DETAILED ACCOUNT OF THE PRINCIPAL MARIAL APPARITIONS
After the statements in the last chapter, an exact description of the important appearances of the Virgin Mary seems indispensable. The reader can then judge for himself the relationship between these supernatural manifestations and human destiny. During this exposition, the author will make certain comparisons which may shock certain religious beliefs. But again, he is not trying to mock the Marian apparitions, as he has already explained at length. But the observations made in the course of them and related by thousands of witnesses, many of whom are cultured and educated minds, match the statements made by perfectly honest and sensible people describing encounters of the third kind.
Quite undeniable parallels, not only proving the existence of superior beings but letting us see the profound reasons for their intervention. The Marial apparitions reported by the visionaries often describe the Virgin Mary as a girl between 12 and 15 years old, of superhuman beauty, expressing piety and goodness at the same time. She is always dressed in a cape or an ample robe bespangled with gold stars. She is always surrounded by a supernatural light and accompanied by “stars of time,” and often the moon appears under her feet. All this is in the sole material proof, the painting of the Virgin Mary left with Juan Diego at the time of the 1531 visitation and still on view in Mexico.
THE 1531 APPARITION IN MEXICO
We will start with the vision of Our Lady of Guadeloupe near Mexico. Chronologically it is the first to coincide with a pivotal historical date and it is also the only case in which a material proof of the supernatural contact was left with us. You can still see this proof at Our Lady of Guadeloupe in Mexico.
The author can state from personal experience that it is impossible for a man free of religious bias to get the idea that this painting could prove the existence of another dimension.
Such is our modern spirit; we would require proof of technological superiority. And yet the support used for that painting, a simple tilma made of mango fibers, like a burlap bag, is, in theory, a surface impossible to paint on; the condition of preservation and the freshness of the paint is incredible after constant exposure for 450 years; all this added to the records made at the time, chiefly by Bishop Juan de Zumarragua, dispels our doubts, for we cannot call the whole story a lie.
It began on Saturday, December 9, 1531. A 57-year-old Aztec christened Juan Diego whose original name was Singing Eagle was on his way to the church of Tlaltelolco. It was a cold day before sunrise, but suddenly Juan heard birds singing sharply and sweetly. He froze; the concert continued, then ceased brusquely, to be followed by a very sweet female voice calling him by his name. The voice came from the top of a hill covered by a shining cloud – a description already quoted in the Fatima case. When Juan Diego climbed the hill he saw the apparition.
Here is the report of that encounter from a contemporary source.
“The sun was still below the horizon, yet Juan saw the Lady silhouetted by the golden rays that bathed her figure from head to feet. She looked like a young Mexican about 14 years old, of incomparable beauty. As she spoke with Juan, the Girl told him that she was the Virgin Mary and that she wanted a church built on that spot. She asked him to go immediately to Tenochtitlan (present-day Mexico) to tell the bishop what he had seen and what the Virgin Mary desired.”
This request greatly embarrassed the poor Indian little used to meeting such high personages. However, he carried out his mission and managed to see Bishop Don Juan de Zumarragua, who received him kindly but did not believe his story. Juan Diego went back to the hill and saw the Lady again. He asked her to choose another agent fitter than he was to fulfill such a difficult mission. The Virgin Mary replied,
“Listen, my child, there are many I might have sent, but you are the one I have chosen for this task. Tomorrow morning go back to the bishop, tell him you have been sent by the Holy Virgin and repeat my wish to see a church built on this spot.”
The next day Juan Diego mustered up all his courage and returned to Mexico to see the kindly bishop, who had been impressed by the old Indian's purity and honesty and was rather shaken by this new story. He told Juan Diego to ask the Lady for a tangible sign, then ordered his servants to follow him and watch all his acts and gestures. They carried out their assignment and noticed that Juan Diego spoke to no one, and they saw him climb the hill and disappear. Although they hunted all around, they couldn't find him. Now, Juan Diego had gone up on the hill again to report the bishop's answer to the Lady, and she said:
“Good, my child, come back tomorrow at daybreak, I will give you a sign to bring him. You have gone to a lot of trouble for me. I will reward you.”
