Marian Apparitions

 


JUNE 3, 2013

Marian Apparitions

The Roman Catholic Church’s teaching on Apparitions

http://www.unitypublishing.com/Apparitions/MedjugorjeRome..htm

By Mark Waterinckx, November 29, 1996

Dear reader, Out of love for the Church, for the truth and out of concern for so many misled faithful I offer you this article of mainly official ecclesiastical texts about the actual avalanche of new “apparitions” worldwide. I hope you will comprehend that this kind of publication is needed.

For me it is like a personal “mea culpa” because, after a miraculous healing of my own wife through prayers to Padre Pio (broken neck after a car accident, her brain-stem was contused, she lost an unborn child of six and a half months and was dying…), I have been involved in a whole series of non-approved “apparitions”.

I went 12 times to San Damiano-Italy, 3 times to Garabandal-Spain, 24 times to Medjugorje and have been a “fanatical” promoter of many more of those “shrines”. In my many conferences I refused to mention the negative aspects and facts and only spoke about the “good fruits” which were indeed present. Our good Lord spends his graces to all people who go to Confession, to Holy Mass, who pray the Rosary, etc. The real tree that bears good fruits is the tree of the Sacraments, independent of the location.

 

But after 35 years of work ‘at the base’, I know what sorts of personal dramas are hidden behind this all too wonderful pseudo-mystic. Many faithful, without being aware of it, are drawn into it, and become fascinated, drugged, fanatical and end up in pure sectarianism. This already has brought about division, divorce, bankruptcy, turning the back on the Church, moving to real sects, ending up in psychiatry, committing suicide as a result of total deception and disorientation. Often enormous financial interests are involved of course.

The article below is ‘ready for use’ for Church-organizations, Roman Catholic magazines and websites. It is at your disposal free of charge. It is urgent, because almost every day new “seers” are arising.

For many years I gather details for my 300 files of false apparitions in and outside Europe, with the help of the local bishops.

 

My advice to you is not to fix all your attention to not recognized “messages”. Even the recognized ones like Lourdes, Fatima and Guadeloupe are not part of our “depositum fidei”. You do not have to believe them to be a good catholic. We have enough in the Bible, the Creed, the Sacraments, and the daily Mass.

For more information you may contact:

Mark Waterinckx, Weinebruggelaan 49 B – 8200 Brugge (Saint Michiels) Belgium Tel. 0032(0)50 38 50 29

E-mail: markwaterinckx@skynet.be. For more testimony of Mark Waterinckx, see page 4- Michael

 

What does the Roman Catholic Church say about the many false apparitions in this “End Time”?

Table of contents

Introduction:    warning of Pope John Paul II in L’Osservatore Romano

I:     warning by Jesus in the Holy Gospel

II:     warning by St. Paul in his letters

III:     warning from 2000 years of church-history

IV:     warning by the Doctors of the Church

V:     warning by the Catechism of the Catholic Church

VI:     warning by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

Introductory remarks:

In a speech by Pope John Paul II, published in L’Osservatore Romano (English edition of September 18, 1996) the Holy Father says: Some members of the People of God are not rooted firmly enough in the faith, so that the sects with their deceptive proselytism, mislead them to separate themselves from true communion in Christ. Within the Church community the multiplication of supposed “apparitions” or “visions” is sowing confusion and reveals a certain lack of a solid basis to the faith and Christian life among her members.

 

 

 

I. What does Jesus say about this in the Holy Gospel?

A.
The Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew:

In reply Jesus said to them: “Be on your guard, let no one deceive you. Many will come attempting to impersonate me. ‘I am the Messiah!’ they will claim, and they will deceive many (Mt 24, 4-5). Indeed, you will be hated by all nations on my account. Many will falter then, betraying and hating one another. False prophets will rise in great numbers to mislead many. Because of the increase of evil, the love of most will grow cold (Mt 24, 10-12). If anyone tells you at that time ‘Look the Messiah is here’, or ‘He is there’, do not believe it. False messiahs and false prophets will appear, performing signs and wonders so great as to mislead even the chosen if that were possible. Remember, I have told you all about it beforehand; so if they tell you, ‘Look he is in the desert,’ do not go out there; or ‘He is in the innermost rooms,’ do not believe it. As the lightning from the east flashes to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be (Mt 24, 23-27). No one knows, however, when that day and hour will come – neither the angels in heaven nor the Son: The Father alone knows (Mt 24, 36). Stay awake, therefore! You cannot know the day your Lord is coming (Mt 24, 42). You must be prepared in the same way. The Son of Man is coming at the time you least expect (Mt 24, 44). The moral is: keep your eyes open, for you know not the day of the hour (Mt 25, 13). “Be on your guard against false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but underneath are wolves on the prowl. You will know them by their deeds. Do you ever pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from prickly plants? Never! Any sound tree bears good fruit, while a decayed tree bears bad fruit. A sound tree cannot bear bad fruit any more than a decayed tree can bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. You can tell a tree by its fruit. None of those who cry out, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of God but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. When that day comes, many will plead with me, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? Have we not exorcised demons by its power? Did we not do many miracles in your name as well?’ Then I will declare solemnly to them: ‘I never knew you. Out of my sight, you evildoers!'” (Mt. 7, 15-23).

B. The Holy Gospel according to St. Lucas:

Jesus said: “Take care not to be misled. Many will come in my name saying, ‘I am he’ and ‘The time is at hand.’ Do not follow them” (Lk. 21, 8). He who hears you hears me. He who rejects you rejects me. And he who rejects me rejects him who sent me (Lk. 10, 16).

C. The Holy Gospel according to St. Mark:

Jesus began his discourse: “Be on your guard. Let no one mislead you. Any number will come attempting to impersonate me. ‘I am he’, they will claim, and will lead many astray (Mk. 13, 5-6). If anyone tells you at that time, ‘Look, the Messiah is here!’ ‘Look, he is there!’ do not believe it. False messiahs and false prophets will appear performing signs and wonders to mislead, if possible, even the chosen. So be constantly on guard! I have told you about it beforehand (Mk. 13, 21-23). As to the exact day or hour, no one knows it, neither the angels in heaven nor even the Son, but only the Father. Be constantly on watch! Stay awake! You do not know when the appointed time will come (Mk. 13, 32-33).

 

II. What does St. Paul write in his many letters?

A.    First letter to the Thessalonians:

Do not stifle the Spirit. Do not despise prophesies. Test everything. Retain what is good. (1 Thessalonians 5, 19-21)

B.    Second letter to Timothy:

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is coming to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingly power, I charge you to preach the word, to stay with this task whether convenient or inconvenient -correcting, reproving, appealing -constantly teaching and never losing patience. For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine, but, following their own desires, will surround themselves with teachers who tickle their ears. They will stop listening to the truth and will wander off to fables. As for you, be steady and self-possessed; put up with hardship, perform your work as an evangelist, fulfill your ministry (2 Timothy 4, 1-5).

C.    Second letter to the Thessalonians:

Let no one seduce you, no matter how. Since the mass apostasy has not yet occurred nor the man of lawlessness been revealed -that son of perdition and adversary who exalts himself above every so-called god proposed for worship, he who seats himself in God’s temple and even declares himself to be God (2Thessalonians 2, 3-4). The lawless one will appear as part of the workings of Satan, accompanied by all the power and signs and wonders at the disposal of falsehood by every seduction the wicked can devise for those destined to ruin, because they have not opened their hearts to the truth in order to be saved. Therefore God is sending upon them a perverse spirit which leads them to give credence to falsehood, so that all who have not believed the truth but have delighted in evildoing will be condemned (2 Thessalonians 2, 9-12).

D.    Second letter to the Corinthians:

Such men are false apostles. They practise deceit in their disguise as apostles of Christ. And little wonder! For even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11, 13-14).

E. Letter to the Colossians:

Let no one rob you of your prize by insisting on servility in the worship of angels. Such a one takes his stand on his own experience; he is inflated with empty pride by his human reflections (Colossians 2, 18).

 

III. What do 2000 years of Church History teach us?

The number of false prophesies over the ‘End Times’ is innumerable. Already in the second century (+/-156) Montanus, ‘inspired by the Paraclete’, announced together with two exalted women – Priscilla and Maximilla, the ‘New Jerusalem’ and the ‘Millennium’ or the ‘1000 years of peace’.

 

 

This Montanism had followers up into the sixth century! Many faithful and bishops let themselves be deceived by this pseudo-mysticism. The early Christian writer Tertullianus was also seduced by the ‘new prophecy’ of Montanus. Like so many nowadays, just as in these times, out of disillusionment over the lukewarm official Church…! Such sensational false prophets are already sweeping through 2000 years of Church History. In the last few years, with the Millennium fever increasing, it is only getting worse. Hundreds, if not thousands of ‘new prophets’ speculate on fear and uncertainty in this atomic era and fling at our ears an approaching world war, all sorts of catastrophes, the Anti-Christ, the immediate return of the Messiah. And again, many good people are misled by these croakers. Amongst these all too naive followers time and again also many priests, even bishops and cardinals. John Paul II (see preface) doesn’t without reason warn against these confusing manipulations. Cardinal Lambertini, the later Pope Benedictus XIV, already warned in his book ‘De servorum Dei beatificatione et Beatorum canonizatione’ against false revelations, which temporarily offer something good, to totally disillusion the naive followers later on. He mentions for instance, that his predecessor Pope Gregorius XI on his deathbed warned mankind for people who allege to have ‘visions’. Cardinal Ratzinger in 1998 wrote in a letter bearing his signature that the ‘positive’ words about Medjugorje which were put in his and the Pope’s mouth are freely invented! Those, who are guilty of these scandalous manipulations, are well-known people….!

 

IV. What do the Doctors of the Church say?

A.    St. John of the Cross:

In his book ‘Ascending Mount Carmel’: The devil is elated when he observes, that a soul is longing for revelations and taking great pleasure in it. Then the opportunity is favourable and an excellent chance for him to hold out all sorts of hallucinations. The devil flatters the senses. To the eyes he shows images of saints in a glorious aureole. To the ears he mumbles flattering words. And also he produces delicious fragrances and feelings of heavenly joy. And that is all totally aimed at luring souls and hurling them in perdition…! God has nothing more to reveal to us now. He has concluded all what he said in individual fragments through the prophets from the Old Testament and has given us everything in his Son Jesus Christ. Longing for visions and revelations nowadays, is not only foolish, but it insults God, because one doesn’t suffice in Christ, but is looking for new things.

B.    St. Theresia of Lisieux:

Extract from “J’entre dans la vie: derniers entretiens”: I never longed for visions. On earth one cannot see the angels as they really are. I prefer to wait until after my death. No, I do not long to see the good God here on earth. How much I ever love him. I also love our Dear Lady and the saints. But also them, I do not wish to see now.

 

V. What does the official Catechism of the Catholic Church say?

Nr. 67: Through the centuries there were so-called private revelations, some of which were approved by the church. They are however NO part of the Deposit of Faith. Their task is NOT to better or to add to the definite revelations of Christ, but as an aid to experience them more fully in a certain era in history. Guided by the teaching authority of the Church the faithful will distinguish and accept what in these revelations an authentic call from Christ or from his Saints is to the Church. The Christian Faith cannot acknowledge ‘revelations’, which claim to ‘outclass’ or ‘improve’ the revelation of which Christ is the fulfilment. That is the case with some sects of recent dates, which base themselves on such ‘revelations’.

 

VI. What does the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith say? (Formerly the ‘Holy Office’)

On the occasion of the second warning against the non-supernatural ‘messages’ of Vassula Ryden, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published on November 29, 1996 the following notification (bulletin nr. 447): ‘In connection with the circulation of texts from so-called ‘private revelations’ the Congregation defines:

The interpretation some people are given to a decision, approved by pope Paul VI on October 10, 1966 proclaimed on November 15, 1966, according to which these writings and ‘messages’ originate from so-called ‘revelations’, may freely be spread in the Church, is absolutely not valid. The above-mentioned decision does concern the abolition of the Index of forbidden books and mentioned that since now the censure is abolished, the moral obligation still exists not to spread or read writings that endanger faith and morals.

With that it is repeated, that whatever concerns the spreading of texts of so-called private revelations, the valid norm of Codex, that is canon 823, stays fully in force. It gives the right to pastors to demand that moral writings concerning faith and morals, which persons are planning to publish, are submitted to their judgement.

The so-called supernatural ‘revelations’ and writings are at the first hand submitted to the judgement of the diocesan bishop, and in certain cases to the judgement of the bishops-commission and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

 

Conclusion:

For Medjugorje, Garabandal, San Damiano, Vassula Ryden, Naju, Marpingen, Little Pebble, Palmar de Troya, Bayside, Ladeira, Heroldsbach, Schio, Onkerzele, Dozulé, Montichiari, Necedah, Penablanca, Mère Marie-Claudine, Eisenberg, Manduria and so many others, the legal judgement of the diocesan bishop was time and again negative. What was the consequence? Rebellion and disobedience of many deceived faithful against the local bishop. Some people even say: If the Pope does not acknowledge ‘the apparitions’, then I will no longer acknowledge the Pope! Sectarian fanaticism instead of Christian faith… Satan, the father of lies (John 8, 44) allows with pleasure that many will ‘convert’ in places were false apparitions occur, if only he can disengage the faithful from the Pope and from Rome…

 

 

We have the Bible, the Credo, the Holy Mass, and the Sacraments. Why chasing for sensation? Authentic visionaries are not recognized by signs, wonders, conversions, healings, prophecies, but only by their heroic virtues, primarily obedience and humbleness. Let us be humbly obedient to the teaching authority of the Church of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit shall never leave her and be with her always. (John 14, 16 and Matthew 16, 18) M. W. [All emphases are the author’s]

 

Who Is Mark Waterinckx?

http://www.semperficatholic.com/page46.html

My name is Mark Waterinckx. I was born on the 4th of July, 1939 in Aalst, the province of East Flanders in Belgium, just before Hitler’s invasion of Poland. Now, since 1963, I am living in the outskirts of Bruges, having been a teacher of chemistry at the Technical University of West Flanders in Brugge/Saint Michiels. Since the first of August of the year 2000 I am on retirement, which now gives me ample time to commit myself to spiritual things. In my youth, like every Flemish idealist, I considered to become a priest. However, the obligatory celibacy finally withheld me from this idea. I got married and like the average man I raised a family.

In the year 1969 a devastating car accident affected our family. At that time I lived in the Netherlands, where I was an examiner of inventions at the “International Institute of Patents” in The Hague. I actually -for two years – had quit my teaching profession in Belgium, because of a declining number of students in 1969. Besides, salary in the Netherlands was twice-fold and on top of it I attained diplomatic status.

On our very first trip to the Artis-Zoo in Amsterdam, a man fell asleep behind his steering wheel and crashed into my parked car. My wife suffered a broken neck, her brain-stem was contused and she lost an unborn child of six and a half months. She was in the process of dying… I myself moaned and out of pure misery, I drank. After being hospitalized in Amsterdam for two months my wife came out completely cured. Later I learned that a distant cousin of mine, a Carmelite nun, had among others prayed to Padre Pio for healing. At a later date this nun sent me to the tomb of Padre Pio. This Italian Father, who for fifty years carried the stigmata, Jesus’ wounds of the cross, died in 1968 and was recently canonized.

This very same nun talked to me about all sorts of apparitions of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God.

In the beginning I was inclined to take many of these “apparitions” to be genuine. Learning by bitter experience – I had given numerous lectures on the subject – I was several times deceived by fraudulent ‘visionaries’. In my zealous eagerness to convert the world I often placed myself above the jurisdiction of the local bishop, who in most cases rejected these ‘apparitions’ as not authentic. After starting to read the books of St. John of the Cross, one of the Doctors of the Church, I began to realize how the devil can beguile a person with false apparitions. In this process most of the time pride, sensationalism, money and sex are playing an important role. Quite a lot of false ‘charismatics’ have led to the formation of sects. I myself now always work in accordance with the hierarchy of the Church.

I am now trying to give to the deceived faithful in several languages truthful information with articles, videos and website on Internet. Google with the name Waterinckx Mark.

I was instrumental to a French book of 700 pages written by Joachim Bouflet, “Les Faussaires de Dieu, (Presses de la Renaissance – Paris, ISBN nr. 2-85616-697-0). This book deals with some 300 false apparitions.

I have written many articles about actual false apparitions in a Dutch periodical called AVE, Nieuwsbrief over Actuele Verschijningen (Newsletter about Actual Apparitions). See www.stichtingvaak.nl

After more than thirty years ‘in the field’ I have collected hundreds of files of true and false messages, apparitions, miracles, stigmatized persons… Though private revelations can and may have deep influence on the faithful, to only mention Lourdes, Fatima, Guadalupe, they are secondary and do not belong to the “Depositum Fidei” (the teaching of the Church which all Catholics are bound to accept in Faith). With other words, they are no doctrine “Of Faith” and Catholics are not bound to accept them. Nevertheless, some recent false apparitions like Medjugorje, San Damiano, and Garabandal have, despite the objections of the Church, often led to fanaticism and sectarianism, as a consequence of lies and manipulations of those who profit financially from these events. But some people actually do want to be deceived. Human interests so often play a bigger role than searching for the truth. Jesus came into this world to bring to us the Truth. I too intend to convey the truth about the present explosion of false apparitions that are sweeping the world, but I always do so in accordance with the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church, which was founded by Jesus Christ, which is guided by the Holy Spirit and which will never perish, despite the present confusion!

Mark Waterinckx is a good friend of mine, an associate in ministry I would say- Michael

 

Apparitions True and False

http://www.christianorder.com/features/features_2004/features_oct04.html

http://christianorder.com/features/features_2004/features_oct04.html

Also at: http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=7724

SOURCE: CHRISTIAN ORDER – CATHOLIC, APOSTOLIC & ROMAN,
by Fr. Peter Joseph,
October 2004

As a prelude, I should state my own interest in Private Revelations. I have visited Paray-le-Monial (where Jesus showed His Sacred Heart to St Margaret Mary in the 17th century). I have visited Rue de Bac (where the Miraculous Medal was given to St Catherine Labouré in 1830). I have visited Lourdes, Knock, and Fatima; also the two Belgian towns where Our Lady appeared: Beauraing (1932-33) and Banneux (1933).

I wear the Brown Scapular and the Miraculous Medal. I have conducted Holy Hours to celebrate the Feast of Divine Mercy since 1993.

 

I think, from all this, you can see that I am not opposed to private revelations. But I am opposed to false revelations; I am opposed to dubious revelations; I am opposed to disapproved revelations; I am opposed to obsession with private revelations. I am opposed to all these things precisely because I do believe in genuine private revelations and their role in the life of the Church.

The abundance of alleged messages and revelations in the past forty years makes ever more necessary the traditional caution and discernment of spirits. Amid today’s confusion and spiritual wasteland, many Catholics are seeking contact with the supernatural via new private revelations, regardless of whether or not they have been approved, or even whether or not they are in accordance with the Faith.

 

Private revelations occur
God may, and sometimes does, grant revelations to private individuals. Those who receive them, and are perfectly certain that they come from God, should believe them. But the Church never imposes on Catholics the obligation of believing anyone’s private revelations, even those of the great saints. The Church gives her approval to them only when she is satisfied after rigorous examination of their spiritual utility and of the evidence on which they depend.

 

The Catechism
The Catechism at #67 says: “Throughout the ages, there have been so-called ‘private’ revelations, some of which have been recognised by the authority of the Church.

They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith. It is not their role to ‘improve’ or ‘complete’ Christ’s definitive Revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history. … Christian faith cannot accept ‘revelations’ that claim to surpass or correct the Revelation of which Christ is the fulfilment, as is the case in certain non-Christian religions and also in certain recent sects which base themselves on such ‘revelations’.” (See St Thomas, Summa II-II, q.174, art.6, ad 3).

Whom does the Catechism have in mind? Among others, Moslems and Mormons. Mohammed claimed that the Gospels misrepresent Christ, and Mormons believe there is a Third Testament.

 

Sources of revelations
There are three sources, ultimately, of revelations, visions, prodigies, and suchlike things: God, man, or the devil.

Under the heading of God, I include God’s holy creatures, such as Our Lady or another Saint or an angel.

Under man, I mean any human knowledge or skill or trickery or imagination or any human activity or machine or device causing anything to happen.

Under the devil, I include the devil himself or any one of the other demons.

 

The power of the devil
Very few people are aware of the devil’s full powers, and his ability to deceive. Many Catholics think that as soon as any prodigy occurs, it must be the work of God. But, as I said, messages and prodigies can issue from three sources ultimately: God, man, or the devil. It is the work of discernment to identify who is at work in a given case.

It is knowledge of diabolical trickery which makes the Church cautious here. My next part on the power of the demons is taken from Father Jordan Aumann, a Dominican priest, who taught for many years at the Angelicum University in Rome.

 

What the devils can and cannot do
The devils cannot do the following:

(1) Produce any kind of truly supernatural phenomenon;

(2) Create a substance, since only God can create;

(3) Bring a dead person back to life, although they could produce the illusion of doing so;

(4) Make truly prophetic predictions, since only God knows the future absolutely, and those to whom He chooses to reveal a portion of it. However, the devil’s intelligent conjecture about the future might appear to mere mortals a prophecy;

(5) Know the secrets of a person’s mind and heart. However, their shrewd intelligence and observation may enable them to deduce many things about a person.

 

But the devils can do the following:

(1) Produce corporeal or imaginative visions;

(2) Falsify ecstasy;

(3) Instantaneously cure sicknesses that have been caused by diabolical influence;

(4) Produce the stigmata;

(5) Simulate miracles and the phenomena of levitation and bilocation;

(6) Make people or objects seem to disappear by interfering with a person’s sight or line of vision;

(7) Cause a person to hear sounds or voices;

(8) Cause a person to speak in tongues;
(9) Declare a fact which is hidden or distant.

Whatever nature or science can cause, the devils too are able to cause, according to what God may permit. See the Book of Exodus where the magicians and sorcerers of Pharaoh were able to accomplish some of the prodigies wrought by Moses and Aaron (Exodus 7:11-12; 7:22; 8:7; 8:18-19; 9:11).

 

 

Close to 200 A.D., Tertullian writes, “first of all, they [the demons] make you ill; then to get a miracle out of it, they prescribe remedies either completely novel, or contrary to those in use, and thereupon withdrawing hurtful influence, they are supposed to have wrought a cure.” (Apology of the Christian religion, 22).

In the face of the fallen angels’ power to deceive, it is no wonder that the Church is always very slow to declare a miracle or message authentic.

The devil has superhuman intelligence and is very clever, and to pretend that you can definitively judge in favour of something’s authenticity, without help, is presumptuous.

To know if something is false, it suffices to know that it says something contrary to the teaching of the Church. Hence, it is easier to pronounce against visionaries than in their favour. But the mere absence of doctrinal error is not enough. There have to be other positive indications.

The following quotations are from the final chapter of the rock-solid book Spiritual Theology (Sheed & Ward 1980) by Dominican Father Jordan Aumann.

 

Signs of the divine spirit

“The following characteristics are general signs of the divine spirit:

1. Truth. God is truth and cannot inspire anything but truth in a soul. If a person believed to be inspired by God, therefore, maintains opinions that are manifestly against revealed truth, the infallible teaching of the Church, or proven theology or philosophy or science, it must be concluded that the individual is deluded by the devil or is the victim of excessive imagination or faulty reasoning.

2. Gravity. God is never the cause of things that are useless, futile, frivolous, or impertinent. When his spirit moves a soul it is always for something serious and beneficial.

3. Enlightenment. Although one may not always understand the meaning of an inspiration from God, the effect of any divine movement or impulse is always enlightenment and certitude rather than darkness and confusion. This is true both for the effects on the individual who receives the inspiration and its effects on others.

4. Docility. Souls that are moved by the spirit of God accept cheerfully the advice and counsel of their directors or others who have authority over them. This spirit of obedience, docility, and submission is one of the clearest signs that a particular inspiration or movement is from God. This is especially true in the case of the educated, who have a greater tendency to be attached to their own opinions.

5. Discretion. The spirit of God makes the soul discreet, prudent, and thoughtful in all its actions. There is nothing of precipitation, lightness, exaggeration, or impetuosity; all is well balanced, edifying, serious, and full of calmness and peace.

6. Humility. The Holy Spirit always fills the soul with sentiments of humility and self-effacement. The loftier the communications from on high, the more profoundly the soul inclines to the abyss of its own nothingness. Mary said, ‘I am the servant of the Lord. Let it be done to me as you say’ (Luke 1:38).

7. Peace. St. Paul speaks frequently of the peace that comes from God (Romans 15:33, Philippians 4:9), and Jesus mentions peace as one of the manifestations of his spirit (John 14:27). This is a quality that always accompanies communications from God; the soul experiences a profound and stable serenity in the depths of its spirit.” (pp. 402-3)

Fr Aumann mentions other signs also: Confidence in God, Flexibility of will, Purity of intention, Patience in suffering, Self-abnegation, Simplicity, Liberty of spirit.

 

Signs of the diabolical spirit

“…[S]ince the devil may disguise himself as a good spirit and even cause what appears to be authentic mystical phenomena, it is helpful to mention briefly the various signs of the diabolical spirit.

1. Spirit of falsity. The devil is the father of lies, but he cleverly conceals his deceit by half-truths and pseudo-mystical phenomena.

2. Morbid
curiosity. This is characteristic of those who eagerly seek out the esoteric aspects of mystical phenomena or have a fascination for the occult or preternatural.

3. Confusion, anxiety, and deep depression.

4. Obstinacy. One of the surest signs of a diabolical spirit.

5. Constant indiscretion and a restless spirit. Those who constantly go to extremes, as in penitential exercises or apostolic activity, or neglect their primary obligations to do some personally chosen work.

6. Spirit of pride and vanity. Very anxious to publicize their gifts of grace and mystical experiences.

7. False humility. This is the disguise for their pride and self-love.
8. Despair, lack of confidence, and discouragement. A chronic characteristic that alternates with presumption, vain security, and unfounded optimism.” (p. 412)

 

Fr Aumann* mentions other signs also: Impatience in suffering and stubborn resentment; Uncontrolled passions and strong inclination to sensuality, usually under the guise of mystical union; Hypocrisy, simulation, and duplicity; Excessive attachment to sensible consolations, particularly in their practice of prayer; Lack of deep devotion to Jesus and Mary; Scrupulous adherence to the letter of the law and fanatical zeal in promoting a cause.

*See: Spiritual Theology
http://www.domcentral.org/study/aumann/st/default.htm

 

 

 

 

 

Signs of the human spirit

“The human spirit is always inclined to its own satisfactions; it is a friend of pleasure and an enemy of suffering of any kind. It readily inclines to anything that is compatible with its own temperament, its personal tastes and caprices, or the satisfaction of self-love. It will not hear of humiliations, penance, renunciation, or mortification. If any director or confessor goes against its inclinations, he is immediately branded as inept and incompetent. It seeks success, honors, applause, and pastimes. It is always a great promoter of anything that will arouse admiration or notoriety. In a word, the human spirit neither understands nor cares for anything except its own egoism.

“It is sometimes difficult in practice to judge whether given manifestations proceed from the devil or from a purely human and egoistic spirit, but it is always relatively easy to distinguish between these two and the spirit of God. It will be possible in most cases, therefore, to determine that a given spirit could not possibly be from God and that it must be combated, even if one is not sure whether it is in fact from the devil or the human ego.” (p. 413)

 

Some norms for discernment

“The following norms are offered as guides for the spiritual director in the discernment of spirits so far as they pertain to revelations and prophecies:

1. Any revelation contrary to dogma or morals must be rejected as false. God does not contradict himself,

2. Any revelation contrary to the common teaching of theologians or purporting to settle an argument among the schools of theology is gravely suspect.

3. If some detail or other in a revelation is false, it is not necessary to reject the entire revelation; the remainder may be authentic.

4. The fact that a prophecy is fulfilled is not of itself a conclusive proof that the revelation was from God; it could have been the mere unfolding of natural causes or the result of a superior natural knowledge on the part of the seer.

5. Revelations concerning merely curious or useless matters should be rejected as not divine. The same is to be said of those that are detailed, lengthy, and filled with a superfluity of proofs and reasons. Divine revelations are generally brief, clear, and precise.

6. The person who receives the revelation should be examined carefully, especially as to temperament and character. If the person is humble, well balanced, discreet, evidently advanced in virtue, and enjoys good mental and physical health, there is good reason to proceed further and to examine the revelation itself. But if the individual is exhausted with excessive mortifications, suffers nervous affliction, is subject to periods of great exhaustion or great depression, or is eager to divulge the revelation, there is cause for serious doubt.” (p. 430)

 

Curiosity

Is the information useful for the salvation of souls? If it is merely to satisfy curiosity it is unlikely to be of divine origin. Some seeming seers act like mediums, give information on births, marriages, legal processes, diseases, political events, etc. God does not run an Inquiry Office. Some are very clever at observing, or very intuitive, and can work with little things. At séances, furniture is often pushed about, or a spirit moves a person’s hand to write messages, etc. God has never done these things in any approved revelation.

Curiosity sticks out in people who claim to tell you what was the ultimate fate of Princess Diana, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, etc. We’d all love to know who’s in Heaven and who isn’t! A lady I heard of claims to know where every deceased person is: funnily enough everyone’s either in Purgatory or Heaven! I suppose it would do harm to business and popularity to tell people that certain relatives are in Hell! Actually, anyone who pronounces on famous people is immediately to be disbelieved.

Also suspect are revelations that merely give truisms and platitudes.

 

Why does the devil do it?

Catholics ought to be very cautious in giving credence to visions and messages before they have received approbation from the Church. The devil has raised up many false mystics in recent years.

People ask: “Why would the devil be behind a revelation which encourages people to pray and fast and do penance? That would be Satan divided against himself.” Fair question. Why would he do it?

Answer: For a number of reasons: to distract people from the genuine private revelations; to lead them into exercises not blessed as such by God; to bring private revelations into complete disrepute; to cause disenchantment and even a crisis of faith when a seer is later plainly seen to be false; and, worst of all, subtly to lead some people out of the Church altogether. The devil is willing to lose a lot, if he can gain in the long run.

 

The devil rejoices when Catholics reject the tried and true means of spiritual growth to chase after the extraordinary and the unapproved. The Church is extremely careful before approving a private revelation, for she knows how “even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). She must avoid both credulity and unfounded scepticism. “Do not quench the Spirit, do not despise prophesying, but test everything,” directs St Paul (1 Thessalonians 5:19-21). And St John warns, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are of God” (1 John 4:1). Some spirits are quite easy to discern; others very difficult. Priests in particular must be examples of prudence and obedience in this area.

 

 

Examples of visionaries judged to be false

Some individuals have been pronounced against by name, e.g., Vassula Ryden, and the Little Pebble, William Kamm. Vassula has been condemned twice by the Holy Office (the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith), on the grounds that her revelations do not come from God, and because they contain errors against the Faith. You hear people say: “But her writings are so spiritual and so beautiful!” I agree; possibly 99% of Vassula’s messages are in conformity with the Catholic Faith — but that is just how the devil operates to deceive pious Catholics. It is the 1% that does harm. A poison apple is mostly good apple — but will harm you nevertheless. The devil knows he cannot mislead devout Catholics with outright heresy, but he can appeal to their piety and then subtly plant errors within.

In any case, there has been no approved revelation in the history of the Church where God took someone’s hand and gave messages by writing with their pen. But you do find handwriting messages given at séances—and séances are condemned by the Church as a practice of the occult against the law of God.

I have seen one pious magazine defending Vassula by saying that Cardinal Ratzinger never signed the statement against her printed in L’Osservatore
Romano. A man I know sent them the official statement from Acta Apostolicae Sedis, the official Vatican gazette, which has the Cardinal’s signature at the bottom, along with [that of] the Bishop Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Unfortunately, the editor of the magazine had neither the humility nor the honesty to print a correction in the next issue.

Another example: the alleged apparitions in Garabandal in northern Spain, in which four young girls alleged that the Virgin Mary appeared to them from 1961-1965. The response of successive bishops of the diocese of Santander has been uniformly negative, and the present Bishop Vilaplaua has concurred with this verdict. Despite this, there are a number of active associations supporting Garabandal. A simple case of disobedience to lawful authority.

This is only one of a countless number. There’s Montichiari in Italy (1947), Necedah in the United States (1949), Palmar de Troya in Spain (1968), Bayside [Veronica Leuken] in the U.S. (1970), Dozule in France (1972), and hundreds of others – to say nothing of all the alleged visionaries and locutionists past and present, such as the Irish lady, Christina Gallagher, and many another poor deluded souls.

Mrs. Gallagher’s messages, in part, read like a frantic worried woman lamenting the state of the world. There are plenty of frantic worried people, lamenting the state of the world, who are good Catholics – but the Blessed Virgin from Heaven does not talk like them, in such a human, earthly, fretful fashion. To attribute such talk to Our Lady is an insult.

“Have visions; will travel” – such publicity seekers are not to be believed. Genuine visionaries fly from publicity. They do not go around with photographers and camera crews. They submit to investigation by Church authorities; but they do not have publicity agents.

 

The authority to judge and the duty to obey

No private individual has the authority to judge definitively and officially which private revelations are true and which are not.

The authority to rule on the genuineness of a private revelation rests first with the local Bishop.

The apparitions of Lourdes, Knock, Fatima, Beauraing, Banneux – to name only a few – were approved by the local Bishops. The Popes of the time never issued any judgement on them. The current canonical practice is that the local Bishop must appoint a committee to investigate and rule on any private revelation (if he thinks it worthy of investigation), but the Holy See may intervene if necessary or if the Bishops ask it to. Alternatively, he may ask the Episcopal Conference of his country to assist in the investigation and judgement.

It is forbidden, as well as sinful, to propagate private revelations which have received a negative judgement from the local Bishop, the conference of Bishops, or the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Some people say, “I’m going to follow it until the Pope says it’s false.” This is a useless guide for action in this matter – very rarely does the Pope make a pronouncement for or against a revelation. As for statements attributed to the Pope (e.g., “I heard that the Pope told Mrs. Smith after Mass in his private chapel that he believes in Garabandal and Bayside;” “The Pope told Jack that he could go ahead and print that condemned book”) – no one is entitled to act on such gossip. The Church is governed by publicly promulgated statements – not by hearsay and personal communications.

The Popes may choose to show their approval of certain revelations, after the decision of a local Bishop or conference of Bishops, by speaking of them, or by placing a new feast in the liturgical calendar, or by visiting the places intrinsically connected with them (e.g., Guadalupe, Paray-le-Monial, Rue de Bac, Lourdes, Knock, Fatima, Beauraing, Banneux).

Even should the local Bishop mistakenly disapprove of a genuine revelation, obedience to the Church remains paramount. It is a sin to propagate a private revelation disobediently, but it can never be a sin not to propagate one. This applies both to claimed seers and to followers. In fact, if an alleged visionary disobeys a legitimate order from the Bishop, and claims God’s backing for the action, this is a sure sign that the message is not from God. Even if a genuine private revelation has been given, not even God Himself would want or command a seer to spread it against a lawful decree of a Bishop to desist.

In fact, there are occasions in the life of St Teresa of Jesus of Avila (died 1582) and St Margaret Mary (died 1690) and Sr Josefa Menendez (died 1923) where Our Lord gave them a directive, but then their superior forbade it. What did they do? They obeyed their human superior on earth. What did Our Lord then tell them? ‘You were right to obey my representative.’

On one occasion, the Sacred Heart of Jesus told St Margaret Mary Alacoque to do something, but her Superior did not approve. When He came again, she asked Him about this, and He replied: “…not only do I desire that you should do what your Superior commands, but also that you should do nothing of all that I order without their consent. I love obedience, and without it no one can please me” [Autobiography of St Margaret Mary].

 

 

Spiritual writers have an axiom: A Superior may or may not be inspired by God in his command, but you are always inspired in obeying. (Of course, we’re not talking about where a Superior commands a sin; and, as I said above, it is not a sin to drop a private revelation).

