Our Lady of Pellevoisin

Estelle Faguette lay dying of tuberculosis in Pellevoisin, a small French village. It was February 1876. 

In the early days of the illness, Estelle had asked God how could He have let this happen to her who was the sole support of her father and mother, and an orphan niece. Eventually, however, she perfectly abandoned herself to the will of God, offering up her sufferings in expiation of her sins. 

Then on the night of February 14, 1876, a demon appeared at the foot of her bed. Just after Estelle spied the demon, she saw the Blessed Mother at her bedside. Our Lady rebuked the demon and he immediately departed. Our Lady then looked at Estelle and said to her, “Fear nothing, you are my daughter.” Mary told her to have courage for she was to suffer five more days in honor of the five wounds of Christ. On Saturday she would either be dead or be cured. 

The next night Mary appeared to Estelle to inform her that she was to live. But Our Lady reproved Estelle for her past sins. Though Estelle had not lived a worldly life, she was overcome with remorse for her failings. 

The following evenings the Holy Virgin continued to appear to Estelle as she lay in her sickbed. Mary told her that, “I am all merciful.” On the fifth night Estelle asked Mary if she should change her state of life. Mary replied: 

One can be saved in every state. Where you are, you can do a great deal of good, and you can publish my glory.

After Our Lady left that night, Estelle was cured. In July of the same year the Holy Virgin visited Estelle for three consecutive days. Mary Immaculate explained that, “I have come especially for the conversion of sinners.” 

On September 9th, Our Lady again came to visit Estelle. Mary showed Estelle a Scapular of the Sacred Heart that she wore and said, “I love this devotion.” She paused and said, “It is here I will be honored.” 

A week later Our Lady visited Estelle announcing, “Let them pray and let them have confidence in me.” And she prophesized that “France will suffer.” 

In November, Our Lady once more came to visit Estelle. Mary told her that, “I choose the little ones and weak for my glory.” 

On the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, 1876, the Blessed Mother appeared to Estelle for the fifteenth and last time. Mary Immaculate instructed her to go to the bishop, show him the Scapular of the Sacred Heart, and enlist his aid in promoting it. Mary said to Estelle, “See the graces I will bestow on those who will wear it with confidence, and who will assist in propagating it.” As Our Lady spoke she stretched out her hands and raindrops fell from them. In each drop Estelle read the names of different graces such as piety, salvation, confidence, conversion, health. Mary explained, “These graces are from my Son; I take them from His Heart; He can refuse me nothing.” A little later Mary left, never again to visibly visit Estelle in this life. 

Pope Leo XIII, in May 1894, approved the Archconfraternity of our Mother All Merciful of Pellevoisin. The Congregation of Rites in a decree issued on April 4, 1900 granted approval to the Scapular of the Sacred Heart. 

Estelle Faguette continued to live humbly in Pellevoisin until her death in 1929.

OUR LADY OF ST. BAUZILLE DE LA SYLVE, FRANCE

OUR LADY OF ST. BAUZILLE DE LA SYLVE, FRANCE, 1873

Auguste Arnaud, age 30, was a regular participant in Holy Mass on Sundays. He was a father of two, having been married for six years, and a respected member in his community. And he worked on Sundays.

On Sunday, June 8, 1873, the Feast of the Holy Trinity, he attended Holy Mass and then went to work in his vineyard to tend the vines. After working for two hours, Auguste sat down to rest, eat his packed lunch, and smoke his pipe. Suddenly, he saw before him a beautiful young woman dressed in white. She wore a white veil that reached to her feet. She had a fringed belt and a tall crown. He jumped to his feet and asked, “Who are you?”

“I am the Blessed Virgin. Do not be afraid.”

Auguste was reassured by her words and listened with great emotion as she continued,

“You have the disease of the vine. You left St. Bauzille. We must celebrate his feast on the day it falls. Next Thursday you must go in procession to St. Anthony and hear Mass. In a fortnight you must go in procession to Notre Dame, to the Canton of Gignac, Montpellier, and the city of Lodeve. You must place a cross here, changing it later to another. Come in procession each year. Go tell your father and your pastor all of this. In a month I will come to thank you.”

At that, Blessed Mary rose vertically into the air and gradually disappeared. Auguste left the vineyard immediately for home, where he excitedly told his father what he had seen. When they went together to tell the village priest, the priest met their remarks with coldness and skepticism. He found it hard to believe that the Virgin Mary would make that effort just to tell one man not to work on Sundays.