But the next day Juan Diego could not keep his rendezvous with the Lady. His uncle, his only relative, was dying and he stayed with him all day to ease his pain. He only left him the following day to go in search of a priest. On the way the apparition blocked his path. Embarrassed, Juan explained why he was absent and the Lady said:
"My child, be not troubled and fear not, Am I not as your mother? Have I not taken you under my tutelage and protection? Your uncle shall not die and he has recovered his health at this very moment. You have no further need to follow this path; you may follow mine with a clear conscience. Go climb the hill, pick the flowers growing there and bring them to me.”
Diego knew that there couldn't be any flowers on the hill at that season, in December, but he obeyed and upon reaching the top he found Castile roses, their petals wet with dew. He gathered then and put them in his tilma, a long Indian cape, and took then to the Lady. She arranged the flowers that Juan had brought, then tied the corners of the tilma behind his neck, so that the roses were in a sort of sack and couldn’t fall out. Then the vision disappeared and Juan Diego never saw her again, but his uncle was healed instantaneously, as promised.
When the old Indian reached the bishop's palace, several servants started to make fun of him and his visions. They jostled him and tried to grab the roses, but seeing that the roses dissolved when they tried to seize them they were startled and they let him pass. Once more Juan Diego stood before the bishop. He untied the corners of his tilma, but the cloth slipped out of his fingers and the precious flowers fell pell-mell on the ground. What had become of the beautiful arrangement the Lady had made? Juan felt mortified at his clumsiness, but his consternation reached its peak when he saw the bishop and everyone else in the room suddenly fall on their knees before the tilma, for on it shone a magnificent painting obviously representing the Virgin Mary, a painting that you can see to this day in the Basilica of Our Lady at Guadeloupe In Mexico.
This tilma consists of two pieces of cloth woven from mango fiber and sewn together. The whole forms a cape; the fabric is raw, rough and light brown in color. On this cape, about five feet high, is a remarkable painting of a young woman surrounded by a halo of light like sunbeams. Every detail of the painting is sharp and filled with grace and devotion. The virgin is dressed in a chlamys covering her head and reaching to her feet. This brilliant azure cloak is edged with gold and spangled with gold stars. The Lady wears a robe of deep pink, decorated with floral motifs which form a golden network. She stands on a gold crescent moon beneath which appears the head and bust or a winged cherub whose figure, despite its small size, is quite sharply defined. The Virgin Mary's hands are joined as if in prayer, the beautiful face has a serious, even sad, expression; the head is slightly bowed and leaning to the right, as if looking down upon mankind. The eyelids are lowered, almost closed, yet the pupils can be seen. The whole effect is of compassion and ethereal love.
That is why Bishop Juan Zumarragua fell to his knees as did everyone there. This was in 1531: such a thing in such circumstances was completely unexpected. For a poor Indian to have such a work of art in his possession was absolutely inconceivable and the roses which evaporated at a human touch added to the unreal atmosphere of the scene. We can imagine how excited and awestruck the spectators were.
The Virgin Mary did not give humanity any special message at that time, except for her wish to have a church built on the site of the appearance, but the facts were so unusual in themselves that they caused the conversion of millions of Indians who, from that day forward, renounced the plumed Serpent Quetzalcoatl and his human sacrifice. But most important, this was the only time that the higher powers left a material proof in the hands of human beings. Even today that proof arouses both curiosity and disbelief among us and yet there is no reason to doubt the deep sincerity of the witnesses of that bygone age.
LOURDES: FEBRUARY – JULY 1858
The apparitions of Lourdes are hard to analyze. There was only one seer, Bernadette Soubirous, but her personality was exceptional. Her purity, her sincerity, her faith convinced everyone. Her ecstasy and visions cannot be doubted, but aside from her trances and her words there is not much material evidence. The gushing of the miraculous spring which immediately manifested healing power is the most remarkable. There is also the case of the rosebush, planted by the Lady's orders, which bloomed in one night. Then there were some unnatural celestial phenomena, but the reports are inconsistent and must be treated cautiously. Few things, in fact, that cannot be quickly explained by rationalists…
Paradoxically, although the cause was so limited that the fame of the events at Lourdes should never have gone beyond local news, the effect, as history records, was that the story grew to huge proportions and spread in a most abnormal way.
