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In southern France, Marie-Bernarde Soubirous, a 14-year-old French peasant girl, first claims to have seen the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ and a central figure in the Roman Catholic religion. The apparitions, which totaled 18 before the end of the year, occurred in a grotto of a rock promontory near Lourdes, France. Marie explained that the Virgin Mary revealed herself as the Immaculate Conception, asked that a chapel be built on the site of the vision, and told the girl to drink from a fountain in the grotto, which Marie subsequently discovered by digging into the earth.
The concept of the Immaculate Conception, in which the Virgin Mary is regarded free from original sin from the moment of her conception, had been accepted just four years previous by Pope Pius IX. Marie’s claims garnered widespread attention, but skeptical church authorities subjected her to severe examinations and refused to accept her visions. After years of mistreatment at the hands of the authorities and the curious public, she was finally allowed to enter the convent of Notre-Dame de Nevers, where she spent her remaining years in prayer and seclusion. She died of ill heath at the age of 35.
The site of her manifestations subsequently became the most famous modern shrine of the Virgin Mary, and in 1933 Marie-Bernarde Soubirous was canonized as St. Bernadette by the Roman Catholic Church. Today, millions travel to Lourdes every year to visit St. Bernadette’s grotto, whose waters supposedly have curative powers.
READ MORE: What Did Jesus Look Like?
Saint Bernadette’s First Vision at Lourdes
Saint Marie-Bernarde Soubirous saw the first of her 18 'visions' in Lourdes on 11 February 1858.
Bernadette went back to the grotto seventeen more times and saw the Lady, though no one else ever did. Her story spread round the town like wildfire. The Lady was generally assumed to be the Virgin Mary and more and more townspeople began to go to the grotto with Bernadette, but there was considerable scepticism, from the parish priest among others.
On February 25th the Lady told Bernadette to drink the water of a spring that flowed under her rock. As there seemed to be no spring, Bernadette dug in the ground. Nothing happened, but a day or so afterwards the water started to flow. Bernadette drank it and washed in it and others did the same and the water acquired a reputation for healing properties. The spring is still flowing at the rate of 32,000 gallons a day, but analysis of the water has found nothing remarkable about it.
On February 27th and March 2nd the Lady told Bernadette that the priests should be told to build a chapel at the site and have people come there in processions. Word of what was going on reached the French newspapers and the crowds acompanying Bernadette to the grotto swelled to thousands and had to be controlled by the police.
On the feast of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary on March 25th, the Lady at last proclaimed her identity. Speaking to Bernadette in the local Lourdes patois, she said ‘I am the Immaculate Conception’. The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception had been proclaimed only a few years before, in 1854. Bernadette saw her last apparition on July 16th, the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
Bernadette was rigorously cross-examined by the local police, but stuck to her story. The authorities were sceptical and in 1858 the town mayor had the grotto and the spring barricaded off, allegedly on grounds of hygiene. In 1862, however, after a thorough enquiry by a Church commission, the local bishop decided that the visions were genuine and approved the cult of Our Lady of Lourdes. A church was started the same year. Bernadette spent much of the rest of her life in the convent of the Sisters of Charity at Lourdes, where she died in 1879 at the age of thirty-five. She was beatified in 1925 and canonized in 1933.
Pilgrims began flocking to Lourdes from all over France and 100,000 people attended the consecration of the church in 1876. The town was to become one of the Christian world’s most celebrated pilgrimage centres and the numbers increased to such a degree that a second church was begun in 1883. The centenary year of 1958 brought six million pilgrims to Lourdes and the usual annual figure is said to be five million. Many of them are sick and hoping to be healed. The first cure was reported in 1858 and in 1861 a commission of enquiry pronounced fifteen of a hundred reported cures to be miraculous.
Bernadette’s body was exhumed in 1909 and was found ‘incorrupt’. Reburied in a new casket, she was exhumed again in 1919 and the body was still well preserved, though the face was slightly discloured. She was exhumed yet again in 1925 and reburied in the Chapel of St Bernadette in the Sisters of Charity convent which is visited by huge numbers of pilgrims.
St. Bernadette claims to see the Virgin Mary - HISTORY
The nature of her family life helped to develop a profound work ethic, a deep faith, and a strength and steadfastness in Bernadette. Louise had to find work whenever she could, in order to help the family make ends meet and give the children their daily necessities. Because she was out of the house many days, many of the household tasks fell to Bernadette, the oldest. This was not limited to cleaning and cooking, but she was a significant influence in the moral and religious education of her younger siblings, as well. There is even a report of Bernadette, as a young girl, taking her baby sibling out to her mother who was working in the field so the child could be nursed. Bernadette persisted in all of this, in spite of her physical ailments, and significant physical weakness.
Bernadette suffered greatly from early childhood. She was afflicted by digestive trouble from a young age, and a respiratory problem that would persist for the rest of her life. Bouts with cholera and tuberculosis threatened her life, but she fought through them every time. Young Bernadette also had a reputation as intellectually slow her first communion was greatly delayed, because her teacher gave up after only a few lessons, insisting that Bernadette was too dull to grasp the material. But again, her obstinate refusal to give in led to her getting an education, and finally communing with her Lord.
The family’s poverty became so great that they eventually moved into a one-room dwelling that had previously been a jail, which was called “the dungeon”. When, on February 11, 1858, Bernadette, her sister, and a friend were gathering wood to heat the home near the grotto of Massabielle, near Lourdes, France, Bernadette had an experience that would utterly change her life. While Bernadette tried to find a place to cross the stream, she heard the sound of a great wind, but nothing moved – save a wild rose growing in a niche in the grotto. As Bernadette looked on, there was suddenly a blindingly brilliant light, and a figure clad in white – a woman whom Bernadette would refer to simply as aquero, “that one.” Bernadette proceeded to pray the rosary, and when she completed it the woman smiled and disappeared.
Bernadette did not claim to know who this person was. On February 18, her third visit to the grotto, the woman asked her to come back every day for 15 days. Word began to spread about Bernadette’s experiences, and the incredulity became rampant. Bernadette’s own parents initially tried to keep her from going to the grotto, as they were embarrassed at the sort of attention their daughter was garnering. Her sister and their friend who had been with her during the first visit said they saw nothing, which only added to the skepticism about Bernadette’s claims. And during these two weeks, large crowds began to gather at the grotto, much to the displeasure of the local authorities. In fact, the police took Bernadette in for questioning, to make her “admit” that the whole ordeal was nothing but an elaborate hoax. But Bernadette was not to be put off. Regardless of what was thrown at her, she remained faithful.
The local authorities continued to try to discredit Bernadette. They accused her and her family of various malfeasances. Her parents and other family members had come to believe her, and were unwavering in their support.
There were those who believed Bernadette implicitly. Many believed that the woman was Mary, Mother of the Lord, partially based on her description of the woman – dressed in a white veil, a blue girdle, with a yellow rose on each foot. The woman, whoever she was, asked for prayer and penance. It was not until March 25 that the woman identified herself. After Bernadette’s persistent queries, asking the lady repeatedly for her name, she finally answered: “I am the Immaculate Conception.” This was a revelation peculiar and confusing to Bernadette, but she related the information just the same, without a waver in her faith. And this revelation proved decisive in the reception and acceptance of the apparition.
Perhaps Bernadette’s holiness and humility, her unassuming nature, and her quiet steadfastness in the face of opposition, lend credence to the veracity of her claims. While Catholics are not bound to believe in the apparitions at Lourdes, the Church has deemed them “worthy of belief.” Regardless of one’s personal stance on these events, there is much that we can learn from this story of Bernadette. First and foremost, Bernadette is a portrait of strength. Her family, her pastor, her bishop, the media, tourists and gawkers, and people of all sorts were not only skeptical of her claims, but some were even hostile in their accusations. Some claimed she had a mental illness and should be institutionalized others accused her of lying outright. Regardless, Bernadette persisted. This was not some pious idea, purely in the head of a dull or dunderheaded girl. In the face of all opposition, intensive interviews with Church officials, as well as representatives of the French government, Bernadette insisted she was telling the truth.
