It was on the eve of the feast of the North American martyrs, September 25, 1956, that Our Lady appeared to Sr. Mary Ephrem. In 1938, Sister began to have what seemed like mystical spiritual experiences. She thought little of them, presuming all religious had them. As these visits took on the nature of a specific program of devotion to Mary that Sister was asked to propagate, she then turned to Monsignor Paul F. Leibold. Monsignor Leibold, later Archbishop of the Cincinnati, Ohio Archdiocese, would be her spiritual director from many years until 1972, when he suddenly died due to an aneurysm.
Archbishop Leibold had become so convinced of the authenticity of this message that he approved Sister's writings and placed his imprimatur on the design of the medal. Our Lady had asked Sister to have a medal struck that would bear the image of Our Lady of America on the front and the symbol of the Christian Family and the Blessed Trinity on the back.
In the course of approving the writings of Sister Mary Ephrem, Monsignor Paul F. Leibold considered the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title, "Our Lady of America" as distinct from her title "Empress of The Americas" (referring to Our Lady of Guadalupe who has patronage over all the American nations, as declared by Pope Pius XII in 1945). Our Lady of America (in the singular) focuses primarily on the United States of America, as revealed in 1956.
Our Lady promised that greater miracles than those granted at Lourdes and Fatima would be granted here in America, the United States in particular, if we do as She desires. Sister Mary Ephrem stated that Our Lady called herself Our Lady of America in response to the love and desire for this special title in the hearts of her children in America. For example, Our Lady spoke approvingly about the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C. on many occasions.
This title is a sign of Our Lady's pleasure in the devotion of her children in America towards her, and her visit is a response to the longing, conscious or unconscious, in the hearts of her children in America.
"It is the United States that is to lead the world to peace, the peace of Christ, the peace that He brought with Him from heaven," Sister Mary Ephrem quoted The Virgin as saying:
"Dear children, unless the United States accepts and carries out faithfully the mandate given to it by heaven to lead the world to peace, there will come upon it and all nations a great havoc of war and incredible suffering. If, however, the United States is faithful to this mandate from heaven and yet fails in the pursuit of peace because the rest of the world will not accept or cooperate, then the United States will not be burdened with the punishment about to fall.
Weep, then, dear children, weep with your mother over the sins of men… Intercede with me before the throne of mercy, for sin is overwhelming the world and punishment is not far away.
It is the darkest hour, but if men will come to me, my Immaculate heart will make it bright again with the mercy which my Son will rain down through my hands. Help me save those who will not save themselves. Help me bring once again the sunshine of God's peace upon the world.
If my desires are not fulfilled much suffering will come to this land. My faithful one, if my warnings are taken seriously and enough of my children strive constantly and faithfully to renew and reform themselves in their inward and outward lives, then there will be no nuclear war. What happens to the world depends upon those who live in it. There must be much more good than evil prevailing in order to prevent the holocaust that is so near approaching. Yet I tell you, my daughter, even should such a destruction happen because there were not enough souls who took my warning seriously, there will remain a remnant, untouched by the chaos who, having been faithful in following me and spreading my warnings, will gradually inhabit the earth again with their dedicated and holy lives."
On October 13, 1956, Our Lady again appeared as Our Lady of America, but instead of a lily in her hand, she held, with both hands, a small replica of the finished Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. "This is my shrine, my daughter. I am very pleased with it. Tell my children I thank them. Let them finish it quickly and make it a place of pilgrimage. It will be a place of wonders. I promise this. I will bless all those who, either by prayers, labor, or material aid, help to erect this shrine." According to Sister Mary Ephrem, Our Lady often emphasized her desire that the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., be made a place of special pilgrimage and that she be honored there under this image and the title "Our Lady of America, the Immaculate Virgin."
Strong warnings were repeated by Our Lady throughout 1957 and 1958, and there after, indicating that the hour grows late and Sister must tell the Bishops of the United States of Our Lady's desires and how she wishes them to be carried out. Our Lady spoke:
"Unless my children reform their lives, they will suffer great persecution. If man himself will not take upon himself the penance necessary to atone for his sins and those of others, God in His justice will have to send upon him the punishment necessary to atone for his transgressions."
