Marian apparitions

While I read with interest and devotion those things about Marian apparitions which receive formal approval of Holy Mother Church, I don’t spend a great deal of energy on Marian apparitions. Today, however, we observe the the Feast of Our Lady of La Salette. I am sure other bloggers will cover the history of the feast. Suffice to say that on 19 September 1846 Mary appeared to two shepherd children on a mountain in France and gave them a message for the world. Here are parts of the message of Our Lady of La Salette (my emphasis):

God is going to strike in an unprecedented manner. Woe to the inhabitants of the earth! God is going to exhaust His wrath, and no one will be able to resist so many concerted woes… Many will abandon the faith, and the number of priests and religious who will dissociate themselves from the true religion will be great… Many religious institutes will lose the faith entirely and will cause the loss of many souls. The Church will pass through a frightful crisis… The Holy Father will suffer greatly. I will be with him to the end to receive his sacrifice… For a time God will not remember France or Italy because the Gospel of Jesus Christ is no longer known… [But the] prayers, penance and tears of the just will ascend to heaven, and the entire people of God will beg for pardon and mercy and will ask My assistance and My intercession. Then Jesus Christ, by an act of His justice and His great mercy toward the just [will intervene and] then there will be peace, the reconciliation of God with men… Charity will flourish everywhere.. The Gospel will be preached everywhere, and men will make great progress in the faith, because there will be unity among the workers of Jesus Christ and men will live in the fear of God.

This sounds very much like what is going on today.

Rome will lose the faith and will become the seat of Antichrist. … I summon the true disciples of God who lives and reigns in heaven; I summon the true imitators of Christ made man, the one true Saviour of men; I summon My children, My true devotees, those who have given themselves to Me so that I might lead them to My divine Son, those whom I carry, so to speak, in My arms, those who have lived according to My spirit; finally, I summon the Apostles of the Latter Times, the faithful disciples of Jesus Christ who have lived in scorn of the world and of themselves, in poverty and in humility, in contempt and in silence, in prayer and in mortification, in chastity and in union with God, in suffering and unknown to the world. It is time for them to arise and come forth to enlighten the earth.

I don’t know what all of this means, of course, but I find it pretty ominous.

Consider also the messages of Our Lady of Fatima. Just how are things going in Russia these days anyway?

Here is an ironic tidbit for you to think about. You might know that there are some very smart people who have said that the whole text of the so-called Third Secret has not really been released. Some think that what the Holy See released a few years ago wasn’t the whole story and we are still missing something. You might remember that some rad trads level their pointy fingers at Joseph Card. Ratzinger and the then Secretary of the CDW Tarcisio Bertone as being the real bad guys in the conspiracy to cover up the Third Secret. You will recall that in the text released by the Holy See suggested that the vision of the bishop in white referred actually to the assassination attempt against Pope John Paul II on 13 May 1981. In the text the Vatican released the bishop in white "falls to the ground, as if dead, after a volley of gunfire."

Pope Benedict is now Pope and Card. Bertone is now Secretary of State.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Séamas says:

    Yes, I know about the “third secret conspiracy theories”, but if true, then pope John Paul II and our current pope are both liars.

    I find it difficult to believe that the last two popes are liars.

    Who are these “smart people” (I have only heard raving traditionalists)? What evidence do they have?

  2. animadversor says:

    I do not understand all the commotion over these “secrets.” There is nothing in them that the Church has not been preaching forever and cannot easily be read even in the worst-translated Bible: repent and believe in Christ Jesus and be saved; repent not and be damned. Even if there were something other than this in some “secret,” how could it be any more ominous, yet consoling, than what is already quite public?

  3. Robert says:

    I believe there has been some discussion about the actual
    message of La Salette. It appears not to be uncommon for
    even authentic messages to become embellished or even
    misrepresented over time. An excellent book for anyone
    interested in the subject of apparations and these types
    of experiences is A Still Small Voice : A Practical Guide
    on Reported Revelations by Father Benedict Groeschel.

  4. Diane says:

    Thanks Fr. Z. As a 44 year old raised in happy-clappy midwest American parish, I never paid attention to approved apparitions. Unfortunately, all the latest hoopla over the blessed mother appearing in cappucino and on toast draws our attention away from those things which are approved by Holy Mother Church, such as La Salette and Fatima.

    I’m done with anything which has not received that stamp of approval. In time, any others worthy of such a approval will happen and then, I will take an interest in them. Until that time, I’m discovering a wealth of interesting things among those already apparoved, such as what you just pointed out today.

    Yes – it does sound like she speaks of today, especially about the religious orders.

  5. GK says:

    Last month I made a pilgrimage to both of these peaceful and prayerful places. I think everyone ought to visit them them at least once in their lifetimes. What ever happened to the age-old Catholic idea of pilgrimages anyway? So many people are going to Europe for vacations etc., how can we channel more into seeing the faith that Europe is built upon by going to some of these places? Of course Rome ought to be the first priority. Fr. Z, I prayed for all priests while there, especially those whom I know and admire.