When Bernadette Soubirous lay dying, at the tender age of 35, she prayed to the Virgin Mary for strength to endure the trial. She had contracted tuberculosis of the bone, and was in great agony. She strove to continually remind herself that her suffering was not in vain, reportedly saying “All this is good for Heaven!” She died on April 16, 1879.
St Bernadette’s Description of Our Lady of Lourdes
B elow is the exact description that Saint Marie Bernadette Soubirous gave of the times when the Immaculate and Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to her in Lourdes, France in 1858.
There are three details that I especially like. The first that our Blessed Mother had gold or yellow roses on her feet. The second is that as soon as St Bernadette stopped praying the Holy Rosary, Mary disappeared. The third is that Mary called herself “the Immaculate Conception.” Mary not only experienced an immaculate conception in the womb of her mother Saint Anne, but Mary is the Immaculate Conception. In other words, it’s one of her titles: the Immaculate Conception.
It’s truly inspiring to read this and consider that the Blessed Virgin actually appeared to Bernadette in this way. Here are Bernadette’s own words:
I had gone down one day with two other girls to the bank of the river Gave when suddenly I heard a kind of rustling sound. I turned my head toward the field by the side of the river but the trees seemed quite still and the noise was evidently not from them. Then I looked up and caught sight of the cave where I saw a lady wearing a lovely white dress with a bright belt. On top of each of her feet was a pale yellow rose, the same colour as her rosary beads.
At this I rubbed my eyes, thinking I was seeing things, and I put my hands into the fold of my dress where my rosary was. I wanted to make the sign of the cross but for the life of me I couldn’t manage it and my hand just fell down. Then the lady made the sign of the cross herself and at the second attempt I managed to do the same, though my hands were trembling. Then I began to say the rosary while the lady let her beads slip through her fingers, without moving her lips. When I stopped saying the Hail Mary, she immediately vanished.
I asked my two companions if they had noticed anything, but they said no. Of course they wanted to know what I was doing and I told them that I had seen a lady wearing a nice white dress, though I didn’t know who she was. I told them not to say anything about it, and they said I was silly to have anything to do with it. I said they were wrong and I came back next Sunday, feeling myself drawn to the place….
The third time I went the lady spoke to me and asked me to come every day for fifteen days. I said I would and then she said that she wanted me to tell the priests to build a chapel there. She also told me to drink from the stream. I went to the Gave, the only stream I could see. Then she made me realise she was not speaking of the Gave and she indicated a little trickle of water close by. When I got to it I could only find a few drops, mostly mud. I cupped my hands to catch some liquid without success and then I started to scrape the ground. I managed to find a few drops of water but only at the fourth attempt was there a sufficient amount for any kind of drink. The lady then vanished and I went back home.
I went back each day for two weeks and each time, except one Monday and one Friday, the lady appeared and told me to look for a stream and wash in it and to see that the priests build a chapel there. I must also pray, she said, for the conversion of sinners. I asked her many times what she meant by that, but she only smiled. Finally with outstretched arms and eyes looking up to heaven she told me she was the Immaculate Conception.
During the two weeks she told me three secrets but I was not to speak about them to anyone and so far I have not.
Saint Marie Bernadette Soubirous, Epistle ad P. Gondrand, 1861, cf. Les ecrits de Sainte Bernadette, Paris, 1961, pp. 53-59.
Another interesting thing about Our Lady is that she reveals secrets.
Does anyone have any other thoughts or observations concerning Bernadette’s description?
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Of the hundreds of alleged apparitions the Catholic Church has investigated, only twelve have received ecclesiastical approval, and nine of them occurred between 1830 and 1933. Cultural anthropologists Victor and Edith Turner, who converted to Catholicism in 1958, at one time viewed the increase in Marian apparition "cults" as a post-industrial reaction of a "disenfranchised lower middle class to a rapidly changing culture." 
At the age of 14, Lúcia was sent to the school of the Sisters of Saint Dorothy in Vilar, near Porto. In 1928, she became a postulant at the Dorothean convent in Tui, just across the border in Spain. Lúcia continued to report private visions periodically throughout her life. In the mid-1930s the Bishop of Leiria encouraged Lúcia (now Sister María Lúcia das Dores) to write her memoirs, in the event that she might disclose further details of the 1917 apparitions.
As early as July 1917, mention was made that the Lady of the apparitions had entrusted to the children a secret, "that was good for some and bad for others.”   It was not until her third memoir, written in 1941, that Lúcia indicated that the secret had three parts. In this she follows Mélanie Calvat of La Salette, whose secrets were written down almost twenty years after the event. 
In her third memoir, written in 1941, Lúcia said that the first secret, a vision of Hell, was disclosed to the children on 13 July 1917.
Our Lady showed us a great sea of fire which seemed to be under the earth. Plunged in this fire were demons and souls in human form, like transparent burning embers, all blackened or burnished bronze, floating about in the conflagration, now raised into the air by the flames that issued from within themselves together with great clouds of smoke, now falling back on every side like sparks in a huge fire, without weight or equilibrium, and amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear. The demons could be distinguished by their terrifying and repulsive likeness to frightful and unknown animals, all black and transparent. This vision lasted but an instant. How can we ever be grateful enough to our kind heavenly Mother, who had already prepared us by promising, in the first Apparition, to take us to heaven. Otherwise, I think we would have died of fear and terror. 
The second secret was a statement that World War I would end, along with a prediction of another war during the reign of Pope Pius XI, should men continue offending God and should Russia not convert. The second half requests that Russia be consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary:
You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. The war is going to end: but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the Pontificate of Pope Pius XI. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that he is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father. To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the Consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of reparation on the First Saturdays. If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred the Holy Father will have much to suffer various nations will be annihilated. In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she shall be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world. 
In 1925 Sister Lúcia reported an apparition of the Virgin Mary at the Convent of Saint Dorothea at Pontevedra, Galicia. She said she was asked to convey the message of the First Saturday Devotions. By her account a subsequent vision of the Child Jesus reiterated this request. In 1930, she wrote to her confessor that in 1929 she had a vision of both Mary and the Holy Trinity in which God had asked for the Consecration of Russia to the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary by the Pope in communion with all the bishops of the world. The message regarding the establishment of the Devotion of the Five First Saturdays is reminiscent of that reported by Margaret Mary Alacoque in the seventeenth century, which led to the First Friday Devotion. 
It is unlikely that this message was conveyed to the Pope, but the Bishop of Leiria suggested that she write her memoirs in the event that she might reveal further details of the 1917 apparitions.  In her third memoir, written in 1941, Sister Lúcia recalled that at the apparition of 13 July 1917, the Virgin Mary had first mentioned the consecration of Russia, and said that she would return to give particulars.
The second prophecy was not disclosed until August 1941, after World War II had already begun.  Skeptics have questioned whether Mary, in 1917, referred explicitly to Pope Pius XI, as Ambrogio Ratti did not choose that regnal name until after his election in 1922. Further, the European portion of World War II is generally held to have begun on 1 September 1939, and by then, Pope Pius XII had succeeded Pius XI. As for the conversion of Russia, the Bolshevik Revolution did not happen until November 1917.
Some proponents of the Fátima prophecies argue that the secret did not say that the war must begin in Europe, and during the pontificate of Pius XI Japan had already invaded China in 1937, which is generally seen by historians of China and other parts of Asia as when the Second World War actually began,  a view which also has qualified support from some Western historians. Some critics argue that the Russian Civil War (1918-1921), the Irish War of Independence (1919-1921), the Chinese Civil War (1927-1937), the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) and the war between Italy and Ethiopia (1935-1936) serve to illustrate that the prediction that one war will end and that another will start is not necessarily an indication of divine inspiration. Proponents of the prophecy will point out that the second secret called for a war worse than World War I, not simply any armed conflict. In addition, with regards to the conversion of Russia, there was already, at the time, strong revolutionary ferment in Russia before the Bolshevik Revolution as witnessed by the earlier February Revolution in 1917 and the active communist and anarchist movements, which would explain Mary's reference to the conversion of Russia on 13 July 1917.
