(West Bend, Iowa)
Sometimes called the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” this shrine was built by Father Paul Dobberstein (1872-1954). The priest promised the Blessed Mother he would build it if he survived his illness. Iowa Tourism calls the site the “world's most complete man-made collection of minerals, fossils, shells, and petrifications in one place.”
A total of nine grottos honor Jesus by depicting Biblical scenes.
Many cures and mystical moments have been reported at this Divine Mercy Jesus Statue in Mindinau in the Philippines. Several "miracles of the sun" in the sky have also been reported and witnessed by many thousands of visitors. These solar phenomena often take place on Divine Mercy Sunday, the Sunday after Easter.
The origins of this 43-foot-tall statue
of Jesus are quite miraculous. First, the Bishop of Sagar had a mystical experience in which he knew he must build it. The experience occurred the night of October 5, 2007, while Bishop Anthony
Chirayath was visiting San Francisco and working on his laptop: “For some moments his mind went blank. He was totally shaken, possessed by a thought that he must build a shrine to Divine
Mercy in Sagar. Never before had he thought about Divine Mercy” (source). Prior to this visit, the bishop says ““I
was neither aware of, nor a devotee to, the Divine Mercy” (source).
The following day, the bishop received a call from an American man in North Carolina. This total stranger on the phone told the bishop he had received a vivid vision of a Shrine of Divine Mercy in Sagar, India while he was praying that morning to the Lord’s Divine Mercy.
In the vision, the stranger had seen thousands of people coming to the future shrine and receiving the blessing of Jesus. The stranger said he was about to transfer $5,000 to him to start constructing a Divine Mercy statue and warned the bishop, “do not stop the project, it has to be realized. God is with you. You must realize this project.” The money was sent the next day.
On the third day, another stranger had the SAME vision of a Shrine of Divine Mercy in Sagar. The Indian man’s vision also showed thousands of people coming to the future shrine for the Lord’s blessing. This stranger lived in South India, which is thousands of miles from Sagar (source).
On March 30, 2008, a thousand pilgrims showed up to celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday at the site where the statue would be built. At least eight pilgrims have said they were healed that day.
According to CBCI News, Bishop Chirayath himself was “healed miraculously from an incurable disease” which other news sources have identified as a malignant tumor. The foundation stone of the shrine was laid on May 1, 2011.
On September 30, 2014, the statue was unveiled and blessed by Cardinal George Alencherry. Bishop Chirayath is shepherd of the Syro-Malabarese Diocese of Sagar of the Catholic Church. Sagar is located in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, where millions of Hindus live. Hindus are among those who have reported healings at the shrine.
The Divine Mercy Shrine of Sagar is located in Madha Pradesh. Local pilgrims in India refer to the Divine Mercy of Jesus as “Dayasagar” or “Ocean of Mercy” (source)
LOURDES, FRANCE (in the Pyrenees Mountains)
Each year, the town of Lourdes, France, receives four to six million visitors wishing to pray at the site where the Virgin Mary appeared eighteen times to Saint Bernadette in a grotto in 1858. The Virgin Mary asked the teenage girl to dig in the dirt. A miraculous spring was formed. People still immerse themselves in the baths or “piscines” filled with water from the spring, and still report miraculous cures today. In 2013, the Church officially recognized the 69th miracle of Lourdes, though there are many thousands of people who say they have been cured at Lourdes but whose cases have not been examined.
The Virgin Mary also told Bernadette to tell the priests to have a chapel built at the site and to hold processions to the grotto. The beautiful lady who appeared to Bernadette identified herself by saying, “I am the Immaculate Conception.”
Like most peasants in her town, Bernadette had never before heard the phrase, which was the theological term for Mary’s conception in her mother Ann’s womb without original sin. God gave Mary this gift by applying the merits of her son, Jesus, to her in advance of His death and Resurrection.
Today, a statue of Mary marks the spot where she originally stood. As in her apparitions, Mary wears a flowing white robe and a blue sash around her waist. Also in imitation of her apparitions, a golden rosary hangs from her arms and a yellow rose decorates each foot.
Basilica of Our Lady of Vailankanni
(Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health) in Vailankanni, India
Known as “The Lourdes of the East,” this basilica is one of the most popular Catholic sites in India. In fact, people come from all over India to ask the Virgin Mary for favors and cures under her title as Our Lady of Good Health (or “Lady of Vailankanni”). They say Mary has cured not only Christians but also Hindus and Moslems.
The story of the shrine’s origins has been passed down mainly by oral tradition. In the early 16th century, the Blessed Mother appeared to a young poor boy in India who was working his milk delivery route. Tired and thirsty that day, the boy rested under a tree by a pond with cool water. He lay under a banyan tree for a few moments when, suddenly, he was bathed in a brilliant light and he saw a beautiful woman with a child. The woman asked if he could spare some milk for her baby. He handed over his pot. The child drank every drop before the mother and child vanished.
