Non-Profit Internet Source for News, Events, History, & Culture of Northern Frederick & Carroll County Md./Southern Adams County Pa.


Fool me once, shame on you ...

Flagrante Delicto

"Just because Johnny jumped off a cliff, doesn’t mean you have to."
                                                                    Everyone’s Mother

We find it interesting that most of the defensive e-mails we receive regarding our on-going series on the ‘Our Lady of Emmitsburg Doomsday Cult’ are predicated on the apparitions of Medjugorje. In other words, because Mary supposedly appeared in Yugoslavia, why not in Emmitsburg?

We were intrigued by this logic and did a search of the Internet to see if others were also claiming Mary apparitions. What we discovered was that claiming of messages from Mary is hardly original and is apparently big business!

The Miracle Hunter website offers an extensive list of Vatican unapproved twentieth century Marian apparitions.  If you visit this web site you'll note that the Catholic Church has not ruled on the majority of the 476 reported apparitions.  The existence of supernaturality has been disproven (meaning nothing heavenly is taking place) so far in 68 cases,include Gianna Talone Sullivan's supposed apparitions in both Scottsdale Arizona and in Emmitsburg.

In the case of the alleged apparitions of Medjugorje, the church went one step further and ruled that non-supernaturality was proven (meaning what appears to be supernatural is the result of human manipulation for the purpose of fame and wealth.

On June 3, 2008, reported that:

Former Vatican exorcist Bishop Andrea Gemma has denounced alleged visions of Our Lady in the Bosnian town of Medjugorje as the "work of the devil" and a "diabolical deceit".

The UK Daily Mail reports that the Vatican has rejected claims made by the six Bosnian 'seers' that they have seen the Virgin Mary more than 40,000 times over the past 27 years.

Bishop Andrea Gemma, 77, once the Vatican's top exorcist, told a magazine in Italy: "In Medjugorje everything happens in function of money: Pilgrimages, lodging houses, sale of trinkets.  This whole sham is the work of the Devil. It is a scandal."

He predicted that the Vatican would soon crack down on the group.

The Medjugorje phenomenon began on June 25, 1981, when six children told a priest they had seen the Virgin on a hillside near their town. Some of the children also claim to have received ten secrets from Our Lady.

A church investigation dismissed the vision, and the Vatican banned pilgrimages to the site in 1985. But many Catholics ignored the ban.

Today, the seers own smart houses with security gates and tennis courts and expensive cars. One is married to a former US beauty queen.

In discussing the Our Lady of Emmitsburg Doomsday Cult with a Jesuit theologian, he remarked that it sounded remarkably like the Bayside Marian Apparition cult.

Bayside Marian Apparition Cult

Veronica Lueken was a Roman Catholic housewife who lived in Bayside, New York. From 1970 until her death, she reported to experience apparitions of the Virgin Mary and numerous Catholic saints. She gave messages from them at both Saint Robert Bellarmine Catholic Church in Bayside, and at the Vatican Pavilion in Flushing Meadows Park (site of the 1964 New York World's Fair).

In 1968, Lueken reported experiencing her first manifestation when she smelled a perfume of roses in her car while praying for the dying Robert Kennedy in June 1968. She claimed that Saint Theresa of Lisieux appeared to her and dictated sacred poem-messages.

Mrs. Lueken reported her first Marian vision in her home on April 7, 1970. The Virgin Mary was reportedly informing her that she would appear on the grounds of the old St. Robert Bellarmine Church in Bayside on June 18, 1970, and subsequently, on all great feast days of the Catholic Church. From that day, Mrs. Lueken reported a series of Marian apparitions on the property of St Robert Bellarmine's Roman Catholic Church at Bayside. According to her report, Mary asked her to establish a Marian shrine at the site on April 7, 1970, and to hold Rosary Vigils of reparation and also Sunday holy hours of reparation for the Pope and priests. Mrs. Lueken began to type up and circulate her prophecies, many of which had apocalyptic content.

Overwhelmed by the influx of an estimated five hundred to two thousand Marian devotees, the parish ministers fenced off the church precincts in December 1974. In 1975, Monsignor James King, Chancellor of the Brooklyn Diocese, announced that the diocese did not believe in Veronica's apparitions.

Meanwhile, Lueken elaborated on her reported visions. Apart from the Virgin Mary and the aforementioned Saint Therese of Lisieux, she also said she received visitations from Saint Joseph, Saint Paul, Saint John the Evangelist, Saint Theresa of Avila, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Saint Bernadette Soubrious and Saint Robert Bellarmine, amongst others. The Archangel Michael and the Archangel Gabriel were also said to have appeared to her.

One characteristic in support of Mrs. Lueken's testimony was that of ecstasy, a high state of prayer and contemplation experienced by many saints in the Church. Most of the public apparitions occurred during the Rosary Vigils. During these Vigils Mrs. Lueken would fall into ecstasy where she would then see the Virgin Mary and other heavenly personages. Her exterior modesty and expression would take on characteristics reflecting ecstasy (which was witnessed countless times by devotees in her presence). Her eyes would never blink during the time of ecstasy. She would describe the vision given her and repeat what she heard. Almost all of the ecstasies were recorded live on audio tape in the presence of hundreds of pilgrims. From March 1989 until Veronica's death in 1995, Mr. Michael Mangan held the microphone and audio record all of Veronica's ecstasies in her presence during the Rosary Vigils at the sacred grounds.