On 25 January 1938, The New York Times reported "Aurora Borealis Startles Europe People Flee in Fear, Call Firemen."  The celestial display was seen from Canada to Bermuda to Austria to Scotland, and short-wave radio transmissions were shut down for almost 12 hours in Canada.  It is noteworthy that during the final hour of this aurora, Christian Rakovsky was undergoing interrogation in the Soviet Union, giving information to Stalin about Western involvement in Hitler's rise, suggesting an alliance with the Western powers against Germany. 
Sister Lúcia chose not to disclose the third secret in her memoir of August 1941. In 1943, Lúcia fell seriously ill with influenza and pleurisy. Bishop Silva, visiting her on 15 September 1943, suggested that she write the third secret down to ensure that it would be recorded in the event of her death. Lúcia was hesitant to do so, however. At the time she received the secret, she had heard Mary say not to reveal it, but because Carmelite obedience requires that orders from superiors be regarded as coming directly from God, she was in a quandary as to whose orders took precedence. Finally, in mid-October, Bishop Silva sent her a letter containing a direct order to record the secret, and Lúcia obeyed.
The third part of the secret was written down "by order of His Excellency the Bishop of Leiria and the Most Holy Mother" on 3 January 1944.  In June 1944, the sealed envelope containing the third secret was delivered to Silva, where it stayed until 1957, when it was finally delivered to Rome. 
It was announced by Cardinal Angelo Sodano on 13 May 2000, 83 years after the first apparition of the Lady to the children in the Cova da Iria, and 19 years after the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II that the third secret would finally be released. In his announcement, Cardinal Sodano implied that the secret was about the 20th century persecution of Christians that culminated in the failed Pope John Paul II assassination attempt on 13 May 1981, the 64th anniversary of the first apparition of the Lady at Fátima. 
The text of the third secret, according to the Vatican, was published on 26 June 2000:
The third part of the secret revealed at the Cova da Iria-Fátima, on 13 July 1917.
I write in obedience to you, my God, who command me to do so through his Excellency the Bishop of Leiria and through your Most Holy Mother and mine.
After the two parts which I have already explained, at the left of Our Lady and a little above, we saw an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire but they died out in contact with the splendour that Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand: pointing to the earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice: 'Penance, Penance, Penance!'. And we saw in an immense light that is God: 'something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it' a Bishop dressed in White 'we had the impression that it was the Holy Father'. Other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious going up a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big Cross of rough-hewn trunks as of a cork-tree with the bark before reaching there the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of the big Cross he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him, and in the same way there died one after another the other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious, and various lay people of different ranks and positions. Beneath the two arms of the Cross there were two Angels each with a crystal aspersorium in his hand, in which they gathered up the blood of the Martyrs and with it sprinkled the souls that were making their way to God.
Tuy-3-1-1944.  
Along with the text of the secret, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (the future Pope Benedict XVI) published a theological commentary in which he states: "A careful reading of the text of the so-called third 'secret' of Fatima . will probably prove disappointing or surprising after all the speculation it has stirred. No great mystery is revealed nor is the future unveiled." After explaining the differences between public and private revelations, he cautions people not to see in the message a determined future event:
The purpose of the vision is not to show a film of an irrevocably fixed future. Its meaning is exactly the opposite: it is meant to mobilize the forces of change in the right direction. Therefore we must totally discount fatalistic explanations of the “secret”, such as, for example, the claim that the would-be assassin of 13 May 1981 was merely an instrument of the divine plan guided by Providence and could not therefore have acted freely, or other similar ideas in circulation. Rather, the vision speaks of dangers and how we might be saved from them.  
He then moves on to talk about the symbolic nature of the images, noting: "The concluding part of the 'secret' uses images which Lucia may have seen in devotional books and which draw their inspiration from long-standing intuitions of faith." As for the meaning of the message: "What remains was already evident when we began our reflections on the text of the 'secret': the exhortation to prayer as the path of 'salvation for souls' and, likewise, the summons to penance and conversion."
Despite this statement, on 11 May 2010, during the flight to Fatima, answering to a question about the Third Secret, Pope Benedict XVI told that "we would be mistaken to think that Fatima's prophetic message has been completely realized".  Then, he expressed the hope the centenary of the apparitions of 1917 may hasten the fulfillment of the "prophecy of the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, for the glory of the Blessed Trinity", specifying that the suffering inside the Church "would have originated not from external enemies, but from within the same Church". 
Prior to the 1930s, the main focus of devotion to Our Lady of Fatima (which was at that time not widely known outside Portugal and Spain) was on the need to pray the Rosary for an end to World War I and for world peace. After the publication of Sister Lúcia's memoirs, starting in 1935, Fatima came to be seen as presenting the victory of the Blessed Virgin over Communism.
In 1960, the Vatican issued a press release stating that it was "most probable the Secret would remain, for ever, under absolute seal."  This announcement produced considerable speculation over the content of the secret. According to the New York Times, speculation ranged from "worldwide nuclear annihilation to deep rifts in the Roman Catholic Church that lead to rival papacies."  On 2 May 1981, Laurence James Downey hijacked an airplane and demanded that Pope John Paul II make public the third secret of Fátima. 
The release of the text sparked criticism from the Catholic Church in Portugal. Clergy as well as laypeople were offended that the text had been read in Rome and not at the Fátima shrine in Portugal where the reported events took place. The Times for 29 June 2000 reported that "The revelation on Monday that there were no doomsday predictions has provoked angry reactions from the Portuguese church over the decision to keep the prophecy secret for half a century." [ citation needed ]
Critics such as Italian journalist and media personality Antonio Socci claim that the four-page handwritten text of the Third Secret released by the Vatican in 2000 is not the real secret, or at least not the full secret.  The argument is based on the following:
- Written on one sheet of paper: the text of the third secret released by the Vatican is handwritten on four sheets of paper.  Father Joaquin Alonso, official Fátima archivist for 16 years, reports in his book that, "Lucy tells us that she wrote it on a sheet of paper.  In a taped interview, Charles Fiore quoted Malachi Martin as saying the following regarding the text of the third secret: "I cooled my heels in the corridor outside the Holy Father's apartments, while my boss, Cardinal Bea, was inside debating with the Holy Father, and with a group of other bishops and priests, and two young Portuguese seminarians, who translated the letter, a single page, written in Portuguese, for all those in the room." 
- Written in the form of a letter: another reason why critics argue the full third secret has not been released is because of indications that the third secret was written in the form of a signed letter to the Bishop of Leiria and the text of the third secret released by the Vatican is not written in the form of a letter.  Lúcia was interviewed by Father Jongen on 3 February 1946. When Fr. Jongen asked Lúcia when the time would arrive for the Third Secret, Lúcia responded, "I communicated the third part in a letter to the Bishop of Leiria." Also, Canon Galamba, an advisor to the Bishop of Leiria, is quoted as saying, "When the bishop refused to open the letter, Lucy made him promise that it would definitely be opened and read to the world either at her death or in 1960, whichever came first." 
- Contains words attributed to the Blessed Virgin Mary: the text of the third secret released by the Vatican contains no words attributed to the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Socci asserts that the third secret probably begins with the words "In Portugal the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved etc.", words which Lúcia included in her fourth memoir, but which are included only as a footnote to the text released by the Vatican. 
- Contains information about the Apocalypse, apostasy, Satanic infiltration of the Church: in an interview published in the 11 November 1984 edition of Jesus Magazine, Cardinal Ratzinger was asked whether he had read the text of the third secret and why it had not been revealed.  Ratzinger acknowledged that he had read the third secret, and stated in part that the third secret involves the "importance of the novissimi", and "dangers threatening the faith and the life of the Christian and therefore (the life) of the world." Ratzinger also commented that "If it is not made public – at least for the time being – it is in order to prevent religious prophecy from being mistaken for a quest for the sensational."  Also, a news article quoted former Philippine ambassador to the Vatican, Howard Dee, as saying that Cardinal Ratzinger had personally confirmed to him that the messages of Akita and Fátima are "essentially the same".  The Akita prophecy, in part, contains the following: "The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, bishops against bishops. … churches and altars sacked . "  On May 13, 2000, Cardinal Sodano announced that the third secret would be released, during which he implied the secret was about the persecution of Christians in the 20th century that culminated in the failed assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II on 13 May 1981.  In a syndicated radio broadcast, Malachi Martin stated that the third secret "doesn't make any sense unless we accept that there will be, or that there is in progress, a wholesale apostasy amongst clerics, and laity in the Catholic Church . ". 
