I’ve been putting off the Amsterdam apparitions for many weeks. A sort of dread had been hanging over me. How can I possibly succeed in impressing upon my listeners that this is the most important of all the Marian apparitions, ever, in all time–when I can’t give you a reference to a single other person who is saying this right now? The Amsterdam picture prayer card was well-received–at first–but then the original text was revised, causing many prayer cards to go out with the trash as if it had become somehow illegal to pray the earlier version. As for the political prophecies in the apparitions, these generate little interest because so many have already been fulfilled and the others are rather obscure. Then there is the strong call in the Amsterdam apparitions for a fifth Marian dogma, but this seems to be going in circles. Most theologians won’t give it the time of day.
Nevertheless, the apparitions are officially approved. The seer, now deceased, is held in high regard by local church authorities. Yet how many Catholics include this humble chapel in the Netherlands on their European pilgrimage route with Lourdes, Fatima, LaSalette, Medjugorje or Rue de Bac in Paris? Do I really dare to contend that Amsterdam is greater than all these other approved apparitions? If all the messages at these sites were “to the world,” aren’t they all equally important? To answer that, let’s consider the words and events recorded in the Gospels. Surely every place that Jesus visited contributed to our understanding of the full identity and message of the Son of God. We can say the same about every public visitation of Mary. As pieces in a mosaic, each one of Mary’s apparitions is of incomparable beauty and makes its unique contribution to our fuller understanding of the identity of the Mother of the Son of God and her message for our time. But who can argue that Jesus’ presence at Calvary and Bethlehem was of greater significance than healing someone at Peter’s house in Capharnaum, or doing an exorcism on a Gadarene hillside?
Jesus didn’t laugh at those long-ago rabbis who were spending their time arguing about which of God’s laws was the greatest. Why? Because, if you can identify one teaching or deed-event as central, like Christ’s death on the Cross, then you can put into correct perspective his ministry of healing the sick, as a sign of his work of saving souls. In Jesus’ day, the rabbinical disputes about the most important commandment usually centered on one or other of the sacrifices that were prescribed to be offered on this or that feast. But Jesus did not say to them: “Listen up you foolish scholars, every word was inspired by God. Till heaven and earth pass way, not one jot or one tittle shall pass away till all be fulfilled. All of my Father’s laws are equally important.” No, Jesus did not say that. Instead, He took the opportunity to proclaim his divine opinion about which commandment was most important, and then He went on to declare the runner up.
And He said to [the scribe], “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.Mt 22:37-40
But wait! Jesus didn’t choose any of the ten commandments–which his Father’s own finger had carved into stone tablets and were carefully preserved in the Ark for centuries until the fall of the Temple! These were enshrined! Surely any of the “ten” was greater than any others! No, but at least Jesus’ “number two” pick was a precept of God: You shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am Yahweh [Lev19:18]. But his top choice was a precept of a mere human being! It was a plea from the heart of Moses to the heart of the people. After a long discourse to the Israelites, Moses said that these
are what Yahweh your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it . . . hear therefore, O Israel, love Yahweh your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might .Dt 6:4-6
It’s a very moving text from Deuteronomy chapter 6. It never fails to melt my heart. The Church makes sure that we hear it often. She put it squarely in the Liturgy of the Hours as the reading for Sunday Night Prayer. It also moved the scribe who asked the question about which one was the greatest. He blurted out his praise of Jesus for such a wise and insightful double-selection, and Jesus responded by praising him [cf Mk 12:32-34]. I wish the evangelist had given us that man’s name, but really he represents all of humanity because these two commandments are not about ritual offerings for a chosen religion, but an honorable duty for every child of God.
A mosaic is typically a large and complex picture made of little tiles of solid color. I’ve never seen a mosaic with a mixture of large and small tiles as if the large pieces were more important. What artist would want to insert a big block of color into his picture? It would distract and detract. The whole idea of a mosaic is for each colored tile, or cluster of tiles to, combine like the strokes of a painter, who employs highlights and shadows, to build up and convey to the onlookers a face or a landscape or an event. An isolated tile, of whatever size, might have a lovely texture but it can’t be appreciated in isolation. The etymology of the English word mosaic is rather obscure. Could it be from Moses, from the Mosaic law? The 613 precepts scattered in the first five books of the Old Testament form a composite picture that reveals the full identity of Israel. Yes, some clusters of tiles carry more important messages to the viewer, but only from within the context of the greater picture in which so many pieces make their special contribution. I contend that the Amsterdam series is greater than other Marian apparitions, but I am not suggesting that it should be separated from the others. Here’s an overview to help you see the greatness:
1–The Amsterdam apparition series forms a very large cluster of tiles in the Marian mosaic:
– 25 visions concerning the political situation of the world
– 24 visions concerning the fifth Marian dogma
– a few dreams
– 7 visions for the nations
– 149 Eucharistic experiences
2–The Amsterdam situation is atypical for Marian apparitions:
– Not a single public outward sign
– Not a single healing
– Even the painting of Mary is hardly a spectacular work of art, and no one expects miracles when praying before it.
– The chapel next to Beatrix Park in Amsterdam is a very unassuming building, innocuously located in a residential neighborhood. In fact, it’s only a modest Dutch residential home converted to a shrine.
3–The Amsterdam messages are delivered in an imposing and extraordinary manner:
– Mary speaks with a grand air of authority, contrary to her usual simplicity and humility
– Mary speaks very impersonally to the visionary, who represents humanity in general
– Mary speaks primarily to the non-Christian world.
She is calling them to be faithful to the natural moral law of love of God and neighbor, because they will only be open to the supernatural revelation of the Gospel if they are first open to the truth revealed in creation.
