Mary Neuzil who was the seer for the Our Lady of America devotion tells in her diary how Saint Michael spoke of the time of grace on May 8, 1957. Saint Michael the Archangel said, “Write! I am Michael, Angel Captain of the Lord God of Hosts. I come to announce the coming of the kingdom, the kingdom of peace. The time is at hand. Repent, bestir yourselves, O sons of men, repent and make ready your hearts that the King may establish His Kingdom within you. Do not delay, or THE TIME OF GRACE will pass and with it the peace you seek.
So it appears that the time of grace is tied to achieving a time of peace, the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which may be why Our Lady has visited us for 38 years as the Queen of Peace. The message of August 25, 2015 was, “…The world is in a moment of trial, because it forgot and abandoned God. Therefore, you, little children, be those who seek and love God above all….”
In talks that the seer Mirjana has given, she has said “that Our Lady has been preparing us for something. I can tell you something the way I understand it. We live in this time that we live in, it is the way it is…we are waiting for the Triumph of Mother’s Heart.”
The Virgin Mary gave us a tantalizing ideal to work toward at Fatima when she said, “In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she shall be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.” Mirjana has told pilgrims, “… you have to know what our Lady said, what she started in Fatima she will accomplish in Medjugorje. She said ‘My Immaculate Heart will triumph’ ” Our Lady has talked about the triumph of her Immaculate Heart in several Medjugorje messages. Two are given:

Message September 25,1991 via Marija
Dear children! Today in a special way I invite you all to prayer and renunciation. For now, as never before Satan wants to show the world his shameful face by which he wants to seduce as many people as possible onto the way of death and sin. Therefore, dear children, help my Immaculate Heart to triumph in the sinful world. I beseech all of you to offer prayers and sacrifices for my intentions so I can present them to God for what is most necessary. Forget your desires, dear children, and pray for what God desires, and not for what you desire. Thank you for having responded to my call.”

Message June 2, 2007 via Mirjana
Dear children! Also in this difficult time God’s love sends me to you. My children, do not be afraid. I am with you. With complete trust give me your hearts, that I may help you recognize the signs of the time in which you live. I will help you to come to know the love of my Son. I will triumph through you. Thank you.
Comment from Mirjana: Our Lady blessed everyone present. Once again She reminded us to pray for priests and that a priest’s blessing is a blessing from Her Son, Jesus.

Our Lady of America to Sister Mildred Neuzil August 22, 1957 “My heart, my Immaculate Heart, is the channel through which the graces of the Sacred Heart are given to men.” In a different message on the eve of February 11, 1958 Our Lady of America said, “My Immaculate Heart will win in the end, and the Spirit of Christ will dwell in the hearts of men. Those in whom this Spirit is not found will be condemned to eternal hell-fire.” This message certainly explains the urgency of conversion during the time of grace.
The 5 essentials that Our Lady has asked us to do are 1. attend Mass on Sundays, Holy Days, and more often if possible 2. pray the rosary daily 3. read the Bible daily, 4. confess sins monthly, and 5. fast on bread and water on Wednesdays and Fridays.  She has said that with these ‘5 stones’ we will defeat our ‘Goliath.’

What more can be said of these unprecedented apparitions and messages?  Quite a lot!  At the conclusion of her daily apparitions, the visionary, Mirjana, was given a heavenly scroll which is described as follows:  Beige in color, the scroll is made of a material like parchment- not quite paper and not quite fabric, but something in between.  The scroll can be unrolled to reveal 10 events, written in elegant, cursive script.  There are no illustrations or decorations on the scroll.  Each event is described in simple, clear words similar to how the Virgin Mary described them to Mirjana. The events are not numbered, but they appear in order, one after another, with the first secret at the top and the tenth at the bottom including the dates of when the event will take place.   Along with the events, a date is also given.  These events are known as secret.  The visionaries know the events but they are not permitted to talk about them, except for the third event which they say will manifest as a sign on the hill where the Virgin Mary originally appeared to the children.  Here is what Mirjana has said about the sign:  “After the events contained in the first two secrets come to pass, Our Lady will leave a permanent sign on Apparition Hill where she first appeared.  Everyone will be able to see that human hands could not have made it.  People will be able to photograph and film the sign, but in order to truly comprehend it -to experience it with the heart- they will need to come to Medjugorje.  Seeing it live, with the eyes, will be far more beautiful.

After the events take place as announced three days before each secret, it will be difficult for even the staunchest skeptics to doubt the existence of God and the authenticity of the apparitions.

So let’s go back to the title of this post:  Medjugorje, the fulfillment of Fatima.  Mirjana has said that Our Lady confirmed to her that the third part of the secret of Fatima is connected to the triumph of her heart.  The image of the third part of the secret of Fatima was revealed by the Vatican in June 2000.  Here it is in writing and after I will show an illustration of the image.

Then Sister Lucia was given the strength to write the Third Secret.  Here is the letter of Sr. Lucia:

I write in obedience to you, my God, who command me to do so through his Excellency the Bishop of Leiria and through your Most Holy Mother and mine.
After the two parts which I have already explained, at the left of Our Lady and a little above, we saw an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but they died out in contact with the splendor that Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand: pointing to the earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice: ‘Penance, Penance, Penance!’. And we saw in an immense light that is God: ‘something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it’ a Bishop dressed in White ‘we had the impression that it was the Holy Father’. Other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious going up a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big Cross of rough-hewn trunks as of a cork-tree with the bark; before reaching there the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way; having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of the big Cross he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him, and in the same way there died one after another the other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious, and various lay people of different ranks and positions. Beneath the two arms of the Cross there were two Angels each with a crystal aspersorium in his hand, in which they gathered up the blood of the Martyrs and with it sprinkled the souls that were making their way to God.
Tuy, Spain-3-1-1944

Now I will show you a photograph of a pilgrimage site in Medjugorje called Mount Krizevac.

Do you notice any similarities between the image of the Third part of the Secret of Fatima as shown to the three shepherd children on July 13, 1917 and this photograph of Krizevac which means “Mount of the Cross?”   My speculation is that yes, Medjugorje will be the fulfillment of Fatima.  It will involve persecution and martyrdom of priests and the faithful by secular authorities.  For so many years, Our Lady has pleaded us to pray for the conversion of people who do not believe in God.  She has said that ‘when we pray for unbelievers, we pray for ourselves and for our future.’    Let’s just imagine that the second secret will be the world-wide illumination of conscience when each of us will experience in our soul and mind the revelation of how we appear to God.   For some, it will be a wonderful grace to see that we have been living according to the Will of God.  For others who disregard God’s commandments and have little love in their hearts, this revelation will be frightening!  After the shock of seeing their souls as God sees them, they may want to punish the messengers!   Who are the messengers of the saving grace of God?  First and foremost are the Pope, the priests, and religious.  Then are the faithful Catholics and Christians who try to do the Holy Will of God by prayer, Sacraments, and following the ten Commandments.  We are not to focus on the tough aspects of being a Christian, but on this Good Friday, we remember how our LORD gave up His life to redeem us from our sins.  As Christians, we may be called to do the same.  We must pray for the faith to walk closely with the LORD each day to fulfill our role as His followers.

This concludes my blog posts for the Holy Name blog.  Thank you for reading and above all stay close to the LORD and may He bless you and all of us.  Amen.

 

Father Gobbi

Marian Movement of Priests
We have seen in the flower accounts from the apparition sites of Montichiari, Italy and Lipa, Philippines that Our Lady asked us to pray especially for priests and religious. In northern Italy in the region of Lake Como, not far from Montichiari and Ghiaie di Bonate Our Lady chose the Italian Priest, Father Stefano Gobbi, to convey messages specifically geared for her “beloved sons,” the priests of the world.


Back in 1972 when Father Gobbi was on a pilgrimage to Fatima, he prayed in the Chapel of Apparitions for some priests that he knew who were in danger of losing their vocation. Interiorly he was inspired to be hopeful that the Immaculate Heart of Mary would intercede before Jesus for these prayer intentions. As more and more priests were abandoning the priesthood in the 1970’s, Father Gobbi felt called to form an apostolate of priests consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary who would be unwaveringly obedient to the teachings of the Church and loyal to the Pope. Father Gobbi imagined that an apostolate of Priests and laity would generate holiness in the Church and the solidarity of priests obedient to the Magisterium of the Church could lead to the long promised Triumph of the Immaculate Heart. Father Gobbi asked the Virgin for a sign confirming her desire to start a movement of Marian priests. Within the month he experienced the confirming sign.
In October 1972 Father Gobbi hosted three priests at an inaugural prayer meeting marking the beginning of the Marian Movement of Priests. By March of the next year the number of priests had grown to forty. Today the apostolate known as the Marian Movement of Priests (MMP) has spread throughout five continents and has millions of participating clergy and laity.
Members consecrate their lives to Jesus through Mary. They gather in prayer cenacles modeled after the first Pentecost for prayer, specifically prayer of the rosary and fraternal sharing. Father Gobbi made hundreds of trips to all parts of the world to participate in prayer cenacles, explaining the charism of the Marian Movement of Priests to priests and laity, and to disseminate the messages the Virgin has given to “her beloved sons.”
For almost twenty-five years Father Gobbi was given messages from the Virgin in the form of interior locutions. The messages are meant primarily for priests. They have been compiled chronologically into the book To the Priests, Our Lady’s Beloved Sons. Among the many messages the Virgin gave on various topics and attitudes within the contemporary Catholic Church, she spoke extensively about the Triumph of her Immaculate Heart. For decades we have heard about that hopeful promise, but Our Lady delves into the spiritual meaning of the triumph in several messages all throughout the book. When Our Lady told Jacinta, Francesco and Lucia that her Immaculate Heart would triumph she spoke in simple terms as a mother to a young child. However, Our Lady expounds on these matters in her messages to the priests. The lengthy explanations are meant for priests because they are our teachers of the faith and our shepherds. Priests will most easily understand the theological importance of the points Our Lady makes. Their consecrated lives compel them to transmit the hope of triumph to their flock. Our Lady explains these mysteries in an eloquent and motherly way.
Of the many interior locutions that Father Gobbi received, several evoke the imagery of flowers to explain theological mysteries. A few flower messages are given as points of contemplation.  The Virgin requested that we offer her our flowers of prayer, flowers of trust, and flowers of love during the month of May. She said, “Let the month of May, especially consecrated to me, be a precious occasion for you to entrust yourselves to me with the offering of your little flowers of mortification, the frequent recitation of the holy rosary, and a more intense living of the consecration to my Heart.

