Visionaries and the Virgin Mary


Part II of Discerning Voices

In the process of studying many of the Marian apparition claims during the last few centuries for this article and part I, I have come to the realization of how very difficult it is to make a final judgment on whether an apparition is legitimate or not. Today I realize that the "good fruits" are not strong enough evidence to prove the legitimacy of the visionaries for along with the fruits of healing and conversions are a lot of bad fruits, which I will explain further on. Which good fruits are the result of the supposed visitation of the Virgin Mary and which bad fruits lay at the feet of the devil using innocent persons to either muddy the waters or use not so innocent individuals who he knows will succumb to the temptation of having money and fame?

Michael Davies, a well-known Catholic writer who was a traditionalist Catholic and a critic of the Medjugorje apparitions believed Satan plays a large role in false apparitions saying:

There can be no doubt that spurious apparitions are one of Satan's most effective weapons in his war against the Mystical Body. The problem is, of course, to discern authentic from spurious apparitions.

One of the most helpful Catholic priests to speak and write with very insightful wisdom on private revelations was Benedict Groeschel (1933-2014). Fr. Groeschel was an American Franciscan friar, psychologist, author and speaker who hosted Sunday Night Prime, a television talk program. Not only was he a witty and entertaining speaker, his knowledge and insights on Marian apparitions were vast. He knew another Franciscan friar, Father Solanus Casey (1870-1957), a much-beloved American priest who was ordained but not allowed to take confessions or preach. Through his humble service as a gatekeeper he met thousands of people where many came to know him as a great advisor with the gift of healing and prophecy as well as having his own private ecstasies.

Fr. Groeschel found him kneeling in front of the altar one night appearing to be in an ecstatic state. Fr. Groeschel turned around and left. He said he had no need for visitations and appearances and did not want any such experiences. He said he does not believe we should be seeking after "signs and wonders" and the miraculous. This kept him very grounded in his faith and ability to serve the community. He began by founding several mission homes, one for single mothers and one for young men, and a retreat center for clergy as well as he helped start a mission to serve the poor. He also gave assistance to people experiencing trauma, extreme stress, and sorrow, while at the same time integrating religious values with counseling and psychotherapy.

I mentioned in a previous article the comments of Fr. Groeschel in connection to Dr. Helen Schucman who channeled from "Jesus" the words for The Course in Miracles. Dr. Schucman and Fr. Groeschel were friends. She had been one of his professors while he was attending Columbia University as a graduate student in psychology. She came to him one day and told him of her writings from - she claimed - Jesus. Although Fr Groeschel advised Helen not to publish her years of accumulated messages, she went ahead much to her own regret years later.

Fr. Groeschel wrote in his book, A Still Small Voice, A Practical Guide on Reported Revelations, “This woman who had written so eloquently that suffering really did not exist spent the last two years of her life in the blackest psychotic depression I have ever witnessed.” Groeschel was there with her at the very end of her life and it was a traumatic experience to witness her anger. She cursed The Course in Miracles and everything to do with it.

After studying dozens of articles on Schucman I did not discover until recently that during the last weeks of her life she had told Fr. Groeschel that her mother was a Christian Scientist. I learned this from one of his lectures where he shared this knowledge. When Helen was fourteen she told him that every afternoon her mother would read to her for an hour from the writings of Mary Baker Eddy. Groeschel also shared that Helen told him she was baptized as a child and said the rosary every day. Extraordinary, considering she was agnostic and Jewish. An inner conversion happened at eleven when she and her brother's servant (who had the mission of taking them home from a vacation with their parents) took them on a secret side trip to Lourdes. Having lived in a very wealthy environment and shielded from the darkness in the world, after seeing at Lourdes all those sick people and their contraptions she said, "There can't be a God who would allow all this sickness." So she challenged God to prove that he existed. She demanded that if he was real when she looked up at the night sky she would see a shooting star. Well, she saw many. That night the earth just happened to be passing through a tail of an old comet!

Fr. Groeschel had answered the question I had had when writing about The Course in Miracles. Why were so many Christian Scientists attracted to this course? He said Helen's writings were a mixture of poorly understood Catholicism and Christian Science. She combined ideas from both and her writings even at times contradicted themselves, something I have noticed in other releases claiming messages from different divine beings. Is that proof that the source is demonic and not from heaven? It could be but not necessarily a definitive sign.

The reason is that those who study these private revelations have found that If a divine presence were to communicate to a human being they have to do so in the psychological framework of the life of that individual. In Helen's case, she brought forth a "Catholic Christian Science" philosophy or a "Christian Science Catholic" philosophy in her course but definitely a mixture of what she understood both to be, not necessarily as they truly were. She was neither well-versed on Catholicism nor Christian Science. Fr. Groeschel believed that a private revelation from the infinite and transcendent world, the domain of Being, is a message from that world into this contingent and passing world. It is not a conversation between two people. This is not what certain visionaries claim to experience. For example, the Medjugorje visionaries, and many others, have asked the presence before them whom they believed was the Virgin Mary, questions for which she answered.