Because of the seriousness of its contents, in order not to encourage the world wide power of Communism to carry out certain coups, my predecessors in the chair of Peter have diplomatically preferred to withhold its publication. On the other hand, it should be sufficient for all Christians to know this much: if there is a message in which it is said that the oceans will flood entire sections of the earth that, from one moment to the other, millions of people will perish. there is no longer any point in really wanting to publish this secret message. Many want to know merely out of curiosity, or because of their taste for sensationalism, but they forget that 'to know' implies for them a responsibility. It is dangerous to want to satisfy one's curiosity only, if one is convinced that we can do nothing against a catastrophe that has been predicted." He held up his rosary and stated "Here is the remedy against this evil. Pray, pray and ask for nothing else. Put everything in the hands of the Mother of God." Asked what would happen in the Church, he said: "We must be prepared to undergo great trials in the not-too-distant future trials that will require us to be ready to give up even our lives, and a total gift of self to Christ and for Christ. Through your prayers and mine, it is possible to alleviate this tribulation, but it is no longer possible to avert it, because it is only in this way that the Church can be effectively renewed. How many times, indeed, has the renewal of the Church been effected in blood? This time, again, it will not be otherwise. We must be strong, . we must entrust ourselves to Christ and to His holy Mother, and we must be attentive, very attentive, to the prayer of the Rosary." 
According to one source, when Lúcia was asked about the third secret, she said it was "in the Gospels and in the Apocalypse", and at one point had even specified Apocalypse chapters 8 to 13, a range that includes the Book of Revelation 12:4, the chapter and verse cited by Pope John Paul II in his homily in Fátima on 13 May 2000. 
The Vatican has maintained its position that the full text of the third secret was published in June 2000. A report from the Zenit Daily Dispatch dated 20 December 2001 based on a Vatican press release, reported that Lúcia told then-Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, in an interview conducted the previous month, that the secret has been completely revealed and published, and that no secrets remain.  Bertone, along with Cardinal Ratzinger, co-authored The Message of Fatima,  the document published in June 2000 by the Vatican that contains a scanned copy of the original text of the third secret.
Bertone, who was elevated to the rank of cardinal in 2003 and held the position of Vatican Secretary of State until September 2013, wrote a book in 2007 titled The Last Secret of Fatima.  The book contains a transcribed interview between journalist Giuseppe De Carli and Bertone in which Bertone responds to various criticisms and accusations regarding the content and disclosure of the third secret. At one point in the interview, De Carli comments on an unsourced accusation that the Vatican is concealing a one-page text of the third secret which predicts a great apostasy where Rome will "lose the faith and become the throne of the Antichrist." Bertone responds as follows:
That's absolutely crazy. Look, are you claiming that the prophecy of Fatima is about the apostasy of the Church of Rome? That Fatima is a prediction of Rome's transformation into the throne of the Antichrist? Despite the love Our Lady has for the Pope and the Popes for Our Lady? Anyone can write books based on conspiracy theories, on biased interpretations. Anybody can take sentences out of context and present them as clues to some supposed plot to avoid divulging the truth and to transmit it in a code that only the initiates can understand. No, the whole theory you allude to is a fabrication. And this supposedly factual account is actually the sort of device the Masons used to invent to discredit the Church. I'm surprised that journalists and writers who claim to be Catholic let themselves be taken in. 
At another point in the interview, De Carli mentions that Cardinal Ottaviani had once stated that the third secret was written on a single sheet of paper. He also mentions that one of Lúcia's memoirs contains the words "In Portugal, the dogma of the faith will always be preserved etc", words which some believe introduce the real third secret. Describing these observations as "feeble bits of evidence that neither prove nor disprove anything", De Carli asks Cardinal Bertone about the possibility of there being two texts, where the "first document" contains the words of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the other contains the description of the vision published by the Vatican. Bertone answers in part "There is no first document. There never was any such text in the archives of the Holy Office." Bertone also says "So I'm not sure what Cardinal Ottaviani was talking about." Bertone also states that "We have the word, better, the official confirmation of Sister Lúcia: 'Is this the Third Secret, and is this the only text of it?' 'Yes, this is the Third Secret, and I never wrote any other'." 
Later on in the interview, Bertone again addresses the question as to whether a text exists with words attributed to the Blessed Virgin that was censored: "The part of the text where the Virgin speaks in the first person wasn't censored, for the simple reason that it never existed. . I'm basing my statement on Sister Lucia's own direct confirmation that the Third Secret is none other than the text that was published in the year 2000." 
In early September 2007, archbishop Loris Francesco Capovilla, private secretary to Pope John XXIII, who witnessed Pope John open the envelope of the third secret, said there was no truth in the rumor that the Vatican was suppressing a vision of the end of the world. "There are not two truths from Fatima and nor is there any fourth secret. The text which I read in 1959 is the same that was distributed by the Vatican." Capovilla is also quoted as saying "I have had enough of these conspiracy theories. It just isn't true. I read it, I presented it to the Pope and we resealed the envelope." 
On 21 September 2007 writers Antonio Socci and Solideo Paolini, who have competing books on Fatima, attempted to crash a reception at the Pontifical Urbanianum University where Bertone was to introduce his book The Last Fatima Visionary: My Meetings with Sister Lucia. They stated that they wished to participate in the question and answer part of the reception. When told that the cardinal would not be taking questions, they then tried to confront Bertone, who is the Vatican Secretary of State. Security guards hustled them out. In talking to reporters afterwards, Socci and Paolini produced a tape recording in which they claimed Archbishop Loris Francesco Capovilla, revealed that there were two texts of the third secret,  although Capovilla had stated otherwise less than two weeks before. 
The Catholic Counter-Reformation group, founded by theologian Abbé George de Nantes, takes the position that the released text is the complete third secret, but refers to Pope John Paul I rather than John Paul II, pointing out that the latter, after all, did not die when he was attacked, while the bishop in the third secret did.  John Paul I had met Lúcia Santos while he was Patriarch of Venice, and was deeply moved by the experience. In a letter to a colleague after his election, he vowed to perform the Consecration of Russia which Lúcia said Mary had asked for. 
Michael Cuneo notes "Secret messages, apocalyptic countdowns, cloak-and-dagger intrigue within the highest echelons of the Vatican: not even Hollywood could ask for better material than this". 
"To understand and appreciate Fatima is to understand and appreciate Portuguese Catholicism".  Jeffrey S. Bennett takes note of how, starting in the 1930s, the image of Our Lady of Fátima developed into a rallying point for anti-communism, an idea that spread far beyond the Iberian peninsula.  Martindale mentions a concept where the fruits of a phenomenon are more important than its historical origins. Therefore, it is possible to conceive of a vibrant cultus where the strength of the devotion, shrine, or pilgrimage, can outweigh uncertainties regarding its origin. According to Maunder, Fátima demonstrates not only how seriously Catholics took "the revelations of an enclosed nun remembering visions she had experienced at the age of ten, but also show how difficult it is for the hierarchy to manage a movement of popular piety, despite critics claims of manipulation.  Following Fátima, there would be proliferation of apocalyptic manifestations, such as at Necedah.
St. Bernadette was born in Lourdes, France on January 7, 1844. Her parents were very poor and she was the first of nine children. She was baptized at St. Pierre's, the local parish church, on January 9. As a toddler, Bernadette contracted cholera and suffered extreme asthma. Unfortunately, she lived the rest of her life in poor health.
On Thursday, February 11, 1858, fourteen-year-old Bernadette was sent with her younger sister and a friend to gather firewood, when a very beautiful lady appeared to her above a rose bush in a grotto called Massabielle (Tuta de Massavielha).
The woman wore blue and white and smiled at Bernadette before making the sign of the cross with a rosary of ivory and gold. Bernadette fell to her knees, took out her own rosary and began to pray. Bernadette later described the woman as "uo petito damizelo," meaning "a small young lady. Though her sister and friend claimed they were unable to see her, Bernadette knew what she saw was real.