 

Satan may really promote good things for a while, provided that he gains in the long run. The revelations of Necedah, Wisconsin, seemed to have good fruits, yet were false. Rosaries were said to change to gold. Similarly for Bayside. But disobedience showed them false. St Margaret Mary was told by Our Lord: “Listen, My daughter, and do not lightly believe and trust every spirit, for Satan is angry and will try to deceive you. So do nothing without the approval of those who guide you. Being thus under the authority of obedience, his efforts against you will be in vain, for he has no power over the obedient” [Autobiography].

After error itself, the mark of a false mystic is willfulness and disobedience. I love this quote from Saint Faustina Kowalska: “Satan can even clothe himself in a cloak of humility, but he does not know how to wear the cloak of obedience.” (Diary, par. 939) Genuine mystics, like Saint Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio), are models of obedience. They never pretend to set up Christ against His Church.

Everyone is free to have an opinion, but all have to submit to the judgement of the Church with practical obedience. What I mean is: you are still free to disagree (the Bishop is not infallible in this matter), but you owe him practical obedience, that is, you may not act against the decree; you may not propagate a revelation that the Bishop has judged negatively, or continue to say publicly that you regard it as genuine.

 

Remember, a Church commission may give a negative verdict for reasons which it cannot state publicly, e.g., it may have found out things against the character of the seer, but will not say so publicly, even though this would justify the decision and help people to accept it.

If a so-called message is judged not authentic for doctrinal reasons, then you are not free to defend such messages, because then you will be defending error. Vassula Ryden is an example of this: the judgement against her was for false doctrine in her writings. How and why pious Catholics defended her after the negative judgement by the Holy See’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is beyond me. Her whole case is black-and-white. Apart from unorthodoxy, her alleged messages, which are meant to be handwritten by Our Lord Himself, contain mistakes in English spelling and grammar!

Can you say publicly that an approved revelation is not genuine? Yes, if you want to. The Church never orders you to accept any private revelation. But any such disagreement should be voiced respectfully.

 

Caution never does harm

The simple fact is that most claimed revelations are false. It is extremely foolish, therefore, to devote oneself to propagating a disapproved or dubious message, which might actually come from the Father of Lies.

If one day you see its falsity for yourself, you will regret it enormously, and be unable to undo the harm done to others. On the other hand, there are more than enough approved messages to spread, if you want to spread them. It is better to keep to what is countenanced by the Church, than to go it alone and risk being a dupe of the devil.

 

Fr Peter Joseph of Wagga Wagga, Australia, has a doctorate in dogmatic theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, is the editor of the revised version of Archbishop Sheehan’s “Apologetics and Catholic Doctrine” (Saint Austin Press 2001), [vice-rector of Vianney College seminary], and is currently the Chancellor of the Maronite Diocese of Australia. Permission to post given by “Inside the Vatican” www.insidethevatican.com 04/07/05. [Also in AD2000 Volume 13 No. 1 (February 2000), p. 20]

 

Church approval of Apparitions

http://www.theotokos.org.uk/pages/appdisce/church.html

Public and Private revelation

The various Marian apparitions are classed as “private” revelations, in that the Public revelation of the Church was completed during Apostolic times, and is now closed. All that the Church has done since then is to develop and clarify those public truths and Catholics are bound to believe them as truths of the Faith.

Private revelations though, including the approved Marian apparitions, are given to an individual or group for their own good or that of others; Catholics are not obliged to believe in them and they do not add to the sum total of Public revelation.

On this point Fr. Frederick Jelly says: “According to Vatican II’s Dei Verbum, the Magisterium of the Church has the charism of infallibility only when Scripture and Tradition, in mutual interdependence, form the foundation for a dogma – whether solemnly defined by an ecumenical council, by an ex cathedra pronouncement of the Pope, or by the universal ordinary Magisterium, that is the constant preaching and teaching (sensus fidelium) of the Church as a whole. The certitude that can be reached as a result of investigating apparitions and private revelations can never be the certitude of divine faith …”

There is always the danger of illusion or deception in visions or apparitions, and that is why the Church, in the person of the local bishop initially, has always been reluctant to accept them without a great deal of scrutiny. In approving particular private revelations the Church is only proposing them for assent on the basis that they require an act of human faith based on human testimony.

 

 

The classic view on this matter was expressed by Pope Benedict XIV (1675-1758), as follows: “Although an assent of Catholic faith may not and can not be given to revelations thus approved, still, an assent of human faith, made according to the rules of prudence is due them; for, according to these rules such revelations are probable and worthy of pious credence.”

 

Marian apparitions as a “special” form of private revelation

It might be remarked in passing though that Pope Benedict wrote in the period before the major modern Marian apparitions, and so obviously did not say the last word on the subject. This is particularly so if we recognise the special nature of the messages received and transmitted by the various more recent Marian seers, which seem to go beyond “private” revelation. At the very least they seem to be a special case of such revelation, since they form a series which has been of great importance in strengthening the Church in modern times.

They certainly differ from the various “private” revelations given to individual saints which might have been concerned with, for example, the foundation of a religious order. That is such revelations only concern part of the Church, whereas the major Marian apparitions have been taken up by the Church as a whole, and so can, in some sense, be described as “public.”

As Fr. William Most states, “Some private revelations of our own times, such as those at Fatima, are directed to all Christians, not only to one individual; still they are technically called private, to distinguish them from that revelation which closed with the death of St. John.”

 

Thus we have to distinguish between those revelations made to individuals, for their own good, and those meant for the whole Church. Fatima and Lourdes certainly fall into the latter category, and, given the miraculous events surrounding them, which are evidence of the divine, seem to call for more than a simply “human” faith, even if it does not appear that they demand a truly “theological” faith.

The fact that these apparitions seem, from a secular historical point of view, to have been of little importance, is not the crucial point; the same could be said for Israel, which too made little impression on history, and yet our whole civilisation is built on the foundation laid by that small country.

In the same way the Marian apparitions have a significance that goes far beyond their surface importance as a reiteration of the Gospel message of prayer and repentance. They can also be seen as the first presentiments of the certain fact that Christ will come again at the Last Day. Mary was an intimate part of Christ’s first coming, and similarly, she has an important role in preparing the way for his second advent, principally, it would seem, by means of her apparitions.

 

Stages in Church approval of apparitions

The decision as to the authenticity of particular apparitions rests in the first place with the local bishop, who is the “Pope” of his own diocese. If after sufficient study there is solid evidence to support the apparition, in terms of the facts surrounding it and the activities of the seer or seers, and also regarding such matters as miraculous healings, then the bishop is empowered to issue some form of edict declaring the authenticity of a particular apparition.

Such a statement is not of course infallible, and no one is absolutely obliged to believe in that particular apparition, but the position of the bishop as the spiritual leader of the diocese means that his decision should be respected, and certainly not treated dismissively. Over time the papacy may grant special privileges to particular shrines, and these are a sign of further approval by the Church as a whole.

One such liturgical sign is the granting of a feast day, as for example that of Our Lady of Lourdes on 11 February. In recent times popes such as Paul VI and John Paul II have visited a number of Marian shrines, thus giving them the highest possible level of approval. These are the elements then that we have to bear in mind when considering the authenticity of the Marian apparitions of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

For details about St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila on visions and visionaries click here

Sources: Rev. Michael Walsh, The Apparition at Knock, (St Jarlath’s College, Tuam, 1959); Fr. Frederick M. Jelly, OP, “Discerning the Miraculous: Norms for Judging Apparitions and Private Revelations,” in Marian Studies 44, 1993; Fr William Most, Mary in our Life, (The Mercier Press, Cork, 1955); Joseph de Sainte-Marie, OCD, Reflections on the Act of Consecration at Fatima of Pope John Paul II on 13th May 1982, (Augustine, Devon, 1983); Louis Lochet, Apparitions of Our Lady, Their Place in the life of the Church, (Herder, Freiburg, 1960).

 

APPARITIONS
http://www.catholicrevelations.org/PR/apparitions.htm

From Living Miracles Website http://www.livingmiracles.net/Apparitions.html EXTRACT

Visions, revelations and apparitions are supernatural manifestations due to the direct intervention of a power superior to man. In which God makes himself, his will, or other information known to mankind. The recipient of a revelation is commonly referred to as a visionary, a seer or a prophet if the divine message reveals future events. Supernatural apparitions of divine forces have been known in every religion since ancient times and is by far the most frequent of all miraculous phenomena within the Catholic Church.
Apparitions usually occur while the recipient is in a state of ecstasy, a trance-like condition either induced spontaneously or brought on by intense prayer, meditation or fasting. Ecstasy is characterized by expanded mental and spiritual awareness while the activity of the senses is usually suspended.

Three types of apparitions
The Catholic Church, following St. Augustine, outlines three types of apparitions or visions: intellectual, imaginative and corporeal.
Intellectual vision
The intellectual vision is perception without the presence of a visual object. As St. Theresa has said, “It is like feeling someone near one in a dark place.” The object of an intellectual vision can be anything, but most often is a higher theological concept such as the Holy Trinity, the essence of the soul, the nature of heaven, and the like.
Imaginative vision

The imaginative vision is somewhat more ‘concrete’ than the intellectual. Although it also lacks a visual object, the human imagination is touched to create a visual representation. Often the visionary is aware that it is a purely reproduced or composite image, which exists only in the imagination. This kind of vision occurs most frequently during sleep.
Corporeal vision
The difference between an imaginative and a corporeal vision is that the imaginative, while having a visual component, is not seen by the eyes and leaves no physical evidence of its effects. The corporeal vision, on the other hand, is registered by the human eye and at times leaves physical effects. The corporeal vision can either be a figure really present or a power superior to man, which directly modifies the visual organ and produces in the composite a sensation equivalent to that which an external object would. The presence of an external figure may be seen in two ways. Sometimes the very substance of the being or the person will be presented; sometimes it will be merely an appearance consisting in a certain arrangement of luminous rays.

Locution
Sometimes the apparition is only heard, usually as an inner voice. This phenomenon is called locution.

Other phenomena
Phenomena such as weeping images of Jesus or the Virgin Mary and people showing the marks of stigmata may obviously also be considered as divine apparitions. These are therefore often investigated and judged by the Vatican congregation, which deals with private revelations.

Biblical revelations
The Bible is replete with apparitions, visions and prophesies granted by God to His followers. In the Old Testament God often communicates directly with His people and traditional Christianity hold that the first five books of Moses were dictated by God in such a fashion. Other apparitions include the vision of Abraham during which his covenant with God is established, Jacob’s dream of the stairway to heaven and many others.

In the New Testament there are also numerous apparitions. Obviously first of all Christ Himself as a revelation of God in human form. Some have suggested that New Testament authors like Paul did not believe that Jesus actually existed in the flesh, but that he was some kind of apparition or phantom only playing the role of a man. After His death and Resurrection Jesus appeared several times to His apostles and followers over a period of forty days.
According to St. Paul: ” . . . he (Jesus) appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve (disciples). After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time … Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also.” [1 Corinthians 15:5-8]. Although it’s generally believed that Jesus’ resurrection was in the flesh, he also appeared as a stranger as well as in visions. In his second letter to the Corinthians St. Paul tells of “visions and revelations of the Lord” which he himself experienced. The most notable occurred on the Road to Damascus where he sees a blinding light and hears the voice of the Lord, which was not a ‘normal’ physical encounter, but rather a “heavenly vision”.
The entire final book of the New Testament, popularly known as the “Book of Revelation” or “The Apocalypse” (“apocalypse” is the Greek word for “revelation”), written by a man named John (possibly John the Apostle), records a vision he experienced, describing future events at the end of the world. According to legend John was in exile on the Greek island of Patmos. In a cave there, while dreaming or meditating, Christ appeared to him standing in the midst of seven candlesticks and commanded him to write down what he saw and heard.

Apparitions of Angels and Saints

There are also numerous apparitions of angels in the Bible, according to some as many as one hundred and forty throughout both the Old and the New Testament. The most renowned being the Archangel Gabriel making the Annunciation to Mary concerning the birth of Christ.
Jesus Himself also has visions of angels after the temptation in the wilderness and in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Famous Saints have also frequently been seen by visionaries usually accompanying the Virgin Mary.

Visions of the Devil or Demons
In the Bible, the Devil also frequently shows himself to humans in a sensible form. He often transforms himself into an angel of light in order to seduce souls. Through history many of the Christian mystics who have received divine apparitions also experienced various kinds of demonic attacks.

 

Public and Private revelations
According to the Catholic Church there are basically two kinds of divine revelations. The first category includes the public or universal revelations experienced by the prophets, Christ, or the Apostles, found in the Bible and the apostolic tradition. These ended with the death of the last Apostle and must be believed by all Catholics. The second category is so-called private revelations experienced by individuals or groups after biblical times. These do not belong to the deposit of the Catholic faith and people are not obliged to believe in them, even if the Church declares them worthy of belief. Catholics may however not deny or doubt the possibility of private revelations.
The Fifth Lateran Council (1512-17) reserved the approval of all new prophecies and revelations to the Vatican. And at the Council of Trent (1545-1563) it was established that the local bishops should investigate alleged apparitions by the support of doctors and theologians before public worship of these could take place. Apart from some minor changes, this practice has continued to this day. In 1966, the Vatican issued a decree, abrogating Canon 1399, which until then had prohibited publication of books that dealt with unapproved revelations, visions, prophecies and miracles. In February 1978, the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued the latest version entitled “Norms of the Congregation for Proceeding in Judging Alleged Apparitions and Revelations.”
A number of Marian apparitions since the 19th Century, like those at Fatima, Portugal and Lourdes, France, seems to be directed to all Christians, not only to one individual, they are however still technically regarded as private by the Church.

Investigating apparitions
When an alleged divine apparition has occurred, it is the responsibility of the local bishop to conduct an investigation, usually through a committee of experts. Determinations at the local level are however not final but are subject to the higher authority, which can either ratify the findings made at the local level or reserve judgment.
When investigating miracle claims, the Church initially proceeds with caution. Their first step is therefore merely to wait to be sure that all natural explanations are exhausted and to observe whether believers continue showing an interest towards the phenomenon. After a while, the bishop, in whose Diocese it has occurred, can decide to set up a commission to investigate an alleged apparition. These investigations are usually thorough and lengthy. The commission may include scientists, doctors and theologians depending on the nature of the phenomenon. After the investigation has been carried out the bishop usually issue an official statement.
Often the Vatican doesn’t comment on statements made by the local bishop’s. But if it’s decided to pursue the matter further, the case is passed on to the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The Congregation can also decide to intervene on their own account at an earlier stage if the event assumes national or regional importance and affects a broad portion of the Church or if the local bishop requests them to. If necessary a new examination will then be carried out either by the Congregation itself, or by a commission especially established for this purpose.
A positive statement from the local bishop thus only serves as a temporary official approval. It’s not until the Vatican eventually decides to ratify this, that an apparition has attained full recognition.
In a small number of cases the Pope or other high ranking members of the clergy have stated publicly that they were favorably disposed to specific apparition. And in recent times, popes such as Paul VI and John Paul II have visited apparition-sites and encouraged the faithful also to visit these locations. This of course makes a clear statement as to their credibility and is therefore regarded as the highest possible level of approval. A sign of further authorization is special privileges which may be granted to particular shrines by the Church, such as an official feast day, as for example that of “Our Lady of Lourdes” on February 11.

Norms for discernment
The first norm for evaluating a divine apparition is that there is certainty, or at least great probability, that something truly exceptional beyond human explanation has occurred. To determine this detailed statements are usually taken from the alleged visionaries as well as evidence from several witnesses. The commission may also visit the site of the events.
The second norm deals with the personal qualities of the individuals who claim to have experienced the apparition; these must be mentally sound, sincere, of upright conduct and obedient to ecclesiastical authorities.
The third norm concerns the content of the revelations and any messages received, which must be theologically acceptable and morally sound and free of error.
The fourth criterion is that the apparition must result in positive spiritual assets which endure (prayer, conversion, healings and increase of charity).
Finally the commission has to make sure that there is no hint of financial advantage to anyone connected with the apparition and that the visionaries were not accused of serious moral improprieties at the time when the visions were being received and finally that there is no evidence of mental illness or psychopathic tendencies.
At the end of the investigative process, the committee may submit one of the following three verdicts to the bishop who will then determine whether public worship should continue to be held at the apparition site.

1. Not Worthy of Belief (Constat non-supernaturalitate)
Which means that the claimed apparition is false, and hence not worthy of belief.
2. Nothing Contrary to the Faith (Non constat supernaturalitate)
The supernatural character of the apparition in question is not evident. The Church takes a neutral stance in this case. The apparition is not condemned because there is nothing contrary to the faith and it might or might not be of supernatural origin.

 

 


3. Worthy of belief (Constat supernaturalitate)
The event shows all the signs of being an authentic and truly miraculous intervention from Heaven. The apparition is therefore recognized, approved and declared “worthy of belief” by the Church.

If the investigative committee is unable to make a clearly positive or negative judgment and the matter has to be further investigated, the bishop can permit public worship to continue until a final decision has been made.

Apparitions through history

 

1978 Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith document on apparition discernment, Normae Congregationis, (unofficial English translation)

http://www.theotokos.org.uk/pages/appdisce/cdftexte.html

1978 Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith document, Normae Congregationis, on apparition discernment (in French) – the sections in italics are opening and closing remarks by Joachim Bouflet – these remarks and the text from the CDF are taken from his book, jointly authored with Philippe Boutry, Un signe dans le ciel, (Grasset, Paris, 1997), pp. 396-99.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith elaborated, from 1974-1978, some new criteria for discerning apparitions and revelations, which were expounded in a normative text, which, for a long period, was only made available to the Ordinary [local bishop] who, confronted with the fact of an apparition, addressed himself to the Sacred Congregation. These standards govern the treatment of events after 1980 (notably Medjugorje), and they also brought about the resumption of certain previous investigations (those of Bonate and Garabandal, amongst others):

 

Preliminary Note: Origin and character of these norms.

At the time of the Annual Plenary Congregation during November 1974, the Fathers of this Sacred Congregation studied the problems relating to apparitions and supposed revelations, and the consequences which often result from these, and they arrived at the following conclusions:

1. Today more than formerly, the news of these apparitions is spread more quickly among the faithful thanks to the means of information (“mass media”); in addition, the ease of travel supports more frequent pilgrimages. Also, the ecclesiastical authority was itself brought to reconsider this subject.

2. Similarly, because of current instruments of knowledge, the contributions of science, and the requirement of a rigorous criticism, it is more difficult, if not impossible, to arrive as speedily as previously at judgements which conclude, as formerly happened, investigations into this matter (“constat de supernaturalitate, non constat de supernaturalitate”); and because of that, it is more difficult for the Ordinary to authorize or prohibit public worship or any other form of devotion of the faithful.

For these reasons, so that the devotion stirred up among the faithful by facts of this kind can appear as a disposition in full communion with the Church, and bear fruit, and so that the Church itself is able to ultimately distinguish the true nature of the facts, the Fathers consider that it is necessary to promote the following practice in regard to this matter.

So that the ecclesiastical authority is able to acquire more certainty on such or such an apparition or revelation, it will proceed in the following way:

a) Initially, to judge the facts according to positive and negative criteria (cf. below, n.1).

b) Then, if this examination appears favorable, to allow certain public demonstrations of cult and devotion, while continuing to investigate the facts with extreme prudence (which is equivalent to the formula: “for the moment, nothing is opposed to it”).

c) Finally, after a certain time, and in the light of experience, (starting from a particular study of the spiritual fruits generated by the new devotion), to give a judgement on the authenticity of the supernatural character, if the case requires this.

 

I. Criteria of judgement, concerning the probability at least, of the character of the apparitions and supposed revelations.

A) Positive criteria:

a) Moral certainty, or at least great probability, as to the existence of the fact, [revelation] acquired at the end of a serious investigation.

b) Particular circumstances relating to the existence and the nature of the fact:

1. Personal qualities of the subject—in particular mental balance, honesty and rectitude of moral life, habitual sincerity and docility towards ecclesiastical authority, ability to return to the normal manner of a life of faith, etc.

2. With regard to the revelations, their conformity with theological doctrines and their spiritual veracity, their exemption from all error.

3. A healthy devotion and spiritual fruits which endure (in particular, the spirit of prayer, conversions, signs of charity, etc).

 

 

 

B) Negative criteria:

a) A glaring error as to the facts.

b) Doctrinal errors that one would attribute to God himself, or to the Blessed Virgin Mary, or the Holy Spirit in their manifestations (taking into account, however, the possibility that the subject may add something by their own activity—even if this is done unconsciously—of some purely human elements to an authentic supernatural revelation, these having nevertheless to remain free from any error in the natural order. Cf. St Ignatius, Spiritual Exercises, n. 336).

c) An obvious pursuit of monetary gain in relation with the fact.

d) Gravely immoral acts committed by the subject, or his associates, at the time of the facts, or on the occasion of these facts.

e) Psychic disorders or psychopathic tendencies concerning the subject, which would exert an unquestionable influence on the allegedly supernatural facts, or indeed psychosis, mass hysteria, or other factors of the same kind.

It is important to consider these criteria, whether they are positive or negative, as indicative standards and not as final arguments, and to study them in their plurality and in relation with the other criteria.

 

II. Intervention of the competent local Authority

1. As, at the time of a presumed supernatural fact, worship or an ordinary form of devotion is born in a quasi spontaneous way among the faithful, the competent ecclesiastical Authority has the serious obligation to inform itself without delay and to carry out a diligent investigation.

2. At the legitimate request of the faithful (when they are in communion with their pastors and are not driven by a sectarian spirit), the competent ecclesiastical Authority can intervene to authorize and promote various forms of worship and devotion if, assuming the criteria given above having been applied, nothing is opposed to it. But there must be vigilance nevertheless, to ensure that the faithful do not regard this way of acting as an approval by the Church of the supernatural character of the event in question (cf. above, Preliminary Note, c).

3. By virtue of his doctrinal and pastoral duty, the competent ecclesiastical Authority can intervene immediately of his own authority, and he must do so in serious circumstances, for example, when it is a question of correcting or of preventing abuses in the exercise of worship or devotion, to condemn erroneous doctrines, to avoid the dangers of a false mysticism etc.

4. In doubtful cases, which do not involve the welfare of the Church, the competent ecclesiastical Authority may refrain from any judgement and any direct action (more especially as it can happen that, at the end of a certain time, the supposedly supernatural event can lapse from memory); but he should not remain less vigilant about the event, in such a way as to be in a position to intervene with swiftness and prudence, if that is necessary.

 

III. Other Authorities entitled to intervene

1. The foremost authority to inquire and to intervene belongs to the local Ordinary.

2. But the regional or national episcopal Conference may intervene:

a) If the local Ordinary, after having fulfilled the obligations which fall to him, resorts to them for a study of the event in its entirety.

b) If the event assumes national or regional importance.

3. The Apostolic See can intervene, either at the request of Ordinary himself, or at the request of a qualified group of the faithful, or directly by virtue of the immediate right of universal jurisdiction of the Sovereign Pontiff (cf. above, IV).

 

IV. Intervention of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

1. a) The intervention of the Sacred Congregation can be agreed to be necessary either by the Ordinary, after he has fulfilled the obligations falling to him, or by a qualified group of the faithful. In this second case, vigilance is necessary so that the recourse to the Sacred Congregation is not motivated by suspect reasons (for example to force, in one way one or another, the Ordinary to modify his legitimate decisions, or to confirm the sectarian drift of a group, etc.)

b) It belongs to the Sacred Congregation to intervene of its own accord in serious cases, in particular when the event affects a broad portion of the Church; but the Ordinary will always be consulted, as well as the episcopal Conference, if the situation requires it.

2. It belongs to the Sacred Congregation to discern and approve the way of acting of the Ordinary, or, if it proves to be necessary, to carry out a new examination of the facts distinct from that which the Ordinary carried out; this new examination of the facts will be done either by the Sacred Congregation itself, or by a commission especially established for this purpose.

The present norms, defined in the plenary Congregation of this Sacred Congregation, were approved by the Sovereign Pontiff, Pope Paul VI, on February 24 1978.

At Rome, the Palace of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, February 27, 1978.

Francis, Cardinal Seper, Prefect, Fr. Jerome Hamer, O.P., Secretary.

——————————————————————————–
It is a question of avoiding a reading too strictly legal on the fact of the apparition. By taking into account various factors up to that point neglected or ignored, in particular the mechanisms of inculturation, the contribution of the social sciences makes it possible to locate the apparition in the historical and sociocultural context where it finds at the same time its roots and its application.

 

 

This recent approach lays down new pastoral orientations which, without calling into question the traditional criteria of the discernment of the spirits, authorizes a calmer reading of the event and its integration, its insertion in the life of the ecclesial community: more and more, the basic community that is the parish, the communion which is the diocese, becomes the place and the test bench of the mariophanie; even when the latter remains a phenomenon of popular Christianity, it must itself respond to the expectations of the Church-communion, and not only of that of a limited section of the ecclesial community.

© Joachim Bouflet & Philippe Boutry, 1997

 

Marian Apparitions: Truth or Trouble?

http://www.ancient-future.net/apparitions.html

By Jennifer Dierker

There are two main types of revelation in Church history: public and private. Public revelation is that which Christ revealed and taught in His ministry on Earth, culminating in the Apostolic writings of the Bible, and thus is complete. Private revelation, including apparitions and visions, such as the apparition of Mary at Fatima, is usually received by an individual or select group for the good of all followers. As a rule, private revelation must not attempt to change or alter public revelation. In addition, private revelation does not belong to the deposit of faith, and Catholics are not bound to accept it. To change public revelation because of private revelation would in essence be altering the word of God.

 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains it like this:

Throughout the ages, there have been so-called “private” revelations, some of which have been recognized by the authority of the Church. They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith. It is not their role to improve or complete Christ’s definitive Revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history. Guided by the Magisterium of the Church, the sensus fidelium knows how to discern and welcome in these revelations whatever constitutes an authentic call of Christ or his saints to the Church.

Christian faith cannot accept “revelations” that claim to surpass or correct the Revelation of which Christ is the fulfillment, as is the case in certain non-Christian religions and also in certain recent sects which base themselves on such “revelations” (CCC 67).

 

Apparitions are a hot topic these days. Debates about them on Christian forums tend to be heated and personal. In addition to being discussed, reports of apparitions are still common. Today there are hundreds of people across the world proclaiming to be visionaries. In Massachusetts, she speaks to a gentleman in his garage, in Ohio she visits a woman one night a year in September, and in Louisiana she appears under the title of Our Lady of the Bayou. These are just a few examples in the United States. Worldwide there are even more, including the often-debated Marian apparitions at Medjugorje in the former Yugoslavia. All of these are considered private revelations; most are unapproved, some are even condemned by the Catholic Church. This article attempts to briefly explore what Catholics are expected to believe about private revelation, and to put apparitions in perspective for the faithful, postmodern Catholic.

 

The earliest recorded Marian apparition was in AD 352 to an elderly couple in Rome. The story goes like this: On a hot August night, Mary appeared requesting a shrine to be built on one of the city’s celebrated hills. The following morning, the city awoke to find snow covering the Esquiline Hill. Hence, St. Mary Major, “Church of St. Mary of the Snow” can be found on this hill today. This church is considered to be one of the largest and most important churches dedicated to the Blessed Mother in the Western Church. Since this initial apparition, the number of reported ones has only grown.

Nevertheless, history recognizes a select few as having a worldwide influence on Catholic devotion and piety, rather than just a local following. For example, in the 13th century, legend says that St. Dominic received the Rosary from Mary as a way to fight sin and heresy. However, the first recorded and widely celebrated apparition was in 1531 to a poor farmer by the name of Juan Diego in Guadalupe, Mexico. The miracle connected with this apparition is the image which appeared on Juan Diego’s poncho. Mary requested that he carry roses to the local bishop, and as he unfurled his poncho, an image of the virgin appeared on the cloth. Curiously, this image portrays Mary as an Aztec Princess, complete with symbols of royalty, virginity, power, and humility. This is different from her usual portrayal as a European female. To the average Mexican peasant’s eye, the images symbolized what could not be conveyed across the language barrier. At a time when the Protestant Reformation was sweeping Europe, the Blessed Mother’s apparition is credited with bringing about 8 million people to the Catholic Church. In a similar manner as in Guadalupe, Mary has been recorded appearing all over the world in the style and dress of the native peoples of the visited region. Her appearance in La Vang, Vietnam in 1798 is one such example.

 

Other major apparitions have occurred since. In the 19th century we see three apparitions in France: the Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, and the apparitions at LaSalette and Lourdes. In 1879 she is recorded appearing with St. Joseph and St John the Apostle in Knock, Ireland. In 1917, she appeared in Fatima, Portugal where she is recorded as predicting World War II, as well as the rise of communism and its persecution of the Catholic Church. These are just a few of the most well-known and approved Marian apparitions. Each, like Guadalupe, has its own miracles, healings, and conversion stories that helped bolster its claim to fame.

 

 

 

In the last eight centuries Marian apparitions have been a large source of Catholic personal devotions. For example, the rosary, miraculous medal, various scapulars, and first Saturday devotions all have their roots in these Church-approved apparitions. While they help augment many a Catholic’s spiritual life, there is no Church document that states that Catholics must follow these devotions in order to enter Heaven. As a matter of fact, there isn’t enough time in one day to cover all the devotions which have developed from approved apparitions, both Marian and others.

 

As Catholics we can live perfectly healthy spiritual lives without paying tribute to Marian apparitions. In fact, many fine Catholics take little interest in apparitions and other forms of private revelation, finding spiritual completion other ways. Many find great comfort in believing that Mary would appear in our own day and age and take an interest in our spiritual well-being. These individuals find their spiritual life is greatly enhanced by the addition of apparition-derived devotions. Some readers, especially non-Catholics, may object to appearances of Mary specifically, and the devotions to Mary that have followed. For both non-Catholics and Catholics who do not understand the fuss about apparitions, we must look at this interest in terms of relationships. With the knowledge gained by having a relationship with the family members of a friend, we learn more about our friend. This relationship, and the knowledge it provides, adds a depth and dimension that strengthens any true friendship. Thus it follows that in knowing Mary, Christ’s mother, we deepen our relationship with, and knowledge of, Christ as our brother. By meditating on the life of Mary, the one hailed as “full of grace,” we also gain insight into a human life who possessed the virtues that we strive for.

I myself find great comfort in praying the rosary, but balance it with praying the Liturgy of the Hours.

However, despite their good, private apparitions can detract from our path to knowing God, by placing too much emphasis on someone other than Christ. Sometimes, the emphasis is so placed on Mary, that there is little devotion to Christ. Christ must always remain the focus of any devotion. This is a danger present not just in apparitions, but whenever we place our faith in something or someone besides God. In any Church-approved apparition, Mary has always come to bring us closer to her Son, not herself. At the Cross, Christ gave Mary to the care of the Apostle John. This is symbolic of Christ giving Mary to us as our mother. As our mother, she desires to come to the aid of her children. It would be difficult to believe that she would come to contradict her Son, His work, or His teaching given to the Church. As we have trusted the Church to transmit and interpret the public revelations of Apostolic times, so must we trust the Church to validate the private revelations given to our brothers and sisters in faith. If the local Bishop, a valid successor to the Apostles, is reluctant to approve an apparition, we too must look with a critical eye on the apparition in question. One of the best questions we can ask is, “does it contradict the Bible’s teachings?” Another thing to examine is the actions of the visionaries and visitors to the apparition site. Even if we feel strongly about a place, whether because we have visited it or the activities have played a strong part in our own conversion, we still must consent to the Church’s ruling on it. We must always remember that private revelation, no matter how personally meaningful, can never trump the public revelation guarded by the Church. Personally, I have found it helpful to read the reports given by the Church officials on the apparitions in question. They see and pick up things I may not have noticed, and about which I know little. The Church takes its role in validating apparitions seriously, and as faithful Catholics, we must trust their authority in these matters.

Here are a few simple questions you can ask yourself to determine if an apparition has become too personal for you, and may cause you to lose sight of Christ and his Teachings as taught by the Church. For instance:

1. What is the weight of private revelation in your life? Do you know more about the Catholic faith from apparitions than from reading the Bible and the catechism?
2. Do you define your Catholic faith almost entirely based on apparitions? If someone asks you about the Catholic faith, does it boil down to apparitions for you?
3. Do you focus all or most of your prayer time towards Mary? Do your Marian devotions lead you to a closer relationship with Christ?

In conclusion, apparitions and their devotions can be very good spiritual tools, and have helped many become closer to Christ. However, for others, apparitions have become a source of distraction from their walk with Christ, leading them to challenge Church authority, because of a private and personal opinion of an apparition. In the end, Catholics are not required to accept the veracity of apparitions, nor are we required to employ apparition-derived devotions. All-in-all, private revelation cannot trump Pubic Revelation. In my opinion, the best thing anyone can do who is excited about revelation, is to start by reading the first historically significant one: God to Abraham in the Book of Genesis.

 

The Ten Most Common Misconceptions about Apparitions

http://www.emmitsburg.net/cult_watch/articles/ten_misconceptions.htm

By Kevin Orlin Johnson, Author of Apparitions: Mystic Phenomena and What They Mean

Every day, it seems, the papers are splashed with another report of an angel appearing by a hospital bed, the Blessed Virgin’s image showing up in a window screen, or the face of Christ appearing on yet another tortilla. Many Catholics find these reports embarrassing. But then there are sites like Lourdes or Fatima, places that nobody would have heard of except for the reports that Mary appeared there and conveyed messages of hope and repentance.

So, what’s the deal, when it comes to reported apparitions? Arguments break out; accusations and contradictions are slammed back and forth by both sides. There are a lot of misconceptions and misunderstandings, no matter where you look or whom you listen to. Here are the top ten contenders.

 

 

 

1. People who believe that stuff are crazy.

Well, now, hang on a minute. “Apparition” just means that a heavenly being—Christ, Mary, another saint, or an angel—makes himself known to human senses. That being the case, pick up your Bible and check Genesis: The first apparitions were to Adam and Eve, when God walked with them in the cool of the garden. Then have a look at Exodus, when God appeared to Moses and spoke to him in the burning bush. Carry it through to the Annunciation, the Nativity, and the Resurrection. Look at the Apocalypse, in which John describes his vision of the whole heavenly Jerusalem.

The whole Bible is the transcript of one apparition after another. Every Mass includes Christ’s apparition among us—in the appearance of bread and wine. If it’s crazy to believe in apparitions, then every Jew and every Christian who ever lived would have to be crazy.

 

2. Real apparitions come only to exceptionally holy people.

You’d be surprised. Bernadette was a remarkably sweet-natured child before Mary appeared to her, and she got even better afterwards, but at the time she was totally ignorant of her catechism and not unusually pious. Melanie Matthieu, on the other hand, was practically a feral child before the apparition at La Salette in 1848, and her teachers described her afterwards as a complete savage. She later became a vagrant, running all over Europe denouncing the Church for refusing to pay her saintly honors during her lifetime.

To take a middle case, Marie Lataste (1822–1847) started life as a remarkably obnoxious little girl in Dax, France, but then Christ started appearing to her almost routinely after her first Communion. Her vices disappeared, her virtues grew, and those around her felt an abiding sense of joy, just from her presence, although she never went out of her way to impress them. (The surprising thing was that she wasn’t surprised at all of this; evidently she thought that’s the way religion works, and you have to admit she had a point. It just happened faster with her.) Anyway, it just goes to show you that God picks up his tools as he will, and that he doesn’t always pick the sharpest knife in the drawer (Judges 6:15, Matthew 9:9–13, Acts 9:1–4).

 

3. People claim to see apparitions just to get in the spotlight.

That one happens to be true. Not in all cases, though, but in most. Overwhelmingly, the two greatest causes of reports of apparitions are human fraud and human delusion; then, in terms of frequency, there are the diabolic high jinks that almost always help the frauds along. Least frequent of all is a genuine outreach by God, either directly from Christ or through Mary, another saint, or an angel as an intermediary.