But Auguste remained inspired to perform his mission given to him by the beautiful Lady. He had a carpenter build a wooden cross which he then placed in the vineyard where Mary had indicated. It was just a temporary one as the Virgin had asked for a wrought iron version with her image in the middle in his next effort.

On June 12, he and his family visited the chapel of St. Anthony. On June 22, he made it to Our Lady of Grace in Gignac. He made it to all the places that she had requested. On July 4, he finally replaced the wooden cross with the wrought iron one and set it on a stone pedestal.

Believers, skeptics, and the curious all gathered on July 8, 1873, in his vineyard for the predicted second appearance of Mary. Auguste’s wife worried about what might happen if the Virgin failed to appear and this crowd of five hundred would become disappointed and perhaps angry. But Auguste had plenty of faith and no fear at all.

After a few minutes, Auguste removed his hat and raised both arms high in the air. He seemed transfixed by what he was able to see, while everybody else saw nothing. With his arms still raised, he was suddenly carried with uncommon speed by some invisible force to the cross about forty yards away. He prayed silently while gazing at the Blessed Virgin, dressed now in gold and holding a rosary in her right hand. In a sweet voice:”Do not work on Sundays. Blessed is he who believes and unhappy the man who does not believe. You must go to Our Lady of Gignac in procession with your whole family.”She slipped the rosary to her left hand and, raising her right hand high, she blessed Auguste and the whole crowd. Before disappearing, she spoke one more time:”Let us sing hymns.”Auguste turned to the crowd and, in a low voice, told them to sing. The crowd began singing the Magnificat.

After this day, many visitors frequented the area, leaving many flowers, candles, rosaries, and ex-votos. The activity interested the local bishop to the point of appointing a Commission of Inquiry. After witnesses were questioned and the committee filed its conclusions, the bishop recognized the authenticity of these appearances by Mary with a proclamation in 1876.

A chapel was built near the site and cared for by nuns. Auguste Arnaud died on February 8, 1936, at the age of 92. He was buried in this chapel where his tomb reads:”At the feet of the Virgin he so loved and so faithfully served, here lies in wait for the blessed resurrection the body of Augustus Arnaud, piously asleep in the Lord’s peace”.

October 13 Apparition of Fatima and the Miracle of the Sun

October 13 Apparition of Fatima and the Miracle of the Sun

During the night of 12-13 October it had rained throughout, soaking the ground and the pilgrims who make their way to Fátima from all directions by the thousands.

During the night of 12-13 October it had rained throughout, soaking the ground and the pilgrims who make their way to Fátima from all directions by the thousands. By foot, by cart and even by car they came, entering the bowl of the Cova from the Fátima-Leiria road, which today still passes in front of the large square of the Basilica. From there they made their way down the gently slope to the place where a trestle had been erected over the little holm oak of the apparitions. Today on the site is the modern glass and steel Capelhina (little chapel), enclosing the first chapel built there and the statue of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fátima where the holm oak had stood.

As for the children, they made their way to the Cova amid the adulation and skepticism which had followed them since May. When they arrived they found critics who questioned their veracity and the punctuality of the Lady, who had promised to arrive at noon. It was well passed noon by the official time of the country. However, when the sun arrived at its zenith the Lady appeared as she had said she would.

“What do you want of me?”

I want a chapel built here in my honor. I want you to continue saying the Rosary every day. The war will end soon, and the soldiers will return to their homes.

“Yes. Yes.”

“Will you tell me your name?”

I am the Lady of the Rosary.

“I have many petitions from many people. Will you grant them?”

Some I shall grant, and others I must deny. People must amend their lives and ask pardon for their sins. They must not offend our Lord any more, for He is already too much offended!

“And is that all you have to ask?”

There is nothing more.

As the Lady of the Rosary rises toward the east she turns the palms of her hands toward the dark sky. While the rain had stopped, dark clouds continued to obscure the sun, which suddenly bursts through them and is seen to be a soft spinning disk of silver.

“Look at the sun!”

From this point two distinct apparitions were seen, that of the phenomenon of the sun seen by the 70,000 or so spectators and that beheld by the children alone. Lucia describes the latter in her memoirs.

After our Lady had disappeared into the immense distance of the firmament, we beheld St. Joseph with the Child Jesus and Our Lady robed in white with a blue mantle, beside the sun. St. Joseph and the Child Jesus seemed to bless the world, for they traced the Sign of the Cross with their hands. When, a little later, this apparition disappeared, I saw Our Lord and Our lady; it seemed to me to that it was Our Lady of Sorrows (Dolors). Our Lord appeared to bless the world in the same manner as St. Joseph had done. This apparition also vanished, and I saw Our Lady once more, this time resembling Our Lady of Carmel. [Only Lucia would see the later, presaging her entrance into Carmel some years later.]