– Mary speaks in the city of Amsterdam as if all the nations were assembled there
During th period of the political messages (1945-1949) it was a typical Dutch city of Christians. Who foresaw at the time that it would become the multi-cultural center of the world with 77 different nationalities?
– Mary is concerned with the universal rights of black people
In the 1940s the civil rights movement is still in the future. Colored soldiers were segregated during World War II. When the nations in Africa began demanding independence from their colonial owners, the world would be particularly appalled when it began to hear about the harsh and unjust rule of apartheid in Dutch colonial South Africa.
4–The Amsterdam painting is theologically bold and original:
– Mary’s robed figure in white is deliberately suggestive of the dove symbol of the Holy Spirit
– Mary has the wounds of the stigmata on her hands, and other symbols of one crucified
– Mary stands on a globe of the world, but her feet are positioned on Holland and Germany, as in need of her special protection because She expressed concern that they were about to lose the Faith.
In an address in October 2000, Bishop Helmut Bauer of Würzburg, Germany spoke of the shocking “catastrophe of our faith, our disdain for God and rejection of God.” Not even half of the population characterize themselves as believers anymore. In former East Germany, 80 percent are not even baptized! “In our families, God is an unknown entity. Prayer does not take place. . . . Even the grandparents are not an exception!” That was seventeen years ago before the recent wave of Muslim immigrants. 800,000 arrived in Germany in 2015, and 240,000 in 2016. Adding 77,000 children born to these, the Muslim population of Germany is currently estimated at six and half million, about 7-8% with 970 clerics, most of whom do not speak German, leading 900 mosques. No one could have foreseen this situation of de-Christianization back in 1945.
5–The Amsterdam request for the Fifth Dogma is as extraordinary as the announcement of a new continent, and a call for explorers to blaze a trail so that this new territory, rich in resources, can be utilized
– Mary begins calling for the dogma November 16, 1950, only two weeks after Venerable Pope Pius XII pronounced the Fourth Dogma.
– Mary wants three dogmas, as it were, proclaimed as one dogma.
– Mary wants this dogma, not merely proclaimed, but explained theologically so that the Faithful will understand it.
– Mary says that this will be the final dogma, as if She is closing the door on exploration of her many traditional titles as potential dogmas
25 Visions Concerning the Political Situation of the World
The long series begins with 25 rather complicated visions concerning the political situation of the world ? Why should we believe what Ida Peerdeman said she saw and heard, when she herself usually didn’t understand the visions, and when there were no outward miraculous signs to help verify that she was seeing something supernatural? How did all these messages gain ecclesiastical approval? The local bishop applied a fundamental Biblical criterion:
When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously, you need not be afraid of him.Dt 18:22
Not all prophetic messages are predictions. Theologically, a prophecy is just a message from God, and probably ninety percent of these messages are calls to conversion. But since many calls to conversion are joined to a warning “be good or else this will be the consequence,” it’s normal for the average person to associate prophecy with a conditional prediction for the future. But there is a special genre of unconditional predictions that could be characterized as “absolutely prophetic:” “I see “x.” I see “y”. The first set of the Amsterdam visions were replete with predictions. Good men and demons can make educated guesses regarding the future, but that’s as far as it goes. Scripture attests that angels do not know the future [1Pt 1:12]. They might get something right, if it isn’t too difficult, but not again and again. Richard L. Russell has a PhD in international relations. He recognizes in Ida’s visions, better than the average person, multiple symbols corresponding directly to events that played out in subsequent twentieth-century political history. Dr. Russell has been invited to give lectures in Amsterdam by the Lady of All Nations Foundation. I will offer a few samples of his interpretations. (By the way, the Dutch pronounce her name ee-da, but I use the more familiar English pronunciation of I-da. Americans do this out of respect. We prefer to say Paris, rather than attempt the French pronunciation of pah-ree, and miss the accent so badly that the French wouldn’t even know what we are saying!) I will select a few political apparitions and comment briefly.
25th Message, December 10, 1950
Within this long vision Ida says: “Upward to the left, in Russia, I see a glaring light, a blinding light. It is as if it explodes from the ground upward. It is a horrible sight. ‘And then’ says the Lady, ‘you no longer see anything,’ and I am blinded by that light. I feel something very disgusting coming over me. Then I see a scorched plain. It is a ghastly sight, just as if death had gone over it.” Dr. Russell affirms that this refers to Communist Russia’s aspirations to develop its own nuclear armaments programs, thus becoming a major threat to world security. Three years after this vision, in 1953, the U.S.S.R. successfully detonated its first hydrogen bomb.
5th Message, October 7, 1945
Ida sees China with a red flag. Dr. Russell explains that, at the time of this vision, the Chinese flag featured five gold stars. But four years later, in 1949, Chinese communist forces, led by Mao Tse-tung, waged a bloody and protracted civil war and defeated Chinese nationalist forces. Millions of China’s own people were massacred. What emerged was the People’s Republic of China and their new red flag.
2nd Message, April 21, 1945
Ida says “I see a scene of people fleeing and moving away, and I am given to understand that it’s the exodus of the Jews from Egypt.” The Lady declares, “But Israel will rise again.” Great Britain has been involved with Arab nations for decades and to appease them, Jewish immigration to the Holy Land is severely limited. Who would have imagined that the United States would soon take up the cause of the establishment of the State of Israel. At the time of this vision Europe was still in the grip of World War II. Was anyone thinking about the Jews who survived the war? Many of their family members would be dead, and family businesses were destroyed. They had nothing left in Europe to live for, and it would be difficult for them to rebuild their life among former neighbors who had acted as their enemies during the war. Thousands desired to relocate to Israel, and soon, as the Lady predicted, there would be a modern exodus and Israel would “rise” as the Lady said. In 1948, after complicated negotiations and some armed conflict, Israel was reborn. It had not been an independent nation since the invasion of the King of Babylon who burned down Solomon’s Temple.
