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INTRODUCTION – MARY, THE MOTHER OF GOD

“Only after the Last Judgment will Mary get any rest; from now until then, she is much too busy with her children.” – St. John Vianney

The unique, and privileged place that Jesus’ mother, Mary, held among His disciples is also clearly presented in Scripture.  The angel Gabriel, in announcing that she would play a special role of bringing Christ and His redemption to the world addresses her, “Hail, favored one!  The Lord is with you” (Lk 1:28) and tells her “you have found favor with God” (Lk 1:30). The special favor and grace that God gave her is confirmed in the exchange with her cousin, Elizabeth.

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Lk 1:41-43)

And Mary said: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior. For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed. The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name” (Lk 1:46-49).

Mary was blessed by God in this unique way in order that she would be worthy to bear in herself, and raise as a human boy, the Son of God.

To become the mother of the Savior, Mary “was enriched by God with gifts appropriate to such a role.” The angel Gabriel at the moment of the annunciation salutes her as “full of grace”. In fact, in order for Mary to be able to give the free assent of her faith to the announcement of her vocation, it was necessary that she be wholly borne by God’s grace. (CCC 490)

In order to be the Mother of the Son of God who would redeem the world from sin, she was kept free from sin by the very redemption her Son would bring about on the cross.

Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, “full of grace” through God, was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854: The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin. (CCC 491)

The honor given to Mary, the Mother of God, should not be confused with the worship which is reserved for God alone.

The honor given to Mary, the Mother of God, should not be confused with the worship which is reserved for God alone.  The Church honors her for the grace God showed her in preserving her from sin, in choosing her to be the earthly mother of His Son, and her obedience to and faith in His word.  We also ask for her to pray to God on our behalf. But the Church never offers her praise, adoration, sacrifice or worship; all of the honor given to her is on account of the favor God showed her.

The Church rightly honors the Blessed Virgin with special devotion.  From the most ancient times the Blessed Virgin has been honored with the title of ‘Mother of God,’ to whose protection the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs. . . . This very special devotion . . . differs essentially from the adoration which is given to the incarnate Word and equally to the Father and the Holy Spirit, and greatly fosters this adoration. (CCC 971)

 

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Marian Dogmas

There are four dogmas stating Mary’s personal relationship with God and her role in human salvation.

Mary_mother_of_godMother of God

Mary’s divine motherhood was proclaimed at the Council of Ephesus in 431.

Various names are used to describe Mary’s role as mother of Jesus. She is called “Mother of God” which translates the more accurately stated greek term “Theotokos” or “Birthgiver of God.”

The Council of Ephesus (431) attributed to Mary the title, Mother of God. This needs to be read against the Council’s declaration that in Christ there are two natures, one divine and one human, but only one person. Indeed, according to the Council the holy virgin is the Mother of God since she begot according to the flesh the Word of God made flesh. This decision was further explained by the Council of Chalcedon (451) which says with regard to Mary’s divine motherhood:

“…begotten from the Father before the ages as regards his godhead, and in the last days, the same, because of us and because of our salvation begotten from the Virgin Mary, the Theotokos, as regards his manhood; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only-begotten…”

Mary’s Divine Motherhood was not the object of an independent or exclusive dogmatic declaration. The statement is embedded in texts defining the person and natures of Jesus Christ. Thus, the dogma of Divine Motherhood becomes an integral part of the christological dogma. This does not diminish its definitive and binding character. The dogma of Divine Motherhood is generally accepted by all Christian denominations.

Perpetual Virginity
 
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The expression perpetual virginity, ever-virgin, or simply “Mary the Virgin” refers primarily to the conception and birth of Jesus. From the first formulations of faith, especially in baptismal formulas or professions of faith, the Church professed that Jesus Christ was conceived without human seed by the power of the Holy Spirit only. Here lies the decisive meaning of expressions such as “conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary,” “Mary’s virginal conception,” or “virgin birth.” The early baptismal formula (since the 3rd century) state Mary’s virginity without further explaining it, but there is no doubt about its physical meaning. Later statements are more explicit. Mary conceived “without any detriment to her virginity, which remained inviolate even after his birth” (Council of the Lateran, 649).

Although never explicated in detail, the Catholic Church holds as dogma that Mary was and is Virgin before, in and after Christ’s birth. It stresses thus the radical novelty of the Incarnation and Mary’s no less radical and exclusive dedication to her mission as mother of her Son, Jesus Christ. Vatican II reiterated the teaching about Mary, the Ever-Virgin, by stating that Christ’s birth did not diminish Mary’s virginal integrity but sanctified it . The Catechism of the Catholic Church ponders the deeper meaning of the virgin bride and perpetual virginity (499-507). It also maintains that Jesus Christ was Mary’s only child. The so-called “brothers and sisters” are close relations.

Immaculate Conceptionthe annunciation

The solemn definition of Mary’s Immaculate Conception is like Divine Motherhood and Perpetual Virginity part of the christological doctrine, but it was proclaimed as an independent dogma by Pope Pius IX in his Apostolic Constitution “Ineffabilis Deus” (December 8, 1854). Though highlighting a privilege of Mary it in fact stresses the dignity and holiness required to become “Mother of God.” The privilege of the Immaculate Conception is the source and basis for Mary’s all-holiness as Mother of God.

More specifically, the dogma of the Immaculate Conception states “that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege from Almighty God and in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, was kept free of every stain of original sin.”

This dogma has both a “negative” and a “positive” meaning which complement each other. The “negative” meaning stresses Mary’s freedom from original sin thanks to the anticipated or retroactive (here called preventive) grace of Christ’s redemptive act. By the same token, the dogma suggests Mary’s all-holiness. This “positive” meaning is the consequence of the absence of original sin. Mary’s life is permanently and intimately related to God, and thus she is the all-holy.

Although difficult to explain, original sin provokes disorderliness in thought and behavior, especially with regard to the primacy of God’s presence in our life. Consequently, in declaring Mary immaculately conceived, the Church sees in Mary one who never denied God the least sign of love. Thus, the dogma declares that from her beginning Mary was exceptionally holy and in constant union with the sanctifying grace of the Holy Spirit.

mariology-assumption_3The Assumption

This marian dogma was proclaimed by Pope Pius XII on November 1, 1950 on his Encyclical Munificentissimus Deus.

A distinction needs to be made between Ascension and Assumption. Jesus Christ, Son of God and Risen Lord, ascended into heaven, a sign of divine power. Mary, on the contrary, was elevated or assumed into heaven by the power and grace of God.

The dogma states that “Mary, Immaculate Mother of God ever Virgin, after finishing the course of her life on earth, was taken up in body and soul to heavenly glory.” This definition as well as that of the Immaculate Conception makes not only reference to the universal, certain and firm consent of the Magisterium but makes allusion to the concordant belief of the faithful. The Assumption had been a part of the Church’s spiritual and doctrinal patrimony for centuries. It had been part of theological reflection but also of the liturgy and was part of the sense of the faithful.

This dogma has no direct basis in scripture. It was nonetheless declared “divinely revealed,” meaning that it is contained implicitly in divine Revelation. It may be understood as the logical conclusion of Mary’s vocation on earth, and the way she lived her life in union with God and her mission. The assumption may be seen as a consequence of Divine Motherhood. Being through, with, and for her Son on earth, it would seem fitting for Mary to be through, with, and for her Son in heaven, too. She was on earth the generous associate of her Son. The Assumption tells us that this association continues in heaven. Mary is indissolubly linked to her Son on earth and in heaven.

In heaven, Mary’s active involvement in salvation history continues: “Taken up to heaven, she did not lay aside her salvific duty … By her maternal love she cares for the brothers and sisters of her Son who still journey on earth” (LG). Mary is the “eschatological icon of the Church” (CCC 972), meaning the Church contemplates in Mary her own end of times.

The definition of the dogma does not say how the transition from Mary’s earthly state to her heavenly state happened. Did Mary die? Was she assumed to heaven without prior separation of soul and body? The question remains open for discussion. However, the opinion that Mary passed through death as her Son did, has the stronger support in tradition.

Glorified in body and soul, Mary is already in the state that will be ours after the resurrection of the dead.

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THE FIFTH MARIAN DOGMACoredemptrix

Mary: Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate

Up to the present time in the history of the church, four Marian doctrines have been defined as central Catholic truths by the Church: the Motherhood of God, the Immaculate Conception, the Perpetual Virginity of Mary, and her Glorious Assumption into heaven.

There is growing support within the Catholic Church now for a fifth and final Marian dogma to be proclaimed, that Mary is Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix of All Graces and Advocate.

In the 1910’s, Cardinal Mercier of Belgium began a petition movement to the Holy Father for the papal definition of Mary’s universal mediation.  In the early 1920’s, St. Maximilian Kolbe added his voice for the solemn definition of Mary as Co-redemptrix and Mediatrix of all graces.  As was the case in the movements leading up to the last two papal definitions of Mary’s Immaculate Conception and Assumption, millions of petitions from cardinals, bishops, clergy, religious and the lay faithful the world over have been sent to Popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and now Pope Francis in support of this solemn dogmatic proclamation of Mary’s spiritual motherhood.

For more information on this proposed Fifth Marian Dogma see this article by Dr. Mark Miravalle, a renowned international lecturer on Mariology.

 

The Rosary

 

rosary2History of the Rosary

The rosary is one of the most cherished prayers of our Catholic Church. Introduced by the Creed, the Our Father, three Hail Marys and the Doxology (“Glory Be”), and concluded with the Salve Regina, the rosary involves the recitation of five decades consisting of the Our Father, 10 Hail Marys and the Doxology. During this recitation, the individual meditates on the saving mysteries of our Lord’s life and the faithful witness of our Blessed Mother.

Journeying through the Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious mysteries of the rosary, the individual brings to mind our Lord’s incarnation, His passion and death and His resurrection from the dead. In so doing, the rosary assists us in growing in a deeper appreciation of these mysteries, in uniting our life more closely to our Lord and in imploring His graced assistance to live the faith. We also ask for the prayers of our Blessed Mother, who leads all believers to her Son.

The origins of the rosary are “sketchy” at best. The use of “prayer beads” and the repeated recitation of prayers to aid in meditation stem from the earliest days of the Church and has roots in pre-Christian times. Evidence exists from the Middle Ages that strings of beads were used to count Our Fathers and Hail Marys. Actually, these strings of beads became known as “Paternosters,” the Latin for “Our Father.”

The structure of the rosary gradually evolved between the 12th and 15th centuries. Eventually 50 Hail Marys were recited and linked with verses of psalms or other phrases evoking the lives of Jesus and Mary. During this time, this prayer form became known as the rosarium (“rose garden”), actually a common term to designate a collection of similar material, such as an anthology of stories on the same subject or theme. During the 16th century, the structure of the five-decade rosary based on the three sets of mysteries prevailed.

Tradition does hold that St. Dominic (d. 1221) devised the rosary as we know it. Moved by a vision of our Blessed Mother, he preached the use of the rosary in his missionary work among the Albigensians, who had denied the mystery of Christ. Some scholars take exception to St. Dominic’s role in forming the rosary. The earliest accounts of his life do not mention it, the Dominican constitutions do not link him with it and contemporaneous portraits do not include it as a symbol to identify the saint.

In 1922, Dom Louis Cougaud stated, “The various elements which enter into the composition of that Catholic devotion commonly called the rosary are the product of a long and gradual development which began before St. Dominic’s time, which continued without his having any share in it, and which only attained its final shape several centuries after his death.” However, other scholars would rebut that St. Dominic not so much “invented” the rosary as he preached its use to convert sinners and those who had strayed from the faith. Moreover, at least a dozen popes have mentioned St. Dominic’s connection with the rosary, sanctioning his role as at least a “pious belief.”

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The rosary gained greater popularity in the 1500s, when Moslem Turks were ravaging Eastern Europe. Recall that in 1453, Constantinople had fallen to the Moslems, leaving the Balkans and Hungary open to conquest. With Moslems raiding even the coast of Italy, the control of the Mediterranean was now at stake.

In 1571, Pope Pius V organized a fleet under the command of Don Juan of Austria the half-brother of King Philip II of Spain. While preparations were underway, the Holy Father asked all of the faithful to say the rosary and implore our Blessed Mother’s prayers, under the title Our Lady of Victory, that our Lord would grant victory to the Christians. Although the Moslem fleet outnumbered that of the Christians in both vessels and sailors, the forces were ready to meet in battle. The Christian flagship flew a blue banner depicting Christ crucified. On October 7, 1571, the Moslems were defeated at the Battle of Lepanto. The following year, Pope St. Pius V established the Feast of the Holy Rosary on October 7, where the faithful would not only remember this victory, but also give thanks to the Lord for all of His benefits and remember the powerful intercession of our Blessed Mother.