Whether one can have a conversation with God the Father or Jesus, or have visions of Mary that these visionaries claim speaks to them, can never be proven as an infallible experience. The Catholic Church seeks to do so with Marian apparitions by endorsing a very small percentage of the thousands of claims they are given to review claiming they are of a supernatural source. Yet, Satan and his works are also deemed supernatural by many. According to Catholic exorcists the natural deals with the laws of the physical world. Preternatural concerns things or events that appear outside or apart from the laws of the physical world. The supernatural concerns things or events beyond or above any created nature and is proper only to God Himself. Thus the Catholic hierarchy puts demonic activity under the category of preternatural and the stamp of supernatural is meant to convey that only God could have manifested the unexplained and outside of natural physical events. Yet, for the Marian apparitions is God claimed to be the source or Mary? I would hazard to say that most believers of these apparitions believe Mary is the source of the miracle of the spinning sun or rose petals falling from the sky, not God.

Heaven is quite capable of conveying a true message to a person. If the message if truly from a divine being they can be gifted to understand what that message means and what to do with it. False apparitions are another story. There are a lot of unusual events that have been related to many of the Marian apparitions. I have shared a few in part one and will share more here. They send up red flags that no matter how many signs and wonders appear around the apparitions, would the mother of Jesus really say and do the things she is purported to have said and done?

Fr. Groeschel was quick to say that there are many well-meaning individuals who claim to have private revelations and he believed most are not demonic. Yet he did say that he believes Helen Schucman's was based on what he witnessed in Helen's demonic behavior at the end of her life. Still, how many souls are misled into believing that they are doing God's work when they are pawns in the hands of the demonic? I witnessed hundreds of live dictations through Elizabeth Clare Prophet of the Summit Lighthouse and through my former husband, Kim Michaels. Both had their voices taken over by another entity who spoke through them. Their followers believed they were good people who were serving God. Likewise, the followers of Marian apparitions believe the visionaries are innocent souls who pray and give devotions to Mary and thus everything that comes through them is from the Mother of God. Predominately, children and teenagers are the source of these visions and occasionally, nuns.

Abundance of Apparitions
It is astounding how many people have gone to Medjugorje or have been connected with Medjugorje and subsequently went forth and claimed they too were receiving private revelation. Fr. Groeschel claimed that a few years after Bernadette's apparition at Lourdes—a Church-approved apparition—there were over 200 private apparitions reported the following year. Some were investigated by the Church but none were approved. He also said that in three hundred years there has not been one approved private revelation given to an adult seer while the messages were still being released during their lifetime.

Rene Laurentin was a prominent Roman Catholic theologian, who spent a lifetime studying Marian apparitions. He claimed that from 1950 to the end of the century he counted over 200 apparitions from the Virgin Mary. The vast majority, he said, were "easily dismissed". If so, what was the source of these "easily dismissed" apparitions? Are these self-created delusions even in young children who apparently are too young to be devout? Are there some factors connected to these apparent delusions that infect communities all the way down to the young children?

Then there is Spain that has had hundreds of apparitions just in three decades.

Spain apparitions
To say that Spain was going through difficult times in the 1930s is an understatement. When the Great Depression broke out in 1929, Spain fell into a severe economic crisis, and the ruling class found that it could no longer contain the growing anger of the classes. In 1930 the dictator Primo de Rivera was forced to resign. The next year the republican parties took over and King Alfonso was forced to abdicate the throne and flee the country thereby the monarchy ended in favor of a democratic government. The bloody Spanish Civil War broke out in 1936. The Spaniards had their own holocaust.

Wikipedia states what happened to the Roman Catholic Church.

The Republican government which came to power in Spain in 1931 was strongly anti-clerical, secularizing education, prohibiting religious education in the schools, and expelling the Jesuits from the country. In May, 1931, a wave of attacks hit Church properties in Madrid, Andalucia, and the Levant, as dozens of religious buildings, including churches, friaries, convents, and schools, lay in ruins. The government expropriated all Church properties, such as episcopal residences, parish houses, seminaries and monasteries. The Church had to pay rent and taxes in order to continuously use these properties. Religious vestments, chalices, statues, paintings, and similar objects necessary for worship were expropriated as well. The Church was weak among the anti-clerical middle-class and much of the urban working class, but remained powerful among the wealthy elite and the Army. Its main base was the peasantry in heavily rural Spain.

Most of this information on the Spain apparitions are taken from William Christian Jr.'s book, Visionaries: The Spanish Republic and the Reign of Christ.1 It is one of the few information sources on what happened during those years that later was suppressed and largely forgotten and for many buried in their consciousness willfully.