The genuine ones come, invariably, to people who didn’t want them before they happened, who later wish that they hadn’t had them, or who don’t want them at all, ever. The modesty of their conduct contrasts sharply with the posturings of the fakes and the deluded. Declining to pose as a divine messenger with more authority than Christ, or even refusing to claim to speak for him, is really about the barest minimum of humility a person can have, yet the overwhelming majority of self-declared mystics trip over that very low threshold. The minute you see self-proclaimed visionaries giving interviews to the press, dashing off reams of prophecies for all and sundry, asserting that they’ve seen Mary and that they have an urgent message that can save the world; the minute you see someone even permitting himself to be interviewed on such a matter; certainly as soon as you see a reported visionary routinely blessing people, “curing” pilgrims, or even receiving pilgrims at all—you can safely assume that the person is a fraud or, if you want to be particularly charitable, that the person is deluded, genuinely believing that what he said he saw was real. Either way, it’s not worthy of your attention.

Here, as in so much else, John of the Cross is the best model.

When dispatched to investigate a reported apparition, he walked cheerfully up to the woman and said, “Are you the lady to whom the Holy Spirit is appearing?” When she answered “Yes!,” he bid her good day and reported to the bishop that the woman was either a fraud or delusional. Credit-worthy visionaries speak of “the Lady” or “the person,” but they don’t even claim that it was Mary or Christ.

 

4. You can tell if a reported apparition is real because miraculous things happen around it.

Miracles are distinct kinds of mystic phenomena, entirely separate from apparitions and not necessarily occurring anywhere near them. Incidentally, one thing that’s practically the hallmark of a false apparition is the report that a set of rosary beads has changed color.

 

5. I’ll see an apparition some day.

Not likely, this side of Armageddon. It’s an outreach by God, and you can’t compel God. Thinking that he owes an apparition to you, that you’ve earned it, or even that you deserve it, is pride—a cardinal vice that puts a stop to even the possibility, not to mention to further personal growth. “I consider it certain,” Teresa of Avila said, “that spiritual persons who think that they deserve these delights of spirit for the many years that they have practiced prayer will not ascend to the summit of the spiritual life,” which is in line with Matthew 12:39 and 23:12 and everything else that the Church teaches.

 

John of the Cross attributed the taste for these experiences to a “spiritual sweet tooth,” a matter of unwholesome greed. It makes a person an enemy of Christ, he said. Or, as Bernard put it, a soul striving toward union with God “will be far from content that her Bridegroom should manifest himself to her in the common manner, that is, by . . . dreams and visions.”

The best advice? Stick to the sacraments and the normal spiritual discipline of the Church. Remember what Thérèse of Lisieux, one of the most influential of the Church’s mystics, said: “To ecstasy, I prefer the monotony of sacrifice.”

 

 

6. People who don’t bother with modern apparitions just aren’t spiritually gifted enough to understand.

No, they’re within their rights, and they’re doing basically what the Church hopes people will do. Belief even in events like Lourdes or Fatima is only enjoined, never required. No such event is necessary for salvation or for the business of the Church; like Christ’s own miracles, they only help bring people’s attention back to the faith (John 3:1–21).

 

No latter-day apparition should be taken as the centerpiece of one’s ideas about what religion is all about. That’s because Christianity — a revealed religion — works with two different kinds of revelation.

The revelation that came to us from Christ, through the prophets before him and the apostles after, is an unchanged body of teachings called the “deposit of faith,” and it’s public revelation, so called because Christ said that it was to be given to all nations (Matthew 24:14, 28:19; Mark 11:17, 13:10; Luke 24:47). It’s the substance of our religion. Since the death of the last apostle, public revelation is closed. Everything that God needed to reveal about Christianity already has been revealed, so nothing needs to be added; Christ himself revealed it, so nothing has to be changed. “The Christian dispensation,” Vatican II repeated, “as the new and definitive covenant, will never pass away, and we now await no further new public revelation before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

 

But there’s also a phenomenon called private revelation. This is not part of public revelation, but just a reminder of some part of it, given by God, sometimes by way of an angel or a saint, to an individual person. It can be the answer to a simple prayer or a sky-splitting apparition—or anything in between. Whatever the form, it’s not essential to the faith. No genuine apparition is going to be anything other than private revelation; none will convey new or revised public revelation, so none is necessary to the substance of the faith. You’re supposed to take the reminder, if you need it, and then get to work increasing your devotion to public revelation.

 

That’s why even spectacularly gifted saints can take apparitions or leave them. Louis of France looked up calmly when his servant burst into the room yelling about how Christ was appearing in the Eucharist in the palace chapel, and then the king turned back to his work. Margaret Mary Alacoque and Teresa of Avila went so far as to fight off their visions of Christ, begging him to leave them in the normal routine of their orders. If you stay at home when the next visionary claims that Mary is appearing in the back yard, you’ll be in very good company.

 

7. Bishops encourage crowds to flock to any reported apparition, no matter how nutty it is.

Just about the last thing any bishop looks forward to is that late-night call about yet another hometown visionary. His efforts will be directed at keeping things orderly until an investigation can be made—if in fact the report warrants investigation. Usually, the thing is so far outside the spectrum of genuine mystic activity that he’ll respond only with silence, and silence from the local bishop is really a public proclamation that the thing deserves no notice. Even if it does turn out to be real, the most that any post-biblical apparition gets is a negative approval—an official declaration that there’s nothing in the report or in its implications that’s contrary to the faith, so that it’s “worthy of belief.” That means that you can believe it or, if you aren’t interested, not.

 

8. Bishops discourage people from flocking to any reported apparition, no matter how wonderful it is.

Wrong again. They know that only a tiny percentage of reports — maybe only one in a thousand, or really even fewer — turn out to have anything wonderful about them. To the average bishop, the overwhelming majority of reports are obviously, even blatantly fraudulent or delusional.

 

There is an immense amount of spiritual treasure in the messages of genuine apparitions, a lot that can deepen and enrich your life in the Church through the sacraments. But it’s also true that fakes and delusional cases distract thousands of people from basic — and fully adequate — participation in those sacraments, and they draw them away from growing in the normal life of prayer. So the good of a real apparition is potentially overwhelmed by the evil from a myriad of fakes. Bishops have to be careful.

Those reports that have enough substance to merit official examination are studied by panels of qualified experts—theologians, medical doctors, perhaps chemists and physicists—assembled by the local bishop, the only person authorized by law to investigate. They take their time. Time weeds out empty promises and it may take a century or more before a final determination is announced. In the meantime, follow the lead of King Louis or of John of the Cross, who just turned back to reading his Bible when his brother friars called him to run into town to see a purported apparition. Maybe he was looking at Matthew 12:38–39.

 

9. If enough people go to see an apparition, the bishop will give it his blessing eventually.

A genuine apparition is an outreach by God. The reality of it is not determined by voting and most particularly not by the voting of people unqualified to evaluate the matter. We tend to forget that mystic theology is a regular academic discipline — you can get a doctorate in it, at accredited Catholic universities. It’s sobering but safe to remember that the layman-on-the-street has no experience of genuine mystic activity, no book-learning about what it really is, and — judging by the numbers who flock after even the most preposterous reports — sadly insufficient knowledge about the basics of the faith. A little learning goes a long way toward winnowing out the nonsense. You’d be surprised how far it goes toward opening up the wonders of the apparitions that have been declared worthy of credit, wonders that are closed to people who rely on their emotions and won’t make the necessary effort to grow in knowledge and discipline.

 

Most experts, undoubtedly, would just like to see a little more common sense in these things. Christianity does not change (Hebrews 13:8–9), so certainly an apparition of a saint (Matthew 17:3) or an angel (Luke 1:11) is as possible today as it ever was. But there’s no biblical reference for the appearance of anybody’s face on a food item or flower petals. Lack of biblical precedent should be enough to turn anybody from the silliest reports, but there are also the writings of the great Doctors of the Church such as Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross, which ought to settle any doubts the laity is likely to have about the value of a given report, pending official judgment—or official silence.

By the way, continuing to fuss with a purported apparition that has been declared false by the local bishop is disobedience: a sin rooted in pride.

 

10. Apparitions can be photographed.

Nope.

To learn more about the Catholic Church’s position on the “Our Lady of Emmitsburg Cult‘ we encourage you to talk to your local Catholic Priest. If you live in the Emmitsburg area contact Fr. O’Malley at 301-447-2326

 

Appearances can be downright deceptive

http://www.emmitsburg.net/cult_watch/articles/appereaces.htm

A rash of dubious miracles and rival congregations is trying the Vatican’s patience

By Simon Caldwell The Times Online 2/11/2006

Religious fervour swept southern California this winter when a statue of the Virgin Mary was claimed to be crying blood. A priest at the Church of the Vietnamese Martyrs in Sacramento tried to wipe away her tears but they reappeared, running down her face and on to her dress. While pilgrims dashed to the church, Bishop William Weigand of Sacramento was in no hurry to make a pronouncement. “I’m letting it sit for now,” he said.

If the bishop was not as excited as everyone else, it is probably because this is not an isolated event. Last summer women visiting a church near Naples said that a plaster statue of the Virgin Mary had turned the “pinky” colour of human flesh and that it had moved. In May a statue of St Pio of Pietrelcina wept blood in a church in Marsicovetere, southern Italy — although in this case the diocese excluded “supernatural intervention” when tests showed that the blood belonged to a woman.

Indeed, such “private revelations” have proliferated. Around the Millennium there was an explosion in claims of heavenly visions, messages, stigmata and Eucharistic miracles. But of the 295 such episodes reported since 1905, the Vatican has affirmed the authenticity of just 11, among them the appearances of the Virgin Mary to three children at Fátima, Portugal, in 1917, and the visitation of Jesus to St Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun, in the 1930s.

While the faithful may accept or reject such revelations, most, according to the Vatican, involve false seers who are either deluded or on the make, and these are beginning to cause problems for the Church.

First, they create tensions between the faithful who believe in them and bishops who do not. Secondly, unauthorised cults often congregate around charismatic seers who claim a direct line to God but who teach in opposition to the Church.

In September, for instance, Dominic Sanchez Falar founded the “Mary is God Catholic Movement”, which claims that the third secret of Fátima revealed Mary’s divinity. This secret was covered up, he says, by Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI. Rantings of this kind would be risible were they not gaining so much currency, particularly in the US.

Pope Benedict, for one, takes them seriously. Three years ago, while Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), he said that private revelations posed a threat to the unity of the Church and warranted an “exemplary pastoral response” from the Holy See.

By that time the future Pope had already ruled against claims that Mary appeared at Garabandal, Spain; forbade Catholics to go on pilgrimage to Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina, where the Virgin Mary is also said to be appearing; warned the faithful against the apocalyptic murmurings of Vassula Ryden; and ordered Father Stefano Gobbi to stop using Our Lady Speaks to Her Beloved Priests as the title for books containing similar eschatological content.

Benedict is now already moving against private revelations in a way his predecessor did not. Two cases signal his intent. Barely a month after his election, the CDF issued two documents. One was a decree removing Father Gino Burresi from active ministry, and the other was a letter to the Filipino bishops effectively declaring as false the claims of Ida Peerdeman, a Dutch seer, that the Virgin Mary had revealed new truths about her status.

Burresi had founded the Congregation of the Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary which now numbers 150 priests, including Father Angelo Tognoni, an official in the Vatican Secretariat of State who was often seen by John Paul’s side during the weekly General Audiences in Rome. He claimed to have received the stigmata and was compared by his followers to St Pio, a 20th-century monk renowned for his piety. Burresi exuded the “odour of sanctity”, it was said, and had the ability to “read souls” and produce works of art miraculously. But Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger thought that Burresi was a fraud, was guilty of “pseudo-mysticism” and “asserted apparitions, visions and messages attributed to divine origins”.

The CDF stripped Burresi of the right to hear confessions, preach, give interviews, publish or broadcast. The process had been initiated when Ratzinger was at the CDF, and he made the ruling his own as Pope by confirming it forma specifica and denying Burresi any right of appeal.

Days later the CDF took the unusual step of overruling the decision of Bishop Joseph Maria Punt, of Haarlem in the Netherlands, to approve claims that the Virgin Mary had appeared in Amsterdam under the guise of “Lady of All Nations who once was Mary“, sounding the death knell for an international movement to redefine the Virgin as “coredemptrix, mediatrix and advocate”.

 

 

Critics say such a status would have made Mary virtually the fourth person of the Holy Trinity, jeopardising not only the interior unity of the Catholic Church but also prospects of closer union with Orthodox and Protestant communions. The initiative to stamp it out, Vatican sources say, came from the top. Furthermore, they point out that “old cases of dubious apparitions” are likely to be reopened and dealt with in a similar way by Benedict and his like-minded officials in the CDF.

But by far the biggest challenge to any efforts by the Pope to deal decisively with the phenomenon of private revelations are the claims of six seers from Medjugorje who say the Virgin Mary has been visiting them for more than 20 years.

In that time the Madonna has allegedly dispatched 40,000 bland messages, given 57 secrets (none of which has been revealed), performed countless miracles (none of which has been confirmed), and has toured the world with the seers, appearing on demand even in the backs of vans.

Between four and five million pilgrims have visited Medjugorje, including the Spanish tenor José Carreras, who performed there, and the American [The Passion of the Christ] actor Jim Caviezel, who sought inspiration while filming The Passion of the Christ. Yet the only rulings to date on Medjugorje — made by the local bishops, the competent ecclesiastical authorities — are that the claims are false and that the seers are lying. There is a mounting expectation that Benedict will eventually move against this unauthorised Marian cult, some of whose supporters, like those of Father Burresi, hold high office in the Church and were rumoured to have persuaded John Paul not to intervene.

But the Burresi affair has shown Benedict’s resolve to deal with factions who have their own agendas.

The Pope is about to reform the Curia, and so far the signs are not very promising for those who prefer miracles and wonders to the simple darkness of faith.

 

How the Vatican sees Marian apparitions

http://www.catholicrevelations.org/PR/how%20the%20vatican%20seens%20marian%20apparitions.htm

By Jean-Marie Guenois

Father Jesus Castellano Cervera, a Discalced Carmelite from Spain, is a specialist in Mariology who works as a consultant at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in Rome.

It is this Vatican agency that investigates reports of the alleged supernatural apparitions of Mary.

Father Castellano, who is also president of the Pontifical Theological Faculty Teresianum, the Discalced Carmelites’ school in Rome, spoke to Our Sunday Visitor recently.

Visitor: The Vatican recently said that official pilgrimages to Medjugorje could not be authorized. How should Catholics interpret this?

Father Castellano: This came as a response to a question from a French bishop. While waiting for other official studies in the case, the CDF simply repeated that which had already been said in a communiqué. Nothing more.

It discourages official pilgrimages, which might be headed by bishops, until we have a greater clarification about the situation of Medjugorje and the alleged extraordinary phenomena there.

This response was also due to the local episcopal conference [in Bosnia-Herzegovina], which has still not pronounced definitively on these events. One can never encourage people to lay the foundations of their faith, of their own Christian life, on the events or messages on which the Church has not pronounced…. The number of alleged messages and their content are such that these events cannot receive an immediate approval.

It seems clear to me that one can go to Medjugorje, just as one goes to any sanctuary, to deepen one’s Christian life by reading the Word of God, by prayer, the sacraments, the Eucharist and also with a specific intention of Marian devotion, in search of conversion and personal sanctity.

The Church, however, would like that this search be based on the true elements of the faith, and not on doubts or on interpretations that might later be discovered to be false. The Church tries in this way to put the faith of the people on sure footing. They have in the Word of God, the magisterium of the Church and the spirituality of the saints the sure criteria for an authentic Marian devotion, without having to go to some precise place on which the Church has still not made an official pronouncement.

Visitor: How do you account for the abundance of these extraordinary phenomena?

Father Castellano: Some believe that in this era, in which thinking about God is problematic, there is a kind of “Marian offensive” taking place to remind everyone of the presence of the mystery of God, the revelation of Christ and there fore the call for personal and social conversion.

Others, however, think that the large number of diverse phenomena, the messages and appearances of Mary should be dealt with prudently, since this could be a collective phenomenon.

They note that this increase is not something exclusive to the Catholic faith. It is found, they say, under other aspects, in non-Christian religions or, for example, in the search for the sacred connected to spiritism, Satanism and communication with the other world. It seems that there are more of these kinds of phenomena today than ever before.

As for the “Marian offensive,” we can’t forget that Mary, on account of her singular presence in heaven, can still accompany the life of the Church. She can make herself present on earth. But this is a theological statement. It is not a reason for all the apparitions. As for those who doubt, they maintain that the Virgin of the Gospels has another way of being, of speaking, of acting. They strongly encourage people to return to the simplicity of the Gospels.

Visitor: What are the criteria for discerning alleged apparitions?

Father Castellano: The first criterion is cordial communion with the Church and her magisterium. So, where the Church has not pronounced on the events, the messages, it is necessary for the faithful to keep their distance, so as not to be shocked in any way by those who want, in using these phenomena, to influence their religious sensibility.

 

 

The faithful should remain always in the freedom of the faith, linked to the word of God and the magisterium of the Church.

In the second place, through these events, messages can arise. Even if they are simply human in nature, they can coincide with truths of the faith, of Scripture, of the magisterium.

In this case, it’s clear that the faithful can receive these messages-not on account of their source, because that’s doubtful—but by reason of the truth contained in them. Such is the case of so many calls to prayer, to conversion, to penance, etc.

It is still necessary, obviously, to reject those messages that are contrary to the faith. But when they are in accord with the faith, it’s very dangerous to use these messages pretending to add, clarify or deepen something that is already contained in the deposit of the faith.

It is equally necessary to refuse all the propositions that have a Messianic character, according to which the Church would be renewed or saved only by these messages, which are held exclusively by certain people or in certain places. And, unfortunately, this kind of situation is quite frequent.

Visitor: Does the year 2000 not risk bringing with it some tendency toward millenarianism?

Father Castellano: Yes, but I fear something else: that all these phenomena be due to economic reasons or other reasons of a social or pseudo-religious nature, as a way of exercising a certain influence on people. The end would be to make use of the masses as a way to make money or bring them under political submission.

Visitor: There has been some talk about a new dogma declaring Mary “coredemptrix.”

Father Castellano: In the United States, there’s a movement called Vox Populi that wants to propose the dogma of Mary as “co-redemptrix, mediatrix and advocate.” I have several things to say about that.

First of all, it’s not easy to be precise about what could be the content of such a new dogma, associating three titles, which in reality say different things.

Lastly, it seems hardly likely that the Pope will define a new Marian dogma now that he himself has formally asked in the encyclical Ut Unum Sint [“That All May Be One”] for a way of theological research with other Christian brethren, and specifically in that which concerns the role of the Virgin Mary and her place in the Church.

Visitor: Is Mary an obstacle for ecumenical efforts?

Father Castellano: Absolutely not. An honest examination of the Word of God helps us to understand that which God has revealed about Mary, for the economy of salvation.

Moreover, all the Christian churches and ecclesial communities—Anglicans, Reformed, Lutherans—have in their cult remarkable expressions concerning the Virgin Mary. So, through the Bible and through the liturgy, one can reach a great ecumenical consensus about the Virgin Mary.

Guenois writes from Rome.

This article was taken from the September 8, 1996 issue of Our Sunday Visitor. To subscribe write Our Sunday Visitor, Inc, 200 Noll Plaza, Huntington, IN 46750. Our Sunday Visitor is published weekly at a subscription rate of $36.00 per year. Copyright (c) 1996 EWTN Online Services.

 

Are any apparitions ever considered dogma?  

http://www.catholic.com/thisrock/quickquestions/?qid=195

No. Apparitions and locutions are considered “private revelation,” and while some have been recognized by the Church, they do not belong to the deposit of faith. Catholics are not bound to believe Church-approved private revelations. The Catechism explains the role of private revelation as follows:

It is not their role to improve or complete Christ’s definitive revelation but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history. Guided by the magisterium of the Church, the sensus fidelium knows how to discern and welcome in these revelations whatever constitutes an authentic call of Christ or his saints to the Church. Christian faith cannot accept “revelations” that claim to surpass or correct the revelation of which Christ is the fulfillment, as is the case in certain non-Christian religions and also in certain recent sects that base themselves on such “revelations.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 67)

A good book on how the Church discerns private revelation is A Still Small Voice by Fr. Benedict Groeschel.-Peggy Frye

 

Catholics ordered to keep quiet over Virgin visions

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/catholics-ordered-to-keep-quiet-over-virgin-visions-1332016.html

By Jerome Taylor and Simon Caldwell, The Independent, January13, 2009

Catholics who claim they have seen the Virgin Mary will be forced to remain silent about the apparitions until a team of psychologists, theologians, priests and exorcists have fully investigated their claims under new Vatican guidelines aimed at stamping out false claims of miracles.

The Pope has instructed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, formerly the Holy Office of the Inquisition, to draw up a new handbook to help bishops snuff out an explosion of bogus heavenly apparitions.

Benedict XVI plans to update the Vatican’s current rules on investigating apparitions to help distinguish between true and false claims of visions of Jesus and the Virgin Mary, messages, stigmata (the appearances of the five wounds of Christ), weeping and bleeding statues and Eucharistic miracles.

Monsignor Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, a respected Spanish Jesuit archbishop, has been placed in charge of drawing up the handbook, known as a “vademecum”, which will update the current rules set in 1978.

 

 

 

According to Petrus, an Italian online magazine which leans towards conservative elements in the Vatican, anyone who claims to have seen an apparition will only be believed as long as they remain silent and do not court publicity over their claims. If they refuse to obey, this will be taken as a sign that their claims are false.

The visionaries will then be visited by a team of psychiatrists, either atheists or Catholics, to certify their mental health while theologians will assess the content of any heavenly messages to see if they contravene Church teachings.

If the visionary is considered credible they will ultimately be questioned by one or more demonologists and exorcists to exclude the possibility that Satan is hiding behind the apparitions in order to deceive the faithful.

Guidelines for the approval of apparitions and revelations were last issued in 1978. They lay down that a diocesan bishop can “either on his own initiative or at the request of the faithful” choose to investigate an alleged apparition. He then submits a report to the Vatican for approval.

 

The Marian Apparitions: Divine Intervention or Delusion? http://www.emmitsburg.net/cult_watch/articles/divine_intervention.htm

By Miriam Lambouras, Orthodox Christian Information Center This critique is included for academic purposes -Michael

Apart from Walsingham in my distant Anglican days, the Marian shrines had never really interested me. I was of course aware of some of the most important ones — Lourdes, Fatima, and more recently Medjugorje —, and knew that while many people (the vast majority being Roman Catholics, of course) considered these apparitions a direct sign from Heaven, others (mainly Protestant) considered them some kind of hallucination or even demonic delusion. Not being a member of the Roman Catholic Church, I felt under no obligation or inclination to give them much thought. But learning that an Orthodox priest had been on pilgrimage to Lourdes, and that the wife of another Orthodox priest organized an annual visit by a group of Orthodox women to Lourdes, my interest was aroused, and I began to feel a strong compulsion to take a closer look at the Marian apparitions and their shrines.

Books by Roman Catholic authors were the main source of my information concerning the apparitions and the shrines. I was extremely surprised to find how numerous they were, and in the end confined myself to just fifteen, with a special look at the Miraculous Medal, La Salette, Lourdes, Fatima, Garabandal, Zeitoun, Medjugorje, Hriushiw. Walsingham I did not consider at all, since it seems to be in a somewhat different category, in that its raison d’etre is a straightforward honouring of the mystery of the Incarnation, with the Son of God as the central figure. The staunchest Protestant could hardly quarrel with that intention, however much he might disapprove of the particular way in which the honour is rendered.

The more I read the more convinced I became that the whole issue was considerably more complex than a straight choice between Divine revelation on the one hand and demonic delusion on the other. Several other factors seemed to play a part in varying degrees of significance at different shrines—psychological factors, the question of ecclesiastical manipulation and papal involvement, nationalist and political elements, the presence of something much older than Christianity, namely the worship of the goddess, and finally, the possibility of a link-up with New Age syncretism and neo-paganism.

One aspect that particularly interested me, and to which little attention seems to have been given, was the question of solar phenomena witnessed at most of the apparition sites from Fatima onwards. I had no idea that this would lead me into the realm of UFOs!

Any conclusion that I finally reached—and sometimes there seemed to be more questions than answers, and many loose ends which did not tie up, are purely the result of my own personal reasonings. It may well be that those who are far more competent to judge these matters than I am would interpret things in a different light. All along it was more an exploration than anything else. When I began, I really had no idea where it would eventually lead.

A brief resume of the shrines mentioned above may be of help in giving a general background.

 

Some Marian Apparitions

1. Around 1295, Duns Scotus, a Scottish Franciscan at Oxford, was defending the Immaculate Conception against Thomas Aquinas and the Dominicans. By 1708, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception was declared to be a universal holy day of obligation. In 1830, Catherine Labouré, a young nun in Paris, had a vision of the so-called Miraculous Medal. She was prone to visions, having already seen the heart of St Vincent, Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, and Christ the King. Being greatly desirous of seeing the Blessed Virgin also, she requested the intercession of St Vincent and her wish was granted. A small child in white (her guardian) led her to the convent chapel late at night, where she saw, spoke with, and touched the Lady. Later in the year, the Lady, dressed in white, stood in the chapel with a serpent beneath her feet, surrounded by an oval frame with the words, “Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us, who have recourse to you.” A voice instructed Catherine to have a medal struck, which would give great graces to the wearers. The reverse of the Medal was to show an “M,” surmounted by a cross, together with the hearts of Jesus and Mary. Catherine continued to hear the voice of the Lady in her prayers. The Medal was a huge success, and led to an increased confidence in the prayers of the Virgin, the Mediatrix of all graces, and a growing popular demand to have the Immaculate Conception made an official dogma. While wearing the Medal to humour a Catholic friend, the Jewish convert, later Fr Marie-Alphonse Ratisbone was converted in 1842 after seeing a vision of the Virgin of the Miraculous Medal. (His brother was already a Roman Catholic priest). He devoted the rest of his life to the conversion of the Jews and built the Ecce Homo Convent of the Sisters of Zion in the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem.
 

2. In 1842 at La Salette, in France, two cowherds, an eleven year old boy, Maximin, and a fourteen year old girl, Melanie, saw a sudden flash of light from which a lady appeared, dressed in white and gold, with a cap of roses on her head.

 

 

She was surrounded by a brilliant light and was weeping. The Lady complained that Sunday was being desecrated and the peasants were blaspheming the saints in swearing. (The Cure d’Ars and other clergy were regularly complaining about these very sins in their sermons). If there was no amendment, there would be great disasters—the harvest would fail and people would starve—as the Lady could no longer restrain her Son from inflicting punishment. The discourse of the apparition was very similar to a “Leter [sic] Fallen from Heaven” circulating at the time. The parish priest declared the Lady to be the Blessed Virgin; the apparitions were later approved by the Bishop of Grenoble, and pilgrimages began. Melanie became a nun and continued to receive visions and revelations. Maximin tried unsuccessfully to become a priest and was always in debt.
 

3. In 1854, the Immaculate Conception became an official article of faith in the Roman Catholic Church. Just four years later, in 1858, a series of visions took place from February 11th to July 16th, which would result in the establishment of the most famous of Marian shrines. At the grotto of Massabielle at Lourdes, the fourteen year old Bernadette Soubirous saw “something white in the shape of a girl.” Under questioning she elaborated this to a “pretty young girl in white dress and veil, with a blue sash and a yellow rose on each foot.” Later still, she said the vision most resembled “the Blessed Virgin in the parish church for the clothes and the face … but alive and surrounded by light.” The Lady, who carried a rosary over her arm, spoke in the local dialect, in a very polite manner, and, called for penance. Bernadette was given three “secrets,” asked to pray for the conversion of sinners and told that the Lady promised to make her happy not in this world but in the next. The apparition asked for a procession and a chapel, and instructed Bernadette to dig for a spring, which was already known to exist. Bernadette recited the rosary and went into trances. The Lady announced her name as “I am the Immaculate Conception,” thereby confirming the recently defined dogma. In the following October, the ecclesiastical authorities took charge, the results being that the apparitions were confirmed as of the Blessed Virgin, the cult of Our Lady of Lourdes was authorized, and plans were put in motion for building a sanctuary. In 1933, Bernadette was canonized.
 

4. In August 1879, fifteen people aged from six to seventy-five years old saw an apparition at the south gable of the parish church at Knock, in Ireland. The vision was in the form of a tableau, with an altar on which stood a Lamb, with angels hovering overhead, and three figures—the Virgin crowned, St Joseph and St John the Evangelist dressed as a bishop and apparently preaching. The figures were a little way out from the church wall and about two feet above the ground. They were motionless, except that from time to time they receded and then moved out again. No word was spoken. Some of the witnesses remained for up to two hours in the pouring rain, reciting the rosary. This is the only known apparition of the Lamb. An international runway was eventually built in anticipation of huge numbers of pilgrims, but somehow the shrine never achieved great popularity. In 1954 Pope Plus XII blessed the Knock banner at St Peter’s and gave permission for the crowning of Our Lady of Knock. In 1960, John XXIII presented a blessed candle, and in 1967 Paul VI renewed indulgences to pilgrims and those connected with the shrine. John Paul II visited Knock in the centenary year, raised the church to the status of a basilica, and presented the Golden Rose.
 

5. In 1917, at Cova da Iria, near the village of Fatima in Portugal, three cousins who were all young peasant shepherds—Lucia, aged ten, Francisco aged nine, and Jacinta aged seven—saw flashes like lightning after which “a pretty little lady” appeared above a tree, who said she had come “from Heaven.” The children were told to come to the same spot on the thirteenth day of the month for the next six months, then they would be told who the Lady was and what she wanted. In reply to Lucia’s questions, she said that Lucia and Jacinta would go to Heaven, also Francisco, but he would “have to say many rosaries.” One little friend of the children who had recently died was in Heaven, but another was in Purgatory “till the end of the world.” The boy Francisco could not see the vision at first and never heard anything. Jacinta both saw and heard, but never spoke to the Lady. On other occasions they were told to say the rosary and pray especially to be “saved from the fires of hell.” Lucia was told “secrets” and saw a terrifying vision of bell. The Lady promised to work a miracle in October. Lucia was beaten by her mother for telling lies, and the local atheist administrator interrogated the children and imprisoned them for two days, but they continued to stick to their story.

On October 13th, a day of pouring rain, a crowd of seventy thousand people assembled at the Cova, expecting the promised miracle. According to a Roman Catholic priest, they were highly excited, kneeling, weeping and praying. The Lady appeared, announcing that she was Our Lady of the Rosary and that the war would end that day (in fact it did not end till thirteen months later). Then she disappeared and the famous “miracle of the sun” took place. The rain had ceased, and when Lucia cried out “Look at the sun!” (in which she claimed to see in turn Our Lady of Sorrows, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, St Joseph with the Holy Child, and Our Lord), the crowd stared at the sun which appeared to spin, give out coloured rays, zigzag from east to west, fall towards the earth—making those present fear that it was the end of the world,—and return to its place. This was not seen by everyone in the crowd, although some people ten kilometres from Fatima saw it. Other reported solar phenomena, both during the period of the apparitions and afterwards, were a sun casting rainbow-coloured light over everything, a “luminous globe,” a “night-time star” and a “rain of flowers” (similar to the “rain of roses” following the death of Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower).

Like Melanie of La Salette and Bernadette of Lourdes, Lucia became a nun, and like Melanie she continued to have visions and revelations. In 1925, the Lady appeared to her with the Child and the message that devotion to the Immaculate Heart should be spread. The following year, the Infant appeared alone. Then in 1929, the Lady commanded that Russia should be consecrated to the Immaculate Heart—this was the first mention of Russia.

 

 

 

In 1937, Lucia wrote a detailed account of the apparitions, which grew in the telling and included previous appearances of an Angel to the children. In 1915, he had appeared “like a person wrapped in a sheet;” in 1916, as a youth of fifteen or sixteen years old, “whiter than snow,” who announced himself as the “Angel of Peace,” and instructed them to pray for unbelievers with their foreheads touching the ground. Later in 1916 he told them he was Portugal’s guardian angel, that they must pray and make a sacrifice of everything they did (similar to Therese of Lisieux) in order for peace to come, and that “the most holy Hearts of Jesus and Mary” had plans for them. Later still in 1916, the angel appeared “like a cloud in human form, whiter than snow, almost transparent,” and gave the children Holy Communion.

In 1941-42, Lucia revealed still more, writing a description of her terrifying vision of hell on July 13th, 1917, in conventional terms of red fire, black demons, screams of pain and despair, and relating that the Lady had warned of a great sign of a night illumined by an unknown light that would signal some terrible Divine punishment which could only be averted by the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart. This was done in 1952 by Pope Pius XII, as the conversion of Russia was promised unconditionally. The Roman Catholic priest Fr Martindale somewhat sceptically pointed out that “the conversion of the world was not unconditionally attached to Calvary itself”! Pope John Paul II repeated the consecration in 1981.

In 1960, Pope John II opened the sealed envelope containing the Third Secret of Fatima, but refused to reveal it; it remains unrevealed. The Second Vatican Council officially recognized the apparitions and the cult of Our Lady of Fatima.

 

6. At Garabandal, in Spain, a series of apparitions took place between 1961 and 1965, during which time the visionaries, four girls aged from ten to twelve years, claimed to have been favoured with two thousand appearances of the Virgin and the Archangel Michael. On June 18th, while they were playing, after a flash of light and the sound of “thunder,” the Archangel Michael made the first of his nine appearances that month. The girls described him as about nine years old, dressed in blue with rose-coloured wings, swarthy skinned, dark eyed, with well kept hands and nails. The following month, watched by crowds of people, the girls went into a two hour trance. The next day, during another trance, they saw the Virgin in white and blue, with a crown of stars. She spoke to them about hay-making and everyday things. Sometimes she appeared with the Baby, which the girls were allowed to hold. The trances lasted from a few minutes to nine hours, and while in trance the girls would give the Virgin holy objects—rosaries, medals and crucifixes—to kiss for the pilgrims. A large crowd saw the Host appear on Conchita’s tongue when the Archangel Michael gave her Communion. This “miracle” had been announced in advance.
The messages contained warnings of great punishments, which could only be averted by many sacrifices and penances. The girls were told to visit the Blessed Sacrament often, and try to be perfect. There would be a great miracle at Garabandal in the future, which would be seen by the Pope and Padre Pio (who, of course, died without doing so), and Russia would be converted as a result of the miracle. A young Jesuit priest saw a “vision” of the miracle, pronounced that day the happiest day of his life, and promptly died the next day. Padre Pio is said to have believed in the apparitions. The local hierarchy did not, and at one stage, Conchita confessed, under lengthy interrogation, to having doubts about her visions. The present bishop, appointed in 1991, is asking Rome to re-open the case. Some people have seen the sun dance, and a red star with a tail like fire was seen during the apparitions. Once the Virgin came in a mysterious cloud of “fire.”

 

7. In many ways the appearances over the Coptic Church of St Mary at Zeitoun, Cairo, were the most interesting and the most credible. They concerned not the Roman Church, but the Coptic Church, and Coptic bishops, including the Coptic Patriarch’s representative, were among the millions of Christians, Muslims, Jews and non-believers, who many times witnessed the apparitions over a period of three years, from 1968-1971. The Coptic Church recognized the apparitions as true appearances of the Blessed Virgin Mary, as did the Coptic Catholic Church, the Greek Catholic Church, and the then Head of the Evangelical Church and Speaker on behalf of all the Protestant Churches of Egypt. Even the Egyptian Government Director of General Information and Complaints Department submitted a report to his superior stating that it was “an undeniable fact that the Blessed Virgin Mary has been appearing on the Coptic Orthodox Church at Zeitoun …” The vision maintained a complete silence. There were no threats of punishment, pushing of Latin dogmas and practices, apocalyptic warnings and no trances.
The apparition appeared on the domes of the church for up to two hours or more at a time, always at night, but not every night and not at regular times. The Lady appeared in glittering light—so bright that her features could not be clearly seen—which streamed across the church. She was invariably preceded or accompanied by luminous “doves,” “strange bird-like creatures made of light,” which did not flap their wings but glided. The figure moved across the domes bowing and greeting the enormous crowds, estimated at times to be as many as 250,000 people. Sometimes she blessed them or held out an olive branch. The Patriarch’s representative described her as “very quiet, full of glory.” Occasionally she was seen holding the Child, or as part of the Holy Family. All prayed in their own way—Moslems reciting the Koran on their prayer mats, Greeks saying prayers, Copts singing hymns. The “doves” were consistently mentioned by eyewitnesses. Other phenomena were a “shower of diamonds,” a glowing red cloud, and billowing clouds of incense. Spectacular and medically authenticated cures took place, although as at the other shrines, these were few in number compared with the multitudes of sick people.
 