The fact that our Church continues to include the Feast of the Holy Rosary on the liturgical calendar testifies to the importance and goodness of this form of prayer. Archbishop Fulton Sheen said, “The rosary is the book of the blind, where souls see and there enact the greatest drama of love the world has ever known; it is the book of the simple, which initiates them into mysteries and knowledge more satisfying than the education of other men; it is the book of the aged, whose eyes close upon the shadow of this world, and open on the substance of the next. The power of the rosary is beyond description.”

Fr. Saunders is president of the Notre Dame Institute and associate pastor of Queen of Apostles Parish, both in Alexandria.

This article appeared in the October 6, 1994 issue of “The Arlington Catholic Herald.” Courtesy of the “Arlington Catholic Herald” diocesan newspaper of the Arlington (VA) diocese. For subscription information, call 1-800-377-0511 or write 200 North Glebe Road, Suite 607 Arlington, VA 22203.

 

How To Pray The Rosary

How_to_Pray_the_Rosary_Page_1_1035px_wideThe parishioners of St. Bonaventure have historically had a strong devotion to the Blessed Mother through praying theHow_to_Pray_the_Rosary_Page_2_800px Rosary. Volunteers are always needed to lead the Rosary, either at the parish or by hosting sessions in their homes.

Call Carol Sand, 402-564-1002 for information.

Click on these images, courtesy of CatholicOnline-Catholic.org, to view larger versions.

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Marian Apparitions

Marian Apparitions_2Our Catholic Belief

According to the doctrine of the Catholic Church, the era of public revelation ended with the death of the last living Apostle. A Marian apparition, if deemed genuine by Church authority, is treated as private revelation that may emphasize some facet of the received public revelation for a specific purpose, but it can never add anything new to the deposit of faith. The Church will confirm an apparition as worthy of belief, but belief is never required by divine faith.

As a historical pattern, Vatican approval of apparitions seems to have followed general acceptance of a vision by well over a century in most cases. According to Father Salvatore M. Perrella of the Marianum Pontifical Institute in Rome, of the 295 reported apparitions studied by the Holy See through the centuries up through 2009, only 12 have been approved, the latest up to that time being the May 2008 approval of the 17th- and 18th-century apparitions of Our Lady of Laus.

In 2010, the Our Lady of Good Help apparition was approved by the Bishop of the Green Bay, Wisconsin Diocese, making it the first approved apparition in the United States.

This section will present a number of the more major and well-known approved apparitions, as well as the United States apparition Our Lady of Good Help.

Click on the Name Tabs below to view specific Apparition information.­

 

The Apparitions at Tepeyac in Mexico: Our Lady of Guadalupe

Juan Diego, the seer of Guadalupe, was a recently baptised adult convert, aged 57, when Mary appeared to him in 1531 at Tepeyac hill, near Mexico city, formerly the site of a pagan temple. He was a widower, his wife having died in 1529. On his way to Mass on 9 December, the feast of the Immaculate Conception at the time, he saw an apparition of a beautiful young girl surrounded by light. She told him of her love for the people of Mexico, and asked that the local Bishop, Juan de Zumárraga, build a temple or church on that spot. Juan Diego presented himself before the Bishop and explained Mary’s request.
But the result was that he was initially rebuffed by the perplexed bishop, who said he would really need a sign from heaven in order to comply. On her next meeting lady of guadalupe_2with Juan Diego, however, the Lady promised a sign that would convince the bishop, but when he returned to his village he found that his uncle, who he lived with, was seriously ill, in fact dying, and in need of the last sacraments. He met Mary again on his way back to Mexico city to fetch a priest, and she told him that he was free to visit the Bishop, because even now his uncle was well again.

Our Lady Mary then asked Juan Diego to gather some miraculous, out-of-season, flowers, which he would find at the top of the hill and carry them in his rough cactus fibre outer garment, his tilma, to the Bishop. She strictly ordered him not to show the contents of the tilma to anyone on the way. Once there he began to tell his story while unfolding the tilma, as the Bishop, and some important guests who happened to be present, saw the wonderful Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe on it. This, rather than the flowers, was the real sign for Bishop Zumárraga.

News of the prodigy spread quickly and the result was that the Aztecs, who had been reluctant to get involved in Christianity, as the religion of their conquerors, the Spanish, flocked into the Church. The title “Guadalupe” is probably the phonetic equivalent of the title, “She who breaks, stamps or crushes the serpent,” a perfect image of the way devotion to Mary was able to destroy the vestiges of the satanically inspired Aztec religion which involved human sacrifice. Snake symbolism was very prevalent in this religion.

The miraculous Image has been preserved in Mexico now for over four and half centuries, although such fibre garments usually disintegrate within twenty years. It has defied all attempts to give it a natural explanation and thus we can have full confidence in the historicity of accounts of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

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St. Catherine Labouré and the Miraculous MedalImmac conception_mmedal-2

The night of July 18, 1830 was a night that changed the history of the world. It was the night that the Blessed Virgin Mary ushered in the modern Marian era. It had been almost 300 years since the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe in 1531. This night in 1830 Our Lady’s apparition began a series of Marian apparitions, manifestations and ecclesial events that were to succeed one another down to our own day. We can very well see why Pope Paul VI declared, “Our era may well be called the Marian Era.” (The Great Sign, #6, p.11; May 13, 1967)

That night in 1830 was a blessed night. The Holy Mother of God began her plans with a twenty four year old novice in the Motherhouse of the Sisters of Charity, on the Rue due Bac in Paris. That novice, whom we now know as St. Catherine Labouré, was sleeping in her curtained bed in the dormitory with the other novices. She was awakened by her Guardian Angel, who called her softly several times. She awoke to see her Angel as an extremely beautiful child about five years old, whose vesture was dazzlingly bright. The Angel said, “Come to chapel; the Blessed Virgin is waiting for you.”

In following the Angel to the Chapel, Catherine was surprised to find that all the lights were lit as if it were for Midnight Mass on Christmas. She was led toward the sanctuary and knelt by the chair that the Director used when giving conferences to the Sisters. Suddenly she heard the rustle of silk and saw a most beautiful Lady walking toward her. The Lady was dressed in an ivory-colored dress with a blue mantle and a white veil covering her head and draping down over her shoulders. She sat down on the Director’s chair next to Catherine. The Angel told Catherine, “This is the Blessed Virgin.” Catherine leaned her hands on the Lady’s lap and looked into her Mother’s eyes.

Preparing Catherine for the mission

The Lady spoke, “My child, the good God wishes to entrust to you a mission.” She told Catherine that she would have to endure trials in carrying out the mission, but she would have consolation in knowing that she was working for the glory of God. The Lord would be with her and would guide her. “Have confidence. Do not be afraid,” The mission would be revealed at a later time.

The Blessed Virgin told Catherine that she loved the Vincentian Communities and promised to protect them, but she complained, urging that there should be stricter observance of the Rules, more fervor in praying, especially the Rosary, and less worldliness in their lives.

Sorrows for France

The Lady continued, “The times are evil. Sorrows will come upon France; the throne will be overthrown. The Cross will be thrown down and trampled. The Archbishop will be stripped of his clothes. Blood will flow in the streets. The side of Our Lord will be pierced anew. The whole world will be afflicted with tribulations.” The Virgin appeared sad and could hardly speak as she said this. But as if giving a remedy, she pointed toward the foot of the altar and said, “Come to the foot of the altar. Here graces will be shed on all who ask for them. Graces will be shed especially on those who ask for them.”

Our Lady specified other sorrows and tribulations that were to come: There will be victims in other Religious Communities and among the clergy. The Archbishop of Paris will be killed. The whole world will be in sadness. And she gave Catherine to understand that some of these things would take place soon, and others in forty years.

Our Lady’s predictions came true. The following week, on July 27, 1830, a revolution broke out in Paris. The King, Charles X, was dethroned. The mobs desecrated churches, destroyed statues and threw down crucifixes and trampled them. Bishops and Priests were imprisoned, beaten and killed. Archbishop Hyacinth de Quelen of Paris had to flee into hiding twice to save his life.

In another revolution, that of 1848, King Louis Philippe was dethroned and went into exile. Archbishop Affre of Paris was shot while trying to plead for peace at the barricades.

Then forty years later, in September of 1870, yet another French Monarch was toppled, Emperor Louis Napoleon III, through the Franco-Prussian War. Six months later a revolution broke out in Paris. It lasted only two months; but before it was over, the sorrows and tribulations that had been predicted by Our Lady would be a matter of history. Many churches in Paris were desecrated, including the venerable church of Our Lady of Victories. Sacred things were publicly profaned. Even the graves and bodies of the dead were not spared. Many priests, both Diocesan and Religious were arrested; and finally thirty of them were executed, including Archbishop Darboy. True to the promise of the Blessed Virgin, the Vincentian Communities were saved, although the Sisters went through some very frightful moments.

After having revealed these events to Catherine in 1830, the Blessed Virgin spoke to her about many other things which were for Catherine alone. Then Our Lady disappeared. The Angel, after having led Catherine back to the dormitory, also disappeared, just as the clock struck two in the morning. The groundwork for Catherine’s mission was now laid.

God’s mission is revealed to Catherine

The mission that God wanted to entrust to Catherine was made manifest to her on November 27, 1830. It was the mission of making and distributing the Medal of the Immaculate Conception, now known as the Miraculous Medal. That day was the Saturday before the first Sunday of Advent. The Sisters were gathered in the chapel as usual for prayers at five-thirty in the afternoon. Suddenly Our Lady appeared to Catherine.

At first Mary appeared standing on a globe and dressed in white having with a long white veil which fell to her feet. The Virgin held in her hands, at the height of her shoulders, a golden ball which she seemed to be offering to God as she raised her eyes to heaven. Her fingers were covered with rings whose precious jewels sparkled brilliantly and showered down innumerable rays of light on the globe beneath her feet, almost obscuring the view of her feet. Mary lowered her eyes and looked directly at Catherine. Mary said nothing, but Catherine heard this message, “The ball which you see represents the world, especially France, and each person in particular. These rays symbolize the graces I shed upon those who ask for them. The jewels which give no rays symbolize the graces that are not given because they are not asked for.” Then the apparition changed.

Our Lady appeared with a white dress, a blue mantle, and a white veil which draped back over her shoulders. She was still standing on the globe, and had one foot on the head of a serpent which lay at her feet. The 1830 was marked on the globe. The Virgin had her arms and hands pointed downwards, and a cascade of rays was falling down from both hands onto the globe. An oval frame formed around the Blessed Virgin, and written around within it, in letters of gold, was the beautiful prayer, “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you.” This was the front side of the medal that was to be made.

Then the vision revolved to show the reverse side of the medal. Catherine saw a Cross with a bar at its feet with which was intertwined an “M.” Beneath the “M” were the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, both surmounted by flames of love, one having a crown of thorns, and other pierced with a sword. Encircling all of this were twelve stars around the oval frame.

The front side of the Medal: messages and symbolism

On the front side of the medal we see the Blessed Virgin Mary as the Victorious Woman of Genesis. God Himself put enmities between the Woman and the serpent, a battle to be carried on “in that ‘monumental struggle against the powers of darkness’ which continues throughout human history.” (Mother of the Redeemer, #47, p.67; Pope John Paul II; March 25, 1987)

On the medal we see Mary Immaculate with her foot crushing the head of the serpent. “She who as the one ‘Full of Grace’ was brought into the Mystery of Christ in order to be His Mother and thus the Holy Mother of God . . . remains in that mystery as ‘the Woman’ spoken of by the Book of Genesis (3:15) at the beginning . . . ” (Mother of the Redeemer, #24, p.23; Pope John Paul II; March 25, 1987). In many other official documents of the Church and writings of Saints we find Mary referred to as this Victorious Woman of Genesis destined to crush the proud head of the devil.

“The Bible is replete with the mystery of the Savior, and from Genesis to the Book of Revelation, also contains clear references to her who was the Mother and Associate of the Savior.” (Marialis Cultus, #30, p.28; Pope Paul VI; Feb.2, 1974).

The year 1830 was shown inscribed on the globe at the base of the Medal, so it is clearly meant to convey some message. It can very well indicate the year which begins the final stages of the battle between the Woman and the serpent, between good and evil. It could be Heaven’s way of indicated the year opening the Marian Era.

Our Lady is standing on the globe of the world. Catherine could distinguish France in particular. In this we can see Mary both as the Victorious Woman and as the Queen of Heaven and Earth.

