Joseph Pronechen is staff writer with the National Catholic Register since 2005. His articles have appeared in a number of national publications including Columbia magazine, Soul, Faith and Family, Catholic Digest, and Marian Helper. His religion features have also appeared in Fairfield County Catholic and in one of Connecticut’s largest news dailies. He holds an MS degree and formerly taught English and courses in film study that he developed at a Catholic high school in Connecticut. Joseph and his wife Mary reside on the East Coast.
Holy Trinity Sunday, May 22, was a banner blue-letter day — blue for our Blessed Mother — as Bishop Hector Cardelli of San Nicolas, Argentina, officially declared that the apparitions of Our Lady of the Rosary in his diocese are of “supernatural character” and worthy of belief.
The apparitions took place in this city over 100 miles from Buenos Aires from Oct. 13, 1983 to Feb. 11, 1990. Our Blessed Mother appeared to a housewife named Gladys Herminia Quiroga de Motta nearly daily, giving 1804 messages. Gladys also received 68 visits and messages from Jesus.
Notice Oct. 13 was the anniversary of the last vision at Fatima and Feb. 11 is the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes — a powerful providential sign.
Bishop Cardelli thoroughly studied everything according to Vatican guidelines during the last 12 years. At the time of the apparitions, his predecessor Bishop Domingo Salvador Castagna often presided over the processions and celebrated Mass for tens of thousands who gathered every 25th of every month to commemorate the Blessed Mother’s first appearance to Gladys on Sept. 25, 1983.
That happened while Gladys was in her room praying the rosary. It was a brief appearance. Mary was wearing a blue dress, carried the Child Jesus in her arms and held a rosary, but did not speak that time.
As in other apparitions, Mary appeared to a simple, humble woman. Married with two daughters, Gladys had only four years of elementary education.
The Blessed Virgin spoke for the first time on Oct. 13 — the anniversary of the last apparition at Fatima. “Do not be afraid,” were her first words. Jesus said the same to the women after his Resurrection (Matthew 28:10). Mary gave Gladys a Bible reference: Ezekiel 2:4-10. During apparitions Mary regularly referred Gladys to particular Scriptures.
On Oct. 25, a month after the first apparition, as Gladys was praying in the cathedral in the town of Rosario, the Blessed Mother appeared, gave her a white rosary, and said, “Receive this Rosary from my hands and keep it forever and ever. You are obedient; I am happy because of it. Rejoice, for God is with you.”
Warning and Guiding
The messages are full of hope and motherly direction on how all must return to God, trust in him, in his love, in the maternal love of Mary. As a good mother does when her children are in danger, Mary doesn’t hesitant to warn us in these times as the world forgets God, attacks Christianity, and idolizes materialism, science and technology. How relevant these warnings are now.
Among Mary’s several warnings: “In the large cities of the world, atheism and a complete indifference toward God reign. The evil one is rising in a turmoil: his wickedness guides and controls weak souls. The Lord wants to alert us.”
“Men are in the process of falling. Their self-destruction progresses.” She refers to Sirach 17:25-26.
“The young find themselves facing a corrupt, horrifying world…Do not allow yourselves to be taken in by the calamities which you have before your eyes. Do not forget that they lead to perdition by subjecting you to evil. Pray so that you become a youth dedicated to the Lord: a youth who is looking for peace.”
“The majority [of youth] do not…love God…God wishes to stay among them.”
“Are you orphans? Do you not have a God? Do you not have a heavenly Mother? It is time to purify yourselves, my dear children!”
“That is why I ask you to reflect. Do not delay, for time begins to end, and there will be no more room for him who would be late.”
“The coming of the Savior is imminent...”
“It would be only necessary for them to look toward the Mother of God, their Mother, and she would lead them to God. It would be necessary for them to introduce themselves into the heart of the Mother, in order to listen to the voice of the Lord. I do not hide myself; let no one avoid me!”
On a May 13, a Fatima anniversary, Mary warned: “My daughter, as previously in Fatima, today my visits are renewed on Earth. They are more frequent and more prolonged, because humanity is passing through very dramatic times. Has man not understood that he must be uniquely at the service of God? If he resists, his soul is going to perish.”
Again, “Many hearts do not accept my invitation to prayer and to conversion. That is why the work of the devil is growing and expanding. My dear children, it is only through prayer and conversion that you will return to God. May he not find your hearts dry.”
“The Lord wants all to be able to enter into His Kingdom. Here then is what I say to all who have moved away from Him: Come, draw near, for Jesus Christ is within your reach. Amen! Announce Him! Read Hebrews 4:12-16.”
But Mary gives plenty of encouragement and positive directions on what we need to do.
The Woman of Revelation
When Gladys asked Our Lady if she wanted to be called Our Lady of the Rosary of San Nicolás, she answered, “So it is that you must say. My wish is to be among you, to fill you with blessings, with peace, joy and to bring you closer to God Our Lord.”
When Jesus appeared to Gladys he referred to Mary as “my Ark.” Jesus emphasized this major identification again. Gladys first saw the ark of Moses, then the ark of Noah. Jesus said: “In the past, the world was saved by the Ark of Noah. Today my mother is the Ark. It is through her, that souls will be saved, because she will lead them to me. He who rejects my mother, rejects me.”
Mary also announced this title: “God gives complete freedom and he allows each one…to make his own choice: to purify oneself or to live in sin, grow in Christ or be annihilated. I advise my children to stay away from the somber night, for the dawn is going to appear soon. While you wait, let yourselves be prepared by this mother. Introduce your hearts into the Ark which Jesus has sent. Read Galatians 4:3-11.”
She added a companion identification: “Gladys, mankind is in the process of falling in to a progressive self-destruction. That it is why it is necessary, now, to disseminate the words of the Mother. The Lord has marked this time with a sign: the Woman clothed with the sun (Revelation 12:1). She represents the hope to which her children must cling. The Mother has looked on you. It is up to you to set your eyes and your heart on God.”
Father René Laurentin, an expert on Marian apparitions, noted in his book, An Appeal from Mary in Argentina, “the key to the messages is found in Revelation 11:19-12:17. Mary appears to Gladys as the Woman clothed with the Sun and the Ark of the New Covenant…God wants to renew the covenant with his people, through Mary, His Ark of the Covenant,” and again, “Mary comes to restore the faith.”
Direction for Boarding the Ark
Mary, the Ark of the New Covenant, tells us how to return to God which she wants spread worldwide.
“I want the conversion of the world, No longer disobey God. My dear children, pray so that it may be so,” she said.
“Everywhere in the world where my messages have been given, it would seem that one preached in the cemeteries. The response which the Lord expected was not there. That is why your people were chosen. Preach, so that your brothers may answer the call of the Lord Our God.”
“It is from here that I invite the world to look for the Living Fountain, the Fountain of Peace, the Fountain of grace. I want to cure my children from this illness which is materialism; an illness which makes many suffer. I want to help them discover Christ, and I want to make it known to them that Christ prevails over everything.”
As dire the situation is today, the messages emphasis hope and confidence and give clear directions from Mary who asks her children “for conversion and then consecration to my heart as Mother…I will respond to your consecration with my protection.”
Mary explains two ways to save the soul are through prayer and conversion. “Prayer is both the means and the weapon, the primary one being the Rosary.”
“Recite the Holy Rosary, and let the Lord see that with it goes your conversion. The Sacred Heart of Jesus will give you abundant blessings.”
Again, “The Holy Rosary is the weapon which the enemy fears. It is also the refuge of those who look for relief for the sufferings, and it is the door to enter into my heart.”
Conversion is the companion of prayer. In one message the Blessed Mother referenced Lourdes, “My child, yesterday it was Lourdes, today it is here, but it is always good for the mother to be in search of her children. I expect of them prayer, fasting, conversion. They will find salvation if they do not flee from the Lord, if they accept the Lord.
Many souls lack peace. If the soul looks for peace, it will find God.”
Jesus told Gladys: “If this generation will not listen to my mother, it will perish. I ask everyone to listen to her. Man’s conversion is necessary...”
Conversion comes with penance, Early on, Mary called for reconciliation, forgiveness, conversion and the sacrament of penance. We’re told love makes penance light. “Near God, suffering bitterness, and even defeat do not exist.”
With prayer, the Rosary, conversion, penance, comes the Eucharist, the Word, fraternal love, and consecration to her, noted Father Laurentin.
Many times Mary speaks of the Holy Eucharist and the importance of receiving and adoring the body and blood of Christ. “The soul must unite itself to Christ each day, and for that, there is nothing better than Holy Communion: the Food of the soul for life.”
Mary also leads to the Bible with her constant references to Scripture verses related to her messages.
Signs from Mary
Our Blessed Mother gave three signs of her continuing presence: her statue, a new sanctuary, and a medal.
“I will settle in your midst,” Mary said on Nov. 27, the feast of the Miraculous Medal, shortly after apparitions began.
That same day Father Carlos Perez at the Rosario cathedral called Gladys to see the statue of the Queen of the Rosary he found in the belfry. It had been blessed by Pope Leo XIII and placed in the cathedral when it opened in 1894. Later it was damaged and put in the tower. No one remembered it until the priest learned of it that day. Right away Gladys recognized the statue as how Mary looked in the apparitions. Behind it was a stained glass window with the Holy Trinity and angels, then the Blessed Mother appeared to her, telling her, “I want to settle on the bank of the Parana…[local river].”
Mary wanted a sanctuary built for her and told Gladys to tell the bishop. Mary asked for the sanctuary several times. Bishop Castagna, who spoke about the apparitions more than once with St. John Paul II and gave his "Imprimatur" for a Spanish edition of the Messages of Our Lady, soon laid the cornerstone for the sanctuary on the third anniversary of the apparitions. On Palm Sunday, Mar. 19, 1989, he moved the statue of Our Lady venerated in the cathedral to the section of the new Sanctuary of Mary of the Rosary of San Nicolás section already completed under her direction.
Then, Mary asked for a Medal with her image and the words, “Mary of the Rosary of San Nicolás,” and on the reverse the Holy Trinity with seven stars. She explained the stars represent “the seven graces my Son Jesus is going to grant those who wear it on their chest.”
Mary talked several times about the coming victory, yet not without a spiritual struggle, but “Jesus Christ will win the great battle, my child…”
A Sure Guide
Trust in God, in His love, in the maternal love of Mary run through the messages.
“My dear children, I assure you that you will not be far from my dear Son, if you succeed in trusting in Him…”
“Invoke the Holy Spirit and he will save you.”
“Bless the Lord, King of the Universe. Praise God Our Father. All of you know that He is merciful. In Him is pardon, and He loves you above all things, know that his kingdom is eternal; just as His love which He proves for his children is eternal. He claims only your faith, and He wants to see you live according to his Word. In exchange, he recommends to you salvation of the soul, and complete liberation.”
Jesus said: “My Heart wishes the salvation of all souls and loves them, even those who are in sin.”
Again he said, “He who listens to my words will find salvation. He who puts them into practice will live forever. Those who hope in God do not hope in vain.”
“My daughter,” Mary said, “when a heart opens to the heart of the mother, it stays there. When a heart abandons itself to the heart of a mother, she will shape it and guide it to her Son. In this heart will be found purity, love, humility…”
Jesus wants it that way. In 1987 he said, “Today I warn the world, for the world is not aware: souls are in danger. Many are lost. Few will find salvation unless they accept me as their Savior. My mother must be accepted. My mother must be heard in the totality of her messages. The world must discover the richness she brings to Christians. The children of sin will grow up in sin if their unbelief increases. I want a renewal of the spirit, a detachment from death, and an attachment to life. I have chosen the heart of my mother, so that what I ask will be achieved. Souls will come to me through the means of her Immaculate Heart.”
In her last public message on Feb. 11, 1990, feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, Mary said: “My dear children, I suggest you follow my instructions step by step. Pray. Make reparation, have faith! Blessed are those who look for refuge for their souls in prayer. Blessed are those who make reparation for the grave offences which my Son receives. Blessed are those who have faith in the love of this mother. All those who have faith in God and in Mary will be saved. Glory to God. Preach it.”
(Message translations from Father Laurentin’s book. The fruits continue spreading. Many cures of body as well as soul have been recorded, and tens of thousands celebrate the annual anniversary.)