At some point, Mrs. Lueken predicted, the authenticity of her visions would be recognized, and there would be a basilica church built on the site of her first visions at Bayside, as well as the appearance of a healing spring, and the area would become the venue of a national Marian shrine in the United States.

According to various Catholic sources, the Bayside visitations do not fulfill criteria that would qualify the alleged events as legitimate Marian apparitions and so are unrecognized.

On November 4, 198, the Diocesan Bishop of Brooklyn, Bishop Francis Mugavero, made the following declaration on November 4, 1986:[1]

I, the undersigned Diocesan Bishop of Brooklyn, in my role as the legitimate shepherd of this particular Church, wish to confirm the constant position of the Diocese of Brooklyn that a thorough investigation revealed that the alleged "visions of Bayside" completely lacked authenticity.

...Therefore, in consultation with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, I hereby declare that:

1. No credibility can be given to the so-called "apparitions" reported by Veronica Lueken and her followers.

2. The "messages" and other related propaganda contain statements which, among other things, are contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church, undermine the legitimate authority of bishops and councils and instill doubts in the minds of the faithful, for example, by claiming that, for years, an "imposter (sic) Pope" governed the Catholic Church in place of Paul VI.

In doing further research on Marian Apparition cults we also discovered another  striking resemblance of 'Our Lady of Emmitsburg Cult' to a cult started in 1989 in Kettle River, Minnesota. 

Kettle River Marian Apparition Cult

The following article on the Catholic web site provides a brief overview of the Kettle River Cult:

From a Minneapolis Star Tribune story, dated May 30, 1993, by staff writer Larry Oakes:

"When 3,500 pilgrims gathered to see if the Virgin Mary would appear in Kettle River, Minn., on Easter, the man who had summoned them was half a world away.

Stephen Marino, whose purported messages from Mary had launched big plans for Kettle River, was on a pilgrimage of his own, to a shrine in the village of Medjugorje in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Why would Marino travel to a distant war zone when, by his own prediction, Mary was to appear in his own back yard?

In the answer to that question lies the real story behind Kettle River. It's about how Marino and partner Earl Nett got involved in a worldwide movement built around purported apparitions of Mary in Medjugorje, and how they tried to use that movement's power and money to make Kettle River a major Marian shrine.

There was no Easter apparition in Kettle River, a town of 193 people 40 miles southwest of Duluth. The cross has been removed from the field where pilgrims gathered. Marino and Nett have withdrawn a request to build a 10,000-seat chapel and a seven-story, cross-shaped hotel. They've pledged to obey a church directive to dissolve their corporation.

As a boy, Marino wasn't particularly devout, and quit attending church as a teenager. At 19, he married Thelma Rikala, a college student from Duluth. They had three children and divorced after five years. 'We really didn't get along,' he said in Tulsa. 'I had no regard for the rules and traditions of the Catholic faith at that point. . . . During the ensuing years, I sought after . . . power, money, possessions, fancy cars and homes.'

Troubled by the Duluth experience, he sought comfort in the Bible, confessed his sins and took communion for the first time in 20 years. Determined to get right with God, he divorced Earlene, his wife of 13 years, sought an annulment, and reconciled with Thelma, who was living with their children in Green Bay, Wis. Friends and family members said he had changed; he no longer cared about material wealth.

But Marino was not destined for a life of quiet devotion. After a few years, while living in Green Bay, he began to confide to old friends and family members that he'd been selected for a divine mission.

'My last contact from him was a booklet he sent me two or three years ago, in which a character named Steve was receiving messages from the Virgin Mary,' said his old friend Drips in Iowa. 'I then realized he was talking about himself. I thought he'd gone crazy.'

Sometime after that first pilgrimage, Marino reported hearing messages from Mary. Marino eventually published more than 300 of the messages, dated from March 1991 to January 1992, in five volumes entitled: "My Dear Children, Please Come Home!'

Meanwhile, [Earl Nett and his wife Linda] were taking their message from Medjugorje to heart. In 1990, in part to make family prayer easier, they bought a small farm outside Kettle River. But soon they wanted something more; they began discussing ways of using the farm to glorify God.

Through connections the Netts made after their Medjugorje pilgrimage, they proposed that Kettle River become an American cell of the Oasis of Peace, a prayer community of 60 members in Italy and Medjugorje, which was created by lay and clerical devotees of the Medjugorje messages.

At first their former pastor, the Rev. Thomas Foster, was involved. But he grew skeptical. He also noted a curious coincidence: 'In late 1991, when Earl and Linda began talking about {Christian} hospitality on their farm, Kettle River started appearing in Steve's messages,' said Foster.

Until then, St. Agnes parish in Green Bay had received Mary's favor in Marino's messages. In the Aug. 14, 1991, message she says that 'soon St. Agnes will become a center for spiritual activity that will not be duplicated anywhere in the Upper Midwest.'