Mary’s hands are shown showering a cascade of brilliant rays on the world, as if she found them too heavy with graces and was eager to pour them on us. We can see her as our “Advocate, Auxiliatrix, Adjutrix and Mediatrix. Of this intercession of hers for the People of God with the Son, the Church has been persuaded ever since the first centuries . . . ” (The Great Sign, Part I, p.4; Pope Paul VI; May 13, 1967).

Around the oval frame of the medal we read the words, “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you.” In this brief prayer we find the truth of (a) the Immaculate Conception of Mary, and (b) Mary’s intercessory power with God for us who ask for her aid.

The reverse side of the Medal

On the reverse side of the Medal we see a Cross, the symbol of Christ’s Redeeming Sacrifice on Mount Calvary for the salvation of the world.

At the base of the Cross is a bar, which symbolizes the foot of the Cross. Intertwined with the bar is the letter “M” symbolizing the Mary’s intimate involvement at the foot of the Cross with her Son’s Redemptive Sacrifice. We see the “M” is below the line or foot of the Cross, signifying Mary’s subordinate role to that of Jesus. “This union of the Mother and her Son in the work of Redemption (cf. Lumen Gentium, #57) reaches its climax on Calvary, where Christ ‘offered Himself as the perfect Sacrifice to God’ (Hebrew 9:14), and where Mary stood by the Cross (cf. John 19:25), ‘suffering grievously with her only-begotten Son. There she united herself with a maternal Heart to His Sacrifice, and lovingly consented to the immolation of this Victim which she herself had brought forth’ (II Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, #58), and also was offering to the Eternal Father.” (Marialis Cultus, #20, p.19, Pope Paul VI, Feb.2, 1974)

It was also at the foot of the Cross that Jesus gave us, in the person of the Beloved Disciple, His own Mother to be our Mother. “Woman, behold your son; son, behold your Mother” (John 19, 25-27). And the beloved disciple gives us an example to follow, so that we learn to take Mary into our homes, into our lives, into our hearts, as do loving children.

So the “M” stands not only for Mary, but also for Mother. “The new Motherhood of Mary, generated by faith, is the fruit of the ‘new’ love which came to definite maturity in her at the foot of the Cross, through her sharing in the Redemptive Love of her Son. Thus we find ourselves at the very center of the fulfilment of the promise contained in the Proto-gospel . . . (Gen. 3:15)” (Mother of the Redeemer, #23-24; p.33; Pope John Paul II; March 25, 1987). “Mary’s mediation is intimately linked with her Motherhood.” (ib. #39; p.54)

Since the Cross is the symbol of Christ’s Redemptive Sacrifice, we can also see a Eucharistic symbolism on the Medal. “To perpetuate down the centuries the Sacrifice of the Cross, the Divine Savior instituted the Eucharistic Sacrifice [the Mass], the Memorial of His Death and Resurrection, and entrusted it to His Spouse the Church” (cf. II Vatican Council, Sacrosanctum Concilium, #47), which the Church continues to do “in union with the Saints in Heaven, and in particular with the Blessed Virgin.” (Marialis Cultus, #20, p.19-20; Pope Paul VI; Feb. 2, 1974). In every Eucharistic Liturgy the Church involves the Blessed Virgin Mary, so befitting to her who stood heroically at the foot of the Cross uniting her sufferings to the Sacrifice of her Son, filling up in her body those things that are wanting to the sufferings of Christ, for the sake of His Mystical Body, the Church. (cf. Col. 1:24). In all of the approved apparitions of Our Lady there is a Eucharistic thrust. She usually asked for a church to be built, in which the Eucharistic Sacrifice and the Blessed Sacrament always have prime place. Mary always leads us to Jesus, and Jesus is especially present in the Eucharist.

On the Medal beneath the Cross and the “M” we see the two Hearts, the Sacred Heart of Jesus encircled with a crown of thorns, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary pierced with a sword. We see the prophesy of Holy Simeon fulfilled: the Son who was destined for the sign of contradiction, dying on the Cross, and the Mother pierced with a sword of sorrow beneath the Cross “so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (Luke 2, 34-35). The union of the two Hearts foreshadows the message of Fatima: “The Sacred Heart of Jesus wants the Immaculate Heart of Mary to be venerated at His side.”  “God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart.” (ib. p.126)

The two Hearts are surmounted by flames, symbolizing the burning love with which Jesus and Mary accomplished the work of Redemption, each in their proper way. No greater love does one have than to lay down one’s life. (cf. John 15:13). “Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her . . . ” (Ephesus 5:25-27)

Around the oval frame of the Medal, encircling the Cross, the “M,” and the two Hearts, we see a crown of twelve stars. This can be seen as a reference to the “the Great Sign” in the Book of Revelation/Apocalypse; the “Woman clothed with the sun, with the moon beneath her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” The Woman engaged in battle with the “huge red Dragon . . . the ancient serpent, who is called the devil, or Satan” (Rev./Apoc. 12:3 & 9) is the Queen of the Apostles, the Mother of the Church. “The enmity, foretold at the beginning, is confirmed in the Apocalypse (the book of the final events of the Church and the world), in which there recurs the sign of the ‘Woman,’ this time ‘clothed with the sun’ (Rev. 12:1). Mary, Mother of the Incarnate Word, is placed at the very center of that enmity, that struggle which accompanies the history of humanity on earth and the history of Salvation itself.” (Mother of the Redeemer, #11; p.16; Pope Johne Paul II, March 25, 1987)

We can see then in the Miraculous Medal a symbol of the whole history of salvation from Genesis to Apocalypse, and we can see the vital role that the Victorious Woman is destined in the final defeat of the devil. It is amazing how in such a small medal God can give us so many profound lessons. As is the case with all of God’s graces, it is up to us to humbly accept what He offers, as Mary did (cf. Luke 1:38), and to cherish and ponder it in our hearts, as Mary did. (cf. Luke 2:19 & 51)

“Have a medal struck …”

Catherine heard the voice telling her, “Have a medal struck after this model. All who wear it will receive great graces. They should wear it around the neck. Graces will abound for persons who wear it with confidence.” So this was the mission entrusted to Catherine: to see to the making of this medal and sto spread its use. During 1830 and 1831 this vision of November 27 was repeated some six times to encourage Catherine in fulfilling her mission. She had to suffer much for this cause; first in trying to get the medals made, and then in trying to keep herself hidden, which she did for forty-six years till she died in 1876.

Catherine begins the struggle

Catherine spoke to no one about her visions and her mission except her Spiritual Director, Fr. John Marie Aladel. He was only thirty years old in 1830, and this was no small task that was thrust upon him. He and Catherine had many confrontations before the first medals were struck in June 1832. Eventually, at his request, Catherine wrote out three full accounts of her visions. She was a person of sound common sense, had a great eye for details and a gift for describing well what she saw and heard.

After almost two years of stormy discernment Fr. Aladel took advantage of a visit to Archbishop Hyacinth de Quelen of Paris in January of 1832 to discuss about his penitent, her visions, and the request of the Blessed Virgin for a medal to be struck. The Archbishop listened carefully and questioned Fr. Aladel in detail, and finally gave his permission for the medals to be made. He himself was very devoted to the Immaculate Conception of Mary and asked that he be given some of the first medals that would be made.

The first two-thousand medlas were delivered on June 30, 1832. The spread of the Medal was almost like a miracle in itself. The first supply disppeared very fast. Pope Gregory XVI put one of them at the foot of the crucifix on his desk. The Redemptorist Founder of the Sisters Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in America, Fr. Gillet, had the design of the medal placed on his ordination card in 1836. The stories of the cures and wonders of the medal helped to spread its use far and wide. By 1836 the firm of Vachette had sold several million medals. Eleven other engravers in Paris had done the same. And four engravers in Lyons were hard pressed to meet the demands for the medal.

Canonical Inquiry

Archbishop de Quelen instituted a Canonical Inquiry starting February 11, 1836. The conclusions of the Inquiry were that the Medal was of supernatural origin, and that the wonders worked through it were genuine. This Inquiry helped win approval of the Holy See in 1895 for a feast in honor of the Medal, and helped in the process of Beatification and Canonization of Sister Catherine.

Wonders worked through the Medal

Archbishop de Quelen attributed to the Miraculous Medal the deathbed conversion of a publicly impenitent sinner, Baron Dominique de Riom de Frolhiac de Fourt de Pradt. The Archbishop had tried to see him on several occasions and had been rebuffed. So he took a Miraculous Medal with him, and was finally allowed in to see the Baron, who was so touched by grace that he repented and confessed his sins. The next day he received the Sacraments from the Archbishop and died in his arms in 1837.

Another of the stupendous workings of the Miraculous Medal was the conversion of Alphonse Ratisbonne on January 20, 1842. On January 15 he had been prevailed upon to wear a Miraculous Medal and say the “Memorare.” Alphonse was a staunch Jew, and had great antipathy for Catholicism. Yet on that day of January 20 he saw an apparition of the Blessed Virgin of the Miraculous Medal in all her dazzling glory, and his whole life was radically changed. Cardinal Patrizi, the Vicar of Rome, after a careful investigation, received Alphonse into the Church on January 31, 1842. Baptizing him, confirming him, and giving him First Communion. Alphonse became a priest and spent some thirty years in the Holy Land as a missionary to his own people.

Death and Glory

Sister Catherine died on December 31, 1876. In 1895 her cause for Beatification was introduced in Rome. She was beatified on May 28, 1933. When her body was exhumed, after fifty-seven years of burial,, it was found to be completely incorrupt and supple. Catherine was canonized a Saint on July 27, 1947. This approval by God and the Church was like a seal on the apparitions of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal.

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Our Lady of La Salette Apparition – 1846, La Salette, FranceLady-of-Salette_800px

This image shows the Virgin Mary as the Help of Sinners. She chose two poor shepherds, fifteen years old Melanie Calvat and eleven year old Maxim Giraud, to pass on Her message, calling for people’s spiritual rebirth.

France is justly proud of its title “the eldest daughter of the Church.” Since the days of Clovis, who together with his retinue accepted Baptism from the hands of Saint Remi, at some point between 496 and 506, thus making Gaul the first country after the demise of the Roman Empire to join the European Christian community: throughout the centuries its Church has played a crucial role in influencing the nature of universal Catholicism. The process took place on several levels: from close connections with the Holy See [as many as seventeen Popes have come from the territories which today constitute France], through the enormous significance of French philosophical and theological thought and a host of great Saints, to the cultural impact of Paris.

French piety has always been strongly marked by its veneration for the Virgin Mary, particularly in the twelfth century, which became known as “the age of cathedrals,” because of the many cathedrals built and dedicated to the Mother of God. It was also the time when the tradition of pilgrimages to Marian sanctuaries grew in strength. As early as the sixth century, worshippers began visiting Chartres, where they not only prayed beside the highly venerated statue of the Virgin, but also admired ‘the stole of the Mother of God,” offered by the Carolingian King, Charles the Bald. In 1935 French students initiated their increasingly popular annual pilgrimages from the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris to Chartres.

Before Lourdes, le Puy was the most famous Marian sanctuary in France. In 1095 Pope Urban II set off from there to Clermont, to announce the first Crusade, when he was supposed to have said “The Kingdom of France is the kingdom of the Virgin Mary: it will never perish!” In the thirteenth century the act of dedicating his realm to the Mother of God was performed by Saint Louis, and repeated by Louis XIII four hundred years later. The veneration of the Mother of God found an even deeper expression in True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, a book written by Saint Louis Maria Grignion de Montfort.

The development of the Church in France was severely hampered by the revolution of 1789, which brought with it persecution of the clergy and destruction of many churches and monasteries, as well as many sacrileges and blasphemies. It also led to the permanent separation of the Church and State in French political life. For modern man it may be difficult to fathom why in the nineteenth century France was chosen as a place for repeated appearances of the Virgin Mary and her great proclamations, beginning with Paris in 1830, then la Salette in 1846, and finally Lourdes in 1858. The sanctuaries which grew up around the locations visited by the Virgin are now living centers of faith, where many people renew their belief in God, and the French Catholic Church struggles to regain its identity, weakened even more by the crises of the last few decades. Consequently, and not for the first time, the Catholic world finds itself greatly indebted to France, the eldest daughter of the Church.

THE MESSAGES OF LA SALETTE: WHAT THE CHURCH SAYS:
 
THE BISHOP GIVES APPROVAL

We declare as follows:

“‘We judge that the Apparition of the Blessed Virgin to two cowherds, on the 19th of September, 1846, on a mountain of the chain of the Alps, situated in the parish of La Salette, in the arch-presbytery of Corps, bears within itself all the characteristics of truth, and the faithful have grounds for believing it indubitable and certain.”

“We believe that this fact acquires a new degree of certitude from the immense and spontaneous concourse of the faithful on the place of the Apparition, as well as from the multitude of prodigies which have been the consequence of the said event, a very great number of which it is impossible to call in doubt without violating the rules of human testimony.”

