During this Year of Mercy, the Catholic world received news that a new Marian apparition has been approved in Argentina, home of Pope Francis.
When was the apparition approved?
May 22, 2016, on Holy Trinity Sunday, current Bishop Hector Cardelli of San Nicolas declared that the apparitions of Our Lady of the Rosary in his diocese are “supernatural in character” and “worthy of belief.” Read his announcement in English and Spanish here.
Where and when did the apparitions occur?
From September 25, 1983 to Feb. 11, 1990 (February 11th is the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes) our Blessed Mother appeared nearly daily to a housewife and mother of two named Gladys Herminia Quiroga de Motta in San Nicolas, Argentina. The bishop during the time of the apparitions, Monsignor Domingo Castagna, believed in their truth early on, and said in a homily after they ceased that "undoubtedly this event of grace will continue to grow; it has proved its authenticity by its spiritual fruits."
Who is San Nicolas?
“San Nicolas” is none other than the famous St. Nicholas of Myra (also known as St. Nicholas of Bari), the 3rd century saint on which the Santa Claus tradition is based. St. Nicholas is famous for defending the doctrine of the divine maternity of Mary at the Council of Nicea. This important Church council defended the divinity of Christ by formalizing the Blessed Virgin's title as the “Mother of God.” The saint also had a number of churches erected in honor of the Blessed Mother. The Argentinian town takes its name from this famous saint and powerful intercessor.
Why did these apparitions take so long to approve?
There have been many claims of apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary, but not all of them are authentic. The Church, guided from error by the Holy Spirit, thoroughly examines the alleged apparitions to discern their spiritual fruit, as commanded in scripture, because "by their fruit shall you know them." Apparitions have to be studied for orthodoxy to ensure that they don’t contradict the teachings of the Catholic Church found in scripture, tradition, or morals; nor that they are a deceit of the devil to bring subtle false teachings into the Church.
It is the local bishop's responsibility to investigate all aspects of an alleged apparition, with assistance from the Holy See. This series of Argentinian apparitions occurred over a number of years with a multitude of messages that had to be carefully examined, and the local bishop called in the assistance of priests, theologians, psychologists, and psychiatrists—with the result that no negative report was issued against the credibility of the visionary.
There is also a providential aspect at play; it is certainly no coincidence that the apparitions of Our Lady of the Rosary of San Nicolas in Argentina is finally declared authentic during the pontificate of our first Argentinian pope, and during the Jubilee Holy Year of Mercy. Surely this is an indication that the messages from Our Lady are of no little importance for our current time and circumstances.
Who is Gladys Herminia Quiroga de Motta?
Gladys Quiroga de Motta is the woman whom the Blessed Virgin chose as the visionary of her special messages. She was a simple middle-aged housewife (born in 1937) with a difficult upbringing and only four years of elementary school education. With no prior mystical experiences, the Blessed Mother suddenly made Gladys a locally famous visionary, with hundreds of thousands of the faithful flocking to be near the location of the apparitions. Under the guidance of her spiritual director Gladys began compiling the messages given to her by Our Lady over the seven year period.
How did the apparitions happen?
Gladys was reciting the rosary in her room when Our Lady appeared to her for the first time on September 25th, dressed in blue and carrying the Child Jesus with a rosary in her hand. The visit was silent and brief, and Our Lady made a gesture as if to give the rosary to Gladys. On the day before the apparition the rosary in Glady’s bedroom was found glowing, which initially prompted Gladys be alert to something supernatural taking place and to pray with it in response. Our Lady appeared again a few days later, though still silent. It was on her sixth appearance on the 13th of October (the anniversary date of the final appearance of Our Lady at Fatima) that she finally spoke these words to Gladys as she faithfully prayed the rosary:
“You have been faithful. Do not fear, come to see Me. Hand in hand with me you will travel many roads.”
The Blessed Mother also gave her a scripture reference to look up, Ezekiel 2:4-10, as she would continue to do in many of her other messages.
What is the title under which Our Lady appeared?
The Blessed Virgin Mary told Gladys that she wanted to be known as Our Lady of the Rosary of San Nicolas.
What is the history of the statue?
In 1983 Gladys’ confessor showed her a forgotten Mary statue that was kept in the bell tower of the cathedral church of San Nicolas due to a broken piece, which Gladys confirmed as being exactly the look of how Our Lady appeared to her.
The statue depicted Our Lady of the Rosary holding the Child Jesus. It was brought from Rome to San Nicolas for the cathedral church’s consecration, having been blessed for that purpose by Pope St. Leo XIII. According to this source, the local San Nicolas Rosary Confraternity first began praying the rosary before that statue on September 25th, the same date that Our Lady first appeared to Gladys in the following century.
What are Mary's messages?
Gladys received over 1800 messages from the Virgin Mary, and 68 from Jesus. The apparition of Our Lady of the Rosary of San Nicolas is similar to the apparitions of Our Lady at Fatima (and others) in that they include a warning because of mankind's sin, with a plea to the faithful to pray and make sacrifices in reparation for sinners; if her warnings are not heeded, God will send a chastisement in punishment for sin as a corrective force for the destructive path that mankind is on. This happened in the warnings of Our Lady at Fatima, where she prophesied that if her messages were not heeded, there would be an even bigger war than the one then raging—which was fulfilled in the outbreak of the terrible World War II.
According to one of the bishops of San Nicolas, Bishop Mario Luis Bautista Maulion, "The content of these messages is very spiritual. They call for conversion, prayer, and hope in a hopeless world. The consecration to Our Lady takes us to a very holy life which is the goal of baptism. It is a response to the secularism and materialism of our times."
The overarching themes of the messages are:
- That mankind is falling away into sin and corruption, and is "hanging by a thread."
- That the majority of mankind is in spiritual darkness of atheism, especially in large cities.
- That Mary is giving such frequent messages due to the darkness of the times into which we are heading.
- That these are Advent times, Jesus' Second Coming is quickly approaching.
- A plea to prayer and conversion of heart.
- The role of Mary in salvation history as the Ark of the Covenant and the “woman clothed with the sun” in the book of Revelation.
- An admonition to pray the rosary faithfully and be consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.