In April 1931, nine days after the advent of the Republic, children playing outside the church of Torralba de Aragón saw what they thought was the figure of the Virgin Mary pacing inside the church. Within weeks some other young girls saw a woman in a church in the Basque Country in the northern part of Spain. They believed it was the Virgin Mary. There were at least twelve girls and later, one boy. They had been praying for Spain that afternoon. Within two days the newspapers were printing the story as they had for the earlier church vision and many of the girls had heard what had happened there.

Violence broke out near Ezkioga (now Ezkio) and within a few days, a brother and sister claimed to have seen the Virgin near there. During this time and the following year, the government had been removing all the crucifixes from their offices and the schools. The children's lives were changing and they could no longer do their normal activities. They spoke only Basque and were virtually illiterate in Spanish and a new teacher was sent that did not speak Basque. So far these children were just seeing the Virgin and there were no messages.

The first words the Virgin Mary spoke was to another young girl from Ormaiztegi asking the people to pray the rosary daily. First hundreds prayed and then thousands were coming to Ezkioga. In the first month there were over a hundred seers, where the visions were held outdoor and public. Seers at Ezkioga came from all over. The visions soon spread out from Ezkioga to other small towns in the Basque country, possibly imitated by persons who had read of the visions in the national press. Over a hundred thousands Basques had previously gone to Lourdes only a few hours away, and the area was saturated with the belief in Mary's intervention. Fatima was also well known.

Basque was the most literate area in Spain with 85% being able to read and write and consequently reading the newspapers was very active there. Three Catholic daily newspapers each had an average of two articles daily on the visions during 1931. They named the visionaries and what they had seen and heard. They also had articles on trances, levitation, and stigmata and on the German stigmatic Thérèse Neumann, the Italian stigmatic Padre Pio, and the visions at Lourdes, Fatima, and La Salette. Ezkioga was a big story to them and they largely controlled what the people knew by choosing which stories were more interesting to publish and blocking the rest.

The commission was overwhelmed with visions to study, and in one month they had three to five hundred visions. The press and commission tended to filter out older women, but kept comely adolescents and most of the men's visions. The visionaries also filtered their messages keeping information they felt would not be acceptable, sharing them only with their family or just keeping them to themselves.

Visions predicting a divine proof of the apparitions earned particular attention. From July 10 there were reports of an imminent miracle. Seers' predictions overlapped, so when one miracle did not occur, people easily shifted their hopes to another. By the middle of July crowds had swelled and the press estimated there were eighty thousand persons. Finally, on July 30 the Virgin declared through one individual seer that "miracles were not appropriate yet". Attendance began to drop way down. Nightly visions continued in Ezkioga until the end of the year.

In September 1933 Bishop Múgica denied the supernatural character of the visions and forbid seers to go to the Ezkioga site. A few months later he banned all books on the Ezkioga visions. In June of 1934, the Holy Office issues a decree against the visions at Ezkioga and the remaining seers went underground. Christian claimed he counted over 250 persons who had visions in Ezkioga proper, the rest of the Basque Country, and Navarra from 29 June 1931 until the Civil War in 1936.

Garabandal Seers in Spain
After the Spanish War broke out the future dictator Francisco Franco was gaining more power. By 1937 persecution began of Ezkioga believers. Later, new child seers popped up between 1944 and 1954 and then Garabandal happened involving four teenage girls. Their story became well known and began in 1961. It is estimated they had 2,000 alleged apparitions from July 2, 1961, to November 13, 1965. 

The Garabandal visionaries went into ecstatic states and were medically tested frequently to see if their pupils dilated or they felt pain. They did not. They performed many amazing feats as well as unnatural movements with their bodies. During ecstasies, grown men could not lift them off the ground. They would run backward and forwards with their faces tilted upwards and never fall or trip going over rocky paths or up and downstairs. They even levitated. They spoke languages they did not know.

Yet these visions are labeled by the Church as nonsupernatural, not of God. They are preternatural, going outside of the normal physical gravity and limitations of physical movement. There were many prophecies, including messages about a coming great "warning," great "miracle" and a great chastisement—similar in some ways to messages that would later emanate from Medjugorje. Many predictions have not come true (yet) and that is one of the signs of a false vision. One man, Joey Lomangino, who lost his eye in an accident was told by the Virgin that at the time of the great miracle he would regain his complete eyesight. He died at age 83 without ever regaining his sight.

The “Virgin” asked that the girls not bring blessed sacramentals because she wanted to bless these objects herself. Exorcists confirm that blessed objects disturb the demons. If the objects are therefore not blessed before coming in contact with the apparition and it was an impostor there would be no negative reaction to the objects. Mother Therese said "she felt" like they were true apparitions and Padre Pio supposedly endorsed them as well. One source, Joey Lomangino, said he went to Garabandal after Padre Pio confirmed to him that the Virgin was appearing there. An interview with a friar in the same order of Padre Pio revealed that he knew Padre Pio was not favorable to the apparitions. Contradictory information but understandable with human nature to hear what one wants to hear or believe something and not necessarily what was actually meant or said.

