Ellis Ryan's Personal Comments.
Three things struck me forcibly about these apparitions.
First was that each time Our Lady appeared to Bernardo, it was preceded by two lightning flashes.
Note also that at Our Lady's apparitions at La Salette they also were preceded by two flashes of Lightning. Ditto her apparitions at Fatima, and I think Garabandal.
Second was Our Lady's special message to Bernardo - "If you want Peace, you must make Peace!"
I wondered whether that message, so different to all of Our Lady's other messages, was specifically for Nicaragua, or for the whole world.
Certainly it is appropriate to both, but may be aimed more so at Nicaragua because of its long-time "addiction" to violence, war and upheaval.
Way back when Nicaragua first gained its independence from the Spanish Crown in 1821, every few years seemed to see some battles developing, either with external or internal forces. Probably the most horrific and brutal being the clashes between the Sandinista and the Contras c.1980, which cost many political assassinations, 60,000 lives, 178 billion dollars and destroyed the Nicaraguan infrastructure and economy, and the hopes of its people.
The third thing of absolutely terrifying importance is that she refers to "The Third World War". She doesn't refer to "A" Third World War, but "THE" Third World War. At Fatima she warned of a second World War, at a time when this was completely unthinkable, and it happened just when she said it would. She didn't give a date for THE Third World War, but by using the word "THE", she definitely indicated that this WOULD happen, unless we change and do as she asks. So see how vitally important the daily Rosary and the First Five Saturday devotions are - they are not just pious requests - they are absolutely essential if we wish to avoid THE Third World War.
Nicaragua and Cuapa
Nicaragua is one of the largest countries in Central America, nestled between Honduras and Costa Rica on the relatively narrow strip of land running between Mexico and South America. The capital Managua was destroyed by a violent earthquake on Decmber 23, 1972.
Three-quarters of Nicaragua's population are mestizo, a mixture of White and Indian, with about one-tenth of the population classed as white. Most of the workers are engaged in Agriculture - cotton, coffee and beef cattle.
Cuapa is a small village, latitude 12 16' 0"N, longtitude 85 22' 60"W, some kilometres east of Lake Managua.
The story starts as far back as 1880, when Father Andres Rongier SJ, a Jesuit missionary from Mexico prophesied that one day Cuapa would become a famous site of a Marian apparition.
Bernardo Martinez, when he was still a teenager, fell in love with a particular statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the church at Juigalpa. Learning that it was to be replaced by a new one, he organised a collection, bought the statue and paid for it and transported it over a rough and bumpy road on the back of a donkey from Juigalpa to Cuapa, and had it installed in the church there.
On April 15, 1980 Bernardo discovered that the statue was supernaturally lighting up on its own. He told a few people about it, but they laughed at him.
On May 8, 1980, the Virgin Mary appeared to him, dressed in white, similar to the beloved statue, and asked for the daily recitation of the Rosary with Biblical citations, and to have the Five First Saturday devotions renewed.
She also warned of future sufferings for Nicaragua if the people did not change. She told Bernardo to spread her messages, but he decided to keep quiet about it for fear of being further ridiculed.
Let Bernardo tell you himself in his own words about that first encounter:
The First Vision
Early in May I felt sad because of financial problems, employment problems, and even spiritual problems. And I felt bored. I had even said in the morning that I wished to die. I didn't want to exist. I had worked a great deal for the people of the town and I could see that they did not appreciate anything. I had no desire to continue forward. In the chapel. I swept ... I removed the dust ... I washed the altar cloths and albs ... and for this very same thing I was scorned, I was called a fool. Even my own family -- my blood brothers -- would say that I did not prosper financially because of my involvement with things at the sacristy.
I have been a sacristan but without earning any money for this. I began to work in the house of God since I was able to use the dustcloth and broom ... I was at the time very small. I have done it because in that way I serve the Lord. At any rate, now in Cuapa everything was changed, because sweeping the chapel is an honor. It is now an honor!! The altar cloths are washed in the blink of an eye; before you are able to notice they are washed and ironed.
Returning to how I was feeling in the early days of May, I hardly slept on the night of the seventh. All night I felt very hot and feeling this heat I got up. I ate something and said to myself: "I will go to the river to fish so that I will feel cool and more tranquil." I left early in the morning with a sack and a machete. I went to the river ... and I felt happy ... content ... in a pleasant environment. And I did not remember anything. When it was twelve noon I did not want to leave because I felt tranquil(?) ... joy ... And I felt no hunger.