Now the boy feared he would be in trouble with his boss for having no more milk. He made a stop to explain to his master what had happened. The master became angry. But then, the pot began bubbling over with milk. The master not only believed the boy’s story, but believed the woman must be divine and wished to see the site where she had stood. They went there and prayed. The Catholics in the area knew it must be the Virgin Mary. Other people began showing up and many miraculous cures were reported at the pond. The pond came to be known “Our Lady’s Tank” and even today, people say its water continues to heal people. (Source: Vailankanni: The Lourdes of the East)
The second apparition of Mary with her baby in that region was to a lame boy who sold buttermilk. Mary asked the boy to deliver a message to a certain Catholic man, but the boy said he could not go because he was lame. Mary asked him to stand up. He jumped up and realized he had use of his legs for the first time. Mary's message was that she wanted a church built.
The Third miracle involves Portuguese sailors who cried out to Mary for help during a violent storm. The sailors survived and built a church dedicated to her.
Even today, many pilgrims choose to travel to the basilica by foot, walking even one hundred or two hundred miles to the destination. The town of Vailankanni was hit badly during the tsunami caused by the 2004 earthquake in the Indian Ocean. However, the tsunami’s waves were reported to have miraculously stopped upon reaching the first steps outside a church door (source).
For a long time, Our Lady of Vailankanni was a secret just for India. But more recently, the rest of the Catholic Church has been catching on. In fact, in 1997, an oratory was dedicated to Our Lady of Vailankanni in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. (the largest church in North America). Also, a shrine and life-size statue of Our Lady of Vailankanni is also present at a beautiful Philadelphia church on Chelten Avenue that houses the Shrine of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal.
In 2013, Pope Benedict XIII sent Cardinal Fernando Filoni as a special envoy to the Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health in India for its 50th anniversary celebration (source: Catholic World News).
The best time to visit the basilica is its annual festival (August 29 – September 8).
Video – documentary on Vailankanni Video of Vailankanni (History and Miracles) Official website of the Vailankanni Basilica Video Tour of basilica Video of Vailankanni Festival Video of Vailankanni Festival 2014 (with music!)
MALTA (island nation in the Mediterranean Sea)
In 60 A.D., Saint Paul the Apostle was shipwrecked for three months on the island of Malta on his way to Rome. Two thousand years after St. Paul founded a Catholic archdiocese in Malta in the first century, almost everyone is Malta is still Catholic. According to the CIA Factbook, 98 percent of the Maltese population is Catholic.
Malta is a beautiful and tiny island just south of Sicily. According to the Acts of the Apostles (chapter 28), the natives of Malta initially thought Paul was a god because a deadly snake had no effect on him. They were further impressed when the father of Publius (Publius was the island’s governor) was healed from his illness after Paul prayed and laid hands on him.
St. Paul made Publius the first bishop of Malta. In fact, St. Paul’s Cathedral in Mdina, Malta, was built at the site at which the Apostle first met Publius. Tradition holds that the cathedral was originally dedicated to the Blessed Mother.
Today, the Maltese people consider Paul’s shipwreck to have been the best thing that ever happened to their island, since it brought them the good news of Christ’s saving work. They celebrate the shipwreck every February 10.
The Church of Saint Paul’s Shipwreck in Malta houses the right wrist bone of the Apostle Paul and part of the column on which Paul was beheaded in Rome. St. Paul’s actual tomb is in Rome at the papal basilica, St. Paul Outside-the-Walls.
Religious Sites in Malta Archdiocese of Malta Saint Paul’s Cathedral in Malta (built 1697-1702) Saint Paul Visit Malta Religious Sites in Malta The Catholic Travel Guide List of bishops of Malta (from first century to present) Church of St. Paul’s Shipwreck Malta in the Bible
House of the Virgin Mary near Ephesus, Turkey
It is believed that the Blessed Mother lived in this house after her Son's Crucifixion and until she entered heaven. Saint John the Apostle reportedly took her into his home and celebrated the Eucharist each day in a side room.
You may recall that when Jesus was on the Cross and he saw his beloved Apostle and Mary, Jesus said, "Woman, behold, your son!" Then he said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother!" And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home (John 19:26-27).
The stone house was discovered with the help of detailed visions of the house of a holy nun and stigmatist named Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824). Emmerich had never been to Ephesus. Since its discovery, several popes have visited the holy house, which is visited by both Christians and Muslims.
A water fountain outside the shrine is said to have worked countless miraculous healings. Further, many pilgrims report mystical moments in the house (a strong floral scent, a feeling of her presence, and even occasional apparitions of Mary . . . the first apparition at the house was reported in 1902). Catholics are not required to believe that Mary lived in this house since its origins stem from private revelation rather than public revelation in the first century. But visitors can attend Mass in a chapel in the house!
The story of how the house was located can be read in the book, Mary’s House: The Extraordinary Story Behind the Discovery of the House Where the Virgin Mary Lived and Died. A brief overview of the story is contained in this article by Michael H. Brown. Also, take a look at Farley Clinton’s article, entitled Pope Encourages Pilgrimages to Mary’s House in Turkey.
Links: House of Mary Emmerich’s description of Mary’s House in Ephesus House of the Virgin, Ephesus Turkish Travel Blog New York Times Mary’s Last Earthly Home Story of a Regular Pilgrim Mary’s House spared from flames Video of Mary’s House Video2 Video3 Pope Encourages Pilgrimages to Mary’s House in Turkey
Full text of The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary by Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich Full text of the Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ (these book contains information about Mary’s life according to the nun’s visions. Although her visions of Jesus and Mary are not disputed, many believe that the man who transcribed her visions for her works (Clemens Brentano) may have added some of his own content).