Rejected By Bishop, Apparitions In Italy Focused On Problems Among Religious
By Michael H. Brown
We receive reports about them all the time, those images of Mary as Rosa Mystica, a delicate blend of motherly beauty in paintings known for one other thing: their apparent supernatural component. Dozens and even hundreds of them have reportedly exuded blood, oil, or tears.
Is it true? Where has it happened? Is it good? And why this particular image?
Copies of one rendition, a picture of Mary with a red rose and a sword on her chest, based on controversial apparitions at a place called Montichiari, Italy, have reportedly shed tears hundreds of times in at least thirty countries.
According to one recent tally, the greatest number of reported cases is in Brazil, but events have occurred from Australia to the veldt of Tanzania. We have to be careful with such phenomena, which are easily replicated by the devil. There have been a bare minimum of 12 reports of that particular painting exuding inexplicable liquid in North America. Even greater in number may be the statues of the Rosa Mystica that have exuded "tears."
As I said, we must be cautious. We must also be obedient. When I visited Montichiari, I was startled to learn that the apparitions themselves had been strongly rejected by local Bishop Bruno Foresti of Breschia, who in a formal declaration had stated that the Mystica phenomena failed to "give good reasons for credibility" and that whoever promoted it "disturbs the faith of believers, inducing them to act contrary to the teachings of the Church."
I was surprised because the Rose Mystica seemed like such a beautiful apparition, and there are all those miraculous tears. A nurse named Pierina Gilli had been the reputed seer, and her messages seemed to connect in a very direct way to Fatima, starting with the fact that the second apparition was on the same day of the year, June 13, as the second Fatima apparition.
Pierina claimed that apparitions occurred both in the hospital where she worked and at the Montichiari basilica. At her first manifestation, Mary arrived in a mournful purplish dress and a white veil. She was visibly sad, her tears falling to the floor, her breast pierced by several swords. She said only three words. "prayer, penitence, expiation."
During the apparitions, the Blessed Mother supposedly had said that the swords represented in images of her stand for a crisis of faith, including "deadly" sin among religious and the loss of candidates for the priesthood. The Rosa Mystica devotion was meant to be installed among "all male and female institutes, religious orders, and secular priests," the Blessed Mother supposedly instructed. "I promise those religious institutes, orders, and secular priests who venerate me in this special way my special protection, an increase of spiritual vocations, and great sanctity among the servants of God," Pierina claimed Mary said.
Those alleged words were spoken in 1947 -- at the very point that research indicates as the beginning of the Catholic Church's sex-abuse crisis. The crisis went full throttle during the Sixties and then peaked by 1980 -- a period coinciding with the first surge of statue reports.
Rejecting the apparitions themselves, we return to those statues. Was the crisis in the priesthood the reason for all the tears? Or did -- do -- the tears relate to various worldly events at various times when the tears or "lacrimations" occur?
A missed opportunity? A grace from God that may have averted at least some of the scandal?
If so, it could mean that other tearing statues, long thought to pertain mainly to matters like abortion (and in many cases undoubtedly so), may also have been directed to what turned out to be a momentous crisis in the priesthood.
"My Divine Son, tired of continuing offenses, wanted to act according to His Justice, so I placed myself as a mediatrix between Him and the human race," she supposedly said, "especially the consecrated souls."
There was the admonishment that it was the godly souls who had turned lukewarm that most offended Christ -- especially those who had betrayed their vocation. "By their great offenses, they brought punishment upon the Church, but then the original spirit of their founders will blossom again," the Virgin reportedly had said. The apparition warned that "grievous" sins against purity threatened a flood of punishments.
Due to the bishop's ruling (at least the last with which I am familiar), we must keep away from specific devotion to the apparitions. While it has gotten to the point where bishops have rejected so much phenomena that the public often distrusts such rejections, there are also many times when the bishops know or sense things that we do not. We must always be obedient. But there has been no ban on the statues themselves, and the Pope has blessed at least one of them. Might it be time to mail resemblances of Rosa Mystica that have been blessed (especially with holy oil) to our seminaries and convents?
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