This would be the last of the apparitions of Fátima for Jacinta and Francisco. However, for Lucia Our Lady would return a seventh time, in 1920, as she had promised the previous May. At that time Lucia would be praying in the Cova before leaving Fátima for a girls boarding school. The Lady would come to urge her to dedicate herself wholly to God.

As the children viewed the various apparitions of Jesus, Mary and Joseph the crowd witnessed a different prodigy, the now famous miracle of the sun. Among the witnesses there were the following:

Eye Witness Accounts

From the road, where the vehicles were parked and where hundreds of people who had not dared to brave the mud were congregated, one could see the immense multitude turn toward the sun, which appeared free from clouds and in its zenith. It looked like a plaque of dull silver, and it was possible to look at it without the least discomfort. It might have been an eclipse which was taking place. But at that moment a great shout went up, and one could hear the spectators nearest at hand shouting: “A miracle! A miracle!”

Before the astonished eyes of the crowd, whose aspect was biblical as they stood bareheaded, eagerly searching the sky, the sun trembled, made sudden incredible movements outside all cosmic laws—the sun “danced” according to the typical expression of the people.

Standing at the step of an omnibus was an old man. With his face turned to the sun, he recited the Credo in a loud voice. I asked who he was and was told Senhor Joao da Cunha Vasconcelos. I saw him afterwards going up to those around him who still had their hats on, and vehemently imploring them to uncover before such an extraordinary demonstration of the existence of God.

Identical scenes were repeated elsewhere, and in one place a woman cried out: “How terrible! There are even men who do not uncover before such a stupendous miracle!”

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

O Seculo (a pro-government, anti-clerical, Lisbon paper)

“At one o’clock in the afternoon, midday by the sun, the rain stopped. The sky, pearly grey in colour, illuminated the vast arid landscape with a strange light. The sun had a transparent gauzy veil so that the eyes could easily be fixed upon it. The grey mother-of-pearl tone turned into a sheet of silver which broke up as the clouds were torn apart and the silver sun, enveloped in the same gauzy grey light, was seen to whirl and turn in the circle of broken clouds. A cry went up from every mouth and people fell on their knees on the muddy ground….

The light turned a beautiful blue, as if it had come through the stained-glass windows of a cathedral, and spread itself over the people who knelt with outstretched hands. The blue faded slowly, and then the light seemed to pass through yellow glass. Yellow stains fell against white handkerchiefs, against the dark skirts of the women. They were repeated on the trees, on the stones and on the serra. People wept and prayed with uncovered heads, in the presence of a miracle they had awaited. The seconds seemed like hours, so vivid were they.

O Dia (another Lisbon daily, edition of 17 October 1917)

We looked easily at the sun, which for some reason did not blind us. It seemed to flicker on and off, first one way, then another. It cast its rays in many directions and painted everything in different colors— the trees, the people, the air and the ground. But what was most extraordinary, I thought, was that the sun did not hurt our eyes. Everything was still and quiet, and everyone was looking up. Then at a certain moment, the sun appeared to stop spinning. It then began to move and to dance in the sky until it seemed to detach itself from its place and fall upon us. It was a terrible moment.

Ti Marto (father of Jacinta and Francisco)

The sun turned everything to different colours—yellow, blue and white. Then it shook and trembled. It looked like a wheel of fire that was going to fall on the people. They began to cry out, “We shall all be killed!” Others called to our Lady to save them. They recited acts of contrition. One woman began to confess her sins aloud, advertising that she had done this and that…. When at last the sun stopped leaping and moving, we all breathed our relief. We were still alive, and the miracle which the children had foretold, had been seen by everyone.

Maria de Capelinha (one of the earliest believers)

I was looking at the place of the apparitions, in a serene, if cold, expectation of something happening, and with diminishing curiosity, because a long time had passed without anything to excite my attention. Then I heard a shout from thousands of voices and saw the multitude suddenly turn its back and shoulders away from the point toward which up to now it had directed its attention, and turn to look at the sky on the opposite side.

