We have had several inquiries from readers about the status of the apparitions of Mary, Mediatrix of all Graces, which allegedly occurred in a Carmelite Convent in Lipa City, Philippines some 50 years ago. Have they been approved or not?
From what I have read, the apparitions have enjoyed local approval, but they have never been approved by the Vatican.
In this excellent article by Mary Rezac for the Catholic News Agency (CNA), which was forwarded to us by a faithful New Age blog reader, this apparition has been embroiled in a years’-long approval and disapproval process.
For those who have never heard of it, the Lipa apparitions began on September 12, 1948, when a 21 year-old nun named Sr. Teresita began to have visions of Mary in the garden of her Carmelite convent. Mary is said to have appeared to her on a cloud, dressed in simple white robes with a small belt and a golden Rosary hanging from her right hand.
Our Lady supposedly appeared to Sr. Teresita 19 times in the course of the next year and gave her messages about humility, penance, prayers for the clergy and the Pope, along with admonitions to pray the Rosary.
Our Lady also gave Sr. Teresita several secrets – one for herself, one for the world, one for China, and one for the Carmel convent in Lipa City.
At the final appearance, which occurred on November 12, 1948, Our Lady identified herself as “Mediatrix of All Grace.”
In addition to the apparitions, rose petals allegedly fell from heaven and were imprinted with images of Jesus, Mary and the Saints.
Although the local bishop approved veneration of Our Lady as Mediatrix of All Grace and devotion to her under this title spread throughout the country, a committee of Church hierarchy in the Philippines issued a declaration on April 11, 1951 in which they stated that “there was no no supernatural intervention in the reported extraordinary happenings including the shower of rose petals in Lipa.”
Sr. Teresita left the convent at about this time, perhaps due to the ruling, and the apparitions remained suppressed until 1990 when the nephew of Bishop Cesar M. Guerrero, one of the signers of the 1951 negative judgment, revealed that his uncle signed the judgment under duress and was actually a believer in the apparitions.
During the same year, one of the sisters at the convent made a deathbed request that the statue of Mary, Mediatrix of All Grace be brought back for veneration. Her superiors agreed and the statue was once again displayed in the convent.
Not long after this happened, the Archbishop of Lipa decided to lift the ban on the devotion and allowed the statue to be displayed.
In 2005, Most Reverend Ramon C. Arguelles, the new and still-current Archbishop of Lima, began to promulgate devotion to Our Lady under this title an publicly professed his belief in the apparitions.
In 2009, he went so far as to officially lift the 1951 ban on public veneration of the image and formed a new commission to re-examine the apparitions and the rose petal phenomenon.
A year later, the Vatican once again intervened after coming to the unanimous conclusion that the evidence and testimonies provided “exclude all supernatural intervention in the reported extraordinary happenings – including the shower of petals – at the Carmel of Lipa.”
In spite of this pronouncement, Archbishop Arguelles’ released a statement of approval of the apparitions on September 12, 2015, saying that “the events and apparition of 1948 also known as the Marian phenomenon in Lipa and its aftermath even in recent times do exhibit supernatural character and is worthy of belief.”
Once again, the Vatican intervened and Arguelles was forced to retract the statement earlier this summer.
So why is there so much back-on-forth on this apparitions?
A Catholic miracle researcher known as Michael O’Neill, of miraclehunter.com, said he believes one reason is because Sr. Teresita’s first mystical experience was actually an encounter with the devil
“There has always been the question of whether the devil was disguised in further apparitions,” O’Neill told CNA.
He also believes that the phenomena of the rose petals, and reports that the statue came to life, are complicating factors.
“So when you look at this – do you approve the whole thing? Or do you approve just the apparitions? Or what’s true or what’s a hoax? It’s a little bit of confusing territory when you have to deal with these many different types of mystical phenomena,” O’Neill said.
As it stands today, there are still many mysteries concerning the apparitions of Lipa.
“Where are these affidavits of the supposed deathbed confessions of bishops who claim they were coerced into the negative judgement? How thoroughly did the original committee of bishops examine the case – and what led them to the negative judgement?” Rezac asks.
There’s always the possibility that the case will be reopened, except if a document surfaces that confirms Pope Pius XII’s approval of the negative judgment issued in 1951, she writes. However, even if this document does exist, it would be in the archives of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith which normally only releases documents to the public once they are 80 years old.
The bottom line is that, at the present time, the Lipa apparitions do not have Vatican approval.