I am a proud Filipino and a daughter of Our Lady of All Nations; my grandmother was Chinese-Filipino, my grandfather a German-Spanish, and my own father an English-American. Doesn’t this all teach us that somehow, we are all one?
Common thread of thought
Last year, as a stunned world watched in horror the devastation in Japan, text messages and e-mail began to circulate among international Marian groups. Apart from a call to prayer, there was one thread of thought, and the headline of spiritdaily.org, a popular website that provided links and analysis of spiritual, supernatural, and current world events, read: “Events in Japan have many scurrying to look back at alleged recent prophecies.”
In the last half of the previous century occurred what the famed Mariologist, Canon Rene Laurentain, referred to as “an explosion of the supernatural.” Apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary were reported to have been happening in all parts of the globe. Visions, messages, signs, physical and spiritual healings, and even what seemed to be supernatural phenomena were widely discussed by the Catholic faithful. Hundreds of books and periodicals were published; video documentaries and audio tapes were produced, while results of investigations were disseminated.
Many contained photos and visuals of weeping or bleeding Marian statues, for most of the messages contained warnings of humanity on the brink of national and global disasters.
There were many false prophets and hoaxes, but several emerged credible and worthy of belief, and even seemed interrelated. The “Akita,” the messages given in 1973 to Sr. Agnes Sasegawa, a nun from the congregation of The Handmaids of the Eucharist in the Yuzuwadai district of the Akita prefecture, were considered credible. In April 1984, after years of extensive investigation, the Bishop of Niigata, Japan, Most Rev. John Shojiro Ito, declared the events of Akita, Japan, to be of supernatural origin, and authorized the veneration of the Holy Mother of Akita throughout his diocese.
In his pastoral letter, the Holy Bishop stated that according to the testimony of more than 500 Christians and non-Christians, including the Buddhist mayor of the town, a statue of the Madonna had shed blood, sweat and tears and that a nun, Agnes Katsuko Sasagawa, had received the stigmata as well as messages from Our Lady.
In June 1988, no less than the Prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, then Cardinal Ratzinger, (now Pope Benedict XVI) gave definitive judgment that the Akita events and messages were reliable and worthy of belief.
Former Philippine Ambassador to the Holy See, Howard Dee, a leading light in the local Marian movement, has mentioned in some articles and in several of his speaking engagements that in conversation with Cardinal Ratzinger, he had brought up the third secret of Fatima, and the Akita message: “I surmised that Cardinal Ratzinger’s approval of the pastoral must be because he recognized the Fatima third secret in the Akita message, a proof of its authenticity… To confirm this assumption, during my farewell visit to Cardinal Ratzinger at the end of my Vatican stint as Philippine ambassador, I asked the good Cardinal about the correlation of the Fatima and Akita messages. I knew it was a delicate question as his answer might reveal indirectly the content of the third secret. To my happy surprise, he confirmed that these two messages were essentially the same.”
An important apparition which seems to have been related to Akita was the one by Sr. Faustina Kowalska, recipient of the vision of Divine Mercy and responsible for the propagation of the chaplet and 3 o’clock prayer.
Sr. Faustina described in her diary that she saw what was to come: “All light in the heavens will be extinguished, and there will be great darkness over the whole earth. Then, the Sign of the Cross will be seen in the sky, and from the openings where the hands and the feet of the Savior were nailed will come forth great lights which will light up the earth for a period of time. This will take place shortly before the last day.”
Sr. Faustina also saw an angel as “executor of Divine wrath” in a way that strikingly reminds one of the image of an angel in the third secret of Fatima (an angel that had been ready to set the world aflame).
“He was clothed in a dazzling robe, his face gloriously bright, a cloud beneath his feet,” said Sr. Faustina.
“From the cloud, bolts of thunder and flashes of lightning were springing forth, and only then were they striking the earth. When I saw this sign of Divine Wrath which was about to strike the earth, and in particular a certain place, which for good reasons I cannot name, I began to implore the angel to hold off for a few moments, and the world would do penance. But my plea was a mere nothing in the face of the Divine Anger.
“Just then I saw the Most Holy Trinity. The greatness of Its Majesty pierced me deeply, and I did not dare to repeat my entreaties.
“I found myself pleading with God for the world with words heard interiorly. As I was praying in this manner, I saw the angel’s helplessness: He could not carry out the punishment which was rightly due for sins.”
The fact that Sr. Faustina could have such a similar vision in the 1930s—long before the third secret was made public, but years after the secret was given to Sr. Lucia de Jesus dos Santos in June 2000—is an item of no small fascination. Like the secret, the flames of the angel were drowned out by prayer.
The other definite link to Akita is that of the 1945 apparitions and messages in Amsterdam to Ida Perdeman of Our Lady of All Nations. The miraculous image of Akita that had “shed blood, sweat and tears” was made by a non-Christian Japanese sculptor who chose as his model the image on a prayer card (stampita) that showed a painting of The Lady as seen by the visionary Ida. The Virgin had requested that this painting be made, and the prayer disseminated. She stated that the image and prayer would do it all, and sure enough, even though belief in the apparitions was discouraged initially by the local church, the prayer card had made its way across the globe to that little convent on Honshu island.
It is interesting that these apparitions mentioned all make reference to disaster that will come especially in terms of fire from the sky. However, the great gift of our time, which we have failed to realize, is that there is Divine Mercy and despite all that might come, there is still one whose prayers can preserve us from degeneration, disaster and war—Our Lady of All Nations.