Worship of Goddesses
The more I read details on many visionaries the more convinced I became that the whole issue is considerably more complex than a straight choice between Divine revelation on the one hand and demonic delusion on the other. Several other factors seemed to play a part in varying degrees of significance at different shrines—psychological factors, the question of ecclesiastical manipulation and papal involvement, nationalist and political elements and the media's involvement. The presence of something much older than Christianity, namely the worship of goddesses is involved as well, and finally, the possibility of a link-up with New Age syncretism and neo-paganism.

Out of all the gods and goddesses in Roman religion, Diana, Artemis in Greek, was the most worshiped in Italy.  The Romans had a 3-day festival occurring on the Ides of August (August 13–15) celebrating Diana. On the third day, August 15, they celebrated Diana's assumption into heaven as the queen of heaven. Considered a great goddess, Diana stood as head over all of Rome’s gods. When pagan worship was supposedly phased out and replaced with Christianity, Diana’s shrine appears to be rededicated to Mary. Diana was known to be the "virgin goddess" and the “Queen of Heaven" titles Mary has as well. Mary, mother of Jesus, is honored by churches on Aug. 15 in a major feast day marking her Assumption into Heaven. According to Wikipedia, "It is possible that, as originally celebrated, the Nemoralia celebrated a descent of Diana into the underworld in search of Hippolytus or Virbius, followed by her ascent as queen of heaven and the full moon on the third day."

There are several references to Diana and Artemis in the Bible. In Jeremiah 7:16-18 the people are chastised for their worship of other gods. “So do not pray for this people nor offer any plea or petition for them; do not plead with me, for I will not listen to you.  Do you not see what they are doing in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem?  The children gather wood, the fathers light the fire, and the women knead the dough and make cakes to offer to the Queen of Heaven. They pour out drink offerings to other gods to arouse my anger."

In Acts 19 there are verses under the title The Riot in Ephesus about Diana. Ephesian silversmiths felt threatened by Saint Paul’s preaching on false gods and thereby potentially stopping their income. So they proclaimed "There is danger not only that our business will fall into disrepute, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited and her majesty deposed." Whereupon they began shouting in Diana's defense, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!” (Acts 19:27-28). Her temple at Ephesus was one of the Seven Wonders of the World and was ultimately destroyed by a Christian mob led by Saint John Chrysostom in the early fifth century.

The Mother of God
In 431 C.E., a church council in Ephesus officially proclaimed Mary Theotokos (Greek: “God-Bearer”) to counter the heresy of Nestorianism" the belief that Christ was two separate persons human and divine. Mariolatry​—the excessive veneration of Mary​—flourished after this Council of Ephesus. Catholics began to interpret Theotokos to mean that Mary is the "Mother of God" in the eternal sense because she gave birth to both the spiritual and human Jesus. The term Mother of God can be misconstrued with the belief that Mary was the source or originator of God, an unbiblical idea as Jesus Christ has a pre-existent, divine nature. Theotokos correctly means that Mary carried God in her womb and gave birth to the Son of God and is the “God-bearer” of the divine person of God the Son who took on human nature.

The Protestant Church teaches that Mary is not the Mother of God in the eternal sense, although she is the mother of Jesus. Some Protestants believe that since Mary cannot grant divinity and Jesus emptied Himself of His divinity when He came in the flesh (Philippians 2:5-8) and did not retain it until after His resurrection that He was not God on earth.

Paul stated that Jesus emptied himself. Some interpret the emptying was of his divinity. Yet His life and works prove that He was beyond a mere human. Others believe what Jesus divested Himself in order to be a human being was His glory. Jesus healed through the power of the Holy Spirit and He had the attributes of omniscience and omnipotence but never independently of the will of God the Father. He took on the human form and its needs and being subject to death so that He could suffer for mankind but He remained sinless, something no man has done, and some believe not even His mother. At the end of His earthly life, Jesus prayed to be restored of His glory just before his crucifixion (John 17:4-5) giving credence to the understanding that what He emptied Himself of was His glory. not His divinity.

The Perpetual Virginity of Mary
With the term, “perpetual virgin Mary,” Catholics and some Protestants express their belief that Mary lived her entire life as a virgin. In support of this belief Catholics cite The Protoevangelium of James which contains the first known mention of Mary’s continual virginity. Written probably sometime in the 2nd Century it is considered pseudepigraphal (noncanonical and unauthentic) writing. The Protoevangelium is also the earliest text that explicitly claims that Joseph was a widower, with children at the time that Mary is entrusted to his care. Thus the Catholic Church also holds that the brothers mentioned in Scripture are not brothers but cousins of Jesus.