Ida reports in the same vision: “Above the scene of the exodus, I see a representation of God the Father in the clouds. He is holding his hand over his eyes, and the Lady tells me, ‘And Yahweh is ashamed of his people.’” This vision surprised me very much. I just couldn’t understand it. This was 1945. The Jews had just suffered so much! It only made sense to me later on when I read Dr. Russell’s explanation that Israel would become a very secular state, despite the evident contradiction that modern Israel is defined by religion rather than race. George Weigel affirmed this truth in his book, “Witness to Hope.” In the section where he describes how Pope John Paul wanted negations to proceed so that Israel could have an ambassador to the Vatican, the Vatican diplomat and the Hebrew diplomat are in conversation and the city of Jerusalem is mentioned. The Vatican diplomat remarks that this city is of great importance for Jews and Christians. The Hebrew diplomat shows surprise. He asks why Jerusalem would be important to a Jew. Half the Old Testament is about Jerusalem! That’s how utterly separated religion has become from the minds and hearts of many Jews in Israel. This is why Yahweh feels ashamed of them.
5th Message, October 7, 1945
Ida has a bizarre vision of whirling symbols, some fall, others rise. Dr. Russell has no difficulty with this one. These are symbols of nations that would change governments in the near future, and he explains it.
14th Message, December 26, 1947
Ida says: “All at once I see Cairo clearly, and I get a strange feeling about it. Then I see various Eastern peoples: Persians, Arabs and so on. The Lady says, ‘The world is, so to speak, going to be torn in two.’ Now I see the world laying before me and, in it, a great crack appears, a break winding right over the world. Heavy clouds are hanging over it, and I feel great sorrow and misery. I hear the Lady say, ‘Great sorrow and misery will come.’”
Many, but not all of these political prophecies unfolded very quickly, within three or four years. Dr. Russell finds this one vision very interesting because Cairo almost never does anything to make the news. He says the vision must have been depicting the 2013 coup d’état which surprised the world. In the 1940s the Middle East was confined to the Ottoman Empire. Although it dissolved by 1922, the Moslems kept to themselves and caused little concern to the rest of the world. How different is the situation now! Truly the world is cracking in disagreement over the Arab immigration problem. The daily killings by various radical Islamists have brought a level of “great sorrow and misery”.
The genre, or style, of Ida and the Amsterdam prophecies resembles Ezekiel more than, for instance, Jeremiah or Elijah. Ezekiel received more images than words. Ezekiel saw some events that concerned Israel’s political situation in the near future, and Ezekiel saw some distant events which have not yet come to pass, although we are three thousand years down the road. A prophet isn’t approved because all his predictions have come to pass. Ida, like Ezekiel, was approved as a genuine prophet because 1) the initial predictions were fulfilled and these were beyond the possibility of human or angelic knowledge, 2) her personal integrity remained constant and upright, and 3) and, because of the criterion from Deuteronomy mentioned at the beginning of this conference, namely, that Ida never made a prediction that proved to be false.
We aren’t going to attempt to read aloud the messages from Amsterdam because, although Ida is quite sparse in her descriptions, the collection of visions is longer than the New Testament. They are available on-line and in printed books, but when you read the first twenty-five messages of the Lady of All Nations, and you feel that you don’t understand them without the help of a commentary, that’s quite alright! St. Paul often didn’t understand various utterances of tongues, and he asked for people to come forward who had the gift of interpretation which is a separate gift from prophecy [cf 1Cor 12:10]. St. Peter reminds us:
you must understand this, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation.2Pt 2:20
Like the gift of administration, or preaching, some gifts are based on natural gifts and years of study. That’s why we appreciate the commentaries of professional historians such as the devout convert to Catholicism, Dr. Russell. Ida herself often felt confused, amazed and even frightened by her visions. A prophet, is by no means, expected to understand his own visions. The prophet Daniel kept asking “what does this mean?” Sometimes Daniel was told that the interpretation would be given later. If some of Ida’s political prophecies are very difficult to interpret, and others came to pass decades ago before the public had a chance to read about them, in advance, what is their significance?
Significance of Political Prophecies
Firstly, the political messages form the pedestal on which the whole edifice of the Lady of All Nations stands. Without this large and firm foundation, the rest of the visions totter. Whereas the authenticity of most of Mary’s apparitions at other places rests on miraculous signs, the Lady of Amsterdam herself affirmed: “The signs are within my words.” The bishop recognized that sufficient predictions came to pass during this “pedestal” portion of the apparitions, therefore we can place our confidence in the subsequent visions in which Mary proceeds to discuss the dogma.
Secondly, the rapport between the Lady and the Nations in these political visions is profoundly beautiful and provides a poetic, or artistic, representation of the dogma. Decades before these messages at Amsterdam were approved, their beauty spoke deeply to a nation far from Europe and still on the fringes of Christianity. A Japanese sculptor carved an image of the Lady of All Nations. The wooden statue was placed in a convent of nuns in Akita, Japan. This statue would come to life before the deaf Sister, Agnes Sasagawa who would hear messages “for the world.” The statue would bleed from its stigmatized hand, and shed abundant tears 101 times. Thousands of Japanese witnessed one of the weepings which was captured on camera by a crew from a national news network.
