Blessed Mother Said To Have Appeared Near Castle, Predicting Demise Of Satan
By Michael H. Brown
The report that two girls -- now young women -- claimed to see the Blessed Mother on the island of Ischia in Italy brought to mind other cases in a country that is absolutely teeming with Marian history. Indeed, rare is the Italian town that doesn't have some kind of shrine where the Holy Mother caused a miracle or appeared. No other country, with the possible exception of France, has had as many Marian manifestations. Entire books have been dedicated to phenomena in this nation alone -- with a different case on nearly every page.
Our Lady of Good Counsel. Our Lady of the Snows. Our Lady of Pompeii. We're talking back to the Fourth Century! Even before that, Gregory of Caesarea saw her. But it is recent apparitions that we're most interested in, and here too Italy does not disappoint. Most interesting have been claims made at a rather cosmopolitan mountaintop town south of Salerno called Oliveto Citra. These had started on the evening of May 24, 1985, when a dozen children -- again, children, as at Fatima, as allegedly at Ischia -- were playing near the gate to an old castle on the feast of St. Macarius, the town's patron.
"There were a lot of people in the square and no place to goof around, so we decided to go up to the square near the castle," one of the original seers, Dino Acquaviva, told me years ago. "We were there when we heard a baby crying. We thought it was someone trying to scare us. One of the boys took a rock and threw it and it came rolling back and we heard the baby crying louder -- like it was bothered or mad. We went and looked toward the gate of the castle and we saw a ball of light that little by little got bigger and in the middle you could see a lady with a baby in her arms."
Shades of LaSalette. And Fatima. That apparition lasted more than two hours in this modern, almost chic town where the riviera-like cafes buzz into the night. A waitress in the nearest cafe went to see what all the excitement was about and came back so shaken she went into shock and was taken to the hospital. "The Blessed Virgin was there, like a real person, but in a light!" insisted Dino. "A real person, and young -- 16 or at the most 18. The only thing we could really remember was the eyes, which were blue. I fell on my knees three times. We didn't know what to do. She was about a meter above the ground."
Others also saw her. A good number of local villagers, children and adults, became "visionaries." Was it real? Was it of the Holy Spirit? Certainly, something supernatural had occurred. What had to be discerned was what. Apparitions at old places like castles have to be looked at with double the caution, for there is the possibility that the phenomena are linked to earthbound or otherwise deceptive spirits.
In this case, however, the evil spirits seemed to be coming from the other direction. At one point Dino and his brother, Carmine, claimed to have seen a thin man holding a chain with a demonic creature (what they described as a "small green monster") at the end of it. Fantasy? Or a true representation of the nefarious?
The appearance of a purportedly negative entity at the very onset of the apparition made me wonder if the entire incident was demonic, and I still wonder about some of the phenomena. But it seemed like the "creature" was there to scare the children from the apparition itself, not as the main feature of the event -- and there were some excellent fruits in the way of conversions. I spoke to the local priest, Don Peppino, who was convinced it was the Blessed Virgin who was making herself known at Oliveto Citra, and this in itself was unusual, for normally the local priest is initially opposed to such alleged phenomena -- as was the case at Ischia.
But I myself saw the sun act strangely at Oliveto Citra and viewed the video of a solar miracle that was more spectacular than what I had witnessed even at Medjugorje. The Virgin described herself as "Our Lady of Graces" and "Our Lady of Consolation." By my count, there were at least a dozen main seers. "My children, come to me," the Virgin said, striking an optimistic note. "Open your hearts and they will be filled with good things. Jesus is with you, together with me, to save you from temptation. Satan becomes ever stronger; pray that he loses his power and that you all grow closer to God. The evil one has taken over many, but do not be afraid; my Son will free them." At one point the Blessed Mother even remarked that "the world is turning to me." She asked for fasting twice a week and thanked them "for responding."
What about prophecy?
At Ischia there was allegedly a prediction that came true: collapse of the Twin Towers. We reported on this Monday [see story]. There was also the prophecy of a volcano.
At Oliveto Citra the seers, many of them adults, were told that "the whole world is in danger. There will be earthquakes, famines, and punishments for all the inhabitants of earth," she was said to have warned. "When God comes among us, with some manifestation, He does not come as a joke." Seer Mafalda Caputo, wife of a local accountant, said she was told to pray about potential nuclear conflict -- that the devil was possessing certain world leaders -- but that the real war, the actual third world war, was at a spiritual level. During the first Gulf War, the Blessed Mother appeared sad and in a dress stained with blood, said the seers. The same was true during the horrendous ethnic conflicts in Yugoslavia.
If major disasters do occur, I was told by another, Raffaello Ferrara of Naples, it will be to "build a new era, a new future, a better one." The castle gate was like a metaphor -- symbolizing the evil infiltrating our world. Demons were said to approach it as snakes, hunchbacked goats, or dressed as the Madonna but with a wolf's head. They tried to stop seers from getting to the site of apparitions.
"Wear the rosary around your necks," the real Virgin warned. "It will protect you from the devil. He tempts you and often he takes on my resemblance, deceiving you."
She confirmed that the battle had intensified a century ago. She confirmed that it was a special period of testing. Mankind was in the throes of a largely invisible battle.
But the century was now gone, and at last the evil one was beginning to lose his power.
A new era was on the way and events were to come.
[For more on Oliveto Citra, see The Final Hour]
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