The Pauline epistles, the four gospels, and the Acts of the Apostles, all mention the brothers. "These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers" (Acts 1:12-14) The Apostle Paul claimed that Jesus had a brother. Concerning his first trip to Jerusalem after his conversion, Paul wrote, “But I saw none of the other apostles except James, the Lord’s brother” (Galatians 1:19).

In Mark and Matthew brothers and sisters are mentioned. “Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?” (Matthew 13:55-56) Why bring up cousins in this criticism of Jesus mentioning his mother and include distant relatives? Why use the Greek word adelphois (brothers) in Acts instead of the Greek term for cousins anepsios, which is used elsewhere for cousins? In the very next verse (Acts 1:15) the Greek word adelphōn (also meaning brothers) is used except its meaning is members in the same community. Clearly, these examples show that they are brothers related to Jesus. The question is are they half-brothers, sons of Joseph and Mary or Joseph and an earlier wife?

The early church father Origen wrote a commentary on Matthew in which he rejected The Protoevangelium of James as spurious and affirmed Mary had other children although he earlier had the view that Mary remained a virgin. Thomas Aquinas is quoted as saying in The Teaching of Thomas Aquinas on the Mysteries of the Life of Christ that although reason could not prove Mary's perpetual virginity it must be accepted because it was "fitting". In Jesus, A Short Life, by John Dickson, he states that the majority of modern scholars, including Roman Catholics, agree that the "brothers of Jesus" were probably his full siblings.

The words of the Apostle Matthew show that he believed Jesus had brothers and were conceived between Mary and Joseph, “When Joseph got up from his sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary as his wife. He did not have marital relations with her until she had given birth to a son; and he named him Jesus." (Matthew 1:24-25). No matter which Bible version is read they all state the same except using different words for marital relations like "consummate" or "union" or "know her" indicating that Mary remained a virgin until Jesus was born and then they had normal marital relations afterward.

Mystic Maria Valtorta
According to The Poem of the Man-God2 a book the Medjugorje seers said Mary recommended reading, Jesus had no brothers or step-brothers. He supposedly had cousins. The book is a narrative of the life of Jesus written by Maria Valtorta, a bedridden Italian woman. From 1943-1947 she had visions of Jesus and Mary and claimed she not only had personal conversations with Jesus she took dictations from Him on His life. She wrote Jesus as saying "they are cousins from My Mother's husband's side." (Jesus was referring to Joseph?)

The Poem of the Man-God had been put on the Church Index of Forbidden Books, meaning, at one point, they were condemned. The Index was begun in the 16th century in most European countries. Both the churches and governments were attempting to regulate and control printing because it allowed for rapid and widespread circulation of ideas and information. The Index of Forbidden Books ceased to exist in 1966 although Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said "the Index retains its moral force despite its dissolution."

Medjugorje seer Vicka Ivankovic said “Our Lady said if a person wants to know Jesus he should read The Poem of the Man-God by Maria Valtorta. That book is the truth.” Seer Marija Pavlovic also said, "Our Lady says The Poem of the Man-God is the truth." If this book is the truth why are there words that contradict Scripture? The Poem of Man-God claims:

  • Joseph never married Mary. They were officially betrothed but she gave birth to Jesus before a year was up when according to tradition at that time they could have gotten married. Valtorta believed, as well as some Christians, that they never did marry. Scripture calls Joseph the husband of Mary prior to the Incarnation of Christ (Mt 1:18-19) and then he married her as the angel admonished him to do in a dream. (Mt. 1:24) There is some confusion as to what the Jewish custom for marriage was at that time. Some believe Mary was already his wife once betrothed. Scripture also tells us that Mary conceived Jesus through the Holy Ghost six months into her betrothal to Joseph. That would make Christ born nine months later and after the betrothal was over. Some believe the Jewish custom at that time was there was no ceremony for marriage only the betrothal. Matthew says that Joseph contemplated divorce (to put her away or break the betrothal) and the angel directed him not to do so but to marry her instead.
  • Anne and Joachim (Mary's parents) had no other child but the Virgin Mary. Matthew states, "Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister" (Matt. 19:25).
  • Jesus tells Valtorta that original sin was the sexual union of Adam and Eve and consequently made them lower than beasts. Scripture states Original sin was disobedience by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, committed when they ate the forbidden fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge.

The book also states the birth date of the Virgin Mary was August 24th. Medjugorje seers state their Mary said it was August 5th. Other visionaries have given the date of Mary's birth as September 8th. Mary states a different birth date to different seers and also claims the book is true even though parts of it contradicts Scripture and herself? The book also contradicts the private revelations Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich received in visions about Mary and Jesus and published in The Life of Christ and Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Unity Publishing criticized Valtorta's book stating, "Everything in The Poem of the Man-God contradicts The Life of Christ. Both cannot be from God." Both books are recorded visions by visionaries claiming visions from heaven and both were bedridden invalids. Emmerich had the stigmata for a time. Both have many volumes published of their visions after their death. They were written just over a hundred years apart.  