Thirdly, these political messages are significant because they have been approved by the Church, hence this era will be etched henceforth into the para-liturgical memory of the Church. Does anyone in the Church regularly meditate on political events that occurred in the Alaskan territories in the 1700s or on the transition of the penal colony of New South Wales to the Commonwealth of Australia? Secular historians dutifully chronicle these events, but the Church has no assurances whatsoever that reflection on those particular moments of bygone days would be helpful for our spiritual instruction. But, the comings and goings of certain petty kingdoms of ancient Egypt, Canaan and Judea, and the actors of those historical dramas whether they were saints or sinners, are etched into Sacred Scripture itself! Century after century, monks and nuns in monasteries meditate on these passages. Pastors in their pulpits expound them in their homilies. These chosen moments of former times are set to ancient and modern music to be sung about in the psalms and in the great repertoire of Gregorian chant and in modern lectionaries. In the presence of the humble visionary of Amsterdam, the Queen of heaven, in a majestic fashion, engraved a good portion of the twentieth century into the collective memory of the Church. Millions of Christians in centuries to come will meditate on the political developments of these particular decades and the actions of citizens and leaders, saints or sinners, because Mary points to them containing serious lessons regarding the right and wrong way for nations to conduct themselves. Jesus said, in the approved messages of Betania Venezuela, that technology will continue to develop. Mankind will not revert to isolated kingdoms. Since we cannot look to the examples in the Bible for clear guidance regarding global interaction between nations, God has provided us with this new appendix to the revealed word of God.
If you read and meditate on the visions of Ida as a modern Ezekiel, you will notice Mary’s preoccupation with events in Korea. Korea was at the center of what came to be called “the Cold War.” To quote Dr. Russell: “The Korean War marked a watershed event in the history of the American-Soviet Cold War. Many Americans saw the Korean War of 1950 as evidence that the Soviet Union was determined to use proxy forces to move militarily against the United States and the West just as Nazi Germany had done in the 1940s. The North Korean invasion of South Korea gave strong political-military incentive to bolster the defenses of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to defend Western Europe from Soviet invasion with its Warsaw Pact allies in Eastern and Central Europe. The Lady herself . . . said, “The fighting in Korea is a sham and the start of a great misery . . . By this I mean that there will be periods of apparent tranquility. But this will not last long. The Eastern peoples have been roused by a type of humanity which does not believe in the Son.” The political construct of a “cold war” will be useful for instructive meditation, but Mary is especially asking us to meditate on the underlying inhumanity of Communism. Many other non-Christian nations don’t believe in the Son of God and they treat each other humanely according to the moral law revealed in creation. But atheistic communism doesn’t acknowledge the ideal of sonship. In communism, human relationships and human life are disposable.
In Mary’s locutions to Father Gobbi and the Marian Movement of Priests, She explains that the red dragon of the Apocalypse is atheistic Communism, red as blood because of its murderous contempt for human life. Scripture itself names the dragon, Satan. All who are connected with Satan are destined for hell because they have espoused a philosophy of contempt for God and man. I want to insert here a testimony of a young Marine from the Korean war. It was publicized by a U.S. Navy chaplain, Fr. Walter Muldy who personally interviewed the soldier named Michael, his outfit commander and his mother. I don’t know if the letter of 1950 is a narrative form for the story, or an actual document. It’s available on many internet sites. I’ll quote the main extracts:
Dear Mom, I am writing to you from a hospital bed. . . . I was wounded, but the doctor says that I will be up in no time . . . . Something happened to me that I don’t dare tell anyone else for fear of their disbelief. But I have to tell you, the one person I can confide in, though even you may find it hard to believe. You remember the prayer to Saint Michael that you taught me to pray when I was little:
Michael, Michael of the morning, fresh battalion of dawn adorning,
Keep me safe I beg today, and drive temptation and demons away. Amen.
. . . When I got to Korea, I sometimes said this prayer a couple of times a day while marching or resting. Well, one day, we were told to move forward to scout for Commies. It was a really cold day. As I was walking along, I perceived another fellow walking beside me . . . He was a big fellow, a Marine about 6’4” and built proportionally. . . .[I said to him]
“I thought I knew everyone in my outfit, but I have never seen you before.”
“I have just joined. The name is Michael.”
“Really?! That’s mine, too.”
“I know,” the Marine said, “Michael, Michael of the morning….”
Mom, I was really surprised that he knew about my prayer, but I had taught it to many of the other guys, so I supposed that the newcomer must have picked it up from someone else. As a matter of fact, it had gotten around to the extent that some of the fellows were calling me “Saint Michael.” Then, out of the blue, Michael [the big Marine] said, “There’s going to be trouble ahead.” I wondered how he could known that. I was breathing hard from the march, and my breath hit the cold air like dense clouds of fog. Michael seemed to be in top shape because I couldn’t see his breath at all. . . . And then, just a short distance ahead of us, like so many dreadful realities, were seven Commies . . . their guns were steady and pointed straight in our direction.
I yelled [to my new companion] “Down, Michael!” as I dove for cover. Even as I was hitting the ground, I looked up and saw Michael still standing, as if paralyzed by fear, or so I thought at the time. Bullets were spurting all over the place, and Mom, there was no way those Commies could have missed at that short distance. I jumped up to pull him down, and then I was hit. The pain was like a hot fire in my chest, and as I fell, my head swooned and I remember thinking, “I must be dying.” Someone was laying me down, strong arms were holding me and laying me gently on the snow. Through the daze, I opened my eyes, and the sun seemed to blaze in my eyes. Michael was standing still, and there was a terrible splendor in his face. Suddenly, he seemed to grow, like the sun, the splendor increasing intensely around him like the wings of an angel. As I slipped into unconsciousness, I saw that Michael held a sword in his hand, and it flashed like a million lights. Later on, when I woke up, the rest of the guys came to see me with the sergeant.
