For the last few weeks the attention of the world has been towards Japan, with the earthquake and tsunami that hit the country on March 11. These events remind us of the messages that Our Lady gave in Akita, Japan, to a nun in 1973, that called humanity to repent. Astoundingly, the outspoken governor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara, told reporters that the disaster was “punishment from heaven” because Japanese have become greedy, according to Associated Press.
A few pious women known as the Institute of the Handmaids of the Holy Eucharist were leading a quiet, hidden life of prayer in Yuzawadai just outside of Akita when they welcomed into their novitiate Sister Agnes Katsuko Sasagawa, who was then 42 years old and a convert from Buddhism. When she entered on May 12, 1973, Agnes was totally and incurably deaf, however she was blessed with various mystical favors; soon this convent would become so well known that their little chapel would attract pilgrims from around the world.
In 1973, the Blessed Virgin Mary gave Sister Agnes Katsuko Sasagawa three Messages through a statue of Mary. Bathed in a brilliant light, the statue became alive and spoke with a voice of indescribable beauty. Her Guardian Angel also appeared and taught her to pray.
The wooden statue, about 3 feet high, had been carved by an artist on the request of the Sisters of the Institute of the Handmaids of the Eucharist, founded by the local Bishop, Most Rev. John Shojiro Ito, of the Diocese of Niigata. This statue, from which the voice came, wept 101 times over a course of several years, from January 4, 1975, to September 15, 1981, the Feast of Our Lady of Seven Sorrows. It also perspired abundantly and the perspiration sent out a sweet perfume. Its right palm bled from a wound that had the form of a cross.
Hundreds of people witnessed many of these events. Scientific analysis of blood and tears from the statue, provided by Professor Sagisaka of the faculty of Legal Medicine of the University of Akita, confirmed that the blood, tears, and perspiration were real human tears, sweat, and blood.
Sister Agnes also has the stigmata on the right palm. A Korean woman with terminal brain cancer received immediate healing while praying before the statute in 1981. The miracle was confirmed by Dr. Tong-Woo-Kim of St. Paul’s Hospital in Seoul and Fr. Theisen, President of the Ecclesiastical Tribunal of the Archdiocese of Seoul. The second miracle was the complete cure of the total deafness of Sister Agnes.
The first miraculous event at Akita occurred on June 12, 1973, only a month after the entrance of Sr. Agnes: A brilliant light shone forth from the Tabernacle. This happened several times and was often accompanied by something resembling smoke which hung around the altar. During one of these illuminations Sr. Agnes saw “a multitude of beings similar to Angels who surrounded the altar in adoration before the Host.” Bishop Ito was staying at the convent to conduct a week of devotions. Sr. Agnes confided to him the circumstances of this vision, as well as all the events and apparitions that followed. Bishop Ito and the convent’s spiritual director, Rev. Teiji Yasuda, were witnesses to many of the events.
Sr. Agnes was also favoured with visitations of her guardian Angel. Asked to describe the Angel, Sr. Agnes replied: “a round face, an expression of sweetness... a person covered with a shining whiteness like snow...” The guardian Angel confided various messages to the sister and often prayed with her, in addition to guiding and advising her.
On Thursday, June 28, eve of the Feast of the Sacred Heart, Sister Agnes again saw a blinding light from the Blessed Sacrament, rays of light, and a multitude of angels surrounding the altar in adoration before the Host.
In the evening, another mysterious event occurred. While praying in the chapel, Sister Agnes felt as though something pierced the palm of her left hand. There, in the center of her palm, were two red scratches in the form of a cross. As days went by, the pain became increasingly intense.
On July 6, the Guardian Angel appeared to Sister Agnes, and said: “Do not fear. I am the one who is with you and watches over you. Do not fear. Pray with fervor not only because of your sins, but in reparation for those of all men. The world today wounds the Most Sacred Heart of Our Lord by its ingratitude and injuries. The wounds of Mary are much deeper and sorrowful than yours. Let us go and pray together in the chapel.”