But by Sept. 4, Mary apparently changed her mind and asked that a chapel and housing complex be built at Kettle River and that it include 'facilities to feed and clothe those weary, wretched souls I will bring you . . . as they pass on to spread the news of this oasis of peace.'

That day she also reportedly dropped her bombshell: 'I will be appearing at the site where I want the chapel built.' The Easter apparition was foretold.

Marino and Nett formed the Messages from Mary/Mary's Guest House Corporation, with Nett as its president, and the Virgin Mary as chairman of the board. As donations poured in, the corporation bought hundreds of acres of land.

These events prompted the Duluth Diocese to investigate, and in March 1992, it politely but firmly said it didn't believe the messages were supernatural. It advised Catholics to stay away from Kettle River. Since Easter, diocesan officials have refused to comment.

But even before the diocese ruled, Foster had become increasingly uncomfortable. He didn't believe, for example, that Mary would advocate reading her messages instead of the Catholic liturgy at services, as Marino recommended. He didn't like the way Marino and Nett grew defensive when natural doubts were raised. 'Eventually, I drew back from Kettle River,' Foster said. 'It went from a place of hospitality and refuge to a place of escape.'

The similarities between all three cults are striking, especially the similarities between the Kettle River Cult and the 'Our lady of Emmitsburg Cult'.  Starting with the fact that the leaders of both cults, claimed to have received messages from Mary after visiting Medjugorje - which as we noted above, the church has ruled as non-supernaturality, meaning what appears to be supernatural is the result of human manipulation for the purpose of fame and wealth  Hmm ... can you say 'follow the money?'

Second, both cult leaders claim to have received an unusually large number of   messages from Mary.  More then 300 to the Kettle Rive Cult Leader and God only knows what the latest number is claimed for the Our Lady of Emmitsburg Cult ...

Third, both leaders, while claiming to have received messages from Mary on the sanctity of marriage, were divorced.  A pertinent fact missing from every saintly depicted biography on Gianna. We find it humorous that one of the web site dedicated to her they go as so far as to claim Mary is in fact the matchmaker who suggest Gianna consider marriage to her current spouse!

"While in Scottsdale, he [Michael Sullivan] was invited to be present for a private apparition, occurring to Gianna Talone. During that apparition, our Lady pointed Dr. Sullivan out to Gianna, from among the group present, and invited Gianna to consider entering into marriage with him someday. Gianna reflected on our Lady's suggestion, choosing to be open to the possibility."

What???? Reflected on the suggestion? HUH?????

Forth, like Kettle River and Bayside, there were calls for the erection of a shrine in Emmitsburg to the 'Our lady of Emmitsburg'.  Fortunately we can use the past tense here since unlike the Kettle River and Bayside cults, which actually began construction of shrines only to abandon them in mid-construction, talk of a shrine in Emmitsburg has fallen on deaf [saner] ears.

Fifth, it's striking how according to the pretended prophets, Mary's has singled out their town as her principle visitation point.  Mary even went so far as to say in a March 1995 message via Gianna, that:

"Scottsdale is called the center of Jesus Divine Mercy. Emmitsburg is the center of Our Lady's Immaculate Heart but she brings the child Jesus. [The] Emmitsburg area was "Center of my Immaculate Heart." 

In ways I can understand Mary's concern not not to inconvenience her followers, especially give the cost of gas today!  Mary established Scottsdale as her Southwest Hub, Emmitsburg as her Northeast hub, and Kettle River as her Midwest hub.

All kidding aside, a question that begs to be asked is 'What did Scottsdale do Jesus????  Why will he appear in Emmitsburg with Mary, but boycott Scottsdale???

Sixth, in both cases the pretended prophets fell into the age old trap that ensnares all false prophets by predicting an event with a specific time attached to it.  In the case of the Kettle River Cult, it was the appearance of the Mary at Easter, the failure of which led to that Cult's ultimate demise.  In the case of the 'Our Lady of Emmitsburg', it was the infamous 1999 "October Sign' prophecy, which was not realized and it too resulted in a reported mass defection from the cult. And now we have the new prophecy of the Earth getting smacked by a comet.

Seventh, in both cases, Mary is depicted as constantly changing her mind.  As noted in the Kettle River story above, in one prophecy Mary states she will appear in only one location, then in another message Mary 'retracts' the statement and announces completely different plans!  In the case of the 'Our lady of Emmitsburg Cult,' following the church's finding against the validity of the supposed visitations, Mary issues a message via the Gianna that "Mary will obey he son's church and cease sending messages." Yet two years later, Mary changes her mind and begins to do them again ... 

As I close this article and reflect upon the above, I find one thought echoing over and over in my mind:

'Fool me one, same on you Fool me twice, shame of me.'

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Other Articles on the 'Our Lady of Emmitsburg' Cult

Note: Information on the Bayside Marian and the Kettle River Marian Apparition Cults was compiled for this article from various news and Marian Apparition websites. For more information on these cults we recommend you visit the Vatican's news website: