WIGRATZBAD, GERMANY (1919, 1938)
Antonie Radler (20) contracted the Spanish Influenza in 1919 and was gravely ill. Her mother prayed desperately to the Blessed Virgin for help. Suddenly, Blessed Mary appeared at her bedside and laid her hands upon the young victim. Antonie was instantly healed.
Fully recovered, Antonie was working one day in her father’s butcher shop when the Gestapo arrived and ordered her to replace the painting of the Virgin on the wall with that of the Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler. She was also ordered to salute him in the Nazi fashion, saying, “Heil Hitler.” Antonie refused and barely escaped several attempts upon her life. She always maintained that her Guardian Angel – in the form of a mysterious cyclist – protected her.
The parents were so delighted with her escape from harm that they erected a small Lourdes grotto in their garden. It was blessed by Father Basch on October 11, 1936, the feast day for the Maternity of Mary. A month later, while praying before the statue, Antonie saw Blessed Mary smile sweetly and then heard the words,
“O Beloved Lady of Victory, conceived without sin, pray for us.”
Then, on December 15, 1936, while praying at the Lourdes grotto in their garden (during the octave of the Immaculate Conception), and while reciting the third sorrowful mystery of the Rosary, Antonie heard an “angelic chorus” singing these words,
“O Mary! Immaculate, conceived without sin. Beloved Lady of Victory, pray for us.”
A second appearance of the Blessed Virgin happened to a young girl named Cecilia Geyer on February 22, 1938. It was about 6:30 a.m. when Cecilia heard a “murmur” and then saw Our Lady appear in a bright cloud.
“Suddenly, I found myself in the little grotto of Antonie and heard this message:
“Build a chapel here for me. I shall trample underfoot the serpent’s head. People will come here in large numbers, and I wll pour upon them a flood of graces. St. Joseph, St. Anthony, and the souls in Purgatory will help you.
Go now and worship My Son in the Blessed Sacrament.”
Realizing that all the churches were closed at that hour, Cecilia asked Mary where should she go?
“Before my astonished eyes there appeared a chapel in the place designated by Our Lady. Inside, on the altar, was Jesus in a monstrance, surrounded by beautiful rays of light.”
Work began on the chapel on July 2, 1938. All went well until the night of November 21, when Antonie was arrested by the Nazis and jailed in the local prison. She underwent numerous interrogations.
On the night of December 7-8, Antonie witnessed a large bright cloud forming and rising in her jail cell. Suddenly, the Virgin Mary appeared to her and announced her impending release. She would spend Christmas with her family; Antonie was indeed released on December 18, the Feast of the Expectation of Our Lady.
Today, the chapel built at the site of the apparitions is host to an estimated 500,000 pilgrims each year. Although no official statement was made by Bishop Stimpfle, he was frequently known to say,
“I know that Wigratzbad is authentic!”