It must have been nearly two o’clock by the legal time, and about midday by the sun. The sun, a few moments before, had broken through the thick layer of clouds which hid it, and shone clearly and intensely. I veered to the magnet which seemed to be drawing all eyes, and saw it as a disc with a clean-cut rim, luminous and shining, but which did not hurt the eyes. I do not agree with the comparison which I have heard made in Fátima—that of a dull silver disc. It was a clearer, richer, brighter color, having something of the luster of a pearl. It did not in the least resemble the moon on a clear night because one saw it and felt it to be a living body. It was not spheric like the moon, nor did it have the same color, tone, or shading. It looked like a glazed wheel made of mother-of-pearl. It could not be confused, either, with the sun seen through fog (for there was no fog at the time), because it was not opaque, diffused or veiled. In Fátima it gave light and heat and appeared clear-cut with a well-defined rim.

The sky was mottled with light cirrus clouds with the blue coming through here and there, but sometimes the sun stood out in patches of clear sky. The clouds passed from west to east and did not obscure the light of the sun, giving the impression of passing behind it, though sometimes these flecks of white took on tones of pink or diaphanous blue as they passed before the sun.

It was a remarkable fact that one could fix one’s eyes on this brazier of heat and light without any pain in the eyes or blinding of the retina. The phenomenon, except for two interruptions when the sun seemed to send out rays of refulgent heat which obliged us to look away, must have lasted about ten minutes.

The sun’s disc did not remain immobile. This was not the sparkling of a, heavenly body, for it spun round on itself in a mad whirl. Then, suddenly, one heard a clamor, a cry of anguish breaking from all the people. The sun, whirling wildly, seemed to loosen itself from the firmament and advance threateningly upon the earth as if to crush us with its huge and fiery weight. The sensation during those moments was terrible.

During the solar phenomenon, which I have just described in detail, there were changes of color in the atmosphere. Looking at the sun, I noticed that everything around was becoming darkened. I looked first at the nearest objects and then extended my glance further afield as far as the horizon. I saw everything an amethyst color. Objects around me, the sky and the atmosphere, were of the same color. An oak tree nearby threw a shadow of this color on the ground.

Fearing that I was suffering from an affection of the retina, an improbable explanation because in that case one could not see things purple-colored, I turned away and shut my eyes, keeping my hands before them to intercept the light. With my back still turned, I opened my eyes and saw that the landscape was the same purple color as before.

The impression was not that of an eclipse, and while looking at the sun I noticed that the atmosphere had cleared. Soon after I heard a peasant who was near me shout out in tones of astonishment: “Look, that lady is all yellow!”

And in fact everything, both near and far, had changed, taking on the color of old yellow damask. People looked as if they were suffering from jaundice, and I recall a sensation of amusement at seeing them look so ugly and unattractive. My own hand was the same color. All the phenomena which I have described were observed by me in a calm and serene state of mind, and without any emotional disturbance. It is for others to interpret and explain them.

Dr. Almeida Garrett, PhD (Coimbra University)

The sun, at one moment surrounded with scarlet flame, at another aureoled in yellow and deep purple, seemed to be in an exceedingly fast and whirling movement, at times appearing to be loosened from the sky and to be approaching the earth, strongly radiating heat.

Dr. Domingos Coelho (reported in the newspaper Ordem)

The sun appeared with its circumference well defined. It came down as if to the height of the clouds and began to whirl giddily upon itself like a captive ball of fire. With some interruptions, this lasted about eight minutes. The atmosphere darkened and the features of each became yellow. Everyone knelt even in the mud….

Fr. Manuel Pereira da Silva (in a letter to a friend)

We made our arrangements, and went in three motor cars on the early morning of the 13th. There was a thick mist, and the car which went in front mistook the way so that we were all lost for a time and only arrived at the Cova da Iria at midday by the sun. It was absolutely full of people, but for my part I felt devoid of any religious feeling. When Lucia called out: “Look at the sun!” the whole multitude repeated: “Attention to the sun!” It was a day of incessant drizzle but a few moments before the miracle it stopped raining. I can hardly find words to describe what followed. The sun began to move, and at a certain moment appeared to be detached from the sky and about to hurtle upon us like a wheel of flame. My wife—we had been married only a short time- — fainted, and I was too upset to attend to her, and my brother-in- law, Joao Vassalo, supported her on his arm. I fell on my knees, oblivious of everything, and when I got up I don’t know what I said. I think I began to cry out like the others. An old man with a white beard began to attack the atheists aloud and challenged them to say whether or not something supernatural had occurred.

Senhor Alfredo da Silva Santos (Lisbon)

There may have been many former atheists in Fátima that day, but there were plenty in Portugal, nonetheless, to charge hallucination. For those the Lady provided witnesses who were not at the scene and could not have been subject to collective suggestion.