  6. GOR says:

    When I read of the multiplicity of ‘visions’ and ‘apparitions’ these days I am reminded of Our Lord’s words “An evil generation seeks a sign…” I expect this has been true throughout history – from primitive peoples seeing divine intervention in storms, earthquakes, eclipses etc. to modern ‘images’ on toast and cheese.

    While I accept that the Church has approved places such as Lourdes, Fatima, Knock (I’m Irish…) etc. I feel little compulsion to visit them. If they help some people to deepen or revive their faith, fine. Unicuique suum.

    But why must someone travel halfway around the world when they can visit Him in the Blessed Sacrament in the nearest Catholic Church? It makes one question whether people really believe in the Real Presence.

  7. GK says:


    You say: “But why must someone travel halfway around the world when they can visit Him in the Blessed Sacrament in the nearest Catholic Church?”

    I agree, and I also wish that it were possible to have every Catholic Church in the world with doors open for a visit to our Eucharistic Lord at any time as well. I do not think that a religious pilgrimage has anything to do with seeking signs for the vast majority of pilgrims. I think one ought to consider this: Why did the Virgin Mary come from heaven to earth and commuicate the things she did and ask for certain devotions and pilgrimage sites to be constructed if God did not want people to travel to pray there?


  8. Tim Ferguson says:


    I would agree with you, up to a point. If people are traveling halfway around the world just to see where the Blessed Virgin may or may not have appeared and, at the same time, passing by the Eucharistic Lord in the tabernacle without so much as a tip of the head, something’s not quite right. However, the very act of making a pilgrimmage – to an APPROVED shrine or place of devotion – is a spiritual experience in its own right and shouldn’t be lightly discounted. Something about making the effort and taking the time to move oneself from one’s familiar surroundings and go, not simply to go out into the desert to see someone richly dressed, but to go to a spot hallowed by the activity which took place there can have a profound effect in one’s life.

    Perhaps it’s the analogy of life that a pilgrimmage is – travelling to a fixed point for a spiritual purpose, perhaps it’s a way of concretizing one’s beliefs, perhaps it’s just a way of getting a new perspective on things. In my limited experience with pilgrimmages, it generally seems that, upon returning from one, I’m able to approach the Blessed Sacrament in the familiar tabernacle of my home parish with a sharpened sense of reverence, awe and devotion.

  9. Maureen says:

    Our Lady of La Salette also had a strong connection with the Great Famine (the potatoes were blighted all ver Europe, not just in Ireland) and some of the more godless manifestations of the nationalism movements of 1848. I really don’t know enough about it to say more.

    What happened to the visionaries’ lives afterwards was rather unfortunate.

  10. Séamas says:

    “What happened to the visionaries’ lives afterwards
    was rather unfortunate.”

    A Mháirín,

    Visionaries always suffer, don’t they? Look at St.
    Bernadette, and the Fatimia visionaries. When God
    chooses you for special purposes, he usually also
    gives you the gift of the Cross.

    Of course, there weren’t really any visionaries as
    such at Cnoc Mhuire (Knock). It was a kind of “general
    apparition” in which whoever happened to be around
    saw it.

  11. GOR says:

    GK and Tim F. Yes, I hear you both and I can recall a time when every Catholic Church was open all day and people visited and prayed before the Blessed Sacrament. I wish it were still so! Also, I have a sister in Ireland who has gone to Lourdes every year for the past 20 years with the diocesan pilgrimage. She spends a week there caring for the invalids who are on the pilgrimage – preparing meals, helping to feed them, taking them to the baths, to Mass, etc. I’m sure she receives many graces for this labor of love, and deservedly so.

    If a pilgrimage is thus undertaken as a spiritual effort, yes it certainly can be beneficial spiritually. Unfortunately, many times what is termed a ‘pilgrimage’, ends up being little more than a ‘tour’. In Ireland there are two places of pilgrimage that are – to me – real pilgrimages (Seamas can probably relate to this): Croagh Patrick and Lough Derg. Both are locations connected with St. Patrick’s life. The former is a mountain you climb reciting various prayers at ‘stations’ along the way. The latter is an island on a lake where you go barefoot, fast and pray from Friday night until Sunday. Both are work – and are not for the fainthearted. I suspect Compostella is similar – given the distance one has to travel, if done on foot.

    My problem is more with the adhoc ‘apparitions’ where people go overboard with candles and votive lights because someone sees an ‘image’ on a hospital window in Boston or a highway overpass in Chicago. It is reminiscent of the ‘weeping madonnas’ we used to frequently hear about when I lived in Italy forty years ago. It just saddens me that people view these things as ‘miraculous’ when they have a living miracle enacted at every Mass and preserved in the tabernacles of every Catholic Church. What more do we need?

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