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What is the “Illumination of Conscience” and what should I believe about it?

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Blessed Anna-Maria Taigi/Wikimedia.

The Illumination of Conscience, also known as “the warning,” was foretold by a number of people, including St Faustina 

According to the prophecies, in the illumination people will simultaneously see their soul in the light of God’s truth, including their sins. Obviously, if this were to occur, it would be a startling wake-up call to help people repent of their sins and amend their lives. 

Who has predicted this event? Blessed Anna-Maria Taigi (1769-1837), a Roman housewife and mother, a mystic whose advice was sought by queens, popes and common people, predicted a number of events which later occurred.  

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As regards the illumination, she said that “a great purification will come upon the world preceded by an Illumination of Conscience in which everyone will see themselves as God sees them.” 

St Faustina (1905-1938) recorded in her Diary that Jesus told her: “Before I come as the just Judge, I am coming first as the King of Mercy. Before the day of justice arrives, there will be given to people a sign in the heavens of this sort: all light in the heavens will be extinguished, and there will be great darkness over the whole earth.  

“Then the sign of the cross will be seen in the sky, and from the openings where the hands and the feet of the Saviour were nailed will come forth great lights which will light up the earth for a period of time. This will take place shortly before the last day” (Section 83). 

Fr Stefano Gobbi (1930-2011), an Italian priest who received many messages for priests from Our Lady, reported that Mary told him:   

“What will come to pass is something so very great that it will exceed anything that has taken place since the beginning of the world. It will be like a judgment in miniature, and each one will see his own life and all he has done in the very light of God.” 

In the purported apparitions of Our Lady to four children in the Spanish town of Garabandal between 1961 and 1965, the visionaries received some very specific messages.   

Illumination of Conscience - The Catholic weekly

One of the visionaries, Conchita Gonzalez, said of the Warning: “It will last for only a short time. The Warning comes directly from God. It will be visible in every part of the world, no matter where we live.  

“It will be like an interior realisation of our sins. Believers as well as unbelievers, wherever they are at the time, will see it and feel it … All nations and every person on Earth will feel it. No one shall escape it.”  

Conchita said that she would announce the miracle a week before it takes place, and that a permanent sign would remain at Garabandal.  

What are we to make of all this? First, as with all private revelations, we are not required to believe that what is said in them is true.  

As regards the illumination, as we have seen, there have been predictions which coincide in some details, lending a certain credibility to them.  

Nonetheless, when these events are to take place remains a mystery. In the case of Garabandal, where a prediction was made of a visionary announcing an event a week before it occurs, its truthfulness will be verified if this happens, but proved false if the visionary dies before anything takes place.   

By the way, Conchita was born in 1949 and now lives in New York.  

As regards whether the illumination is likely to happen, we should bear in mind that God normally prefers to use his ordinary providence, assisting souls one by one through ordinary means, rather than resort to extraordinary manifestations of his power and mercy.  

The illumination certainly falls in the latter category.  

In any case, we would all do well to examine our conscience with sincerity each day, so that we are prepared to meet Our Lord whenever he calls us.  

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