Father Gobbi traveled extensively all over the world holding prayer cenacles and Mass with hundreds of priests and thousands of lay people. Thousands and thousands of priests and faithful Catholics consecrated themselves to the Immaculate Heart of Mary as the march to the triumph continues. The Virgin Mary explained to Father Gobbi on November 12, 1985, “Then all my little children who, from every part of the world, have answered me with a yes and who have consecrated themselves to me and whom I am now cultivating in silence and in hiddenness, will open up like fragrant flowers to announce the new season of the triumph of my Immaculate Heart. I bless you all with love and joy.

In a very early message given December 19, 1973, Our Lady describes the state of the world when the triumph will take place. She said, “…at the very moment when satan will be enthroned as lord of the world and will think himself now the sure victor, I myself will snatch the prey from his hands. In a trice he will find himself empty-handed and in the end the victory will be exclusively my Son’s and mine. This will be the triumph of the Immaculate Heat in the world. If all the priests of my Movement only knew with what care they have been chosen and molded by me to prepare them for this great task.

https://fjdalessio.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/gobbi1.jpg

What will be the consequences of the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary? We aren’t given to know, but some of the messages offer us some clues. Our Lady said, “…the reunion of all Christians in the Catholic Church will coincide with the triumph of my Immaculate Heart in the world. This reunited Church, in the splendor of a new Pentecost, will have the power to renew all the people of the earth. The world will believe in Him whom the Father has sent, and will be completely renewed in His Spirit of Love.” Also in the message of October 16, 1991 the Virgin told Father Gobbi, “I confirm to you that, after the triumph of my Immaculate Heart, there will remain in these countries of yours, solely this one and only true Church.” The final message given to Father Gobbi on December 31, 1997 says, in part, “…In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph. This will come about in the greatest triumph of Jesus, who will bring into the world His glorious reign of love, of justice and of peace, and will make all things new. Open your hearts to hope. Throw open the doors to Christ who comes to you in glory. Live the trembling hour of this second Advent.

Father Gobbi died on June 29, 2011, the Feast of Saint Peter and Paul, after suffering a heart attack earlier that month. Upon learning of his death, Pope Benedict XVI said, “He went straight to Heaven.”

Reconciler of peoples and nations

Maria Esperanza, Messenger of Reconciliation (November 22, 1928 – August 7, 2004)
Many wonders with flowers have occurred to a woman from Venezuela named Maria Esperanza Bianchini. She led a life of mystical experiences that began at an early age.  At the age of five Maria Esperanza saw an apparition of Saint Thérèse of Lisiuex smiling at her and holding a rose in her hand that she tossed to little Maria. The rose was remarkable in its beauty, which led her mother to conclude that her daughter had received a preferential heavenly grace. In 1954, Maria again experienced a visit from Saint Thérèse at a time when she was discerning a vocation to become a religious. Maria had a strong desire to be a nun since childhood and was living in a convent when Saint Thérèse appeared after Mass. The Little Flower tossed another rose to Maria, which left a cut on her hand when she caught it. Thérèse told Maria that instead of becoming a nun, her vocation was to be a ‘wife and mother.’ Like the wound left by the rose, Maria suffered a temporary disappointment and it was with some anxiety that she left the convent and followed the inspirations of the Holy Spirit to leave Venezuela for Italy. She traveled to Rome and soon met Geo, her future husband. They married on December 8, 1956.


Maria and Geo started their family, which grew to be seven children: six daughters and a son.

Maria had known for some time that they were supposed to buy land in Venezuela for a special reason. She had seen the land in her mind’s eye and when they bought a farm about ninety minutes away from Caracas in 1974, it was just the place foreseen by Maria. The land became known as ‘Betania’ and Maria was told it would be the setting of a great spiritual renewal.
Maria’s mission commenced when Our Lady appeared to Maria on March 25, 1976. She came as Mary, Virgin and Mother, Reconciler of People and Nations. She received this message: “Daughter, here you have me with my hands enriched with graces and covered with splendors of light, to call all my children to conversion; this is the seed of glory I offer as ‘MARY RECONCILER OF PEOPLE AND NATIONS’, for I come to reconcile all of you. Reconciliation is the inheritance of divine brotherhood of My Divine Son! Daughter, tell my message to all. I will keep you here in my heart from today on and forever!” Many people started to make pilgrimages to Betania as word spread that the Mother of God was appearing and urging reconciliation. On April 19, 1979 Maria established a foundation to make known the messages of Mary, Virgin and Mother Reconciler of all People and Nations.

https://i.pinimg.com/736x/f4/fc/78/f4fc783cdf53bdb1b1d17fba2f095389--holy-mary-virgin-mary.jpg
On March 25, 1984, one hundred fifty people from all walks of life, old and young, saw the Virgin Mary distinctly as she appeared to all those who were there. Our Lady manifested herself under the title: “Mary, Virgin and Mother, Reconciler of all Peoples and Nations.” The eyewitness accounts led the Bishop of the Diocese, Monsignor Pio Bello, to conclude that the apparitions at Betania were authentic and of a supernatural character. He allowed pilgrimages, prayer, and the Mass to be celebrated there.
The apparitions were approved in 1987 by Bishop Bello, in consultation with then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith who was elected Pope Benedict XVI on April 19, 2005.

Many people came and their faith was deepened. A small sampling of the flower graces from her apostolate were that some pilgrims experienced the beautiful odor of sanctity, others received rose petals from Maria that appeared to never lose their fresh appearance. A daughter of Maria related how rose petals appeared and multiplied out of nowhere in the pocket of their mother’s jacket when she borrowed it to wear. Another daughter opened the washing machine to find rose petals covering her mother’s clothing.
One gift Maria Esperanza was given that seems to be unique to her was the experience of having a little rose burst forth out of her physical self, out of her chest. The rose appeared vibrant and fresh with dewdrops on it as if just cut. This miraculous event occurred sixteen different times and was painful, humbling, and quite astounding. A Venezuelan journalist who was reporting from Betania witnessed the rose burst and has a video recording of the phenomenon.
Maria was a friend of both Padre Pio and Pope John Paul II. Maria made accurate prophetic statements predicting the September 11th attacks and warned against going to war over the attacks. She credited the United States for pressuring South America against trending toward socialism and urged the U.S. to remain a force for goodness in the world.
Maria also foretold that Venezuela would undergo strife. She prophesied, “We will live days of darkness, shadows, light , strength of the spirit, and awareness. Yet in all this, Venezuela will succeed. We must prepare ourselves with much prayer.”   As we know, Venezuelans are going through terrible deprivation of food, water, medicine and all necessities. Let us keep our brothers and sister in our prayers.
Before she died, Maria encouraged the formation of communities dedicated to prayer for the reconciliation of people and nations. Besides the Betania community in Venezuela, Mrs. Bianchini confirmed a site for the Betania II community in New Jersey which is a place of refuge for bringing souls to God. Maria Esperanza asserted “There will be Betanias all over the world.” True to her prophecy, Betania Communities and prayer fellowships have come into existence. To date there are 18 Betania Prayer Communities around the world and growing.

Maria spent the last years of her life suffering from a Parkinson’s disease-like illness. Maria died on August 7, 2004 at Southern Ocean County Hospital near the New Jersey shore. The report was that after her death, the room was filled with a strong fragrance of roses. Maria Esperanza led a life with many amazing rose accounts lovingly sent by Our Lord so that we may truly believe that all things are possible with Him. The cause for the sainthood of Maria Esperanza has been opened by the Diocese of Metuchen, New Jersey on January 31, 2010. At present she is known as Servant of God Maria Esperanza Medrano de Bianchini.