“Wherefore, to testify our lively gratitude to God and to the glorious Virgin Mary, we authorize the Cultus of Our Lady of La Salette. We permit it to be preached, and that practical and moral conclusions may be drawn from this great event.”

“In fine, as the principal end of the Apparition is to recall Christians to the fulfillment of their religious duties, to frequent the divine worship, His Church, to a horror of blasphemy, and to the sanctification of the Sunday, we conjure you, our very dear brethren, with a view of your heavenly, and even of your earthly interests, to enter seriously into your selves to do penance for your sins, and especially for those against the second and third commandments of God. We conjure you, our well-beloved brethren, be docile under the voice of Mary who calls you to penance, and who, on the part of Her Son, threatens you with spiritual and temporal evils, if remaining insensible to Her Maternal admonition, you harden your heart.”

[Signed] “PHILIBERT, Bishop of Grenoble.”
THE TWO SECRETS OF LA SALETTE AS GIVEN TO POPE PlUS IX

To see the complete story of the apparition of Our Lady of La Salette visit this link.

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Bernadette and Lourdes – 1858Our_Lady_of_lourdes-4

The apparitions at Lourdes took place only four years after the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, in 1854, and given their nature it is only natural to see a strong link between the two.

On Thursday 11 February 1858, fourteen year old Bernadette Soubirous saw a beautiful young girl in a niche at a rocky outcrop called Massabielle, about a half mile outside the town. She was near a wild rose bush and surrounded by a brilliant light and a golden cloud, smiling, with her arms extended towards Bernadette, who took out her rosary beads.

When she had finished praying the rosary the apparition beckoned to her, but Bernadette did not move and the girl smiled at her before disappearing. She later described how she had seen a young girl of about her own age and height, clothed in a brilliant and unearthly white robe, with a blue girdle around her waist and a white veil on her head.

This was the beginning of a whole sequence of apparitions, eighteen in all, which occurred during the spring and early summer of 1858. Mary first spoke to Bernadette on 18 February when she asked her if she would come to the grotto for a fortnight. Thursday, 25 February, saw a crowd of about three hundred, and the discovery that was to make Lourdes famous, that of the miraculous spring in the grotto.

During subsequent apparitions Mary asked for a chapel and processions, but Fr Peyramale, the local parish priest, insisted that the Lady would have to reveal her name before anything could be done about such matters. Early on March 25, the feast of the Annunciation, Bernadette made her way to the grotto, where the beautiful Lady was already waiting for her. Bernadette asked the Lady her name and after joining her hands at the breast and looking up to heaven she said, “I am the Immaculate Conception.”

Bernadette hurried off toward the presbytery, repeating the Lady’s strange words, so as not to forget them. She met Fr. Peyramale and left him dumbfounded with the words “I am the Immaculate Conception”; he realised that the Lady had indeed answered his request for her name. Although the message of Lourdes was now complete, Bernadette again saw Mary on the Wednesday after Easter, April 7, remaining in an ecstasy for about three quarters of an hour.

She was able to receive her first Holy Communion on the feast of Corpus Christi, and significantly she saw Mary for the last time from outside the grotto, on 16 July, the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

Bishop Laurence set up a Canonical Commission into the apparitions and their cause on July 28. This body first interviewed Bernadette in mid-November, and was impressed by her testimony and by a growing number of cures. It was not until January 1862 though, nearly four years after the apparitions, that the bishop delivered his verdict on Lourdes in a Pastoral letter, a verdict that silenced those hostile to Bernadette.

“We adjudge that the Immaculate Mary, Mother of God, really appeared to Bernadette Soubirous on February 11th, 1858, and subsequent days, eighteen times in all, in the Grotto of Massabielle, near the town of Lourdes: that this apparition possesses all the marks of truth, and that the faithful are justified in believing it certain. We humbly submit our judgement to the judgement of the Supreme Pontiff to whom is committed the Government of the whole Church.”

For the complete story of the apparitions of Our Lady of Lourdes click here.

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Our Lady of ChampionOur Lady of Good Help – Wisconsin 1859

During October of 1859 the Virgin Mary is alleged to have appeared to a young Belgian immigrant woman, Adele Brise, on three occasions in Champion, Wisconsin. Since that time faithful pilgrims have continuously visited the chapel, which stands of the site of those appearances.

Following a two-year formal inquiry, on Wednesday, December 8, 2010, which is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, the Most Reverend David Rickin, Bishop of the Diocese of Green Bay, decreed with “moral certainty” that the events, apparitions and locutions given to Adele Brise in October of 1859 do exhibit the substance of supernatural character, and approved these apparitions as worthy of belief (although not obligatory) by the Christian faithful.

This historic decree concerning the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help is a first for the United States, where no other appearances have been validated. Two alleged apparitions in the US that were examined by the Church and formally declared to be false are Necedah, Wisconsin and Bayside, New York.

An apparition is an appearance of Jesus Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary or one of the Saints. An appearance may include a message for the person who sees the apparition.

At the time of this decree (December 2010), there were 11 approved sites in the world in addition to Our Lady of Good Help. Probably the most well-known apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary are Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mexico in 1531; Lourdes, France in 1858; and Fatima, Portugal in 1917.

During each of the three apparitions near Champion (then Robinsonville), Wisconsin, a lady in shining white clothes appeared to Adele. The third time she identified herself as “the Queen of Heaven who prays for the conversion of sinners.”

She went on to tell the 28 year-old woman, who lived with her family on a small homestead in northern part of the state, “I wish you to do the same.”

The Virgin Mary then gave her a mission for evangelization and catechesis: “Gather the children in this wild country, and teach them what they should know for salvation . Go and fear nothing. I will help you.”

Before moving to America with her family about four years earlier, Adele had intended to become a nun and later went on to become a Third Order Franciscan after the apparition.

She fully embraced the mission she had been given and traveled throughout the state, which was still mostly unsettled, giving religious instruction to children and adults. At that time there was a severe lack of priests and attending Mass often involved a laborious journey.

She also established a Catholic school and a community of Franciscan women near the Shrine.

Six years prior to Sister Adele’s death in 1896, her adopted hometown of Robinsonville, Wisconsin renamed itself after the Belgian town of Champion. She had requested the change in honor of a childhood promise she had made to the Blessed Virgin Mary that she would enter a Belgian religious order in that region.

Since the 1859 appearances, bishops of the Diocese of Green Bay have been supportive of the apparition account and the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help, which was erected on the site, as a place of prayer and pilgrimage. However, none had made an official declaration.

While no one can actually prove a supernatural occurrence, there are other factors that can be considered. The Church judges apparitions on the basis of their consistency with Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition and the teachings of the Church, any subsequent spiritual benefits in the lives of people, and whether there is anything in the life of the seer that detracts from the credibility of the account.

A decree with moral certainty approves apparitions as worthy of belief by the Christian faithful; however, there is no obligation for belief implied in the approval.

On January 9, 2009 Bishop Rickin opened a formal investigation of the apparition and appointed a team of experts to conduct the study. The formal decree came after just under two years of examination.

While some may think that the Holy See or a conference of bishops makes such decrees, the Bishop is the one responsible for judging the authenticity of apparitions that are said to have occurred in his Diocese.

Bishop Ricken told the Catholic News Agency (CNA) that Sister Adele’s own life was among the most convincing testimonies to the validity of the apparition. Rather than calling attention to herself or the apparitions, she had humbly devoted the rest of her life to fulfilling the instructions she had received.

“She went all over this area, and visited the homes that were scattered far and wide,” Bishop Ricken said, recounting the sister’s Franciscan spirit of humble simplicity. “She walked most of the time, and she’d spend several days with the children teaching them the catechism and talking with the parents about their faith.”

“She really had an evangelistic spirit and lived that out, not just immediately after the message, but her whole life long.”

Bishop Ricken went on to tell CNA that the simplicity and clarity of Mary’s message also testified to the truth of the apparitions. Her instructions to Sister Adele were “simple, but very much loaded with the main message of the Gospel and with the teachings of the Church.”

The bishop also recalled discovering “countless stories of answered prayers,” including reports of “what many call miracles,” among those who had visited the shrine to seeking intercession from Our Lady of Good Help.

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This article by Randy Sly first appeared in a Catholic Online report on December 11, 2010

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The formal declaration from Bishop Rickin follows:

Most Reverend David Laurin Ricken, D.D., J.C.L. By the Grace of God and the Authority of the Apostolic See Bishop of Green Bay Decree on the Authenticity of the Apparitions of 1859 at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help Diocese of Green Bay

GIVEN THAT

For over one hundred fifty-one years, a continuous flow of the faithful has come to Champion, Wisconsin to pray, to seek solace and comfort in times of trouble and to petition Our Lord Jesus Christ through the powerful intercession to Our Lady of Good Help. Incessant prayer has gone up in this place based upon the word of a young Belgian immigrant woman, Adele Brise, who in October 1859 said that the Blessed Mother, a Lady clothed in dazzling white, had appeared to her on this site. The Lady was elevated slightly in a bright light and gave words of solace and comfort and a bold and challenging mission for the young immigrant woman. The Lady gave her a two-fold mission of prayer for the conversion of sinners and catechesis.

“I am the Queen of Heaven who prays for the conversion of sinners, and I wish you to do the same. You received Holy Communion this morning and that is well. But you must do more. Make a general confession and offer Communion for the conversion of sinners… Gather the children in this wild country and teach them what they should know for salvation… Teach them their catechism, how to sign themselves with the sign of the Cross, and how to approach the sacraments; that is what I wish you to do. Go and fear nothing, I will help you.”

Adele Brise began immediately to fulfill the mandate and mission entrusted to her by the Lady and oftentimes at great personal sacrifice went to the homes of the children to instruct them in the largely unsettled and forested area in Wisconsin. Adele was ever obedient to the authorities of the Church and steadfast in the mission entrusted to her by Our Lady, no matter what difficulty she encountered. The mission given her became such a commitment that she set up a Catholic school of instruction for children and even began a community of Third Order Franciscan women, who assisted her in her obedience to the mandate of Our Lady to pray for the conversion of sinners and to instruct the children. A long tradition of oral and some documented sources recounting answered prayers at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help include conversions and many physical healings attributed to the Blessed Mother’s intercession. Many physical healings are memorialized by the multitude of crutches and other mementoes of thanksgiving for answered prayers left at the Shrine.Prayers for physical healing are answered even to this day through the intercession of Our Lady of Good Help. Though none of these favors have been officially declared a miracle by the Church, they are clear evidence of spiritual fruitfulness and the history of devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Shrine. Graces have been poured out through the sacraments celebrated in this place especially through the celebration of the Mass and the Sacrament of Reconciliation, as well as through the recitation of public devotions and private prayers. Our Lady has lessened or relieved the burdens of the People of God, whether about financial, familial, relationship or employment matters or even through diminishing inclement and tempestuous weather. This holy place was preserved from the infamous Peshtigo fire of 1871, when many of the faithful gathered here with Adele and prayed through the intercession of Our Lady of Good Help, with the result that the fire that devastated everything in its wake in this entire area stopped when it reached the parameters of the Shrine. There is clear testimony to the upright character of Adele Brise, her devotion to Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary, and her unwavering commitment to the mission Mary entrusted to her. Moreover, the uninterrupted history of faith and devotion testifies to the spiritual fruits bestowed upon the pilgrims to the Shrine.

GIVEN ALL OF THE ABOVE

Three Marian experts have studied the history of this alleged apparition and all of the extant documents, letters, and written testimonies in order to determine whether or not there are inherent contradictions or objections to the veracity of the testimony given by Adele Brise with regard to the events of 1859 and to establish whether or not there is enough evidence to suggest that the events which happened to Adele Brise may be of a supernatural origin. The accounts of the apparitions and locutions are judged to be free from doctrinal error and consistent with the Catholic faith. There is nothing in the person and character of Adele Brise that would question the veracity of the substance of her account. In fact, her personal character is a major factor in favor of the recognition of the apparition. Objections concerning whether there was enough evidence to support a judgment in favor of the supernatural character of the events were thoroughly investigated and answered by the experts. The documents from the early history of the Shrine are not abundant, due primarily to the fact that Green Bay at the time of the apparition was frontier country. One of the experts affirmed that any lack of information does “not invalidate the overall impression of coherence between event and consequences, personality of the seer and commitment to the mission received, the comparability between this event and similar recognized apparitions, and challenges of the historical context and responses given.”