On that day of October 13, 1917, without remembering the predictions of the children, I was enchanted by a remarkable spectacle in the sky of a kind I had never seen before. I saw it from this veranda….

Alfonso Lopes Vieira (observed from a distance of nearly 25 miles away):

I was only nine years old at this time, and I went to the local village school. At about midday we were surprised by the shouts and cries of some men and women who were passing in the street in front of the school. The teacher, a good, pious woman, though nervous and impressionable, was the first to run into the road, with the children after her.

Outside, the people were shouting and weeping and pointing to the sun, ignoring the agitated questions of the schoolmistress. It was the great Miracle, which one could see quite distinctly from the top of the hill where my village was situated—the Miracle of the sun, accompanied by all its extraordinary phenomena.

I feel incapable of describing what I saw and felt. I looked fixedly at the sun, which seemed pale and did not hurt the eyes. Looking like a ball of snow revolving on itself, it suddenly seemed to come down in a zigzag, menacing the earth. Terrified, I ran and hid myself among the people, who were weeping and expecting the end of the world at any moment.

Near us was an unbeliever who had spent the morning mocking at the simpletons who had gone off to Fátima just to see an ordinary girl. He now seemed to be paralyzed, his eyes fixed on the sun. Afterwards he trembled from head to foot and lifting up his arms fell on his knees in the mud, crying out to our Lady.

Meanwhile the people continued to cry out and to weep, asking God to pardon their sins. We all ran to the two chapels in the village, which were soon filled to overflowing. During those long moments of the solar prodigy, objects around us turned all the colors of the rainbow. We saw ourselves blue, yellow, red, etc. All these strange phenomena increased the fears of the people. After about ten minutes the sun, now dull and pallid, returned to its place. When the people realized that the danger was over, there was an explosion of joy, and everyone joined in thanksgiving and praise to our Lady.

Fr. Ignacio Lorenco (Alburitel, 11 miles away)

Our Lady of the Pillar

Perhaps the oldest devotion to Our Lady in Europe is the devotion to Our Lady of the Pillar. In Spain, Pilar is a popular girl’s name, as is Mercedes for Our Lady of Mercy. (In fact, General Franco named one of his daughters Pilar, just as one of the Carmelite Martyrs written of in this issue was named Sister Maria del Pilar.) In the year AD 36, while She was yet on earth, Our Lady bilocated and appeared to Saint James on the banks of the river Ebro, near the city of Caesar-Augusta (now Zaragoza or Saragossa). She appeared, accompanied by celestial music, on a six-foot pillar of jasper. Her purpose was to comfort and encourage St. James and his disciples. Our Lady commanded that a chapel be built on the spot in Her honor and She promised Her assistance to those who invoke Her. The Apostle was quick to carry out the wishes of the Queen of Apostles.

The present church, built by Charles II the late 1600s, is the last of several replacements and enlargements of the original edifice. King Ferdinand VI, in 1753, commissioned an architect to build the special side chapel which houses Our Lady’s pillar. On the pillar, whose jasper cannot be matched anywhere in the world, is erected a fifteen-inch statue of Our Lady with the child Jesus, Who holds a dove (cf. Canticle of Canticles 2:14 & 6:8). One tradition says that Our Lady Herself gave the statue to Saint James, while another states that Saint James commissioned it. Regardless of its origin, many miracles attest to Heaven’s predilection for the relic. Among its many prodigies is the fact that, in almost 2,000 years, the statue has never needed dusting.

No one is allowed to touch the statue, except for the four priests assigned to its care and clothing, and newly baptized infants who are lifted up so that the new children of God might touch the image of their heavenly Mother. The pillar itself has been covered with silver and bronze, except for an opening where pilgrims may venerate it, and the spot is quite worn away from the millions of kisses it has received. The choirboys and acolytes who serve the chapel form a special group of boys, known as Infantes. It is considered a great privilege for a family to have a son in the special uniform of the Infantes.

In 1936, the Reds dropped bombs on the shrine, but the two that hit the church failed to detonate. This incident showed the perfidy of the Reds and the power of Our Lady’s protection.

Our Lady of Pontmain

It was in the winter of 1871 in the village of Pontmain, France, Eugene Barbedette was busy in his father’s barn helping prepare the animal feed. He stood briefly in the open doorway, admiring the beautiful evening. Suddenly the gaze of the 12 year old was held there, for opposite the barn and in a framework of stars, stood a beautiful lady – motionless – smiling at him. 

“Do you see anything?” he shouted to the others, “Look, over there!” 