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Our Lady of America

Our Lady of America
It is with great joy that I am able to include an entry on the Blessed Mother appearing as a Queen with flowers to a nun in the heartland of America starting in the 1950’s.  It is helpful to remember that the Blessed Mother has been patroness of the United States since its foundation.  At the time when George Washington was deciding on a site for the nation’s capital, he wanted the federal city to be established on land near his family estate of Mount Vernon and to be near the river port cities of Alexandria, Virginia and Georgetown, Maryland. Land on either side of the Potomac River had to be ceded to make the District of Colombia. Ultimately land from Virginia (Virgin) on the west side of the Potomac River on December 3, 1789 and Maryland from the east side of the Potomac River, Maryland (Mary) (Land) on December 23, 1788 to comprise an area “ten miles square” grafted of Virgin Mary Land. So the seat of government in the USA sits on Virgin Mary Land.
The first bishop of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States, John Carroll had a tender devotion to the Virgin Mary and it was a blessing that he was consecrated bishop on the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, August 15, 1790. Bishop Carroll convened the first national synod in November, 1791 in Baltimore, Maryland. There he and the priests formulated regulations for sacramental preparation and administration in their diocese that encompassed what is now Washington D.C. Among other things, they advised that ‘before Mass, the litany of the Blessed Virgin, to whom the diocese had been specifically dedicated, was to be said.’ In his first Pastoral Letter dated May 28, 1792, Bishop Carroll exhorted the faithful to devotion to the Virgin Mary. It reads in part: “I shall only add this my earnest request, that to the exercise of the sublimest virtues, faith, hope and charity, you will join a fervent and well-regulated devotion to the Holy Mother of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; that you will place great confidence in her in all your necessities. Having chosen her the special patroness of this Diocese, you are placed, of course, under her powerful protection; and it becomes your duty to be careful to deserve its continuance by a zealous imitation of her virtues and a reliance on her motherly superintendence.”
Archbishop Samuel Eccleston of Baltimore, Maryland convened the Sixth Provincial Council of the Church in America with twenty-two bishops in 1846. Among the many important points of business that were discussed, the bishops made several petitions to the Pope to honor the sinless conception of the Virgin Mary. The United States Bishops were leaders at this time of history in promoting the Immaculate Conception of Mary. At their meeting on May 13, 1846, the U.S. bishops petitioned the Holy See to make Mary Immaculate the Patroness of the United States and to make the Conception of the Blessed Virgin a solemn feast day. In their meeting on May 15, 1846 the same bishops further petitioned the Pope to be able to add the word “Immaculate” before Conception to prayers in the Office of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin, and the Preface of the Mass commemorating the Conception of Mary. Finally, they petitioned the Holy Father to be able to add the invocation “Queen conceived without sin, pray for us” to the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Within a year, all the petitions were granted “in perpetuity” by the Holy See and the word Immaculate Conception was added to prayers and masses in honor of her feast day in all the Catholic congregations throughout the United States.
The final portion of a pastoral letter resulting from the Council dated May 17, 1846, the Bishops wrote, “We take this occasion, brethren, to communicate to you the determination, unanimously adopted by us, to place ourselves and all entrusted to our charge throughout the United States, under the special patronage of the holy Mother of God, whose Immaculate Conception is venerated by the piety of the faithful throughout the Catholic Church. By the aid of her prayers, we entertain the confident hope that we will be strengthened to perform the arduous duties of our ministry, and that you will be enabled to practice the sublime virtues, of which her life presents the most perfect example.”
The next year, 1847, came news from the Sacred Congregation of the Propagation of the Faith that “our Holy Father Pius IX most willingly confirmed the wishes of the Council that has selected the Blessed Virgin, conceived without sin, as the patroness of the Church in the United States of America.” This pronouncement was made even before the dogma of the Immaculate Conception was formally defined by the Holy Father and probably worked in part to hasten the declaration of the Immaculate Conception in 1854.
Moving along to the twentieth century, Cardinal Gibbons announced that a National Shrine dedicated to the Immaculate Conception would be built in Washington D.C. He laid a cornerstone for the Church on September 23, 1920. Delays because of wars and the depression caused the construction of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception to be ongoing for decades. The joy of the completed exterior of this most magnificent Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception was celebrated November 20, 1959.
In mid-nineteenth century America, Father Xavier Donald MacLeod wrote that of more than eight hundred churches in North America which were dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, 145 were named for the Immaculate Conception. Cardinal Richard Cushing, Archbishop of Boston wrote in the mid-twentieth century, “A priest (Father MacLeod) who wrote in 1866 counted hundreds of churches dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. Today there must be tens of thousands of churches and chapels bearing her name and titles. In my own Archdiocese (Boston) there are eighty-six parishes and ninety-one institutions dedicated to her, and thirty religious orders working in her name and pledged to her service; also as in every diocese, Sodalities, Rosary Societies, Legions of Mary, Holy Family Associations, vocation groups, Catholic Youth Organizations…everywhere…Hail Mary, full of grace…pray for us now and at the hour of our death.”
Establishing the Blessed Mother as patroness of our country may be the wisest move the American Bishops have made. Yet, Americans also have a church-approved Marian apparition that goes further to reveal just how pleased the Virgin Mary was with America and how high her hopes were for this country to provide leaders who would advance purity in America and around the world. The revelations came to a sister in Ohio, Sister Mildred Mary Neuzil who was consecrated to the religious life in 1933 as a Sister in the Congregation of the Sisters of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus
Sister Mildred had mystical experiences starting in the 1940’s that she thought were common to all religious. She heard Our Lord talking to her with clarity and authority inside of her soul, an experience known as interior locution. On the advice of her confessor, Sister began to write down the words that she received from Our Lord. Sister Millie worked simply, in whatever capacity she was called to, but she especially enjoyed the years she taught kindergarten during the 1950’s. She loved working with the little ones and no doubt prayed intensely for her students to have the love of Christ in their hearts. Sister Mildred was also experiencing the beginning of a mission that she didn’t initiate or seek, but was asked to undertake.
Our Lord told Sister Mildred in July, 1954 how He wished children to be raised in the homes of Christian families. He said that parents have tremendous responsibility to raise their children in the faith, they have to give good example and they need to prepare their children for heaven foremost rather than for earthly gain.
In the fall of 1954, an angel dressed in white appeared to Sister Mildred. This was the first time Sister encountered a spiritual entity that she saw and heard. The angel described himself as the Angel of Peace, whom Sister later realized was Saint Michael the Archangel. He asked her if she would accept the cross and Sister Mildred responded, “Yes, I will accept the cross.” Just as in the apparitions to the Fatima children, Saint Michael appeared to Sister Mildred before Our Lady came with an important mission for America that even today, remains partly unaccomplished.
On September 26, 1956 Our Lady appeared to Sister Millie as a Queen. She held a lily scepter in her right hand. Her left hand held slightly the upper part of her white mantle so that her Immaculate Heart was visible. The Immaculate Heart was ringed with red roses and flames issued forth from her heart. The Virgin Mary’s appearance was similar to the Walsingham Virgin in that she appeared with a golden crown, a lily scepter and ina this case, her Immaculate Heart had a wreath of roses around it.

 

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Sister Mildred described her appearance as follows: “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. 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 the mantle, so that her Immaculate Heart could be seen.”
Our Lady said to Sister Mildred, “I am Our Lady of America. I desire that my children honor me, especially by the purity of their lives.” Our Lady said that she was very happy for all the ways she is honored by her children in the United States. Our Lady wanted America to be the country dedicated to her purity and to spread the cause of faith and purity among peoples and nations, saying, in part, “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.” Her messages to Sister Mildred in 1956 were targeted for the youth of America, the Baby Boomers, if you will. She wanted to give the special title of ‘Torchbearers of the Queen’ to those who would wholeheartedly join her in decisively defeating the works of evil, sin, and impurity first in their lives, their communities, our country and throughout the world. Yet, this synopsis oversimplifies her tremendous invitation, and if this is the first time you’ve read about Our Lady of America, please read the messages and join her efforts. It is definitely not too late to pray for purity for our country. You may lament after reading the messages that a lot of precious time has slipped by without enough action on our part to combat the forces of darkness that are intent on defeating us spiritually. We may still be able to take back some aspects of music, entertainment, media, fashion and education that have become severely perverted in this country.
Our Lady appeared on two occasions to Sister Millie as Our Lady of the Divine Indwelling. The description of Our Lady of the Divine Indwelling corresponds in several ways to the Woman Clothed with the Sun and the moon under her feet that wages war with the dragon (Revelation, Chapter 12). Sister Mildred wrote: “Our Lady was standing (with) her right foot resting on a crescent or quarter moon, the left (foot) on the snout of a rather small and very ugly looking dragon. I saw fire come out of his huge jaws, but not very much, as he could not open them wide enough because of Our Lady’s foot…Our Lady was all in white… Sometimes the veil appeared so transparent that Our Lady’s hair could be seen through it, and the hair seemed to be sparkling with the light of many glittering stars. At times the edges of the veil, sleeves, and garments seemed to be outlined in light. The veil was held about her head by a wreath of white roses. On her breast, as though through a veil, the Triangle and the Eye, which is often depicted as the symbol of the Divine Indwelling, could be visibly seen…Our Lady’s feet were bare, that is, devoid of any kind of footwear, but on each foot was a large white rose. The roses, both on the feet and on the crown, were of such dazzling whiteness that the outlines of the petals could barely be seen, sometimes not at all… Then halfway around the figure of Our Lady above her head appeared a scroll on which were written in letters of gold the words: ‘All the glory of the King’s daughter is within.’ ”
The American faithful need to imbue ourselves, our children, and this country with the purity that Our Lady requested. On October 7, 1957 Our Lady said that “there will be peace, as has been promised, but not until my children are purified and cleansed from defilement, and…are made ready to receive this peace, so long promised and so long held back because of the sins of men.” She promised peace in Fatima (1917), peace in America (1957) and here we are sixty-two years later with more problems and impurity spewing out of America than ever. Like errant children, we truly don’t listen and don’t do what the good Mother advises. One part of the last message Sister Millie received during the height of the Cold War (January 3, 1984) from Our Lady is, “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.”
On October 13, 1956 Our Lady appeared with a small model of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in her hand. She indicated that she was very pleased with the effort to build the Church. This Shrine, dedicated to Our Lady, was a work in progress at the time of the October 13, 1956 message to Sister Mildred. Our Lady said that anyone who would support the building of the Shrine by prayers, labor, or donations would be blessed.


