Padre Pio, Man of Hope, by Renzo Allegri, an intimate, professional biography of this truly unusual and historic saint, a new book by a prize-winning journalist who focuses on the hope that St. Pio gave -- how even in the most difficult trials he held faith and looked to the future with a spirit of optimism -- an optimism we could all use in our personal lives and the world at large! His trials, his tribulations -- his mysterious events. CLICK HERE



[adapted from The Last Secret]

After the debacle of Hiroshima, the Virgin Mary entered the phase of apparitions that led to what we see today. Far from fading, apparitions of this amazing woman, this astonishing and underestimated woman, who had granted miracles for nearly two thousand years, grew to remarkable proportions.

It was the hour of battle with Satan and there came other apparitions with other secrets, the appearances especially more intense at the beginning of the cold war. Similar miracles were soon reported around Italy and the rest of the continent---including the old site of Saragossa. At place after place the sun whirled and pulsed and spun. It moved. It turned colors. Mary's time had arrived.

The episode had begun with the Miraculous Medal and, according to Father Johann G. Roten, director of the International Marian Research Institute, "between 1830 and 1981 there were close to a thousand major, minor, and related apparitions."

Others gave estimates far higher. If every daily or weekly apparition was counted in cases where a seer had more than one, the number would not be calculable. I don't know how they derived their figure, but the French periodical Le Monde once estimated twenty-one thousand apparitions between 1976 and 1986!

Mary's era, her most intense intervention, was at full throttle. Now apparitions that were once centered in Italy and France fanned across nations. There were reports in Ephesus. There were reports in Bethlehem.  In Poland Sister Faustina had visions. In Dublin the Blessed Mother appeared during World War II in front of a green clover-shaped cloud with the dragon at her feet. "Have faith," she said. "The war will not reach Ireland."

Up through 1946 she had also been reported as a luminous figure over a mighty cliff in Kerrytown.

She was in Hungary. She was in Michigan. She was reported by four French girls in a major case at L'ile Bouchard. She came with a sun miracle at Casanova, Italy. In one of the most dramatic cases, she appeared in Rome on April 12, 1947, to a virulent, anti-Catholic named Bruno Cornacchiola who had made a vocation of speaking against Catholicism and who had planned to assassinate the pope. While writing a speech against the Virgin as his children played in a field, Cornacchiola was drawn to a small cave where, to his shock, he saw his children in ecstasy and witnessed a small light that grew brighter and stronger until it lit the whole grotto.

In the light was a heavenly woman surrounded by gold. She asked Cornacchiola why he was persecuting her and described herself as "the Virgin of Revelation." She wore a cascading green mantle and a brilliant white dress and it certainly convinced Cornacchiola. He was given a secret to bring to the pope and immediately converted to Catholicism, changing his name to Brother Maria Paolo.

These weren't ancient myths. These were visions recorded in our own era. My frustration has been being able to relate but a fraction. I have a study from Austria alone that with a miracle per page is a couple inches thick. Apparitions were claimed from eastern Canada to Bellmullett, Australia. In a visit to a nun in Fostoria, Ohio, the Virgin asked America to dedicate itself to the Immaculate Conception and pray the family Rosary.

She needed help. She needed prayers. The period of great trial was only the beginning. She wanted Americans to form special pilgrimages to the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and dedicate itself to her purity. While World War II had ended, she was here to prevent another atomic tragedy. She was here to prevent World War III. From April 25 to June 25, 1946, she appeared in the German town of Marienfried a name which means "the peace of Mary."

There, another secret was given to a visionary and she again urged recitation of the Rosary to ward off Satan. She warned that if mankind didn't take advantage of Christ's mercy, there would be disaster. It wasn't meant to provoke fear but rather, like any good prophecy, to initiate action. The iniquities of the world had not all been purged and mankind had not learned from its wars. They tempted another holocaust. This time it would be a global holocaust.

This time it would destroy much more of the world. This time it would involve something like radiation, which may have been what a seer in Seredne, Ukraine, was alluding to in the 1950's when she saw the danger, as did many subsequent seers, of "fire" falling.

In 1950 Mary's recognition and thus her ability to intercede were magnified when Pope Pius XII defined the dogma of her Assumption. On the day he announced this intention, the pope witnessed a solar phenomenon. It happened immediately behind the Vatican gardens above the land that had once belonged to Nero and Caligula.

"The sun, which was fairly high, looked like a pale yellow opaque globe completely surrounded by a luminous halo, which nevertheless did not prevent at all from staring attentively at the sun without the slightest discomfort," Pius wrote in a note to a cardinal. "The opaque globe had been moving outward, slowly turning over upon itself, and going from left to right and vice versa. But within the globe very strong movements could be seen in all clarity and without interruption."

On November 1, the actual day for definition of the new dogma, the sun again moved so oddly that afterward Pius made inquiries to the Vatican observatory.

The more Mary was invoked, the more she was officially recognized, the more she could intervene. She had kept the lid on the cup of justice but if matters kept going as they were, the world would have to drink that cup to its bitter dregs. A stern warning had been launched. A warning had been issued against the prevailing frivolity. A warning had been issued against atheism and the immoral. I take such words from a Vatican official. While many might guess the period after World War II would have seen apparitions slack off, the opposite had happened. There was a surge. There was a great increase. Between 1947 and 1954 four times as many apparitions were reported as in proceeding or subsequent years and what Mary seemed to be saying was that a danger lurked that would make World War II but a prologue.

[resources The Last Secret]

[see also: Mary's historic interventions]

[Michael Brown retreats: Texas and Northern California]

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