By Prof Michael Ogunu
The apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Akita, Japan to Sr. Agnes Sasagawa began on June 12, 1973 when the sister saw brilliant mysterious rays emanate suddenly from the tabernacle. The same thing happened on each of the two days that followed. Sister had been very ill, requiring about 20 operations. When the apparitions began, she was nearly deaf. On June 12, 1973, when she opened the tabernacle for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, a very strong light came from it and filled the entire chapel. This happened for three days.
When she asked the other Sisters if they had seen anything out of the ordinary, they said no.
This strong light also came from the tabernacle on the feast of Corpus Christi. When Sr. Sasagawa told the Bishop of Akita (who was visiting the convent on the feast) of this, he advised her to keep it in her heart. On the Vigil of the Feast of the Sacred Heart that same year, Sr. Sasagawa's guardian angel appeared to her and asked her to pray the Fatima decade prayer (O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who have the most need of Thy mercy) after each decade of the Rosary. In 1973 this prayer was not well known in Japan and Sister had trouble understanding it, but the Sisters began to recite the prayer and it has now spread throughout Japan.
On the same occasion as the apparition of her guardian angel, a wound in the form of a cross appeared in the hollow of Sr. Sasagawa's left hand and began to bleed. The bleeding ended on the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The following Friday, the wound bled and stopped the next day. This continued for a month. Sister's guardian angel later spoke to her in chapel. Although nearly deaf, she heard the angel saying: “Pray not only for yourself, but for the people of all nations. The world today is wounding the Sacred Heart of Jesus through so much sin and ingratitude”. After hearing this, Sister heard a voice come from the statue in the chapel: “My daughter, you obeyed me very well; you have renounced everything. This deafness is a great suffering for you. Have patience; you will be healed. It is a trial. Pray in reparation for all people. Pray much for the Holy Father, for the bishops and the priests”.
On July 6, 1973, a bleeding wound appeared on the right hand of the statue of Our Lady in the chapel. On other days, the face of the statue bled. Sister's guardian angel told her: “This flowing of blood is significant. It will be shed for the conversion of men and in reparation for sins. To the devotion to the Sacred Heart add the devotion to the Precious Blood”. Other messages followed. About a month after seeing the wound in the right hand of Our Lady's statue, Sr. Sasagawa heard: “My daughter, if you love Our Lord, listen to me. Many people in the world grieve Our Lord. I ask for souls who will console Him, and who will make reparation. The Heavenly Father is preparing a great punishment for the world. Many times I have tried with my Son to soften the anger of the Father. I presented to Him many atoning souls who make reparation by prayers and sacrifices. That is what I ask of you. Honour poverty. Live poorly. You must keep your vows, which are like three nails to nail you to the Cross – the nails of poverty, chastity, and obedience”.
Beginning on September 20, 1973, the statue began to sweat from the face to the feet. Tears began to flow down the face. Also, a very pleasant odor was felt in the chapel. This happened many times in the presence of others, including the Bishop. In all, the statue wept a total of 101 times. On October 13, 1973, Our Lady gave Sister Sasagawa this serious message: “As I said before if mankind does not repent, the Heavenly Father will inflict a very serious punishment on the whole world; a punishment the like of which has never happened before. Many people will perish. Pray the Rosary often. Only I can prevent the disaster.
Whoever entrusts themselves to me will be saved”. The statue continued to weep and other messages followed. Pilgrims came and many received answers to their prayers. Then, in 1981, Theresa Chon, who was suffering from terminal brain cancer, was miraculously healed through the intercession of Our Lady of Akita. This healing was well documented by Fr. Joseph Oh of Seoul, South Korea.
What are the essential messages of Our Lady of Akita?
The first message received by Sister Agnes Katsuko Sasagawa on June 6, 1973, was a call for prayer and sacrifice for the glory of the Father and salvation of souls:
“My daughter, my novice, you have obeyed Me well in abandoning all to follow Me. Is the infirmity of your ears painful? Your deafness will be healed, be sure. Be patient. It is the last trial. Does the wound of your hand cause you to suffer? Pray in reparation for the sins of men. Each person in this community is my irreplaceable daughter. Do you say well the prayer of the Handmaids of the Eucharist? Then, let us pray it together”:
“Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, truly present in the Holy Eucharist, I consecrate my body and soul to be entirely one with Your Heart being sacrificed at every instant on all the altars of the world and giving praise to the Father, pleading for the coming of His Kingdom. Please receive this humble offering of myself. Use me as You will for the glory of the Father and the salvation of souls. Most Holy Mother of God. Never let me be separated from your Divine Son. Please defend and protect me as Your special child. Amen”.
[The word “truly” was inserted by Our Lady].