On November 15, 1956 Our Lady asked Sister Mildred to draw a rendition of her as she appeared in her first apparition as Our Lady of America. She wanted a statue to be made according to the image, to be carried in solemn procession and to be permanently placed in the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception (in Washington D.C. on ‘Virgin Mary Land’) that was under construction. She promised spiritual wonders greater than Lourdes if this request was carried out. It came to pass that the exterior of the Shrine was completed three years later in 1959. The Great Upper Church was dedicated on November 20, 1959. Any visitor to the Basilica is amazed at the beauty and ornamentation of this very holy shrine. There are many, many splendorous features regarding this church that you may want to read about online or in print. It is a complete wonder and located only a couple of miles away from the nation’s capitol. Masses and the sacrament of reconciliation are offered daily to the millions of people who visit every year.
During Pope Benedict XVI’s first visit to America as Pope, he paid an apostolic visit to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception to preside over Vespers with many Cardinals, Bishops, priests, and the faithful in attendance. In his remarks, Pope Benedict said, “Dear Brother Bishops, it gives me great joy to greet you today at the start of my visit to this country in this Basilica dedicated to the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a shrine of special significance to American Catholics, right in the heart of your capital city. Gathered in prayer with Mary, Mother of Jesus, we lovingly commend to our Heavenly Father the people of God in every part of the United States.” He concluded his talk with the blessing, “I commend the Church in your country most particularly to the maternal care and intercession of Mary Immaculate, Patroness of the United States. May she, who carried within her womb the hope of all nations, intercede for the people of this country, so that all may be made new in Jesus Christ her Son. To all of you, and to your clergy, religious and lay faithful, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of joy and peace in the Risen Lord.” Then among gifts that were exchanged, the Holy Father bestowed “a Golden Rose for our Mother Mary” upon the Shrine. The visit to the Shrine concluded with the Bishops singing Happy Birthday to the Pontiff on the occasion of his eighty-first birthday, April 16, 2008.
There are seventy Marian chapels and four oratories within the Shrine dedicated to Our Lady under various titles, however there is not one dedicated to Our Lady of America as she requested to Sister Mildred, yet. A stunningly beautiful statue of Our Lady of America was on display in Washington D.C. near the Basilica at the John Paul II Cultural Center, but believe it or not litigation caused it to be taken down because of an extensive legal battle over the ‘rights to the Our Lady of America devotion.’ By the glory of God, the appeals court decided in favor of letting the devotion be unconstrained by copyright. The decision was handed down December 18, 2015. The degree of contention over Our Lady of America clues us into how very important it is. The more important the devotion, the more the devil tries to derail the Virgin’s plans. Battles over devotion to the Virgin Mary have happened literally over and over and over and over since Jesus died on the cross. Now, Americans can jump for joy that Our Lady of America visited us and is for us. Learn about the devotion. Our Lady loves us, though we are depraved and pompous. She will lead us to purity.
The Queen conceived without sin visited America bearing a scepter of lilies and a wreath of red roses around her Immaculate Heart! Let us be made worthy of the confidence she placed in Americans to strive for purity and faithfulness to the Triune God. Sister Mildred’s local Bishop, Paul F. Leibold (now deceased) approved Sister Mildred’s messages for publication. Sister Mildred passed away January 3, 2000. Our Lady of America is becoming better known with time. The book of messages and prayers of Our Lady of America may be obtained from B.V.M. Our Lady of America and corresponding website. Most recent approval of this devotion came in the form of a letter Archbishop Raymond Burke sent to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops dated May 31, 2007 where he reaffirmed ecclesiastical approval for devotion to Our Lady of America.

The roller coaster of approval and disapproval of the Lipa, Philippines apparitions

Rose Petals Showers (Lipa, Phillipines 1948)
Seventy-one years ago, a Carmelite Monastery in the Philippines was the site of amazing rose petal showers that even today generate great interest. A young postulant, Teresita Castillo, was in the process of discerning a vocation as a Carmelite nun. She had encountered considerable resistance from her family who wanted her to marry and was experiencing some demonic persecution prior to a visitation from the Virgin Mary in August 1948. On August 18th Teresita returned to her cell to sense a wonderful fragrance and a very beautiful woman dressed in white. The Woman was reassuring and consoling. She asked Teresita for simplicity, humility and to be obedient to the Mother Prioress of the Carmel. Two days later after completing an act of obedience Teresita was making her bed in her room when she experienced the first of many rose petal showers. First she heard something like flapping and then saw a shower of rose petals that landed to make the shape of a cross on the floor of her room.
Teresita then experienced short-term blindness and other sufferings, which she was to offer for the deepening of faith for priests and religious. The blindness ended as suddenly as it had started on September 7th a number of days before the formal events of heavenly visitation commenced.
On September 12th (the feast of the Holy Name of Mary) while walking outside in the Carmel garden Teresita saw a vine shaking hard although there was no wind. Then she heard a woman’s voice in locution tell her not to fear, to kiss the ground and to return to the same spot every day for the next fifteen days. The next day she saw a lady dressed in white and holding a golden rosary. The lady said, “I am your mother, and I am the mother of my Son, Jesus.” The Blessed Mother asked Teresita to pray for priests and sisters who had lost or were losing their vocation which, by the way, was part of the central theme for the apparitions. The next day the Holy Mother asked Teresita to have the apparition site formally blessed in front of the whole Carmelite community.
The chaplain to the Carmel happened to be the Auxiliary Bishop of the diocese, Bishop Alfredo Obviar. He obliged the Virgin’s request and during the afternoon of September 15th blessed the site near the vine in the Carmelite garden. Teresita went into ecstasy during the blessing ceremony. This was the first indication to the other nuns that she was having religious experiences. Bishop Obviar witnessed Teresita’s ecstasy and the miraculous petal shower that occurred at that time. The next day Mary asked Teresita to have a statue made ‘…as you see me.’ The Virgin asked Teresita in the remaining apparitions for Saturday Marian devotions to be prayed and she wanted all the Carmelites to consecrate themselves to her Immaculate Heart. On the last day of the series of apparitions (September 26th) the Virgin announced that she was Mary, Mediatrix of All Grace.
A statue was promptly fashioned and displayed as the Virgin requested. For the entire years of 1949 and 1950 until April 1951, Teresita and the Carmelite community adhered to every word the Virgin asked them to do. They did the Saturday Marian devotions, they consecrated themselves using the 33 day formula according to Saint Louis de Montfort and they experienced the wonders of rose petal showers. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims came to the holy site. Many who witnessed the falling petals noticed they fell straight down even with a strong wind blowing. Skeptics thought the sisters hooked up a blower to disperse the petals, but at that time the monastery had no electricity. Not only were the rose petals dispersed divinely, they were found to be instrumental in some incredible healings.
The newborn daughter of a doctor and his wife had a congenital hole in her skull that exposed a large part of her brain to only her scalp. A month after her birth, the baby’s brain was starting to protrude out of that hole. Action would have to be taken. For the best medical help she would have to be flown out of the country to be cared for by a specialist. The infant’s health soon worsened and she became unconscious with possible meningitis. In desperation, a family member placed a Lipa rose petal in her tiny hand. Soon the child revived and a follow-up X-ray showed her brain had receded and hole in her skull was now hard bone.
So many thousands of people were requesting rose petals that the nuns started to dip rose petals in water and distribute the water in lieu of a precious petal. Some people that had picked up a rose petal noticed beautiful holy images imprinted on them that defied explanation. The scenes were varied, no two were alike, and they showed images of the Holy Family, the Last Supper, Mary holding a rosary, Saint Joseph, or Jesus on the cross. Each scene was intricately detailed and displayed on the space of about one and a half inch by one and a quarter inch rose petal area. The image appeared in white against the red background of the petal. Scientists noted that the veins of the petal were unbroken despite the delicately embossed sacred image.  Here are some images of the miraculous rose petals

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The statue of Mary, Mediatrix of All Grace was the subject of reported miracles. It was kept in an enclosure but people said they saw the eyes of the statue move and the golden rosary pass through the hands of the Virgin to appear as praying.

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The euphoria of the purported phenomena was ended abruptly after an ecclesiastical report found that “there was no supernatural intervention in the events that occurred at the Carmel of Lipa.” Church hierarchy reassigned Bishop Obviar and the Mother Prioress of Lipa to other places. Teresita was ordered to the University to undergo psychological testing and evaluation. Finally the new Mother Prioress advised Teresita to leave the Carmel. Broken hearted Teresita returned to live with her parents and went on to live a quiet life as the foster mother to an abandoned child; she never married.
The nuns at Lipa Carmel were ordered to destroy all materials related to Teresita’s apparitions and to withdraw the statue from public viewing. They burned diaries, messages the Virgin gave and devotions related to the messages. They burned the rose petals and they hid and covered the statue, but it was the only thing that remained. Additionally, the nuns were not to discuss the events that had occurred under penalty of sin. If that wasn’t painful enough, for the most part, the nation now scorned the Lipa Carmelites as hucksters of a religious sham.
The situation remained that way for forty years and most of the witnesses have died from old age. In 1991 the Archbishop of Lipa convened a new commission to study the events at Lipa. The next year he allowed the Carmelite nuns to once more display the statue of Mary, Mediatrix of All Grace and in 1993 he declared that “the events at Lipa are worthy of belief.” To commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of the apparitions, a Mass was celebrated at Mary, Mediatrix of All Grace parish ending with consecration of the Philippines to Jesus through Mary. Many Bishops, Archbishops and a Cardinal were in attendance as was Gloria Arroyo, the President of the Philippines. She led the prayer of consecration for the country. She knelt before the statue of Mary, Mediatrix of All Grace and prayed: “We consecrate to you all that we have, all that we do, all that we are, we consecrate to you our homes and loved ones.” She prayed that the nation would “promote respect for the value of human life.” The Catholic hierarchy and the president appear to be watching out spiritually for the population of 84 million people, more than 81% of which identify themselves as Catholic.
Teresita Castillo was interviewed in 2014 and appeared to be bed-ridden as she was 87 years old. She said that young people face great temptations. Teresita said in part, “I know Mama Mary is hurt, VERY HURT. That is why we need penance. You don’t need to do big things to make penance, even simple things, little things. Just keep close to her. I’m sure She will protect you. I’m sure She will make you good souls, good boys. She will guide you to where She wants you to be. Now that you know Her, I know you will, day by day, pray to Her, and doing so, your love for Her will increase. She will guide you, She will guard you. She will protect you from dangers of body (and soul). I know all of you here who came to visit me, all of you will be blessed by Mama Mary.”


In September of 2015, the Bishop of Lipa released a decree stating that the events and apparitions of Our Lady as Mediatrix of all Grace exhibit supernatural character and they are ‘worthy of belief.’ The document was very thorough with twenty-five supporting statements made with the final declaration which is given below:
SO THEREFORE I, BY THE GRACE OF GOD AND THE AUTHORITY OF THE APOSTOLIC SEE, THE SEVENTH BISHOP OF THIS LOCAL CHURCH OF LIPA, THE FIFTH ARCHBISHOP OF THIS METROPOLITAN SEE, THE MOST UNWORTHY SERVUS ANCILLAE FILIUS DECLARE WITH MORAL CERTAINTY AND WITH THE BEST INTENTIONS AND HOPES IN MIND, SEEKING THE COMPLIANCE OF THE NORMS OF THE HOLY SEE, ACTING FOR THE GREATER GLORY OF GOD AND ASCERTAINING ALWAYS GREATER LOVE FOR HOLY MOTHER THE CHURCH,
THAT THE EVENTS AND APPARITION OF 1948 ALSO
KNOWN AS THE MARIAN PHENOMENON IN LIPA AND
ITS AFTERMATH EVEN IN RECENT TIMES DO EXHIBIT
SUPERNATURAL CHARACTER AND IS WORTHY OF BELIEF.

THUS I ENCOURAGE THE DEVOTION TO THE MOST HOLY
MOTHER MARY UNDER HER REVERED AND WORTHY
TITLE MEDIATRIX OF ALL GRACE.
GIVEN THIS 12th DAY OF SEPTEMBER, FEAST OF THE HOLY NAME OF MARY, OBSERVED IN THE ARCHDIOCESE OF LIPA AS FEAST OF MARY, MEDIATRIX OF ALL GRACE, IN THE YEAR OF OUR LORD, TWO THOUSAND AND FIFTEEN.
(signed) RAMON CABRERA ARGUELLES, DD
One of the statements of Archbishop Arguelles’s decree was: “Whereas the Catholic Bishops of China consecrated in 1942 the Church in China to Mary Mediatrix of all grace assuring the fidelity of Catholics to the Church even in the most trying moments thus rendering the Church in China strong and faithful;” There is a reason why the Bishop included this statement in his decree. A prophecy that Teresita received in 1948 was that China (where the communist party had just taken absolute power in 1949 after the Chinese Civil War) would convert only after much suffering. She said, “Pray hard; for (it is) China’s dream to invade the whole world. The Philippines is one of its favorites. Money is the evil force that will lead the people of the world to destruction.” Yet, Our Lady said, “Prayers, sacrifices, self-denials and the daily recitation of the Holy Rosary will soften the heart of my Son.” My comment is that once again, our Holy Mother visited the earth to warn us of danger, this time of atheistic communism. Notice how Chinese Catholic Bishops consecrated their country to Mary Mediatrix of All Grace in 1942 and just six years later Our Loving Mother appears in the nearby Philippines as Mary Mediatrix of All Grace.

Ready for the roller coaster?  After Archbishop Arguelles decree was proclaimed, just eight months later, in May 2016, the Sacred Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) under Cardinal Gerhard Mueller overruled Archbishop Arguelles and rejected his decree declaring that the alleged Marian apparitions in Batangas in 1948 were authentic. Arguelles announced the ruling by the CDF in an archdiocesan letter on May 31. In its decree, the Congregation stated that Pope Pius XII had made a definitive confirmation in 1951 declaring that the apparitions “were not of supernatural origin,” which the local authority had no authority to overrule.

Just six months later on November 16, 2016, Teresita died at the age of 89 years old.  Archbishop Ramon Arguelles officiated a Mass at the Carmelite Monastery in Lipa City for Teresita, also known as Sister Teresing. Castillo’s remains were buried at the monastery grounds.  My comment is this: I do not think we have heard the last of this apparition!!

 

Rosa Mystica


In the spring of 1947, the Virgin Mary appeared to Pierina Gilli, a thirty-five-year-old nurse, in the room of a hospital in Montichiari, Italy (again in northern Italy 40 miles from where the Holy Family appeared to Adelaide Roncalli three years earlier) to begin a series of apparitions with a sweeping theme for prayer and atonement for priests and religious. The Virgin was clothed in a violet dress with a white veil. The Virgin’s appearance was striking because she had tears in her eyes and her heart was pierced with three swords. The only words she spoke at this apparition were “Prayer! Sacrifice! Atonement!” In the next apparition Our Lady stated that the swords in Her heart represents three immense pains She suffers from 1. the loss of priestly vocations, 2. Priests, monks and nuns who live in mortal sin, and 3. Priests, monks and nuns who give up their faith and then become enemies of the Church.
The Virgin Mary appeared again July 13, 1947 and spoke at length to Pierina. Mary was clothed in white and instead of swords piercing her, three roses of different colors took their place. A white rose represented prayer, a red rose meant sacrifice and a gold rose symbolized the treasure of penance. The Virgin asked Pierina to tell all, that she wanted this day, July 13th, to be celebrated in honor of Rosa Mystica, a devotion to be especially dear to all religious, monks and nuns and to priests of the world. She said, “On this day I shall pour out vocational holiness and abundant graces on those religious orders and priests who honor me as the Rosa Mystica.” It seems more than coincidence that this revelation was thirty years to the day of the famous Fatima apparition when the children were told the secret including the vision of hell, ‘where the souls of poor sinners go.’ The December 8, 1947 apparition that Pierina received furthered the mission of Rosa Mystica. Here the Virgin asked that the hour of noon on every December 8th be celebrated as an hour of grace. She said, “I am the Immaculate Conception. I am ‘Mary full of grace,’ Mother of my divine Son, Jesus Christ. I wish to celebrate on this day at Noon, every year, the Hour of Grace for the whole world. With this exercise one will receive numerous spiritual and bodily graces.” We are to pray during this hour without interruption in a church, if possible or at home for hardened sinners. An appropriate prayer during the hour of grace is to pray Psalm 51, The Miserere three times for mercy for sinners.

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The successive Bishops of the Monichiari diocese have privately shown interest in the devotion of Rosa Mystica but have not lent their public approval to the apparitions. The Rosa Mystica devotion and pilgrim statues showing the white, red, and gold rose on the cloak of the Virgin have spread throughout the world. Now there are tens of thousands of the statues worldwide. There are reports that as many as one hundred of the Rosa Mystica statues have supernaturally shed natural tears and some have shed tears of blood.

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Mary, Queen of the family devotion approved

As little Adelaide Roncalli was picking flowers on the 13th of May 1944, she was visited by a heavenly family!  Saint Joseph and the Virgin Mary holding baby Jesus appeared to seven-year-old Adelaide Roncalli on May 13, 1944 in a small village in the north of Italy named Ghiaie di Bonate which is near Bergamo also near Milan.  At the six o’clock hour on that late afternoon, Adelaide was picking elder flowers and daisies along the path which slopes down by the pine wood to offer them to a painting of Our Lady. Her sister, Palmina (six-years-old) and some other little girls were with her.

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From Adelaide’s diary:
“I was picking flowers for the image of the Virgin Mary which hangs halfway down the stairs in my home. I had also picked some daisies and I had arranged them into a wheelbarrow that my dad had made. I saw a beautiful elder flower but it was far above my reach for me to pick. I stood there, admiring it, when I saw a golden spot coming down from above and drawing near the earth little by little; while it was approaching it got bigger and bigger and I could make out the presence of a beautiful Lady with Baby Jesus in her arms and Saint Joseph on her left. The three persons were enveloped into three oval circles of light and remained suspended in space not far from the wires.

The Lady, beautiful and majestic, was wearing a white dress and a blue mantle; on her right arm she carried a Rosary made of white beads; on her bare feet two white roses stood. Her dress was set off by a string of pearls, all equal, tied in gold in the shape of a necklace. The circles enveloping the three persons were bright with shades of golden light. At first I was scared and was on the point of running away, but the Lady called me in a sweet voice and said: “Do not run away, as I am the Virgin Mary!”. So I stopped and was gazing at her, but I was a little afraid. The Virgin Mary looked at me, then added: “You must be good, obedient, respectful of your neighbors and sincere: pray well and come back to this place for nine evenings, always at this time”.

Our Lady looked at me for a few seconds and then slowly went away, without turning her back on me. I kept staring at them intently until a whitish cloud hid them from my view. Baby Jesus and Saint Joseph had not spoken; they only looked at me with an amiable expression”.
Palmina and the other girls tried to get Adelaide’s attention, but she was unresponsive in her ecstatic state. They called to her and tried to pull on her because they were worried. Palmina ran off to tell her mom that ‘Adelaide was dead, but on her feet.’ In a while, Adelaide came out of her ecstasy and she told her friends about her vision. No one at home made much out of the occurrence on the first day.