GIVEN THAT

These simple apparitions and locutions given to Adele Brise became such a compelling theological and religious mission for her. The effects of these endeavors by her and many others have lasted these many years with such major spiritual benefit to so many people. Many of the local clergy and clergy from other Dioceses and Religious Institutes have come here on pilgrimage with their people, also with spiritual benefit. All of my esteemed predecessor Bishops of the Diocese of Green Bay for the past one hundred and fifty-one years have been present for special Masses in Honor of Our Lady of Good Help, and some of them have even actively promoted the Shrine.

THEREFORE

It remains to me now, the Twelfth Bishop of the Diocese of Green Bay and the lowliest of the servants of Mary, to declare with moral certainty and in accord with the norms of the Church:

that the events, apparitions and locutions given to Adele Brise in October of 1859 do exhibit the substance of supernatural character, and I do hereby approve these apparitions as worthy of belief (although not obligatory) by the Christian faithful.

I encourage the faithful to frequent this holy place as a place of solace and answered prayer.

Given at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help, Champion, Wisconsin, the eighth day of December in the year of Our Lord two thousand and ten, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

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Pontmain Apparition – January 1871lady of pontmain

At the time of the apparition Pontmain was a small village, inhabited by simple and hardworking country folk, who were guided by their parish priest Abbé Michel Guérin. The Barbadette family consisted of father César, his wife, Victoire, with their two sons Joseph and Eùgene, aged ten and twelve, and another older boy who was away in the army. On the evening of 17 January 1871, the two boys were helping their father in the barn when the eldest, Eùgene, walked over towards the door to look out.

As he gazed at the star studded sky he noticed one area practically free of stars above a neighbouring house. Suddenly he saw an apparition of a beautiful woman smiling at him; she was wearing a blue gown covered with golden stars, and a black veil under a golden crown.

His father, brother, and a neighbour came out to look and Joseph immediately said he too could see the apparition although the adults saw nothing. The mother, Victoire, came out but she too could see nothing, although she was puzzled because her boys were usually very truthful. She suggested that it might be the Blessed Virgin, and that they should all say five Our Fathers and five Hail Marys in her honour.

Children of Pontmain – Barbadette boys, and Françoise Richer and Jeanne-Marie Lebossé (Sr Olivereau/Pontmain Sanctuary)As it was now about a quarter past six, and time for supper, the boys were ordered inside but soon after allowed to go outside again. The Lady was still there and so the local schoolteacher, Sister Vitaline, was sent for. She couldn’t see the Lady, and so she went to fetch three young children from the school to see their reactions.

Immediately they arrived the two older children, two girls aged nine and eleven, expressed their delight at the apparition, describing it as the boys had done, although the youngest child saw nothing.

The adults in the crowd, which had now grown to about sixty people including the priest, could still see nothing and began to say the rosary, as the children exclaimed that something new was happening. A blue oval frame with four candles, two at the level of the shoulders and two at the knees, was being formed around the Lady, and a short red cross had appeared over her heart.

As the rosary progressed the figure and its frame grew larger, until it was twice life size; the stars around her began to multiply and attach themselves to her dress until it was covered with them.

As the Magnificat was being said the four children cried out, “Something else is happening.” A broad streamer on which letters were appearing unrolled beneath the feet of the Lady, so that eventually the phrase, “But pray, my children,” could be read.

Fr. Guérin then ordered that the Litany of Our Lady should be sung, and as this progressed new letters appeared, making the message, “God will soon answer you.” As they continued to sing, another message was formed, one that removed any doubt that it was the Blessed Virgin who was appearing to the children; “My Son allows Himself to be moved.”

The children were beside themselves with joy at the beauty of the Lady and her smile, but her expression then changed to one of extreme sadness, as she now contemplated a large red cross that had suddenly appeared before her, with a figure of Jesus on it in an even darker shade of red.

One of the stars then lit the four candles that surrounded the figure, as the crucifix vanished and the group began night prayers. As these were being recited, the children reported that a white veil was rising from the Lady’s feet and gradually blotting her out, until finally, at about nine o’clock, the apparition was over.

The following March a canonical inquiry into the apparition was held, and in May the local bishop questioned the children, the inquiry being continued later in the year with further questioning by theologians and a medical examination. The bishop was satisfied by these investigations, and in February 1872 declared his belief that it was the Blessed Virgin who had appeared to the children.

Joseph Barbadette became a priest, a member of the Congregation of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, while his brother Eùgene became a secular priest. He was assisted by one of the girls who had seen Mary as his housekeeper, with the other, Jeanne-Marie Lebossé, becoming a nun. A large basilica was built at Pontmain and consecrated in 1900.

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lady of knockOur Lady of Knock

The Apparition at Knock took place in 1879, eight years after Pontmain in 1871. The two apparitions are broadly similar, in that they both took place in the evening and only lasted for three hours or so, and similarly, in both, no words were spoken.

On the evening of Thursday, 21 August 1879, two women from the small village of Knock, Mary McLoughlin and Mary Beirne, were walking near the local church when they noticed luminous figures at the gable end. As they got closer they realised there were three moving figures and that one of them looked like the Blessed Virgin.

They surmised that the others were St. Joseph and St. John the Evangelist, and as it got darker Mary Beirne went off to alert her family, and so soon other neighbours joined them in the pouring rain. As the crowd gathered they could also see an altar, with a young lamb on it, in front of a cross, while one boy saw angels over the altar, but they heard no sounds and no verbal message was given.

The apparition lasted for several hours, and was witnessed independently, as a globe of light, by a farmer who lived about a half mile away.

The happening at Knock was thoroughly investigated and it was proved that it could not have been produced by luminous paint or a “magic lantern.” A commission of enquiry was set up by the aged Archbishop of Tuam, Dr. McHale, but although it considered the witnesses reliable and trustworthy, the Archbishop made no definitive statement for or against the apparition.

However, over time Knock gradually gained official support from the Church, culminating in the Papal visit of 1979. The symbolism of the lamb, cross and altar has been seen as pointing to the sacrificial death of Christ and the Mass, and yet these were behind Mary in the apparition at Knock, suggesting that the focus was on her and her role as a mediator.

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lady of fatimaOur Lady of Fatima

During World War I Pope Benedict XV made repeated but forlorn pleas for peace, and finally, in May 1917, made a direct appeal to Mary to intercede for peace in the world. The response was Mary’s first appearance at Fatima just over a week later. At this time Fatima was just a small village about seventy miles north of Lisbon; the three children to whom she appeared were Lucia dos Santos, aged ten, and her cousins Francisco and Jacinta Marto, brother and sister, aged nine and seven respectively.

The Angel of Portugal

However, it was in the spring of the previous year, 1916, that the children had their first joint supernatural encounter as a means of preparing them for their meetings with Mary. As they were looking after the sheep one day they saw a dazzlingly beautiful young man, seemingly made of light, who told them he was the Angel of Peace; he invited them to pray with him.

Later on, in the summer, the Angel again appeared to the children and encouraged them to pray and make sacrifices, as a way of drawing down peace on the country.

In the autumn the children again saw the Angel as they were out looking after the sheep. He appeared before them holding a chalice in his hands, above which was suspended a host from which drops of blood were falling into the chalice. The Angel left the chalice suspended in the air and prostrated himself before it in prayer.

He then gave the host to Lucia to eat, and let Francisco and Jacinta drink from the chalice whilst saying: “Take and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, horribly outraged by ungrateful men. Repair their crimes and console your God.” Then he prostrated himself again in prayer before disappearing. The children did not tell anyone about these visits of the Angel, feeling an interior necessity of keeping quiet about these events.

13 May 1917

On 13 May 1917 the three children took their flocks out to pasture on the small area known as the Cova da Iria. After lunch and the rosary they suddenly saw a bright flash of something like lightning, followed quickly by another flash in the clear blue sky.

They looked up to see in Lucia’s words, “a lady, clothed in white, brighter than the sun, radiating a light more clear and intense than a crystal cup filled with sparkling water, lit by burning sunlight.” The children stood there amazed, bathed in the light that surrounded the apparition, as the Lady smiled and said: “Do not be afraid, I will not harm you.” Lucia as the oldest asked her where she came from.

The Lady pointed to the sky and said: “I come from heaven.” Lucia then asked her what she wanted: “I have come to ask you to come here for six months on the 13th day of the month, at this same hour. Later I shall say who I am and what I desire. And I shall return here yet a seventh time.”

Lucia then asked if they would go to heaven and she was told yes, she and Jacinta would go to heaven, but Francisco would need to say many rosaries first. The Lady then said: “Are you willing to offer yourselves to God and bear all the sufferings He wills to send you, as an act of reparation for the conversion of sinners?” Lucia as spokesman for all three readily agreed: “Then you are going to have much to suffer, but the grace of God will be your comfort.”

Lucia recounted that at the same moment as she said these words the Lady opened her hands and streamed a “light” on the children which allowed them to see themselves in God. The Lady finished with a request: “Say the Rosary every day, to bring peace to the world and the end of the war.” With that she began to rise into the air, moving towards the east until she disappeared.

The children got together and tried to think of ways they could make sacrifices, as the Lady had asked, resolving to go without lunch and to pray the full rosary. Francisco and Jacinta received more support from their parents than Lucia, but the attitude of the local inhabitants was sceptical and even derisory; the children had much to suffer, just as the Lady had told them.

13 June 1917

About fifty people turned up at the Cova da Iria on June 13, as the three children assembled near the holmoak tree where the Lady had appeared. The children then saw a flash of light followed immediately by the apparition of Mary, as she spoke to Lucia: “I want you to come on the 13th of next month, to pray the Rosary every day, and to learn to read. Later, I will tell you what I want.”

Lucia asked Mary to take them to heaven and was reassured in this way: “I will take Jacinta and Francisco shortly; but you will stay here for some time to come. Jesus wants to use you to make Me known and loved. He wishes to establish the devotion to My Immaculate Heart throughout the world. I promise salvation to whoever embraces it; these souls will be dear to God, like flowers put by Me to adorn his throne.” This last sentence is found in a letter written in 1927 by Sr. Lucia to her confessor.

Lucia was sad at the first part of this reply, saying: “Am I to stay here alone?” Mary replied: “No, my daughter. Are you suffering a great deal? Don’t lose heart. I will never forsake you. My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God.”

One of the witnesses to this apparition, Maria Carreira, described how Lucia then cried out and pointed as Mary departed. She herself heard a noise like, “a rocket, a long way off,” and looked to see a small cloud a few inches over the tree, rise, and move slowly towards the east until it disappeared. The crowd of pilgrims then returned to Fatima where they reported the amazing things they had seen, thus ensuring that there were between two and three thousand people present for the July apparition.

13 July 1917

On 13 July the three children assembled at the Cova and again they saw the indescribably beautiful Lady over the holmoak. Lucia asked what she wanted, and Mary replied: “I want you to come here on the 13th of next month, to continue to pray the Rosary every day in honour of Our Lady of the Rosary, in order to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war, because only she can help you.”

Lucia then asked her who she was and for a miracle so everyone would believe: “Continue to come here every month. In October, I will tell you who I am and what I want, and I will perform a miracle for all to see and believe.”

Lucia made some requests for sick people, to which Mary replied that she would cure some but not others, and that all must say the rosary to obtain such graces, before continuing: “Sacrifice yourselves for sinners, and say many times, especially when you make some sacrifice: O Jesus, it is for love of You, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”

The Vision of Hell

Lucia later revealed that as she spoke these words, Mary opened her hands and rays of light from them seemed to penetrate the earth so that they saw a terrifying vision of hell, full of demons and lost souls amidst indescribable horrors.

This vision of hell was the first part of the “secret” of Fatima, and was not revealed until much later. The children looked up to the sad face of the Blessed Virgin, who spoke to them kindly:

“You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. The war is going to end; but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the pontificate of Pius XI. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that he is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father.

“To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays. If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated. In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me and she will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.”

At this point the second part of the secret of Fatima ends and the third part begins with the words, “In Portugal the dogma of the faith will always be preserved … ” The first two parts of the secret only became publicly known in 1942. The third part of the secret has only recently been publicly divulged, in June 2000.

Mary specifically told Lucia not to tell anyone about the secret at this stage, apart from Francisco, before continuing: “When you pray the Rosary, say after each mystery: O my Jesus, forgive us, save us from the fire of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those who are most in need.” After assuring Lucia that there was nothing more, Mary disappeared off into the distance.

August 1917

As 13 August approached, the story of the apparitions had reached the anti-religious secular press, and while this ensured that the whole country knew about Fatima, it also meant that many biased and negative reports were circulating. The children were kidnapped on the morning of the 13th by the Mayor of Vila Nova de Ourem, Arturo Santos. They were interrogated about the secret; but despite his threats and promises of money, they refused to divulge it. In the afternoon they were moved to the local prison and threatened with death but determined that they would die rather than reveal the secret.