“How did you do it, son?” he asked me.
“Where’s Michael?” I asked in reply.
“Michael who?” The sergeant seemed puzzled.
“Michael, the big Marine walking with me, right up to the last moment. I saw him there as I fell.”
“Son,” the sergeant said gravely, “you’re the only Michael in my unit. I hand-picked all you fellows, and there’s only one Michael. You. And son, you weren’t walking with anyone. I was watching you because you were too far off from us, and I was worried. Now tell me, son,” he repeated, “how did you do it?”
“How did I do what?”
“How did you kill those seven Commies? There wasn’t a single bullet fired from your rifle.”
“Come on, son. They were strewn all around you, each one killed by a sword stroke.”
And that, Mom, is the end of my story. It may have been the pain, or the blazing sun, or the chilling cold. I don’t know, Mom, but there is one thing I am sure about. It happened.
I read that story decades ago and it has stayed with me like a sword-thrust. The angel did not manifest his splendor in an effort to convert these atheists, but dispatched seven men, apparently without compassion and without hesitation to defend one man who believed in the Son of God. I kept meditating on that. The day those seven soldiers walked onto the battlefield, they essentially committed their souls to Satan by choosing to murder people on behalf of an inhuman doctrine. They had set themselves above the Creator and were not open to the Gospel message of salvation. Many radicalized terrorists today make a similar commitment to murder. Mary asks us to meditate on modern ideologies so that we can understand our times, and recognize that we are in a Biblical era comparable to the ancient Israelites who lived in Egypt. Despite all the miracles and plagues, the murderous heart of Pharaoh and his followers was hardened. They demonstrated that they were not open to the truth, so the time arrived for their destruction, and Israel’s redemption.
Before we move on to the next section of the Amsterdam apparitions, we should say something about the visionary. Ida Peerdeman was born August 13, 1905 as the youngest of five children in a Dutch family. The parents were faithful to Sunday Mass. They taught their children prayers at meals and to lead a generally upright life, but they were not exceptional Catholics. Ida’s mother died when she was eight. This maternal loss made the siblings closer than most. Ida experienced one prophetic event in her youth. On October 13, 1917 she was only twelve. In faraway Portugal when 70,000-100,000 people were gathered by Our Lady to witness the great Miracle of the Sun. Ida was walking down a street and she had a vision of a Lady wearing a long white dress, a cream-colored sash, and a veil. Ida mentions this at home, but the family pays no attention.
Ida’s character was upright and simple. She tried to begin a career as a kindergarten teacher but wasn’t accepted because she lacked imagination. So she took a job in a factory when she was twenty. It was 1925. As in America, Europe soon moved into the Great Depression and then World War II. The economy discouraged young people from marrying and starting families. Was this why Ida never married? I think there’s only one full-length biography in English and you have to order it from Holland, so I’m relying on miscellaneous internet summaries. One website suggests, and I don’t know if the site is reliable, that after this vision of the Lady in white, Ida was subject to demonic attacks, as if the devil suspected that she was a chosen soul and he wanted to drive her to despair. It might be true because the Dominican priest Father J. Frehe, O.P. happened to be visiting the family in 1945, when Ida experienced her first apparition “for the world.” The websites report unanimously that Fr. Frehe was Ida’s spiritual director and confessor for fifty years, from 1917 when she was twelve, until his death in 1967. Evidently, the siblings had become more devout in dealing with Ida’s demonic attacks.
The First Apparition
That day was March 25, 1945, the Feast of the Annunciation. The war was dragging on. The Dutch called 1945 the “Hunger-Winter.” Suddenly, Ida left the group because she saw a light in the next room. Ida began conversing with some invisible person so Fr. Frehe asked one of Ida’s sisters to write down what they heard Ida say. This will be the usual format because the Lady typically appeared to Ida when witnesses are present. In this first apparition, Ida recognizes the same lady she had seen as a twelve-year old. The Lady in white raises five fingers and says “Five is for May.” Then Ida sees soldiers departing. The Lady raises a rosary and says “because of this.” Two months later, on May 5th, the Netherlands is liberated by the Allies.
Ida rarely provides us with artistic details. She describes what she sees, with her characteristic simplicity. And like Ezekiel she is often expected to enter into the scene that is enacted before her. “I am placed before a large gate. It opens and I am obliged to enter.” The Lady provides minimal comments. Ida typically plays the role of “humanity.” When she received visions, her gaze was fixed and she expressed what she was hearing and seeing very slowly to the people about her.
It was a trial for the forty year-old Dutchwoman to share her experiences because she didn’t want any attention on herself. She would declare again and again: “It’s not about me; I am merely an instrument; these are Our Lady’s messages.” It was a suffering for Ida to know that Mary wanted a chapel and although the bishop permitted the messages to be disseminated, yet he hesitated and vacillated about the chapel. After the picture that Mary wanted was finally commissioned, it was only exposed in public for a short time, then the bishop wanted to re-evaluate the messages so the image was put in storage for years. But Ida was always obedient and humble and patient. At last, when she was ninety years old, the Bishop of Harlem authorized public devotion to the Lady of All Nations. This was not yet official approval, but it was almost the equivalent. With Simeon of old, Ida sang her “Nunc dimittis,” and before a month was out, Ida passed to her reward on June 17, 1996. Six years later, on May 31, 2002, the new bishop, His Excellency, Most Reverend Joseph Maria Punt, Bishop of Haarlem/Amsterdam recognized the supernatural origin of the apparitions of the Lady of All Peoples. Bishop Punt had been ordained a priest in Haarlem, and then served as auxiliary bishop for many years. He was thoroughly familiar with Ida and the apparitions. His recognition established the devotion as official and permanent. It is no longer subject to further investigation. Catholics have “apostolic” assurance that it is truly of supernatural origin.
