Flame of Love,
the powerful, unique, and Church-approved messages from Jesus and
Mary to Hungarian seer/ stigmatist Elizabeth Kindelmann, who won approval of a
cardinal and many bishops. Here the Lord and Mary speak about Satan, how to
'blind' him, the power of Adoration, the potency of the Precious Blood, the most
efficacious ways to pray, saving souls in purgatory, the great troubles
facing the world, future events, and the mystery of the 'Flame of Love of the
Immaculate Heart of Mary' from an obscure mystic who died in 1985!
IN VIEW OF ONE WRITER, AMONG HOLIEST MARIAN SITES IS UNKNOWN ONE DEEP IN WHAT WAS U.S.S.R.
Recently, at a retreat, I was asked an interesting question: Which apparition that you have visited was the most powerful? Perhaps it was plural: which sites were the most potent.
There is of course no way to really rate the anointing of our Blessed Mother, and everyone's experience is different; what some find to be overwhelming powerful others may not; everyone has favorites, for their own particular reason.
But an interesting question deserves an attempt at an answer, and the view from here would include the grotto at Lourdes; the apparition chapel at Fatima; the right side pews at Rue du Bac in Paris (the Miraculous Medal); the apparition room at Kibeho in Rwanda (as well as a position in front of the altar statue in the nearby chapel); and Mount Kricevac along with a spot near the statue in St. James Church in Medjugorje. How could one leave out prayer in front of the Guadalupe image near Mexico City?
And yet, of the thirty or more alleged apparition sites I have visited -- if I were to have a "top five" -- there, equal to any, would be a place called Zarvanytsia in Ukraine.
I ran into Zarvanytsia while touring sites in this nation that long had been under the yoke of the U.S.S.R. Like other republics, it recently had broken free. Communism had fallen, and churches that had been closed or converted into warehouses and barns under the atheistic Communists were now rising from the ashes.
Several years before, as Communism fell, or was about to, around 1987, there had an outbreak of Marian phenomena across this impoverished, persecuted nation (where millions had once died during a "famine" created by Stalinists). I visited in 1991 and saw Hrushiw, there manifestations of Mary occurred at a little church in front of thousands and Buchach -- where Mary was seen with the Infant Christ in a light above Trinity Orthodox Church. Nearby I gaped in amazement at a miraculous image -- looking like one of the Apostles -- that suddenly simply appeared "etched" in a pane of glass (you had to see this, and fall on your knees in front of it, to realize how inexplicable it looked and how powerful it felt; it was etched but it was not etched). I went to Hoshiw, where Mary was seen in a forest as a young woman in radiant white (similar to the apparition near Green Bay, Wisconsin). I went to the ancient Marian spot of miracles called Pochaiv. Holy, holy, holy. Rare. Very rare.
And then there was Zarvanytsia.
Something was happening here, something that was both hopeful and foreboding. Back in history, it was known as a spot where Mary's image appeared in a pool of water (after Communists had stolen a famous, historic icon that was kept there of her). When I arrived in the village, which is 181 kilometers from the large Ukrainian metropolis of Lviv (past turkeys roosting in trees and horse buggies; there weren't even phones or newspapers out here), I learned that Mary began reappearing at Zarvanytsia in the mid-1980s, around the time, I noted, that the great John Paul II conducted what many feel was finally an adequate consecration of Russia.
"One day on my way to cut wheat, I stopped to see why there was a crowd around the well," said Chornij Zenovia, a saintly woman who had spent years at a concentration camp (left, in the car I hired). "The people said they were seeing the Holy Mother. I knelt and started praying very hard and suddenly instead of the well I saw a big glow, like a mountain, and in it I saw a lady holding a baby in her arms. The light was like silver. The Lady was in blue clothes with a white sash, and a barefooted Baby was in her arms. On her head Mary had a white shawl. I saw this for about half an hour. The glow was seen very often for two or three weeks in 1987, I think the autumn. The Holy Mother warned us to return to church and love one another. Personally I took it as a sign that Communists would soon disappear from the face of the earth."
Although the KGB, hearing of the phenomena at Zarvanytsia, moved in with force -- unleashing attack dogs and clubbing pilgrims to the point where a number required hospital treatment -- the apparitions continued at least through 1988, as I learned in speaking with Mykola Krushelnyckyj, a factory worker who was walking up a dirt road one evening in December of that year when he spotted something in the sky over the vicinity of the well.
Above the forest, Mykola had witnessed a huge glow.
In the middle he saw Mary with the Infant. On her head was a golden crown. She was bowing or looking toward the Baby. The light around her was like the moon.
I can't define why Zarvanytsia was so powerful. It is so simple. Just the church complex and a little spot where the well is. Real peasant territory -- a region where livestock is allowed into some homes during the bitter winter cold. Yet I felt Mary as strongly here as anywhere I had ever visited. Was it just an individualistic experience? As I recall, John Paul II had once visited long before he was Pope.
A day or two later, attending Mass in Lviv before I left Ukraine (again, 180 kilometers, or 112 miles, from Zarvanytsia, in the region where it was very rare to own a car; even the police didn't have them), I was shocked as I left to see that saintly peasant woman I had met, Chornij Zenovia, at the back of the church. I didn't have my interpreter, and so we couldn't talk. Was it really here? I tried to ask how and why she was there. She was smiling at me. Again I felt overwhelmed. I still don't understand why or how she was there. The feeling -- as at Zarvanytsia itself -- was indescribable.
It's a place where a sighting of Mary occurred in the Ukraine. Truth be known, I'd have to put Zarvanytsia in my top three.
What powerful places there are! Guadalupe. Knock. Montserrat.
At Zarvanytsia, the glowing mass, which was twice the height of trees, had moved over the woods and meadows, fading beyond and behind a mountain like an ephemeral cloud.
-- By Michael H. Brown
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