At one it rained and I went to the base of the tree; I started to pray the Rosary. As the rain was stopping I was finishing he Rosary. I was all wet, my clothes all soaked. I collected the fish which were in the sand, put them in a sack, and went to a mango tree to see if the fruit was ripe. I then went to a hill to cut a branch to gather coyoles. Immediately after, I went to a jocote tree to pick jocotes. I then thought I must be late. I looked at the sun because I do not have a watch. For us in the country, the sun is our clock where we read the time. It was three o'clock in the afternoon. The hours had been like minutes. I said to myself: "It is late." I remembered that I had to feed the animals and then go to town to pray the Rosary with the people at five.
I left, then, walking from the jocotes in the direction of the coyole trees, when suddenly I saw a lightning-flash. I thought and said to myself: "It is going to rain." But I became filled with wonder because I did not see from where the lightning had come. I stopped but I could see nothing; no signs of rain.
Afterwards I went over near a place where there are some rocks. I walked about six or seven steps. That was when I saw another lightning-flash, but that was to open my vision and she presented herself. I was then wondering whether this could be something bad, whether it was the same statue as in the chapel ... But I saw that she blinked ... that she was beautiful ... The pile of rocks was ... she remained ... as if ... The cloud ... as covered with Jaragua grass. And there was a little Norisco tree over the rocks and over that tree was the cloud. That is how high the cloud was ... the cloud was extremely white .. it radiated in all directions, rays of light with the sun.
On the cloud were the feet of a very beautiful lady. Her feet were bare. The dress was long and white. She had a celestial cord around the waist. Long sleeves. Covering her was a veil of a pale cream color with gold embroidery along the edge. Her hands were held together over her breast. It looked like the statue of the Virgin of Fatima.
I was immobile. I had no inclination to run to yell. I felt no fear. I was surprised. I thought and said: "What am I seeing? ....Could it be the same statue of the Virgin that they ...brought and placed here for me ... The statue from the chapel ... is it in order to play a joke on me because I said I saw it illuminated ... is it a trick? But no! I would have seen them carrying it." I then passed my hand over my face because I thought that what I saw was a dream. And I said: "Could it be that I am asleep, but I have not tripped over anything."
And when I removed my hands from my face I saw that she had human skin and that her eyes moved and she blinked. I then said, in my thoughts because I could not move my tongue -- I said: "She is alive ... she is not a statue! She is alive!" My mind was the only thing that I could move. I felt like numb, my lower jaw stiff and my tongue as if asleep; everything immobilized, as I said, only the ideas moved in my head.
I was in those thoughts when she extended her arms -- like the Miraculous Medal which I never had seen, but which later was shown to me. She extended her arms and from her hands emanated rays of light stronger than the sun ... she was ... she rested up high and the rays that came from her hands touched my breast. When she gave out her light is when I became encouraged to speak, because it was I who spoke to her first ... when she gave out the light I was able to move my tongue, although somewhat stammering.
I said to her: "What is your name?" She answered me with the sweetest voice I have ever heard in any woman, not even in persons who speak softly. She answered me and said that her name is Mary. I saw the way she moved her lips. I then said: "She is alive! She spoke! She has answered my question!" I could see that we could enter into a conversation, that I could speak with her. I asked her, then, where she came from. She told me with the same sweetness: "I come from heaven. I am the Mother of Jesus."
At hearing this I immediately asked her -- remembering what the priest had told me -- I asked her: "What is it you want?"
She answered me: "I want the Rosary to be prayed every day."
I then interrupted and said to her: "Yes, we are praying it ... The priest brought us the intentions of the San Francisco parish so that we would unite ourselves with them."
She told me: "I want it to be prayed permanently, within the family ... including the children old enough to understand ... to be prayed at a set hour when there are no problems with the work in the home."
She told me that the Lord does not like prayers we make in a rush or mechanically. Because of that she recommended praying of the Rosary with the reading of biblical citations and that we put into practice the Word of God. When I heard this I thought and said: "How is this?" because I did not know the Rosary was biblical. That is why I asked her and said: "Where are the biblical citations?"
She told me to look for them in the Bible and continued saying: "Love each other. Comply with your obligations. Make peace. Don't ask Our Lord for peace because if you do not make it there will be no peace." Afterwards, she told me: "Renew the five first Saturdays. You received many graces when all of you did this."
Before the war we used to do this -- we went to Confession and Communion every first Saturday of the month -- but since the Lord already had freed us from the shedding of blood in Cuapa, we no longer continued this practice.