Although these are private revelations and subject to error, heaven supposedly gave them visions, not for themselves but to share with mankind. Since Emmerich's were already very detailed and readily available to mankind I question why would Jesus tell Valtorta to write down her visions to share with mankind repeating what was already done and giving a different perspective of Jesus and His life? We must understand that if both are divinely inspired what lesson is heaven giving us? What do we need to see? If one or both are subject to a lot of error or falsely inspired what then do we need to see?

Many support The Poem inside the Catholic faith, including many of the clergy. Fr. Gabriel Roschini considered her writings greater than anything he has ever read on the Blessed Mother. He was a famous Mariologist who promoted Valtorta until his death. Reading both the pros and cons of these writings I see division in the religious. One side wants a humanized Jesus and the other wants to maintain the image of Jesus we are given in the Bible.

Marian T. Horvat, Ph.D. wrote a review on The Poem and she describes exactly what might offend the traditionalist. These are only a handful of the sensual words from the five-volume set.

"The very title, the Man-God, expresses the spirit of the work. It is Jesus as a man that Valtorta presents: a babe suckling greedily at his Mother’s breasts, a youth hardly aware of Who He is, a Man who laughs and jokes with His Apostles and is constantly kissing them on the mouth and embracing them closely. Yes, at the least, it is difficult not to suspect this showy Jesus pictured in such a way as having homosexual tendencies.

"Valtorta’s natural approach is supposed to attract the modern man to the Life of Christ. It is in tune with the progressivist doctrine that tries to deny the supernatural and instead presents Our Lady as a simple Jewish woman and focuses on Our Lord as being a man “like us.”

"Valtorta’s Jesus suspiciously displays homosexual tendencies since he is constantly kissing and embracing the Apostles. When Jesus tells James of His approaching Passion, James reacts with great emotion. Jesus comforts him thus:

“’Come, I will kiss you thus, to help you forget the burden of My fate as Man. Here, I kiss your lips that will have to repeat My words to the people of Israel and your heart that will have to love as I told you, and there, on your temple, where life will cease.’ … They remain embraced for a long time and James seems to doze off in the joy of God's kisses that make him forget his suffering.” (Vol II, page 650)

"When Valtorta describes the “favorite” Apostle John as having the face of a young girl with the “gaze of a lover,” we can hardly avoid having the impression that they have a homosexual relationship. Here Jesus is kissing John to awaken him:

“Jesus bends and kisses the cheek of John, who opens his eyes and is dumbfounded at seeing Jesus. He sits up and says, ‘Do you need me? Here I am.’ … “John, half-naked in his under-tunic, because he used his tunic and mantle as bed covers, clasps Jesus’ neck and lays his head between Jesus’ shoulder and cheek.” (Vol. II, page 94 )

After John professes his belief and love in Jesus as Son of God, “he smiles and weeps, panting, inflamed by his love, relaxing on Jesus’ chest, as if he were exhausted by his ardor. And Jesus caresses him, burning with love Himself.” (Vol. II, page 95)

John begs Jesus not to tell the others of what has passed between them. Jesus replies, “Do not worry, John. No one will be aware of your wedding with the Love. Get dressed, come. We must leave.” (Vol. II, pp. 57-58)

Could it be that some of the Catholic clergy who claim to "love" this book have homosexual tendencies themselves and resonate with these words and a Jesus who is just like them?

Virgin Mary is Sinless
Roman Catholic theology maintains that since Jesus became incarnate of the Virgin Mary, she needed to be completely free of sin to bear the Son of God.  In 1854 Pope Pius IX declared that the Immaculate Conception of Mary was revealed by God. The doctrine claims that from her very conception in her mother’s womb she was, “preserved free from all stain of original sin” and immaculately conceived. Every Catholic is required to accept this dogma.  This declaration does not come directly from God but only indicates that the teaching is believed to be infallibly revealed by God through the living Tradition of the Church. It took centuries of debate to come to this conclusion.

If Mary's birth was immaculate in order to bear the Christ how far back does this sinlessness have to go to support the virgin-born Christ Jesus as free from the stain of original sin? Wouldn't Mary’s parents have had to be sinless in order to conceive Mary free of original sin and so on all the way back to Adam? Another important point: "Protestants and Eastern Orthodox often say that the immaculate conception of the Theotokos (Virgin Mary) would contradict the doctrine of the redemption of humanity, as the Virgin Mary would have been cleansed before Christ's own incarnation, making his function superfluous." (Wikipedia)

Mary is declared by Gabriel, the angel of annunciation, to be "full of grace" (Luke 1:28). This is interpreted by the Roman Catholic Church to mean that Mary was singled out to have this special grace where no original sin can abide. Does this grace she was given indicate it was from birth or conception? In Acts we find that there was another full of grace, "And Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people," (Acts 6:8) Stephen is not considered free of original sin from conception so what is the difference with Mary's full of grace?