“Pray very much for the Pope, the bishops and the priests”.
The second message, August 3, 1973, was for prayer, penance and courageous sacrifices to soften the Father's anger:
“My daughter, my novice, do you love the Lord? If you love the Lord listen to what I have to say to you”.
“It is very important. You will convey it to your superior”.
“Many men in this world afflict the Lord. I desire souls to console Him to soften the anger of the Heavenly Father. I wish, with my Son, for souls who will repair by their suffering and their poverty for the sinners and ingrates”.
“In order that the world might know His anger, the Heavenly Father is preparing to inflict a great chastisement on all mankind. With my Son, I have intervened so many times to appease the wrath of the Father. I have prevented the coming of calamities by offering Him the sufferings of the Son on the Cross, His Precious Blood, and beloved souls who console Him and form a cohort of victim souls. Prayer, penance and courageous sacrifices can soften the Father's anger. I desire this also from your community, that it love poverty, that it sanctify itself and pray in reparation for the ingratitude and outrages of so many men. Recite the prayer of the Handmaids of the Eucharist with awareness of its meaning: put it into practice: offer whatever God may send in reparation for sins. Let each one endeavour, according to capacity and position, to offer herself entirely to the Lord”.
“Even in a secular institute prayer is necessary. Already souls who wish to pray are on the way to being gathered. Without attaching too much attention to the form, be faithful and fervent in prayer to console the Master”.
The third message on October 13, 1973, the actual anniversary of the final visions and miracle of Fatima is as follows:
“As I told you, if men do not repent and better themselves, the Father will inflict a terrible punishment on all humanity. It will be a punishment greater than the deluge, such as one will never have seen before. Fire will fall from the sky and will wipe out a great part of humanity, the good as well as the bad, sparing neither priests nor faithful. The survivors will find themselves so desolate that they will envy the dead. The only arms which will remain for you will be the Rosary and the Sign left by my Son. Each day, recite the prayers of the Rosary.
With the Rosary, pray for the Pope, the bishops and the priests”.
“The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, and bishops against other bishops. The priests who venerate me will be scorned and opposed by their Confreres. The Church and altars will be vandalized. The Church will be full of those who accept compromises and the demon will press many priests and consecrated souls to leave the service of the Lord”.
“The demon will rage especially against souls consecrated to God. The thought of the loss of so many souls is the cause of my sadness. If sins increase in number and gravity, there will no longer be pardon for them”.
“. . . Pray very much the prayers of the Rosary. I alone am able still to save you from the calamities which approach. Those who place their confidence in me will be saved”.
In his pastoral letter on the apparitions, Most Rev. John Shojiro Ito, Bishop of Niigata, Japan said that it would have been difficult to believe in a message from Our Lady that is so terrible, unless there was overwhelming proof that it was indeed from Her. But he points out that the terrible chastisement of which Our Lady speaks is conditional: “If men do not repent and do not better themselves . . .” The Bishop added that it is a serious warning, while at the same time one perceives in it the maternal love of Our Lady. In Her message warning the world of the annihilation of a great part of humanity, She said: “The thought of the loss of numerous souls makes me sad”.
In 1984, just before retiring at a venerable age, Bishop John Shojiro Ito, in consultation with the Holy See, wrote a pastoral letter in which he recognized as being authentically of the Mother of God, the extraordinary series of events that had taken place from 1973 to 1981 in a little lay convent within his diocese, at Akita, Japan. Cardinal Ratzinger, who later became Pope Benedict XVI, in June 1988, approved the Akita events as “reliable and worthy of belief”. Hence in Akita we are dealing with a Church approved intervention of the Blessed Virgin Mary as sure in this respect as Lourdes, La Salette, or Fatima.
The events of Akita have been confirmed by definite miracles, two of which are cited by the Bishop in his pastoral letter. While the warning given by Our Lady at Akita is terrible, the message, as the Bishop points out, is basically a repetition of the Message of Fatima. Our Lady stressed the importance of praying the Rosary, and above all of accepting from God whatever He may send in the course of each day . . . whatever suffering . . . and to offer it up in reparation for so many sins committed throughout the world at this time. Our Lady begged especially for prayers for bishops, priests, and religious, and for reparation before the Blessed Sacrament. Our Lady said: “I have prevented the coming of calamities by offering to the Father, together with all the victim souls who console Him, the sufferings endured by the Son on the Cross, by His blood and by His very loving Soul. Prayer, penance, and courageous sacrifices can appease the anger of the Father”.
The impending chastisement foretold by Our Lady in Her apparitions at Akita can be averted if enough people pray the Rosary daily and do penance which Our Lady requested at Fatima in 1917 and at Akita in 1973.