In August 1957 The Blessed Virgin said:
"What am I to do, child of my heart, when my children turn from me? The false peace of this world lures them and in the end will destroy them. They think they have done enough in consecrating themselves to my Immaculate Heart. It is not enough. That which I ask for and is most important many have not given me. What I ask, have asked, and will continue to ask is reformation of life. There must be sanctification from within. I will work my miracles of grace only in those who ask for them and empty their souls of the love and attachment to sin and all that is displeasing to my Son. Souls who cling to sin cannot have their hands free to receive the treasures of grace that I hold out to them."
The Blessed Virgin Mary has promised that, once placed in the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, her statue as Our Lady of America will be a safeguard for our country, and her picture or statue honored in homes, a safeguard for the family. She also promised that the medal would be a safeguard against evil for those who wear it with great faith and devotion.
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We end with the words of Our Lady as related by Sister Mary Ephrem, regarding the wondrous graces her children in America will receive if they do as she tells them, which includes leading lives of great purity and having the bishops in the United States enshrine the statue of Our Lady of America in the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
Message of September 25, 1956
On the eve of the feast of the North American Martyrs, September 25, 1956, as I was making the Holy Hour from 7:00 to 8:00 pm, I was conscious of the distinct and special feeling of the presence of Our Lady. She stood by my side and spoke to me. I felt, rather than saw her, though I did see a part of her white gown and a small portion of her blue sash. I was under the impression that she came as Our Lady of Lourdes, and she herself confirmed this. Our Lady promised that greater miracles than those granted at Lourdes and Fatima would be granted here in America, the United States in particular, if we would do as she desires.
These are the words she spoke to me at this time:
"I am pleased, my child, with the love and honor my children in America give to me, especially through my glorious and unique privilege of the Immaculate Conception. I promise to reward their love by working through the power of my Son's Heart and my Immaculate Heart miracles of grace among them. I do not promise miracles of the body, but of the soul."
Our Lady emphasized this very much. She is anxiously concerned about our inner life.
"For it is mainly through these miracles of grace that the Holy Trinity is glorified among men and nations. Let America continue and grow in its love for me, and I in return, in union with the Heart of my Son, promise to work wonders in her. My child, I desire that this be known."
The next morning, the feast of the North American Martyrs, Mass had just been concluded and the Community thanksgiving was almost over. There were a few minutes left when suddenly Our Lady appeared before me, enveloped in a soft glow of light. I knew with unmistakable certainty that it was she, though she did not speak immediately. What I noticed was the smile on Our Lady's beautiful countenance and the lily she held in her right hand. She wore a white veil reaching almost to the waist and a mantle and robe of pure white with not a single decoration of any kind. An oblong-shaped clasp or brooch held the ends of the mantle together at the top. It was all gold, as was the high and brilliant crown which she wore. Her hair and her eyes seemed of medium brown. Her feet were bare, but these I did not always see, as they were sometimes covered by the moving clouds on which Our Lady stood. She continued to smile. Then I saw her heart appear, encircled with red roses, the symbol of suffering as it was revealed to me, and sending forth flames of fire. With her left hand Our Lady seemed to be holding up slightly the upper part of her mantle, so that her Immaculate Heart could be seen.
Then solemnly and distinctly, in calm yet majestic tones, I heard these words:
"I am Our Lady of America. I desire that my children honor me, especially by the purity of their lives."
She was very beautiful and her smile held me. But I became conscious of the fact that the other Sisters were leaving the chapel, and I, too, had to go as obedience directed me. I said to Our Lady, "Please forgive me, Mother, but I do have to go now or my work will not get finished."
Our Lady understood, but she did not leave me. When I entered my room, she was there waiting for me. Then I noticed the green color of the lily stem in her hand and the white sash or belt which she wore around her waist. It seemed to be made of the same material as the robe. It was narrow, very narrow, and no ends of it could be seen at all. As I had to hurry about my tasks, I could not give Our Lady all the attention I longed to, but every now and then I would direct a glance of love toward her. Our Lady stood there smiling as I had seen her in the chapel. All that day I was conscious of Our Lady's presence in a very special manner, in a way that was distinctly new to me.