The apparitions took place at about six o’clock in the afternoon twelve more times during May 1944. Crowds grew and grew every successive afternoon. The Virgin Mary was the only one to speak to Adelaide. According to the child’s story, the Virgin spoke  in her dialect inviting all of us to prayer, to conversion, to penance. In the final days of the apparitions, the crowds grew to be as large as 350,000 people.

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There were solar phenomena associated with the apparitions just as was the case in the final Fatima apparition (October 13, 1917). The description of a witness from the May 21st apparition is as follows: “the sun came out of the clouds, whirled dizzily on itself projecting beams of yellow, green, red, blue, violet light in all directions; the beams of light colored the clouds, the fields, the trees and the stream of people. After a few minutes the sun stopped its whirl and those phenomena began soon again. Many noticed that the disc had turned white like a Communion Host; the clouds seemed to be lowering down on the people. Some noticed a Rosary in the sky, some others a majestic Lady with a trailing mantle.” From Bergamo many witnesses observed the sun become pale and radiate all the rainbow colors, shed in all directions; they also noticed a large yellow light beam falling over the Ghiaie perpendicularly.”

After the apparitions stopped, Adelaide was sorely tried by certain clergy. Just a few years later in 1948, the local bishop forbade devotion, claiming that “every form of devotion for Our Lady, as she appeared at Ghiaie di Bonate, remained hereunder forbidden, in compliance with the canonical laws.” The lay faithful however continued to believe. Adelaide Roncalli maintained throughout her life that she did see the Holy Family in apparitions. Adelaide married after a failed attempt to enter religious life. She lived a very quiet life in Milan and died August 24, 2014 at the age of 77.

We have look into the content of the 7th apparition to see the prophecy that has recently come to fruition.  During the May 19, 1944 apparition, the young Adelaide asked Our Lady to work a miracle so that all the people may believe that they were appearing. The Virgin said, “The time for it will come, many will be converted and I will be recognized by the Church”. Then She added gravely: “Meditate upon these words all the days of your life, summon up your courage in all your sorrows. You will see me again in the hour of your death, I will keep you under my mantle and will take you to Heaven”.

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The time has come for recognition by the Church as we share exciting news about this devotion.  It just so happened that the Bishop of Bergamo, Francesco Beschi, wrote in a letter dated January 1, 2019 to the faithful approval of the devotion to Mary, Queen of the Family. Here is part of his letter:

Now it is time for this devotion, always accompanied and never stifled by the shepherds of the Church, free from the bonds of bias and from that need of signs that hides unbelief, may shine to illuminate and support the path of so many faithful, especially those who live in situations of fatigue and suffering.
A devotion that right here, at the Ghiaie di Bonate, near the chapel dedicated to
Mary Queen of the Family, a small house for all pilgrims and wayfarers, finds a
safe harbor.
Here, at the Ghiaie di Bonate, entrusted to the prudent and wise guidance of the shepherds of the parish community.
Here, at the Ghiaie di Bonate, where the worthy commitment of the parish community, supported by that of the diocese, has seen in recent years an effort that is necessary to protect and guard these places so they remain places of silence and a simple and cordial welcome. In order that essentially everyone, just everyone, no one excluded, can feel at home.
As Pope Francis writes: “Mary lived like no other the Beatitudes of
Jesus. She is the one who was overcome with joy in the presence of God, she who kept everything in her heart and she let herself to be pierced by the sword. She is the saint among the saints, the most blessed, she who shows us the way of holiness and accompanies us. She does not accept that when we fall, we remain on the ground. She carries us without judging us.
Conversation with her consoles us, frees us and sanctifies us. The Mother does not need many words, you do not need to strain too much to explain what happens to us. It’s enough to whisper again and again: “Hail Mary full of grace, the LORD is with thee…” »(Gaudete et Exultate, No. 176).
Thanks dear pilgrim and traveler for your passage and your visit. I ask you to say
a prayer for me and for the Church of Bergamo assuring you of mine. May God the
Father, Son and Holy Spirit, through the intercession of Mary, Queen of the Family,
bless you and your loved ones.
Bergamo, Italy
1 January 2019, Solemnity of Mary Most Holy Mother of God
Francesco Beschi, Bishop of Bergamo

Roses in the Potato Pot

Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, the Secretary of Divine Mercy
Our Lord gave a Polish nun, Sister Maria Faustina Kowalska, a means of accruing great graces for our time, devotion to the Divine Mercy.  Jesus asked Sister Faustina to write His words down in diaries and to proclaim His message of Mercy. The entries in Sister Faustina’s diaries have been compiled into the book Divine Mercy in my Soul. They form the basis for a Church-wide celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday that is held the first Sunday after Easter Sunday every year. Divine Mercy Sunday carries the grace of a plenary indulgence when the conditions of reciting chaplet prayers, making a Divine Mercy novena, going to confession, receiving Holy Communion, venerating an image of the Divine Mercy and praying for the intentions of the Pope are met.
During her life, Sister Faustina always worked under obedience to her confessor to begin the process of spreading devotion to the Divine Mercy. At Our Lord’s request, Sister Faustina worked with a Polish artist to portray on canvas the sacred image of Jesus with one arm raised in blessing and the other hand showing red and white rays emanating from His illuminated chest. Beneath His image, Our Lord wanted the words Jesus, I Trust in You! to be written. Faustina lamented that no artist could capture the splendor of Our Lord.

Despite illness and other obstacles, Sister Faustina always worked to the best of her ability to convey all that Jesus revealed to her about His unfathomable mercy. Sister Faustina died on October 5, 1938 at the age of 33 from tuberculosis. Due to misunderstandings, the messages of Divine Mercy were banned until 1978 when the messages won the approval of Karol Wojtyla, then archbishop of Krakow, Poland. Cardinal Wojtyla became Pope John Paul II and became an even stronger voice for proclaiming the Divine Mercy throughout the world. He beatified Maria Faustina Kowalska in 1993 and she was canonized on April 30, 2000, the first canonized saint of the jubilee year 2000. She is the patron saint of World Youth Day, a celebration conceived and instituted by Pope John Paul II. It is certainly a related grace that Pope John Paul II entered eternal life on April 2, 2005 on the eve of Divine Mercy Sunday that year.

During her life a miracle of roses gave Saint Faustina a sweet consolation in the midst of her household duties in the convent. Sister Faustina recounts, “One time during the novitiate, when Mother Directress sent me to work in the wards’ kitchen, I was very upset because I could not manage the pots, which were very large. The most difficult task for me was draining the potatoes, and sometimes I spilt half of them with the water. When I told this to the Mother Directress, she said that with time I would get used to it and gain the necessary skill. Yet the task was not getting any easier, as I was growing weaker every day. So I would move away when it was time to drain the potatoes. The sisters noticed that I avoided this task and were very much surprised. They did not know that I could not help in spite of my willingness to do this and not spare myself. At noon, during the examination of conscience, I complained to God about my weakness. Then I heard the following words in my soul, “From today on you will do this easily; I shall strengthen you.
That evening, when the time came to drain off the water from the potatoes, I hurried to be the first to do it, trusting the Lord’s words. I took up the pot with ease and poured off the water perfectly. But when I took off the cover to let the potatoes steam off, I saw there in the pot, in the place of the potatoes, whole bunches of red roses, beautiful beyond description. I had never seen such roses before. Greatly astonished and unable to understand the meaning of this, I heard a voice within me saying, “I change such hard work of yours into bouquets of most beautiful flowers, and their perfume rises up to My throne.” From then on I have tried to drain the potatoes myself, not only during the week when it was my turn to cook, but also in replacement of other sisters when it was their turn. And not only do I do this, but I try to be the first to help in any other burdensome task, because I have experienced how much this pleases God.”
Saint Faustina used the metaphor of becoming a violet to achieve the humility she so desired in the following resolution: “I will hide from people’s eyes whatever good I am able to do so that God himself may be my reward. I will be like a tiny violet hidden in the grass, which does not hurt the foot that treads on it, but diffuses its fragrance and, forgetting itself completely, tries to please the person who has crushed it underfoot. This is very difficult for human nature, but God’s grace comes to one’s aid.”
We give thanks to Our Lord for giving us His Divine Mercy that is so critically needed. The spiritual significance of the red and white rays (Eucharist and Baptism) are significant from ancient times. We may venture to say that all the occasions of red and white rose miracles or red rose and white lily manifestations help us to recall the Divine Mercy of God and His great love for us.