24 Visions Concerning the Fifth Marian Dogma
It could easily be argued that dividing the visions into categories is artificial because every word and action of the Blessed Virgin was directed toward the proclamation of the dogma. The political prophecies, the special painting of Mary, the special title, the special prayer, and even the Eucharistic experiences are all about the dogma. But in this group of visions the Blessed Mother asks directly for a new dogma to recognize her status as Lady of All Nations so that She can “save the world.” The special prayer to her under this title is to be distributed as widely as possible because “through this prayer the Lady will save the world” [May 10, 1953]. The picture bearing her title must be disseminated in all nations because “under this title She will save the world” [March 20, 1953].
It seems very bold! She wants to save the world, but Jesus is the Savior. She wants to be called “Co-redemptrix,” but Jesus is the redeemer. She wants to be “mediatrix,” but Jesus is the only Mediator. She wants to be “advocate or paraclete,” but that’s the title of the Holy Spirit. But Mary has never been in competition with God. Her role is one of servant and handmaid. She points out to Ida that the theologians “can find everything in their books.”
Pass on everything well. Never has Miriam, or Mary, officially been called Co-redemptrix in the community, in the Church. Never has She officially been called Mediatrix. Never has She officially been called Advocate. These three thoughts belong closely together. These three thoughts form one whole. That is why this will be the keystone of Marian history; thus will this become the dogma of Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate.
The call at Amsterdam for this dogma to recognize her full identity is the centerpiece in the great mosaic of Mary’s messages to the world. She began instructing us from the very first apparition, back in Paris of 1830. The Miraculous Medal tells the dogma in symbols. On the front of the medal Mary is depicted as the Woman promised in Genesis 3:15, one crushing the head of the serpent together with her offspring, Jesus. We see Mary on the front of the medal as the one crushing the head of the serpent, as Mediatrix of Grace and as Advocate. On the back we see the Cross, the M for Mary, her heart pierced with a sword, as Simeon foretold, and her Son’s heart with the crown of thorns. Mary participated in the Redemption in a unique way. Standing in for humanity as the only one to have Faith, She received at the Cross the torrent of saving grace. It all comes to us through her. Jesus, as God and man, is the mediator between God and man. Mary, as new Eve created immaculate and unlike Eve remained sinless, was able to receive the Word made flesh in the name of humanity, and at the foot of the Cross, in the name of humanity, to offer this sacrifice to the Father, and in the name of humanity, to receive redemption. Mary is the mediatrix between Christ and the world because She received all grace. The grace is not for herself. Immediately, Jesus gives her the title Woman, new Eve, the “mother of all the living” and tells his beloved disciple who represents all of us “Behold your Mother.” All this is represented in the same Miraculous Medal which bears the invocation to the one conceived immaculate to pray for us and distribute graces (rays going forth from her hands) from her fullness.
After the visions of St. Catherine Labouré, perhaps the earliest theologian to expound the role of Mary as Co-redemptrix, was the Protestant convert, Father Frederick William Faber in his book on Mary, at “The Foot of the Cross” first published in 1858. Catholics embraced it enthusiastically. It was translated into many languages and became a worldwide classic, still popular today. Fr. Faber’s theology is not always taken seriously as if he is biased because his thoughts are filled with unction and emotion as he contemplates Mary’s virtues and sorrows. But far drier theologians, like his contemporary Anglican convert, Bl. Cardinal John Henry Newman writes vigorously to an Anglican minister “If you have no problem to call her with the Church Fathers ‘Mother of God, new Eve, Morningstar’ . . . then what objection can you make to her being called ‘Co-redemptrix’ as well?” Obviously, the “co” here does not mean ‘equal to’ but ‘united with.’
Mary’s subsequent apparitions “to the world” stimulated deeper and deeper discussion regarding her unique place in the human race. By 1913 the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had confirmed the theological accuracy of the title Co-redemptrix. As early as 1923 the Belgian Cardinal Mercier, supported by Maximilian Kolbe and many others, pleaded for the dogmatic definition of Mary’s role in the Redemption. In the middle of the Second World War, in 1943, the Dutch bishops consecrated their land and people to Mary Co-redemptrix. Other Bishops expressed a desire for the Second Vatican Council to make a declaration, even a definition, concerning Mary as Co-redemptrix and Mediatrix. The Council responded, not with a separate, minor document, but by incorporating a whole chapter on Mary into the primary, dogmatic document about the Church. The Council Fathers paved the way for more Marian dogmas by stating that the redemption won by Christ
“does not exclude cooperation of human beings, but on the contrary makes room for it.”Lumen Gentium 60, 62
Mary’s plea at Amsterdam for a triple dogma has been taken seriously. Some theologians have no problem with venerating Mary under the devotional title Co-redemptrix, but they don’t see a need to define it as a dogma. Others are open to the dogma but consider its proclamation to be untimely, as if it might hurt ecumenical dialog. Surely the most formidable opposition came from Pope Benedict when, as Cardinal Ratzinger, he was serving as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He held the position that the cooperation of Mary in the plan of redemption “is already better expressed in other titles of Mary, while the formula ‘Co-redemptrix’ departs to too great an extent from the language of Scripture and of the Fathers and therefore gives rise to misunderstanding.” But millions of petitions have reached the Vatican expressing a desire for a dogmatic proclamation. Just a few years ago, on January 1st 2008 a group of cardinals petitioned all the bishops of the world to give their opinion upon the place of Mary in God’s plan of salvation and about the desirability of a fifth Marian Dogma.