Was the faith of Bernadette Soubirous transmitted by chain reaction to all of France and then to the catholic world? Perhaps that was the real miracle, along with the statement by the Lady that her name was “The Immaculate Conception,” a name whose meaning was quite unknown to Bernadette – that point is firmly established – when she reported it to her parish priest. It has been proven that following that revelation the visionary kept repeating these incomprehensible words as she walked along so as to report them accurately. These are things one cannot make up. In any case, the spiritual impact of Lourdes was and is still tremendous and stirred up an unthinkable religious revival. You have but to open your eyes and try to count the number of places consecrated to the virgin of Lourdes in the Catholic countries. It is incalculable.
The visitation at Pontmain, a little town in the west of France, is quite different, but to an objective observer it is very important, if only for the symbolism which it contains. On January 17, 1871, two children were working in a barn with their father when the eldest, named Eugene, saw above the house across the street a “beautiful and Great Lady” whose face was small, white and of incomparable beauty: her hands were outstretched and lowered, she looked at the child and smiled. The 12-year-old Eugene called his younger brother Joseph and the following dialogue took place.
“Joseph, can you see it?”
“Yes,” said the child, “I see a beautiful Great Lady.”
“How is she dressed?”
“I see a Great Lady who has a blue dress, gold stars on her dress, blue slippers with gold buckles.”
“Now tell ma, Joseph,” said his brother, “look well and see if she has a crown?”
“Yes, I see a crown that flares out, and a little red thread in the middle of the crown and a black veil.”
So begins the story of that event. Let us add a few details to this dialogue; the Lady wore a black veil which covered her hair and ears but left her face visible and fell about halfway down her back.
This vision was like a silent animated color film and lasted a good three hours. As the news spread around the community curious adults brought six more children to join the two little seers. They also saw the apparition and described it similarly, but the grown-ups perceived nothing abnormal, except the happy or ecstatic cries of the children. Even a 2 1/2-year-old became excited by the show.
The vision went on with various changes. First a big luminous oval appeared around the Lady, while the figure grew, doubling in area and volume. The stars of time appeared, those are the words used by the children, but they could never explain their meaning. Could they be the twelve stars mentioned by St. John in Rev. 12:1?
Then a big sign appeared, 1.5 meters high and over 12 meters long on which the following words were slowly written: "But pray my children God will absolve you in a short time.” Then a second line was formed saying: “My son lets himself be touched” and a big gold line gradually appeared beneath the second line as if to underscore its importance.
The sixty-odd adults who by this time had crowded into the barn still saw nothing of what the children were describing, but their sincere expressions, their deep excitement, and especially the gradual unfolding of Mary's message convinced everyone and it was in an atmosphere of acceptance that the manifestation continued.
After this massage the Holy Virgin again grew sad and the children saw at the same time a red cross about two feet high on which was crucified a Christ of the same color. This cross appeared at one of the Lady's feet; she lowered her hands, which until then she had held at shoulder height, took the crucifix, holding it in both hands, tilted slightly toward the children as if presenting it to them. At the top of the cross, on a white sign, was written in red letters “Jesus Christ.” Then the stars of time moved and suddenly one star took off from under her feet and rising toward the left, crossed the blue circle and lit the candle that was on a level with Mary's knee, then lit the one level with her shoulder, then the two candles on her right, then came to rest above her head where it remained.
Next the crucifix disappeared, the Lady stretched out her arms in her former posture; on each of her shoulders appeared a little white cross about 20 centimeters high and the Virgin again smiled at the children who were transported with joy. Then a white veil came out from beneath the Lady's feet and rose slowly: bit by bit the vision disappeared from view.