8. The apparitions which began in 1981 in Medjugorje in Yugoslavia, it was back to the familiar atmosphere of youngsters, trances and secrets. Four teenagers, three girls and a boy aged fifteen and sixteen years old, saw a light on a hillside one evening in June. In the light was a young woman holding a child.

 

 

She called to them, but they ran away. The following evening they returned with two more friends, a girl of sixteen and a ten year old boy, and all saw, on the opposite hill this time, the same great light encircling the woman as if she were “clothed with the sun,” but they were too frightened to approach her. On the third evening the six young people were joined by a crowd of five thousand. After three flashes of light the Lady appeared, but only the six could see her—dark haired, blue-eyed, in a grey dress, with a crown of stars, standing on a white cloud just above the ground, so close they could have touched her. One of the girls, clutching a jar of holy water, said to the apparition, “if you are satan, go away,” (!) and received the reply, “I am the Virgin Mary,” come to “convert and reconcile.” Later they saw her in a cross of rainbow-coloured light, sad, and repeating, “Peace, peace. Be reconciled.”
The vision appeared weekly at about 6 p.m., during the recitation of the rosary, over the past few years. She was dressed in grey with a white veil, but wore a gold-sequined dress at Easter and at Christmas, when she held the Child. Sometimes the “Gospa” [Lady] came to the young people at home, especially if they were ill, praying with them for five minutes to half an hour. They were shown visions of heaven, hell and purgatory. (In heaven angels flew and people in grey, pink and yellow robes walked about, singing and praying. Purgatory, a place of mist, resounded to the noise of hammering on prison bars. In the fires of hell, men and women emerged unrecognizable as human beings.) The Gospa gave them messages calling for peace, conversion, prayer—the daily recitation of the Creed, followed by seven Paters, Aves and Glorias (a local devotion)—penance, fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays, and respect for other religions.
The Gospa told the seers that she suffered because of the sinfulness of humanity, and that she and Satan were engaged in a great battle for souls. Medjugorje would be the last place where she would appear—all future visions would be false. There would be a great sign on the hillside to convert unbelievers. Ten secrets were given to the young people, believed to be apocalyptic and warning of possible disasters to come. As the Vatican refuses to reveal Fatima’s third secret, so the Franciscans are believed to be playing down the more sensational aspects of the Gospa’s revelations.
The former Roman Catholic Bishop of Mostar refused to accept the Apparitions as genuine but the Franciscan parish priest, Fr Jozo, supported later by the Archbishop of Split, enthusiastically supported the visionaries. Fr Jozo was imprisoned by the Communist authorities for his activities in connection with the apparitions. On his release, he was sent to the parish of Tihaljia, where, in the gleaming new church, services of healing took place for the many pilgrims who came to see and speak with the man who was the confidant of the visionaries. The laying on of hands was accompanied by embracing, weeping and fainting. Between 1981 and 1990, before the Bosnian conflict, ten million pilgrims from all over the world including many Americans and Australians, also Lutherans, Anglicans and Orthodox, had come to Medjugorje. The usual crop of hysterical stories had circulated—Christ had been seen in the sky, one woman’s rosary had turned into gold—24 carat in another case—, and someone had taken a snap [shot] of the Virgin. 
In 1993, four of the young people were still seeing visions. Cures have been claimed, and various phenomena reported. The sun has rotated, mysterious “fires” and “rainbows” without rain have been seen, a thirty foot high stone cross on the mountainside has spun round and round, and the word “MIR” (Peace) appeared over the mountain in letters of white light, and could be seen by everyone in Medjugorje. 

 

9. The Ukraine has been visionary territory for centuries, and in 1987 the Virgin was said to have appeared at fifteen places. On April 26th, 1987, a thirteen year old peasant girl from Hriushiw saw a light above a derelict chapel. A woman dressed in black, with a child in her arms, appeared in the light, saying that the Ukrainians had been chosen to lead the Russians back to God. The girl called her sister and mother, who immediately declared that it must be the Bogoroditsa [Theotokos]—the Virgin. From then on, streams of people flowing into the village increased, until half a million claimed to have seen the Bogoroditsa, whose outline even appeared on television on May 13th, the anniversary of the Fatima appearance. Communist authorities failed to stop the crowds and “Pravda” pronounced it the work of extremists trying to wreck Perestroika.
It is not clear whether everyone heard the messages or whether they were relayed through the peasant girl, Marina, who was examined by a psychiatrist and declared to be normal. Certainly not everyone in the crowds saw the Virgin—many, including monks and nuns, saw nothing. The purport of the messages appeared to be that the Virgin sorrows for the state of the world, that the Last Times are approaching, and Chernobyl had been a warning for the world. The rosary is a great weapon against satan; the Ukraine, “my daughter,” is under the special protection of the Virgin, and would become an independent state. Because they had suffered the most under Communism, the Ukrainians had been chosen as Apostles to convert Russia, and if Russia was not converted there would be a third world war. If they stayed loyal to the Pope, the third secret of Fatima would be revealed.
As at Zeitoun, the appearances were irregular, they were seen by many, and the light surrounding the apparition was “lunar,” not “solar,” and the words used to describe the light were very similar—”moonlight but not moonlight,” “phosphorescent,” “silver glow,” “streams of light.” But there was no ecumenical spirit at Hriushiw. The messages were not conducive to any lessening of tensions between the Uniats and the Orthodox.

 

Divine Intervention

Is God really speaking through all, or any, of these apparitions? Are any of the related solar phenomena genuine signs from Heaven, or are they counterfeit?

Believing, as we do, that the Orthodox Church Is the Church, wherein is to be found the fullness of the Catholic Faith—that is, the Apostolic Faith in all its purity and wholeness—there can be no question of accepting anything contrary to Orthodox teaching and practice.

 

 

 

This must immediately render suspect any shrine or apparition involving the dogma of the Immaculate Conception or encouraging the un-Orthodox cult of devotion to parts of the body—the hearts of Jesus and Mary. (In seventeenth century France, there had even been devotion to the Virgin’s left foot and the soles of her shoes.)

Equally doubtful would be any suggestion of replacing “Christ our God, long-suffering, all-merciful, all-compassionate, Who loves the righteous and has mercy on sinners,” with a distant, impersonal figure of wrath, bent on punishment and vengeance. The apparition of La Salette said, “I can no longer hold back the heavy arm of my Son;” the apparition of Fatima: “… already He is deeply offended.” At San Damiano, 1961, ‘The Eternal Father is tired, very tired…. He has freed the Demon, who is working havoc.” At Oliveto Citra, Italy, in 1985, again we hear, “I can no longer hold back the righteous arm of my Son.” The sayings echo the unbalanced but very popular teachings of some of the Latin saints and preachers of the past, whereby Christ’s Kingdom of justice was opposed to Mary’s Kingdom of Mercy. “If God is angry with a sinner, Mary takes him under her protection, she withholds the avenging arm of her Son and saves him” (Alphonsus Liguori). “She is the sure refuge of sinners and criminals from the rigour of the wrath and vengeance of Jesus Christ;” she “binds the power of Jesus Christ to prevent the evil He would do to the guilty” (Jean-Jacques Olier).

Absurdities from La Salette speak for themselves, with the apparition claiming that she had given the people six days for work and reserved the seventh for herself (l). Desmond Seward in The Dancing Sun states that,

According to the visionaries, the Virgin (of Medjugorje) has said that the world is passing through a period of unparalleled darkness…. Satan … is waging a great battle for souls with the Mother of God, who has been sent from the Eternal Father to warn and hearten them, for, as God told the serpent in Genesis, the woman “shall crush thy head.”

If so, this perpetuates the Roman Catholic mistranslation in the Douay Bible of Genesis, chapter 3, verse 15. It is not the woman, but the seed of the woman—Christ—Who will crush the serpent’s head, by His Passion and Resurrection.

The more cautious and sober Latin theologians have often been uneasy with the excesses of their contemporaries, but on many occasions the weight of popular enthusiasm has proved too strong for sound theology to prevail. Louie-Marie Grignion de Montfort (d. 1716)—a master of Marian excess—closely connected the Virgin to eschatology. With the Second Coming she must be revealed by the Holy Spirit so that Christ may be made known, and she must shine forth in power against the enemies of God, since in some way the devil fears her more than God Himself. The idea of the Virgin as always being the one who prepares the way for the coming of Christ—not only His first physical coming at the Incarnation, but of His coming into the souls of men, and of His Second Coming, has continued into modern times. “As there would have been no advent of Christ in the flesh in His first coming without Mary, so there can be no coming of Christ in spirit … without Mary again preparing the way.” “As she prepared His body, so now she prepares souls for His coming” (Archbishop Fulton Sheen). At Zeitoun, “one can perceive the salvific role of the Blessed Virgin in evidence, as it was at Fatima in 1917. This role is essentially that of preparing the way for her Divine Son, by opening the souls of mankind to His redeeming grace.” “…[H]aving prepared His way 2,000 years ago among His own people” she “now prepares His way into the souls of millions of Gentiles of all faiths and none with a new and greater Visitation” (Francis Johnston: When Millions Saw Mary). One wonders if there is anything left for the Holy Spirit to do.

This thinking accords well both with the current belief, prevalent in some Roman Catholic circles, in a Marian Age which is to precede the Second Coming, and with the strongly apocalyptic tone of the majority of the apparitions. But as such a role for the Mother of God is to be found neither in Scripture nor in Tradition, it inspires little confidence in the authenticity of the apparitions.

One of the most disturbing features of these apparitions is that the Virgin appears as an autonomous figure, while Christ is strangely absent. It is she who weeps for the sinful state of humanity, she who decides who will be healed (“some I will heal, but not others”). Whatever the messages actually say, it is the Virgin through whom Heaven speaks, not Christ. The Orthodox Church never separates the Mother from the Son, and an absent or distant Christ would be an impossibility, since without life in the God-man Christ, lived in the power of the Holy Spirit, the Church would cease to be the Church.

 

Psychological Factors

In the majority of the apparitions considered, children or adolescents were the sole or main visionaries, making it likely that an element of child psychology might well be involved. For a thorough evaluation of the visions and messages, it would be necessary to know a great deal more about the children—what kind of religious art they had been exposed to, what sermons they had listened to, what teaching they had received at school and catechism classes, and what religious books they had read.

In the case of Bernadette, for instance, her visions did not come out of the blue, as is often thought. She was already familiar with the Miraculous Medal (as a nun, she was said to have worn it constantly), and the Immaculate Conception had been declared an official dogma in 1854, so for four years she must have heard it repeatedly mentioned both at church and at catechism classes, even if she did not fully understand its meaning.

In addition, visions were a familiar occurrence in the Lourdes area. The essential elements of the Lourdes vision—a Lady, a shepherdess (Bernadette had at one time been engaged temporarily to mind sheep in the nearby village of Bartnes), a chapel, processions, and a spring with miraculous powers—had all featured in shrines across the Pyrenees, which in Medieval times had been on the route to Compostella. In 1475, a young shepherd at Betharvam had seen a vision of a Lady who asked for a chapel to be erected. In 1520, a young shepherdess at Gavaison had seen a vision of a Lady and the request for a chapel was repeated. Besides Gavaison, other nearby shrines of the Virgin were Poeylanum, Heas and Pietat. There was also Our Lady of Sarrance, of Bourisp, of Medous, of Nestes, of Buglose.

 

 

There were also four other pilgrimage centres in the region, making fourteen established centres close to Lourdes. Whether genuine or not, Bernadette’s vision fitted easily into the local pattern. The area had earlier been infected with the Albigensian heresy. In a crusade against this particular heresy by Pope Innocent III, the heretics had been put to the sword, and the Inquisition moved in. The usual methods of the Inquisition had been employed leaving behind a people orthodox in (Latin) doctrine, but no lovers of the clergy. Consequently visions were very popular, as they dispensed with the need for clerical mediation.

It is well known that children of a certain stage of mental development, which can vary considerably with different children, love to have a secret world inaccessible to adults, and often play out in their minds situations where they can be important. There are a number of similarities between La Salette and Fatima, and Lucia admitted that her mother had read her the story of La Salette. And how far were Bernadette’s visions an unconscious form of compensation? The Lady was small, no taller than Bernadette herself, and addressed the sickly, under-sized girl, generally referred to as “the little idiot,” very politely as vous. The attention given to the youthful “seers” on account of their visions would be further enhanced by the “secrets” delivered to them—a standard feature of apparitions to adolescents and children from La Salette onwards—increasing their importance in adult eyes. Also well known is the fact that a small number of people—nearly always children and adolescents—demonstrate considerable eidetic ability, that is, vivid visual images of specific objects that are not present in actuality, but are present to their conscious or sub-conscious imagination, are “seen” by the persons concerned. Hilda Graef mentions in her book Mary—A History of Doctrine and Devotion, a very interesting experiment carried out by a psychologist, C. M. Staehlin, in which he tested the suggestibility of six boys aged fifteen to eighteen, letting there appear to them by suggestion a battle of medieval warriors above a tree. Two boys saw nothing at all, two “saw” the battle but heard nothing, and two both saw and heard the noise, even the shouts of individual knights. None of the boys had been able to communicate with each other, yet even the two who saw and heard agreed in every detail. In the apparitions we have the same thing—the agreement of children, their apparent telepathic communication with each other, the fact that some only saw, while others both saw and heard the apparition speak.

How much were suggestibility and eidetic gifts in evidence when twelve year old Eugene Barbadette saw a Lady in a blue robe with gold stars in the sky at Pontmain, France, in 1871? The ceiling of his parish church was painted blue with gold stars. Adult neighbours who gathered saw nothing, although other children claimed to see the apparition. Once the local priest arrived on the scene, the vision became more elaborate, with a blue oval frame with writing inside it (echoes of the Miraculous Medal), small white crosses, a large red cross, and four candies that lit themselves. The parish priest had previously had white crosses erected all over the parish, he was leading the small crowd in the recitation of the “red rosary” in honour of twenty-six Japanese martyrs (which may have suggested the red cross), and he himself always lit four candies after Sunday vespers in front of a statue of the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception.

However, eidetic ability and ordinary developmental factors are not sufficient by themselves to account for the children sticking to their stories when in some cases they were repeatedly questioned, mocked, physically punished for “lying,” and even imprisoned. Nor would they account for the trances, sometimes lasting for hours, during which the young people—at Garabandal, for instance—were impervious to flashing lights, cigarette burns, and having pins stuck in them. A neurologist from Barcelona medical school, who examined the Garabandal visionaries during and after at least twenty trances, could find no explanation, declaring them to be perfectly normal young people.

Trance is acknowledged by psychologists to be connected with religious ecstasy and visionary experiences, but also to be linked with mediumistic ability, whereby paranormal physical effects and materializations can be produced. Trance states are, of course, well-known to pagan shamans and medicine men.

On the occasions when many adults saw the apparitions or accompanying solar phenomena, not all those present did, in fact, see anything. An interesting example of adult susceptibility to telepathic suggestion or mass hallucination is recorded in Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future by Fr Seraphim Rose. At the end of the nineteenth century, some passengers, mainly English, were aboard a ship that docked at a Ceylonese port en route to India. Having some time to spare, they visited a local magician-fakir who, while appearing not to notice them, caused the crown of the tree under which he was sifting to fade, and an incredible scene to appear of their ship sailing the seas. The amazed spectators had a bird’s eye view of the deck and could see themselves laughing and talking, the Captain giving orders, the crew working, and even the ship’s monkey, Nelly, eating bananas. The source of the story, a Russian priest-monk, in fear began silently to pray the Jesus Prayer, as he had previously dabbled in the occult and realized who the real power was behind the false vision. For him the scene disappeared, while the others continued to see it and marvel.

 

The Return of the Goddess

Why is it always the Mother of God who supposedly appears in these visions? Was Canon John of Satge, an Evangelical Anglican, right when he said that the Marian cult (here Orthodox would draw a clear distinction between Mariolatry and the Orthodox veneration of the Mother of God) had its roots in an older paganism, in the recurring tendency of mankind to worship a mother-goddess?

Gnosticism is clearly linked with the present clamour for the ordination of women and the use of inclusive language for God, but the ancient pagan goddess seems more closely linked to the Marian apparitions. Gnostic heretics allowed women to minister equally with men as priests and bishops, and adopted some Christian beliefs, distorting them unmercifully to fit them into the Gnostic religious / philosophical system, but their interest lay not with Mary, the human Mother of God, but with God “the Mother,” that is, the Holy Spirit. Some Gnostics developed an immortal Sophia figure, and at times saw the Virgin Mary as one of her incarnations, but there seems nothing that would lead to a Christian cult of Mary such as prevailed in the Roman Church.

 

 

The one Great All-Mother of the pagans showed herself in various forms of nature on earth and in the sky. Having no human shape, she was worshipped at sacred sites and high places marked with pillars. Later she was represented in human form, attended by doves and snakes, symbolizing her power in the air and on earth. Pre-eminently she was the Bringer and Sustainer of life, the bearer of fertility to man and nature, and, in her later role as Muse, the inspiration that gave birth to music, art and poetry.

As societies merged and influenced each other, the Goddess became fragmented and identified with local deities, taking on their characteristics. As Neith, brought from Libya to Egypt, she was a cosmic virgin-mother, who “gave birth to the Sun, and became a mother when none else had yet borne children.” As Isis, she tells a supplicant that in many different places, she, the one, is “worshipped in many aspects, known by many names”—Mother of gods, Artemis, Aphrodite, Mother of the Corn, Persephone the Maiden par excellence. Likewise the Lady of the apparitions is venerated in many localities under a variety of names and aspects—Our Lady of the Rosary, Virgin of the Poor, Mother of Consolation, The Immaculate Conception, and so on.

A Babylonian hymn to Ishtar hails her as Queen of all, who in her pity makes the dead live, heals the sick and saves the afflicted, yet nevertheless has a “dark” side, and in the Gilgamesh epic decides capriciously on the destruction of mankind. The nineteenth century Roman Catholic writer, Robert Hugh Benson, discerned this dark aspect of the Lady of Lourdes. He wrote,

Mary, then, has appeared to me in a new light since I have visited Lourdes. I shall in [the] future not only hate to offend her, but fear also. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of that Mother who allows the broken sufferer to crawl across France to her feet and then to crawl back again. She is one of the Maries of Chartres that reveals herself here, dark, mighty, dominant and all but inexorable: not the Mary of an ecclesiastical shop who dwells amid tinsel and tuberoses.

Doubtless men thought like this of the Magna Mater long ago, or of Artemis, benign enough at Athens, but dark and terrible as Diana of Ephesus. Geoffrey Ashe (Miracles, 1978) commenting on the “miracle of the sun” supposedly performed by the Lady of Fatima wrote, “Even to accept it as Mary’s doing is surely to admit that she has an alarming and inscrutable aspect, which does not sit well with Christian ideas of her.”

If the Goddess does play a part in the Marian visions, France would seem to provide a naturally fertile ground for them, since there, on the whole, the Goddess seems to have been benign and helpful. There had been a temple of Isis at Soissons, a strong mother cult in the region of Treves, the cult of the Earth Mother prevailed in the Seine, Oise and Tarn regions, and there were many shrines to minor goddesses, who protected springs. There were also enchanting nymphs who protected springs, rocks and water, and a multitude of “white ladies,” descendents of the Earth Mother.

In Rome, Cybele, the Great Mother of the gods, a divinity imported from Asia Minor was credited with the defeat of Hannibal and developed a lasting following. A special feature of the statues of Cybele was that they were crowned and carried from place to place. Similarly, a further development of the apparitions has been the solemn crowning of Marian statues and their procession, especially at Fatima, from place to place. In 1864, the Garaison Virgin had been crowned with Papal permission (Pius IX), followed by La Salette (Leo XIII) and Fatima (Pius XII). In 1954, Our Lady of Knock, Queen of Ireland, was crowned. Earlier, in 1732, by permission of Clement XII, the Virgin of Svata Hora in Slovakia was crowned with the diadem of the Holy Roman Emperor. That the Mother of God, representing redeemed humanity, is glorified and reigns with Christ is beyond doubt, but this earthly crowning tends to set her apart from us and to obscure the fact that her heavenly crown is not the “diadem,” the royal emblem of monarchy, but the stephanos, the crown of laurels given to those who are victorious in the battle of life, the reward for faithfully striving, attained through suffering and purification, the crown with which all Christians hope and pray to be crowned.

Universally worshipped, the Goddess supplied a deep need in the human psyche for the Eternal Feminine. Sometimes she acted in her own right as sole superior deity, sometimes as co-equal partner to a male divinity, and sometimes in a Goddess-Spouse / Son relationship. Only among the Hebrews, led by their fiercely monotheistic and uncompromising prophets, was there no place for the Goddess, and even the Hebrews, surrounded as they were by polytheistic societies, sometimes relapsed into pagan worship. With the Hebrews, the serpents of the Goddess, benign symbols of healing and wisdom, were reduced to an evil tempter, and Eve, the mother of all the living, became a Pandora figure unleashing sin and death on mankind. The dove, the other attendant of the Goddess, was not demoted, most likely because of its connection with Noah and the Ark. The Lady of Zeitoun has her attendant “doves,” and the serpent appears, in the accepted Judaeo-Christian form as the symbol of evil, beneath the feet of the Lady of the Miraculous Medal, while the vision of Medjugorje is engaged in a battle to crush the serpent’s head.

If the assumption of a Goddess connection with the apparitions is correct, how did she gain a foothold in the Latin Church and remain undetected?

The Apostolic missionaries moved out from a strictly monotheistic background to encounter societies steeped in a world of gods and semi-divine human beings. Doubtless for many converts to Christianity, the old ways of thinking could not have been easily shed, even after Baptism.

From the Church Father, Epiphanius, we learn of a sect, composed mainly of women, nicknamed the Collyridians. Originating in Thrace, it had extended to Upper Scythia (roughly to the west and north of the Black Sea) and into Arabia by the fourth century. It seems to have been inspired by the Gospel events, combined with an Elias-type legend of Mary’s purity and “non-death.” St Epiphanius states that the “priestesses of Mary” worshipped her as a goddess in her own right, the Queen of Heaven, with rituals far older than Christianity, and “adorn a chair or square throne, spread a cloth over it, and at a certain solemn time, place bread on it and offer it in the name of Mary.”

 

 

Recalling the Jews, condemned by the Prophet Jeremias, who made similar offerings to the “Queen of Heaven”—in their case, Astarte—he warns against the worship of the Virgin as strongly as he had also warned against a lack of proper respect for her. This is the seventy-ninth heresy in a long list, challenged by Epiphanius, yet somehow it seems more like a different religion than a Christian deviation the ancient pagan religion of the Goddess, under her new manifestation: “Mary.” While it is unlikely that the Collyridians as such influenced the Church, this shows how such distortions of true belief can arise and it might be that a more orthodox version of some of their ideas might well have been congenial to some new converts from a pagan background, lying dormant until the right combination of circumstances caused them to take root. While working on this study of the apparitions, I began to feel what seemed to be the presence of another religion, running side by side with Christianity; so I was interested to discover that the nineteenth century French novelist Emile Zola had experienced a similar feeling, and believed he perceived “almost a new religion” at Lourdes.

Within the Church, Christ [is] the Second Adam, but once the Virgin had been seen in a certain sense as the Second Eve (without, of course, the slightest surrender to paganism) this was likely to have recalled to the spiritually weak the Goddess-Son / Spouse relationship; while the title Theotokos, although solely concerned with teaching that Christ was God, might surely have evoked the memory of Cybele, Great Mother of the gods, except that this was in fact an even greater title, the Mother of God. As paganism crumbled and local deities were dethroned, it was more often than not the Mother of God who was put in their place as patroness of healing springs and holy mountains, for long centuries associated with pilgrimage. In the West, where the theological and liturgical foundation was perhaps weaker, during the Middle Ages “Our Lady” of one district came to take on an almost separate personality from the Virgin of a rival shrine. Sir Thomas More, the Roman Catholic Tudor martyr, commented, “They will make comparisons between our ladie of Ippiswitch and our ladie of Walsingham, as weening that one image hath more power than the other.” Nothing like this happened in the East. Rooted soundly and soberly in the solid theology of Orthodoxy, and spiritually nourished by a vernacular liturgy, the Lord’s Mother fitted naturally into her rightful place in a perfectly balanced and harmonious whole. The Western distortion of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity resulting from the Filioque with its (almost unintentional) down-grading of the Holy Spirit, together with the historical events that overtook the Western Empire in the shape of the invasion of barbarian tribes and the resultant consequences, increasingly isolated the Church in the West from the pure Orthodoxy of the Church in the East.

With the restoration of order and stable government at the end of the Dark Ages, the Church in the West found itself with a largely illiterate and semi-barbarian laity. Churchmen had to supply the clerks and lawyers needed by the lay rulers. In consequence, the Papacy found itself relying on ecclesiastical lawyers, and this was to give the Roman Church the legalistic outlook and systematic philosophy which are its hallmarks. The ecclesiastical establishment acquired an overriding authority, and with the enforced celibacy of priests, “the Church” in common parlance came to mean the clergy. A faulty Trinitarian theology, and an undue emphasis on the Augustinian teachings on original sin and the Atonement, together with an all-male hierarchy, led to the loss of the feminine element in Western Christianity and created a “Goddess-shaped gap.” The Virgin Mary was the obvious candidate to fill that gap.

In contrast, the Tradition was handed on unchanged from generation to generation in the Eastern Church. Apart from the treacherous Fourth Crusade, the Roman Empire in the East remained unconquered until the arrival of the Turks. There was always an independent and highly-educated laity. With a powerful Emperor there was never any opportunity—nor was there any need or the desire—to subject all lay power to the authority of the Patriarch, and “the Church” continued to mean the whole body of the faithful, past and present, including the angels. Married priests ensured that the priesthood was not a class apart. (As today, the priest lives in the same kind of house as his parishioners—a village priest in Cyprus may also be the village bootmaker, and a Greek papas, in cassock and stove pipe hat may be seen clasping a small son or daughter with one hand and a shopping basket with the other). There was no Goddess-shaped gap to be filled in Orthodoxy, and anchored safely in Orthodox theology and hymnology, the holy Virgin, more honourable than the cherubim and beyond compare more glorious than the seraphim on account of her Divine Maternity, remained a woman with a human nature in all points like our own, completely purified by the Holy Spirit at the Annunciation in order that she might be able to give a human nature to the Eternal Logos.

In the Latin Church, Marian exaggeration soared to ever new heights, checked only briefly by the Protestant Reformation. The Virgin had “added certain perfection to the Maker of the universe” by giving Him a human nature—quite the opposite view from that taken by Scripture and Orthodoxy, which saw the Incarnation as a kenosis, a self-emptying, of Christ—”though He was rich, yet for our sakes He became poor.” Bernadine of Siena’s weirdest fantasy, the “seduction of God,” was described in language more appropriate to a Greek legend of Zeus than to the Great Mystery of the Incarnation. The Virgin was higher than the Church … she had authority over her Son in heaven … she appeased the Divine justice and prevented God from chastening sinners … she and the Holy Spirit produced Christ in souls. “Even the tongue of the Holy Spirit” was “scarcely sufficient to celebrate her praises worthily”! Unfortunately the authors and preachers of such offensive nonsense were frequently canonized, which was naturally taken as a sign of official approval. Such distortions could well be the stuff of which Marian apparitions are made. The Goddess, or at least a semi-divine being, had returned. It is interesting to note that John Henry (Cardinal) Newman was appalled at all the excesses. While accepting the Immaculate Conception, he considered the popular exaggerations and other deviations from Patristic teaching to be “calculated to … unsettle consciences, to provoke blasphemy, and to work the loss of souls.” In a quaintly nationalistic touch, he noted that all these devotions and teachings were clearly the work of foreigners and not Englishmen! Pope John XXIII still found it necessary to remind his flock, “The Madonna is not pleased when she is put above her Son.” Needless to say, such excesses are out of favour in the present ecumenical climate. What the current guide book says I do not know, but the Lourdes Official Guide for 1980 spoke against “a superfluous devotion to the Virgin, relying on trinkets, rosaries and medals: a perversion of authentic religion, bordering on superstition.” Somehow I do not think that Goddess will be so easily dislodged.

 

Politics, Nationalism and Ecclesiastical Involvement

How did these apparitions acquire national and even international fame? How is it, for instance, that a young girl’s real or imaginary visions turned Lourdes not only into a major religious centre of the Roman Catholic Church, but into a major tourist industry, a “religious Disneyland,” with more pilgrims than the Holy Land, more hotels than any city or town in France other than Paris and Nice, a factory that produces over a ton of candles daily, and souvenir shops where one may purchase Virgins in snow-storms, Virgins in TV sets, and Madonna shaped holy water bottles, a metre high, with removable golden crowns for filling? Of course, all the regrettable and tasteless commercialism has no bearing on the authenticity or otherwise of the visions.

Politics and ecclesiastical manipulation (as well as the coming of the railway) played their part. In France, reaction had set in against the anti-church French Revolution and the spirit of rationalism. The Marian visions were in line with popular demand, and encouraged by the ecclesiastical authorities, were important in reviving a declining Catholicism. In fact, Lourdes gave such an impetus to Marianism in the nineteenth century that a rival movement was started to encourage pilgrimage to shrines directly connected with Christ. Here again we see the separation of the Mother and the Son. The fact that her own devotion was Christ-centred, rather than Marian-centred, may have been one reason why Bernadette’s novice mistress, Mother Vauzou, was never convinced that Bernadette’s visions were genuine.

Fr Peyramale, the parish priest of Lourdes, who had supported Bernadette and built a chapel at the grotto, was quickly bypassed by the Garaison Fathers, professional revivalists, who had been sent by the Bishop of Tarbes to take over Lourdes as part of the revivalist campaign. The Bishop had from the first recognized the apparitions and authorized the cult. The Garaison fathers were installed to run the mission to the pilgrims as distinct from the parish church, and apparently exchanges between them and Fr Peyramale were extremely acrimonious and vindictive. The feud between the parish and grotto continued after Fr Peyramale’s death, involving lawsuits of “horrible complexity.” Zola’s “savage satire of dog-collar-eat-dog-collar was based on solid fact” (Alan Neame: The Happening at Lourdes).

The Third Republic regarded religious demonstrations as pro-royalist, and anti-Catholic riots broke out with attacks on pilgrims. The response of the ecclesiastical authorities was to stage a national Catholic rally at Lourdes in 1872, attended by nine bishops and twenty thousand people, further encouraging Lourdes as a religious centre.

All modern Popes have been Marianists, and John Paul II has given an extra boost to Lourdes by his personal support, and his visit to the Shrine, the first by a Pope.

At the time of the Fatima visions, Portugal was going through a period of severe anti-clericalism. A left-wing republic had replaced the old monarchy, and there were strikes, crime, corruption, bomb-throwing, inflation and food shortages together with the added complication of the First World War. The Roman Catholic Church was regarded as a major supporter of the deposed monarchy, and clergy were restricted in their preaching and forbidden to wear clerical dress. After 1926, the Church recovered its former position. The Vatican, encouraged by the success of Lourdes, was instrumental in launching Fatima as a shrine of rival status and authenticity.

Papal involvement with Fatima has been very marked. Pius XII, very pro-Fatima and violently anti-Communist, consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1942, and in 1954 made a special consecration of Russia as directed by Lucia, the surviving visionary. Paul VI, who was to give the Virgin yet another title, “Mother of the Church,” visited Fatima in 1976. Pope John Paul II, whose motto is “I am completely yours, Mary,” and who apparently has the letter M embroidered on his robes, is also a keen Fatima supporter, and after the unsuccessful attempt on his life (he attributed his deliverance to Our Lady of Lourdes), had the bullet set into the crown of the Fatima Madonna. The supposed directives concerning Russia are behind the present unprecedented Vatican campaign of proselytism in Russia.

There was also a political dimension at Turzovka in Slovakia, Medjugorje, and Hriushiw, in the clash with Communism, and in the latter two a very strong nationalist and Vatican element. Medjugorje is a Croat enclave in predominantly Orthodox and Moslem Herzegovina. Croat nationalism has always gone hand in hand with Roman Catholicism (“to be a Croat is to be a Catholic,”). In World War II, Pius XII, in his paranoid fear of Communism, did nothing to stop the massacre of 750,000 Orthodox Serbs by the fascist Croat Ustashi of the puppet “Independent State of Croatia” set up by the Nazis. Cardinal Stepinac of Zagreb saw the Orthodox Church as an evil “almost greater than Protestantism,” and Franciscan friars ran the most notorious of the concentration camps. In the Medjugorje vicinity, fifty men, women and children were thrown from a cliff-top, and all the monks at a nearby Orthodox Monastery were buried alive. It is interesting to note that while the former Roman Catholic bishop of Mostar, Mgr Pavao Zanic, denounced the visions as “all the fruit of fraud, disobedience to the Church and disease,” they were enthusiastically taken up by the Franciscan parish priest of Medjugorje, who heard a “voice” telling him to protect the visionaries. If and when the troubles in the former Yugoslavia get sorted out, Medjugorje is set to take up where it left off as part of the (Roman Catholic) tourist industry and an international pilgrimage centre.

For centuries there has been tension in what is now the Ukraine between the Orthodox Church and the Vatican on account of the activities of the Uniats, who are once again conducting a militant, aggressive campaign engineered by nationalist and religious extremists. Hriushiw fits easily into this pattern, with its echo of Fatima in the call for the conversion of Russia and the messages from the apparition that the Ukrainians have been specially chosen for this work.

In passing, mention might also be made of the nationalist / religious mix in the Virgins of Guadalupe, Mexico, and Czestohowa, Poland. In 1531, a “dark” or Indian Virgin appeared to an Aztec peasant and told him to request the bishop to build a shrine on the spot of the apparition’s appearance, which just happened to be an important sacred place in the native Indian religion. Her image was miraculously imprinted on the peasant’s cloak. Indian self-respect in the face of the white man was restored while the ecclesiastical authority rejoiced at gaining a vital aid in converting eight million Indians to Roman Catholicism in the space of four years. In 1910, Pope Plus X proclaimed the Virgin of Guadalupe the “Empress of the Americas.”

 

 

The Virgin of Czestohowa, in the Jasna Gora monastery, is synonymous with Polish Roman Catholicism and nationalism. The chapel housing the icon is in the centre of “a huge complex, a highly organized pilgrim centre,” run by the Pauline fathers. The Virgin is unveiled four times daily, when to a fanfare of trumpets, a silver curtain slowly rises. It would seem that all the great Marian shrines bear the twin stamps of Roman efficiency and professional stage management. In 1717, the “Queen of Poland and Grand Duchess of Lithuania” was solemnly crowned by formal decree of the Polish Parliament.

Such secular titles sound somehow strangely incongruous when bestowed on her to whose sublime title, Mother of God, no further glory can be added. The words of a Roman Catholic writer, spoken of Lourdes, seem equally applicable to other Marian shrines—”a bastion of the temporal power of an infallible Papacy.”