According to the Latin translation of Luke 1:28, Jerome translated the Greek words from "Greetings, favored in grace" to "ave gratia plena "Hail full of grace." Bible Hub shows all the Bible translations and only two translations out of 28 say "full of grace" the rest translate properly "favored one" or "favored woman" or "highly favored".

Mary festivals originated in the Eastern, or Greek, Church. Although the Greek Orthodox Church was celebrating a feast of Mary’s conception they also celebrated the Feast of the Conception of St. John. They did not consider her conception to have been immaculate according to The Catholic Encyclopedia “They did not think it absurd to celebrate a conception which was not immaculate, as we see from the Feast of the Conception of St. John". The Roman Catholic Church did not adopt the Feast of the Conception of Mary before the seventh century.

Another view of the Orthodox church expressed in Wikipedia, "The Orthodox Church does not accept the Catholic dogma of 1854 -- the dogma of the immaculate conception of the Virgin, in the sense that she was exempt at birth from original sin. This would separate her from the human race, and she would then have been unable to transmit to her Son humanity."

I John 1:8 adds, “If any man says he has no sin he is a liar and the truth is not in him.” These texts could not be clearer for millions of Protestants. Mary herself said, "My soul rejoices in God my savior" in Luke 1:47. Mary understands that she too has been a sinner and needs a savior. Romans 3:23 says, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” The Catholilc Church reasoned that Mary is an exception to the "all" because Jesus was an exception and she bore Jesus and was "full of grace". This puts Mary on the same level as Jesus. Not only is she sinless as Jesus was from conception, but on the same level of God as Jesus was God incarnate. Mary is not God. Jesus was and is. That is a big difference.

There is so much to be read into or misunderstood about Jesus' words to His mother in John 2:4. "Woman, what have I to do with thee?" This is an old battle-ground between Protestant and Roman Catholics theologians. Was it a rebuke because Jesus used the word "woman" instead of "mother"? It could be because of this thing that she was asking of Him He did not own her as his mother. After all, “Wist ye not that I must be about My Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49) was also a gentle rebuke of His mother. Why should she have been surprised at his still lingering in the sacred courts? Did she not know who he was, and whence he came? Would the immaculately conceived woman free of sin not have made these mistakes? Rather was she showing, after all, she was human with human fears for her son, even to the point of forgetting who is in charge of her son, God?

Mary's Assumption into Heaven
We pronounce, declare and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul to heavenly glory." With these words, Pope Pius XII formally declared, in 1950, the bodily assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven to be a dogma of the Catholic Church and a truth that has been revealed by God and consequently something that must be firmly and faithfully believed by all children of the Church.

The words were carefully chosen in the phrase "having completed the course of her earthly life" to leave open the question of whether or not Mary died before her Assumption, or whether, like the Assumption of the Prophet Elijah and Enoch, Mary was assumed before death; both possibilities are allowed in the formulation. One problem with this teaching is that the Church teaches that heaven was not yet opened to the saints because Christ had not yet come. Where did they go?

In John 3:13 Jesus said to Nicodemus, "No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man." Some have understood these words to mean no one went to heaven before Jesus. Jesus was speaking to Nicodemus about how if people do not understand "earthly things" how would they understand "heavenly things". Meaning Jesus knew of both. His point was that He was the only one that ever went both up and came down from "heaven" and walked the earth having the immense knowledge and perspective of both worlds, as God, especially of heaven.

Elijah went to heaven (or paradise) before Jesus came to earth. In 2 Kings 2:11 “Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.” Since there are many levels of heaven and heaven also means the sky, in Elisha's time some believed he was somewhere up in the mountains and went to look for him. But Elisha said he knew they would not find him. Elijah most likely did not go to the highest level of heaven where Jesus reigns but the Bible does say he went to heaven.

Enoch was also taken by God. Genesis 5:24 says "And Enoch walked with God: and he [was] not; for God took him." Only it doesn’t say where. The apostle Paul also says about Enoch in Hebrews 11:5 “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him”. Ecclesiasticus 44:16 says "Enoch pleased the Lord, and was translated, being an example of repentance to all generations."

There is a story of a rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16 where Jesus shares an account of Lazarus in heaven at Abraham's side while the rich man goes to Hades. This would indicate Abraham being in heaven before Jesus came to earth. Again, we don't know what level of heaven.

