A Weeping Statue of Mary

This is the eighth article in a series on approved apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

In the middle of the 20th century, a 19-year-old Japanese woman suffered severe paralysis for 10 years, only to completely recover after drinking water from Lourdes. That's merely where the story of Agnes Sasagawa begins. This woman converted to Catholicism, and later in her life, encountered the Blessed Mother face to face.

When she was 42 years old, Agnes joined a religious community called the Institute of the Handmaids of the Holy Eucharist, near Akita, Japan. Around this same time, she suddenly became completely deaf.

On June 12, 1973, just one month after being accepted into the religious community, Sr. Agnes saw angels surrounding the altar before the Blessed Sacrament. Then Sr. Agnes noticed a wound in the shape of a cross on her left hand, which caused her much pain.

One morning that July, Sr. Agnes entered the chapel to pray before a wooden statue of the Blessed Mother. As she approached, the statue of Our Lady suddenly became illuminated by a bright light. Sister Agnes said, "At that same moment, a voice of indescribable beauty struck my totally deaf ears." Our Lady spoke to Sr. Agnes through the statue and promised to restore her hearing.

The following day, the other sisters discovered a wound resembling Sr. Agnes' on the right hand of the statue. Later that summer, Our Lady spoke to Sr. Agnes, warning of a forthcoming chastisement on the whole world. The Blessed Mother asked for prayer, penance, and sacrifice, hoping that humanity would avoid such misfortune.

At the end of July that same summer, the wound on Sr. Agnes' hand disappeared, while the wound on the statue of the Blessed Mother remained until late September. But as soon as the statue's wound disappeared, the body of the statue began to perspire, emitting a pleasant fragrance.

Our Lady gave her final message to Sr. Agnes on Oct. 13, 1973, the anniversary of the great Miracle of the Sun in Fatima. The Blessed Mother warned Sr. Agnes once again of the coming chastisement unless sinners would repent. She said, "It will be a punishment greater than the deluge, such as one will never have seen before. Fire will fall from the sky and will wipe out a great part of humanity." The Blessed Mother grieved especially for the potential loss of souls. She finished, "I alone am able still to save you from the calamities which approach. Those who place their confidence in me will be saved." Of course, the Blessed Mother impressed upon Sr. Agnes the importance of praying the Rosary to avoid this sad fate.

Though Our Lady had delivered her final message to Sr. Agnes, the statue through which Mary spoke continued to produce miracles. In May 1974, the face, hands, and feet of the statue turned a dark red color. Then from Jan. 4, 1975, until Sept. 15, 1981, the statue wept 101 times in intervals, which people of all faiths witnessed. So devotion to Our Lady of Akita spread across Japan. As predicted, Sr. Agnes' deafness was cured on May 30, 1982.

On April 22, 1984, Bishop John Shojiro Ito authorized this apparition's authenticity. In 1988, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger confirmed Bishop Ito's approval.

View the next article in this series.

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