Book Review: Visually rich compilation of Marian apparitions is full of spiritual ‘gems’

Alejandro Bermudez   By Alejandro Bermudez for CNA

null / “The World of Marian Apparitions: Mary’s Appearances and Messages from Fatima to Today”

Denver Newsroom, Sep 8, 2021 / 11:50 am (CNA).

Sophia Institute Press and Polish theologian Wincenty Laszewski have successfully completed the task of creating the most ambitious, graphic-rich and beautifully printed compilation of Marian apparitions to date.

In its colorful 405 pages, “The World of Marian Apparitions: Mary’s Appearances and Messages from Fatima to Today” immerses the reader in occasions in which the Virgin Mary either authoritatively or probably has shown signs of her presence and her love for us.

"The World of Marian Apparitions: Mary's Appearances and Messages from Fatima to Today"
“The World of Marian Apparitions: Mary’s Appearances and Messages from Fatima to Today”

Adam Blai, the author of “The Catholic Guide to Miracles: Separating the Authentic from the Counterfeit” (Sophia Institute Press, 2021), sets the theological stage for the unique experience provided by the pictures, graphics and testimonies that Laszewski has curated with great care.

Blai explains that Marian apparitions generally include four components: the visionary, the experience, the message, and the miracles.

“But within this framework, there has been a wide variety,” he writes.

“The messages are almost always centered on prayer and repentance, but sometimes they include dire warnings for the world. The accompanying miracles vary widely, from enduring images to onetime spectacles, but they are almost always testable by outside experts, so the Church and the world have some proof that something extraordinary happened.”

Blai provides a key to understand some of the Marian messages included in the book, such as the possible apparition of Trevignano Romano in Italy in 2019, in which the Virgin Mary is said to have warned: “Pray for China, because new diseases will come from there.”

“What most people do not know is that, although only a handful of apparitions have been officially approved — ten by local bishops and sixteen by Rome in some way — there have been hundreds of accounts of Marian apparitions down through the centuries,” Blai explains.

“Sometimes the supposed apparitions generated some local interest, but no investigation was undertaken; sometimes there has been disagreement between diocesan and Vatican authorities.”

The ongoing case of Medjugorje, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, from 1981 to today is a complicated version of this latter case, explains Blai.

“As of 2020, Rome has approved pilgrimages to the site, but final full approval has been withheld until the apparent visions conclude and the case can be studied in its entirety,” Blai writes.

Laszewski and the editors carefully navigate this complex reality and provide the images and the facts, using a cautious, conditional presentation when necessary. Thus, the book includes a visible legend next to each of the 48 reported apparitions, based on nine different qualifications, ranging from “A revelation recognized by the Vatican” to “A revelation accepted by the belief of pilgrims.”

This beautiful book can be read and reread with true spiritual freedom. In the process, you are sure to find many gems, as I found in this statement attributed to the Blessed Mother: “I feel in my heart — and it fills me with great sorrow — with what falsity and hypocrisy the holy Rosary is recited. Prayer cannot be a careless tune. It has to be sweet music flowing from the heart.”

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