Then she said: "Nicaragua has suffered much since the earthquake. She is threatened with even more suffering. She will continue to suffer if you don't change." And after a brief pause she said: "Pray, pray, my son, the Rosary for all the world. Tell believers and non-believers that the world is threatened by grave dangers. I ask the Lord to appease His justice, but, it you don't change, you will hasten the arrival of the Third World War."
After she had said these words, I understood that I had to say this to the people and I told her: "Lady, I don't want problems; I have many in the church. Tell this to another person."
She then told me: "No, because our Lord has selected you to give the message."
When she told me this, I saw that the cloud which was holding her was rising, and I recalled what Mrs. Consuelo Marin had said and I told her: "Lady, don't go because I want to go and notify Mrs. Consuelo because she told me that she wanted to see you."
She said to me: "No. Not everyone can see me. She will see me when I take her to heaven, but she should pray the Rosary as I ask."
And after telling me this the cloud was not delayed. She raised her arms to heaven as in the statue of the Assumption which I have seen so many times in the cathedral at Juigalpa. She again looked upward towards heaven and the cloud that held her slowly elevated her. As she was in a ray of light, when she reached a certain distance she disappeared. I then gathered the machete, the sack, and the branch. I went to cut the coyoles and thought I would tell no one. To say nothing of what I had seen or heard.
I went to the chapel to pray the Rosary and did not say anything. When I returned home I felt sad. My problems increased with that. I prayed the Rosary again, and I asked the Blessed Mother to free me from temptations because I thought that is what it was -- a temptation. During the night I heard a voice saying to me that I should tell. I awoke again, and I again prayed the Rosary. I could not find peace.
I did not tell anyone because I did not want the people to talk. They were already talking because I had seen the statue illuminated. I thought: "Now it will be worse. I will never had peace." That is why it was that I did not want to say anything. And I did not return to the place of the apparitions. The mangoes and jocotes were lost. I went to the river, but by another road. I go to the river every day to bathe and to give water to the calf that I have.
During this period that I was guarding the secret, a great weight seemed to fall on me and I heard something like a voice which told me to tell. But I simply did not want to tell. Since the suffering was greater each time, I sought ways to distract myself. But nothing was a distraction. I sought my friends in order to be entertained -- young friends and old friends -- but always at the height of the merriment I heard the voice and the sadness would return. I was getting thin and pale. People asked what was wrong, if I was sick. I told them no. Eight days like that passed.
On the 16th of May I was enroute to give water to the calf. I was crossing the pasture unable to see the calf. I was walking with a stick in my hand. As I was near a Guapinol, already halfway through the pasture, with the sun strong as it was directly overhead, I saw a lightning-flash. It was twelve noon. In plain light, because as I said, it was a hot sunny day, there was another even stronger light -- more light than the midday light. In that lightning-flash she presented herself.
I saw her in the same way as I had seen her on the 8th of May, with her hands together, and then she extended them. And on extending her hands, the rays of light came towards me. I remained watching her. I remained silent, but I said to myself: "It is she! She is the same one. The same lady has again appeared to me."
I thought she had come to complain about all that she had told me to say. I felt guilty for not having spoken as she had asked and at the same time, in my mind, I said: "I don't go to the place where she appeared because she appears there, and now, she appears to me here. I will be in a fine state, she will be following me wherever I am."
It was with this in mind, when she told me with a tone -- with her voice soft -- but with a tone as if in reprehension: "Why have you not told what I sent you to tell?"
I then answered her: "Lady, it is that I am afraid. I am afraid of being the ridicule of the people, afraid that they will laugh at me, that they will not believe me. Those who will not believe this, will laugh at me. They will say that I am crazy."
She then said to me:"Do not be afraid. I am going to help you, and tell the priest."
Saying this, there was another flash of lightning and she disappeared. I then continued walking and saw the calf I was unable to see before. I took it to the river, gave it some water, and returned to my house. I got ready to go to the chapel and then I prayed the Rosary.
I thought of telling it only to Mrs. Lilliam Ruiz de Martinez and to Mrs. Socorro Barea de Marin. This is what I did. I have more trust in them than in any other person in the community of Cuapa. I called them aside and told them all that I had seen and heard. They then reprimanded me. It was the first time that I received correction without answering anything, because I always attempted to come out with my own, with my ideas. And I would grumble. I promised them that I would tell it the next day. I went home and lay down to sleep.
The next day dawned and I felt a strange happiness. All the problems, it seemed to me, had dissipated. It was the 17th of May. On that day I told everyone who came to my house. I told them and they heard me. Some of them believed, others listened out of curiosity and pretended, others did not believe and laughed. But that did not matter to me at all. When it was time to pray the Rosary we prayed it and afterwards I told them everything.