[Editor’s note: two points might be noted here. The first is that at Czestohowa, the icon itself is, of course, an Orthodox icon and has its place in our calendar—the objections raised here are to the cultus which surrounds it. Secondly there is one Marian shrine, Knock in Ireland, whose first promotion may well have been instigated by anti- nationalist rather than nationalist sentiment. It has been suggested that the British found the promotion of the cultus extremely useful in distracting nationalist attention in a rather tense period. Of course, at the time of the “apparition,” and until quite recent times, the Roman Catholic ecclesiastical authorities, as supporters of the “Establishment,” were pro-British, rather than, as is now generally perceived to be the case, pro-nationalist.]

 

The Solar Phenomena

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament proclaimeth the work of His hands (Ps. 18:1—Septuagint numbering).

Allowing for auto-suggestion, over-active imagination, pretending to see things so as to be like other people, there remain enough solid witnesses to make it clear that there have been many instances of spectacular solar phenomena at the shrines. Are they natural phenomena, signs from heaven that accompany the presence of the Mother of God, or part of the “signs and lying wonders” campaign in preparation for the Anti-Christ?

In the Old Testament, the sun stands still for Joshua (Jesus, son of Navi), and moves backwards for Hezekias, while in the Gospels we have the Star of Bethlehem and the darkening of the sun at the Crucifixion. In the Church, we know the Cross of Constantine the Great, the Cross seen over Jerusalem in 357, and the Cross over Athens in 1925.

Throughout history, strange things in the sky have been seen and recorded. At the beginning of the tenth century, Bishop Radbod of Utrecht recorded a sky filled with stars which seemed to “crash one upon another,” a sign which was followed by many natural and historical disasters. Halley’s Comet, visible in England in 1066, is embroidered on the Bayeux Tapestry. During the Wars of the Roses, a contemporary chronicler recorded “three suns in one” appearing before a battle, which the leader of the Yorkists, the future Edward IV, declared was a good omen as it signified the Trinity, thus calming his frightened troops. Shakespeare used this account when he mentioned this sign in his play, “Henry VI.” In 1646, a book was published called, Strange Signes from Heaven, recording sightings of many phenomena, and in 1882 Walter Maunder, a Greenwich astronomer, published an account of the most remarkable thing he had ever seen in the course of many years sky gazing. Together with hundreds of people all over Britain, he witnessed a great circular disc of greenish light which lengthened out into a cigar shape, more than a hundred miles above the earth, at least fifty miles long, and moving very rapidly at about ten miles a second. Scientists today can explain it as part of an auroral display. There had been a violent magnetic storm at the time, and charged particles from the sun plunged into the earth’s atmosphere and lit up like a neon light. A beam of particles would create the appearance of a solid object moving at speed. When the beam had spent its force, it would simply break up like a cloud, which it did, over Europe. No doubt many “strange signs from heaven” are in fact natural phenomena.

A well-known natural phenomenon is the “halo,” when the sun’s image, refracted through ice crystals, forms a cross with the sun at its centre. There are “mock” suns and moons known to astronomers, and the planet Venus, when viewed through the polluted air near the surface of the earth, appears to change colour and make erratic movements. A programme appeared on television, Christmas 1993, about the Star of Bethlehem. One scientist / astronomer said that natural phenomena occur every year, and if the Church could give him a definite date for the Nativity, he would be able to say what it was the Wise Men saw, as all the dates for the movements of the planets are known.

[Editor ‘s note: Although, as our authoress doubtless intended, this demonstrates the number of extraordinary natural phenomena there are, the scientist was mistaken because the Bethlehem Star was not a natural phenomenon but a spiritual one (see Homily VI of St John Chrysostom on the Gospel of St Matthew). Furthermore, despite the frantic preparations by Mammonites to celebrate the second millennium of an event they do not seem to believe in (!), the exact date of the Saviour’s birth is not known to us.]

Some of the solar phenomena seen at the very many shrines all over the world are undoubtedly purely natural in origin. But hundreds of people who claim to have seen the sun “dance” have been able to look at the sun with ease for long periods with no damage to their optic nerves. But not everyone present saw exactly the same thing, and some saw nothing at all, so obviously the dancing sun does not have a natural cause, and perhaps has to do with a mass hallucination of some kind. Certainly the sun could not physically have spun and zigzagged, or that would have been the end of the solar system.

All the well-documented accounts of the “miracle of the sun” at Fatima stress the terror of the crowd, many of whom—but not all—saw the sun spinning in a mad whirl, then detaching itself from the sky, spin towards the earth in a huge fiery mass, and return to its place. The movements were repeated twice. While some people at the shrine saw nothing, others fifty kilometers away saw the spectacle and believed that the end of the world had come. The sun changed colour, giving off red, then yellow, then purple light.

 

 

In The Dancing Sun, Desmond Seward quotes a passage from an unpublished account of events at Turzovka. In 1958, the Mother of God is said to have appeared to a forty-two year old forester, a “vague believer,” who saw a beautiful woman in white holding a rosary and floating in the air. Altogether there were seven appearances, in the same place and at the same time weekly. The forester was told to pray for reconciliation and atonement by the world for its sins; there were the usual apocalyptic warnings and the stressing of the rosary. Crowds from all over the Slovakian countryside came to the mountain, a spring burst forth on the spot of the apparition and healings took place. The Communist authorities put the forester in an asylum, but later released him. Strange lights were reported, and in 1963 the miracle of the sun took place. “The fiery orb … seemed to be ablaze, burning, with flames bursting out of it…. among over 500 people who were watching in consternation there was only shocked astonishment. After a few moments an enormous cone-shaped light spread above and around us, like an over-sized tent made of long, vividly hued strips. It consisted of every colour in the spectrum, from red to violet … All around, coloured strips covered the sky, the trees and their branches, the ground and the people. The strips fanned out from a single focal point in which was the sun. I saw deep blue and bright yellow people next to me, whose colour changed when they moved.” Three local brass bands with the pilgrims formed up and played fortissimo the hymn, “We salute you a thousand times, Mary,” as everyone believed this to be a sign of the presence of the Mother of God. Reading about it at second hand, one rather gets the impression of a sort of supernatural religious disco, but to the writer it was “strange and deeply moving, overwhelming … God-related.”

It had never occurred to me that there could be some connection between UFOs and the shrines, until quite by chance a book about UFOs in a pile of second hand books in a local antique shop caught my eye. Glancing through it, I was astonished to find, among many sightings reported in England in 1967, two that immediately sounded familiar.

The first concerned two women neighbours living on an estate in Stoke-on-Trent, who, together with some children playing in the street, saw a “flying saucer” land in a field not far from the estate about 9 p.m. on September 2nd, 1967. The field “looked as though it was on fire—like a bonfire,” “it was just as if someone had got a great big bonfire.” Within minutes the police, summoned by the women arrived, but all was in darkness, and a daylight search revealed nothing. At Medjugorje in August 1981, along with a spinning sun sending out multi-coloured rays, rainbows without any rain, and other phenomena, a fire appeared to break out on the Hill of the Apparitions, but when the fire brigade arrived there was no sign of it.

The second concerned the Flying Cross. Between 1959 and 1967, 808 investigations into UFO sightings were carried out by the Ministry of Defence, with help from the Royal Observatory, the Meteorological Office, the Royal Air Force, the United States Air Force stationed in Britain, radar establishments, Air Traffic Control and the police, although there seems to have been no inquiry at the highest scientific level. The vast majority of the sightings proved to be purely natural in origin—satellites and debris, meteorological balloons, celestial objects (Venus, etc), aircraft, natural phenomena such as mock suns and moons, cloud reflections and the inevitable few hoaxes. Of the 84 unexplained sightings, some involved those where information was insufficient to make a decision, but the Flying Cross was one of the remainder, well-documented, but for which no explanation could be found.

During October 1967 lights that flew slowly, hovered, formed a cross, and moved off at tremendous speed were seen by over a dozen reliable witnesses, including policemen and BBC engineers. The light was “not piercing but it was very bright. It was star-spangled—just like looking through wet glass. “The Thing” was always seen at night or in the early hours. A retired RAF Wing Commander was driving with his wife in Hampshire one October night when they saw seven flying lights that made no noise, seven bright lights in formation in the sky. At first the lights formed a perfect V but later rearranged themselves into a cross. “They certainly seemed to be under some sort of control—the formation was perfect,” said the Wing Commander.

This sounded strangely similar, indeed at times identical, to descriptions by witnesses of the apparitions over the Coptic Church of St Mary at Zeitoun, Cairo, six months later. A Coptic Bishop, Gregorios, in charge of Higher Studies, Coptic Culture and Scientific Research, who saw the apparition on many occasions said, “Before the apparitions take place, some birds that look like pigeons—I don’t know what they are—appear in different formations…. They do not flap their wings, they glide…. Whatever formation they take, they keep. Sometimes as many as seven of them fly in the formation of a cross. They fly very swiftly. They are … completely lighted. One does not see feathers at all—just something bright. They are radiant creatures, larger in size than a dove or pigeon.” A special committee of Coptic clergy appointed by the Coptic Pope said in their official report, “… Another night we saw doves with the bright colour of silver and with light radiating from them. The doves flew from the dome to the sky direct. We then glorified God Who has allowed the terrestrials to see the glory of the celestials …” The Coptic Pope Kyrillos VI said in his statement confirming the authenticity of the apparitions, that the glittering apparition was “preceded by some spiritual forms such as doves which moved at great speed.”

I read and re-read the UFO accounts and the Zeitoun accounts. Was it possible that “The Thing” seen briefly in England in October 1967 had turned up again in Egypt six months later for a lengthy stay of three years to become the Coptic clergymen’s “celestial beings” and the Coptic Pope’s “spiritual forms”?

By a strange coincidence, while I was writing this article, my husband called to me one evening early in June to come and look at a most unusual sunset effect. Lit by the most glorious rose-gold glow were clouds in an amazing deep pink and purple hill and valley formation. “It’s the Judaean Desert!” exclaimed my husband. Next to it was a “map” of the Mediterranean, with the boot-shape of Italy clearly showing, together with the whole Mediterranean coastline. From behind surrounding deep rose-coloured clouds came powerful rays of golden light. Neither of us had ever seen anything like it, and we stood watching until it had faded. It was incredibly beautiful and awe-inspiring, and in a way a spiritual experience, because the overriding thought was “glory to God,” and yet it was entirely natural.

 

 

I thought afterwards of the English Math teacher at Garabandal in 1974, who saw the dancing sun, a disfigured Christ in the sky, “maps” of various countries together with rays of great light which she felt meant the presence of “an All-Powerful Being,” which she took to be “the Eternal Father”, who was sending out “rays of terrible anger” onto London on the map. I wondered what she would have made of “my” sunset if she had seen it at Garabandal or some other shrine.

Discounting the natural phenomena, unless we believe that the “doves” and dancing suns are genuine signs from Heaven sent to confirm faith, to indicate the gracious presence of the Virgin, and to warn of disasters which can only be averted by repentance, then it seems we are left with the possibility of some kind of mass hallucination, or with part of a “signs and lying wonders” campaign in preparation for the Anti-Christ.

According to St Luke’s Gospel, in the last times there will be “terrors and great signs from heaven.” St Ignaty Brianchaninov, writing over a hundred years ago, warned that a time was approaching when there would be numerous and striking false miracles. “… the miracles of Anti-Christ will be chiefly manifested in the aerial realm, where Satan chiefly has his dominion. These signs will act most of all on the sense of sight, charming and deceiving it. St John the Theologian, beholding in revelation the events that are to precede the end of the world, says that Anti-Christ will perform great signs, and will even ‘make fire to come down out of heaven upon the earth in the sight of men’ (Revelations 13:13). This is the sign indicated by Scripture as the highest of the signs of Anti-Christ and the place of this sign is the air.” Several of the apparitions have prophesied a Great Sign to come.

 

Delusions

Why is it that these apparitions are accepted so readily by the visionaries themselves and by countless pilgrims? Heterodox Christians have very little idea of one of the key concepts of Orthodox ascetical teaching prelest—spiritual deception—whereby a mirage is mistakenly accepted for truth. There are many examples in the Lives of the Saints where monastics and ascetics, many of whom went on to achieve genuine holiness, fell into delusion, entertaining demons in the form of angels, and even “Christ” Himself, receiving “revelations,” seeing “light” in their cells and hearing “the Lord” speaking to them. Sometimes “Christ” granted them gifts of “prophecy’ and astonishing powers. St Diadochus of Photiki warned against accepting the deceit of the evil one under the form of light or some fiery form, and St Symeon the New Theologian warned of evil spirits who cause many and various deceptions in the air.

Imageless prayer, as taught by the ascetics and elders of the Orthodox Church, is in direct contrast to that of, for instance, a person seeking help from a Protestant Healing Mission, who may be told at the prayer session preceding the healing service to imagine a golden light streaming down on him from heaven, and to the meditation practices common in the West for centuries, whereby one was encouraged to imagine a chosen scene and try to visualise the Child in the manger or the Crucified Christ. St Mark the Ascetic warns that “Once our thoughts are accompanied by images, we have already given them our assent.” This image-producing faculty may, in the spiritually advanced be used creatively, as in the iconography of St Andrei Rublev and devout iconographers generally, but time and again we are warned that those not yet possessing spiritual discrimination should beware of being enticed and led captive by illusory appearances.

What many Marian apparition enthusiasts do not realise is that spiritual phenomena are almost commonplace these days. The Pentecostal / Charismatic groups are very quick to identify their experiences with the Holy Spirit, just as the Protestant revivalists in Indonesia in the 1970’s unquestioningly accepted their “voices,” “angels” (invariably quoting Scripture by chapter and verse), visions of “Christ,” healings, miraculous lights accompanying evangelists, and mysterious fires from heaven that consumed Roman Catholic statues, as genuine. People who bring “Christian” ideas to their experiences often assume, all too readily, that they actually are Christian experiences, the work of the Holy Spirit, and they seldom pause to ask if they might possibly originate from quite another kind of spirit.

Even when these experiences are genuinely Christian, the words of a saint of the Roman Catholic Church, John of the Cross, sound a timely warning: “All visions, revelations and impressions of heaven, however much the spiritual man may esteem them, are not equal in worth to the least act of humility; for this brings forth the fruits of charity, which never esteems or thinks well of self, but only of others.”

The Cure d’Ars did not accept the La Salette visions, the ecclesiastical authorities at Garabandal were unimpressed, and the former Roman Catholic bishop of Mostar denounced the Medjugorje apparitions. Certainly some of the visions would appear to be initially the result of psychological factors. Most of us do not have a strongly developed sense of self-awareness. We know very little about ourselves and have little understanding of the mysterious, but entirely natural, workings of the sub-conscious mind and the effects it can produce. Apart from self-delusion, there is a possibility of unconscious mediumistic participation or even more direct demonic delusion.

If Bernadette, waving her rosary at “Aquero,” and the Medjugorje youths clutching their holy water jars and admonishing “the Gospa,” “If you are Satan, go away,” really suspected the presence of a demon, they surely seriously underestimated the power they were dealing with. “Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are you?” (Acts 19:15) The aged God-bearing Elder and Confessor of Mount Athos, Fr Sabbas (+ 1908), when asked to deliver a monk possessed by a demon, prayed and kept a complete fast for a week before doing so, and delivered another monk who had been deceived by a false “guardian angel,” who had prayed and spoken with him daily for two years, by prostrating himself as “with pain and tears he prayed to the Lord to take pity on His servant and rebuke the evil demons.”

Staretz Amvrossy of Optina, who as a great monastic [and] spiritual guide, was frequently asked for advice on visions and voices, relied on the basic teaching of the Fathers, and warned those who sought his guidance on such matters not to trust in voices heard during the time of prayer or in changes in the icons—fragrance or fiery flames coming from them—which might seem to be good, but to attach no significance to them as such things also come from the deceit of the enemy.

 

 

 

In a question and answer session with a Franciscan, one of the Medjugorje “seers” was asked why Ivanka, the girl who first saw the apparition, said at once, “It’s the Blessed Virgin.” The reply was, who else could she have thought of? A wonderful young mother with a child and a crown on her head. It was clear.” The apparition was accepted unquestioningly as being the Virgin and was spoken with before any throwing of holy water (advised by the older women of the village) was resorted to. “My angels,” as the apparition repeatedly called the young people, asked for a sign, and the vision obligingly made the hands turn on the watch of one of the visionaries.

At Ivanka’s last vision on May 7th, 1985, the Gospa, in answer to Ivanka’s request, caused the girl’s mother, who had died some months before the apparitions began, to appear. “Our Lady asked me what I would wish and I asked to see my earthly mother. Then Our Lady smiled, nodded her head, and at once my mother appeared. She was smiling. Our Lady said to me to stand up. I stood up, my mother embraced me and kissed me … She then spoke to Ivanka and disappeared.

Complete trust was given by the young people to the apparition of Medjugorje, a trust that would be encouraged by the Franciscans, who acted as their confidantes and spiritual directors. There was no concept of prelest, there seemed to be no recognition of the fearful darkness of the fallen mind. The same argument used to support the authenticity of Medjugorje—”the tree is known by its fruits”—fervent prayer, conversions, healings, sense of peace and joy—has been used by “Charismatics,” Protestant Revivalists, the Evangelicals in Indonesia, and various heretical movements throughout history. Hindus and Buddhists doubtless say the same thing as they point to the intense devotion of their own followers on mass pilgrimages to the temples, and the reported healings at the shrines of their own holy men.

St Ignaty Brianchaninov, in his warning to Orthodox Christians, reminds us of the frightful danger of being deceived by evil spirits. “If the saints have not always recognized demons who appeared to them in the form of saints and Christ Himself, how is it possible for us to think of ourselves that we will recognize them without mistake! … The holy instructors of Christian struggle … command (us) not to trust any kind of image or vision if they should suddenly appear, not to enter into conversation with them …” but in resolute awareness of one’s unworthiness and unfitness for seeing holy spirits, to entreat God that He might protect us from all the nets and deceptions, which are cunningly set out for men by the spirits of malice.” … “The only correct entrance into the world of spirits is the doctrine and practice of Christian struggle. The only correct entrance into the sensuous perception of spirits is Christian advancement and perfection.”

 

The Healing Aspect

Some people assume that the apparitions must be genuine because cures take place at the shrines, but there is not necessarily any connection between the two. The number of cures is actually very small considering the multitudes of sick people who flock to the shrines. At Lourdes, in the one hundred and twenty-two years from 1858 to 1980, only sixty-four cures were finally pronounced miraculous—that is, not attributable to any known natural or medical cause—out of a possible five thousand. While the medical authorities naturally need to be cautious, it does seem somewhat artificial and presumptuous for a group of human beings to solemnly declare that God has not only performed a miracle, but has performed it properly, to their satisfaction.

At several shrines the Virgin was reported as saying that she would heal some, but not others, and to read that “the finger of God would flash down unpredictably” somehow introduced a certain element of capriciousness which was disturbing, however much one might want to rejoice at the cures themselves. But the Marian shrines are not alone in claiming healings for people of all faiths and of none, although they tend to get the most publicity. The Anglican London Healing Mission lists many astonishing cures every month, the Pentecostal / Charismatic groups also claim cures, as do Spiritists (The National Federation of Spiritual Healers), and, in its heyday, the Christian Science movement had an impressive healing record.

It is said that no-one is infected by bathing at Lourdes, but there is no record kept of infections, and, in any case, people in seventeenth and eighteenth century England were exposed to the same risk in the fashionable spa waters (Samuel Pepys at Bath had grave doubts about the wisdom of using the waters), yet there were no recorded outbreaks of typhoid or cholera. The authorities at Lourdes know that they cannot risk an outbreak of infection or the baths would have to close, and healthy pilgrims are encouraged to wash at the taps instead of bathing. It is interesting to note that Bernadette herself did not use Lourdes water for her own ailments, but sought relief at the nearby spa instead.

God works in different ways as He sees fit, and it would be foolish to attempt to impose limits on His mercy, but Orthodox Christians themselves do not need to seek healing outside the Church. We have always known wonderworkers and healers. Staretz Amvrosy, mentioned earlier, was a healer, as were countless others, and innumerable healings continue to take place at the intercession of the Mother of God, for instance through her Tinos and Malevi icons, and at the intercession of St Xenia of Petersburg, and of St John (Maximovitch) of Shanghai and San Francisco.

Many non-Orthodox would be very surprised if they knew how often healing of the body is mentioned together with the healing of the soul in the Church’s prayers. In the prayers of Preparation and Thanksgiving for Holy Communion particularly, we pray repeatedly for “the healing and purification and enlightenment and protection and salvation and sanctification of soul and body,” and for the Divine Grace to fill our five senses, joints and bones, as well as our mind, soul and affections. Likewise, the service of Holy Unction has never been kept solely for the dying, but is held on the eve of Christmas and on the Wednesday in Holy Week, when all the faithful are anointed, and anyone may request a service at any time in case of need.

Some people emphasize the great compassion shown for the sick at Lourdes, and the time and energy spent on their behalf year after year by devoted helpers, and feel that the visions must be true if so much good comes from them.

 

 

 

 

But compassion is not a solely Christian prerogative. Compassion to every living creature is the hallmark of Buddhism, and plenty of people of all faiths and none are quietly doing unpublicized voluntary work in hospitals or among the mentally and physically disabled in their neighbourhoods. The healings and compassion are not proof of the authenticity of the apparitions. That cures take place is not in doubt, but the exact nature of a cure may vary from case to case, and since both Protestant and spiritist bodies also show tangible results, it would be unwise to accept unreservedly the religious implications of cures at the Marian shrines and invest them with an interpretation that they cannot logically be made to bear.

 

Ecumenism, Syncretism and the anti-Christ

As the apparitions have been manipulated by various interested parties for the purposes of Roman Catholic propaganda, proselytism, nationalism and commercialism, so they are eagerly taken up by supporters of ecumenism. Anglicans, Lutherans, even Orthodox all visit the shrines. “The Madonna is for everyone.” Or, “Come into my parlour, said the spider to the fly”? Just as the Pope has spoken of the “conversion of Russia” under one shepherd, “the successor to St Peter,” so the Vatican’s unchanging reunion plan for the rest of us is an open secret—subjection to the Roman Pontiff.

At the same time, ecumenism beyond Christianity continues to gather pace in “the dialogue with non-Christian religions,” although honest dialogue does not appear to be what the WCC has in mind. “The great religious communities will not disappear…. Jews will remain Jews, Moslems will remain Moslems, and those belonging to the great oriental religions will remain Hindus, Buddhists and Taoists”—yet somehow everyone, still keeping to his errors and rejecting Christ, “will abide in the Kingdom of God without … having first become Christians like us.”

God cannot be contained, and He is the source of whatever truth is present in other faiths, but as C. S. Lewis pointed out, being a Christian does mean thinking that where Christianity differs from other religions, Christianity is right and they are wrong. He used the illustration of a sum—there is only one right answer to a sum, and all other answers are wrong, but some of the wrong answers are much nearer being right than others.

Marian ecumenists believe that the Virgin is bringing an ecumenical message at Zeitoun and Medjugorje and that as mother of the entire human family she has a special role to play as a centre of unity and reconciler of quarrelsome children, so to speak. They point out that at Zeitoun the Mother of God remained silent. This is interpreted as a gesture of motherly tact and an invitation “to everyone present, regardless of their beliefs, to unite in God through prayer” (which is now quite normal at meetings for “dialogue with non-Christian religions” and in keeping with the ideas of the WCC). Had she declared herself to be the Mother of God, the Moslems would have rejected the vision; and had she identified herself as the Immaculate Conception, the Copts would have rejected it. They emphasize that the Virgin is mentioned in the Koran as the chosen of Allah and her purity and virtue extolled, but they omit to follow this by stating that Christ Himself is regarded as no more than one prophet among others—and inferior to Mahommed—and that His Crucifixion and Resurrection are utterly rejected.

An Anglican correspondent for the Eastern Churches Review described his visit to Zeitoun in the Spring 1970 edition. He related the story of a leading Moslem who lived near the church and used to throw stones at the pilgrims. The Virgin appeared to him, requested that the stone-throwing cease, and ordered him to paint the cross on his house. This convinced him of the authenticity of the visions and he painted forty large white crosses all over the walls of his house. Somehow this seems a rather pointless exercise, as the man remained a practising Moslem and did not turn to Christ, Who seems not to have been actually mentioned and Who, as usual, seems strangely absent from the proceedings.

At Medjugorje the Virgin announced that she had come to “convert and reconcile.” The shrine is seen as a possible key to peace in the region as only the “Gospa” can reconcile Catholics, Orthodox and Moslems, since they all reverence her. Once again we encounter this extraordinary idea of reconciliation and unity without Christ. The Gospa has chided Catholics of the region for mocking their Orthodox and Moslem neighbours, although this has not curbed anti-Serb propaganda in some of the books about the Medjugorje apparition.

She has declared that “basically religions are similar,” which sounds very much like the teaching of Swami Vivekananda, the late nineteenth, early twentieth century Hindu missionary to the West, who said that all religions are the same at heart. The foundation and heart of Christianity is the Holy Trinity and the Resurrection of the God-man Jesus Christ. Judaism and Islam also believe in a God who requires men to live in a “good” way and oppose “evil,” while Hinduism, as far as I can understand it, believes that God is beyond “good” and “evil,” that everything in this world is part of God, that if only we could see things from the divine point of view, we should see that things we call bad from our own limited human viewpoint are also “God.” Swami Vivekananda, speaking of the goddess Kali, the Terrible Mother, who unites opposites within herself—life and death, creation and destruction, mercy and terror—said, “Who can say that God does not manifest Himself as Evil as well as Good? But only the Hindu dares worship Him as the Evil.” All religions share some things in common, but there are fundamental differences.

The Gospa has also said that the Pope is to be a father to all people, not just to Catholics. Pope John Paul II, who is said to believe in the apparitions, seems to have taken her sayings to heart and made them the inspiration for further ecumenical moves. Apart from his Assisi World Day of Prayer, he refers to the Jews as the older brothers of Christians, and in his speech to young Moslems in Morocco, referred to the Father God sixty-six times. This in addition to the Vatican “missionary campaign” in Russia and the Ukraine, and Vatican interference in the Balkans, in Croatia, Bosnia and Skopje. The Pope apparently sees the third millennium as a new time for mission, a new era of faith, and has given his support to “Evangelization 2000,” which has plans for world-wide evangelizing activity, with Europe, West and East, a priority.

 

 

All these are “signs that indicate not only the gathering of Christians, but the embracing of all faiths and cultures within a common human identity before God” (Dudley Plunkett: Queen of Prophets). Archbishop Frane Franic of Split says, “… I especially see the importance of the role of Medjugorje in the ecumenical work of the Church.”

Might it be that the visionaries of Medjugorje are being used (albeit unconsciously) as part of a much wider softening-up process to prepare the way for the setting-up of a universal world religion in preparation for the coming of the Anti-Christ? It is, after all, of the essence of subtle demonic deceit to make things appear good and Christ-like, to present the kingdom of Satan as if it were the Kingdom of Christ. The eighteenth century Anglican divine, Samuel Horsley, would grieve to see his words coming true today: “The Church of God on earth will be greatly reduced … in the time of Anti-Christ, by the open desertion of the powers of the world. This desertion will begin in a professed indifference to any particular form of Christianity, under the form of universal toleration … from toleration of the most pestilential heresies, they will proceed to toleration of Mahometanism and Atheism, and at last to the positive persecution of the truth of Christianity.”

Meanwhile, the earlier fifteenth century Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa would rejoice at the prospect of his vision in which he saw “warring sects permanently reconciled in a vast system of religious unity,” wherein “pagan and Christian are jumbled up in a remarkable order, … a Greek, an Italian, a Hindu, an Arab, a Chaldean, a Jew, a Scythian, a Persian, a Syrian, a Spaniard, a Tartar, a German, a Bohemian, and finally an Englishman,” because “each system possesses a certain degree of truth” and “only through a study of the various systems can one have an inkling of the ‘unity of the unattainable truth’.”

If there is an Anti-Christ aspect at Medjugorje, it would fit in well with an increasing interest in signs and wonders. The supernatural has been largely removed from life by rationalism, materialism and intimidation by science and technology. An increasing number who feel this lack have tried to fill the gap with UFOs, dancing suns, drugs, “faith” healing, charismatic revivalism, spiritism, New Age paganism, even Satanism—and apparitions. Superstition continues to flourish. A statue of the Virgin weeps blood from one eye, and the neighbours pour in to recite the rosary before it. (In the opinion of the manufacturers, the resin used to fix the eyes had probably melted—quite a frequent occurrence.) A Mexican woman fries a tortilla for her husband’s supper, sees it take on a resemblance to the face of Christ crowned with thorns, and a miracle has taken place! Over the following twelve months, 8,000 people have venerated the batter, encased in glass and surrounded by flowers and candles, while an embarrassed Archbishop tries in vain to halt the holy pancake cult.

Thousands of people make a sober claim to having had their lives spiritually transformed by the shrines. Traditionalist Catholics, especially Marians, see the shrines as confirmation of their faith. Waverers who have been shaken by modern liberal changes in Catholicism seek and find reassurance. Liturgical innovationists feel free to indulge in services with “increased amounts of spontaneity and informality,” such as the Party Mass for sick children at Lourdes, where following the consecration, balloons and streamers filled the air, and the celebrants joined hands and skipped up the aisle singing “Lord of the Dance” (actually the Hindu god Siva). Some nuns continue to live the old life, but most of the Sisters of Charity of Nevers (Bernadette’s order) have put aside the religious habit and become part of the modern world. Even Bernadette herself has been manipulated by different groups who claim her as their heroine—the “revolutionaries” of Christ the Worker, because she was poor, working-class and generally disadvantaged; the “charismatics” because she had visions and heard the voice of heaven directly, apart from the official hierarchy.

Spiritual power-houses, places of hope and healing, an outlet for superstition, a paradise for petty thieves (according to Patrick Marnham, a large plain-clothes police is required at Lourdes in high season) and commercial exploiters, a boost for tourism, an excuse for nationalism and proselytism, a way of satisfying the recurrent popular demand for the Goddess under a respectable Christian guise—the Shrines seem to be many things to many people.

 

Too Much of Everything

I conclude as I began by emphasizing that this a purely personal view of the apparition events. That one or more of the factors considered has played some part in each case I have no doubt, but beyond that I will not venture. Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, to accept or reject the apparitions, to visit the shrines or to stay away, but any Orthodox who might consider seeking healing at these shrines or going on pilgrimage there to honour the Mother of God, should, I believe, give very careful consideration indeed to what these places are all about.

The Russian Orthodox priest, Fr Sergius Bulgakov, after his own pilgrimage to Lourdes, wrote: “The remembrance of this place embalmed by the presence invisible to our eyes, but clearly perceptible to our souls, of the most holy Mother of God, …will remain among the dearest memories of our lives. At least in our hearts the interior dividing wall which separates us from the Roman Church has lost much of its opaqueness.” Everyone’s experience is his own, but this should be balanced by that of the Roman Catholic Robert Hugh Benson, quoted earlier, who experienced the dark side of the Lady of the Grotto. It should, perhaps, also be borne in mind that Fr Sergius’ sophiology, considered very suspect by Orthodox theologians like St John (Maximovitch), may have affected his experience—”the Holy Spirit is manifest through the Virgin Mary—she is a creature but also no longer a creature.” Contrary to what some Orthodox, including priests, have been led to believe, there is no Orthodox chapel at Lourdes.

[Here, as is her wont, Miriam is erring on the side of kindness, Bulgakov’s teachings were not simply considered suspect but were formally condemned by the hierarchs of the Church Abroad and, in 1935, by the Patriarchate of Moscow.—ed.]

It is not obligatory for Roman Catholics to accept the apparitions even when their church has approved them, although some Marianists would like this changed, saying that official approval goes beyond permission to believe and involves infallibility.

 

 

 

After a great deal of serious thought, I am unable to accept a divine origin for any of the apparitions (although some may very well be supernatural in origin), or to believe that God is speaking to the world through them. As an Orthodox, they seem to me unnecessary. We have the Scriptures, the teaching of the Church and the accumulated spiritual wisdom of 2,000 years to guide us. Above all, we have the Holy Spirit as the Pilot and Guide of the Church, and the Lord Jesus Christ as the ever-present and only Head of the Church. With the exception of Zeitoun, the apparitions have all appeared within a church which has pushed the God-man back into heaven and appointed a man as His infallible vicar on earth, a man whose position and power are reinforced and extended by these visions. The great Serbian theologian, [Archimandrite] Justin Popovich [of Blessed Memory], commented: “Vicarius Christi—what tragic illogic: to appoint a vicar and representative for the omnipotent God and Lord.”

For me, there are simply too many visions. The psychologist Staehkin, mentioned earlier, investigated over thirty sets of apparitions of the Virgin, involving three hundred appearances, between 1930-1950. Apart from the Miraculous Medal, which seemed to spark the whole thing off, and the apparitions already mentioned, we have also had Akita, in Japan (where a nun saw sheets of light in her cell and had over a hundred visions in which a statue of the Virgin spoke, wept, and bled), Rwanda, Argentina, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Korea, Hungary, Belgium, Holland, the USA, China, Syria, the Philippines, Italy and Ireland. Forty-seven other visionaries appeared outside Medjugorje in other parishes in the Mostar diocese.

It is not the experiences that are in doubt, but the origin of the experiences, as visions may be caused by various psychological factors, natural psychic and mediumistic ability or demonic delusion. The demons do not hesitate to make full of our fallen intellects, false assumptions, spiritual pride, and psychologically based delusions, which is why the Church warns us, through the ascetics and great spiritual fathers, to be spiritually sober and constantly aware, lest self-deception turns into demonic deception.

There are too many solar signs. Ever since Fatima, solar phenomena have been a feature at most of the shrines—lights, fires, rainbows, dancing suns, showers of petals, fiery crosses, with a particularly dramatic display at Zeitoun. When to these are added the Protestant Revivalist signs—pillars of fire, “Christ” in the sky, clouds that follow evangelists and shelter them from heat, and all the earlier UFOs, one cannot help wondering if there is a programme afoot purposely geared to cater for a generation that seeks after signs—the demons obligingly providing what we are ready to receive. One or two visions and signs might be convincing, but not literally hundreds.

The apparitions are too public. Private revelations are one thing, but most of these apparitions have taken place amid a surfeit of publicity. The “heavenly” visitor comes with a global message and the visions frequently take place in front of crowds of spectators. The visionaries have frequently been the centre of a most unhealthy amount of interests and adulation. The Grotto at Lourdes was filled with police, the police commissioner, the mayor, his deputy, and crowds of up to 20,000. Bernadette was constantly taken from lessons for questioning, waylaid in the street and pestered by the crowds which besieged her home, anxious to catch a glimpse of her and ask for keepsakes and prayers. Similar crowds followed the Fatima children, kneeling to them and begging them to enter their homes and pray for sick relatives. Even Lucia’s plaits were snipped off in the crush by relic hunters. The Zeltoun visions were seen by millions, believers and unbelievers alike.

Amid the full glare of modern publicity, the Medjugorje visionaries quickly became the centre of world-wide attention, giving advice to those who crowded to their homes and relaying answers from the Lady of Medjugorje in response to questions from the crowd. They have been interviewed endlessly and investigated by doctors and psychologists. The Medjugorje events have been promoted by an efficient and aggressive propaganda campaign using every possible means: printing presses dealing solely with the events, international dial-a-numbers for those wishing to receive the Gospa’s monthly message, world-wide radio and TV programmes and lectures, videos, cassettes, and numerous books. (The Mariologist Rene Laurentin alone has written at least ten.) One of the visionaries is co-author of a book, A Thousand Encounters with Our Lady in Medjugorje; another, via the American Ambassador to the European Community, wrote to Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev (Reagan replied). There are special Medjugorje Centres across the world. And all this before any official decision on the apparitions has been reached by the appropriate ecclesiastical authorities. It seems doubtful whether any commission will finally be prepared to give a negative verdict in view of the highly successful propaganda and the degree of popular religious enthusiasm, especially as the Pope has said he thinks there is nothing but good at Medjugorje.