Fatima Flowers

27 Fatima Apparitions
During the twentieth century, Our Lady began to explain a means to fight the evils of our days. She made known to three shepherd children from Fatima, Portugal the desire of Jesus to make her known and loved in the world by devotion to her Immaculate Heart. Fatima has been thoroughly researched and promulgated by the Church and is one of the most well-known apparition sites of the Virgin Mary. Its inclusion in this compilation will focus on flowers in the events of Fatima and triumph.
In the early twentieth century, Fatima was mostly a farming community north of the capital, Lisbon. The Virgin Mary appeared to three shepherd children who ranged in age from six to nine. Lucia Santos was the eldest of the three visionaries. In her family, she was the youngest child with a strict and devout mother and less attentive father. She was a natural leader with a good memory. Lucia would organize games with the other village kids and was clever. She knew her catechism well because of formation by her mother and the parish church. Her education was limited, however, because there were no primary schools in the village at that time. Children would spend their days playing innocent games and performing family chores or responsibilities. Lucia was especially close to Jacinta and Francisco Marto who were her first cousins in the village. They were the sixth and seventh children of Olimpia and Ti Marto. Francisco was about two years older than Jacinta and how they loved playing the games Lucia suggested. When Lucia was given the responsibility of shepherding the family sheep to grazing land every day, Francisco and Jacinta missed Lucia so much, they asked their parents if they could accompany Lucia with their own sheep. Permission was given, so the three spent their herding days singing, dancing, playing games and saying a quick form of the rosary.
Jacinta was just six in 1916. She was a lively and exuberant girl. She loved the flowers that carpeted the grazing lands. Lucia describes how Jacinta relished the flowers: “My cousin (Jacinta) went one day with her mother to a First Communion ceremony in which some of the youngest children strewed flowers before the Blessed Sacrament. After that she would often leave us at our play to gather armfuls of flowers which she would throw at me in the same way. When I asked her why she did it, she said she was doing what the angels did.” Other times Jacinta would pick bouquets of flowers of every hue to put into her hair or to weave into garlands for Lucia.
One afternoon in the spring of 1916, an angel came in from the East in marvelous light. He said, “Fear not! I am Angel of Peace. Pray with me!” With his head bowed low to the ground, he said a prayer of reparation three times: “My God, I believe, I adore, I hope, and I love You. I ask forgiveness for those who do not believe, nor adore, nor hope, nor love You.” He told the children to pray this often and then he departed.
After some weeks the angel came a second time and exhorted the children to pray. In this apparition he said, “Offer up everything within your power as a sacrifice to the Lord in an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended; and of supplication for the conversion of sinners. Thus invoke peace upon our Country. I am her Guardian Angel; the Angel of Portugal. Above all, bear and accept with submission the sufferings that the Lord may send you.”
The Angel came a third time after the summer of 1916 had passed and he brought the Blessed Sacrament. He held a chalice in one hand and a Host that dripped blood into the chalice with his other hand. He let go of the chalice and Host and they remained suspended in mid-air! Then he knelt deeply in prostration to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and proclaimed this prayer three times: “Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, I adore You profoundly, and I offer You the most precious body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifference by which He is offended. By the infinite merits of His Most Sacred Heart and through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg the conversion of poor sinners.” Then the angel stood up and clasped the chalice and Host. He took the Host and extended It to Lucia. To Jacinta and Francisco, he offered the chalice to drink saying, “Take and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, horribly outraged by ungrateful men. Make reparation for their crimes and console your God.” After the Eucharist, the angel took leave of them.
These visits gave the children great peace and made them more aware of a great purpose they had beyond the innocent games they were used to. They took prayer more seriously and were becoming acutely aware of sins against belief in the Eucharistic Lord. They carried on their days of shepherding with prayer and had discussions about Jesus in the tabernacle, his Passion, and what the words the Angel said meant. Jacinta and Francisco asked Lucia many things and looked to her for answers and leadership since she was the most knowledgeable of the three on spiritual matters, but most of the things they wondered seemed beyond their years to understand. Lucia said of this time, “The value of sacrifice was for the first time clear. Suddenly we knew its appeal to God and its power to convert sinners. From that moment we began offering to Him all that mortified us, all that was difficult or unpleasant, except that we did not then seek extra sacrifices and penances as we later learned to do. We did, however, spend hours and hours prostrated on the ground, repeating and repeating the prayer the angel taught us.”
In May of 1917 flowers were bursting open all over the countryside. There was a clear blue sky on the afternoon of Sunday, May 13th when the Queen of the May visited her children.
Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco had finished their lunch and said the rosary. The kids were engaged in making stone castles when they noticed a flash of lightning. They were surprised because the weather was warm and clear. When they perceived a second flash, they started to get the herd of sheep and head for safety. They halted abruptly when they saw a beautiful lady dressed in white standing over a holm oak tree but not touching the uppermost foliage. She immediately told them not to be afraid. Lucia asked where she was from, she replied, “I am from Heaven.” Lucia asked what she wanted. Our Lady asked them to return every month on the 13th at the same time and location for six months and that she would tell them their mission. Lucia asked Our Lady more questions and she replied to every inquiry. Before she left, a wonderful light emanated from Our Lady’s hands and shone on the children. Lucia described, “This light penetrated us to the heart and its recesses. It allowed us to see ourselves in God, Who was that light, more clearly than we see ourselves in a mirror.” Then she reminded them to pray the rosary every day for peace in the world and for an end to the war (World War I). She then rose in the air and disappeared in the east surrounded by a brilliant light. After the visit, the children’s first concern was for the sheep, but all were fine. Next, they couldn’t deny how wonderful they felt. There were in wonderment at the visit and felt joy, but also the beginnings of a responsibility to the lady’s request to pray and sacrifice more for the conversion of sinners. Lucia wanted to keep the visit a secret from their families. She persuaded Francisco and Jacinta keep silent about the occurrence, but Jacinta couldn’t stop herself from telling her mother. Mrs. Marto didn’t believe Jacinta’s story, although Jacinta tried over and over again to convince her. Finally, with some exasperation Mrs. Marto insisted Jacinta tell the whole family including her father and uncle what had taken place. Not deterred, the exuberant way she related all the events was somewhat convincing, especially to her dad. Jacinta described how the lady held a beautiful gold rosary in her hands and how when she went back to heaven “it seemed that the doors closed with such speed that her feet were almost caught outside. Heaven was so pretty…there were so many wild peonies,” Jacinta enthused.
Soon it was the talk of the village. Lucia was surprised when her older sister asked if they had seen Our Lady at the Cova da Iria. Lucia’s mother heard the gossip, too. Mrs. Santos didn’t question for a moment the veracity of the claim, she immediately assumed Lucia was mistaken. Her mother’s disbelief and the parish priest’s doubt was part of the cross that Lucia had to bear. It was part of what Our Lady told her at the first meeting, “…you are going to suffer a great deal, but the grace of God will be your comfort.”
The day on which the second apparition was to take place June 13, 1917 coincided with a great feast in the village, the celebration of the feast of Saint Anthony. Most villagers were going to the festivities in their best attire to enjoy food, music and camaraderie. Maria Rosa (Lucia’s mom) hoped the celebration would distract her daughter from her fanciful thoughts. However, Lucia intended to be at the Cova as Our Lady had asked. Lucia invited some of her friends from her First Communion class to be there with her, Jacinta, and Francesco. In addition, a small gathering of adults from neighboring communities gathered to be present. Our Lady came, just as was anticipated. During the second apparition, Our Lady taught Lucia the Fatima prayer that she wanted to be said after every decade of the Rosary. It is “O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need.” Lucia was so ravished by Our Lady’s grace that she asked Our Lady to take them to Heaven. Our Lady responded, “I will take Jacinta and Francisco soon. You, however, are to stay here a longer time. Jesus wants to use you to make me known and loved. He wants to establish the Devotion to my Immaculate Heart in the World. I promise salvation to those who embrace it and their souls will be loved by God as flowers placed by myself to adorn His throne.” Our Lady made a beautiful promise in this statement. It sums up everything this compilation of flower accounts throughout history has emphasized. The Virgin Mary wants to be known and loved because she is our mother who only wants the best for us, Heaven. She wants to be able to place our souls before the throne of God just as we may place flowers before the tabernacles of our churches; all for the glory of God.
Lucia suffered derision from her family after the second apparition. Curious Portuguese from many diverse communities came to ask the children about the apparitions and made nuisances of themselves in the process. In their curiosity to see Lucia, they trampled down the family garden. Mrs. Santos was beside herself. She bemoaned having these problems at her age and besought the parish priest to urge Lucia to confess and be free of Satan’s influence. Lucia experienced profound doubt about whether God was behind the apparitions or Satan. Between the 2nd and 3rd apparition, Lucia agonized about being deceived and longed for peace to return to her and her family. The only time she felt comfort was at the Cova da Iria site of apparition. Maria Carreira (also known as Maria da Capelinha which translates to Maria of the Chapel) was an early local proponent of the apparitions. She was an older mom figure. She suffered from illness, but experienced profound peace at the apparition site. She would often spend hours with Lucia, Jacinta, and Francesco praying the rosary and saying the prayers of reparation. Maria Carreira witnessed all that happened to the holm oak tree during the apparitions and it was she that took steps to decorate the tree with ribbons and flowers to honor Our Lady’s heavenly perch.
As the thirteenth of July grew closer, Lucia resolved not to go again to the Cova to see the Lady, but mystical tugging at her heart drew her and her cousins there again. A large number of people were present when the children had the third apparition. At this apparition, Our Lady’s hands opened and shone light that penetrated into the earth. To the children’s horror, they saw fire engulfing grotesque forms that had been human. They saw demons and lost souls mixed in the conflagration and heard cries that were monstrous in their pain and despair. The onlookers heard Lucia gasp in terror. The vision of hell ended and then Our Lady said, “You have seen hell, where the souls of sinners go. To save them, God wants to establish throughout the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart…” The vision of hell was the first part of a three-part secret that Our Lady revealed only to the children at that time. The essence of the revelation was that sinners were going to hell by obstinate rejection of the goodness and authority of God. She said that a war worse than World War I would break out if people didn’t quit offending God by rejecting Him. Finally, the children saw that many people would be martyred for the faith if atheism and disbelief continued to spread throughout the world. The good would be martyred including priests, bishops and even the Pope because of hatred and the rejection of God.
Then when all the forms of governance throughout the world that reject God by oppression and persecution of the faithful have played out their miserable course, She promised “…In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she shall be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.” The triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary has not yet come to pass. In one sense we all prepare for triumph for our own individual soul, but this statement made one hundred two years ago expresses some greater event that many have prayed for, dedicated their time and effort to achieving, and that still awaits us.
The children suffered very much as a result of knowing that secret and not being able to tell anyone what it was. Due to the gravity of the scene they were shown of hell, Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco undertook many, many penances. Frequently they gave their lunches away and would eat green acorns or other things they would scrounge while shepherding. They would suffer thirst or tie a rough rope around their waists to offer those discomforts up to Our Lord. Most of all they prayed a great deal, especially the Rosary.