Again I noticed the same thing: some believed, others did not, some remained listening in wonder ... amazed ... others as if analyzing, others remained silent, others laughed and said I was crazy. Each one according to how he felt. But none of it was important to me. I felt happiness at saying everything.
On the 19th of May I went to Juigalpa in the morning and I told the priest as the Lady had told me. I told him all that I had seen and heard. He listened to me. He then told me: "Would it be someone who wants to frighten you in those hills?"
I told him no. I said, no because there was a possibility to do this at the river and in the hills where I had gone to cut the stick, but in the middle of the pasture, where I pass, there was no way. Nothing can be hidden. It is open field.
He then said to me: "Could it be a temptation that persecutes you?"
I told him no ... I did not know that because I could only relate to him what I had seen and heard; but regarding the temptation, I could not say because I did not know. He then told me to go to the place where the apparitions occurred and to pray the Rosary there, to make the sign of the cross when I saw her and to not be afraid, because whether it was something evil or good, nothing was going to happen to me. He also told me not to tell anyone what I saw or heard, afterwards. But what I had already seen, I could tell the people of Cuapa.
This apparition I take as a continuation of the one of the 8th of May and I call it, the one of The Reclamation
The Second Vision
On the 8th of June I went to the site where the apparitions took place because she had asked me to be there. I arrived and prayed the Rosary with some persons, but the Lady did not arrive. I returned feeling disconsolate.
During the night, in dreams, she presented herself. It was the same as during the day -- I was at the same place where I saw her the first time. I prayed the Rosary. Upon finishing the Rosary, I again saw the two lightning-flashes and she appeared. In my dream I said to her: "What is it you want, my Mother?"
She gave me the same message as she had done the first time, and afterwards I told her some requests which I had, because by now the people would recommend to me things to tell her. She answered me by saying: "Some will be fulfilled, others will not."
And I remained without knowing which ones would be fulfilled and which would not. The petitions that the people of Cuapa made to me were varied: some requested things that were more or less material; such as, "to have good luck with work," "that I will be cured of some illness," and other problems. Others requested something spiritual; such as, "to have patience," "love for God," "Faith," "perseverance in prayer," "to be able to love the ones who do not like me and who are harmful to my loved ones." As it turned out, I was unable to tell the people which would be granted and which would not.
Our Lady presented herself over the little Norisco tree as she did the first time. She faced the east. To her left, near the pile of rocks where the little tree grew, were two cedars. At present one no longer exists because the people have been taking the trunk bit by bit; the other one also is disappearing. So the cedars are no long cedars; stripped, without foliage and branches, they are dry. The only part remaining is the part where the trunk is attached to the roots. Of the little Norisco tree nothing remains; it has totally disappeared.
To her right but a little farther away, there are four coyole palms. Between the first and the second, as one comes from the river, there is a large space. Raising her right hand, she indicated that space and said: "Look at the sky."
I looked in that direction. The Jocaro tree that is in front, between the two palms, did not impede my being able to see because it has few branches and it is low. She presented something like a movie in that space I indicate.
I saw a large group of people who were dressed in white and were walking towards where the sun rises. They were bathed in light and (very?) happy; they sang. I could hear them but I could not understand the words. It was a celestial festival. It was such happiness ... such joy ... which I had never (ever?) seen. Not even in a procession had I seen that. Their bodies radiated light. I felt as if I were transported. Nor can I myself explain it ... in the midst of my admiration I heard her tell me;
"Look, these are the very first communities when Christianity began. They are the first catechumens; many of them were martyrs." "Do you people want to be martyrs?" "Would you yourself like to be a martyr?"
In that instance I did not know exactly what the meaning of being a martyr was -- I now know, because I have been asking, that it is he who professes Jesus Christ openly in public, he who is a witness, to Him including the giving of this life -- but, I answered yes. After that I saw another group, also dressed in white with some luminous rosaries in their hands. The beads were extremely white and they gave off lights of different colors. One of them carried a very large open book. He would read, and after listening they silently meditated. They appeared to be as if in prayer. After this period of prayer in silence. they then prayed the Our Father and ten Hail Mary's. I prayed with them.
When the Rosary was finished, Our Lady said to me: "These are the first one to whom I gave the Rosary. That is the way that I want all of you to pray the Rosary."
I answered the Lady that yes we would. Some persons have told me that this possibly has to do with the Dominicans. I do not know that religious order, and to this date have never seen anyone from that order.