 

Medjugorje, the Charismatic Movement and the Hercegovina Case

While reading about the Medjugorje events I was struck by certain similarities with the Charismatic Movement, especially in the messages and attitude of the supporters, so it came as no surprise to find that almost from the beginning the events of Medjugorje were in the hands of charismatic people: Friar Jozo Zovko, Friar Tomislav Vlasic and others, or to learn that “In May 1981, an international conference for the leaders of the Charismatic Movement took place in Rome. One of the leaders present from Yugoslavia was Fr Tomislav Vlasic…. One of the leaders praying with him, Sister Briege McKenna, had a mental vision of Fr Vlasic sitting down surrounded by a big crowd: a stream of water was flowing from the chair. Emile Tardif, O.P, said as a prophesy, ‘Don’t worry, I am sending you my Mother.’ And so Fr Vlasic returned to Yugoslavia. Two weeks after his return, Our Lady started to appear to a group of boys and girls in the Franciscan parish of Medjugorje. New Life was flowing.”

The Father Vlasic mentioned was the spiritual guide, interpreter and protector of the visionaries for three years. To some he is “a man of irreproachable sanctity,” to others “a Charismatic magician.”

There is the same incredible ease with which the visionaries accept their apparitions and the charismatics accept their “gifts of the Spirit” as coming from God. Something that is not mere hallucination, but is outside the limits of human knowledge and experience, is still not necessarily a genuine, grace-given vision. It can be simply a trust in pleasant psychic experiences. There is also the same emphasis on “love” and “peace” and “joy” in the messages.

 

 

 

Here there would appear to be similarities with another phenomenon spiritism. Mediums do not hesitate to accept their spirit guides as Messengers of Light, and their messages, too, are invariably loving and consoling, usually reverent, with frequent references to a Deity, and with moral teaching. Mediums claim to convey messages from a higher world. The visionaries have conveyed messages from the Gospa to those who have sought answers through them. Even the Archbishop of Split asked one of the visionaries if she could ask the Gospa if there was any message for him.

A charismatic, speaking of the prophecies in her American meeting, says, “The messages have always been those of great solace and joy from the Lord.” A Medjugorje supporter, speaking of the Gospa’s messages, says, “The messages are a mine of beautiful counsels and reassurances.”

“I reach out my hand to you. You need only take it and I will lead you” (Charismatic). “Today I want to wrap my mantle around you and lead you all along the road to conversion” (Gospa). “Be like a tree, swaying with his will, rooted in his strength, reaching up to his love and light” (Charismatic). “Open your hearts to God like the flowers in the Spring yearning for the sun” (Gospa).

Obviously the healing services at Fr Jozo Zovko’s church, mentioned earlier, were charismatic ones, which explains why the people fell about embracing, weeping and fainting. Fr Jozo’s ministry now includes Resting in the Spirit—a less dramatic version of the Pentecostal / Charismatic Slaying in the Spirit—to which he was introduced by an American, and which has apparently caused “some embarrassment” in the parish.

Conflict with the Franciscans in Hercegovina stretched back to Turkish times, when the friars continued to minister to the Catholics in the absence of a bishop. In 1881 a regular hierarchy was reestablished, the intention of the Holy See being that secular clergy would gradually replace the Franciscans in charge of parishes. This caused deep resentment and tension between the friars and the people on the one hand and the diocesan authorities on the other. Medjugorje remained a Franciscan parish. Dr Zanic, the Bishop of Mostar at the time of the apparition beginnings, continued to implement this policy in the face of widespread opposition. Two friars openly rebelled and were jointly suspended by the bishop and expelled from their order by their own superiors. The two friars promptly enlisted the help of the visionaries who referred the matter to the Lady of Medjugorje on no less than thirteen occasions. She came down firmly on the side of the two friars innocent, blameless, and punished in this way! … The Bishop does not act according to the will of God … The Bishop has been hasty … The Bishop is guilty.” “She (the Gospa) spoke about this (Hercegovina) case and burst our laughing and said that she alone would sort out everything. Then she began to laugh. Then Jakov and I had fits of laughter…” “If he (the Bishop) doesn’t accept these events (the authenticity of the apparitions) and behave properly, he will hear my judgement and the judgement of my Son.”

The Bishop (and others) remained sceptical, calling the whole thing a deceit and swindle and claiming that a group of friars led by Fr Tomislav Vlasic were exploiting the “Visionaries” for their own ends.

 

“By their fruits”

The supporters see in Medjugorje a great stirring of religious renewal and are wildly enthusiastic, while others, both clergy and laity, even families from the village remain indifferent or opposed.

The supporters bring out the usual argument, the same one used for all shrines, as well as by heretics of the past, and the charismatics, both Catholic and Protestant, today. “By their fruits ye shall known them.” They ask how Satan can be at work when the vision emphasizes prayer and fasting, and when there are conversions and healings.

Dr Franic, Archbishop of Split, uses this argument in a letter to Rome in 1985, writing: “For the last three and a half years over three million pilgrims have come to Medjugorje, from all five continents, and all, after the pilgrimage, have returned home converted or brought back to the Christian life from religious indifference or from absolute atheism, renewing contact with prayer and religious practices like fasting, generally on Friday, and in some homes also on Wednesday, their food consisting of bread and water, in a word completely reconciled with God and men.”

That most returned home in a state of temporary euphoria is very likely; that some, perhaps a good many, began to live a more serious Christian life and came face to face with Christ for the first time is certainly possible, but that all three million—if there were three million to start with—were completely reconciled to God and men would indeed be a miracle, the miracle of Medjugorje, but it is much more likely to be wishful thinking on the Archbishop’s part. We only have to recall the Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican to know that prayer and fasting or any other “religious practice” are not sufficient in themselves to reconcile us to God and men.

Healings, as we know, occur in many places other than Marian shrines, also in non-Christian religions. Healing, like the numbers of pilgrims, has been cause for dissension, with opponents claiming that there is no proof for many of the healings, that the Medical Bureau at Lourdes gave a negative response, and that some of those claimed as “healed” had in fact died. At one pilgrimage, the Bishop of Mostar declared there were only 30,000 pilgrims as against Fr Vlasic’s possible 200,000. The visionaries asked “Our Lady of Medjugorje” for the precise number. She replied 110,000.

There are also rotten fruits—the disagreements with devotees of other Marian shrines (echoes of Our Lady of Walsingham versus Our Lady of Ipswich), and another sorry saga of dog-collar-eat-dog-collar, again with exceedingly acrimonious exchanges at high levels. On a lighter note, Desmond Seward (The Dancing Sun) gives us an amusing account of the lengthy sermon at an English mass by a priest from Kentucky, which included a moving account of his agonies in giving up Coca-Cola after he had responded to the Virgin’s call to do penance.

 

 

 

The Visionaries

How convincing are the visionaries themselves, who all believe that they have seen the Mother of God? A real cause for concern is what would appear to be an extraordinary lack of spiritual caution, resulting in unquestioning acceptance of their visions as indeed the Blessed Virgin. Recall the words of one Medjugorje visionary—”Who else could it be? It was obvious!”

Zeitoun stands out as a different from the other apparitions because, as mentioned earlier, the figure was seen over three years by senior members of the Coptic clergy, Catholics, Protestants, Moslems, Jews and atheists. Had it not been for the striking similarity between the descriptions of the Zeitoun solar phenomena and the earlier descriptions of UFOs, I would have found this group of witnesses solid and impressive, although it would still have been difficult to see why the Virgin should appear in this public way to all and sundry, when Christ Himself never took the opportunity to convince unbelievers by appearing over Jerusalem, where He could have been seen by Pilate, Herod, Caiaphas, and all the people, as proof of His Resurrection.

Catherine Labouré, who saw the Miraculous Medal, was a lover of visions, and embarked on the unwise (in Orthodox eyes, exceedingly dangerous) course of seeking more visions. Knowing how the demons can deceive us, the ascetics always spurned visions, saying that they were unworthy to see angels. The Miraculous Medal prayer proved excellent propaganda material for the Immaculate Conception dogma, and Catherine died knowing that millions of medals had been distributed throughout the world. Her own identity, which was supposed to have been kept a secret, was somehow discovered, and she was canonized by the Roman church.

Maximin and Melanie of La Salette seem to have been an unprepossessing pair as children, and their adult lives were not very reassuring either. Bishop Doupanloup found Maximin “disgusting in every way,” and the cure d’Ars, who also interviewed him said, “If what the child tells me is true, one cannot believe in it.” However, the voice of popular enthusiasm prevailed and the official conclusion was in favour of the apparition.

Bernadette comes across as refreshingly normal, with plenty of rough peasant wit and commonsense. After entering a convent she had no further visions and did nothing to draw attention to herself or engineer the fame she was to acquire. Her physical illnesses were suffered courageously and borne with dignity. She apparently believed that she had never willed to do anything wrong in her life, and she also believed that she had never [previously] heard the words “Immaculate Conception.” The latter is almost impossible to accept because the people of the Pyrenees had been celebrating the Feast of the Immaculate Conception as a holy day of obligation for the previous one hundred and fifty years, that is, since the decree of Clement XI in 1708. (Plus IX merely defined the dogma and imposed it as an article of faith.) Throughout her Catholic childhood in a Catholic culture, Bernadette would have been taken to church on 8th December, just as she would have gone at Christmas, Easter and the Assumption. After the definition of the dogma in 1854, and in connection with the popular Miraculous Medal, with its prayer to “Mary conceived without sin,” the Immaculate Conception must have been referred to countless times in her hearing.

The small seers of Fatima were paragons of virtue according to Sister Lucia, the surviving visionary, with a chillingly unnatural brand of piety. They wore ropes round their waists, next to the skin, until their Lady assured them that God did not wish them to sleep with the ropes on, but only to wear them during the day. They mortified themselves in every possible way, at times refusing food and drink, and deliberately stinging themselves with nettles, and they made a sacrifice of absolutely everything, saying each time the words the Lady had taught them: “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 two younger seers both died in childhood; Lucia continued to receive visions and revelations as a nun.

Marlette Beco, a Belgian girl, was visited eight times in 1933 by an apparition who bore an uncanny resemblance to the Lady of Lourdes, who likewise asked for a chapel, produced a spring, and gave the child a secret. Marie was eleven years old, at an emotional pre-adolescent age, and was frequently reduced to tears on account of the apparitions, crying during some of the visions and “weeping uncontrollably at the non-appearance of her Lady” on evenings when nothing happened, and feeling ill and tired and fainting, although the doctor declared that there was nothing physically wrong with her. At the end of the final apparition, at the departure of the “Virgin of the Poor,” the girl “flung herself to the soggy ground where she lay in a crumpled heap, hiccupping and sobbing convulsively, while attempting to say her prayers.” Marlette Beco was recognized by the ecclesiastical authorities as having seen the Blessed Virgin, and Banneux blossomed into a pilgrimage centre with the usual parade style ground for blessing the sick, a hospital and camping area. A society of Banneux organizes pilgrimages and disseminates information.

The young people of Medjugorje have been described as living in an exalted spiritual world, shining examples who live “exemplary lives of prayer, fasting, detachment from the evil of their age and peers manifesting true love towards the Church and the Pope.” They have also been called “little liars,” “ignorant pawns in a game they do not understand,” with “inflated egos” and behaving like “domesticated robots.” One visionary, Mirjana, no longer sees the apparitions but instead hears an internal voice. Two other girls (other than the visionaries), Jelena and Marijana, initially under the direction of Fr Tomislav Vlasic—the charismatic leader who had been spiritual director to the visionaries—also hear an inner voice, which they believe to be the Virgin’s, giving them personal messages, messages for the local prayer group, the parish and the world. Over a million copies have been distributed free of books by the same Fr Vlasic which contain meditations on the messages and include “formulae of consecration to the sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, dictates by Our Lady to Jelena.” Other priests associated with Medjugorje and the Charismatic Movement also receive “inner locutions,” said to be an explicit internal awareness of a message unlike any human form of communication.

Lest anyone should hesitate to accept the apparitions on account of their doubts about the visionaries, they need not worry, Rome has the answer. A special category of divine favours to cover unsatisfactory visionaries—”gratiae gratis datae”—favours given by God with no regard to the spiritual state of the visionary.

 

 

The Mother of God or the Goddess?

Who is this Lady who has appeared thousands of times and is acclaimed by millions’? Is she the Mother of God, whom we know within Orthodoxy from the Scriptures and the services and teachings of the Church? It is almost as if the Marian apparition cult has a life and ethos of its own, almost as if it were a separate religion—Christianity overlaid with the worship of the Goddess and spiritism. The Virgin, not Christ, is the central figure. Heaven speaks through her, not Him. Despite Rome’s official teaching, which still precludes placing Mary on a level with her Son, she is predominant. Geoffrey Ashe seems to have put his finger on it when he says that “the vitality of Christ’s own (R.C.!) Church has often seemed to depend on her rather than on Him.”

My sense of the autonomous Virgin, acting in her own right, was confirmed by Fr Michael O’Carroll, who says that God has chosen to entrust His mission of mercy and renewal to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Speaking of Medjugorje, he says, “It was not God the Father, nor God the Son incarnate, nor God the Holy Spirit who took the initiative at Medjugorje. It was Our Lady.” He goes on to say that the main feature of Medjugorje is the manifestation of the “dominant, continuing, utterly self-assured role given to Our Lady.”

He seeks to reassure those who feel that God has been displaced at Medjugorje by speaking of the Gospa’s “recurring mention of the Holy Spirit.” In the two hundred and three messages I read, the Holy Spirit was mentioned just six times, twice in a way that made Him merely a witness to the Gospa—”I am inviting you, dear children, to pray for the gifts of the Holy Spirit which you need so as to witness to my presence and all that I am giving you…. The Spirit of truth is necessary for you in order to convey the messages just as I give them to you.”

Fr O’Carroll’s “assurance” is couched in terms that will sound very strange to Orthodox ears. “The recurring mention of the Holy Spirit is notable and accords well with the revival, within the last lifetime, of doctrine and devotion about him: he was always part of the Christian creed, accepted by believers, honoured in certain common prayers.” He adds significantly, “But it is not so long since a spiritual work about him appeared with the title ‘The Forgotten Paraclete,’ or since a great master of the spiritual life, Dom Columba Marmion, could assert that for some the attitude would be that expressed in an important text in Acts: ‘We have not even heard if there be a Holy Spirit.”‘ This confirmed my earlier reference to the Latin filioque with its subsequent downgrading of the Holy Spirit, and the large part I believe this distortion of Trinitarian doctrine has played in the Marian apparitions. The need for the Eternal feminine lies deep in the human psyche. That need is met in the Holy Trinity, the heart of Orthodoxy. Where Trinitarian teaching is unbalanced, and the Holy Spirit neglected, the Goddess is likely to re-emerge either under the form of Marian excess, or in the guise of Gnosticism, with its demand for women priests and inclusive language for God.

In the New Testament we see the incomparable spiritual beauty of the Mother of the Lord. In her shining humility she always points away from herself. Mother of the Messiah, she humbly refers to herself as God’s handmaiden. Her kinswoman Elizabeth’s praise of her is immediately referred to God, Who has regarded her lowliness. She does not presume to issue her own orders to the servants at Cana, but quietly advises them to obey her Son’s instructions. The Acts leaves her not engaged in some private initiative, but waiting in prayer with the whole body of the believers.

The lady of all the apparitions, by contrast, remains firmly centre stage, with the spotlight fixed permanently on herself. She decrees new titles for herself: The Immaculate Conception, Our Lady of the Rosary, Mother of Consolation, Virgin of the Poor, Queen of Peace. She seeks amendment and consolation for injuries done to herself:—”Dry the tears on my face, which I pour down as I observe what you do” (Medjugorje), “Look at my Heart, surrounded with thorns with which ungrateful men pierce me at every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude. There are so many souls whom the Justice of God condemns for sins committed against me that I have come to ask for reparation: sacrifice yourself for this intention” (Fatima).

In Goddess-language, the Lady of Medjugorje tells us, “I am tireless, I am calling you even when you are far from my heart. I am the Mother, and though I feel pain for everyone who goes astray, I forgive easily and I rejoice for every child who comes to me.” She appeared on the mountain with five angels in 1986, declaring to the visionaries that what they were experiencing was “like the Transfiguration on Mt Tabor.” She would give the people all the graces they needed. She blessed them and told them to “go down from Tabor and take the blessing to others.” “Wherever I come, my Son is with me,” she says. The truth is that where the God-Man is, so also, in Him, His Mother, His saints, His angels and His righteous ones are present. In Him—and only in Him—we have fellowship with them and ask their help. His Mother is truly Mother of us all in the Church, where she holds the most exalted position, closest to Christ, but she does not act independently from Him. She is not the Mother of the Church, nor the Mediatrix of all graces, nor the Co-Redemptrix—both these latter titles being implicit throughout the Medjugorje messages.

“Divorced from her setting in the Gospels and evolved from man’s subconscious fancies, she may become anything, from a dream of sentiment to being dark, inscrutable, inexorable, akin to the gloomy goddesses of pagan thought” (Newbolt: The Blessed Virgin).

 

The Messages

In the end it must be the content of the messages themselves which inspires acceptance or rejection of the visions. As stated previously, this was why we have not included Walsingham among the Marian shrines, as the message, whether revealed to Richeldis in a private vision or a dream, was a simple request for a chapel in honour of the incarnation.

At Zeitoun, and earlier at Knock, no message was given, so the purpose of those visions is a matter for conjecture. There are differences of emphasis in the still an underlying unity, although Lourdes messages at the various shrines, but still appears to be the odd one out in several ways.

 

 

Firstly there is the air of politeness and courtesy. “Come nearer, children, don’t be afraid: I am here to tell you great news,” at La Salette. “Will you do me the kindness of coming here for a fortnight,” at Lourdes. The Lady of Zeitoun bows in greeting to the assembled crowds. The Gospa of Medjugorje repeats her parrot-like refrain at the end of every message, “Thank you for responding to my call.”

There is the same absence of Christ, or at least His marginalization as a distant figure of vengeance, whose just wrath is held back by the Virgin. At Medjugorje He is equally distant, though not fearful, and we are invited to “think more about Jesus” on Christmas Day and “do something concrete for Jesus Christ,”—that is, “bring a flower as a sign of abandonment to Jesus. I want every member of the family to have one flower next to the crib so that Jesus can see and see your devotion to him.” There are the same secrets, apocalyptic warnings, good advice on church going and behaviour, and exhortations to “love,” “do penance,” and “pray.” The message of Banneux was quite literally, “Pray a lot.” Prayer means the rosary, which is constantly mentioned. Although Medjugorje supporters claim that the Mass is emphasized as the central prayer, the rosary has general preeminence. It is “the one form of prayer preferred by Mary” (O’Carroll). “The rosary is a powerful weapon against Satan … We must defeat Satan with rosaries in our hands … ” (Medjugorje). Assistance at the hour of death is promised at Fatima to those who confess, receive Communion on the first Saturday of five consecutive months and recite a set umber of rosaries for a set amount of times with the correct intention. All the visionaries have recited the rosary, and the apparition at Medjugorje appeared regularly during its public recitation. The boy seer of Fatima was given the promise that he would go to heaven but would “have to recite many rosaries.” One of the Medjugorje visionaries received a rosary from the Lady personally (whether this was actually a materialization is not clear) and the Pope was sent one specially blessed for him by the Gospa.

There is the same teaching of purgatory and Papal supremacy, and the same emphasis on the sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Pope John Paul II likewise emphasizes the Immaculate Heart and associates it with the sacred Heart. Those who embrace the Immaculate Heart are offered salvation at Fatima, and the Gospa of Medjugorje invites us to consecrate ourselves to the Immaculate Heart and make atonement for the sins by which the Heart of Jesus has been offended.

There are the same bargains, promises and threats, inducements to right action through self-interest. If you do this, I promise to do that: if you omit to do so and so, such and such will follow or not follow. “Those who wear the Medal will receive great favours, especially if they wear it round their neck.” “If sinners will only repent, the stones and rocks will turn into heaps of wheat” (La Salette). “If people do as I tell you, many souls will be saved and there will be peace” (Fatima). “If we do not change, the punishment will be very great” (Garabandal).

Lourdes is in many ways a striking contrast. The rosary is as prominent, and the apparition holds a rosary on her arm and lets the beads slip through her fingers as Bernadette kneels and recites her prayers. But while there is no mention whatsoever of Christ, there is also no mention of Hearts, purgatory, apocalyptic threats or bargains. The utterances are few and concise, consisting in the main of short commandments: “Go and kiss the ground for the conversion of sinners; Go and drink at the spring …; Go and tell the priests to have a chapel built here.” The contrast with the garrulousness of the Gospa of Medjugorje could not be more marked.

The vision’s short statement, “I am the Immaculate Conception,” has had a greater impact than any other message from the shrines. Protestants are inclined to see in it no more than a reflection of Bernadette’s mental ability and the state of her grammar. Roman Catholic theologians at the time puzzled over it and felt uneasy because it was uncomfortably similar to Old and New Testament statements made by God and Christ, and seemed to parallel “I am the Resurrection,” “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” Marian maximalists rejoiced at what they saw as divine honours given the Virgin in heaven, and hopefully awaited further revelations by future apparitions, saying, “I am the Mediation of all graces,” and “I am the Co-Redemption.” To their chagrin, they were disappointed, and had to make do with “I am the Lady of the Rosary” and “I am the Virgin of the Poor.” Marian minimalists, on the other hand, insisted that the Virgin was purposely limiting her privileges to the Immaculate Conception and thereby implying that she was not the Mediatrix of all graces or Co-Redemptrix. Some Orthodox, in an attempt to justify their own acceptance of the Lourdes apparition, try to attach significance to the date on which the statement was made, namely March 25th, saying that the Virgin was referring not to her own conception by St Anna, but to the (only) Immaculate Conception of the Lord Jesus Christ on the day of the Annunciation.

[Editor’s note: Not a very convincing argument, as at the time of the apparition in 1858, all Orthodox Christians were following the Ecclesiastical or Old Calendar, which at that time was running twelve days behind the papal reckoning.]

The statement would seem to be as enigmatic as many from the Delphic oracle. What it did do was precipitate and confirm the dogma of Papal Infallibility. In imposing the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in 1854, the Pope acted on his own authority without the consent of a General Council. For this he was greatly criticised in some ecclesiastical circles. When the Lady of Lourdes announced her name by privilege as “I am the Immaculate Conception,” she not only proved that the Pope had been right about the dogma, but confirmed his ability to act on his own, in other words that the supreme authority belonged to the Pope alone. Papal Infallibility became an official dogma in 1870. As Alan Neame puts it, Our Lady of Lourdes was to some degree the mother of Papal Infallibility and the grandmother of the Old Catholics who went into schism rather than accept it.

If someone should inconveniently recall that [St] Catherine of Sienna [fourteenth century], during her vision, was told by Our Lady that she was not immaculately conceived, again, Rome has the answer. Even saintly people can misinterpret their revelations, and Catherine was so influenced by her Dominican teachers, who opposed the teaching, that “even in her mystical rapture this holy woman could not sufficiently immerse herself in God to overcome the suggestion” (Archbishop of Split).

 

 

Unsatisfactory messages, then, are as easily disposed of as unsatisfactory visionaries. According to Dr Franic, Archbishop of Split, not only human suggestion but even evil spirits can easily infiltrate the messages, and therefore every message must be looked at separately. In effect, inconvenient messages can be deleted, leaving a laundered revelation. What with visionaries of doubtful reliability who may be entrusted with divine revelations, divine messages which may be misinterpreted by holy visionaries, or even twisted by evils spirit, and parapsychological causes which may be the sole origin of visions, it would seem that all is shifting ground and there is nothing that can be relied on.

The new factor of the Medjugorje messages is the ecumenical one. The century of trial for the Church is coming to an end, and the Gospa has particularly prophesied an outburst of faith in Russia “where God will be more glorified than anywhere else.” Link this with the Fatima pronouncement on Russia, the Hriushiw call to the Uniats to be missionaries to Russia, the Pope’s keen interest in Russia and his support for Evangelisation 2000, with its emphasis on Europe West and East, and we cannot say we have not been warned!

The Gospa has said that divisions in religion are man-made, and is also said to have declared that God commands in all religions as a king does in his realm, although I did not find this latter statement in the books I read, which is not surprising as the apparitions have been going on for so long, with hundreds of messages, that it would be impossible to include everything. Also, as Fr Rene Laurentin has noted in one of his articles, Rome has shown concern that some of the messages seemed to be implying religious indifference, and therefore it is quite likely that such a controversial statement would be suppressed in any publication favourable to the apparitions, since such an all-out ecumenist position is not (yet) generally acceptable. I wrote to the London Medjugorje Centre for clarification on this point but received no reply. It seems that some kind of unity without Christ is envisaged for non-Christian religions. For some time now Western ecumenists have been tentatively discussing the need for a possible revision or modification of the traditional Incarnational view whereby Christ is unique and final revelation of God to man, on the grounds that it is incompatible with inter-religious dialogue. Be that as it may, my impression from studying the messages from some of the shrines (Fatima, Zeitoun, Hriushiw, Medjugorje) and different writers’ comments on them, is that the Pope is to be the symbol of unity for Christians, who will be reunited despite doctrinal differences (subjection to the Papacy without unity in the faith) and the father of people of all faiths and cultures (the new world religion).

My initial reaction on reading the messages from the shrines was one of intense disappointment. They hardly seemed to justify a heavenly visitation. The messages from Medjugorje particularly seemed bland, banal, and boringly monotonous. And there were far too many of them. If God really was trying to speak, it would be almost impossible to hear Him for the Lady’s incessant chattering. It was with a feeling of grateful wonder and tremendous joy and relief that I turned once more to the richness and depth of our Orthodox prayers.

There are very few places in the Gospels where it is recorded that the Mother of God spoke, but each one of them is highly significant. One could spend a life-time meditating on her sayings and never exhaust their meaning. Otherwise she is silent in order that her Son, the Word, may speak. Nothing can ever surpass the holy Virgin’s two sublime titles: her own choice — Handmaid of the Lord, and that which the Church has given her — Theotokos, Mother of God. Neither can anything of greater importance be added to her last recorded utterance, which remains an eternally true, relevant and universal message—”Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it.”

 

False Marian Apparitions through History
http://www.emmitsburg.net/cult_watch/sf/list_of_false_apparation.htm

Unity Publishing

False apparitions, miracles, locutions and the like have one thing in common, they always build up the importance of the seer, the mystic. Therefore, history records them by the mystics’ name instead of the message or the place. Therefore, this is really a history of the false mystics. All of them claimed to receive messages directly from God. It might be useful for those who want to improve their knowledge on these matters to study Canon Law 1259 on New Forms of Worship; the decree of the Holy Office, April 17, 1942, regarding booklets, pamphlets and leaflets seeking to introduce new forms of devotion; the June 7, 1932, decree of the Sacred Congregation of the Council regulating the manner of publishing favors and offerings related to devotions; and Canon Law 1399 regarding condemned books, paintings, and the like.

There may be as many as one hundred of these preternatural happenings in each century since Christ. We will, however, only point out a few in order to show the reader that what is going on in the 20th Century is not new, and it will not destroy the Church. It will, nonetheless, harm many uncautious souls.

 

First Century

In the first Century, Satan, trying to destroy the Kingdom of God before it became established, caused false seers to receive private revelations and show signs and wonders that led to the writing of 23 false Gospels and 97 false Epistles. These false revelations led the Holy Father in the fourth century to assemble the Bible and declare that it [and it alone] contained the total deposit of faith.

Simon Magus [mentioned in Acts] can be considered the founder of Gnosticism. He taught that ecstasy was the ultimate teacher of truth. He was possessed and caused many others to receive the same power he had. His mystical power was so great, Claudius Caesar had a statue made in his honor. It’s not absolute how much power he had, but we do know that he could fly. His death happened the same way the future Antichrist will die. He bragged that he could fly from the top of the tallest building in Rome, and he did, but an exorcism prayer by Peter caused the demons to release him. He fell to his death.

 

 

Second Century

In the Second Century Montanus began to have false ecstasies and began to prophesy. He misled entire towns of Christians by his miracles. Two women, Priscilla and Maximilla, received the same power from the demons. The miracles impressed his followers. He claimed a separate and superior revelation over the authority of the bishops. He taught that a new kingdom was coming in his lifetime. He further claimed that after him, there would be no more prophets. He was so influential, Tertullian fell into this error.

 

Sixteenth Century

—Michel de Nostredame, better known as Nostradamus, was born of Jewish parents, but because of the Edict of King Louis XII in 1501, his mother and father were forced to become Catholic. He was baptized and became a doctor and alchemist. He studied magic and the occult at the great Avignon library.

—In Avignon he became friends with the Grand Master of the Knights of St. John [later called the Knights of Malta]. They were the keepers of the great treasures of the Church, including the books of the prophets.

—Nostradamus copied these books, rewrote them in apocalyptic language and passed them off as his own. By the use of this plagiarism, he became famous in his own day and influenced kings and queens. He is reported to have hated the Virgin Mary, whom he thought of as a demon, and to have been friends with Calvin.

—Magdalen of The Cross, a Franciscan Nun of Cordove, had ecstasies, levitation, and stigmata. Her revelations and prophecies consistently came true. She was three times Abbess of her monastery. After years of fooling almost everyone, it was proved that she was possessed from an early age. She was exorcised and removed from her convent.

 

Seventeenth Century

—Kuhlman (1689) communicated with demons and Satan, and wrote preternaturally inspired books.

—Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) saw angels and spirits. Many followed his writings for years. J.Gichtel (1638-1710) believed that mystical experience was superior to Scripture and wrote seven volumes of mystical theology.

—Rose Tamisier received many visions of the Virgin Mary. She received the stigmata, but not the usual type. She had imprinted on her the form of a cross, a heart, a chalice, and even a picture of the Virgin and Child. A picture of Christ bled at the church of St. Saturnin-les-Aptes. She had a worldwide following. However, investigation found that the blood coming from the picture was the blood from a leech. She was discovered as having belonged to a society run by another seer named Martin de Gullardon, who claimed to have visions of angels.

 

Eighteenth Century

—Marie Lenormand (1769-1821) predicted the marriage of Napoleon to Josephine, and both Napoleon and Czar Alexander I of Russia consulted her revelations. It is not unreasonable to believe that much of Napoleon’s success came from her powers.

 

Ninetieth Century

—Baroness von Krudener (1800- ) had visions and predicted the many activities of Napoleon. Alexander I consulted her in running his country.

—Sister Salome, member of the Society of St. John, predicted the failure of Napoleon’s Russian campaign. Advised Alexander I of Russia.

—Baron Langsdorff (1899) predicted a bomb threat against the Czar Alexander II. He used a psychograph, a prototype of the Ouiji Board.

—Father John of Cronstadt (1821-1908) performed miracles and advised Alexander III of Russia.

—Eugene Vintras (1807-1875) had visions of St. Michael. Many thought he and his followers to be saints for the outward signs of piety were there. However, it was discovered that he secretly held sacrilegious Masses with those present completely nude. The Masses ended in an orgy. Vintras was also accused of homosexual activity. The majority, however, never saw these things.

—Rasputin (1871-1916) of Siberia claimed to have been visited and empowered by the Virgin Mary. He then left his wife and family and became a cultic preacher. He acquired preternatural hypnotic powers, and was believed to be a miracle worker. He seemed to miraculously cure the Czar’s child, (the actual origin of the child’s apparent illness was never established). He then became a strange advisor to the Czar’s family. He was accused of hypnotizing women for seduction, and was in great part responsible for the disintegration the Russian royal family. His infiltration was followed by the Marxist revolution, the murder of the entire Russian royal family, and the complete take-over of atheistic Communism. In 1923 Russia became the first nation on earth to legalize abortion. It later erected “museums of atheism” throughout the country.

—Felicie Kozlowska (1861-1922), a Franciscan nun, gave such beautiful prophecies, she was called “Little Mother.” She helped excommunicated priest Han Kowalski found the Mariavites — or Imitators of the Virgin Mary. When Kowalski announced that the Virgin Mary dwelt within her, she was excommunicated by St. Pius X. In spite of this, she gained a following of one million including many priests and nuns. The excommunicated priest became the leader of the cult. They ended up in polygamy and mystical marriages. Over 600,000 Catholics were excommunicated.

 

Twentieth Century

—1931: Ezquioga, Spain, happenings condemned by the Church.

 

 

—1931: Verschaeve’s paintings (1939) of the “Passion of Christ” were condemned by the Holy Office.

—1931: Holy Office (1939) condemned the devotion to the “annihilated love of Jesus” and the “Rosary of the Most Sacred Wounds of Our Lord Jesus Christ.”

—1940: Heede-Germany condemned.

—1941: The Church condemned devotion to “The Merciful Love”.

—1945 – Present: Problematic: ‘Lady of All Nations’

—1947: Bouxieres-aux-Dames in Belgium declared preternatural.

—1947: Espis-France condemned as not from God, and produced violent cases of disobedience.

—1948: Moving statue in Assisi condemned as not from the actions of God.

—1948: Gimigliano-Italy condemned.

—1948: Lipa-Philippine visions and rain of rose petals at the Carmel convent proved to be preternatural.

—1948: Aspang-Austria condemned.

—1949: Forstweiler-Germany declared not supernatural.

—1949: Fehrbach-Germany condemned.

—1949: Hasznos-Hungary condemned.

—1949: Lublin-Poland’s weeping lady condemned.

—1950: Heroldsbach, Germany’s alleged apparitions declared to be non-supernatural, and disobedience followed.

 

America’s False Apparitions

—Necedah,
WIS,

—Bayside,
NY,

—Portavoz of MX,

—St. Joseph’s Hill of Hope, Los Angeles, CA,

—The Army of Mary, Canada

—The Last Call of Canada

—Maria Esperanza of Betania (although Betania is true),

—Fr. Albert Hebert of Paulina, LA,

—Eileen George of Worcester, MA,

—Miguel Poblete of Penablance, OH,

—Maureen Sweeney [Holy Love Ministries], Cleveland, OH,

—Vange Gonzales of Santa Fe, NM,

—Nancy Fowler of Conyers, GA,

—Elba & Zendia of Terra Blance, MX,

—Bro. David of El Ranchilo, TX,

—Estella Ruiz of Phoenix, AZ,

—Mary Constancio of Lubbock, TX,

—Pachi Borrero of El Cajas, EQ,

—Father Spaulding of Scottsdale, AZ,

—Gianna Sullivan, Emmitsburg/Scottsdale,
AZ,

—Marvin Kucera of Scottsdale, AZ,

—Theresa Lopez of CO,

—Januszkiewicz of Marlboro, NJ,

—Singer of Burlinton, ON,

—Reinhiltz of Hillside, IL,

—Carol Nole of Santa Maria, CA,

—Fr Bruse of Lake Ridge, VA,

—Veronica Garcia of Denver, CO,

—Tony Fernwalt of Steubenville, OH,

—Ray Doiron of Belleville, IL,

—Rosa Lopez of Hollywood, FL.

 

False Apparitions in the Rest of the World

—Problematic: ‘Lady of All Nations’ (1945 – Present)

—Poem of the Man-God
[Maria Valtorta],

—The Pebble, Australia,

—Vassula Ryden,
Switzerland,

—Magnificat Meal Movement

—Father Gino, San Vittorino, Italy

—Caterine Richero, France,

—Lasut, Slovakia

—Garabandal, Spain

 

 

 

—Ivetka and Katka Greek Catholic girls from the village of Litmanova; these apparitions are still not decided.

—Rosa, Dan Damiano,

—Gilli, Italy,

—Alocci, Sant Stefano, Italy,

—Carabelli, San Damiano, Italy,

—Josyp Terelya, Ukraine,

—Fr. Stefano Gobbi, [Marian Movement of Priests], Milan, Italy,

—Julka, Yugoslavia,

—Cuevas, El Escorial,

—Rwanda (Three seers found to be false and three seers found to be true)

—Medjugorje,

—Aloisia Lex, Austria,

—Julia Kim, Korea,

—Oliveto Citra, Italy,

—Ursula and Breda, Melleray, Ireland,

—Paul of Blue Mt., Australia,

—Cameroon, Africa,

—Rosemary O’Sullivan, Ireland,

—Maria Kizyn, Ukraine,

—Sr. Anna Ali, Rome,

—Christina Gallagher, Ireland,

—Zenovai, Ukraine,

—Singer, Ontario,

—Ivetka and Katka, Slovakia,

—Matthew Kelly, Australia,

—Rossi, Rome.

