Japanese Wooden Statue Weeps, Sheds Blood, and Performs Miracles
Created in the 1960s by a Buddhist woodcarver, the wooden Virgin Mary resided quietly for years in the chapel of a Japanese convent in the northwestern town Akita. Yet today, the statue and her tiny chapel are world renowned for miraculous apparitions and healings. Beginning in 1973, the solid wooden statue was seen weeping, perspiring, and bleeding. She also reportedly cured a deaf nun and healed a visitor’s brain tumor. Scientists have not been able to explain these phenomena. Catholic leaders have approved of the Lady of Akita miracles, albeit hesitantly.
The Miracle of Sister Agnes
Agnes Katsuko Sasagawa, 42, entered the Our Lady of Akita convent in May 1973. A recent convert from Buddhism, Sister Agnes had spent the past several decades battling numerous health problems, believed to have stemmed from a botched appendix surgery. For years, she had been deaf in her left ear and slowly, her ability to hear out of her right hear was diminishing. A few months before entering the convent, her hearing was officially lost, as documented by her application for and approval of state disability subsidies. As per state policy, her total and incurable deafness was confirmed by two experts (Dr. Sawada of the Niigata Rosai Hospital in Joetsu, Niigata and Dr. Arai of the Eye and Ear Division of Akita Red Cross Hospital) in order for her to receive the disability payments.
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After only a few weeks of being at Akita, Sister Agnes witnessed the first miracle of the Virgin Mary statue. On June 12, 1973, a brilliant light shone around the chapel’s Tabernacle and an apparition like smoke or mist hovered in the air over the altar. Sister Agnes saw “a multitude of beings similar to Angels who surrounded the altar in adoration before the Host.” She was also visited by an apparition she believed to be her guardian Angel, whom she described as having “a round face, an expression of sweetness . . . a person covered with a shining whiteness like snow.” The Angel prayed with Sister Agnes and offered her advice and guidance. The nun confided the miraculous events to the Catholic leader in the area, Bishop John Shojiro Ito, as well as the convent’s director, Reverend Teiji Yasuda.
Sister Agnes Katsuko Sasagawa. (ajoyly.blogspot.com)
Beginning on June 28, 1973, Sister Agnes began having stigmatic experiences (wounds or sensations of pain on the wrists and/or feet in the places where Jesus was nailed to the cross). On the palm of her left hand, a small, cross-shaped wound appeared and began to bleed. The pain would start on Thursday nights and continue on throughout Friday, at times becoming almost too much for Sister Agnes to bear. Yet her guardian Angel came and comforted her, saying “The wounds of Mary are much deeper and more sorrowful than yours. Let us go to pray together in the chapel.”
Sister Sasagawa praying. (YouTube Screenshot)
After praying, Sister Agnes looked to the statue of the Virgin Mary. The three-foot tall statue was carved out a single piece of hardwood from the Judea tree. It features the Virgin standing in front of a cross with her arms held slightly forward by her sights, palms face up, in a gesture of invitation and welcome. The Virgin is depicted standing on a globe. There were no joints or cracks in the statue yet, on July 6, 1973,
“I suddenly felt that the wooden statue came to life and was about to speak to me,” said Sister Agnes. “She was bathed in a brilliant light . . . and at the same moment, a voice of indescribable beauty struck my totally deaf ears… [The Virgin said] ‘Your deafness will be healed’”
Our Lady in Akita weeping. (ajoyly.blogspot.com)
The next day, as the nuns gather for prayers, they were shocked to discovered blood flowing from the right wrist of the statue. Every Friday throughout that July, the wound would reappear and blood would issue forth from it to the astonishment of numerous visitors.
“It seemed to be truly cut into flesh,” said another nun of the covenant. “The edge of the cross had the aspect of human flesh and one even saw the grain of the skin like a fingerprint. I said to myself at that moment that the wound was real.” At the end of July, the wounds of Sister Agnes disappeared; the wounds of the Virgin Mary would remain until September 29, although no longer bleeding.
In total, the Virgin Mary appeared to speak to Sister Agnes three times. In the third visitation, the statue proclaimed a message remarkably similar to the Third Secret of Our Lady of Fatima. Our Lady of Akita said:
“My dear daughter, listen well to what I have to say to you. You will inform your superior. As I told you, if men do not repent and better themselves, the Father will inflict a terrible punishment on all humanity. It will be a punishment greater than the deluge, such as one will never have seen before. Fire will fall from the sky and will wipe out a great part of humanity...the good as well as the bad, sparing neither priests nor faithful. The survivors will find themselves so desolate that they will envy the dead. The only arms which will remain for you will be the Rosary and the Sign left by My Son. Each day recite the prayer of the Rosary. With the Rosary pray for the Pope, bishops and the priests. The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, and bishops against other bishops. The priests who venerate me will be scorned and opposed by their confreres...churches and altars sacked; the Church will be full of those who accept compromises and the demon will press many priests and consecrated souls to leave the service of the Lord. The demon will be especially implacable against souls consecrated to God. The thought of the loss of so many souls is the cause of my sadness. If sins increase in number and gravity, there will be no longer pardon for them. With courage, speak to your superior. He will know how to encourage each one of you to pray and to accomplish works of reparation. It is Bishop Ito, who directs your community. You have still something to ask? Today is the last time that I will speak to you in living voice. From now on you will obey the one sent to you and your superior. Pray very much the prayers of the Rosary. I alone am able still to save you from the calamities which approach. Those who place their confidence in me will be saved.”
Mary promised to heal Sister Agnes hearing and, by 1982, the once-deaf Agnes had perfect hearing again, despite be declared incurable. In 1981, a South Korean woman named Teresa Chun Sun Ho had visions of the Lady of Akita while in a coma. Chun suffered from a brain tumor and was not expected to recover. Upon awaking, she traveled to Japan and prayed at the Our Lady of Akita shrine. When she returned to South Korea, her doctors were amazed to find her totally cured.
Video of Akita Apparitions and Sister Sasagawa
In addition to the bleeding palms, the statue was seen perspiring a sweet perform and weeping several times, some of which were caught on film by local news reporters. All told, the statue wept, perspired, or bled 101 times. The number is believed to be significant: the first 1 represents the sin a woman brought into the world (Eve biting the apple); the second 1 represents the salvation another woman brought into the world (Mary giving birth to Jesus Christ); the 0 in between represents the eternity of the Holy Spirit.
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Non-Catholic specialists examined the fluids of the statue and found them to be human fluids. Initially, the Archbishop of Tokyo dismissed the miraculous claims without even visiting Akita. However, Bishop Ito, who had witnessed the miracles, pushed for the Roman officials to establish a commission. While the Holy See has never officially confirmed the legend of Our Lady of Akita, Cardinal Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) approved of the veracity of the messages from the Virgin Mary that came to the people of Akita.
Top image: Our Lady of Akita, Japan. Photo Source: (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Catholic Tradition. "Our Lady Of Akita." Our Lady Of Akita. Catholic Tradition, 25 Oct. 2012. Web. 23 July 2016. http://www.catholictradition.org/Mary/akita.htm
The Miracle Hunter. "Akita, Japan (1973-81)." Marian Apparitions. The Miracle Hunter, 2015. Web. 23 July 2016. http://www.miraclehunter.com/marian_apparitions/approved_apparitions/akita/
These Last Days Ministries. "The Approved Apparitions of Our Lady of Akita, Japan and the Third Secret." The Approved Apparitions of Our Lady of Akita, Japan and the Third Secret. These Last Days Ministries, Inc., 2012. Web. 23 July 2016. http://www.tldm.org/News10/Akita.htm