As noted, this essentially consoling apparition is rife with amazing symbols: the red Christ on a red crucifix, the stars of time as the children called them, the three big stars around the Lady's head from start to finish of the visit, the four candles, lit by a star after the display of the crucifix, the multiplying of stars on the Lady's dress like a golden swarm, and above all the appearance of the two white crosses on the Virgin's shoulders and 20 centimeters high which probably represent (following the Christ on a much larger cross – 60 centimeters high) the two prophets put to death and resuscitated in Revelations 11. Man's future religious destiny is surely written in all these symbols whose meaning remains rather obscure.
But the most instructive fact for us who live at the end of the 20th century is what befell a certain headstrong woman during this visitation. A regular distaff St. Thomas and well known local character, Mme Guidecoq, owned the house above which the vision appeared. Here is the story as it was reported at the time:
“Mme. Augustin Guidecoq, who had arrived at the barn at the same time as the parish priest, went back home in the middle of the Magnificat because she saw nothing and she was cold. Goaded by curiosity, she came back during the chanting of the litanies and stood near the little seers. Neither their exact statements, nor their perfect agreement, nor the consoling words they read in the sky, nor the excitement and faith of the audience could convince her that the apparition was real.
“The cure’ sees nothing,” she said to herself, “nor do the sisters. The children say it's over my house and I don't see anything either. Their sight must be defective. There is nothing,” and she went outside the barn to get a better view, crossed the road and was going along the alley between her house and that of the little seers’ family. Reaching the fence that separated the latter from the church square, she again glanced at her roof. “There is nothing” she murmured and tried to go on, but her legs gave way and she fell to her knees on the icy snow. “God is punishing me,” she thought and, weeping, she recited three or four paternosters and Hail Marys in honor of the Holy Virgin. Then she was able to rise, and retracing her steps, she re-entered her house, walking quickly through it into her garden in hopes of seeing the vision from that side – all in vain: she still didn't see the lady. she went back through the house and to the barn where she kept on praying, shedding tears of remorse for having been so incredulous.
This report of a minor but related incident, from the original notes of 1871, describes exactly in the words of the time, the paralysis that struck many reliable witnesses who found themselves too close to a UFO.
On August 21, 1879. in the little Irish village of Knock in County Mayo a similar scene was repeated, but with no message or animation, just still pictures, showing the Holy Virgin in the middle, and, say the witnesses, St. John the Evangelist and St. Joseph at her sides. What chiefly struck the spectators, young and old (for unlike Pontmain it was visible to everyone) was the intense golden light that surrounded the vision, as bright as the sun, but changeable. Sometimes it dimmed, sometimes it grew even brighter. More surprising, while it was pouring rain, a woman who saw the vision tried to kiss the Lady but she just touched the church wall on which the image was projected and she added: “I carefully felt the ground with my hands… it was perfectly dry and at that spot no drop of rain fell from the sky upon the image.”
Here again we have a picture show as at Pontmain, but this one was static, with no message. It was seen by 14 witnesses from 5 to 72 years of age, as if this vision were an answer to the campaign of slander that followed Pontmain, accusing the children of telling tales and the adults of self-hypnosis. But the huge golden light, as strong as the sun and constantly changing, is reminiscent of Fatima. The ground found absolutely dry and the lack of rain on the vision are like the phenomena that followed Fatima when 70,000 people found their clothes dry after the “dance of the sun.”
In conclusion. it seems sure that mankind has been in contact with superior spiritual forces since very distant times: recall the statements of several Old Testament prophets describing such encounters and relating their teachings. Look at Elijah and Ezekiel. It seems also that these benevolent higher powers willingly appear publicly, especially when crises are near, their object being to inspire men to greater spirituality in order to spare them the cruelest suffering.
But just as there are contacts with benevolent entities, so there must be contacts with malevolent ones, because of the duality of the world. But those contacts are much more discreet, the Devil preferring to work from afar through the medium of “men of destiny” to turn mankind in the direction he desires. These human agents rarely boast of their true function. As Churchill said: “The Devil's great power is to make us believe he doesn't exist.”
Indeed, were it not for the confessions of Hitler and his entourage, as well as certain remarks by Krushchev at the 20th Soviet Congress, and the suicide of Stalin's first wife, we would still have nothing to go on but the faint clues of diabolic possession during the mystical period of the Middle Ages.