“Yes,” cried his brother Joseph, “a beautiful lady dressed in a blue robe with golden stars, yes, and blue shoes with golden buckles…and, she has a golden crown which is getting bigger, and a black veil.”

Since the father did not see her, he told the boys to get on with their work; then curiously, he asked, “Eugene, do you still see anything?” 

“Yes, she’s still there,” the boy answered and ran to fetch his mother; she saw nothing, but with a woman’s intuition, she thought it might be the Blessed Virgin and assembling the family gently, all prayed five Paters and Aves in honor of the Mother of God. She called for a nun at the convent next door, who brought her two little charges with her, the later, Francoise and Jean Marie, reaching the door of the barn, called out, “Oh, look at that lovely lady with the golden stars!” and clapped their hands with delight. 

The news spread quickly, people gathered, with them the cure, M. Guerin. The Magnificat was intoned, and Eugene shouted, “Look what she is doing!” 

Slowly a great white streamer unfolded and in large letters they read: “Pray, my children, God will answer your prayers very soon. He will not allow you to be touched.” 

The cure then intoned the hymn: “My Sweet Jesus…” At that a red cross with the wounded body of Christ appeared before the Virgin, who held it. At the top in large red letters was written, “Jesus Christ.” 

The crowd burst into tears, while the cure ordered night prayers to be said; a white veil hid the vision, while our Lady smiled at the children, a smile which haunted them all through life with its beauty. Something of the sorrow of farewell was depicted on the faces of Eugene and Joseph, for the cure said quickly, “Can you still see anything?” 

“No, it is quite finished,” they answered.

At the moment the message was being written in the sky, a messenger passing in front of the crowd had shouted, “You may well pray, the Russians are at Laval.” But they never entered it.

On the 17th of January, at six o’clock at night, the very hour the Virgin appeared to the children of Pontmain, the division of soldiers, without apparent reason, received the order to retire.

On the 28th of January, the armistice was signed at Versailles. After long and searching inquiry, Mgr. Wicart, the Bishop of Laval, proclaimed the authenticity of the vision, and at the very spot where Our Lady had appeared, a basilica was erected in honor of Our Lady of Hope of Pontmain. There the Queen of Heaven receives her countless children and gives them fresh hope in their trials, as she gave France peace in her hour of need.

The basilica is a magnificent structure in the 13th century style, and one may still see the barn where Eugene and Joseph worked when Mary appeared.

*From The Woman in Orbit

Our Lady of Mercy

The story of Our Lady of Ransom begins with St. Peter Nolasco, born in Languedoc about 1189. At the age of 25 he took a vow of chastity and made over his vast estates to the Church. After making a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Montserrat, he went to Barcelona where he began to practice various works of charity.

He conceived the idea of establishing an Order for the redemption of captives seized by the Moors on the seas and in Spain itself; they were being cruelly tormented in their African prisons to make them deny their faith.

He spoke of it to the king of Aragon, James I, who knew him well and already respected him as a saint; for the king had already asked for his prayers when he sent out his armies to combat the Moors, and he attributed his victories to those prayers.

In effect all the Christians of Europe, and above all of Spain, were praying intensely to obtain from God the remedy for the great evil that had befallen them. The divine Will was soon manifested. On one night — August 1, 1218 — the Blessed Virgin appeared to St. Peter, to his confessor, Raymund of Penafort, and to the king, and through these three servants of God established a work of the most perfect charity, the redemption of captives.

On that night, while the Church was celebrating the feast of St. Peter in Chains, the Virgin Mary appeared first to St. Peter, saying that she indeed desired the establishment of a religious Order, later known as the Mercedarians, bearing the name of her mercy. Its members would undertake to deliver Christian captives and offer themselves, if necessary, as a ransom pledge.

The Order, thus solemnly established in Spain, was approved by Pope Gregory IX under the name of Our Lady of Mercy. By the grace of God and under the protection of His Virgin Mother, the Order spread rapidly. Its growth was increased as the charity and piety of its members was observed; they very often followed Our Lady’s directive to give themselves up to voluntary slavery when necessary, to aid the good work. It was to return thanks to God and the Blessed Virgin that a feast day was instituted and observed on September 24, first in the Order, then everywhere in Spain and France. It was finally extended to the entire Church by Pope Innocent XII. Pope Leo XIII encouraged the devotion by making this feast proper to all the dioceses of England, with a focus on how Our Lady ransoms us from the slavery of our sins, and brings us the grace of conversion.