Before the messages given at Amsterdam the faithful and theologians were meditating on Mary’s role in the redemption, and even considered the need for a new dogma. But nobody was imaging a triple, trinitarian dogma. Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate rolls three things into one. I’ve given a seminar this winter which explored the radical distinction in the Three Persons and how they inter-relate. This served as a model for understanding the ideal plan for the First Family in the Garden to help us understand Mary’s place in the restoration and reimplementation of that Original Garden. Only the official proclamation of a dogma will authorize Mary as the New Eve to allow her at long last to join her voice to the her Son, Ben Adam and do what the first couple failed to do in the Garden. The Last Adam and the New Eve will definitively cast Satan and all the evil spirits out of the earth. This will be the Triumph. The demons will have to return to hell and not be allowed to tempt or disturb mankind. The earth will know a peace it’s never, ever known.
At Amsterdam, Mary directed us to explore this rich and amazing threefold dogma, and her title as Lady of All Nations which is closely linked to the dogma. Mary mentions this new title more than 150 times in her messages, so we must consider its importance. In her very first message She told Ida: “They will call me ‘The Lady’, ‘Mother’.” I didn’t hear about Amsterdam until long after I had entered the cloister and this title knocked my sandals off! When I was in my early teens, I saw the movie “Romeo and Juliet” directed by Franco Zeffirelli. I loved medieval pageantry, but that was the first time I noticed that a young noblewoman, namely Juliet, did not address her mother casually, but properly according to her rank. The daughter addressed the Lady Capulet as “my lady mother.” I was so excited. At last, I had found the way I wanted to address Mary in my prayers!
How sweet for me to read that Mary herself asked to be addressed as Lady Mother! I think that She deliberately went to Holland because the Dutch only have one word for Woman and Lady. In English, it wouldn’t sound too elegant to address Mary as the “Woman of All Nations,” so we can easily lose the very clear Dutch connection to the Woman of Genesis 3, the Woman at Cana, and the Woman at the Foot of the Cross and the Woman clothed with the sun in Rev. 12. At critical moments, Jesus doesn’t address Mary as “Mother” but “Woman” (or in English He’d have said “My Lady”). Because this title goes beyond her mother-child relationship and recognizes her royal status in her relation to the state or nation.
The earlier Marian dogmas define her personal status or her divine motherhood. Mary is now calling for a dogma that will recognize her relationship to every person in the world. So the political prophetic messages were not given only to establish Ida as a reliable prophetess. They express the Lady’s royal relationship to all the nation-families of the earth, even those who do not yet recognize her Son. As new Eve She is Mother of all the living” [Gen 3:20]. Mary speaks with an air of authority, as a person responsible for the welfare of many. She can use her power to save the world. Jesus saved souls, but She says over and over that She can “save the world from disaster, degeneration and war.” This is a consistent message with previous apparitions. At Fatima July 13th, 1917 She told the children: “ I want you to come here on the 13th of next month, to continue to pray the Rosary every day in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary, in order to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war, because only She can help you.” Some translations say
“I alone can save you.”
Notice her concern for world peace and the cessation of war. These are not the concerns of a mother of small children. These are the concerns of a head of state.
She was even more explicit at Akita. Remember, this statue is carved to resemble Mary’s appearance at Amsterdam, so it’s a “Lady of All Nations” statue. On Saturday, the 13th of October, 1973, the anniversary of the great miracle of Fatima She told Sr. Agnes “I alone am able still to save you from the calamities which approach. Those who place their confidence in me will be saved.”
Evidently Mary agrees with the Chinese that “a picture is worth a thousand words,” because She wanted to get the dogma known through the distribution of a picture-prayer card.
“This image shall precede. This image must go over the whole world. It is the interpretation and illustration of the new dogma. This is why I myself have given this image to the peoples.”Dec. 8, 1952
“Look at my image and examine it closely.” “I stand as the Lady before the Cross —with head, hands and feet as of a human being; with the body, however, as of the Spirit, because the Son came by the will of the Father. Now, however, the Spirit shall come over the world, and that is why I want this to be prayed for. . . The Lady points at the sash wrapped around her waist and says to Ida: “This is as the loin-cloth of the Son. For I stand as the Lady [Woman] before the Cross of the Son.”April 15, 1951
“Around the globe, child, you thought you were seeing clouds.” Now I see the clouds changing into living sheep. From left and right around the globe a flock of sheep comes forth on both sides, as if from out of the depths. Here and there I see some black sheep among them. Lambs lie down at the foot of the globe. Sheep come walking along, some grazing. But most have their heads upturned, as if gazing intently at the Lady and the Cross. There are also sheep lying on the ground with their heads raised, looking at the Lady. It is a beautiful and peaceful sight. Then the Lady says to me, “Child, imprint this image well upon your memory and describe it well. This image of the flock of sheep represents the nations of the whole world, who will not find rest until they lie down and in tranquility look up at the Cross, the center of this world.”
“Now look at my hands and describe what you see.” Now it is as if there, in the middle of her hands, had been a wound. From there, from each hand, three rays of light are coming forth, shining upon the sheep. The Lady smiles and says, “These are three rays, the rays of Grace, Redemption and Peace. Through the Grace of my Lord and Master, and out of love for humanity, the Father sent to the world his only Son as Redeemer. Now both of them want to send the Holy, the True Spirit, who alone can be Peace. Hence: Grace, Redemption, Peace.”May 31, 1951
Unlike with the Miraculous Medal, in the image given in Amsterdam, the serpent is nowhere to be found anymore because it is utterly vanquished.
On the picture Mary’s title is written in an arch over her head.