Three days later, Bernadette, her sister Marie, and other girls returned to the grotto, where Bernadette immediately knelt, saying she could see "aquero" again. She fell into a trance and one girl threw holy water at the niche and another threw a rock that shattered on the ground. It was then that the apparition disappeared.
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On February 18, Bernadette said "the vision" asked her to return to the grotto each day for a fortnight. With each visit, Bernadette saw the Virgin Mary and the period of daily visions became known as "la Quinzaine sacrée," meaning "holy fortnight."
When Bernadette began to visit the grotto, her parents were embarrassed and attempted to stop her, but were unable to do so. On February 25, Bernadette claimed to have had a life-changing vision.
The vision had told her "to drink of the water of the spring, to wash in it and to eat the herb that grew there" as an act of penance. The next day, the grotto's muddy waters had been cleared and fresh clear water flowed.
On March 2, at the thirteenth of the apparitions, Bernadette told her family the lady sad "a chapel should be built and a procession formed."
During her sixteenth vision, which Bernadette claims to have experienced for over an hour, was on March 25. Bernadette claimed she had asked the woman her name, but her question was only met with a smile. Bernadette asked again, three more times, and finally the woman said, "I am the Immaculate Conception."
Though many townspeople believed she had indeed been seeing the Holy Virgin, Bernadette's story created a division in her town. Many believed she was telling the truth, while others believed she had a mental illness and demanded she be put in a mental asylum. Some believed Bernadette's visions meant she needed to pray for penance.
Church authorities and the French government rigorously interviewed the girl, and by 1862 they confirmed she spoke truth. Since Bernadette first caused the spring to produce clean water, 69 cures have been verified by the Lourdes Medical Bureau, and after what the Church claimed were "extremely rigorous scientific and medical examinations," no one was able to explain what caused the cures.
The Lourdes Commission that initially examined Bernadette, ran an analysis on the water but were only able to determine it contained a high mineral content. Bernadette believed it was faith and prayer that was responsible for curing the sick.
Bernadette asked the local priest to build a chapel at the site of her visions and the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes is now one of the major Catholic pilgrimage sites in the world. Many other chapels and churches has been built around it, including the Basilica of St. Pius X, which can accommodate 25,000 people and was dedicated by the future Pope John XXIII when he was the Papal Nuncio to France.
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Following the miracles and constructions, Bernadette decided she did not like the attention she was getting and went to the hospice school run by the Sisters of Charity of Nevers, where she was taught to read and write. Though she considered joining the Carmelites, her health was too fragile.
On July 29, 1866, Bernadette took the religious habit of a postulant and joined the Sisters of Charity at their motherhouse at Nevers. Her Mistress of Novices was Sister Marie Therese Vauzou and the Mother Superior at the time named her Marie-Bernarde, in honor of her grandmother.
Bernadette spent the rest of her life there working as an infirmary assistant, and later a sacristan. People admired her humility and spirit of sacrifice. Once a nun asked her if she had temptations of pride because she was favored by the Blessed Mother. "How can I?" she answered quickly. "The Blessed Virgin chose me only because I was the most ignorant."
Unfortunately, she was diagnosed with tuberculosis of the bone in her right knee and was unable to take part in convent life. She died in the Sainte Croix (Holy Cross) Infirmary of the Convent of Saint-Gildard at the age of 35 on April 16, 1879, while praying the holy rosary.
Even on her deathbed Bernadette suffered severe pain and, keeping with the Virgin Mary's admonition of "Penance, Penance, Penance," she proclaimed "all this is good for Heaven!" Bernadette's last words were, "Blessed Mary, Mother of God, pray for me. A poor sinner, a poor sinner."
The nuns of Saint-Gildard, with the support of the bishop of Nevers, applied to the civil authorities for permission to bury Bernadette's body in a small chapel dedicated to Saint Joseph, which was within the confines of the convent. Permission was granted on April 25, 1879, and on April 30, the local Prefect pronounced his approval of the choice of the site for burial. On May 30, 1879, Bernadette's coffin was transferred to the crypt of the chapel of Saint Joseph, where a very simple ceremony was held to commemorate the event.
Thirty years layer, on September 22, two doctors and a sister of the community exhumed her body. They claimed the crucifix and rosary she carried had been oxidized but her body remained incorrupt. The incorruption was cited as one of the miracles supporting her canonization.
The group washed and redressed Bernadette's body then buried it in a new double casket. The Church exhumed her body again on April 3, 1919, and the doctor who examined her said, "The body is practically mummified, covered with patches of mildew and quite a notable layer of salts, which appear to be calcium salts . The skin has disappeared in some places, but it is still present on most parts of the body."
In 1925, Bernadette's body was exhumed yet again. This time relics were sent to Rome and an imprint of her face was molded, which was used to create a wax mask to be placed on her body. There were also imprints of her hands to be used for the presentation of her body, which was placed in a gold and crystal reliquary in the Chapel of Saint Bernadette at the mother house in Nevers.
In 1928, Doctor Comte published a report on Bernadette's exhumation in the second issue of the Bulletin de I'Association medicale de Notre-Dame de Lourdes, where he wrote:
"I would have liked to open the left side of the thorax to take the ribs as relics and then remove the heart which I am certain must have survived. However, as the trunk was slightly supported on the left arm, it would have been rather difficult to try and get at the heart without doing too much noticeable damage.
"As the Mother Superior had expressed a desire for the Saint's heart to be kept together with the whole body, and as Monsignor the Bishop did not insist, I gave up the idea of opening the left-hand side of the thorax and contented myself with removing the two right ribs which were more accessible.
"What struck me during this examination, of course, was the state of perfect preservation of the skeleton, the fibrous tissues of the muscles (still supple and firm), of the ligaments, and of the skin, and above all the totally unexpected state of the liver after 46 years. One would have thought that this organ, which is basically soft and inclined to crumble, would have decomposed very rapidly or would have hardened to a chalky consistency. Yet, when it was cut it was soft and almost normal in consistency. I pointed this out to those present, remarking that this did not seem to be a natural phenomenon."
Saint Bernadette is often depicted in prayer with a rosary or appealing to the Holy Virgin. She was beatified in 1925 and canonized by Pope Piuis XI in December 1933. Saint Bernadette is the patroness of illness, people ridiculed for their piety, poverty, shepherds, shepherdesses, and Lourdes, France.
1. Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal
While many Catholics wear the brown scapular or a crucifix around their necks, another popular sacramental that has been in use for almost two hundred years is the Miraculous Medal. In 1830, the Mother of God appeared to a twenty-four year old woman. Her name was St. Catherine Labouré. She had recently joined the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul at their mother house in Rue du Bacin, Paris. On the eve of St. Vincent de Paul’s feast day, July 18, a child—shining with a dazzling light—awoke her and told her that Our Lady was in the chapel awaiting her.
When St. Catherine arrived in the chapel, she heard the rustling of a silk dress. She looked to see the Virgin Mary near the altar. St. Catherine immediately leapt to her side and rested her hands on Our Lady’s knees. The two of them spoke for over two hours. She later recounted that:
“There, a period of time passed, the sweetest of my life. It would be impossible for me to say what I experienced.”
Our Lady would appear to St. Catherine on two more occasions, and during these apparitions, she made it clear that she desired to dispense many graces upon the faithful, only if they might ask. Our Lady would appear at one point with beams of light coming forth from gems on the ring which she wore on her finger. However, some of the gem did not glow. The message Our Lady gave to St. Catherine was this:
“These rays symbolize the graces I shed upon those who ask for them. The gems from which rays do not fall are the graces for which souls forget to ask.”
How important, then, it is to pray for the intercession of our Blessed Mother! After this, the image we see on the Miraculous Medal appeared, with Our Lady telling St. Catherine to have the medal struck as soon as possible. She promised:
“All who wear it will receive great graces they should wear it around the neck. Graces will abound for persons who wear it with confidence.”
To this day, graces abound for those that have received this precious medal as their own.
Some visions predate the Protestant Reformation, yet among Christian denominations, the Catholic Church has made more formal comments on visions of Jesus and Mary. Author Michael Freze argues that Catholic practices such as Eucharistic adoration, rosary devotions and contemplative meditation with a focus on interior life facilitate visions and apparitions. 