On August 19, Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta were assembled at a place called Valinhos, near Fatima, late in the afternoon, when they again saw Mary, who spoke to Lucia: “Go again to the Cova da Iria on the 13th and continue to say the Rosary every day.” Mary also said she would perform a miracle, so all would believe, and that if they had not been kidnapped it would have been even greater.

Looking very sad, Mary then said: “Pray, pray very much, and make sacrifices for sinners; for many souls go to hell, because there are none to sacrifice themselves and pray for them.” With that she rose into the air and moved towards the east before disappearing.

By now the children had thoroughly absorbed Mary’s plea for prayer and penance, and did everything they could to answer it. They prayed for hours while lying prostrate on the ground and went as long as they could without drinking, in the burning heat of the Portuguese summer. They also went without food, as a sacrifice for sinners, to save them from hell, the vision of which had so profoundly effected them. They even knotted some pieces of old rope around their waists as a form of mortification, not removing them day or night.

13 September 1917

On September 13 very large crowds began to converge on Fatima from all directions. Around noon the children then arrived, and after the customary flash of light, they saw Mary on the holmoak tree. She spoke to Lucia: “Continue to pray the Rosary in order to obtain the end of the war. In October Our Lord will come, as well as Our Lady of Dolours and Our Lady of Carmel. Saint Joseph will appear with the Child Jesus to bless the world. God is pleased with your sacrifices. He does not want you to sleep with the rope on, but only to wear it during the daytime.”

Lucia then began to put forward the petitions for cures, to be told: “Yes, I will cure some, but not others. In October I will perform a miracle so that all may believe.” With that she rose, moved to the east, and disappeared.

13 October 1917

The proclamation of a public miracle caused the most intense speculation throughout Portugal, and the journalist Avelino de Almeida, published a satirical article on the whole business in the anti-religious newspaper O Seculo. People from other parts of the country descended, in their tens of thousands, on the Cova, despite the terrible storm that lashed the mountain country around Fatima, on the eve of the 13th. Many pilgrims went barefooted, reciting the rosary as they went, all crowding into the area around the Cova, as by midmorning the weather again turned bad and heavy rain began to fall.

The children reached the holmoak around noon, and then saw the flash of light as Mary appeared before them. For the last time, Lucia asked what she wanted: “I want to tell you that a chapel is to be built here in my honour. I am the Lady of the Rosary. Continue always to pray the Rosary every day. The war is going to end, and the soldiers will soon return to their homes.”

Again Lucia made her requests, being informed that people must amend their lives, and ask forgiveness of their sins, if they wanted healings or conversions. She reported too that Mary grew very sad and said: “Do not offend the Lord our God any more, because He is already so much offended.” Then rising into the air and opening her hands towards the sun, growing more brilliant as she did, she disappeared, being replaced by various visions seen only by the children.

The Miracle of the Sun

At the same time the vast crowd saw a true miracle. The black clouds parted, and the sun became visible, looking like a dull grey disc that could be looked at directly quite easily. In O Seculo Avelino de Almeida would adopt a very different tone from his earlier satirical article on Fatima:

“…one could see the immense multitude turn towards the sun, which appeared free from clouds and at its zenith. It looked like a plaque of dull silver and it was possible to look at it without the least discomfort. It might have been an eclipse which was taking place. But at that moment a great shout went up and one could hear the spectators nearest at hand shouting: “A miracle! A miracle!” Before the astonished eyes of the crowd, whose aspect was Biblical as they stood bareheaded, eagerly searching the sky, the sun trembled, made sudden incredible movements outside all cosmic laws – the sun “danced” according to the typical expression of the people. …

“People then began to ask each other what they had seen. The great majority admitted to having seen the trembling and dancing of the sun; others affirmed that they saw the face of the Blessed Virgin; others, again, swore that the sun whirled on itself like a giant Catherine wheel and that it lowered itself to the earth as if to burn it with its rays. Some said they saw it change colours successively. …”

Other witnesses too, such as Maria Carreira, testified to the terrifying nature of the solar miracle: “It turned everything different colours, yellow, blue, white, and it shook and trembled; it seemed like a wheel of fire which was going to fall on the people. They cried out: ‘We shall all be killed, we shall all be killed!’ … At last the sun stopped moving and we all breathed a sigh of relief. We were still alive and the miracle which the children had foretold had taken place.”

Other people witnessed the solar miracle from a distance thus ruling out the possibility of any type of collective hallucination. A final intriguing, and important, point was that the heat of the sun, as it descended on the people, also had the effect of drying their clothes and the ground, so that they went from being completely soaked to being dry in about ten minutes.

The Deaths of Francisco and Jacinta

An influenza epidemic swept Europe in autumn of 1918, just as the War was finishing, and both Jacinta and Francisco fell ill. Francisco recovered somewhat and there were hopes that he might become well, but he realised that he was destined to die young, as Our Lady had foretold, and his condition worsened again. He offered up all his sufferings as a way of consoling God for the sinfulness and ingratitude of mankind, becoming so weak that eventually he could not even pray. He received his first Communion, and on the next day, 4 April 1919, he died.

Jacinta too was confined to her bed during the long winter months, and although she recovered was struck down with bronchial pneumonia, while also developing a painful abscess in her chest. She was moved to the hospital in Ourem in July 1919, where she underwent the painful treatment prescribed for her, but without much effect, returning home in August with an open wound in her side. It was decided that another attempt should be made to treat her, and so in January 1920 she was taken to Lisbon, where she was diagnosed as having purulent pleurisy and diseased ribs.

Eventually in February she was admitted into hospital, where she underwent another painful operation to remove two ribs; this left her with a large wound in her side that had to dressed daily, causing her agony. On the evening of 20 February the local priest was called and heard her Confession, but he insisted on waiting till the next day to bring her Communion, despite her protests that she felt worse, and as Mary had told her she died that night alone and far from her family. Her body was returned to Fatima and buried with that of Francisco, until both were later moved to the basilica built at the Cova da Iria.

Later Apparitions to Sr. Lucia

The new bishop of the restored diocese of Leiria decided that it was best if Lucia was removed from Fatima, both to spare her from the continual questionings she had to endure, and to see what effect her absence would have on the numbers coming as pilgrims. Her mother agreed to her being sent away to school, and she left in May 1921, in great secrecy, for Porto, where a school run by the sisters of St. Dorothy was situated. Later she became a sister in this congregation, before joining the Carmelites.

On 10 December 1925, while at the convent in Pontevedra, Spain, Lucia saw another apparition, this time of Mary with the Child Jesus. Mary told Lucia to announce that she promised all the graces necessary for salvation to those who, on the first Saturday of five consecutive months, confessed, received Holy Communion, recited five decades of the rosary, and meditated on the rosary for fifteen minutes, all with the intention of making reparation to her.

On 13 June 1929 Sr. Lucia, while at prayer in the convent chapel at Tuy, where she had moved, saw another apparition, this time a representation of the Trinity. She also heard Mary speak to her, asking that the Pope, in union with all the bishops of the world, make the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart that she had spoken of during the July 1917 apparition.

On 25 January 1938, a strange light filled the skies of northern Europe; it was described as a particularly brilliant display of the Aurora Borealis, but Sr. Lucia realised it was the “unknown light,” also announced by Mary in the July apparition. It meant punishment for the world was close, principally through the Second World War, because it had not turned back to God.

Pope Pius XII consecrated the whole world to Mary’s Immaculate Heart in 1942, and carried out a similar consecration of Russia in 1952, but neither of these fulfilled Mary’s request at Fatima. This collegial consecration, in union with a “moral totality” of the world’s bishops, was finally carried out by Pope John Paul II in 1984. Fatima received further Papal support when, on 13 May 1979, the Pope declared Jacinta and Francisco “venerable,” the first stage in the process of their possible canonisation.

Pope John Paul has further emphasized the importance of Fatima by beatifying Jacinta and Francisco on 13 may 2000 during the Jubilee Year. At the same time he has announced that details of the third part of the Fatima secret will be revealed, while also entrusting the third millennium to Our Lady of Fatima.

The Bishop Approves of Fatima

The Church, meanwhile, had maintained silence about the apparitions during the years from 1917, and it wasn’t until May 1922 that Bishop Correia issued a pastoral letter on the subject, indicating that he would set up a commission of enquiry. In 1930 he issued another pastoral letter on the apparitions, which, after recounting the events at Fatima, contained the following brief but important statement.

“In virtue of considerations made known, and others which for reasons of brevity we omit; humbly invoking the Divine Spirit and placing ourselves under the protection of the most Holy Virgin, and after hearing the opinions of our Rev. Advisors in this diocese, we hereby: 1. Declare worthy of belief, the visions of the shepherd children in the Cova da Iria, parish of Fatima, in this diocese, from the 13th May to 13th October, 1917. 2. Permit officially the cult of Our Lady of Fatima.”

In 1954 Bishop Fulton Sheen gave a now famous presentation on the Miracle of Fatima, which included a portion of a classic movie by Warner Brothers featuring that miracle. To view this presentation click here.

Fatima for today book image

“Fatima For Today”, by Fr. Andrew Apostoli is an excellent current book on the entire story of the apparitions at Fatima and why they are even more relevant in today’s troubled times. The love of Our Lady of Fatima shines forth from the pages of this well written book, and her message speaks directly to our hearts. She will be victorious and help save this world – and us – but only if we do our part.  Click on the image at left to order this important book that every Catholic should read, especially as we approach the 100 year anniversary of the Fatima apparitions.

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The Apparitions at Beauraing, 1932-33lady of Beauraing1

Beauraing is a small town in the southern, French speaking, part of Belgium, and it was here that the Blessed Virgin appeared to a group of children, between late November 1932 and January 1933.

The five children came from the Voisin and Degeimbre families, neither of which were particularly convinced Catholics. On the evening of 29 November 1932, Fernande Voisin, a fifteen year old girl, Andree Degeimbre, aged fourteen, and her sister Gilberte, aged nine, were with Albert Voisin, aged eleven. They made their way to the local convent school to meet Albert’s sister, Gilberte Voisin, who was staying on until six-thirty to study. They entered the grounds and passed a small Lourdes grotto in front of the railway embankment that skirted the convent garden.

While waiting for the front door bell to be answered, Albert looked towards the embankment over the grotto and cried out: “Look! The Blessed Virgin, dressed in white, is walking above the bridge!” The girls looked and could see the luminous figure of a lady dressed in white walking in mid air, her feet hidden by a little cloud. The sister who answered the door could see nothing, but as soon as Gilberte Voisin reached the door she too saw the figure.

Over the next few evenings a pattern gradually developed in which the children would see Mary by a hawthorn tree near the grotto, but from outside the convent grounds. They knelt in the street and looked through the railings, from the outside of the convent gate. The children would simultaneously drop to their knees, on the cobble-stoned street, with a force that made bystanders wince, and yet they suffered no injury; moreover people were astonished with the high-pitched quality of the children’s voices as they prayed.

They later told how they saw a beautiful Lady wearing a white gown and holding her hands together as in prayer, with rays of light surrounding her head. On 2 December, Albert asked her if she was the Immaculate Virgin, to which she smiled and nodded her head, and in answer to what she wanted she said simply: “Always be good.”

On Thursday 8 December, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, a crowd of about fifteen thousand assembled expecting a great miracle, but they only saw the children in ecstasy, impervious to lighted matches held underneath their hands, pin pricks, or lights shone in their eyes. Meanwhile, the local priest, Fr. Lambert, and the Church authorities generally, were taking a very prudent and circumspect attitude towards events at Beauraing, and refusing to get involved: the local bishop ordered his priests not to go to the site.

The apparitions did not occur every night, although the children assembled and said the rosary; if Mary did appear they would fall to their knees in unison. They were closely watched to ensure they could not talk to each other, and when the apparition was over were questioned separately. On 28 December the children said that she had said that: “My last apparition will take place soon.”
The next day Fernande saw the Blessed Virgin with a heart of gold surrounded by rays, and this was also seen by two of the children on 30 December, as Mary repeated the phrase: “Pray, pray very much,” which was only heard by Fernande. On the last day of 1932 all the children saw Mary’s golden heart. On 1 January 1933, Mary spoke to Gilberte Voisin asking her to, “Pray always,” with the emphasis on always; the next day she told the children that on 3 January, at what was to prove to be the final apparition, she would speak to each of them separately.

A very large crowd, estimated at between thirty and thirty-five thousand people, assembled that evening as the children began their rosary. After two decades four of them called out and fell to their knees, leaving Fernande, the oldest, in tears because she could see nothing. Mary spoke to Gilberte Voisin, imparting to her what has been seen as the main promise of Beauraing, “I will convert sinners,” and then: “Goodbye.” To Andree she said: “I am the Mother of God, the Queen of Heaven. Pray always,” before disappearing.