“It is Mary, the Lady of All Nations, who is bringing this message.” The Lady pauses again for a moment. Then She says clearly and slowly, “Under this title She will save the world.”March 20, 1953
Mary is Lady for the nations, because many do not yet know her as Mother. But She longs to draw them into the Church of her Son so She can act as a tender Mother.
“A Church and a people without a Mother is like a body without a soul.”Eucharistic Experience on May 31, 1965
After a couple dozen apparitions talking about the dogma, Ida had 149 special experiences with the reception of the Eucharist. This is the goal of the dogma, to save the world from degeneration and to lead it to Christ. The third part of the dogma, to call Mary Advocate/Paraclete and for her image to make her resemble a dove, is to emphasize that the Holy Spirit wants to live and act in national bodies, even as Jesus lives in individual bodies when we receive Him. You can see now why this dogma is a challenge for theologians! Mary is stretching us to think in universal dimensions.
The Eucharistic Experiences are amazing meditations. For Ida they were sometimes wild experiences. This is one of my favorites:
August 30, 1959
I received Holy Communion and returned to my place. All of a sudden, the Sacred Host began to grow on my tongue, becoming larger and thicker. It seemed to expand and then, suddenly, it came alive. Truly! strange though it must sound, I felt it as a living object. It must seem irreverently expressed; yet it may help people to form some idea of it when I say, “It resembled a living fish in its movements.” I wanted to take it out of my mouth in order to see what it was; but of course, reverence prevented me from doing so.
As may be imagined, I got a terrible shock — it was awful! Never having experienced anything alike, I could not make out what was happening to me.
But at the same time a completely different perception arose in me. something so delightful. I may well say, something heavenly. It was a state such as I had never known. Then suddenly I heard, “Be not afraid…I am the Lord, your Creator…the Lord Jesus Christ…(silent pause) . . . The Giver of Life. Just as I live in you now, I want to and shall live among all nations.”
After this the Sacred Host began to grow smaller and thinner; it resumed its usual form and I was able to consume it. Subsequently, I did not go to church for a whole week — excepting Sunday, of course — in order to check up on myself. Nothing out of the ordinary took place.
We’re running out of time so let’s close with a few words about the great prayer that Mary wants everyone in the world to pray every day for the coming of this Holy Spirit into the life of the world.
All nations shall pray for the True and Holy Spirit. That is why I have given this short and powerful prayer. So I say once more: this prayer shall be spread rapidly. The whole world is falling into degeneration. People of good will shall pray every day that the True Spirit may come! I am the Lady of All Nations. This time is our time.
The prayer was given on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, February 11th, 1951:
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Father, send now your Spirit over the earth.
Let the Holy Spirit live in the hearts of all nations,
that they may be preserved from degeneration, disaster and war.
May the Lady of all Nations, who once was Mary, be our Advocate.
That was the original version. Millions of copies in many languages were sent all over the world. But of course, there is one jarring phrase “the Lady of all Nations, who once was Mary.” Ida herself found the words strange and the Church authorities to whom she had to go to obtain approval of the prayer initially gave permission only with the words “who once was Mary” omitted. This led Our Lady on 28 March and 2 July 1951 and again on 17 February and 6 April 1952 to insist that permission should be given for the publication of the prayer in its entirety. The bishop conceded and on October 5th, 1952 Our Lady told Ida to tell the Bishop that She was satisfied.
Mary explained on 2 July 1951
The words “who once was Mary” mean: many people have known Mary just as Mary.
Now, however, in this new era which is beginning I want to be the Lady of All Nations.
Everybody will understand this.
The Lady says this prayer so beautifully and impressively —no one in the world could do it as She did. She stresses the word “now‘ in “send now your Spirit” and “all” in “Let the Holy Spirit live in the hearts of all nations.” She also pronounces the word “Amen” so beautifully and solemnly. While still standing in front of the Cross, I pray it, repeating the words the Lady recited to me. It is as if the words are imprinted in my mind. I see them written in large letters.
After She has given the prayer, the Lady continues:
“Child, this is so simple and short that everyone can say it in one‘s own language, before one‘s own crucifix; and those who have no crucifix say it to themselves. This is the message that I want to give this very day, for I am now coming to say that I want to save the souls. All of you, cooperate in this great work for the world.February 11, 1951
“The Lady of All Nations hereby promises that those who ask will be heard according to the will of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This prayer has been given for the redemption of the world. This prayer has been given for the conversion of the world. Pray this prayer in all that you do. This prayer shall be spread in churches and by modern means. The people of this world shall learn to invoke the Lady of All Nations, who once was Mary, as their Advocate, that the world may be delivered from degeneration, disaster and war.”December 31, 1951
Pray every day that the Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Father, may send the Holy Spirit over this world, and the Lady of All Nations, who once was Mary, will be your Advocate. So be it.”April 6, 1952
Thus the prayer was prayed for over fifty years until the death of Pope St. John Paul. In July of 2005, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome contacted the Bishop of Amsterdam, the Most Reverend Jozef M. Punt and asked that the phrase “who once was Mary” be omitted from public recitation of the prayer to Our Lady of All Nations. This was not easy for Bishop Punt who had great faith in the revelations to Ida. But he knew that Mary would have humbly obeyed so he asked the people to respect the Sacred Congregation in the public recitation until further notice. However, they may certainly pray the clause privately. The Bishop said that he sees a positive side in this decision because it should stimulate discussion and deeper study toward the dogma. On January 6, 2009 Bishop Punt gave his Imprimatur to a public version that changes the last line to: “May the Lady of All Nations, the Blessed Virgin Mary, be our Advocate. Amen.”