In recent centuries, people reporting visions of Jesus and Mary have been of diverse backgrounds: laity and clergy, young and old, Catholics and Protestants, the devout and the previously non-believing.  Visions should also be differentiated from interior locutions such as those purportedly experienced by Consolata Betrone, in which inner voices are reported, but no visual or physical contact is claimed.
Vatican guidelines Edit
The Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican has published a detailed set of steps for "Judging Alleged Apparitions and Revelations" that claim supernatural origin.  As a historical pattern, Vatican approval seems to have followed general acceptance of a vision by well over a century in most cases. The reported visions of Jesus and Mary by Benoîte Rencurel in Saint-Étienne-le-Laus in France from 1664 to 1718 were only recognized by the Holy See in May 2008, making them the first Marian apparitions and visions of Jesus to be approved in the 21st century. According to Father Salvatore M. Perrella of the Mariunum Pontifical Institute in Rome, this is the 12th Marian apparition approved by the Holy See from a total of 295 that have been studied through the centuries.  
Many visions of Jesus following his ascension have been reported after the Book of Revelation was written. But the Book of Revelation itself specifically mentions the case of “false prophets” (Rev 19:20) and undoubtedly not everyone claiming to converse with Jesus can be believed. Over the years, a number of people claiming to converse with Jesus for the sake of monetary gain have been exposed. A well-known example was Protestant televangelist Peter Popoff who often claimed to receive messages from God to heal people on stage. Popoff was exposed in 1987 when intercepted messages from his wife to a small radio receiver hidden in his ear were replayed on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.  
Another example is messages from Jesus reported by Catalina Rivas, which have been exposed in a number of cases as less than truthful.  A number of messages which Rivas reported as having been received from God were later found to correspond to exact pages of books previously written by other authors (e.g. José Prado Flores), and published instructional literature for Catholic seminarians. 
Some reported messages from Mary have also involved controversy. Reported Marian messages from Veronica Lueken were declared invalid by Bishop Francis Mugavero of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn  and reports of Our Lady of Surbiton claiming that Mary appeared every day under a pine tree in England were flatly rejected by the Vatican as a fraud. 
The Catholic Church has, at times, taken a harsh view of some people who have claimed religious visions. In December 1906, during the reign of Pope Pius X the former Polish nun Feliksa Kozlowska became the first woman in history to be excommunicated by name as a heretic. Some visions of Jesus have simply been classified as hallucinations by the Church, while in a few cases the Church has chosen to remain silent on the authenticity of claimed visions.
Despite the expected controversies, post-Ascension visions of Jesus and the Virgin Mary have, in fact, played a key role in the direction of the Catholic Church, e.g. the formation of the Franciscan order and the devotions to the Holy Rosary, the Holy Face of Jesus and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Key elements of modern Roman Catholic Mariology have been influenced by visions reported by children at Lourdes and Fátima.
Reported messages from Jesus have also influenced papal actions and encyclicals. For instance, the 1899 consecration of the world to the Sacred Heart of Jesus by Pope Leo XIII in the encyclical Annum sacrum was due to the messages from Jesus reported by a Sister of the Good Shepherd, Blessed Mary of the Divine Heart Droste zu Vischering. Pope Leo XIII performed the requested consecration a few days after the death of Sister Mary and called it "the greatest act of my pontificate". 
Also Blessed Alexandrina of Balazar, in Portugal, reported many private apparitions, messages and prophecies received directly from Jesus and the Virgin Mary. In June 1938, based on the request of her spiritual director Father Mariano Pinho, several bishops from Portugal wrote to Pope Pius XI, asking him to consecrate the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. At that time Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli (later Pope Pius XII) was the secretary of the state of the Vatican, and he later performed the consecration of the world. 
Churches and sanctuaries built based on reported visions of Jesus and Mary attract many millions of pilgrims each year. According to Bishop Francesco Giogia the majority of the most visited Catholic shrines in the world are vision based, in that with about 10 million pilgrims, the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, in Mexico City, was the most visited Catholic shrine in the world in 1999,  now followed by the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima, in Cova da Iria, Portugal, with between 6 and 8 million pilgrims per year.   The Padre Pio of Pietrelcina's sanctuary in San Giovanni Rotondo, in Italy, and the Basilica of Our Lady of Aparecida in Brazil, received each about 6 to 7 million pilgrims per year,   followed by the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes, in France, with 5 million visitors per year.
Some of the reported visions of Jesus simply fade away by virtue of predictions that fail to materialize. On the other hand, some predictions based on visions continue to gather interest decades after they were made. Messages from Jesus reported by John Leary in Rochester, New York, in 1999 had predicted that Pope John Paul II would be forced out of Rome and sent into exile amid chaos. Bishop Matthew Clark of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester disallowed these messages at the time with the election of Pope Benedict XVI the debate about the validity of these messages seems to have been rendered moot.
On August 19, 1982, some teenagers in Kibeho, Rwanda reported visions of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ, as Our Lady of Kibeho. The teenagers reported truly gruesome sights such as rivers of blood and the visions were accompanied by intense reactions: crying, tremors, and comas. Some today regard the visions as an ominous prediction of the Rwandan genocide of 1994, and particularly in that specific location in 1995 in which some of the teenagers died a decade after their vision. The apparitions were approved by the local Roman Catholic bishop and later by the Holy See.   
The Bible includes primarily pre-Ascension visions of Jesus, except for the vision of Christ by Saint Stephen just before his death (Acts 7:55), and the conversation between Jesus and Saint Ananias in Damascus in which Saint Ananias is ordered to heal Saint Paul (Acts 9:10-18).  The Damascus appearance is the last reported vision of Jesus in the Bible until the Book of Revelation was written. However, in the following centuries, many saints reported visions of both Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary.
In 1205, while praying in the Church of San Damiano just outside Assisi, Saint Francis of Assisi reported a vision in which an image of Jesus came alive and told him: "Francis, Francis, go and repair My house which, as you can see, is falling into ruins." This vision lead Saint Francis to renounce the outlook of his merchant family, embrace poverty and form the Franciscan order. The Franciscans became a key force in the renewal of the reach of Christianity. During another vision in 1224 Saint Francis reportedly received the very first recorded case of stigmata.
Starting in 1208, Saint Juliana of Liege had visions of Christ which she kept a secret for almost 20 years. In these visions she was reportedly told to institute a solemn feast for the Blessed Sacrament as the Body of Christ. When she eventually reported her visions to her confessor, the information was relayed to the bishop. Years later, in 1264, in the papal bull Transiturus de hoc mundo Pope Urban IV (who was formerly the Archdeacon of Liege) formally declared the feast of Corpus Christi as the first papally sanctioned universal feast for the Latin Rite.  However, in the meantime, due to a conflict with a local church official, she was driven out of Liege and lived in seclusion at Fosses-la-Ville until she died. On her deathbed she asked for her confessor, supposedly to reveal to him some secrets regarding her visions. But neither he nor any of her friends from Liege arrived and other secrets regarding her visions remain unknown. 
The Blessed Virgin Mary is traditionally said to have appeared to the English Carmelite priest St. Simon Stock in 1251, and given him the Carmelite habit, the Brown Scapular.
Saint Catherine of Siena was a withdrawn Dominican tertiary who lived, fasted and prayed at home in Siena Italy. In 1366, when she was 19 years old she reported her first vision of Jesus after which she started to tend to the sick and the poor. In 1370 she reported a vision in which she was commanded to abandon her life of solitude and to make an impact on the world. She corresponded with Pope Gregory XI and other people in authority, begging for peace and for the reformation of the clergy, writing over 300 letters. Her arguments, and her trip to Avignon, eventually became instrumental in the decision of Pope Gregory XI to return the Avignon Papacy to Rome where she was summoned to live until her death. She is one of only three female Doctors of the Church.
In 1372, the English anchorite and saint, Julian of Norwich was on her deathbed and had been given her last rites when she reported a series of visions of Jesus, followed by a sudden recovery. Almost twenty years later she wrote about these visions in her book "Revelations of Divine Love” perhaps the first book in the English language written by a woman, presumably because she was unfamiliar with Latin. Her book mentions her illness and her recovery as she saw the shining image of Christ. The sixteen revelations start with the crown of thorns and proceed through the death of Jesus, ending with his resurrection and how Christ still dwells in the souls of those who love him. She is celebrated in the Anglican Church.
