There is a Marian Apparition that many well-catechized Catholics have never heard of. That is because it was purposefully hidden by the wise designs of Our Lady until the latter half of the twentieth century.
From 1594 to 1634, in Quito, Ecuador, a Conceptionist sister, who would later become the Venerable Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres, received apparitions from the Mother of God that were approved by the local bishop during her lifetime. In 1906, when her casket was opened, her body was found to be incorrupt and was redolent of the fragrance of lilies.
Her story has a dramatic beginning. In 1566, at the age of 13, she left her homeland of Spain with her aunt to found a Conceptionist order in Quito under the authority of Philip II.
On the voyage over to Ecuador, a great storm arose and a seven-headed serpent (i.e., Satan) arose from the sea to oppose the women on their mission. Then Our Lady appeared during the storm with the Christ child, holding a cross with a lance at the end of it.
She slew the serpent and the waters became calm. To this day the sisters in this order wear a badge to commemorate this event.
Later, in 1582, Mariana saw the tabernacle door open and Christ emerge in his sufferings at Calvary while his Mother cried tears of pearls. Mariana asked if she was to blame for this and Our Lady replied, “No, not you, but the criminal world of the twentieth century.”
She then heard the voice of the Father and saw three swords over the head of Christ which represented punishment for the twentieth century and beyond. Their names were: “I will punish heresy”; “I will punish blasphemy”; and “I will punish impurity.”
The Mother of God asked Mariana to suffer for the sins of the twentieth century and she consented. The three swords then fell from the head of Christ and plunged into Mariana, who died and then stood before the Judgment Seat of Christ.
She was judged blameless and then given a choice: remain in heaven or return to earth and suffer for the sins of the twentieth century. She chose the latter and was miraculously resurrected.
Many more details about Mother Mariana’s life and the accompanying apparitions can be found in the excellent book, Our Lady of Good Success: Prophecies for Our Times, by Dr. Marian Horvat, one of the world’s foremost authorities on the subject. This article cannot possibly give an exhaustive treatment of these events but instead will attempt to help the reader become more conversant with its content.
Our Lady’s Prophecies Come True
The days will grow darker and darker, but the story will have a happy ending:
On December 8, 1634, the archangels Gabriel, Michael, and Raphael appeared to Mariana with the Queen of Heaven, and Gabriel was carrying a ciborium filled with hosts. Our Lady then predicted events over two hundred years into the future for the reign of Pius IX:
His pontifical infallibility will be declared a dogma of the Faith by the same Pope chosen to proclaim the dogma of the Mystery of My Immaculate Conception. He will be imprisoned in the Vatican by the unjust usurpation of the Pontifical States through the iniquity, envy and avarice of an earthly monarchy.
All this occurred.
She also foretold that, in Ecuador, in the nineteenth century, “…there will be a truly Catholic president, a man of character [to] whom God Our Lord will give the palm of martyrdom on the square adjoining this convent. He will consecrate the Republic to the Sacred Heart of My Most Holy Son, and this consecration will sustain the Catholic Religion in the years that will follow, which will be ill-fated ones for the Church.”
This “truly Catholic president” turned out to be Gabriel Garcia Moreno (1821-1875), who consecrated Ecuador to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in 1873. He was assassinated, just as Mary had foretold, by members of a Masonic sect, and Pius IX paid tribute to him “as a victim of his faith and Christian charity.”
Our Lady of Good Success also told Mother Mariana about turbulence in the Church at the end of the nineteenth century and especially after the mid-twentieth century and that Satan would wreak havoc through the Masonic sect. The unfaithful religious would do much damage because “under the appearance of virtue and bad-spirited zeal, [they] would turn upon Religion, who [had] nourished them at her breast.”
All seven of the Sacraments would come under attack in different ways: “It will be difficult to receive the Sacrament of Baptism and also that of Confirmation … the devil will make a great effort to destroy the Sacrament of Confession by means of people in positions of authority.”
There will be an unspeakable profanation of the Holy Eucharist in our time: “…the enemies of Jesus Christ, instigated by the devil, will steal consecrated Hosts from the churches so that they may profane the Eucharistic species. My Most Holy Son will see himself cast upon the ground and trampled upon by filthy feet.”
People will not esteem the Sacrament of Holy Unction and many will die without receiving it. Our Lady predicted that, because of this, “many souls will be deprived of innumerable graces, consolations and the strength they need to make that great leap from time to eternity.”
Like the Eucharist, the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony will be profaned in a multitude of ways resulting in “iniquitous laws with the objective of doing away with this Sacrament, making it easy for everyone to live in sin, encouraging the procreation of illegitimate children born without the blessing of the Church. The Christian spirit will rapidly decay, extinguishing the precious light of faith until it reaches a point that there will be an almost total and general corruption of customs.”
Priestly and religious vocations will greatly decrease and “the Sacrament of Holy Orders will be ridiculed, oppressed, and despised … the demon will try to persecute ministers of the Lord in every possible way and he will labor with cruel and subtle astuteness to deviate them from the spirit of their vocation, corrupting many of them.”
