CM writes: “Do you have any information on Christina Gallagher from Ireland?”
The latest information we have is that the Irish seer, who claimed to have had visions of the Virgin Mary since 1988, has no Church approval and her work “does not enjoy the confidence of diocesan authorities.”
For those who have never heard of her, Christina Gallagher was a housewife and devout Catholic from County Mago, Ireland in 1985 when she visited a grotto at Cairns where she had a profoundly moving vision of the suffering Christ. Three years later, in 1988, she was talking with a friend when Our Lady appeared to her. Even though relatives tried to convince her it was just a hallucination, the visions continued.
Struggling to cope with the experiences and was put in touch with a sympathetic priest, Father Gerard McGinnity, Ph.D., who has served as her spiritual director ever since.
According to her website, this is how Christina is interpreting Our Lady’s messages: “What Our Lady is asking us to do is to turn back to God while there is still time, sincerely repent of our sins and go to Confession; to pray constantly, and to pray from the heart, especially the Rosary; to love God in the Mass and in the Eucharist; and to be united and to love one another and to stop finding fault and bickering and fighting with each other. Jesus Our Savior, Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, died on the Cross out of love for all of us, and we cannot pick and choose. We must love everyone, and even if others cannot recognize Christ in those who are the weakest of His little ones, we must do so. Until we can recognize that Jesus is in each and everyone we meet, how can we recognize Christ present in the Blessed Eucharist, and present in the world, living among us?”
Our Lady has continued to give her direction, such as for the erection of Houses of Prayer, the first being established in a former convent building in 1993 in Achill, Ireland. Opened with the approval of then Archbishop of Tuam, Joseph Cassidy, these house was to be a place of prayer for all of Our Lady’s children with particular importance for priests. The faithful were to gather there to pray the Rosary and enjoy Her protection as well as special graces for even a single visit.
Christina claims that Jesus confirmed that it was His desire that the House of Prayer be established as preparation for the “coming battle” of the end times.
Since that time, additional houses have been opened in the United States and Mexico.
The Houses quickly built up a considerable following and income from voluntary donations became substantial.
For awhile, news from the House was mostly glowing reports of healings and conversions but that all began to change when the Diocese of Tuam opened its investigations. What happened next is best described in the words of the Archbishop of Tuam, Michael Neary.
“In 1997, acting on foot of a report from the commission, I issued a lengthy public statement to the effect, in essence, that no evidence of supernatural phenomena had been observed but that the persons involved gave every evidence of good faith. Arising from that, I proposed a basic canonical structure that would gradually integrate the work of the House into the life of Achill Parish and the Archdiocese.
“While this was then attempted by the Archdiocese, I became increasingly perturbed by an apparent absence of enthusiasm on the parts of Mrs Gallagher and her associates. The relationship deteriorated to the extent that Mrs. Gallagher, in July, 1998, closed the ‘House of Prayer’ at Achill, expressing to the media at the time a sense of having been harshly treated by the Archdiocese.
“In order to clarify the issue for the faithful I issued another statement, regretting the development and expressing grave misgivings as to the wisdom with which Mrs Gallagher had been advised and had acted in the matter.
“Diocesan efforts to integrate this work ended in July, 1998 when it was closed by Mrs. Gallagher. Celebration of the sacraments and reservation of the Blessed Sacrament at the ‘House of Prayer’ are not permitted. Any work carried on since then has been entirely of a private nature and has no Church approval whatever.”
Over the years, other negative news began to trickle out, such as how Christina was living in a multi-million-dollar home and owned several other estates.
This led to many disenchanted donors whose complaints resulted in the refunding of hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations.
In 2011, several members of the board of the House of Prayer abruptly resigned but were prevented from disclosing the reason why by a confidentiality agreement.
The content of the messages has also been called into question by knowledgeable Churchmen such as Father Joseph Peters.
Writing for Inside the Vatican, Fr. Peters said he was not convinced of the authenticity Our Lady’s frantic tone. “Mrs. Gallagher’s messages, in part, read like a frantic worried woman lamenting the state of the world. There are plenty of frantic worried people, lamenting the state of the world, who are good Catholics — but the Blessed Virgin from Heaven does not talk like them, in such a human, earthly, fretful fashion. To attribute such talk to Our Lady is an insult.”
Although her work continues, I must concur with the advice of Archbishop Neary who has warned visitors to Christina’s establishments to be “very careful and circumspect in going there.”