On the afternoon of the same day, during the last half of the Holy Hour between 4:00 and 5:00, the Immaculate Virgin spoke to me at length in these words:
"My child, I entrust you with this message that you must make known to my children in America. I wish it to be the country dedicated to my purity. The wonders I will work will be the wonders of the soul. They must have faith and believe firmly in my love for them. I desire that they be the children of my Pure Heart. I desire, through my children of America, to further the cause of faith and purity among peoples and nations. Let them come to me with confidence and simplicity, and I, their Mother, will teach them to become pure like to my Heart that their own hearts may be more pleasing to the Heart of my Son."
Our Blessed Mother called herself Our Lady of America in response to the love and desire that reached out for this special title in the hearts of her children in America. This title was the sign of her pleasure at the confidence our land places in her and as a reward for its staunch and childlike devotion to her. Her children longed for this personal visit of Our Lady, whether consciously or otherwise, and in her kindness and mercy she responded far beyond all expectations.
Though she came in this manner as a token of her love for us, nevertheless Our Lady of America welcomes her children of all nations to her feet, for there will be found true peace. So she has given me to understand, and such are her desires as she revealed them to me.
Our Lady, moreover, often emphasized her desire that the Shrine in Washington, D.C. be made a place of special pilgrimage. She wishes to be honored there as Our Lady of America, the Immaculate Virgin.
After this date I saw Our Lady frequently. She seemed anxious to impress me with the truth and importance of her appearance.
Message of October 13, 1956
Following is the account of Our Lady's next visit, which occurred on October 13, 1956:
Today the Holy Virgin appeared to me as I was working in my room. Our Lady was very beautiful, and she was again smiling in her heavenly way. She was dressed in the same manner as when I first saw her, except that her Immaculate Heart did not appear. Instead of the lily, she held with both hands a small replica of the finished Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. She then began to speak. Her presence overwhelmed me with its holiness. I was compelled to stop my work, for it was impossible to go on. I then knelt down and wrote Our Lady's words as she desired:
"This is my shrine, my daughter. I am very pleased with it. Tell my children I thank them. Let them finish it quickly and make it a place of pilgrimage. It will be a place of wonders. I promise this: I will bless all those who, either by prayers, labor, or material aid, help to erect this shrine."
Message of November 15, 1956
On the morning of November 15, 1956, Our Lady taught me this little prayer:
"By thy Holy and Immaculate Conception, O Mary, deliver us from evil."
Our Lady then asked me to draw a picture of her first appearance. She also requested a statue made according to this likeness and placed, after being solemnly carried in procession, in the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. She wishes to be honored there in a special way as Our Lady of America, the Immaculate Virgin.
Message of January 1957
From January 1957 to 1958, Our Lady's warnings came to me again and again. These are her words spoken in January 1957:
"The hour grows late. My Son's patience will not last forever. Help me hold back His anger, which is about to descend on sinful and ungrateful men. Suffering and anguish, such as never before experienced, is about to overtake mankind. It is the darkest hour. But if men will come to me, my Immaculate Heart will make it bright again with the mercy which my Son will rain down through my hands. Help me save those who will not save themselves. Help me bring once again the sunshine of God's peace upon the world."
To my spiritual director I was asked to send this message:
"Hurry, my son, for the time is short but the punishment will be long, and for many, forever.
Tell the Bishops of the United States, my loyal sons, of my desires and how I wish them to be carried out. Through him who is head over you, make known the longings of my Immaculate Heart to establish the reign of my Divine Son in the hearts of men and thus save them from the scourge of heaven, both now and hereafter."
Our Lady, again addressing herself to me, spoke sadly yet hopefully:
"My daughter, will my children in America listen to my pleadings and console my Immaculate Heart? Will my loyal sons carry out my desires and thus help me bring the peace of Christ once again to mankind?
Pray and do penance, my sweet child, that this may come to pass. Trust me and love me; I so desire it. Do not forget your poor Mother, who weeps over the loss of so many of her children."
This summation and messages of Our Lady of America are taken from the official website of Our Lady of America. For more information please see www.ourladyofamerica.com.