The other day we received photos of a celebration in Belpasso, Sicily, at the site of alleged apparitions between late 1986 and early 1988 — just over a year of them.
The seer was one Rosario Toscano, fifteen at the time of the apparitions, which were followed by a series of reputed locutions.
The celebration, apparently held at the last anniversary, was led by His Excellency Luigi Bonmarito, the Archbishop of Catania [pictured above], who had blessed a statue called “Our Lady of the Belpasso Rock” (the Blessed Mother allegedly appeared on a boulder) and consecrated the chapel as a Marian sanctuary in Belpasso back in January of 2000 — attaching the Jubilee indulgence to it.
The archbishop, even when he was a regular bishop, had a devotion to the site, visiting the rock and meeting with Rosario, who impressed him as complaisant, “humble,” and “really clean.”
That blessing of a chapel and certainly the indulgence are tantamount to tacit or partial approval (as of course is the willingness of the archbishop to process and hold Mass there, which he also did in 2000 when the chapel was consecrated).
Ironically, when, on August 12, 1987, the Blessed Mother is said to have appeared at Acireale (Catania), it was in the church of St. Philip Neri Oratory (today we celebrate the feast of Saint Philip Neri; his picture is below).
At that time she kept her hands clasped, notes a report. “Only at the end of her message, when uttering the words ‘Prayer, reparation, penitence,’ she separated her hands, and, pronouncing the three words, she lifted her hands progressively (as when one beckons a person to rise): in the meantime, her Immaculate Heart appeared.”
It’s the second time in a week that a bishop has expressed strong support for an apparition with serious messages (the other: San Nicolas in Argentina).
Still, there has been no formal pastoral letter of which we are aware; on May 11, 2011, the archbishop mentioned that he was discerning the messages.
Has his recent presence indicated that they have passed muster with him? We will seek to find out.
The apparitions began, in the strict sense of the term apparition (as opposed to visions or locutions), on November 05, 1986, a Sunday, and ended January 5, 1988, according to a website. The locutions, which both preceded and follow the apparitions, meanwhile, were not interior ones but auditory or auricular — heard in the actual ear.
On one occasion (May 11, 1990) a large cross reportedly appeared in the sky, seen by many.
It was an interesting series of apparitions for several reasons. One is the claim by Rosario that the Blessed Mother spread her hands as at Fatima and the ground opened up, revealing a vision of hell.
Another is that while the apparitions halted in 1988, Rosario was promised one final last one, the time of which no one knows, or at least the seer hasn’t revealed. There were thirty-two apparitions, and then the locutions.
Rosario, described as a shy man who is reluctant to speak, has indicated that he was given twelve secrets, two of them personal, the other ten for the world, including descriptions of a “grave” coming chastisement.
It is reported that the apparition warned against “spiritual idleness,” seeking “gratifications of the world,” and said “there are most serious chastisements for mankind”: that the world, as we have heard so many times, was in a period of mercy, but approaching justice.
This of course is a common theme of many private revelations, although the early date of this one — in the mid-1980s, before an explosion of similar claims worldwide — makes it interesting.
“That the contents of the secrets are grave and serious is a fact we can gather from several points,” notes the website. “On November 5, 1987, it is reported, Rosario stated that ‘Many have asked themselves whether these disagreeable events are to be very sorrowful. Just know that I cried for weeks, and maybe I wouldn’t have peace any more if the Heart of our Mother hadn’t consoled me and the Grace of Our Lord hadn’t assisted me.'” For your discernment.
The Blessed Virgin, we are told, was barefooted, her partly visible feet set on a “dense”cloud. Her complexion was said to be light, somewhat rosy on the cheekbones; hair, auburn, but with a slightly reddish reflection (“like the shades in chestnuts”), her eyes intensely azure and resembling “sapphires” (as seen sometimes in the sea, especially around places such as Sicily).
As for her heart, that was depicted in the classic image of red and encirclement by thorns. The heart of Mary seemed to be embedded, it was said, in a thicket, with a flame over it. Her entire heart emitted a light that was “intense, penetrating and all encompassing” (again, to quote the website).
The secrets contain events that will gradually increase their intensity, the website reports. “Rosario says the seventh secret will be realized when the unpleasant ‘disagreeable events’ are ready to reach their peak (report of 11/05/91). As far as the seventh secret is concerned, we know it has been modified (at Medjugorje they say it has been attenuated): ‘Tell everybody the seventh secret won’t be realized anymore; it will be replaced by another event, which will be pleasing for all the people of God scattered all over the earth’ (01/03/88).
The Holy Virgin doesn’t say the seventh secret doesn’t exist any more: she says it was ‘replaced’ by something else. Furthermore, she does not even say that the substitutive event will be agreeable to all, but only to ‘all the people of God scattered all over the earth.’
Rosario has given further explanations on 11/05/91. He knows he ought to give explanations, but he is afraid of creating panic and alarm, so he takes every care and precaution not to stir up only sadness, but to give hope too.
Rosario says, “Not only will Our Lady warn everybody, through me, before all this occurs, but she will come to protect us and encourage us when the trial is tougher, making me reveal the seventh secret, the secret of Mercy.”
This means the seventh secret’s disclosure will include indications, following which, presumably, we will be protected and supported for the entire duration of the event: and that’s the reason why the event won’t be agreeable to everybody.
Rosario, it is said, will give his Bishop a warning (in writing) of each secret in advance of their materialization. Mary has requested from us, “Prayer, reparation, penitence.” Chastisements can be lessened — through prayer, through purity, through fasting, through penance.
[Footnote from the website on the alleged secrets: “On March 1988 I asked Rosario whether, among the secrets, there was one that comprised a permanent sign that the Blessed Virgin would have left at Belpasso (she had made this promise on 01/01/87 with these words: “I will give a sign as a proof of my apparitions“). On that occasion Rosario was unable to reply. But in her last message Our Lady has stated the sign she has promised will be simply the announcement of the future events the secrets contain. When I asked that question, I was thinking of the permanent sign that Mary promised she will leave at Medjugorje, and that belongs to the ten Medjugorje secrets. From Rosario’s reply and from what the Blessed Virgin says at Belpasso, one can surmise that, at least from this point of view, the Medjugorje secrets are not identical with the Belpasso secrets.
“After that, I asked Rosario whether, among the secrets, there was one that concerned Belpasso itself, and Rosario replied there was. On this subject, recently, while giving explanations on the seventh secret, Rosario dispelled my last doubts declaring. “Among the secrets there is one that concerns Belpasso; more precisely, one that gives a hint about things that concern Belpasso, but we cannot define it a sign. However, the Blessed Virgin will make use of a prophecy to give us a sign (01/05/88): and, since the secret about Belpasso concerns future events, only from this point of view can we call it a sign.”
“We also have to say, concerning the secrets, that at Belpasso something like a combination between Fatima and Medjugorje will occur. The contents of the secrets will be delivered in writing to the local Bishop (a few at a time). Each document Rosario will give his Bishop will meticulously describe the events to come. The warning by Rosario will, instead, be a generic one, and will precede the events by a certain period of time. Rosario will say, more or less: “Be prepared, get ready, because the realization of such and such a secret is imminent”. The proof will be in the document received by the Bishop.”]