Afterwards, I saw a third group, all of them dressed in brown robes. But these I recognized as being similar to the Franciscans. Always the same, with Rosaries and praying.
As they were passing after having prayed, the Lady again told me: "These received the Rosary from the hands of the first ones."
After this, a fourth group was arriving. It was a huge procession; now, as we are dressed. It was such a big group that it would be impossible to count them. In the earlier ones I saw many men and women; but now, it was like an army in size, and they carried Rosaries in their hands. They were dressed normally, in all colors. I was very happy to see them. When one is dressed differently from the other persons one feels rather strange ... at seeing the first group I did not feel so attracted to them because of that ... I admired them, but I did not feel as if in their midst when I saw the last group.
I felt at once that I could enter into that scene because they were dressed the same as I was. But ...I looked at my hands and I saw them black. They, in turn, as the previous ones radiated light. Their bodies were beautiful. I then said: "Lady, I am going with these because they are dressed as I am."
She told me: "No. You are still lacking. You have to tell the people what you have seen and heard." And she added: "I have shown you the Glory of Our Lord and you people will acquire this if you are obedient to Our Lord, to the Lord's Word; if you persevere in praying the Holy Rosary and put into practice the Lord's Word."
After having said this to me the Vision of the Glory of God disappeared and the cloud that was sustaining her was elevating her towards Heaven. She looked like, as I said, the statue of the Assumption. And in that way, it was as if the cloud that was lifting her, disappeared.
I had a prohibition from the priest at telling what I saw and heard, I could tell it only to him. I took the bus early on the morning of the 9th of June and I told it to the priest. I thought that once I had told him, he then would right away give me permission and he said no -- for me to keep it in secret. I then began to feel a tremendous (?) and sorrow which I could hardly stand, and I kept hearing a voice telling me to tell it. I began suffering as I had before. But I chose to obey the priest and I did not relate it until permission was given.
This was given the 24th of June, which is the patron feast of Cuapa, so that I could tell it only to the people in that village. On that day the church was full of people, and I went to wait to meet with him to ask permission. The priest told me no twice, and the third time accepted that I tell it
There were further apparitions to Bernardo, and these are detailed in a booklet:
At Our Lady's last apparition, her messages to Bernardo were-"Do not be grieved, I am with all of you even though you do not see me.
I am the Mother of all of you, sinners.
Love one another.
Forgive each other.
Make peace, because if you don't make it there will be no peace.
Do not turn to violence.
Never turn to violence.
Nicaragua has suffered a great deal since the earthquake
and will continue to suffer if all of you don't change.
If you don't change you will hasten the coming of the Third World War.
Pray, pray, my son, for all the world.
Grave dangers threaten the world.
A mother never forgets her children.
And I have not forgotten what you suffer.
I am the Mother of all of you, sinners.
Invoke me with these words:
'Holy Virgin, you are my Mother, The Mother to all of us, sinners.'"
Letter from The Bishop
Cuapa is a small valley, belonging to the Municipality of Juigalpa, in Chontales. Its inhabitants are the smallest proprietors of cattle ranches. It is a tranquil place with little hills typical of the region of Chontales.
It has been three years now, that one of the peasants from the area arrived communicating a message which he said he received from Mary in a series of dreams and apparitions.
To discern the truth of these acts depends more on the extraordinary signs from God than the simple analysis of the events. There have been circulated, nonetheless, versions that misrepresent the events and that distort the contents of the message. For that reason, because of the duty and obligation to protect the wholesome piety of the faithful and for the truth of the events, in my capacity as Bishop of the area, I find an obligation to assure the authenticity of the events inorder to be able to assist in discerning the true value of the alluded to message.
With this purpose in mind, I sought the collaboration of some individuals in order to gather with the greatest accuracy possible and from the persomal testimony of the one who saw the visions, a report of the events, without omitting the adjunct testimony that could confirm the verbally reported events.
In the first place, it is our intent to clarify the contents of the message in order to be able to establish its concordance with the evangelical message, that as a church, we are obliged to publicly acclaim and develop to its full force and plenitude. The "report" that we present retains the accurate content and language used by the individual who received the visions. For our part, we are surprised at the emphasis that is given to the responsibilities that weigh on man in the duty to "make peace" and to "construct the world"; a religious emphasis that is not typical of popular religion, which more than likely leaves it all up to God.
We hope the report which we present will serve as an invitation to reflect on the social obligations that very often are largely forgotten by many of our Christians.Juigalpa
November 13, 1982
Mons. Pablo Antonio Vega M.
Prelate Bishop of Juigalpa