Dear Father, I read recently that a bishop in Argentina has approved the supernatural character of some apparitions there and that these were accompanied by extraordinary phenomena. Can you tell me more about them?
Our Lady first appeared to Gladys Quiroga de Motta on 25 September, 1983, in the city of San Nicolas de los Arroyos, some 230km from Buenos Aires.
Gladys is married and has two daughters, both of whom are married with children.
Although without much religious formation, she is a very normal, balanced woman with deep piety and she does not like attention.
After a delicate operation in 1976 which saved her life, Gladys surrendered herself to Our Lady and promised to visit the shrine of Our Lady of Luján every year for the next five years, a promise she kept.
On 24 September, 1983, Gladys noticed that the rosary hanging in her room was glowing. Others saw it too and they prayed the rosary together.
The following day, Sunday 25 September, Gladys was praying the rosary when suddenly she saw Our Lady with the Child Jesus in her arms, bathed in a bright light.
She didn’t say anything about it at the time, for fear that others would consider her crazy.
Our Lady continued appearing to her until finally on 12 October she decided to confide what had happened to the parish priest of the cathedral, Fr Carlos Pérez.
He listened attentively and advised her to pray, assuring her that if this was from God, much good would come from it.
The following day Our Lady spoke to Gladys, giving her a message of conversion for all mankind. Thereafter Gladys received many messages that she was to pass on to the whole world.
The messages are the traditional ones associated with the apparitions in Lourdes and Fatima: the need for conversion, the recitation of the Rosary, the consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the frequent reception of the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist… When Our Lady gives Gladys a message, it is as though Mary is doing the writing herself by the hand of Gladys, with a speed and depth of content which are humanly inexplicable.
One extraordinary event associated with the apparitions came on 15 November 1983. Our Lady appeared to Gladys, giving her name as Our Lady of the Rosary. When Gladys described the vision to Fr Pérez he recognised it as that of a lifesized statue of Our Lady of the Rosary which had been blessed by Pope Leo XIII and placed in the cathedral.
When the cathedral suffered considerable damage over a century before, the statue, too, was damaged and was placed in the bell tower.
Fr Pérez showed Gladys the statue and she immediately recognised it as what she had seen in the vision. Our Lady appeared at that moment and asked that the statue be placed once again in the cathedral, even though it was missing a hand and there was no rosary in her hands.
Our Lady also asked Gladys to have a shrine built in her honour for the increase of faith and prayer of the people.
She showed Gladys the spot on which the shrine was to be built by having a bright ray of light come down from heaven over the place when Gladys went there one night with a group of people.
An imposing temple has since been built, following the instructions given by Mary herself. It was opened in 1989 and millions have visited it, with many conversions taking place.
Another extraordinary phenomenon associated with the shrine is the smell of roses in the shrine itself, in the buses travelling there or in the homes of those who have visited it.
Also many rosaries have begun to glow for those who visit the shrine and many people have seen the sun dance in the sky or turn colours while they were able to look at it without damage to their eyes.
Some have seen a white host in front of the sun. Many miraculous cures of illnesses have also been reported.
Gladys herself received the stigmata of Our Lord on her wrists, feet, side and shoulder. A medical specialist says that in one wrist there is one mark but in the other there are two, as on the shroud of Turin, because Christ was nailed twice through that wrist when the first nail did not enter the prepared hole.
The wounds bleed on Fridays and by Sunday or Monday they are back to normal. On Fridays in Lent they are more pronounced and Gladys suffers much pain.
On 22 May, 2016, after a long and thorough study, Bishop Hector Cardelli of San Nicolas declared the apparitions and messages to be of supernatural origin and worthy of belief.