St. Juan Diego’s Tilma
Nearly 500 years after Our Lady appeared to St. Juan Diego in 1531, on a knoll near Mexico City, the tilma of St. Juan Diego has been preserved from decay. The image on the tilma cannot be explained by any scientific means. This, of course, is on top of the fact that after our Lady’s appearance, over about a ten-year period of time, some 8 to 9 million people in Mexico became Catholic.
Battle of LePanto
In 1571, Pope St. Pius V called on all Catholics to pray the Rosary for the fleet of the Holy League as it entered into battle with the Ottoman navy. As the battle began, the wind shifted and the badly outnumbered and outgunned Holy League won the battle, preserving Europe from a Muslim conquest. (This is where the Feast of Our Lady of Victory, later changed to Our Lady of the Rosary originated.)
St. Catherine Laboure
Our Lady appeared to St. Catherine in 1830 and gave to her the image for the Miraculous Medal—a sacramental that is virtually universally known throughout the Catholic faith. Now, nearly 200 years later, St. Catherine’s body remains incorruptible. It has not been artificially preserved and yet it shows no decay.
While wearing the Miraculous Medal to humor a Catholic friend, a Jewish convert, who later became Fr. Marie-Alphonse Ratisbone, was converted in 1842 after seeing a vision of the Virgin of the Miraculous Medal. After that occurred, he devoted his life to the conversion of the Jews, even building the Ecce Homo Convent of the Sisters of Zion, located on the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem.
St. Bernadette Soubirous
Our Lady appeared in 1858 to St. Bernadette, a 14-year old French peasant girl, who by all accounts was a very ordinary person. Since that time, approximately 7,000 recorded miraculous healings have occurred at Lourdes. About 70 of these have been verified officially as totally inexplicable by any scientific means, but the recipients of the healing in the rest of those miracles know what occurred for them as well.
In 1859 Our Lady appeared to Adele Brise at a site which lies about 30 minutes by car from present day Green Bay, as Our Lady of Good Help. Numerous healings have occurred at that shrine as well, one of which was for the baby grandchild of a personal acquaintance of ours a few years ago. Additionally, in 1871 the largest and deadliest fire in American history burned 2,400 square miles of woodlands in the area, incinerated a dozen communities, and killed 2,500 people. Although the surrounding area was burned and the outside of the picket fence around the property was charred, the compound at the chapel of Our Lady of Good Help was saved from the fire after Sister Adele led local citizens in prayer at the church.
At Fatima Our Lady appeared to three children six times over five months. In addition to the messages she gave them for the world, a miracle, referred to as that of the dancing sun was witnessed by 60,000 to 70,000 people at the final apparition.
Other Marian Miracles and Apparitions
In addition to the apparitions and miracles recorded with respect to each of the above sites, there are other apparitions that have been noted, some of which have been approved by the bishops in whose dioceses they occurred. As well, in a recent, informal discussion among a small group of Catholic men, including priests and laity, recorded at a home in Birmingham, one priest, an expert on Middle East religion and culture, noted that in the last few years, numerous Muslims (hundreds of thousands if I recall correctly) have been called to conversion by apparitions or locutions from the Blessed Mother and/or Jesus.
But there are many, many more personal Marian miracles and examples of guidance and graces obtained through Our Lady among the faithful. Father Larry Richards of The Reason for Our Hope Foundation has mentioned Our Lady’s guidance for him with respect to his vocation, as have other priests we’ve known or known of over the years. In our own lives, Our Lady has played a major role in our spirituality through her intercessions for us. She can do the same for each and every one of us—if we ask for her intercession.
To be continued…