“People who expect the world as it is to end soon do a lot of very strange things.”

 

Nine major approved apparitions

http://www.theotokos.org.uk/pages/appdisce/nineapps.html

By Fr. Michael Carroll [http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/2623987/posts, http://209.157.64.201/focus/f-religion/2623987/posts, posted on November 9, 2010]

These are the nine major approved Marian apparitions of modern times, based on their acceptance by the Church and the importance they have assumed over time. (See, for example, the article “Apparitions” in Fr. Michael Carroll’s Theotokos, A Theological Encyclopedia of the Blessed Virgin Mary, p.47).

The Apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico

Mary appeared four times to Juan Diego in 1531 at Tepeyac hill near Mexico City. She proclaimed herself the spiritual mother of all mankind and left her miraculous image on Juan Diego’s outer garment, his tilma. To this day Mexicans have a great devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe.

The Apparitions at Rue du Bac, Paris, France

Mary appeared to Catherine Labouré, in the chapel of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, at Rue du Bac in Paris, three times in 1830. She showed her the design of the medal of the Immaculate Conception, the “Miraculous Medal.” This medal, when propagated, helped to renew devotion to Our Lady, both in France and eventually around the world.

The Apparition at La Salette, France

Mary appeared to two children, Maximin Giraud, aged 11, and Mélanie Calvat, aged 14, in 1846, one afternoon while they were looking after the animals high up on the mountain. She appealed for penance and an end to Sabbath breaking and blasphemy in the region. This apparition is credited with a major revival of Catholicism in the area.

The Apparitions at Lourdes, France

Mary appeared to Bernadette Soubirous, aged 14, a total of eighteen times at Lourdes in southern France, at the Grotto of Massabielle. She asked for penance and prayer for the conversion of sinners, and described herself as the “the Immaculate Conception.” Lourdes is most famous for the miraculous spring which has been responsible for many cures accepted by the Church.

The Apparition at Pontmain, France

Mary appeared in the sky over the small town of Pontmain in north-western France to a group of young children for about three hours in January 1871, as the Franco-Prussian war was threatening the area. Her message appeared on a banner under her feet, and encouraged prayer while emphasizing Jesus’ love and concern. The village was spared invasion.

The Apparition at Knock, Ireland

Mary appeared at Knock, a small village in Count Mayo, Ireland in August 1879. A number of villagers of diverse ages saw a silent apparition, which lasted about three hours, outside the gable end of the local church. They saw three figures, Mary, Joseph, and St John the Apostle, as well as a lamb on an altar and angels.

 

 

 

 

The Apparitions at Fatima, Portugal

Three children, Lucia de Santos, aged 10, and her two cousins, Francisco Marto, aged 9, and Jacinta Marto, aged 7, saw Mary six times between May and October 1917. She described herself as “Our Lady of the Rosary,” while urging prayer, and particularly the rosary, as well as penance for the conversion of sinners, and the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart.

The Apparitions at Beauraing, Belgium

Mary appeared thirty-three times to a group of children in the winter of 1932-33 at Beauraing in Belgium, in a convent garden near a hawthorn tree. She described herself as “the Immaculate Virgin” and “Mother of God, Queen of Heaven,” while calling for prayer for the conversion of sinners.

The Apparitions at Banneux, Belgium

Mary appeared eight times to Mariette Beco, aged 11, outside the family home at Banneux, a small village, in Belgium. She described herself as the “Virgin of the Poor,” and promised to intercede for the poor, the sick and the suffering.

 

Links to Apparitions of Mary:
Guadalupe, 1531 – Mary saves America from annihilation

Paris, 1830 – Mary gives us the Miraculous Medal.

La Salette, 1846 – Our Lady never ceased weeping.

Lourdes, 1858 – Affirms dogma of Immaculate Conception.

Pontmain, 1871 – Mary appears and ends war in Europe.

Knock, 1879 – Her message more crucial now than ever.

Fatima, 1917 – Mary prophesies World Wars.

Beauraing, 1932 – Mary prepares us for WWII.

Banneux, 1933 – She said “Whole nations will be annihilated.”

Our Lady of Akita

Our Lady of Pilar
Our Lady of Cap de Madeleine
Our Lady of Czestochowa
Our Lady of Pompeii
Our Lady of Ocotlan
San Juan de Los Lagos
Our Lady of Loreto
Our Lady of Siracusa
Our Lady of Siluva

Our Lady of Altotting
Our Lady of Macerata
Our Lady of the Gate (Vilnius)
La Conquistadora – New Mexico

 

Unapproved Apparitions

http://www.miraclehunter.com/marian_apparitions/unapproved_apparitions/index.html

The Catholic Church has been very cautious to approve purported miraculous events. In fact, in the 20th Century, of the hundreds of public claims of Marian apparitions, there have been only 9 with episcopal approval (4 of those with Vatican approval) and a handful of other Marian apparitions that have not received official approval but have been approved for faith expression at the site. A total of 22 apparitions throughout history have been investigated and have received episcopal approval. Additionally, there have been four Egyptian Marian apparitions approved by the Coptic Orthodox Church in the last 50 years.
Throughout history 308 Marian apparitions are attributed to Saints or Blesseds. They are generally unofficially recognized by Church authorities. Only 7 Popes throughout history have witnessed Marian apparitions.
The list of “unapproved” Marian apparitions below includes three types of apparition claims:
1) Uninvestigated Marian apparition claims (including several to saints);
2) Investigated Marian apparition claims that have been determined to not have any supernatural character;
3) Investigated Marian apparition claims that have not been determined to have any supernatural character.

Click here to view a list of approved Marian apparition claims.

 

Year

Place

# People Involved

Approval of Supernatural character

Aug 15, 1900

Lucca (Italy)  

St. Gemma Galgani (1878-1903)

No decision 

1900

Tanganyika, United Republic of Tanzania (Africa)

2 women  

No decision 

1900

Peking (China)  

Crowd  

No decision 

1900

Loublande, Vendée (France)  

Sr. Claire Ferchaud (1896-1972)  

Negative decision

1902

Campitello, Corsica (France)  

Maddalena Parsi  

No decision  

1904

Zdunska-Wola (Poland)  

St. Maximilian Kolbe 

No decision 

1909

Grey (France)  

Pere Jean Edouard Lamy 

No decision 

1909

Bordeaux (France)  

Marie Mesmin 

No decision 

1910

Sandy, Utah (USA)

Cora Evans (nee Yorgason) (6)  

No decision 

1910

Alexandria (Egypt) 

F. Bruno (future Cyril VI)  

No decision 

1911

Bruxelles (Belgium)  

Berthe Petit 

No decision 

1913

Alzonne (France)  

15 people

No decision  

1914

Hrushiv (Ukraine) 

22 farmers  

No decision 

Sept 8, 1914

Versailles (France) 

Marcelle Planchon (23)  

No decision 

1917

Barral (Portugal)  

Severino Alves (a young shepherd)  

No decision 

1917

Battle of la Marne (France)  

soldiers  

No decision

1918

Enghien (Belgium) 

Berthe Petit (1870-1943) 

Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat awarded to messages (promoted by Cardinals Mercier of Belgium and Bourne of England) 

1918

Turin (Italy) 

Flora Manfrinati 

No decision 

1918

San Giovanni (Italy) 

St. Padre Pio

No decision 

1918

Muzillac, Bretagna, Morbihan, Diocesi of Vannes (France)  

3 children  

No investigation 

1920

Rome (Italy)  

Sister Josefa Menendez  

No decision 

1920

Catania (Italy)  

Ven. Lucia Mangano (religious)  

No decision 

1920

Verdun, Quebec (Canada)

Emma Blanche Curotte 

No decision 

1920

Vistula River, Warsaw (Poland)

Soldiers (“Miracle at the Vistula”)  

No decision 

1923

Bayonne, NJ (USA)

Ven. Sister Miriam Teresa (Teresa Demjanovich) 23 

No decision 

1924

Cenusco sul Naviglio (Italy)

Title: Madonna of the Dv
Elisabetta Reaelli

No decision 

1926

Marlemont (France)

Maria P. (6)  

No decision 

1925

Tuy (Spain)

Sister Lucia dos Santos  

No decision 

May 31, 1927

Messina (Italy)  

St. Annibale Maria di Francia  

No decision 

1928

Ferdrupt, Vosges (France)  

Marcelle George (13) and Madeleine Hingray( 6) 

Negative decision 

1929

Pontevedra (Spain)  

Sister Lucia dos Santos 

No decision 

March 8, 1930

Campinas (Brazil)  

Sr. Amalia Aguirre 

No decision 

1931

Stenbergen (Holland)  

1 woman  

No decision 

1931

Ezquioga – Ezkioga (Spain)  

Andrés (7) and Antonia (11) Bereciartua and crowd  

Negative decision 

1931

Izurdiaga (Spain)  

2 young women  

Negative decision 

1931

Zumarraga (Spain)  

(see 1931 Ezquioga)  

Negative decision – Ezquioga

1931

Ormaiztegui (Spain)  

(see 1931 Ezquioga)  

Negative decision – Ezquioga 

June 15, 1931

Albiztur (Spain)  

4 girl (age 8 – 15)  

Negative decision – Ezquioga  

1931

Bacaicoa (Spain)  

(see 1931 Ezquioga)  

Negative decision – Ezquioga 

1931

Irañeta (Spain)

(see 1931 Ezquioga)  

Negative decision – Ezquioga 

1931

La Pailly (France) 

Pere Lamy 

No decision  

1932

Marmagen (Germany)  

Odile Knoll (40)  

No decision 

1932

Metz (France)  

nun 

No decision 

1933

Beauraing (Belgium)  

Tilman Côme (58)  

No decision, see http://www.theotokos.org.uk/pages/unapprov/falseapp/fbeaurai.html

1933

Crollon, near Mont-St-Michel (France)  

Adrien Angot (boy) and two friends  

No decision – not investigated

1933

Onkerzele (Belgium)  

Mrs. Nieke von den Dijk  

Negative decision 

1933

Harcy (France)  

1 man (37) and many others  

No decision 

Oct 5, 1933

Houlteau-Chaineux (Belgium)  

Georges Duanime (37), Jeanne Edmonds (5), Charles Gillet (5)  

No investigation – Bishop Kerkhofs of Liege

1933

Lokeren-Naastveld (Belgium) 

Bertonia Holtkamp and Joseph-Henri Kempenaers 

Established as not supernatural (August 25, 1934 Archbishop of Malines and Bishop of Ghent) 

1933

Etikhove (Belgium)  

Maurice Van Rokegem and Omer Eneman (40)

Negative decision 

October 5, 1933

Herzele (Belgium)  

Jules de Vuyst & Crowd  

Negative decision – Bishop of Ghent 

1933

Olsene (Belgium)  

Maurice Vandembroeck  

Negative decision 

1933

Berchem-Anvers (Belgium)  

Many people claimed apparitions following Beauraing

Negative decision 

1933

Foy Notre-Dame (Belgium)  

M. (19)  

No decision – uninvestigated 

1933

Melin-Micheroux (Belgium)  

Mathieu Lovens  

No decision  

1933

Tubize (Belgium)  

Many people claimed apparitions following Beauraing  

Negative decision

1933

Verviers (Belgium)  

Many people claimed apparitions following Beauraing  

Negative decision 

1933

Wilrijk (Belgium)  

Many people claimed apparitions following Beauraing

Negative decision 

1933

Wielsbeke (Belgium)  

1 woman  

No decision 

March 23, 1934

Roggliswil (Switzerland)  

Melchior Kleen-Hode  

Negative decision – January 25, 1935

1934

Lucerne (Switzerland)  

1 woman  

No decision 

1934

Marpingen (Germany)  

E.B., an opponent of Nazism  

No decision 

1935

Rome (Italy)  

1 woman  

No decision 

1935

Itri, Valmontana (Italy)  

Luigina Sinapi (teen-age girl)

No decision 

May 1938

Milan (Italy) 

Bl. Maria Pierina De Micheli (22) 

No decision 

1936

Bouxieres-aux-Dames (France)  

Adeline Pietrquin (28) and Gabrielle Hanus (26)  

Negative decision

Mar 22, 1936

Ham-sur-Sambre (Belgium)  

Emelda Scocky (11) and Adeline Pietrquin (28)  

Negative judgment (March 11, 1938 – Bishop Heyle of Namur); confirmed by Belgian Bishops’ Conference (March 25, 1942) and CDF (Jan 15, 1951). Bishop Charue of Namur officially confirmed all negative judgments.

1937

Voltago-Belluno (Italy)  

5 young shepherds and a boy 

Negative decision  

1937

Bettin (Italy)

Padre Gino  

Negative decision

1937

Oberbruck (France)  

Antoinette Lauber (15)  

No decision 

1937

Heede-im-Emsland (Germany)

Margaret Gansferth, Greta Gansferth, Anna Schulte, Susanna Bruns 

No decision

1937

Saint-Bonnet de Montauroux (France)  

Henriette Dejean (15)  

No decision – not investigated 

1938

San Vincenzo Valle di Rovereto (Italy, Diocese of Sora-Aquino-Pontecorvo)

Filomena Carnevale (1926-1959) – stigmatic shepherdess  

Positive investigation of Filomena; no formal approval of apparition  

1938

Saint-Pierre-la-Cour (France)  

children  

No decision

1938

Kerizinen, Brittany (France)

Jeanne-Louise Ramonet (28) 

Negative decision (1956, 1971, 1837, 1975) 

1938

Bochum (Germany)  

Ursula Hibbeln  

No decision 

May 31, 1938

Milan (Italy)  

Sr. Mary Pierina De Micheli

No decision 

1938

Oberpleis (Germany)  

1 woman  

No decision 

1938 and on

Paravati (Italy) 

Fortunata ” Natuzza ” Evolo (1924-2009)  

No decision 

1939

Beaverville, Illinois (USA)  

Sister Mary Mediatrix (Frances Hennessey)  

No decision 

1939

Kerrytown (Ireland)  

Crowd  

No decision 

1939

Dublin (Ireland)  

N.A.  

No decision 

1939

Saint-Placide (Canada)  

Thérèse Gay (12)  

No decision 

1939

Kallikulam, Tamilnad (India)

6 young people
(Gnana Athikkam, S.P.John, M.G.Thomas, D.Thasan, R.Thasan, M.A.Thasani)

No decision 

1939

Kecskemet (Budapest), Hungary 

Sister Maria Natalia (38) 

No decision  

1939

Krakow (Poland)  

Rev. Francis Marianus Nowakowski 

No decision 

1940

Holsterhausen, Dorsten (Germany)

 

No decision 

1940

Ortoncourt (France) 

Mme. Jeanette Tochet  

No decision 

1940

Bodonnou (France)  

Theresa Coat  

Negative decision 

March 25, 1941

Alto de Umbe (Spain)  

Felipa Sistiago de Arrieta (33) 

No decision  

1942

Cornamona (Ireland)  

1 girl

No decision  

Feb 8, 1943

Girkalnis (Lithuania)  

Crowd  

Negative decision  

1943

Athis-Mons (France) 

Crowd  

Negative decision  

1943

Paris (France)  

Mr. & Ms. Debord 

No decision 

1943

Warsaw (Poland)

Wadysawa Papis 

No decision 

May 13, 1944

Ghiaie-di-Bonate (Italy)

Adelaide Roncalli (7) 

Not established as supernatural / worship prohibited – April 30, 1948 Bishop Bernareggi of Bergamo
Approved for faith expression – 2002 Bishop Roberto Amadei of Bergamo

1944

Balasar (Portugal)  

Bl. Alexandrina Marta da Costa (March 30, 1904 – October 13, 1955) 

No decision  

1944

Mississippi (USA)  

Claude Newman (prisoner)  

No decision

1945

Georgia (USA) 

James Wilburn Chauncey (Baptist)  

No decision  

1945

Italy 

Marcelina Barossa (10)  

No decision  

1945

Bronx, NY (USA)

Joseph Vitolo (9)  

No decision 

Oct 9, 1945

Heroldsbach (Germany) 

Girls between 10 and 11 (Kuni Schleicher, Grete Gugel, Erika Muller, Marie Heimann, Betty Buttner, Antoinie Saam, Irma Mehl) 

Commission of inquiry of the Ordinariate Archbishop of Bamberg – May 15, 1951 Prohibited devotion; June 18, 1951 – suspension a divinis for disobedient priests; 1998 – Archdiocese of Bamberg officially recognized as a “place of prayer” (no comment on supernatural character of the events)

1945

Munich (Germany) 

  

No decision  

1945

Niderhbach (Germany) 

  

No decision  

1945

Pfaffenhofen (Germany) 

  

No decision  

1945

Remagen (Germany) 

  

No decision  

1945

Rodalben (Germany) 

  

No decision  

1945

Wurzburg (Germany) 

  

No decision  

1945

Ardhee, County Tyrone (Ireland) 

  

No decision  

1946

Suwon (Korea) 

Theresa Hwang 

Negative decision

1946

Espis (France)  

Gilles Bouhours (5)  

Negative decision

1946

Pasman, Dalmatia 

Adults & children  

No decision  

Dec 10, 1946

Vilar-Chao (Portugal) 

Amelia Nahiridade de la Navidad Rodriques 

No decision 

April 13, 1947

Montichiari (Italy)

Pierina Guilli

Not established as supernatural  

1947

Casanova Staffora (Italy) 

Angela Volpini (7)  

Negative decision  

Aug 23, 1947

Forsweiler Tannhausen (Germany)  

Mrs. T. Paula (40) & 4 children  

Negative decision  

1947

Urucaina (Brazil) 

1 religious  

Negative decision

1947

Tannhausen (Germany) 

Mrs. T. Paula 

No decision 

1947

Pleskop near Vannes (France)  

Therese Le Cam, Annik and Monique Goasguen  

No decision 

1947

Vorstenbosch (Holland) 

Anton & Berta van der Velden 

No decision 

July 2, 1947

St. Emmerich-Berg (Hungary)

Klara Làszloné 

Approved for faith expression (1990) 

1947

Grottamore (Italy) 

1 child 

No decision 

1947

Ille Napoleon (France) 

3 little boys 

No decision 

Nov 1, 1947

Kayl (Luxembourg) 

Emily Wanding (10) 

No decision 

1948

MARTA DI BOLSENA near Viterbo (Italy)

4 Children and Others  

Established as not supernatural (1948 – bishop of Montefiascone; 1952 – Archbishop Adelchi Albanesi, Bishop of Viterbo  

April 18, 1948

Gimigliano di Venarotta (Italy) 

Anita Feerici (13) and others  

Negative decision  

1948

Montlucon (France)  

1 religious  

Negative decision  

1948

Cluj (Romania)  

Crowd  

Negative decision  

1948

Aspang (Austria) 

Crowd of men 

No decision 

1948

Liart (France) 

Louis Mercier and 11 Others 

No decision 

1948

St. Jeanaux Bois (France) 

Mrs Lucie Manceauu (23)

No decision 

1948

Lipa (Philippines)

Teresita Castillo 

Veneration of Mary permitted under title “Mediatrix of All Grace” (Archdiocese of Lipa) / Established as Not Supernatural (Vatican – 2010)

1948

Tor-Pignattiaira (Italy)  

Bruno Bolotte (13)  

No decision  

1948

Marina de Pisa (Italy)  

3 children and many adults

No decision  

1948

Maria Bolsena (Italy)  

4 little girls and some adults  

No decision  

1948

Zischowicz (Czechoslovakia)  

2 girls  

No decision  

1948

Altenmarkt (Austria)  

Katharina Kainhofer  

No decision 

1948

Caserta (Italy) 

Teresa Musco (5)

No decision 

May 12, 1949

Fehrbach (Germany) 

Senta Roos (14) 

No decision  

1949

Lublin (Poland)  

Crowd  

Negative decision  

1949

Zo-Se (China)  

1 religious  

Negative decision  

1949

Fehrbach (Germany)  

Senta Roos (Teen-age girl) 

Negative decision

1949

Hasznos (Hungary)  

Crowd  

Negative decision  

1949

Balestrino (Italy)

Caterina Richero (9)  

Non constat de supernaturalitate (1969)
Approved for Faith Expression (1991)

1949

Gimigliano (Italy)  

A young girl  

Negative decision  

1949

Heroldsbach (Germany) 

Four children  

Negative decision  

1949

Necedah, WI (U.S.A.) 

Mary Ann Van Hoof (neé Bieber) (1909–1984) 

Negative decision  

1949

Hersolsbach (Bavaria)

Crowd of 300  

No decision  

1949

Ceggia (Italy)  

Mariolina Baldissin 

No decision 

1950

Girgenti (Malta)

Guza Mifsud 

No decision 

March 14, 1950

Acquaviva Platani (Italy)

Pia Mallia (12)  

Negative decision

1950

Saint-Eugène de Gamby (Canada)  

3 children  

No decision  

1950

Ribera (Italy)  

2 children  

No decision  

1950

Denver, CO (USA)

Mary Ellen (15)  

No decision  

1950

Remagen (Germany)  

20 children  

No decision  

1950

Perregaux (Algeria)  

1 woman  

No decision  

1950

Guarciano (Italy)  

A child  

No decision  

1950

Casalicchio (Italy)  

Tina Mallia (12)  

No decision  

1950

Binghamton (U.S.A.)

1 woman  

No decision  

1950

Belmuttet (Ireland)  

Teen-age girl  

No decision  

1950

Bienvenuda-Usagre (Spain)  

1 man  

No decision  

1950

Padoue (Italy)  

1 woman  

No decision  

1951

Amarossi (Italy) 

Teen-age girl  

No decision  

1951

Arluno (Italy)

Luigia Nova (39)  

No investigation 

1951

Oriolo Calabro (Italy)  

1 man  

No decision  

1951

Casalicontrada (Italy)  

1 man  

Negative decision  

1951

Dugny (France) 

3 people  

No decision  

1951

Tangua (Brazil)  

Young girl  

No decision  

1951

Tinos (Greece)  

N.A.  

No decision  

1951

Baggio (Italy)  

Young girl  

No decision  

1951

Poland 

Barbara Klossowna 

No decision 

1951

New York (USA)

Frank, Laity brotherhood of the passion of Christ

No decision 

1952

Bergame (Italy)  

1 woman  

No decision  

1952

Orria (Italy)  

Crowd  

No decision  

1952

Rome (Italy)  

1 woman  

No decision  

July 1952

Rodalben (Germany)  

Annelise Walzig  

Negative decision  

1952

Niederbach (Germany)  

1 man  

No decision

1952

India 

Fr. Louis M. Shourish, S.J. 

No decision  

1952

Gerpinnes (Belgium)  

Rosette Colmet  

No decision  

1953

Caserta (Italy) 

Maria Valtorta (1897-1961)  

Negative decision

1953

Cossirano (Italy) 

Young girl  

Negative decision  

1953

Bivigliano (Italy)  

Galileo Sacrestani (49)  

No decision  

1953

Hubersent (France)  

3 children/1 adult  

Negative decision  

1953

San Saba di Sparta (Italy)  

Rosario Pino (8)

Negative decision  

1953

Rome (Italy)  

Teen-age girl  

No decision  

1953

Philadelphia (U.S.A)  

1 woman  

No decision  

1953

Frignano Maggiore (Italy)  

Teen-age girl  

No decision  

1953

Calabro di Mileto (Italy)  

Bl. Mother Elena Aiello  

No decision

April 23, 1953

Sabana Grande (Puerto Rico)

Juan Angel Pinto Collado (8), Bertita Pinto, and two girls Isidra and Ramonita  

Negative decision

Dec 20, 1953

Dubovytsya (Ukraine)  

Hanya  

No decision  

1953

Calais (France) 

0. Lavoisier (10) and 50 others  

No decision 

1953

Cossirano (Italy) 

several children 

No decision 

July 18, 1954

Jerusalem

several children  

No decision  

December 20, 1954

Seredne (Ukraine)

Anna and Several people  

No decision  

1954

Montichiari (Italy)  

 

No decision  

1954

Astuna (Italy)  

 

No decision  

1954

Liceta (Italy)

 

No decision  

1954

Ribera (Italy)  

2 children  

No decision  

1954

Casa Cicchio (Italy)  

 

No decision  

1954

Rombia (Italy)  

 

No decision  

1954

Arluno (Italy)  

 

No decision  

1954

Marta (Italy)  

 

No decision  

1954

Cisterna (Italy)  

 

No decision

1954

Balestrino (Italy)  

 

No decision  

1954

Lazise (Italy)  

Bruno Buratto – a boy 

Negative – Uniinvestigated  

1954

Catane (Italy)  

A boy  

No decision  

1954

Vittoria (Italy)  

2 sisters  

No decision  

1954

Mezzolombardo (Italy)  

1 man  

No decision

1954

Palerme (Italy)  

Several children  

No decision  

1954

Angri (Italy)  

Sultana Ricci (31)  

No decision  

1954

Sasso Marconi (Italy)  

1 woman  

No decision  

1954

Marche-en-Famenne (Belgium) 

N.A.  

No decision  

1954

Eisenberg (Austria)  

Aloisia Lex (6)

Negative decision  

1954

Colombera di Avenza (Italy)  

1 man  

No decision  

1954

Pingsdorf (Germany)  

2 women  

No decision  

1954

Saint-Tropez (France)  

N.A.  

No decision  

1954

Calabria (Italy)  

Mother Elena Aiello  

No decision  

1954

Newcastle (Great Britain)

N.A. 

No decision  

1954

Bande (Luxembourg)  

Several children  

No decision  

1954

Cosenza (Italy)  

1 religious  

No decision  

1954

Ibdes (Spain)  

Several children  

No decision  

1954

Pombia (Italy)  

1 woman  

No decision  

1954

Windy Gap (N. Ireland)

Seamnus Quail 

No decision 

May 31, 1955

Austin, TX (USA)  

Janie Garza  

No decision  

1955

Zululand (South Africa)  

Reinolda May, Benedictine nun  

No Investigation  

1955

Itauna (Brazil)  

1 man  

No decision  

1955

San Vincenzo (Italy)

1 woman  

No decision  

1955

Rome (Italy) 

1 woman  

No decision  

1955

Theriot, LA (USA)

Claire Rose Champagne 

No decision  

1955

Hungary 

1 religious 

No decision  

May 31, 1956

Urbania (Italy)

Augusta Tangini and 1 other person  

No decision  

1956

Assoro (Italy)  

4 children  

No decision  

1956

Urbania (Italy)  

Several children  

Negative decision  

Sept 15, 1957

Rocca Corneta (Italy)  

Crying statue  

Negative decision -1967  

1957

Sausalito (U.S.A.)  

1 man  

No decision  

1957

Cracovie (Poland)  

1 woman  

No decision  

1957

Gasp‚ (Canada)  

N.A.  

No decision  

1958

Saint Jovite (Canada) 

Gaston Tremblay (“Apostles of the Infinite”)

Negative 

1958

Quebec (Canada)

Marie-Paule Giguère (37) – “Army of Mary” 

Negative

1958

Jorcas (Spain)  

N.A.  

No decision

1958

Villa Barone (Italy) 

1 woman  

No decision  

June 1, 1958

Turczovka (Slovakia) 

Matousch Laschut (42)  

Declared site of pilgrimage and prayer – Msgr. Tomass Galis Oct 19, 2008 

1958

Vallemaio (Italy) 

1 family  

No decision  

1958

Mantoue (Italy)  

A child

No decision  

1958

Milan (Italy)  

N.A.  

No decision  

1958

Terni (Italy)  

2 children  

No decision  

1958

Turzovka (Czechoslovakia)  

Matous Lasuta  

No decision  

1958

Abbeyleix (Ireland) 

Josephine Dayton 

No decision 

1959

Scheggia (Italy)  

4 children

No decision  

May 9, 1959

MALÈ, Trent (ITALY) 

Laura Bertini (d. 1994)  

Negative decision (March 9, 2002 – Luigi Bressan, Archbishop of Trento)  

Oct 7, 1959

Warsaw (Poland)  

Many people  

No decision  

Oct 7, 1959

Warsaw (Poland)  

Many people  

No decision

1959

Stornarella (Italy) 

1 man  

No decision  

1959

Ascona (Switzerland)  

N.A.  

No decision  

1960

Neuweier (Germany)  

Erwin Wiehl 

No decision 

1960

Balestrino (France)  

Caterina Richero  

No decision  

1960

Acqua Voltri (Italy)  

A boy  

No decision

1960

Paravati (Italy)  

Natuzza Evolo  

No decision  

1960

Thierenbach (France)  

1 man  

No decision  

1961

Garabandal (Spain)

Mari Loli Mazon (12), Jacinta Gonzalez (12), Mari Cruz Gonzalez (11), Conchita Gonzalez (12)

Not established as supernatural

1961

Craveggia (Italy)  

1 woman  

Negative decision  

September 29, 1961

San Damiano (Italy)

Mama Rosa Quattrini  

Negative decision – 1980, 2005

1961

Budapest (Hungary)

Mrs. Erzsebet Szanto Kindelmann (49)

No decision – Imprimatur for writings of seer

Feb 18, 1962

Ladeira do Pinheiro (Portugal)  

Maria do Conciçao Mendes  

Established as not supernatural (Feb 4, 1965; June 17, 1977)

1962

Chiari (Italy)  

1 woman  

No decision  

1962

Skiemonys, Janonis, (Lithuania) 

Ramute m-Mapiukaite 

No decision  

1962

MONTE FASCE (Italy) 

Padre Bonaventura e Giliana Faglia 

No decision  

1963

Saigon (Vietnam)

several nuns in a convent  

No investigation  

1963

Verceil (Italy) 

2 men  

No decision  

1963

Vietnam 

Rosa Maria (novice)  

No decision 

1964

Turczovka (Slovakia)  

1 man  

No decision  

1965

Fribourg (Switzerland)  

A girl  

No decision  

May 1965

Aleppo (Syroa)

Mariette Korbage (19)  

No decision 

1965

Conchar (Spain) 

1 woman  

No decision  

1965

Belgium

Marguerite  

No decision 

1966

Porto-San-Stefano (Italy)  

Enzo Alocci  

No decision  

1966

Ain-el-Del (Lebanon)

Teen-age boy  

No decision  

1966

Cabra (Philippines)  

Teen-age girl  

No decision  

1966

Liège (Belgium)  

N.A.  

No decision  

1966

Rome (Italy)  

Teen-age girl  

No decision  

1966

Ventebbio (Italy)  

1 priest  

Negative decision  

June 12,, 1967

Raccuja, Messina (Italy)  

Many people (animated statue)  

No investigation  

Sept 9, 1967

Ulzio (Italy)  

1 woman  

No investigation  

May 9, 1967

Nativitade (Brazil)

Dr. Sebastian Fausto de Faria  

Imprimatur on messages; construction of shrine  

1967

Raccula (Italy)  

N.A.  

No decision  

1967

Edenvale, Johannesburg (South Africa)  

Domitilla Hyams 

No decision  

1967

Fribourg (Switzerland)  

1 woman  

No decision

Oct 1967

Bohan-Mortsel (Belgium)  

Leon Theunis and D Wittenwrogel  

Negative decision  

1967

Mont-Laurier (Canada)  

1 woman  

No decision  

1967

Quebec (Canada)  

1 girl  

No decision  

1967

Oulx (Italy)  

1 woman  

No decision  

1968

Florence (Italy)

Mama Carmela Carabelli (58)  

No decision 

1968

St-Bruno-de-Chambly (Canada)  

Several children  

No decision  

1968

Anse-aux-Gascons (Canada)  

Several children  

No decision  

1968

Fort Kent (U.S.A.)  

Young boy  

No decision  

July 1968

Maille (France)

4 children from Hillaray family  

No decision  

1968

Palmar de Troya (Spain)  

Clemente Dominguez y Gomez, Alonso Manuel Corral and 4 young girls  

Negative decision  

May 11, 1968

SANTA DOMENICA DI PLACANICA (Italy) 

Cosimo Fragomeni now Brother Cosimo 

Approved for Faith Expression – 2008

1969

Naples (Italy)

Brother Elia (7) 

No decision 

1969

Florence (Italy)  

1 person  

No decision  

1969

Barcelone (Spain)  

N.A.  

No decision  

1969

Mexico (Mexico)

1 religious  

No decision  

1969

Suodziai (Lithuania) 

Anele Matjosaitis 

No decision  

1969

Cairo (Egypt) 

Mrs. Camille Basaly 

No decision  

1969

Mouseitbe (Lebanon) 

72 boys, Bishop & Others 

No decision  

August 16, 1969

White Lake, New York (USA)

Mary MacKillop 

  

1970

Lecce (Italy)  

Angelo Chiaratti (15)  

Negative decision  

June 18, 1970

Bayside (U.S.A.)

Veronica Lueken

Established as not supernatural (Archbishop Minerva of Salerno / Bishop JO Mugavero of Brooklyn)

1970

Vladimir (Russia)  

Josyp Terelya 

No decision  

1970

Tajique, NM (USA) 

Fr. Molnar 

No decision 

Oct 1, 1971

Amman (Jordan)

cloistered monk  

No decision  

1971

Pendiamo (Columbia)  

Young girl  

No decision  

1971

Crèteil (France)  

N.A.  

No decision  

1971

Luke Saint John (Canada)  

N.A.  

No decision  

1971

San Vicens del Horts (Spain)  

1 man  

No decision  

1971

Kafr Atalla (Egypt)

Many 

No decision  

1971

Beirut (Lebanon) 

Crowd of school children 

No decision 

1971

New York (USA)  

A.W. 

No decision 

May 13, 1972

Madrid (Spain)  

Maria Nieves Saiz 

No decision 

1972

El Mimbral (Spain)  

Several people  

No decision  

1972

Porziano (Italy)  

Several people  

No decision  

1972

Ravenna (Italy)  

Several children  

No decision  

1972

Drummondville (Canada)  

N.A.  

No decision  

1972

Milan (Italy)

Fr. Stefano Gobbi 

No decision

1973

Nitape (Peru)  

1 religious & several children  

No decision  

1973

Mortzel (Belgium)  

N.A.  

Negative decision  

1973

Belgrade (Yugoslavia) 

Julka 

No decision 

1973

Lincoln, NE (USA)  

Dr. Mary Jane Even 

Not established as supernatural – Warning against writings (1995 – Diocese of Lincoln)

Oct 22, 1974

Castel San Lorenzo, Salerno (Italy)  

Luigi Musico  

No decision  

1974

Atene (Greece)  

1 woman  

No decision  

March 1972

Dozul (France)  

Magdalen Aumont  

Negative decision

1974

Derval (France)  

1 man  

Negative decision  

1974

Putot-en-Auge (France) 

Madeleine 

No decision 

May 15, 1974

Gallinaro (Italy) 

Giuseppina Norcia  

Established as not supernatural (Curia of Sora-Aquino-Pontecorvo Soro – Vicars General vicars general and Luigi Bruno and Antonellis Casatelli – October 26, 2001)

1974

Cinquefrondi (Italy)  

1 woman  

No decision  

1974

Canada 

Brother Joseph Francis 

No decision 

1974

Rome (Italy)  

Mother Elena Patriarca Leonardi

No decision 

May 31, 1975

Catania, Sicily (Italy)  

Maria (Saredella) Castorina (1936-1991)  

No investigation  

1975

Anversa (Belgium)  

Eric Bonte “Frere Elie” (1930-1996)  

No investigation  

1975

New Orleans (USA)  

Johnny Hernandez

No decision  

1975

Altai (Siberia)  

Agnes Ritter (49)  

No decision  

1975

Dugny (France)  

Teen-age girl  

No decision  

1975

Kenya 

Muthoni 

No decision 

1975

Binh Loi / Trieu (Vietnam)  

Stephen Ho Ngoc Anh (soldier)  

No decision  

1976

Bislig, Surigao del Sur (Philippines)

Consuelo Nalagan (“Mother”) Royo  

No decision  

July 16, 1976

Berlicum (Holland) 

Elisabeth Sleutjes  

Negative decision  

1976

Cerdanyola (Spain)  

N.A.  