So many people were talking about the apparitions and the secret, that the local secular government officials were becoming involved, especially the Mayor. He wanted to interrogate the children. To achieve this, the three were tricked into taking a ride with him. The Mayor’s henchmen threatened the children with death unless they divulged the secret that Our Lady told them. None of the children breached the trust Our Lady had in them and they prepared to give their lives to protect the secret. They were baseless threats though, and the children were returned to their homes, but the abduction had a consequence.
In the meantime, a larger crowd had gathered at the Cova da Iria for the August apparition than in July. When word came that the police had taken the children, some in the crowd were outraged. However, a rumble of thunder dissipated the angry reaction and then the signs that accompanied Our Lady’s arrival appeared. The crowd saw a flash of lightning and a little white cloud came to rest on the top of the holm oak tree, stayed a moment and then rose in the air and disappeared. As people looked around, they saw every hue of color displayed on the faces of others, on their clothes, and on the ground. The trees seemed not to have branches or leaves, but were covered with flowers; every leaf appeared as a flower. This brief heavenly moment passed, but was discussion material for days to come.
The fourth apparition to the children took place unexpectedly on Sunday, August 19th at a different location than the Cova da Iria. Our Lady appeared again at the top of a slightly taller holm oak tree. At this meeting Lucia expressed how difficult it was for people to believe that she was appearing and she asked Our Lady for some grace so that all would believe that she was appearing. Our Lady responded, “In October, I will perform a miracle so that everyone may believe in the apparitions. If they had not taken you to the town (meaning detention by the Mayor), the miracle would be even greater. St. Joseph will come with the Holy Child to bring peace to the world. Our Lord will come to bless the people. Our Lady of the Rosary and Our Lady of Sorrows will also come at that time.” In every apparition, Lucia asked for cures for the people that requested. Our Lady responded in kind to each question. She finished her visit exhorting, “Pray! Pray a great deal and make sacrifices for sinners, for many souls go to hell for not having someone to pray and make sacrifices for them.”
One of the children wanted to keep the small branch of the holm oak tree that Mary stood on during the visit, so they broke it off. Lucia stayed with the sheep at the grazing site, but Jacinta and Francisco rushed off with the branch to tell their families about the latest apparition. On the way to their house, they passed Lucia’s home. When Jacinta exclaimed to Lucia’s mom that they had just seen Our Lady at a different grazing site, Mrs. Santos replied harshly, “My, what little liars you turned out to be! As if Our Lady would appear to you wherever you go!”
Jacinta insisted, “But we did see her…see here, Our Lady had one foot on this twig and the other on that one.”
Maria Rosa replied, “Give it to me. Let me see.” As Maria Rosa took the branch from Jacinta, her face changed from disapproval to wonder. She smelled the branch, “What does this smell of? It is not perfume, it’s not incense, nor perfumed soap; it’s not the smell of roses nor anything I know, but it is a good smell.” The rest of Lucia’s family gathered around to hold and smell the branch. Our Lady lovingly gave Lucia a small gift that day to quell her mother’s opposition to what Lucia was experiencing, a fragrant branch touched by her heavenly feet.

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Jacinta and Francisco then went to show their family the branch. Their father was in the kitchen when Jacinta entered smiling and said, “Look, Father, Our Lady appeared to us again, at the Valinhos! We’ve saved this branch that her feet touched.”
As she came in, a magnificent fragrance wafted into the kitchen. Mr. Marto asked to see it, but by the time he held the branch, the fragrance was gone. Mr. Marto concluded that Our Lady needn’t convince him with a miracle, his faith already had.
The children performed as many sacrifices as their strength allowed. They chose to be thirsty for much of that hot August. Their sacrifices were heroic and selfless. The extreme penances they undertook during the time of the apparitions and after when Jacinta and Francisco contracted the influenza that eventually took their lives is hard to understand. As with Our Lord’s sorrowful passion and in the lives of so many saints, the level of sacrificial suffering is unfathomable, but therein lies the mystery of the cross and redemptive suffering.
The September 13th apparition was similar to the preceding ones. Our Lady asked that all pray the rosary every day for the end of the war (WWI). She said that in October there would be a miracle so that all would believe. She indicated that donation money should be used to build a chapel. The witnesses at the apparition site that day reported that the air suddenly cooled during the time of the apparition. Some noticed the sun dimmed so much that many could see stars in the sky despite the mid-day time of the apparition and many saw a shower of iridescent flower petals that disappeared before touching the ground.
There was abundant anxiety on the part of the villagers before the October apparition. The community was divided with believers and those who thought the whole thing was a hoax. One thing was certain, many people from all of Portugal were going to see for themselves. Rain started falling the evening of October 12th and a thick fog formed. It didn’t deter the pilgrims that made their way on foot to the Cova da Iria. The crowd that gathered was estimated at 70,000.
The lightning flashed and the children prepared to see Our Lady. When she appeared Lucia asked the question, “What do you want of me?”
Our Lady responded, “I want them to build a chapel here in my honor; I am the Lady of the Rosary. Continue to say the rosary every day. The war will end and the soldiers will return home soon.”
Lucia inquired about healing the sick. Our Lady said, “Some will be healed, others not! They must amend their lives and ask for forgiveness for their sins. Offend not Our Lord any more, for He is already much offended!” Our Lady opened her hands to reveal brilliant shafts of light. She rose into the air and pointed to the sun. Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco saw good Saint Joseph dressed in white holding the Infant Jesus, who was clothed in red. The Holy Infant and Saint Joseph each raised their hand in blessing and made the sign of the cross three times over the crowd. The Virgin appeared again dressed in blue and white as The Lady of the Rosary. Lucia then saw Our Lord dressed in red and white robes as the Divine Redeemer blessing the world. Beside the Divine Redeemer, the Virgin appeared again as Our Lady of Sorrows. Finally, Our Lady appeared dressed in the brown robes of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
The crowd didn’t see the apparitions of Jesus, Mary and Joseph that the children saw. Instead the rain had suddenly stopped, the overcast layer of clouds had parted and they saw the appearance of the sun change into a dull silver plate that started to spin and throw off shafts of light. Lustrous colors of all the hues of the rainbow were cast off as the sun spun with great speed in the sky. Then the orb appeared to wobble as it revolved! Next, it burst out of its place in the sky. It “danced” about and continued to bathe the crowd in unimaginable colors. The crowd was awestruck. The display continued for about ten minutes. Then the sun appeared as a fireball that was headed right for the earth. At this point the crowd was in terror. No one doubted the end of the world was at hand. There were screams and prayers rising from the mass of people. Then, just as quickly as it was about to fall to the earth, it returned to its place in the sky shining in its natural state. A wave of relief rose up from each witness. Truly, they had just witnessed the miraculous. An added grace was that their rain-drenched clothing and gear was now dry. Secular Portuguese newspapers carried accounts of the miracle from reports at the scene. Their eyewitness accounts give us descriptive and compelling evidence as to the magnitude of the miracle at the concluding apparition.


The armistice that ended World War I was signed November 11, 1918. As Our Lady prophesied, Francisco died soon after from the influenza on April 4, 1919. Jacinta died alone in a Lisbon hospital on February 20, 1920. The Fatima apparitions were approved by the Church on October 13, 1930. Lucia went on to the consecrated life. She became a Carmelite sister and lived much of her life in Coimbra, Portugal. Sister Lucia continued to have apparitions from Our Lady and one vision of the Holy Trinity.
On May 12, 1965 the golden rose was bestowed on shrine of Our Lady of Fatima on behalf of Pope Paul VI. Pope John Paul II was mortally linked to the Fatima revelations when he was shot at Saint Peter’s square on May 13, 1981. While he was recuperating from the gunshot wounds in the hospital, he asked for the Fatima documents. He credited the Virgin of Fatima for preserving his life. He visited Fatima the next year, May 12-13, 1982 to thank Our Lady of the Rosary’s “motherly hand which guided the bullet’s path” and preserved his life. He gave one of the bullets intended to kill him to the Bishop that oversees the Fatima shrine, and he placed the bullet into the Virgin’s crown on the statue of Our Lady of Fatima.
An act of collegial entrustment of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary was made by Pope John Paul II and the world’s Bishops on March 25, 1984. John Paul II beatified Francisco and Jacinta on May 13, 2000 at the shrine at Fatima. Sister Lucia was in attendance for the ceremony at the age of 93. The Pontiff and Sister Lucia visited together on that poignant occasion.

 

 

The month after the beatification ceremony, in June 2000, the Vatican revealed the third part of the secret that Our Lady told the shepherd children on July 13, 1917 and it regarded martyrdom of the faithful and the clergy including the Pope. On February 13, 2005, Sister Lucia died at her Carmelite convent in Coimbra, Portugal at the age of 97. Less than two months later, on April 2, 2005, Pope John Paul II died on the eve of the Feast of the Divine Mercy. The last page of the Fatima book would seem to be nearly closed except for the matter of the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the important role we play in that triumph.