May 20, 2003
Dear believers in Our Lady of Emmitsburg.
I was away for the past two weeks in Montichiari, Italy and in Paris, the latter for the annual meeting of the 30-member International Bioethics Committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which advisesthe UN on ethical aspects of science, such as cloning, the human genome, et cetera. Of course, while there I visited the Rue du Bac chapel where Our Lady appeared to St. Catherine Labouré in 1830 with the image of the Medal of the Immaculate Conception (The Miraculous Medal). I also visited, as I usually do, the historic Church of Notre Dame des Victoires (Our Lady of Victories).
Now, it is possible that some of you may not know about the apparitions of Our Lady to Pierina Gilli in Montichiari/Fontanelle in Northern Italy. She first appeared there in 1947 as the Rosa Mystica (Mystical Rose), one of her many titles in the Litany of Loreto. Indeed, she is the Incarnate Rosewho has made Paradise ever so much more beautiful. There is strong evidence that Pope Paul VI certainly believed in the authenticity of those apparitions and in fact, on one occasion he called on the Church to invoke Mary as Rosa Mystica. If you call her a rose, white is the colour of her purity; gold, the tint of her royalty and red, the fire of her suffering. In fact, many Rosa Mystica statues have been seen to weep blood in the United States of America since the early 1950s. One such statue was reported to weep copiously in Venezuela before the recent uprising there.
As in Fatima, the Blessed Virgin first appeared to Pierina Gilli (1911-1991) in the month of May. She was dressed in mauve. Her heart was pierced by three swords and her eyes were filled with tears which fell to the floor. All she said to Pierina at that time was: Prayer, Sacrifice, Penance.She then went on to explain the meaning of the three swords to Pierina. The first sword means the loss of vocation in priests. The second sword refers to priests, monks and nuns who live in mortal sin. The third sword denotes priests and monks who commit the treason of Judas. While giving up their vocation, they also often lose their faith and become enemies of the Church.
As Pope Paul VI himself once said: There are forces within the Church and priests and religious who are doing far more damage to it than its bitterest enemies outside. Many priests and religious are giving the Church the Judas kiss. Satan himself has made his way into the temple of God.
The following month, on June 13, the Virgin appeared again to Pierina early one Sunday morning. This time she was dressed in white and instead of three swords, there were three roses which are seen on all Rosa Mystica statues: a white, a red and a golden-yellow one. She also explained the significance of the roses. The white rose means the spirit of prayer; the red rose, the spirit of sacrifice and the golden rose refers to the spirit of penance and conversion. She added: Our Lord sends me to bring a new Marian devotion for all male and female institutes, religious orders and secular priests. I wish the 13th of each month to be celebrated as a feast of Mary. On this day I shall send to these religious institutions, members of orders and secular priests, who have honoured me in this way, a superabundance of graces and great sanctity. I wish the 13th day of July of each year to be celebrated now in the honour of the Rosa Mystica, the Mystical Rose.
The sixth apparition occurred on the eve of the feast of the Immaculate Conception. It was on December 7, 1947. This time the Virgin wore a white cloak. This was held on the right side by a boy and on the left side by a girl, both of whom were also dressed in white. She said to Pierina, Tomorrow I shall show you my Immaculate Heart of which mankind knows so little.She then paused for a while before she added: In Fatima, I spread the devotion to my Immaculate Heart. Here in Montichiari, however, I wish the devotion of the Rosa Mystica together with the veneration of my Immaculate Heart to increase in the religious institutions and the monastic communities in order that these souls dedicated to God may receive more graces from my motherly heart.(I suspect that this is because in recent decades so relatively few priests are truly Marian). Pierina was then told that the two children at her side were Jacinta and Francisco, the two young visionaries of Fatima who had since died in 1918.
There then is the connection between Fatima and the Rosa Mystica apparitions. Like in Fatima she also wore a rosary in Montichiari. The word rosary is from the Latin word rosarium which means a garden of roses! In short, Montichiari is the continuation of the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary but, as she said, for the renewal of priests, religious houses and those dedicated to God.It can then be said to be acentre of her Immaculate Heart.
But she waited until these latter timesto promote and request Gods choice for theCentre of her Immaculate Heart to be in Emmitsburg. Congratulations America! As she said to Gianna Talone Sullivan on April 27, 2000: Thank God, little children, for His great love for you and for picking this most beautiful, humble place as theCentre of my Immaculate Heart& Thank the two instrumental saints of love, St. Vincent de Paul and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. Thank the saints which follow in their footsteps and their ancestors down through your blood lines along with the entire Communion of Saints for their faith and trust in God& I invite you my priests, my daughters (religious) and all my ministers to join me in preparation for the glorious unveiling of my Sons mercy. As you know, we are in the period of Gods Divine Mercy before the era of His Justice!
Here now is the ultimate link between Fatima, the Rosa Mystica apparition site in Montichiari and Emmitsburg. On May 11, 2000, Our lady of Emmitsburg said to Gianna: What commenced in Fatima with my three little children will continue now and come to fruition here at theCentre of my Immaculate Heart.
Now, let us turn to Our Lady of Victories. After the apparitions of Our Lady in the chapel of the Rue du Bac in Paris in 1830 (a chapel which was built under the influence of St. Vincent de Paul who was the founder of the Order of the Daughters of Charity in Paris), Abbé M. des Genettes was assigned in 1832 as pastor to the Church of Notre Dame des Victoires (Our Lady of Victories) in Paris. After four years of frustration he became completely discouraged by the lamentable lack of devotion of his parishioners. Then on December 3, 1836, while he was celebrating Mass he thought he heard an inner voice which said twice: Consecrate your parish to the Most Holy and Immaculate Heart of Mary.He hesitated a long time in disbelief. Finally he obeyed the call and established a Confraternity to honour the Immaculate Heart of Mary in a special way so as to obtain the conversion of sinners through her intercession. Within a short period sinners began returning to Jesus Christ in great numbers and the parish was completely transformed and revitalized. It was the talk of Paris!
Eighty five years later, in 1917, Her Majesty said to Lucia in Fatima: Jesus wishes to make use of you to make me known and loved. He wants to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. I promise salvation to those who embrace it and they will be loved by God as the flowers placed by me to adorn His throne.
A statue of Our Lady of Victories stands on the grounds of St. Elizabeth Ann Setons shrine in Emmitsburg. A plaque in front of the statue reads as follows: By the end of June 1863 an estimated 90,000 Union soldiers were located in and around these premises and some of their officers situated in Mother Setons White House were planning battle strategies. It was feared that the battle would be fought here. The Sisters promised that should this danger be averted, a statue of Our Lady of Victories will be erected. This promise was fulfilled immediately after the Civil War. For decades this symbol of the Protectress and her Divine Son has been honoured in St. Joseph Valley. And so, believers of Our Lady of Emmitsburg, fear not. In the end her Immaculate Heart will triumph.
Last week I spent an afternoon in the Church of Our Lady of Victories in Paris, so relatively little known in todays world. The original statue of Our Lady of Victories there, like all other such statues, shows the victorious Queen holding the Child Jesus by her side! I need say no more. There is a purpose and a logic for everything in and under the heavens!
In a few daystime I will review for you the history of the suffering and denial of their authenticity which were experienced by all the visionaries of Church-approved Marian sites, beginning with La Salette. In the meantime, I am sure that Our Lady would like us to pray for all priests, bishops and cardinals.
Professor Courtenay Bartholomew