On St. Peter's Day in 1559, Saint Teresa of Avila (Teresa de Jesús) reported a vision of Jesus present to her in bodily form. For almost two years thereafter she reported similar visions. Saint Teresa's visions transformed her life and she became a key figure in the Catholic Church eventually being recognized as one of only three female Doctors of the Church. One of her visions is the subject of Bernini's famous work The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa in the basilica of Santa Maria della Vittoria, Rome.
In the early 17th century, Venerable María de Jesús de Ágreda reported a number of mystical experiences, visions and conversations with the Blessed Virgin Mary. She stated that the Blessed Virgin had inspired and dictated passages in the book Mystical City of God as a biography of the Virgin Mary. The book Mystical City of God is still frequently studied in college and university programs of Spanish language and culture. However, the book (which makes a number of somewhat unusual claims) has remained controversial within the Roman Catholic church, having been banned and restored a number of times, and her process of beatification (started in 1673) has not been completed.  
From 1673 to 1675, Saint Marguerite Marie Alacoque recounted a series of visions of Christ speaking to her. In December 1673 she reported that Jesus permitted her to rest her head upon his heart, and then disclosed to her the wonders of his love. This led her to the founding of the Devotion of the Sacred Heart. Initially, her life, actions, beliefs and writings became the subject of extreme scrutiny by the Catholic Church. However, she was eventually declared a saint in 1920 and the Feast of the Sacred Heart is now officially celebrated 19 days after Pentecost.
At her profession as a Capuchin Poor Clare nun in 1678, Saint Veronica Giuliani expressed a great desire to suffer in union with the crucified Jesus for the conversion of sinners.  Shortly after that time she reported a series of vision of Jesus and the Virgin Mary that lasted a number of years. She reported a vision of Christ bearing his cross and of the chalice symbolizing the Passion of Christ. On Good Friday 1697 she received the five wounds of Christ as stigmata. 
Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich was a German Augustinian nun who lived from 1774 to 1824. She was bedridden as of 1813 and is said to have had visible stigmata which would reopen on Good Friday. She reported that since childhood she had visions in which she talked with Jesus. In 1819 the poet Clemens Brentano was inspired to visit her and began to write her visions in his words, with her approval. In 1833, after her death, the book The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ was released by Brentano and was used in part by Mel Gibson for his movie The Passion of the Christ in 2004. In 1852 the book The Life of The Blessed Virgin Mary was published. Emmerich's visions allegedly led a French priest Abbé Julien Gouyet to discover a house near Ephesus in Turkey in 1881. This house is assumed by some Catholics and some Muslims to be the House of the Virgin Mary. The Holy See has taken no official position on the authenticity of the discovery yet, but in 1896 Pope Leo XIII visited it and in 1951 Pope Pius XII initially declared the house a Holy Place. Pope John XXIII later made the declaration permanent. Pope Paul VI in 1967, Pope John Paul II in 1979 and Pope Benedict XVI in 2006 visited the house.
In 1820, Joseph Smith, Jr., founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, reported that the Father and the Son appeared to him in a vision in the woods near his home in rural New York. This led to a series of other manifestations through which he claimed to receive divine instruction, authority, and power to restore the true Church of Jesus Christ to the world. He also claimed to receive a vision of Jesus while in the Kirtland Temple on April 3, 1836. His record of the revelation has since become known as the 110th section of the Doctrine and Covenants. 
In 1843 Sister Marie of St Peter, a Carmelite nun in Tours, France reported visions of conversations with Jesus and the Virgin Mary in which she was urged to spread the devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus, in reparation for the many insults Jesus suffered in his Passion. This resulted in the Golden Arrow Prayer.  The devotion was further spread from Tours partly by the efforts of the Venerable Leo Dupont (also called the Apostle of the Holy Face) and influenced Saint Therese of Lisieux. 
In December 1844, Ellen Gould Harmon (later married name White), co-founder of the Seventh Day Adventist movement, while kneeling at a prayer meeting at the house of Mrs. Haines on Ocean Street in South Portland, Maine, experienced a vision of Jesus Christ. Ellen felt the power of God come upon her and was soon lost to her surroundings. She experienced over one hundred visions which she published as broadside, letters, or incorporated into her religious writings. The Seventh-day Adventist Church, which by 2000 had 18 million modern world-wide followers, is based largely on her interpretations of Christian subjects found in her numerous writings. She was one of the most prolific American women of the nineteenth century, while founding numerous schools, hospitals, medical centers and universities. The Smithsonian Magazine has named her as one of the most significant Americans of all time. 
In 1858 Saint Bernadette Soubirous was a 14-year-old shepherd girl who lived near the town of Lourdes in France. One day she reported a vision of a miraculous Lady who identified Herself as the Virgin Mary in subsequent visions.  In the first vision she was asked to return again and she had 18 visions overall. Eventually, a number of chapels and churches were built at Lourdes as the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes - which is now a major Catholic pilgrimage site. One of these churches, the Basilica of St. Pius X can accommodate 25 thousand people and was dedicated by the future Pope John XXIII when he was the Papal Nuncio to France.
In 1866 Venerable Marie Martha Chambon began to report visions of Jesus telling her to contemplate the Holy Wounds, although it is said that she had received her first vision when only five years old.  She was a member of the Monastery of the Visitation Order who lived in Chambéry, France, and is in the process of canonization by the Roman Catholic Church.
In 1899 Saint Gemma Galgani reported a vision of Jesus after which she experienced recurring stigmata. She reported the vision as follows: “At that moment Jesus appeared with all his wounds open, but from these wounds there no longer came forth blood, but flames of fire. In an instant these flames came to touch my hands, my feet and my heart.” Thereafter she reported receiving the stigmata every week from Thursday night to Saturday morning, during which time she also reported further conversations with Jesus. The Congregation of Rites has so far refrained from making a decision on her stigmata.
The Franciscan Italian priest Saint Pio of Pietrelcina reported visions of both Jesus and Mary as early as 1910. For a number of years he claimed to have experienced deep ecstasy along with his visions. In 1918, while praying in the Church of Our Lady of Grace he reported ecstasy and visions which this time left him with permanent and visible stigmata, the five wounds of Christ. The stigmata remained visible on his hands and feet for the next fifty years.
In 1916, during World War I, Claire Ferchaud — a religious Sister Claire of Jesus Crucified — lived in the Convent of the ‘Rinfilières’ at Loublande, France. At that time, she claimed to have been given a vision of Christ himself showing his heart "slashed by the sins of mankind" and crossed by a deeper wound still, atheism. On 12 March 1920, however, a decree of the Holy Office disavowed her revelations and stated that belief in the visions of Loublande could not be approved. The Archbishop of Paris, Cardinal Léon-Adolphe Amette declared that regretfully he was unable to discover a supernatural inspiration in her statements. 
The visions of the Virgin Mary appearing to three shepherd children at Fátima, Portugal, in 1917 were declared "worthy of belief" by the Catholic Church in 1930 but Catholics at large are not formally required to believe them. However, seven popes — Pius XII, John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis — have supported the Fátima messages as supernatural. John Paul I met with Sister Lúcia on July 11, 1977 while he was still Cardinal Patriarch of Venice. He reported being deeply moved by the experience, and vowed to perform the Consecration of Russia as Lucia said Mary had asked.  Pope John Paul II was particularly attached to Fátima and credited Our Lady of Fátima with saving his life after he was shot in Rome on the Feast Day of Our Lady of Fátima in May 1981. He donated the bullet that wounded him on that day to the Roman Catholic Sanctuary of Fátima, in Portugal. Every year on May 13 and October 13, the significant dates of Fátima apparitions, pilgrims fill the country road that leads to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima with crowds that approach one million on each day. 