Fernande remained kneeling while the other children went inside for questioning, when suddenly, she, and many in the crowd, heard a loud noise like thunder and saw a ball of fire on the hawthorn tree. Mary appeared and spoke to Fernande asking her if she loved her Son and herself; when Fernande replied that she did, the response was: “Then sacrifice yourself for me.” At this the Blessed Virgin glowed with extraordinary brilliance and extended her arms, so that the girl could see her golden heart, before saying, “Goodbye,” and disappearing.

Although there were problems from some quarters opposition to Beauraing had practically ceased by the time the bishop appointed a commission of inquiry in 1935, with the work continuing under his successor. In February 1943 Bishop Charue authorised public devotions to Mary at Beauraing, but it was not until July 1949, following the Second World War, that the shrine was officially recognised and two important documents issued. The first dealt with two of the many cures that had taken place at Beauraing, declaring them to be miraculous.

The second document was a letter to the clergy in which the bishop said, “we are able in all serenity and prudence to affirm that the Queen of Heaven appeared to the children of Beauraing during the winter of 1932-1933, especially to show us in her maternal Heart the anxious appeal for prayer and the promise of her powerful mediation for the conversion of sinners.”

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The Apparitions at Banneux in 1933Lady of banneux

On the evening of Sunday 15 January, 1933, at about seven o’clock, Mariette Beco was in the kitchen with her mother while waiting for her younger brother Julien to arrive home at their house in Banneux, a Belgian village fifty miles north-east of Beauraing. She looked out of the window into the dark night again, to see if he was coming, and was surprised to see a young lady out in the yard, seemingly made of light and smiling at her. Mariette noticed the oval light that surrounded her body; she was bent slightly forward and inclined to the left and was wearing a long white gown with a blue sash, as well as a transparent white veil on her head. Mariette could see a golden rose on her right foot and a rosary with a golden chain and cross hanging on her right arm, which was joined to the left in prayer.

Mariette told her mother about this, but Mrs. Beco, who had initially joked that perhaps it might be the Blessed Virgin, became frightened on seeing a white light shaped like a person, with what looked like a sheet over its head, and closed the curtain. Mariette though took another look and still saw the Lady smiling at her, and taking courage she began to pray with the rosary beads she had only recently found on the road.
She recited several decades and saw the apparition’s lips move in prayer, before the Lady beckoned her with her finger to come outside. As she moved towards the door though, her mother, alarmed by now, locked it, and by the time Mariette had returned to the window the Lady had gone.

Nothing happened the next evening, Monday 16th, but the local priest, Fr. Jamin, was surprised to see Mariette at Mass on the Tuesday morning for the first time in months. She also came to his catechism class, and impressed, he asked her to give her account of what had happened, which he noted down immediately afterwards.

He tried to catch her out by claiming she had seen the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes, but Mariette insisted that the Lady she had seen was inclined forward and much more beautiful.

On Wednesday 18 January, Mariette left the house at seven o’clock in the evening, and knelt to say the rosary near the front gate as her father watched. Suddenly she raised her arms, because, as she was later to recount, she could see the Blessed Virgin descending towards her between two tall pine trees, a tiny figure growing larger and more luminous as she approached, stopping near her on a small greyish cloud about a foot from the ground.

She joined in Mariette’s prayers but did not touch the rosary that hung from her arm. Mariette then rose and went out through the gate and onto the road. She later said that the Lady had again beckoned her with her finger and she had followed her out.

She fell to her knees with a thud on two occasions, before turning to the right and kneeling for a third time on the ditch, placing her hands into some water there. She said later that the Lady had told her to do this, and the bystanders heard her repeat aloud: “This stream is reserved for me,” and “Good evening.” As the apparition disappeared over the pines, growing ever smaller, Mariette came to herself and was then questioned about what she had seen.

Next evening, Thursday 19 January, Mariette again left the house at about seven and knelt down in the snow to pray. After a couple of decades of the rosary she again saw the Lady, stretched out her arms and said: “Oh, she is here!” before asking her who she was, to hear the reply: “I am the Virgin of the poor.” She then took the same path to the spring by the ditch, again falling to her knees on a total of three occasions. Mary spoke to her: “This spring is reserved for all the nations – to relieve the sick.” Finally Mariette repeated the last words of the Lady for this apparition, which only lasted about seven minutes: “I shall pray for you. Au Revoir.”

Mariette continued on subsequent evenings to pray, on her own sometimes, often with her father too, but it was only after three weeks of disappointment that the Lady again appeared to her on 11 February, the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. Six people were present on this cold, moonlit, Saturday evening, and after reaching the spring, with similar genuflections as before, Mariette plunged her hand into the water and blessed herself, while appearing to listen intently to someone.

After a few minutes Mariette thanked her unseen visitor and tearfully made her way back to the house, indicating the Lady’s words: “I come to relieve suffering.” Afterwards she went to see Fr. Jamin and gave him a full account of what had happened.

There were no more apparitions until 15 February, when several ladies and Mariette’s mother were with her in the garden. The rosary was recited and then Mariette again saw the beautiful Lady, reporting that the priest had asked her for a sign and then listening intently for several minutes before bursting into tears. She could only say that the Lady had said: “Believe in me, I will believe in you. Pray much. Au Revoir.”

On Monday 20 February, Mariette again made her way to the spring, just over a hundred yards away, and was able to report Mary’s words as being simply: “My dear child, pray much.” The final apparition, the eighth, took place on 2 March 1933. In reply to Mary’s words, “I am the Mother of the Saviour, Mother of God, Pray much,” Mariette could only say, “Yes, yes.” Mary then blessed Mariette as she had done during the fourth apparition and indicated that this was indeed the last apparition by saying “Adieu,” instead of “Au Revoir,” as before.

Banneux was investigated from 1935 until 1937 by an Episcopal commission, after which the evidence collected was submitted to Rome. Meanwhile growing numbers of pilgrims came to the shrine, and in May 1942 Bishop Kerkhofs of Liege approved the cult of the Virgin of the Poor. In 1947 the apparitions themselves received preliminary approval, with this becoming definite in 1949. Like the children at Beauraing, Mariette married and had a family, being, like them, content to remain in the background.

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Our Lady of Nations 2Our Lady of All Nations

Mary, the Mother of Jesus, appeared to the Dutch visionary, Ida Peerdeman in Amsterdam, Holland under the title of the “Lady of All Nations” in 56 apparitions from March 25, 1945 to May 31, 1959. These apparitions were followed by a series of “Eucharistic Experiences” received by the visionary from July 1958 to May 1970.

The first years of these messages called for a return of the Cross of Jesus Christ into the center of human life and spirituality, along with a new coming of the Holy Spirit for the sanctification of the world. These messages also contained a great number of prophecies concerning the Church and the world, including numerous social, economic and geo-political predictions, for example: an upcoming worldwide economic crisis; conflicts in the Middle East, specifically in Jerusalem and Cairo; a great increase in natural disasters; a global decline in morals, family life, and religious practice. Many of these prophecies have clearly already taken place. The fulfillment of these social, economic, and geo-political prophecies provides the credibility of supernatural authenticity for the two specific spiritual remedies offered by the Lady of All Nations for today’s unprecedented global crises.

On February 11, 1951, The Lady of All Nations revealed a prayer that should be prayed by all peoples for a new coming of the Holy Spirit through the intercession of Mary as Advocate:

LORD JESUS CHRIST,
SON OF THE FATHER,
SEND NOW YOUR SPIRIT
OVER THE EARTH.
LET THE HOLY SPIRIT LIVE
IN THE HEARTS OF ALL NATIONS,
THAT THEY MAY BE PRESERVED
FROM DEGENERATION, DISASTER AND WAR.
MAY THE LADY OF ALL NATIONS,
THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY,
BE OUR ADVOCATE.
AMEN.

For more information on the Our Lady of All Nations Apparition, click on this link.

Akita Japan mary imageThe Apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Akita, Japan,
to Sr. Agnes Sasagawa

The extraordinary events began on June 12, 1973, when Sr. Agnes saw brilliant mysterious rays emanate suddenly from the tabernacle. The same thing happened on each of the two days that followed.

On June 28, 1973, a cross-shaped wound appeared on the inside left hand of Sr. Agnes. It bled profusely and caused her much pain. On July 6, Sr. Agnes heard a voice coming from the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the chapel where she was praying. The statue was carved from a single block of wood from a Katsura tree and is three feet tall. On the same day, a few of the sisters noticed drops of blood flowing from the statue’s right hand. On four occasions, this act of blood flow repeated itself. The wound in the statue’s hand remained until September 29, when it disappeared. On September 29, the day the wound on the statue disappeared, the sisters noticed the statue had now begun to “sweat”, especially on the forehead and neck. On August 3, Sr. Agnes received a second message. On October 13, she received a final third message.

Two years later on January 4, 1975, the statue of the Blessed Virgin began to weep. It continued to weep at intervals for the next 6 years and eight months. It wept on 101 occasions.

The Messages to Sr. Agnes

July 6, 1973

“My daughter, my novice, you have obeyed me well in abandoning all to follow me. Is the infirmity of your ears painful? Your deafness will be healed, be sure. Does the wound of your hand cause you to suffer? Pray in reparation for the sins of men. Each person in this community is my irreplaceable daughter. Do you say well the prayer of the Handmaids of the Eucharist? Then, let us pray it together.”

“Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, truly present in Holy Eucharist, I consecrate my body and soul to be entirely one with Your Heart, being sacrificed at every instant on all the altars of the world and giving praise to the Father pleading for the coming of His Kingdom.”

“Please receive this humble offering of myself. Use me as You will for the glory of the Father and the salvation of souls.”

“Most holy Mother of God, never let me be separated from Your Divine Son. Please defend and protect me as Your Special Child. Amen.”

When the prayer was finished, the Heavenly Voice said: “Pray very much for the Pope, Bishops, and Priests. Since your Baptism you have always prayed faithfully for them. Continue to pray very much…very much. Tell your superior all that passed today and obey him in everything that he will tell you. He has asked that you pray with fervor.”

August 3, 1973

“My daughter, my novice, do you love the Lord? If you love the Lord, listen to what I have to say to you.”

“It is very important…You will convey it to your superior.”

“Many men in this world afflict the Lord. I desire souls to console Him to soften the anger of the Heavenly Father. I wish, with my Son, for souls who will repair by their suffering and their poverty for the sinners and ingrates.”

“In order that the world might know His anger, the Heavenly Father is preparing to inflict a great chastisement on all mankind. With my Son I have intervened so many times to appease the wrath of the Father. I have prevented the coming of calamities by offering Him the sufferings of the Son on the Cross, His Precious Blood, and beloved souls who console Him forming a cohort of victim souls. Prayer, penance and courageous sacrifices can soften the Father’s anger. I desire this also from your community…that it love poverty, that it sanctify itself and pray in reparation for the ingratitude and outrages of so many men.

Recite the prayer of the Handmaids of the Eucharist with awareness of its meaning; put it into practice; offer in reparation (whatever God may send) for sins. Let each one endeavor, according to capacity and position, to offer herself entirely to the Lord.”

“Even in a secular institute prayer is necessary. Already souls who wish to pray are on the way to being gathered together. Without attaching to much attention to the form, be faithful and fervent in prayer to console the Master.”

After a silence:

“Is what you think in your heart true? Are you truly decided to become the rejected stone? My novice, you who wish to belong without reserve to the Lord, to become the spouse worthy of the Spouse, make your vows knowing that you must be fastened to the Cross with three nails. These three nails are poverty, chastity, and obedience. Of the three, obedience is the foundation. In total abandon, let yourself be led by your superior. He will know how to understand you and to direct you.”

October 13, 1973

“My dear daughter, listen well to what I have to say to you. You will inform your superior.”

After a short silence:

“As I told you, if men do not repent and better themselves, the Father will inflict a terrible punishment on all humanity. It will be a punishment greater than the deluge, such as one will never seen before. Fire will fall from the sky and will wipe out a great part of humanity, the good as well as the bad, sparing neither priests nor faithful. The survivors will find themselves so desolate that they will envy the dead. The only arms which will remain for you will be the Rosary and the Sign left by My Son. Each day recite the prayers of the Rosary. With the Rosary, pray for the Pope, the bishops and priests.”

“The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, bishops against bishops. The priests who venerate me will be scorned and opposed by their confreres…churches and altars sacked; the Church will be full of those who accept compromises and the demon will press many priests and consecrated souls to leave the service of the Lord.

