God's Gift of Love by
Father Robert DeGrandis
STATUETTE OF 'OUR LADY OF AMERICA' WAS TRANSMITTED TO VATICAN ENVOY
In 1972, shortly after the death of Cincinnati Archbishop Paul F. Leibold, a statuette of Our Lady of America was transmitted to the apostolic nunciature in Washington -- further indicating formal diocesan recognition of revelations granted to Ohio nun Mildred Mary Ephrem Neuzil in what appears to be the first such ecclesiastical approval in American history.
On August 13, 1972, the chancery in Cincinnati noted in a letter to Sister Mildred that Monsignor Conrad Boffa, a close friend of Cincinnati Archbishop Paul F. Leibold and also of the delegate, had fixed the base of a statue that apparently had been broken and "then forwarded it to the Apostolic Delegate."
It was apparently one of two statues that Sister Neuzil had sent, showing the Madonna in white with a prominent crown. "I am most grateful for your kindness and generosity in sending the two statues to me and allowing me to make the choice as to the one that would be given to the Apostolic Delegate," wrote Father Francis Lammeier, the archbishop's secretary. "Indeed, I am most grateful and I am sure the Archbishop from his place in heaven is also pleased."
That action joined two others -- the striking of a medal and the construction of reliefs based on Our Lady of America -- in forming what experts say is a major aspect of formal approval.
Archbishop Leibold had died just two months before. He had also granted the messages from Our Lady of America an imprimatur and served as the seer's spiritual director. We'll have more on him tomorrow. The letter from Father Lammeier states that records of the apparitions were carefully moved from an archives house to the secretary's office. "It will be guarded securely here," states the letter -- indicating concern for the safekeeping of papers that substantiate the archbishop's strong support of Sister Neuzil, who later came under strong attack, and details of apparitions that called for not only the striking of a medal and design of an image but also construction of a statue to be placed in the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Indeed, records sent to Spirit Daily indicate that Monsignor William F. McDonough, director of the shrine, visited Sister Mildred two years before the archbishop's death.
"I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed my trip to New Riegel [Ohio, where the nun's cloister was at the time]," said a June 29, 1970, letter from McDonough. "I have written to Archbishop Leibold and told him of my visit with you and of my opinions."
The director was so interested in the situation that he requested the seer write or personally visit if there were further messages. "I am not asking for a sign, but if there is a message that I should know, I would ask you to write to me or visit me at the National Shrine," he said. "The Archbishop thought that you could visit Washington without any great problem."
Thirty years later, however, the statue has still not been installed at the shrine. Several lay people, led by Sister Joseph Therese of the Our Lady of America Center (a tiny outpost in Fostoria, Ohio), are attempting to have the requests fulfilled and are in need of support. If the requests are met, promised the Virgin, there would be graces granted to America in the same way that graces have been granted at Lourdes. The site of Sister Mildred's first apparition near Rome City, Ohio, is already said to carry a strong feeling of grace, but the final requests for the national statue is considered crucial.
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