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.
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.