“The demon will be especially implacable against souls consecrated to God. The thought of the loss of so many souls is the cause of my sadness. If sins increase in number and gravity, there will be no longer pardon for them”

“With courage, speak to your superior. He will know how to encourage each one of you to pray and to accomplish works of reparation.”

“It is Bishop Ito, who directs your community.”

And She smiled and then said:

“You have still something to ask? Today is the last time that I will speak to you in living voice. From now on you will obey the one sent to you and your superior.”

“Pray very much the prayers of the Rosary. I alone am able still to save you from the calamities which approach. Those who place their confidence in me will be saved.”

History of Ecclesiastical Approval

February 27, 1978 — Pope Paul VI approves the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s Norms of the Congregation for Proceeding in Judging Alleged Apparitions and Revelations. These norms provide the criteria for evaluating such phenomenon and establish the local Ordinary as the competent authority to do so. They also provide that regional or national episcopal conferences may intervene (as has occured with regards to Medjugorje) if warranted, as may the Holy See.

April 22, 1984 — After eight years of investigations, Rev. John Shojiro Ito, Bishop of Niigata, Japan, recognizes “the supernatural character of a series of mysterious events concerning the statue of the Holy Mother Mary” and authorizes “throughout the entire diocese, the veneration of the Holy Mother of Akita, while awaiting that the Holy See publishes definitive judgment on this matter.”

Letter of Bishop Ito recognizing the events at Akita

[EWTN: Despite claims that Cardinal Ratzinger gave definitive approval to Akita in 1988, no ecclesiastical decree appears to exist, as certainly would in such a case. However, some individuals, such as former Ambassador of the Phillipines to the Holy See, Mr. Howard Dee, have stated that they were given private assurances by Cardinal Ratzinger of the authenticity of Akita. In any case, in keeping with the current norms, given the absence of a repudiation of Bp. Ito’s decision by his successors, or by higher authority, the events of Akita continue to have ecclesiastical approval.]

Revised: November 2011
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Marian Prayers
 
mary magnificatThe Magnificat – The Prayer Of Mary 

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.

He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.

He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children forever.

(Lk 1:46-55)
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The Memorare

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided.

Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.

Amen.

Chid prayer to maryChildren’s Prayer to Mary

Dear Mother of Jesus,
look down upon me
As I say my prayers slowly
at my mother’s knee.

I love thee, O Lady
and please willest thou bring
All little children
To Jesus our King.

Prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupelady of guadalupe_2

Our Lady of Guadalupe,
Mystical Rose,
make intercession for holy Church,
protect the sovereign Pontiff,
help all those who invoke you in their necessities,
and since you are the ever Virgin Mary
and Mother of the true God,
obtain for us from your most holy Son
the grace of keeping our faith,
of sweet hope in the midst of the bitterness of life
of burning charity, and the precious gift
of final perseverance.

Amen.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help

O Mother of Perpetual Help, grant that I may ever invoke thy most powerful name, which is the safeguard of the living and the salvation of the dying. O Purest Mary, O Sweetest Mary, let thy name henceforth be ever on my lips. Delay not, O Blessed Lady, to help me whenever I call on thee, for, in all my needs, in all my temptations I shall never cease to call on thee, ever repeating thy sacred name, Mary, Mary.

Hail Holy Queen

Hail, holy Queen, Mother of mercy, hail, our life, our sweetness and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve: to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears. Turn then, most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus, O merciful, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary! Amen.

St. John Bosco Prayer to Mary

Most Holy Virgin Mary, Help of Christian,
how sweet it is to come to your feet
imploring your perpetual help.
If earthly mothers cease not to remember their children,
how can you, the most loving of all mothers forget me?
Grant then to me, I implore you,
your perpetual help in all my necessities,
in every sorrow, and especially in all my temptations.
I ask for your unceasing help for all who are now suffering.
Help the weak, cure the sick, convert sinners.
Grant through your intercessions many vocations to the religious life.
Obtain for us, O Mary, Help of Christians,
that having invoked you on earth we may love and eternally thank you in heaven.

Fr. Don Bosco was a dedicated priest who took on blood-thirsty revolutionaries, the Italian government and his own archbishop in his quest to rescue the homeless children of Turin. This heroic priest’s undying belief in the boys he sought to help inspired them to fulfill their potential in the Catholic Faith. Don Bosco’s lifelong effort to save the children of the street became the foundation of the Salesians, one of the largest child care networks in the world.

consecration-to-mary-1Consecration To Mary

O Mary, Virgin most powerful and Mother of mercy, Queen of Heaven and Refuge of sinners, we consecrate ourselves to thine Immaculate Heart.

We consecrate to thee our very being and our whole life; all that we have, all that we love, all that we are. To thee we give our bodies, our hearts and our souls; to thee we give our homes, our families, our country.

We desire that all that is in us and around us may belong to thee, and may share in the benefits of thy motherly benediction. And that this act of consecration may be truly efficacious and lasting, we renew this day at thy feet the promises of our Baptism and our first Holy Communion.

We pledge ourselves to profess courageously and at all times the truths of our holy Faith, and to live as befits Catholics who are duly submissive to all the directions of the Pope and the Bishops in communion with him.

We pledge ourselves to keep the commandments of God and His Church, in particular to keep holy the Lord’s Day.

We likewise pledge ourselves to make the consoling practices of the Christian religion, and above all, Holy Communion, an integral part of our lives, in so far as we shall be able so to do.

Finally, we promise thee, O glorious Mother of God and loving Mother of men, to devote ourselves whole-heartedly to the service of thy blessed cult, in order to hasten and assure, through the sovereignty of thine Immaculate Heart, the coming of the kingdom of the Sacred Heart of thine adorable Son, in our own hearts and in those of all men, in our country and in all the world, as in heaven. so on earth.

Amen.

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Pope st john paul ii mary

Pope St. John Paul II was known for his great devotion to Mary.

A PRAYER OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION
OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

1. “Hail Mary, full of grace!”
Immaculate Virgin, here I am at your feet once again,
full of devotion and gratitude.
I return to this historic Piazza di Spagna
on the solemn day of your feast
to pray for the beloved city of Rome,
for the Church, for the whole world.
In you, “humble and highest of creatures”,
divine grace had the full victory over evil.
You are for us, pilgrims on the paths of the world,
the bright model of evangelical fidelity
and the ever-living pledge of sure hope.

2. Virgin Mother, “Salvation of the Roman People!”
Watch over, I pray you, the beloved Diocese of Rome:
over pastors and faithful, parishes and religious communities.
Watch over families especially:
may love sealed by the Sacrament ever reign between spouses,
may children walk on the paths of goodness and true freedom,
may the elderly feel surrounded by attention and affection.
Inspire, Mary, in so many young hearts,
generous replies to the “call for the mission”,
a subject on which the diocese has
been reflecting over the years.
Thanks to an intense pastoral program for vocations,
may Rome be enriched by new young forces,
dedicated with enthusiasm to proclaiming the Gospel
in the city and in the world.

3. Blessed Virgin, Queen of Apostles!
Assist those who through study
and prayer are preparing to labor
on the many frontiers of the new evangelization.
Today I entrust to you, in a special way,
the community of the Pontifical Urban College,
whose historic headquarters are located in front of this pillar.
May this wonderful institution founded 375 years ago
by Pope Urban VIII for the formation of missionaries,
be able to continue effectively its ecclesial service.
May those it gathers, seminarians and priests,
men and women religious and laity,
be ready to put their energies at the disposition
of Christ in service of the Gospel to the far corners of the globe.

4. “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us!”

Pray, O Mother, for all of us.
Pray for humanity for those who suffers poverty and injustice,
violence and hatred, terror and war.
Help us to contemplate with the rosary
the mysteries of Him who “is our peace”,
so that we will all feel involved
in a persevering dedication of service to peace.
Look with special attention
upon the land in which you gave birth to Jesus,
a land that you loved together with Him,
and that is still so sorely tried today.
Pray for us, Mother of hope!
“Give us days of peace, watch over our way.
Let us see your Son as we rejoice in heaven”. Amen!


Prayer by Pope John Paul II on the Second Sunday of Advent, 8 December 2002 . Given at Piazza di Spagna

lady of mt carmelPrayer to Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Thou who, with special mercy, look upon those clothed in thy beloved Habit, cast a glance of pity upon me. Fortify my weakness with thy strength; enlighten the darkness of my mind with thy wisdom; increase my faith, hope and charity. Assist me during life, console me by thy presence at my death, and present me to the August trinity as thy devoted child, that I may bless thee for all eternity in Paradise.
Amen.

litany37Litany of the Blessed Virgin

This litany to the Blessed Virgin Mary was composed during the Middle Ages. The place of honor it now holds in the life of the Church is due to its faithful use at the shrine of the Holy House at Loreto. It was definitely approved by Sixtus V in 1587, and all other Marian litanies were suppressed, at least for public use. Its titles and invocations set before us Mary’s exalted privileges, her holiness of life, her amiability and power, her motherly spirit and queenly majesty.

The principle that has been followed in their interpretation is the one enunciated by the same Pius IX: “God enriched her so wonderfully from the treasury of His divinity, far beyond all angels and saints with the abundance of all heavenly gifts, that she . . .should show forth such fullness of innocence and holiness, than which a greater under God is unthinkable and which, beside God, no one can even conceive in thought.”
Hence, whatever virtue and holiness is found in angels and saints must be present in Mary in an immeasurably higher degree.

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
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 Ghost,
Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God,
Have mercy on us.
Holy Mary,
pray for us.
Holy Mother of God,
pray for us.
Holy Virgin of virgins,
pray for us.
Mother of Christ,
pray for us.
Mother of divine grace,
pray for us.
Mother most pure,
pray for us.
Mother most chaste,
pray for us.
Mother inviolate,
pray for us.
Mother undefiled,
pray for us.
Mother most amiable,
pray for us.
Mother most admirable,
pray for us.
Mother of good counsel,
pray for us.
Mother of our Creator,
pray for us.
Mother of our Savior,
pray for us.
Virgin most prudent,
pray for us.
Virgin most venerable,
pray for us.
Virgin most renowned,
pray for us.
Virgin most powerful,
pray for us.
Virgin most merciful,
pray for us.
Virgin most faithful,
pray for us.
Mirror of justice,
pray for us.
Seat of wisdom,
pray for us.
Cause of our joy,
pray for us.
Spiritual vessel,
pray for us.
Vessel of honor,
pray for us.
Singular vessel of devotion,
pray for us.
Mystical rose,
pray for us.
Tower of David,
pray for us.
Tower of ivory,
pray for us.
House of gold,
pray for us.
Ark of the Covenant,
pray for us.
Gate of Heaven,
pray for us.
Morning star,
pray for us.
Health of the sick,
pray for us.
Refuge of sinners,
pray for us.
Comforter of the afflicted,
pray for us.
Help of Christians,
pray for us.
Queen of angels,
pray for us.
Queen of patriarchs,
pray for us.
Queen of prophets,
pray for us.
Queen of apostles,
pray for us.
Queen of martyrs,
pray for us.
Queen of confessors,
pray for us.
Queen of virgins,
pray for us.
Queen of all saints,
pray for us.
Queen conceived without Original Sin,
pray for us.
Queen assumed into Heaven,
pray for us.
Queen of the most holy Rosary,
pray for us.
Queen of peace,
pray for us.

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,
Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,
Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,
Have mercy on us.

Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God,
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Grant, we beseech Thee, O Lord God, that we Thy Servants may enjoy perpetual health of mind and body and by the glorious intercession of the Blessed Mary, ever Virgin, be delivered from present sorrow and enjoy eternal happiness. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

General:

Let us pray- Grant, we beseech Thee, O Lord God, that we Thy servants may enjoy perpetual health of mind and body, and by the glorious intercession of the Blessed Mary, ever Virgin, be delivered from present sorrow and enjoy everlasting happiness. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen
During Advent:

Let us pray – O God, you willed that, at the message of an angel, your word should take flesh in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary; grant to your suppliant people, that we, who believe her to be truly the Mother of God, may be helped by her intercession with you. Through the same Christ our Lord. . Amen.

From Christmas to the Purification:

Let us pray – O God, by the fruitful virginity of Blessed Mary, you bestowed upon the human race the rewards of eternal salvation; grant, we beg you,
that we may feel the power of her intercession, through whom we have been made worthy to receive the Author of life, our Lord Jesus Christ your Son, who lives and reigns with you forever and ever. Amen.

During Paschaltime:

Let us pray – O God, who by the Resurrection of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, granted joy to the whole world, grant, we beg you, that through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, his Mother, we may attain the joys of eternal life. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

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 Our Lady of all Nations Prayer

As revealed in the Amsterdam Apparitions (1945-1959)

Lady of All Nations Prayer