Messages of Mary
In the chapel, the statue of the Virgin Mary came to life and a voice of indescribable beauty struck her totally-deaf ears. This was to be the first Message of Mary: “My daughter, My novice, you have obeyed Me well in abandoning all to follow Me. Is the infirmity of your ears painful? Your deafness will be healed, be sure. Be patient. It is the last trial. Does the wound of your hand cause you to suffer? Pray in reparation for the sins of men. Each person in this community is My irreplaceable daughter. Do you say well the prayer of the Handmaids of the Eucharist? Then, let us pray it together:
“Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, truly present in the Holy Eucharist, I consecrate my body and soul to be entirely one with Your Heart, being sacrificed at every instant on all the altars of the world and giving praise to the Father, pleading for the coming of His Kingdom. Please receive this humble offering of myself. Use me as You will for the glory of the Father and the salvation of souls.
“Most Holy Mother of God. Never let me be separated from Your Divine Son. Please defend and protect me as Your special child. Amen.”
As her Guardian Angel had told her, a cross-shaped wound, similar to that of Sister Agnes, appeared in the right hand of the statue of the Blessed Virgin, and blood started to flow.
On August 3, 1973, the First Friday of the month, Sister Agnes received the second Message from Mary: “Many men in this world afflict the Lord. I desire souls to console Him to soften the anger of the Heavenly Father. I wish, with My Son, for souls who will repair, by their suffering and their poverty, for the sinners and ingrates.
“In order that the world might know His anger, the Heavenly Father is preparing to inflict a great chastisement on all mankind. With My Son, I have intervened so many times to appease the wrath of the Father. I have prevented the coming of calamities by offering Him the sufferings of the Son on the Cross, His Precious Blood, and beloved souls who console Him and form a cohort of victim souls.
“Prayer, penance, and courageous sacrifices can soften the Father’s anger. I desire this also from your community, that it love poverty, that it sanctify itself and pray in reparation for the ingratitude and outrages of so many men. Recite the prayer of the Handmaids of the Eucharist with awareness of its meaning; put it into practice: offer (whatever God may send) in reparation for sins. Let each one endeavour, according to her capacity and position, to offer herself entirely to the Lord.
“Even in a secular institute, prayer is necessary. Already souls who wish to pray are on the way to being gathered. Without attaching too much attention to the form, be faithful and fervent in prayer to console the Master.”
On Saturday, October 13, Mary gave to Sister Agnes Her third Message: “If men do not repent and better themselves, the Father will inflict a terrible punishment on all humanity. It will be a punishment greater than the deluge, such as one will never have seen before. Fire will fall from the sky and will wipe out a great part of humanity, the good as well as the bad, sparing neither priests nor faithful. The survivors will find themselves so desolate that they will envy the dead. The only arms which will remain for you will be the Rosary and the Sign left by My Son. Each day recite the prayers of the Rosary. With the Rosary, pray for the Pope, the Bishops and the priests.
Picture of the tsunami in Japan, March 11, 2011
“The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a way that one will see Cardinals opposing Cardinals, Bishops against other Bishops. The priests who venerate Me will be scorned and opposed by their confreres (other priests). Churches and altars will be sacked. The Church will be full of those who accept compromises, and the demon will press many priests and consecrated souls to leave the service of the Lord.
“The demon will be especially implacable against the souls consecrated to God. The thought of the loss of so many souls is the cause of My sadness. If sins increase in number and gravity, there will no longer be pardon for them. Pray very much the prayers of the Rosary. I alone am able to still save you from the calamities which approach. Those who place their confidence in Me will be saved.”
The last Sunday of May, 1982, during the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, Sister Agnes was completely cured from her deafness.
Approval of the Bishop and Rome
After having himself been an eyewitness of the events, and having carefully investigated them for years, Most Rev. John Shojiro Ito, Bishop of Niigata (the diocese Akita belongs to) declared the events of Akita, Japan, to be of supernatural origin and authorized throughout the entire diocese the veneration of the Holy Mother of Akita, in a long message which he ordered to be read in every parish of his diocese on Easter Sunday, April 22, 1984.. He said: “The Message of Akita is the Message of Fatima.”
Bishop Ito went to Rome a third time in June of 1988 to seek the opinion of the Holy See. “I was worried because of the seriousness of the Message,” he said. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, then Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, reassured Bishop Ito that he had acted properly and gave definitive judgement on the Akita events and Messages as reliable and worthy of belief.