The Holy See has, at times, reversed its position on some visions. In 1931 Saint Faustina Kowalska reported visions of a conversation with Jesus when she was a Polish nun. This resulted in the Chaplet of Divine Mercy as a prayer and later an institution which was condemned by the Holy See in 1958. However, further investigation resulted in her beatification in 1993 and canonization in 2000. Her conversations with Jesus are recorded in her diary, published as "Divine Mercy in My Soul" - passages from which are at times quoted by the Vatican. Divine Mercy Sunday is now officially celebrated as the first Sunday after Easter.
On the first Friday in Lent 1936, Sister Maria Pierina De Micheli, a nun born near Milan in Italy, reported a vision in which Jesus told her: “I will that My Face, which reflects the intimate pains of My Spirit, the suffering and the love of My Heart, be more honored. He who meditates upon Me, consoles Me”. Further visions reportedly urged her to make a medal with the Holy Face. In 1958, Pope Pius XII confirmed the Feast of the Holy Face of Jesus as Shrove Tuesday (the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday) for all Roman Catholics. Maria Pierina De Micheli was beatified by Benedict XVI in 2009. 
From 1944 to 1947 the bed ridden Italian writer and mystic Maria Valtorta produced 15,000 handwritten pages of text that she said recorded the visions of her conversations with Jesus about his life and the early church. These pages became the basis of her book The Poem of the Man God. The Catholic Church placed it on the Index of Forbidden Books. While the Index no longer exists, the then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger stated in a letter of January 31, 1995 that the condemnation still "retains its moral force", and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith declared that the visions "cannot be considered supernatural in origin."
Between 1972 and 1978, Jesus Christ is said to have appeared 49 times in Dozulé to Madeleine Aumont,   a mother of five children, in the presence of her parish priest Victor L’Horset and other faithful people, and is believed to have dictated a series of messages, containing teachings and of warnings for all people, according to those who believe in them. Among them is the daily «Prayer of Dozulé».  The messages are seen as an annunciation of the return of Christ. The followers of the messages of Dozulé believe also that they are the continuation of the Three Secrets of Fátima and that they ask, for the conversion of humanity to avoid a material and spiritual catastrophe.
Among recent visions, the reported apparitions of The Virgin Mary to six children in Međugorje in 1981 have received the widest amount of attention. The messages of Our Lady of Međugorje have a very strong following among Catholics worldwide. The Holy See has never officially either approved or disapproved of the messages of Međugorje, although both critical and supportive documents about the messages have been published by various Catholic figures.
For several decades, Sister Agnes Katsuko Sasagawa had encountered many health problems but her health reportedly improved after drinking water from Lourdes. After going totally deaf, she went to live with the nuns in the remote area of Yuzawadai, near the city of Akita. In 1973 she reported messages from the Virgin Mary, as well as stigmata. These purported visions are known as Our Lady of Akita. On April 22, 1984, after eight years of investigations, Rev. John Shojiro Ito, Bishop of Niigata, Japan, recognized "the supernatural character of a series of mysterious events concerning the statue of the Holy Mother Mary" and authorizes "throughout the entire diocese, the veneration of the Holy Mother of Akita, while awaiting that the Holy See publishes definitive judgment on this matter." 
As recently as 1985 other people such as Vassula Ryden have reported conversations of theirs with Jesus in their books, resulting in interest, discussion and controversy. Ryden's reported conversations with Jesus are published in a series of books called “True Life in God” and have been translated into over 40 languages by volunteers worldwide. In a 1995 notification the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, while recognizing some positive aspects of Ryden's activities, declared that their negative effects meant that dioceses should not provide opportunities for spreading her ideas and that Catholics should not consider her writings to be supernatural.  A further letter from the Congregation written on January 25, 2007, by the new Prefect Cardinal William Levada and this time sent worldwide to all the Catholic episcopal conferences, confirmed the 1995 negative doctrinal evaluation of the writings of which it spoke stated that, in view of the clarifications offered, a case by case judgement should be passed on the possibility for Catholics to read her writings "presented not as divine revelations but rather as her personal meditations" and declared it inappropriate for Catholics to participate in her prayer groups. 
In the book Visions of Jesus Phillip Wiebe chronicled the stories of 30 people from truly diverse backgrounds who claim to have had recent conversations with Jesus. Wiebe analyzed these claims from multiple perspectives, including hallucinations, dreams and real visions. 
Visions vs dictations Edit
Some visionaries merely report conversations and images while others also produce large amounts of handwritten notes. Saint Julian of Norwich wrote a book based on her reported visions, the book was written 20 years after her first vision and she did not declare it to be a dictation. At the other end of the spectrum is the case of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich who narrated her messages to Klemens Brentano, who transcribed them in his own words. Another case was that of Sister Consolata Betrone who would repeat her reported conversations with Jesus to her confessor Father Lorenzo Sales. After her death, Father Sales wrote the book "Jesus Appeals to the World" based on her reported messages. 
There have been other mystics who have produced large volumes of text, but considered them meditations rather than visions or interior locutions. For instance, the Venerable Concepcion Cabrera de Armida's over 60,000 pages of text were never represented as visions, but as her own meditations, often in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, during Eucharistic Adoration.
Physical marks Edit
Some visionaries report receiving physical signs on their bodies. Saint Francis of Assisi was one of the first reported cases of stigmata, but the best known recent example is a Capuchin, Saint Padre Pio, one of several Franciscans in history with reported stigmata. 
Physical contact Edit
Some visionaries have reported physical contact with Jesus. The Bible suggests that post-resurrection (yet pre-ascension) physical contact with Jesus is possible, for in John 21:17 Jesus told Saint Mary Magdalene: ”Don’t touch Me for I have not yet ascended to the Father”. In John 20:27 Jesus ordered Saint Thomas the Apostle: “Put your hand into My side”. But the Bible does not mention if Saint Thomas followed that command. Saint Marguerite Marie Alacoque reported putting her head on the heart of Jesus. [ citation needed ]
Physical artifacts Edit
Some visionaries produce artifacts based on their reported visions, although this is rare. In 1531, Saint Juan Diego reported an early morning vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary in which he was instructed to build an abbey on the Hill of Tepeyac in Mexico. The local prelate did not believe his account and asked for a miraculous sign, which was later provided as an icon of Our Lady of Guadalupe permanently imprinted on the saint's cloak where he had gathered roses. Over the years, Our Lady of Guadalupe became a symbol of the Catholic faith in Mexico. By 1820 when the Mexican War of Independence from Spanish colonial rule ended Our Lady of Guadalupe had come to symbolize the Mexican nation. Today it remains a strong national and religious symbol in Mexico.
St. Bernadette claims to see the Virgin Mary - HISTORY
One day, the Lady told the girl to drink of a mysterious fountain within the grotto itself, the existence of which was unknown, and of which there was no sign. But Bernadette scratched at the ground, and a spring immediately bubbled up and soon gushed forth.
On another occasion the apparition bade Bernadette go and tell the priests she wished a chapel to be built on the spot and processions to be made to the grotto. At first the clergy were incredulous. The priest said he would not believe it unless the apparition gave Bernadette her name.
After another apparition, Bernadette reported that the Lady told her, “I am the Immaculate Conception”. Though the girl was unfamiliar with the term, the Pope had declared the doctrine of the immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary in 1854. Four years after Bernadette’s visions, in 1862, the bishop of the diocese declared the faithful “justified in believing the reality of the apparition” of Our Lady.
A basilica was built upon the rock of Massabielle by M. Peyramale, the parish priest. In 1873 the great “national” French pilgrimages were inaugurated. Three years later the basilica was consecrated and the statue solemnly crowned. In 1883 the foundation stone of another church was laid, as the first was no longer large enough. It was built at the foot of the basilica and was consecrated in 1901 and called the Church of the Rosary. Pope Leo XIII authorized a special office and a Mass, in commemoration of the apparition, and in 1907 Pius X extended the observance of this feast to the entire Church it is now observed on February 11.
(Various sources principal source – Catholic Encyclopedia – 1913 edition)
If you have never seen the movie “The Song of Bernadette” from the 1940s, I recommend you do so. It can be rented. It was made by a Jewish man who made a promise to Our Lady at Lourdes that if he would survive and escape the horrors of WWII Europe, he would tell the story of St. Bernadette and Our Lady of Lourdes. He did survive and he kept his promise and the Oscar winning movie was made. This is a video that you never forget.