July 31, 2005, Sunday
The community gathered in the Bedroom for Our Lady’s apparition that evening. But though the prayer began here, the apparition would be in the living room. In Marija’s normal daily apparitions, after the Rosary is prayed, Marija will begin praying 7 sets made up of an Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be. This is a traditional prayer from the region she grew up in known as the 7,7,7. Normally, Our Lady will come during the prayer of the Our Father or the Hail Mary and usually on the first, second or third set of the 7,7,7.
The apparition of July 31, 2005 was different. Our Lady did not come until the 6th set of 7,7,7—and She came on the Glory Be. Immediately the community knew something unusual was going on in this apparition. As the apparition continued, there were more signs given that something special was taking place, that this apparition wasn’t an ordinary one. The apparition was very long today: 5 minutes, 47 seconds. Several things happened in the apparition. One of the most extraordinary and highly unusual events was that in the middle of the apparition, Marija, whose voice disappears supernaturally during the apparition, prayed with Our Lady, out loud, the Our Father and the Glory Be. This was something common in the early years of Our Lady’s apparition. All the visionaries could be seen talking to Our Lady but not heard, except in the middle of the apparition they would pray out loud with Our Lady. It was incredible listening to their voices and the pace of their prayer, knowing that they were following the pace that Our Lady herself was setting—much slower than most Catholics who pray the Rosary. But over time, in the apparitions of the visionaries, this ceased to happen, with the exception of visionary Ivan when he is with Our Lady with his prayer group up on Apparition Mountain. In the middle of the apparition, his voice will be heard praying out loud with Our Lady. However, in Marija’s apparition this had not happened in many years. Suddenly and unexpectedly we heard Marija’s voice and for those of us farther away, we strained to see if she had come out of ecstasy. We were stunned to see that she was still seeing Our Lady. Everyone’s heart was pumping with excitement, as the apparition continued for nearly six long minutes. After the apparition had ended, Marija was visibly excited. She gave a brief description of the apparition and then followed with more details.
Marija’s Description: “I ask also for all those in Field. And one special gift today when Our Lady come. She pray over all, one by one. I don’t know how long apparition was today? (Very Long!) Our Lady said to pray Our Father and Glory Be for Her intentions. Our Lady said apparition will be in the Field tomorrow, same time.”
Marija began searching for words to describe the apparition. She finally spoke to Paolo in Italian for him to translate. Marija said that when Our Lady was blessing each person individually, She was pressing up against her—Marija felt like she was a fence or a barrier to Our Lady who was trying to reach past Marija to reach each one of us, placing Her hands over each head in a blessing. Marija felt like she should move out of Our Lady’s way. This had never happened to Marija in an apparition. It was moving to Marija, and to us, as she explained in more detail, her feeling. Knowing that something different had happened in the apparition, Marija’s young son, Francesco, had never heard his mother pray during the apparition and was surprised. He asked Marija to explain it to him in Italian—as half way through her explanation she had reverted back to speaking in English.
Marija said Our Lady prayed over Tony first (our founder’s third son). Tony was the closest to where Our Lady was standing. Marija said she did not see each individual as Our Lady prayed over each one. At one point in the apparition, those watching Marija saw her dip her head down low, and then it came up again. When we asked Marija why she had done this, she couldn’t think of why she had tilted her head in this manner. Marija said that Our Lady prayed in silence over each person. Marija said the apparition felt like it lasted well over an hour. When she was asked how long Our Lady prayed over each person, she did not know but it felt long to her, perhaps five minutes over each person. She said it also felt like Our Lady came late today, which was true, She did come later than normal. When Our Lady finally came, She had an expression on Her face that Marija described as, “I told you I was coming.” In the beginning, when Our Lady first appeared, She came joyful, then She became serious when praying over each person.
In more detail, Marija said that it felt to her that Our Lady was too close, that she needed to move back, but there was no way of trying to move back. Marija said Our Lady was right in front of her. Tony saw Marija’s eyes going back and forth throughout the apparition. Marija said it was something like the first days, when Our Lady said people could touch Her, and came up to approach Her. When Annette, our founder’s wife, asked Marija if she touched Our Lady, Marija responded, “No!” Marija has often said that even though she feels that Our Lady is Her dearest Mother and she could share anything with Her, She is still the Queen and the awe and respect the visionaries feel in Her presence towards Our Lady is overwhelming in the apparition where they would not even think to be so free as to touch Her without Our Lady initiating such an action.
Our Lady gave no explanation as to why She did this. Perhaps it was just a gift because of our founder’s decision to bring those following Our Lady to a greater awareness of Our Lady’s birthday on August 5th. Whatever the reason, we know it was a gift undeserved, but thrilling to be a part of. With the Five Days of Prayer with Our Lady beginning the next day, the whole community was longing for these graces they had been receiving to be shared with the thousands of pilgrims who would be attending this special Birthday celebration. We believed great graces were also in store for them as well.
This is the Living Room where Our Lady prayed over each Caritas community member individually. The best way a person can judge whether or not someone is a Christian is by the witness and behavior of the individual. The second best way is by examining the surroundings of the individual. What is in a person’s home tells a lot about what is important to that person. Many people say they are Christian, but have little to nothing in their homes that would confirm that fact. For those who have visited our founder’s home, no matter where they stand in any room, or what angle of the room they are looking, there can be seen paintings, statues, books, symbols, and framed verses of Scripture and Our Lady’s messages which make it clear that this is the home of a Christian, even down to the rug in the living room which displays a beautiful cross. Our Lady said:
November 25, 1997
April 25, 1999
As the Five Days of Prayer with Our Lady, August 1-5, was beginning the next day, there were a couple hundred early arriving pilgrims who were present in the Field while Our Lady was appearing in the living room of our founder’s home. Some had just arrived into Birmingham and decided to make the drive to Caritas to see if they could volunteer with any last minute preparations. They were surprised to be given the opportunity to be in the Field during the evening apparition and receive an early blessing from Our Lady. After the apparition in his home, the founder came to share what had just happened with Our Lady. The whole circle of pilgrims leaned in towards our founder and listened intently with surprise and awe.
After hearing about the apparition, many of the community, who had also come out to the Field, greeted the new comers, some of whom were long time friends of Our Lady’s mission. Everyone was in great joy to have arrived. Many told us of obstacles they had to overcome to be able to attend these apparitions, but that they wouldn’t let anything stand in their way of coming because they believed it was so important to be here to honor Our Lady on Her birthday and they were so grateful for this opportunity.
One by one, people left the Field in the soft haze of a warm, summer, southern evening. The purple and white cosmos flowers that had just recently begun blooming added beauty to the Field, lining both sides of the path where people walked. Everyone had their own thoughts that night wondering what these next few days with Our Lady would bring. But above all, they were just happy to be here—to be here with their Mother for Her birthday.