~Source:catholicculture.org

Prayer to Our Lady of Ransom

O God, who by means of the most glorious Mother of Thy Son

was pleased to give new children to Thy Church

for the deliverance of Christ’s faithful

from the power of the heathen; grant, we beseech Thee,

that we who love and honor her as the foundress of so great a work may,

by her merits and intercession,

be ourselves delivered from all sin

and from the bondage of the evil one.

Through the same Christ, our Lord.

Amen.

Our Lady of Cuapa

On April 15, 1980, the sacristan, Bernardo Martinez (age 50), witnessed the statue of Mary in the chapel light up on its own.  Recently, the sacristy lights had mysteriously illuminated on two other occasions.   Thinking that Mary might be mad at him for arguing with others, he set out to seek forgiveness from those people.  But they laughed at his story and ridiculed him.  He begged Mary to not request anything more of him because it was causing him troubles.  He even avoided going near the statue.

Visionary Bernardo Martinez of Cuapa, Nicaragua

Bernardo was close to his breaking point both physically and emotionally due to illness, being out of work, and not being able to care for his family well. To cheer himself up, he went to the river to fish.  When it began to rain around 1:00 p.m., he decided to sit under a tree and wait.  He dozed for a short time but woke with a start and an unexplained fear.  He decided to pray the Rosary.  By 3:00 p.m., he decided to gather his fish and head home.  Returning from this fishing trip on May 8, 1980, Bernardo saw two lightning flashes.  On the second flash the Virgin Mary appeared to him.  He felt immobilized and could not run or yell.  But he was surprised that he felt no fear.  He thought that he might just be envisioning the same statue in his mind – and perhaps was dreaming, but when he passed his hand over his eyes and looked again, he saw that she had human skin and eyes that moved and blinked.  “She is alive!” he thought to himself – because his tongue would not move to speak.  He felt numb – his lower jaw and tongue were stiff as if asleep.  His whole body was immobilized – only his thoughts in his mind could be active.

She was so beautiful – wearing a long white dress with bare feet resting upon an extremely white cloud.  She had a celestial cord around her waist, long sleeves, and a veil of a pale cream color with gold embroidery covering her.  She extended her arms and rays of light, “stronger than the sun,” emanated from her hands.  The rays touched his chest – and he was able to speak again, so he asked her name.

“She answered me with the sweetest voice I have ever heard from any woman – sweeter than the softest voice.”  He saw her move her lips and say that her name was Mary.  He knew she was alive and real because she actually responded to him!

B:         “Where do you come from?”

M:        “I come from Heaven.  I am the Mother of Jesus.”

B:         “What is it that you want?”

M:        “I want the Rosary to be prayed every day.”

B:         “Yes, we are praying it – The priest brought us the intentions of the San Francisco parish so that we would unite ourselves with them.”

M:        “I don’t want it (Rosary) prayed only in the month of May.  I want it to be prayed permanently, within the family, including the children old enough to understand – to be prayed at a set hour when there are no problems with the work in the home.

Love each other.  Fulfill your obligations.  Make peace.  Don’t ask our Lord for peace, because if you do not make it, there will be no peace.  Renew the Five First Saturdays.  You received many graces when all of you did this.”

Mary added that prayers should not be rushed or said in a mechanical fashion.  She told him to read the Bible passages that go along with the mysteries of the Rosary.

M:        “Nicaragua has suffered much since the earthquake.  She is threatened with even more suffering.  She will continue to suffer if you don’t change.  Pray! Pray, my son, the Rosary for all the world.  Tell believers and non-believers that the world is threatened by grave dangers.  I ask the Lord to appease His Justice, but if you don’t change, you will hasten the arrival of a Third World War.”

B:         “Lady, I don’t want problems.  I have many in the church.  Tell this to another person.”

M:        “No, because Our Lord has selected you to give this message.”

Bernardo was frightened to spread Mary’s message because of the persecution he had endured earlier.  He kept the vision to himself for eight days until Mary appeared again.

M:        “Why have you not told what I sent you to tell?”

B:         “Lady, it is that I am afraid.  I am afraid of being the ridicule of the people, afraid that they will laugh at me, that they will not believe me.  Those who will not believe this will laugh at me.  They will say that I am crazy.”

M:        “Do not be afraid.  I am going to help you. And tell the priest.”

Bernardo described Mary looking upward toward Heaven, and the cloud that held her slowly elevated her.  She was in a ray of light, and when she reached a certain height, she disappeared.