The Savior speaks of Himself as an active participant in the Ascension to Heaven, but Enoch and Elijah were passive in their translation. In other words, no one gets to heaven by their own power but God's power. The Bible is silent about Mary's death and says nothing about Mary being ascended into heaven. We could also ask these following questions about this Marian dogma:

  1. If The Bodily Assumption of Mary is a dogma, why is it not found in any of the early church Father's writings until St. John of Damascene in the 8th Century?
  2. If The Bodily Assumption of Mary is a dogma, why does the early church father Epiphanius say that regarding the end of her earthly life, that no one knows what happened to Mary?

Evangelical Protestants believe that the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin unduly exalts Mary's role in salvation history, giving her an honor they say is due to Christ alone. They regard this new dogma as a demonstration of the Catholic Church's alleged penchant for "inventing" new dogmas without warrant in Scripture and then imposing them on the faithful as infallibly true.

My Personal Experience
I was not brought up as a Catholic or Protestant. I was an Episcopalian, a mixture of both. We lived next door to a Catholic Church. Every Sunday I would go to my church and come home to seemingly hundreds of cars filled to overflowing in the Catholic Church parking lot and down in front of our house. Saturdays almost the same. When I started dating, my first boyfriend was a Catholic and went to that church. He told me one day he put something on Mary's statue that was at the church. I thought it was strange to worship a statue, giving it something as if it were real.

I also witnessed he went to confession and still continued to sin. This disturbed me, as well as what I viewed as idol worship. I knew the potential for many more Catholics doing the same was a great probability. Episcopalians recognize saints as holy people to be honored, but do not pray to them. My church, as many were, was named after a Saint. We might include saints in our prayers addressed to God and give gratitude to them and to God for their good examples honouring their memory and try to model our lives by their holy example but not pray for their intercession. We were not taught that they are mediators to procure blessings for us, Christ alone is.

Surprisingly, when I joined the Ascended Master teachings they honored Mary as an ascended master. I easily accepted this belief as it made sense that she would be, along with others ascended. We also had New Age rosaries that we gave, similar to the Catholic version. We believed that all Ascended Masters interceded on our behalf. The Teachings taught that they were like the Catholic saints who were also ascended. So for a time I left behind my religious doctrine and did pray to the "saints" aka ascended masters for their intercession.

When I left the Ascended Master Teachings I left behind the idea that anyone was ascended but Jesus. I was careful to pray for protection from these "masters" as potential fallen angels in the guise of heavenly beings. I kept Mary in my world though. Then one day I began to question the Catholic dogma about her. If the Ascended Master Teachings made her similar to the Catholic Mary and their teachings were false would that not be a sign that the Mary in the Ascended Master Teachings is not only unreal but the Mary I have been still praying to also unreal? Is this "ascended master Mary" in any way involved with present day apparitions?

I have walked both sides of this path in my view of the role the mother of Jesus plays today. I personally am not for or against the apparitions. I am for the truth. I have presented some thoughts in this article that will help understand how Mary came to be who she is to the Catholic followers. Yet, I know no matter how much I present that would support the possibility that these visitations are unreal, few Catholics could or would be swayed. Once entrenched in dogma it becomes a part of your life. It may continue to be the truth to you no matter what is uncovered to show otherwise. This is the problem Jesus faced that He shared with Nicodemus. He had the power to covert people to the truth and He did produce miracles along with His powerful teachings to help bring people to the truth, yet we know that those entrenched in their religious dogma (the Pharisees, etc.) could not change, would not change no matter the truth.

The Holy Spirit and God's Will
I have much more to share on the Marian apparitions and I hope that this information given so far will help individuals form their own opinions from Scripture and from what the Holy Spirit brings to us as we study the Bible, so we can freely make choices in accordance with God's will. The main thing I would recommend is to daily pray to God and Jesus for the truth to enter your life, pray for the gifts of the Holy Spirit and ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten you. God will answer your prayers. Have faith that no matter how long it takes to feel the Spirit working in your world you will await that light and knowing.

I know God wanted me to share this information with you. I had witness in the form of Light. As I was proofing the spelling, which usually procedes my editing and then publishing an article, I heated up to such a degree, and on a cold winter night, that I had to question how I could have suddenly gotten so hot? I have no proof, but I know from past experiences and the infrequency that this happens, that the Holy Spirit has just passed through me and is extraordinary not ordinary. In this case, I was not the recipient, I was the vehicle the Light passed through into this article to pass on to readers and my body reacted to that extraordinary light.

I then awoke in the morning with a detailed dream about the spiritual path, physical churches, little children and their appearance of innocence (as in the seers), myself and others being far out at sea carried away by religious falsehoods and how different people responded to how to get back to shore, and much more. This was another confirmation that this article was God's will, as I was shown different religious paths and how people respond to them, as well as why they respond in the way they do.

I look forward to sharing more in part III.


1 The Visionaries: The Spanish Republic and the Reign of Christ, by William Christian Jr. had be read online at the UC Press E-books Collection.

2The complete volumes of The Poem of the Man-God by Maria Valgorta.