The astonishing apparitions in Nicaragua: an untold story
Somehow, in the rush of modern life, in the avalanche of alleged Catholic phenomena in the past two decades, we lost site of a gem at our doorstep.
It involves apparitions that allegedly occurred during 1980 in Cuapa, Nicaragua, and it’s no small story.
First is the fact that the apparitions, to a humble sacristan named Bernardo Martinez, received the endorsement of Monsignor Pablo Antonio of Juigalpa, the local bishop — a rare event in an era when the majority of such claims are rejected or ignored.
It joins two other Latin American apparitions (Betania, Venezuela and San Nicolas, Argentina) in at least partial ecclesiastical acceptance, and indicates a willingness to embrace the supernatural in Spanish-speaking areas that is missing from the modern scientific terrain of North America.
Although there are messages that have received imprimaturs, only one apparition has been officially approved in the United States since the nation’s foundation.
After the apparitions, in 1995, by what he described as a precious gift of the Blessed Virgin, Bernardo, at 64 years old, was ordained priest in the Cathedral of León, Nicaragua, by Bishop Bosco Vivas. He died as a holy priest in 2000.
The second significant fact is in what the Nicaraguan apparition allegedly said.
Like messages in Argentina, the Nicaraguan revelations contained a warning that mankind if people did not come back to loving each other and God, mankind would experience a terrific war and natural disasters.
Cuapa is a small valley in the Chontales Mountains where most people work on small cattle ranches. Here, on the night of April 15, 1980, Martinez first saw a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary illuminate and at first thought it was light coming from a hole in the roof.
“The light was not coming out of anything,” said Martinez. “The light came from her. That was a great mystery for me: with the light that came from her, one could walk without tripping.”
Soon Martinez saw Mary in several dreams and apparitions. The visions took on the aspect of both Our Lady of Fatima (with one event occurring on the Fatima feast day of October 13), and Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal (grace streaming from the Virgin’s hands).
As at Fatima and Medjugorje, her feet were on a cloud.
“Covering her was a veil of a pale cream color with gold embroidery along the edge,” said Martinez. “The rays that came from her hands touched my breast.”
The Virgin gave Father Martinez a number of profound spiritual lessons.
For instance she advised that the Lord did not like prayers made in a rush or ones that were recited mechanically.
She recommended the Rosary with the reading of biblical citations (the Scriptural Rosary) and First Saturday devotions (Confession and Communion on the first Saturday of each month). She also urged the faithful to read the Word of God — and put it into practice.
“Love each other,” Martinez quoted Mary as saying. “Fulfill your obligations. Make peace. Don’t ask Our Lord for peace because if you do not make it there will be no peace.
“Nicaragua has suffered much since the earthquake [in the 1970s]. She is threatened with even more suffering. She will continue to suffer if you don’t change.
“Pray, pray the Rosary for all the world, my son,” the Virgin said. “Tell believers and nonbelievers that the world is threatened by grave dangers. I ask the Lord to appease His justice, but if you don’t change you will hasten the arrival of a third world war.”
It’s unclear if the war mentioned at Cuapa was the same alluded to at other apparitions.
At Fatima Sister Lucia dos Santos reportedly said a consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary by the Pope in 1984 prevented a nuclear war from occurring in 1985.
The threat of war was also mentioned in the 1980s at Medjugorje while at San Nicolas in Argentina — more than 3,000 miles south of Nicaragua — an alleged seer named Gladys Quiroga said she was warned (precisely in 1985) that the world was “hanging by a thread” and “in great danger.”
It’s unclear whether the threat has now passed or was simply postponed but we should note that a fourth Latin American apparition — this time to a young woman named Pachi Talbot Borrero in the remote city of Cuencha, Ecuador — warned of a similar threat, with Pachi shown a vision of what looked like great nuclear destruction if mankind did not convert.
Impressive is the fact that these seers were unknown to each other at the time that their visions occurred.
In Nicaragua the Virgin came with lightning-like flashes similar to what has been described at both Fatima and Medjugorje. She materialized over a little morisco tree, reminding us of the way she appeared over a small holm oak at Fatima. She came both as a young woman and a child. Her hair fell to her shoulders, brown in color. She faced the east. Significant was that one major apparition took place at 3 p.m. — which Catholics honor as the hour of mercy.
In one vision, played like a movie, the Virgin showed Martinez a large group of people dressed in white and bathed in a luminosity. “They sang,” said Martinez. “But I could not understand the words. It was a celestial festival. It was such happiness, such joy…”
“These are the very first communities when Christianity began,” the Virgin reportedly explained. “They are the first catechumens; many of them were martyrs.”
Martinez said he was also shown a group who had been given the first Rosary. One man carried a large book, would read from it, and then the others would meditate. “After this period of prayer in silence, they then prayed the Our Father and ten Hail Marys,” explained Martinez, who said the Virgin told him that many people pray for things that are “unimportant” when they should “ask for faith in order to have the strength so that each can carry his own cross.”
She said certain requests were granted but not those designated by God as sufferings to be endured while in the world. “Pray for faith in order that you will have patience,” Mary told the sacristan — now Father Martinez. “Pray, pray, my son, for all the world. Grave dangers threaten the world. Pray the Rosary. Meditate on the mysteries. Listen to the Word of God spoken in them. Forgive each other. Make peace. Don’t ask for peace without making peace.”
Bernardo said there were also visits by an angel who prophesied events that came true — including the murder (September 9, 1980) of a cousin who had scoffed at the heavenly warning. “Everything that the angel told me was fulfilled exactly,” said Martinez.
Bernardo himself faced persecution when he refused a request by three officials of the Sandinista regime to proclaim the Virgin in favor of their side in the violent political conflict that engulfed the small nation. Offered a free ranch with cattle, Bernardo refused, explaining that he could not deny the truth. Soon official journals and the Sandinista television launched an attack accusing him of being crazy and hysterical.
A woman tried to seduce him. Catholics who protected Bernardo discovered lurking photographers. One morning the Sandinista police raided his house and tried to abduct him. But devotees who slept in his house of Bernardo protected him, and soon he was whisked off to a seminary for safekeeping, where he was dedicated to gardening and reveled in his stories the seminarians.
Told by the Virgin to disseminate the messages, Martinez was granted permission to let others know of the happenings on June 24, 1980, which was the patron feast of Cuapa (and a year to the day before the beginning of apparitions in Medjugorje). Mary told Bernardo to invoke her by saying, “Holy Virgin, you are my mother, the mother to all of us, sinners.” And after having said this three times she was elevated as if the clouds were pushing her and disappeared.
[resources: The Final Hour]
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