The Mother of God also disclosed the underappreciated value of convents and monasteries:
No one on the face of the earth realizes whence comes the salvation of souls, the conversion of great sinners, the deferral of great scourges, the production and fertility of the land, the end of pestilence and wars and the harmony among nations. All this is due to the prayers that rise up from monasteries and convents.
Our Lady told Mariana that five major things would work to extinguish the light of faith: (1) heresy; (2) the loss of vocations, as well as turmoil and loss of vitality in convents; (3) the spirit of impurity (i.e., sexual impropriety); (4) priests becoming careless in discharging their duties and losing their way through attachment to wealth and riches; and (5) the indifference of those with great wealth to helping the Church as it goes through tribulation and suffers deprivation.
As these prophecies unfold and the days grow darker and darker, the number of faithful will be reduced and their faith will be sorely tested. However, the Mother of God promises that just when it seems all is lost and everyone paralyzed, she will intervene and initiate “the happy beginning of the complete restoration. This will mark the arrival of my hour, when I, in a marvelous way, will dethrone the proud and cursed Satan, trampling him under my feet and fettering him in the infernal abyss.”
Our Lady of Good Success and the Current Ecclesial Landscape
No sentient, practicing Catholic can deny that the days are growing darker and darker. For people who are still in denial, please ask yourself five questions about the Catholic Church in the United States:
How could a heterodox prelate and Zeitgeist puppet like Cardinal Blase Cupich become the de facto leading prelate in America?
How could Fr. James Martin, whose “lavender gospel” contravenes the teaching of the Magisterium, be given almost carte blanche while becoming one of the most sought-after speakers in the Catholic Church in America?
How could a depraved prelate like ex-Cardinal McCarrick rise to such ecclesial heights when so many other prelates must have known about his evil behavior?
How could the USCCB vote 137-83, with three abstaining, not to encourage the Holy See in releasing all documents concerning allegations of sexual misconduct by McCarrick?
Why does there continue to be news on an almost weekly basis of shocking details of homosexual predation, cover-ups, pay-offs, financial impropriety, and general ecclesial malfeasance in the Church in America?
In turning our gaze to the Vatican, it’s nice to daydream about Cardinal Robert Sarah becoming pope someday, but, again, such hopes need to be tethered to the real world. In recent years, Pope Francis has remade the composition of the College of Cardinals so that nearly half of the men who will choose the next pope were selected by the present pontiff.
If this is the springtime of evangelization, then winter will be hell.
Our Lady is certainly on-target in saying that the number of the faithful will be small and their faith sorely tested. This certainly accords with the biblical narrative that few find the straight and narrow path and many are called but few are chosen (Matt. 7:13, 14; 22:14).
It also corresponds to the facts on the ground: all the metrics (baptisms, confirmations, marriages, priestly ordinations, numbers of men and women religious, children in parochial schools and religion programs, etc.) in the United States, Latin America, and Europe are going the wrong way. Only Africa could be said to be in “the springtime of evangelization.”
A significant part of the secret of Africa’s success is found in the 1972 book, Why Conservative Churches Are Growing: A Study in Sociology of Religion, by Dean M. Kelly. Kelly shows that evangelical churches grow because they do what the more heterodox won’t do, i.e., make serious demands of their parishioners in terms of doctrine and behavior.
The clear-eyed, orthodox Catholic should look at such realities and echo St. Paul who said that we are the ones “upon whom the ends of the ages [have] come” (I Cor. 10: 11b). This is even more true for us because we are nearly two millennia after Paul.
We should never limit the Holy Spirit, but, under the present ecclesial realities, things are probably not going to improve in the United States in the next five to ten years. It’s important to have realistic expectations as many have become offended and left the faith because they “didn’t think things would turn out this way.”
This is what happened to Israel in the wilderness and the disciples of Christ who returned to their former way of life (John 6:66) after Christ uttered hard sayings concerning his Flesh and Blood. As someone who has spent years both in evangelical-charismatic circles and now the Catholic Church, I have known many people who have returned to their former way of life because they “didn’t think things would turn out this way.”
An unoffendable spirit doesn’t have her sense of emotional and spiritual well-being tied to the beliefs and behavior of prelates. Think back to the Arian heresy when eight out of ten Catholic bishoprics succumbed to the apostasy or the case of St. John Fisher who was the only bishop to refuse the Oath of Succession declaring Henry VIII head of the Church in England and lost his head for it.
An unoffendable spirit doesn’t have his sense of emotional and spiritual well-being tied to the success of his local parish. Several years ago, when I attended a large mega-church in the Upper Midwest, it became obvious to me that there were certain parishioners who were there because they liked being on a winning team.
Nothing succeeds like success. If the same church would have had 128 members and a poorly tuned piano, they would have gone somewhere “where things are happening.”
This is what is written on the heart of the unoffendable spirit: “Worthy art thou, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for thou didst create all things, and by thy will they existed and were created” (Rev. 4:11). One chapter later, the narrative tells us that the Lamb is worthy to take the scroll and open the seals because, by his blood, he has ransomed men from every kindred, tribe, and tongue (Rev. 5:9).
The small, faithful remnant, in these last days, serve Christ because he has redeemed them and is worthy of their unconditional obedience, come hell or high water. Surely Our Lady of Good Success will hear their prayers and draw near to them and give them graces in their hour of need.