So Bernardo began telling people and his priest – who encouraged him to keep sharing with others what he had witnessed.  On June 8, 1980, Mary appeared again, giving him four visions – “which were like movies in the sky.” The first vision was of the first Christians, singing and marching towards Heaven.  They were dressed in white – their bodies glowing with light.  The second vision was of another group of people also dressed in white.  They held illuminated rosaries in their hands.  The leader read from a book, and after meditating on the reading, they prayed an Our Father and ten Hail Marys.  Mary explained that they were the first ones to whom she had given the Rosary.  She wanted everyone to pray the Rosary like they were doing it.  In the third vision, Bernardo saw a group of men dressed in brown robes.  Mary explained that these were the Franciscans.  “They received the Rosary from the hands of the first ones.”  In the fourth vision,  he saw a large group, as big as an army, of people in normal dress, all holding rosaries.  Light radiated from their bodies, and they were beautiful.  He wanted to join them and go with them even though he was not illuminated, himself.

M:        “No!  You are still lacking.  You have to tell the people what you have seen and heard.  I have shown you the glory of Our Lord, and you people will acquire this if you are obedient to Our Lord, to the Lord’s Word – if you persevere in praying the Holy Rosary and put into practice the Lord’s Word.”

Bernardo only shared these visions with the priest, knowing that the church must approve them first.  The priest gave Bernardo approval and permission to spread the visions.

On July 8, 1980, an angel presented him with a vision of a prophecy.  The angel told Bernardo to tell a certain woman how and when her brother would get released from jail because he was innocent.  He had a message for another woman regarding her alcoholic father and brother and her own problems teaching in a communist school.  Finally, the angel foretold that his own cousin would be assaulted and later killed.  All of these prophecies came to pass exactly as the angel had described.

On October 13, 1980, on the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, a large glowing circle appeared above the ground in front of fifty people that had gathered to say the Holy Rosary.  Everyone saw the light that came from the sky – a single ray – like a powerful spotlight that illuminated the circle in front of them.  Then the people noticed that a circle had also formed in the sky.  “It was like a ring around the sun – but it’s not the sun!”  The circle began to radiate all the colors of the rainbow (at exactly 3:00 p.m.) – which danced about the sky.

“It was 3:00 p.m. in the afternoon.  One could feel a small breeze that moved softly.  Pleasant – like a fresh shower – but which did not wet us.  While we observed this, we were silent and continued seeing that circle of light which gave off colored lights from the exact center, where the sun is at twelve noon.  All of a sudden, a lightning flash – the same as the other times – then, a second flash.  I lowered my eyes, and I saw the Lady.”

She appeared on her little cloud which rested above a pile of flowers that the group had brought.  She extended her hands, and rays of light reached out to everyone, causing some to cry with joy.  Bernardo begged her to appear to all of those present as they did not all believe in his vision.  Mary’s face became pale and her clothes turned gray, appearing as Our Lady of Sorrows.

“It saddens me to see the hardness of those persons’ hearts.  But you will have to pray for them so that they will change.  Pray the Rosary.  Meditate on the mysteries.  Listen to the Word of God spoken in them.  Love one another.  Love each other.  Forgive each other.  Make peace.  Don’t ask for peace without making peace, because if you don’t make it, it does no good to ask for it.  Fulfill your obligations.  Put into practice the Word of God.  Seek ways to please God.  Serve your neighbor — as that way you will please Him.  They ask of me things that are unimportant.  Ask for Faith in order to have strength so that each can carry his own cross.  The suffering of this world cannot be removed.  That is the way life is.  There are problems with the husband, with the wife, with the children, with the brothers.  Talk, converse, so that the problems will be resolved in peace.  Do not turn to violence.  Never turn to violence.  Pray for faith in order that you will have patience.  You will no longer see me in this place.”

B:         “Don’t leave us, my Mother!  Don’t leave us, my Mother!  Don’t leave us, my Mother!”

M:        “Do not be grieved.  I am with all of you even though you do not see me.  I am the Mother of All you sinners.  Love one another.  Forgive each other.  Make peace … Pray, pray, my son, for all the world.  Grave dangers threaten the world.  The Mother never forgets Her children, and I have not forgotten what you suffer.  Invoke me with these words, Holy Virgin, You are my Mother, the Mother to all of us sinners.

As she departed, the little cloud seemed to be pushing her back up to Heaven. At this, the messages from Mary were completed.  These six apparitions were officially approved by the church in 1982, and, shortly after that, Bernardo Martinez was ordained a priest.  The local bishop, Monsignor Vega published his approval of these apparitions on November 13, 1983.

Most of the 202,000 Nicaraguans who reside in the United States fled to this country in the 1980’s when the brutal war in Nicaragua broke out between the Sandinistas and the Contras.