Negative decision  

1976

Olmos (Peru)  

Young girl  

Negative decision  

1976

Puylaurens (France)

1 man  

Negative decision  

1976

Deir-el-Ahmar (Lebanon) 

Fr. Boutros Mounsef 

No decision 

1977

Rostov (U.S.S.R.)  

N.A.  

No decision  

1977

Kharkov (U.S.S.R.)  

N.A.  

No decision  

1977

Leningrad (U.S.S.R.)  

N.A.  

No decision  

1977

Le Fréchou (France)

Fr. Jean Marie  

Negative decision 

1977

Lamezia Terne (Italy)  

Young man  

No decision  

1978

Chiang Si (China) 

various witnesses

No decision 

1979

Palestine (Beirut) 

Many People 

No decision 

1980

Agropoli, Salerno (Italy)  

Armida 

No decision 

1980

Paulina, Louisiana (USA)  

Fr. Albert Hebert  

No decision  

October 1980

El Escorial (Spain)

Luz Amparo Cuevas (March 13, 1931 – Aug 17, 2012) 

Negative decision (1985, Archbishop of Madrid, Angel Suquía); Cardinal and Archbishop of Madrid, Antonio Maria Rouco, approved April 2012 to build a chapel in New Prado;  

1980

Ede Oballa (Nigeria)

1 man  

Negative decision  

Nov 6, 1980

Wu Fung Chi (Taiwan)  

9 Buddhist men  

Investigated – Approved for Faith Expression  

1981

Medjugorje (Bosnia-Herzegovina)

Ivanka Ivankovic,
Mirjana Dragicevic,
Vicka Ivankovic,
Ivan Dragicevic,
Marija Pavlovic ,
Jakov Colo

Not established as supernatural (1991)

Currently under Vatican investigation (2010)

1981

Worcester, MA (USA) 

Eileen George 

No decision

1981

La Talaudière (France)  

Blandine Piegay  

Negative – Not established as supernatural / No devotion (April 16, 1982, Bishop Rousset of Saint-Etienne)  

1981

Seoul (Korea)  

Rev. McAlear & Liz Brennan  

No decision  

1981

Rome (Italy)  

1 woman  

No decision

1981

Thornton, California (USA)  

Manuel Pitta 

No decision 

1982

Cankton, Louisiana (USA)  

Genevieve Huckady 

  

1982

Blackwatertown (Ireland)  

Eileen McPhillips, Patrinne McConville and Maria McClements (17)  

No decision  

1982

Izbicno (Bosnia-Herzegovinia)

2 children  

No decision  

1982

Arguello (Argentina)  

1 man, then several others  

No decision  

1982

Damascus, Syria

Mary (Myrna) Kourbet Al-Akhras 

Approval by Syrian Catholic Church

1982

Nowra (Australia)

William Kamm
(The Little Pebble)

Established as not supernatural – Bishop of Wollongong  

1982

Canton (U.S.A.)  

1 woman  

Negative decision  

July 22, 1982

Canton (U.S.A.)

Angia Dolic (32), Marija Sixth (22), Verica Mravac (12), Ivan Tomasevic (12)  

No investigation  

1983

Beit Sahour, Bethlehem 

NA 

No decision  

1983

Marpingen (Germany)  

Margaretha Kunz  

Negative decision

June 12, 1983

Peñablanca (Chili)  

Miguel Angel Poblete (17)  

Negative decision  

1983

Olawa (Poland)  

Casimierz Domanski  

Negative decision  

February 1983

Surbiton (Great Britain)  

Patricia de Menezes

Negative decision 

1983

Israel 

Thousands of Arab Christians 

No decision 

1983

Tel Aviv 

Hundreds of People 

No decision 

1983

Baguio City (Philippines) 

Many People 

No decision 

July 21, 1984

BOITSFORT (BELGIUM)  

André Pestiaux  

Negative decision

Dec 3, 1984

GARGALLO DI CARPI (ITALY)  

Gianni Varini (50)  

Negative decision – June 25, 1986 Mons. Alessandro Maggiolini of Carpi  

1984

Availles-Limouzine (FRANCE)  

Marie Madeleine Chêne  

No investigation  

1984

Kernéguez (France)  

1 woman  

No decision

Sept 14, 1984

Montpinchon (France)  

Ivanof Gayet, his cousin, Josiane Halbourt and others  

No decision  

March 28, 1984

Jall-el-Dib (Lebanon)  

Jeanne d’Arc Farage (9/15/1996 – )  

No decision  

1984

Gargallo di Carpi (Italy) 

Gian Carlo Varini  

Negative decision

1984

Crotone (Italy)  

Several people  

No decision  

1984

Mushasha (Burundi)  

1 man  

No decision  

1984

Kinshasa (Zaire)  

1 man  

No decision  

1984

Bakersfield (U.S.A.)  

Crowd  

No decision  

1984

Guatemala 

Carmen 

No decision 

1984

Surrey (England)

Patricia de Menezes 

No decision

1984

Southampton, NY (USA)

Ned Dougherty 

No decision 

April 4, 1985

Talavera de la Reina (Spain) 

José Luis Manzano Garcia (b. September 26, 1972)

No decision 

April 28, 1985

Valencia (Spain) 

Ángel Muñoz (24) 

Negative decision 

May 29, 1985

Madras (India)  

Roche Family

No decision 

Sept 2, 1985

Gimigliano di Venarotta (Italy) 

Rosina Messi 

Negative decision – Bishop Ascoli Piceno of Squintani,

1985

Port-a-Prince (Haiti)

Sister Altagrace Doresca (nun – Order of the Consecrated Virgins)

No decision – approval of publication of messages

1985

Nowy Dwor (Poland)  

Robert Rzepkowski (10) 

Negative decision – Uninvestigated

February 1985

Vadiakkado (India)  

Mary Anna  

No decision 

March 25, 1985

Schio (Italy)

Renato Baron  

Negative decision  

April 7, 1985

Lvov (Ukraine)  

N.A.  

No decision  

May 24, 1985

Oliveta Citra (Italy)  

Anita Rio (8 children total)  

No decision  

Nov 1, 1985

Switzerland 

Vassula Ryden (43)  

Established as not supernatural (CDF – Nov 1996)  

Dec 13, 1985

Casavatore (Italy) 

Loredana Troncini (10) and several children

No decision  

1985

Naju (South Korea)

Julia Kim Yoon Hong-Sun (b. March 3, 1947) 

Negative decision

1985

Melleray (Ireland)  

Ursula O’Rourke, Breda Coleman  

No decision  

1985

Carns (Ireland)  

4 young shepherd girls  

No decision  

1985

Sofferetti (Italy)  

Several people  

No decision  

1985

Bisceglie (Italy)  

Roberta Dell’Olio (7)

No decision  

1985

Belluno (Italy)  

2 teen-agers  

No decision  

1985

Floridia (Italy)  

8 children  

No decision  

1985

Casavatore (Italy) 

Several children  

No decision  

1985

Salzburg (Austria) 

Mrs Elfriede Hickl  

No decision  

Feb 2, 1986

Rouen (France)  

Stephane Michel (30)  

Not investigated  

May 11, 1986

Belpasso (Italy)  

Rosario Toscano  

Approval of Faith Expression  

1986

Magomano (Kenya) 

Unknown 

No decision 

1986

Wilmington, CA (USA) 

Patricia Soto 

No investigation 

1986

Burkina Faso

Marie Rose Kaboré 

No decision 

1986

Mazzano (Italy)  

1 woman  

No decision  

1986

MONTEFANERA (Italy)  

Paola Albertini  

Negative decision (March 6, 2006 – Vicar General Monsignor Corrado Pizziolo)

1986

Tierra Blanca (Mexico)  

Elba (13) & Zenaia (11) 

No decision 

1986

Cardito (Italy)  

Teen-age girl  

No decision  

1986

Sezze (Italy)  

Several people

No decision  

1986

Campobasso (Italy)  

N.A.  

No decision  

1986

Giubiasco (Italy)  

Pino Casagrande (62)  

No decision  

1986

Verviers (Belgium)  

N.A.  

No decision  

1986

Nsimalen (Cameroon)  

Belinga Luc Marc and 6 other children  

Negative decision

1986

Bilychi (Ukraine)  

N .A.  

No decision  

1986

Santa Fe, NM (U.S.A.)  

Vange Gonzales 

No decision  

1986

Manila (Philippines)  

soldiers  

No decision  

1986

Blue Mountains (Australia) 

Paul 

No decision 

1986

Eastpointe, MI

Catherine Lanni  

No decision 

1986

Monzambano (Italy) 

Salvatore Caputo 

Established as not supernatural (March 9 ,2002 – Archbishop Luigi Bressan of Trento) 

April 3, 1987

Amsterdam (Paesi Bassi)

agnostics  

No decision  

May 13, 1987

AURACH-FISCHBACHAU (Germany) 

Mrs. Monica Hofer 

No decision 

October 13, 1987

Matera (ITALY) 

Nicolina Taddonio  

Established as not supernatural (bishops of Andria) 

1987

Borgosesia (Italy)

1 man  

No decision  

1987

Curitiba (Brazil) 

3 or 4 persons  

Negative decision  

April 26, 1987

Hrushiv (Ukraine)  

Maria Kizyn (12) 

No decision  

1987

Zarvanystya (Ukraine)  

Chornij Zenovia 

No decision  

1987

Pochayiv (Ukraine)  

Several people

No decision  

1987

Mirto-Crosia, Italy  

Anna Biasa and Vincenzo Fullone 

No decision  

1987

Esmeraldas (Ecuador)  

Teen-age boy  

No decision  

1987

Inchigella (Ireland)  

Rosemary O’Sullivan 

No decision  

May 30, 1987

Bessbrook (Ireland)  

Beulah Lynch and Mark Trenor

No investigation  

1987

Mayfield (Ireland)  

Sally Ann Considine & Judy Considine 

Under investigation 

1987

Granstown (Ireland)  

N.A.  

No decision  

Dec 17 & 18, 1987

Mulevala (Mozambique)  

Crowds of Catholics, Protestants, Muslims and others in five surrounding villages

No decision  

1987

Belpasso (Italy)

Rosario Toscano (15)  

Approved for faith expression (Bishop of Gurué authorized construction of sanctuary)  

1987

Crosia (Italy)  

Anna Biasa,
Vincenzo Fullone

No decision  

1987

Ft. Worth, Texas USA  

Annie Kirkwood 

No decision  

1987

Rome (Italy)

Anna Wings / Sister Anna Ali 

No decision

1987

Barton, Australia  

Sr Kate Douglas 

No decision 

1987

Michigan USA 

Miriamante 

No decision 

1987

Anguera, Bahia Brazil

Pedro Regis Alves (18) 

No decision  

1987

El Ranchilo, TX USA

Friar David Lopez  

No decision  

1987

Mutwal (Sri Lanka) 

“Privileged Soul” 

No decision  

December 1987

Kew (Australia) 

Debra Geileskey 

Negative – Uninvestigated  

1987

Hoshiw (Ukraine) 

two men 

No decision

1987

Grushevo (Ukraine) 

thousands of people 

No decision 

1988

Dublin (Ireland)

Olive Dawson and David Smyth 

No decision 

1988

Syria / Cleveland, OH (USA)

Dr. Issam Nemeh 

No decision  

1988

LINGUAGLOSSA (Italy) 

Salvatore Marchesi 

No decision  

1988

Maracaibo (Venezuela) 

José Luis Matheus Barboza and Juan-Antonio Gil 

Negative – Uninvestigated  

1988

Yardville/Marlboro, NJ (USA)

Joseph Januszkiewscz 

No decision 

Sept 4, 1988

Huatusco (Mexico)  

Diana Maria Castro (cloistered nun), José Luis Matheus (33), Alejandro Velasquez and Elpedio Cabal  

No official decision – authorities are negative  

1988

Lubbock, TX (U.S.A.)  

Mary Constancio, Theresa Verner and Mike Slate

Negative decision (Bishop Michael J. Sheehan, Bishop of Lubbock)  

1988

Scottsdale (U.S.A.)  

Father Jack Spaulding and nine young people (Gianna Talone-Sullivan, Mary Cook, Susan Evans, Steve and Wendy Nelson, James Pauley, Jim Kupanoff, Annie Ross Fitch, Stefanie Staab)

Negative decision (Established as not Supernatural)

1988

Phoenix (U.S.A.)  

Estella Ruiz  

Negative decision  

1988

Grosby (U.S.A.) 

N.A. 

No decision 

1988

Tickfaw, LA (U.S.A.)  

Alfredo Ramone 

No decision 

Aug 24, 1988

El Cajas / Cuenca (Ecuador) 

Patricia Talbot  

Not established as supernatural (1989)

1988

Burlington, Ontario (Canada)  

Zdenko (Jim) Singer 

No decision 

1988

Cachiche (Perù) 

Many people 

No decision 

1988

Waterloo, NY (USA) 

Lena Shipley 

No decision 

1988

Scottsdale, AZ and Springs Colorado, CO, (USA) 

Harriet Hammons

No decision 

1988

Marches (Italy) 

Filomena Agostini,
Rosina Marinucci

No decision 

1988

Paris (France) 

Bassan Assaf 

No decision 

1988

Sydney (Australia)  

Valentina Papagan 

No decision 

1988

Mbuye (Uganda) 

Many People 

No decision 

1988

Masinde, Kayanza (Burundi)

Euzebie (4) 

Under Investigation 

Jan 19, 1989

Ascoli Piceno (Italy) 

1 woman (40) 

No decision 

Feb 2, 1989

Quezon, Manila (Philippines)  

Sr. Nona Aguirre 

No decision 

March 31, 1989

Agoo, La Union (Philippines)

Judiel Nieval 

Negative decision

July 24, 1989

California City, California (USA) 

Maria Paula 

No decision

1989

Cortnadreha (Ireland)

Christina Gallagher  

Not established as supernatural – 1996 Michael Neary, Archbishop of Tuam

1989

Manila (Philippines)

Fr. Fernando Suarez

No decision  

December 9, 1989

Ljubljana (Laibach), Kuresçek (Slovenia)

Franz Spelic “Smarevski”(65) (d. April 2012) 

No decision 

1989

Chotyne (Poland) 

Stanislaw Kochmar 

No decision

1989

Zarvanystya (Ukraine) 

Chornij Zenovia 

No decision 

1989

Austin, TX (USA)  

Janie Gauze 

No decision 

1989

Zagabria (Croatia) 

Marta Marija Serdar 

No decision 

1989

Zarvanystya (Ukraine) 

Chornij Zenovia  

No decision 

1989

Porto S. Elpidio, Sicily

Giorgio Bongiovanni 

No decision  

1989

Guazapa (San Salvador) 

Bessy Rodríguez 

Negative decision

1990

Cincinnati, OH (U.S.A.)

Rita Ring 

No decision 

May 24, 1990

MAMMALEDI, Syracuse (ITALY) 

Giuseppe Auricchia (74) 

Established as not supernatural 

July 7, 1990

Casalbuono (ITALY) 

 

No decision

Sept 1990

TEGUCIGALPA (HONDURAS) 

Girls from orphanage 

Negative decision 

Sept 1990

Farra d’Isonzo (ITALY) 

Vittorio Spolverini (photographer) 

Negative decision – Archbishop Bishop Vitale Bommarco of Gorizia Nov 17, 1988 

Nov 10, 1990

Anosivolakely (Madagascar)

Patrice Raharimanana 

No decision 

1990

Atlanta, GA (USA) 

Joan Holland 

No decision 

1990

Melbourne (Australia) 

Josefina-Maria Zavadal 

No decision 

1990

Santa Maria, CA (USA) 

Carol Nole  

No decision 

1990

Marmora, Ontario (Canada) 

Many people

No decision 

1990

Denver, CO (U.S.A.)  

Theresa Lopez 

Negative decision – May 1993 Archbishop Francis Stafford of Denver

1990

Conyers, GA (U.S.A.)

Nancy Fowler 

No decision

Aug 15, 1990

Hillside, IL (U.S.A.)  

Joseph Reinholtz 

Not established as supernatural – Archdiocese of Chicago

1990

Litmanova (Slovakia)

Ivetka Korcakova (22) and
Katka Ceselkova (23)

Apparition site declared place of of prayer and pilgrimage (2004, 2008)

1990

Beaumont-du-Ventoux (France)  

1 woman 

No decision 

1990

Winterset, IA (USA) 

Marv Kucera 

No decision 

1990

Wisconsin, USA  

Joanne Kriva 

No decision 

1990

L’Avenir, Quebec, (Canada) 

Sr. Marie-Danielle

No decision 

1990

Guatemala  

Sr. Hermana Guadalupe 

No decision 

1990

Sydney (Australia) 

Geraldine Doyle 

No decision 

1990

Salta, Argentina

Maria Livia Galiano de Obeid 

Not established as supernatural (2006)

1991

mother of 4 children (27) 

mother of 4 children (27) 

Not established as supernatural

Feb 7th, 1991

Jacarei, São Paulo (Brazil) 

Marcos Tadeu (13)  

Not established as supernatural (Bishop Nelson Westrupp)  

March 1991

Kettle River, Minnesota (USA) 

Steve Marino 

Not established as supernatural (1993 – Bishop Robert Banks of Green Bay)  

Aug 16, 1991

Quezon City (Philippines)

Carmelo and Puring Cortez 

No decision  

1991

Pangasinan (Phillipines) 

Rowell Darang and crowds 

No decision 

1991

Quezon City (Phillipines) 

Lola Thelma 

No decision 

1991

Honesdale, PA (USA)

Alix Fils-Aime’ 

No decision 

1991

Ellsworth, Ohio (USA)  

1 boy (17)  

No decision  

1991

Holving (France)  

1 woman (66)  

No decision 

Aug 15, 1991

Mozul (Iraq)  

Dina Basher (14) 

Established as supernatural – Syrian Orthodox Bishop

1991

Arkansas/Texas (U.S.A.)  

Cyndi Cain 

No decision 

1991

Bretagen, France 

Mama Marie Claudine 

No decision 

1991

San Bruno, CA (U.S.A.)

Carlos Lopez,
Jorge Zavala

No decision 

1991

Woombye, (Australia)

Susanna D’Amore 

No decision 

1991

Lake Ridge, VA (USA) 

Fr. James Bruse 

No decision 

1991

San Juan (Puerto Rico)

Luz Diaz  

No decision  

1991

Pennsylvania (USA)

Jack Marie Smith 

No decision  

Dec 16, 1991

Dallas, TX (USA) 

Maureen Cox  

No decision 

May 20,1992

Manduria (Italy)

Debora Marasco (19)  

Established as not supernatural (2002, 2012 Vincenzo Pisanello, Bishop of Oria)

July 2,1992

Huecas (Spain)  

Elena Martin Diaz-Guerra (19), Montse (10), Maria Rosa (13), Ruben (9)  

No investigation 

Aug 1992

JOINVILLE-LE-PONT (FRANCE) 

Lydie 

No decision 

Sept 27, 1992

Settequerce – Bolzano, South Tyrol (Italy)

Nello “Toni” Rizzati 

No decision 

Oct 1992

Aokpe (Nigeria)

Christiana Inehu Agbo (12)  

Approval of Faith Expression

December 1992

Madisonville, Kentucky (USA) 

Amy L. Curtis 

No decision 

1992

Washington, DC (USA) 

John Downs 

No decision 

1992

MARINA Giampilieri (Italy)  

Pina Scutellà 

No decision  

1992

Moscow (Russia)  

N.A. 

Negative decision  

1992

Scottsdale, AZ (USA)

Carol Ameche (Peterson) 

No decision 

1992

Falmouth, KY (U.S.A.) 

Sandy 

No decision 

1992

Enfield, CT (U.S.A.)  

Neil Harrington, Jr.  

Negative decision

1992

Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais (Brazil) 

Raymundo Lopes  

No decision 

1992

Steubenville, OH (USA) 

Tony Fernwalt  

No decision 

1992

California, (USA)

Denise Estrada 

No decision 

1992

Santa Maria, CA (USA) 

Sadie Jaramillo 

No decision 

1992

Toledo, OR (USA)

Sally Steadman 

No decision  

1992

Denver, CO (USA)  

Veronica Garcia 

No decision

February 6, 1993

Carrizales, Venezuela

group of people in adoration chapel 

Not investigated 

March 1993

Auckland (New Zealand) 

a few people 

No decision  

July 10, 1993

Ostina, Florence (Italy)

Silvana Orlandi 

June 2000 Commission – not established as supernatural (no bishop statement)

1993

Hartford, CT (USA) 

Denise Curtin and Joseph DellaPuca 

No decision 

1993

Arc-Wattripont, Wallonia, (Belgium) 

a boy 

Not investigated 

1993

Rome (Italy)

Marisa Rossi 

No decision  

1993

Ajmer (India)  

NA 

No decision 

1993

Thu Duc (Vietnam) 

1 girl 

No decision 

1993

Arc-Watripont (Belgium)  

1 boy 

No decision 

1993

Manila (Philippines)

Allan Rudio (14) 

Negative decision  

1993

Belleville, IL (USA)  

Ray Doiron  

No decision 

1993

New S. Wales (Australia)  

Mathew Kelly  

No decision 

1993

Bennington, VT (USA) 

Laura Zink 

No decision 

1993

Toowoomba, (Australia)  

Debra Geileskey 

No decision 

1993

Goulburn (Australia)  

Pamela Dunn 

No decision 

1993

Balingasag, (Philippines)  

Wengen Joson 

No decision 

1993

Derlan, NJ (USA)  

Michael McColgan 

No decision 

1993

Ottawa (Canada )

Stephen Ley 

No decision

1993

Surrey, BC (Canada)  

Lorna Keras, Adriana Kerssens 

No decision 

1993

Scarborough, Ontario (Canada) 

Eddie Virrey 

No decision 

1993

Kingston, Ontario, (Canada)

Emma de Guzman 

No decision 

July 21, 1993

Rochester, NY (U.S.A.)

John Leary 

Negative decision – July 7, 2000

1993

Perth, Australia

Carver Alan Ames 

No decision 

January 1994

Hialeah, FL (USA)

José Luis and Joan Antonio Matheus 

Not established as supernatural

1994

Arlington, VA (USA) 

Joseph B. Reyes 

No decision 

1994

Hollywood, FL USA

Rosa Lopez  

Established as not supernatural (Nov 1994) – Archbishop Edward A. McCarthy of Miami 

1994

Middleton, OH (USA) 

Daniel Mohn 

No decision 

July 30, 1994

New York, NY (USA) 

Franz Joseph Keiler

No investigation 

1994

Conchabamba (Bolivia)

Catalina (Katya) Rivas 

April 2, 1998 – Imprimatur to messages from the Archbishop Mons. Rene Fernandez of Cochabamba; recognition of supernaturality of bleeding statue

1994

Emmitsburg, MD (USA)

Gianna Talone Sullivan 

Negative decision

1994

Sarasota, FL, USA 

Peter C. Gruters 

No decision  

March 20, 1994

Niteroi (BRAZIL)  

Marianna Luiza Gilio-Guzzo and sons Felipo and David 

Uninvestigated 

April 23, 1994

Baturite (BRAZIL)  

José Ernane, 

No decision 

Sept 24, 1994

Batim, Goa (India) 

Suor Mary Rodrigues, Martino Almeida, Iveta Fernandes Gomes (52)

No decision  

1994

Dechtice (Slovakia)

Martin Gavenda, Mária Gavendova, Lucia Vadikova, Martina Kalasova, Adriana Kudelova, Simona Kumpanova, Jozef Danko

No decision  

1994

Itapiranga, Amazonas (Brazil)

Edson Glauber and Maria do Carmo 

No decision  

June 3, 1995

Aleppo (Syria) 

Josephine H. (46)

No decision  

1995

Kanchikode (India) 

 

No decision  

1995

Anna Rosa (Italy) 

mother of two 

No decision  

1995

Manu Ariki Mara (New Zealand)  

200 people  

No decision  

1995

Olo, Enugu State (Nigeria)

Barnabas Nwoye 

Messages were approved by Rev. Stephen Obikuwu, Chairman of the Propagation of the Faith, Archdiocese of Onitsha in July 1999, and Imprimatur from the Rev. Dr. Ayo Maria Atoyebi, Bishop of Illorin, on June 17, 2001

1995

Maryland (USA)

Chris Courtis 

No decision 

1995

Santa Maria, CA (USA) 

Sadie Jaramillo 

No decision 

1995

Cookstown (Ireland) 

Patrick Rushe 

No decision  

1995

Sterling, Kansas (USA)

Patricia Mundorf 

No decision 

1995

Strabane (Ireland) 

Margo Doherty 

No decision  

1995

Minnesota (USA)

Little Mary

No decision 

March 17, 1996

Hourna, Louisiana (USA) 

Louis P. Saia III 

No decision 

June 8, 1996

Santa Fe, NM (USA) 

Vangie Gonzales 

Under investigation 

June 21, 1996

San Francisco, CA (USA)

Herco Rose 

Negative decision

Dec 16, 1996

Kallianpur (India) 

Reshma (13), Andrea (8), Bhaga (12) 

No decision  

1996

Clearwater, FL, (USA)

Many people 

No decision 

1996

Sisquoc, CA (USA) 

Barbara Mattias 

No decision  

1996

Brooklyn, NY (USA)  

Terrence Ross 

Negative decision  

1996

Dijon (France) 

Eliane Deschamps 

Negative decision 

1996

Elyria, OH (U.S.A.)

Maureen Sweeney Kyle (48) 

Negative decision

1996

Vitória da Conquista, Bahia (Brazil)

Fabiana Oliveira 

No decision 

1996

New Jersey (USA) 

Michael Diamond 

No decision  

1996

Hazelton, PA (USA) 

Mary Ellen Lukas 

No investigation 

1996

Midwest (USA) 

Barbara Rose Centelli 

No decision  

1996

Canberra (Australia) 

Carmel Masters 

No decision  

1996

Olo (Nigeria)

Barnabas Nwoye  

No decision – approval of publication of messages 

1996

Sara Piqui (Costa Rica) 

Many people 

No decision 

1996

MARTINCAMP (FRANCE) 

Nicole

Established as not supernatural (Diocese of Rouen) 

1997

Cavarese (Italy)

Alina Coia (58) 

No decision 

1997

East Flanders (Belgium)

Myriam van Nazareth 

No decision 

1997

Perry, Michigan (USA)

Carolyn Kwiecinski 

No decision 

1997

Minnesota (USA)

Fr. Andrew Wingate 

No decision 

1997

Platina (Brazil)

Francisco Ovídio da Silva 

No decision 

1997

Zagreb (Croatia) 

Mirna 

No decision 

1997

El Dorado, TX (U.S.A.) 

Augustine Halvorsen 

No decision

1997

Sataua (Samoa) 

Suor Ruth Augustus 

No decision  

December 1997

Agen (France) 

“Little Dominic” 

No decision  

1998

Montreal (Canada) 

 

No decision  

1998

Pocito (Argentina)  

Gabriel Pizarro  

No decision  

1998

Greenfield, MA (USA)  

John Snide  

No decision

1998

Santa Fe, New Mexico (USA)

Michelle Rios Rice Hennelly 

No decision  

1998

St. John’s (Antigua) 

Don Gerard Critch  

No decision 

1998

Montreal, Quebec (Canada)

Delmis 

No decision 

1998

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan (CAN)

Carmen Humphrey 

No decision 

July 21, 1999

Lanús, Buenos Aires (Argentina)

Marcia (b. 2/22/83) 

No decision 

1999

Houston, TX (USA)

Vincent Uher

No decision 

1999

Algarve (Portugal)

Fernando Pires 

No decision 

1999

Quebec, Canada

Micheline Boisvert 

No decision  

1999

Marpingen (Germany)

Christine Ney, Marion Guttma, Judith Hiber 

Not established as supernatural

1999

France

Agnes-Marie 

No decision  

1999

Pennsylvania (USA)

Louise Starr Tomkiel

No decision  

March 1999

MINYA AL-QAMH (EGYPT) 

Many people 

Not established as supernatural (Coptic Orthodox Pope Shenouda III) 

January 1, 2000

Birma (Egypt) 

Crowd of parishioners 

No decision 

June 2000

Sievernich (Germany)

Manuela Strack (33) 

Under investigation 

Oct 15, 2000

Herbitzheim (France) 

housewife 

No investigation 

2000

El Algarrobal (Argentina) 

Manuel Yanzon 

Negative decision

2000

Agawam, MA (USA)

Diane Lyons – Frasco 

No decision  

December 14, 2000

Prince Edward Island, (Canada)

Fr. Melvin Doucette 

No decision 

Feb 8, 2000

Kodungaiyur (India)

Paul Alexander 

No decision 

Sept 1, 2001

Divinópolis, MG (Brazil) 

Leandro Ferreira (16) 

No decision 

2001

Kodungaiyur, Chennai (India)

 

No decision 

2001

Capua, Caserta (Italy) 

 

No decision 

March 25, 2001

Kodungaiyur (India)

Rosalind 

No decision 

2001

Hilversum (Netherlands) 

Agatha Molki 

No decision 

2001

Kodungaiyur, Chennai (India)

Ms. Rosalind, Mr. P. Alexander 

No decision  

2001

Sarasota, FL (USA)

Allan Arthur Schulte 

No decision 

July 2001

Skaneateles, NY (USA)

Mary Sheila Reilly 

No decision 

April 1, 2002

Germany

Anonymous 

No decision 

2002

Antonella (Italy) 

woman (35) 

No decision 

2003

Sydney (Australia)

Marinko Crnjac 

No decision 

2003

St. Theresa Point, Manitoba (CA) 

Michael Wood (8) 

No decision 

June 13th, 2003

Ternopil / Lishnya (Ukraine)

Yulia (9) 

No decision 

August 29, 2003

Indianapolis, IN (USA)

Luis Alba, Jr. 

No decision 

2004

Accra, Ghana 

 

No decision 

2004

Illinois (USA)

Anne, A Lay Apostle (Kathryn Ann Clarke)  

No decision 

Dec 12, 2004

Aruja, Sao Paolo (Brazil) 

Anderson Freitas

Negative decision 

2005

Manila (Phillipines)

Heidi Mendoza (43) 

No decision 

2004

Perryville, MO (USA) 

Neal Gremaud 

No decision 

2004

Little Rock, AR (USA)

Dr. Thomas McVeigh ‘Mac’ Smith 

No decision 

April 18, 2006

Borg in-Nadur, Birzebbuga – Malta

Angelik Caruana (40) 

Under investigation – public devotion prohibited

2006

Mfou (Cameroon)  

Unknown 

No decision  

2006

Faber, VA (USA)

Brother Charles Cannon

No decision  

July 10, 2007

Bratislava (Slovakia)

Eva Bartosova (32) 

No decision 

2007

Johannesburg (South Africa)  

Francesca Zackey (17)  

No decision 

2007

Velipojes (Albania) 

Valmira Malaj (19)

No decision  

2009

Burundi, Masinde – Kayanza (Uganda) 

Euzebie Ngendakumana (also Zebiya) (23) 

No decision  

2009

South Ossetia 

Soldiers 

No decision  

2009

Knock, County Mayo (Ireland)

Joe Coleman 

No decision  

August 5, 2009

Brindisi, Puglia, (Italy)

Mario D’Ignazio 

No decision  

April 6, 2010

Rye, Centeno (Argentina)

Maria Jose (32) 

Negative decision

Nov 9, 2010

Europe

Maria Divine Mercy(32) 

No decision 

August 18, 2011

Salto (Uruguay) 

Sister Lucia, Mother Shimani and Friar Elias 

No decision 

October 22, 2011

Alexandria (Egypt) 

Crowds 

No decision 

2011

Abidjan (Ivory Coast)

Thousands of residents 

No decision 


Resources: The Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute, Dayton, Ohio

 

Also:
http://www.marianapparitions.org/apparitions/unapproved-apparitions

 

 

 

 

 

 

As established in the Council of Trent (1512-17), the local bishop is the first and main authority in the judgement of the authenticity of apparition claims. Vatican approval is not required for an apparition to be considered authentic. After an episcopal approval, the Vatican may officially release a statement or give less explicit forms of approval such as a papal visit or crowning of the associated icon, a papal gift such as a golden rose, the approval of the construction of a basilica, the establishment of a feast day, or the canonization of the associated visionary.
Positive judgments by the local bishop (but not yet by the Vatican) theoretically are able to be reversed by a subsequent bishop – but this has never happened in the history of the Church. Negative judgements (Non constat de supernaturalitate) and rulings of no evidence of supernaturality (Constat de non supernaturalitate) have later been changed to positive judgments on a few rare occasions with the ruling of a subsequent bishop.
If a Marian apparition is recognized by the bishop, it means that the message is not contrary to faith and morals and that Mary can be venerated in a special way at the site. But, because belief in a private revelation is not required by the church, Catholics are at liberty to decide how much personal spiritual emphasis to place on apparitions and the messages they deliver.

 

The nine [9] Marian apparitions that
have
received episcopal approval:
http://www.miraclehunter.com/marian_apparitions/approved_apparitions/index.html
EXTRACTS [chronologically]

1.
Quito, Ecuador, 1594-1634, Our Lady of Good Success, four apparitions to Venerable Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres, approved by Bishop Salvador de Riber in 1611

2.
Querrien, France, August 15-20, 1652, Our Lady of Eternal Aid, fifteen apparitions to Jeanne Courtel, a 12-year old shepherdess, approved by Archbishop Denis de La Barde, bishop of Saint-Brieuc, September 1652

3.
Robinsonville, WI, USA, October 9-17, 1859, Our Lady of Good Help, three apparitions to Adele Brise, a 28-year old, approved by Bishop David L. Ricken, December 2010

4.
Castelpetroso, Italy, March 22, 1888-June 1890, Our Lady of Sorrows, many apparitions to two shepherdesses –
Fabiana Cecchino (35) and Serafina Giovanna Valentino (33), approved by Bishop Macarone-Palmieri of Bojano, 1889

5. Amsterdam, Netherlands, March 25, 1945-May 31, 1959, Our Lady of All Nations, fifty-six apparitions to Ida Peerdeman, approved by Bishop Jozef Marianus Punt of Haarlem, May 2002; in 2005, the CDF overruled that decision -Michael.

6. Akita, Japan, July 6-Ocober 13, 1973, Our Lady of Akita, three apparitions with bleeding statue and stigmata to Sr. Agnes Sasagawa (43), approved by Bishop John Shoojiroo Ito of Niigata, April 1984. In 1988, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger allowed Ito’s pastoral letter and its dissemination to the faithful; the recognition was overturned by Bishop Ito’s successor -Michael.

7.
Betania, Venezuela, March 25, 1976-January 5, 1990, Reconciler of People and Nations, thirty-one apparitions to Maria Esperanza, approved by Bishop Pio Bello Ricardo, November 1987

8.
Cuapa, Nigeria, April 15-October 13, 1980, Our Lady of Cuapa, 4+ apparitions to Bernardo Martinez, approved by Bishop Pablo, Antonio Vega, November 1982

9.
San Nicolas, Argentina, September 25, 1983-February 11, 1990, Our Lady of the Rosary, 1816 apparitions to Gladys Quiroga de Motta, approved by Bishop Domingo Castagna of San Nicolas, April 1985

 

The fifteen [15] Marian apparitions that have
received Vatican approval after episcopal approval:

1. Guadalupe, Mexico, December 9-12, 1531, Our Lady of Guadalupe, five apparitions to Juan Bernardino [St. Juan Diego] (57), approved by Archbishop Alonso de Montefar of San Nicolas, 1555

2. Sil