Vladimir Putin, by all accounts, is a very disciplined man, leaving little to chance and keenly aware of his image. So why then has Mr. Putin released official photographs producing astonishing images of him riding a horse bare-chested through a rustic region of Siberia with his Christian cross dangling off his chest clearly visible for the world to see the same week he sends nuclear submarines to American shores.
A new Russian nuclear submarine has been named after Saint Aleksandr Nevsky of Russia, and will be fitted with its own Orthodox chapel after the vessel finishes its sea trials. It has become the second nuke-carrying sub equipped with a sanctuary in addition to ballistic missiles.
According to the Associated Press:
"In the official photographs and video, shown on state television, Putin cultivates the macho image that Russians appear to love as they look to him to keep the country stable and strong more than a year after he stepped down as president. Putin was shown fishing and swimming the butterfly stroke in an icy river in the Tuva region of southern Siberia. He posed while sitting in a tree, wearing khaki pants and T-shirt with a canvas bush hat." \
In the description of Vladimir Putin as Russia’s version of the Marlboro Man" the Associated press surprisingly failed to point out in that the "bare-chested " Putin was also clearly projecting his image as a "committed Christian" as well.
Did Mr. Putin deliberately release these photographs as Russia’s Christian Macho man the same week his submarines patrol the America coast? Is there something more to be read into these remarkable image?
The American press continues to be unaware of Vladimir Putin’s and Dimity Medvedev’s deep Russian Orthodox Christian beliefs . The American press cling to the cliched image that Vladimir Putin is a product of the Soviet/KGB/atheism system and that Russian leadership is desperately attempting to recapture its imperialistic past. Perhaps Russia is pursuing some form of expansionism but it should be understood that Russia this time around is led by Russian Orthodox Christians and not by Communist atheists.
A young doctor is whisked halfway across the globe to care for an ailing international religious icon.
Out of today’s headlines: Russia, Vladimir Putin’s Crucifix, Middle East conflicts, The United States, and a prophecy from the Virgin Mary urging the world to be ready for God
A supernatural icon for Mother Russia
The Virgin of Kazan is one of the most revered Russian religious icons. Its disappearance at the time of the Russian Revolution was a catastrophe, but its resurgence and its link with Pope John Paul II and Fatima has confirmed the icon’s mythical status of securing the fate of “Mother Russia”.
The fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989 not only meant a new era for politicians; it also changed the religious landscape of a country known as “Mother Russia” – a once extremely religious country. Communism, after all, had been atheist, whereas the new Russia was again assumed to have freedom of religion. Pope John Paul II had always set his sights on it and tried to improve relations with the Orthodox Church, though a visit to Russia itself was blocked by the Russian Orthodox Church itself, who saw it as the Vatican trying to take advantage of the situation. In November 2003, Russian president Vladimir Putin did meet the pope in Rome. During the meeting, an icon known as the Virgin of Kazan was brought from the Pope’s private chapel into the Vatican Library, where the meeting was held. Putin watched as the Pope blessed the icon and then the Russian leader himself kissed it. Few observers seemed to realise the importance of this event. Putin and the Pope, however, did.
The Virgin of Kazan is one of Russia’s most sacred relics. The icon was discovered on July 8, 1579, in the city of Kazan. Interestingly, it was the Virgin Mary herself who in an apparition revealed the artefact’s location – it was buried – to a little girl, Matrena. The icon apparently shone as bright as the sun and the Virgin instructed the child to tell the monks of a nearby church about what she had just experienced. When they dug at the indicated location, the icon was recovered. A copy of the icon was sent to Czar Ivan the Terrible, who had a cloister built on the site where the icon had been found. Matrena, as well as her mother, then joined the religious community that was installed there.
In 1612, St. Sergei was said to have appeared to Bishop Arseni. The saint – who had died in 1392 – told the bishop that the Lady of Kazan would intervene in battle. Hence, the icon was brought to lead the troops of Prince Pozharski that were trying to free Moscow. True to the prophecy, on November 27, 1612, the Kremlin was liberated.
Ever since, whenever Russia had to go into battle, the Virgin of Kazan or one of its copies was carried in front of the army. Later, the Virgin also rescued Russia from Napoleon’s troops. In September 1812, Marshal Koutesov took the icon from Moscow’s Cathedral and rallied his troops to cut off Napoleon’s supply routes. As such, the icon is often considered to be a “palladium”, an image upon which the safety of a city or a country – Mother Russia – was said to depend.
At the time of the Russian Revolution, the basilica housing the icon was destroyed, apparently to prove that God did not exist. As great sledges and rams knocked down the church, loudspeakers blared: “You see, there is no God! We destroy the church of the so-called protectress of Russia, and nothing happens!” A green plot of grass in front of Lenin’s tomb marked the site where the Basilica of Our Lady of Kazan had once stood as the national Marian Shrine of Russia.
But what happened to the icon at the time of the Russian Revolution? Though some argue that it was sold by the Emperor’s family to sustain itself in exile (a hope that never materialised for them), it is more probable that the icon was sold to help pay for the Bolshevik Revolution. This was the opinion of American art expert Frank Dorland, who studied the icon in the 1960s.
From the little that is known, the icon apparently reached Western Europe in 1935. On April 15, 1953, the English adventurer “Mike” Mitchell-Hedges – known for his infamous crystal skull – was approached by letter from a business friend, Arthur Hillman, who was negotiating the purchase of a collection of great historical and artistic value. It was initially referred to as “The Louis Tussaud’s Collection”, likely because it was where the collection had been on display, in his museum in Blackpool (England). Between April 1953 and September 1953, several letters were exchanged between Mitchell-Hedges and Hillman, until, on September 23, 1953, Mitchell-Hedges finally purchased the icon. It is known that Mitchell-Hedges never came to see the artefact prior to purchasing it and it is therefore unclear whether he fully realised what he was buying.
What happened to the icon between 1917 and 1953 is difficult, if not impossible, to assess. Some suppose that the icon was actually in the possession of Herman Göring, Hitler’s designated successor and commander of the Luftwaffe. This isn’t so bizarre, as in the same lot put up for sale, there was a copy of “Mein Kampf”. It is unknown whether Mitchell-Hedges bought the entire lot or merely the Virgin of Kazan.
Between 1953 and 1965, the precious relic hung in the home of Anna Mitchell-Hedges, Mike’s daughter. Though there was no doubt that the relic was most important, the question was whether it was one of the many copies or the original icon. One of those who tried to answer that question was Cyril G.E. Bunt, the author of a book on Russian art and – for 49 years – on the staff of London Victoria and Albert Museum. “Experts will agree,” he wrote, “that it is the work of a great icon painter of the 16th century […] the pigments and the wood of the panel are perfectly preserved as exhaustive X-ray tests have proved, and have mellowed with age.”
His verdict might seem surprising now, but we need to note that in the 1950s, at the height of the Cold War, there was still great confusion about which relic went where how. He concluded that the Mitchell-Hedges icon was a copy of the original icon, but that it was nevertheless the artefact that had been carried by Prince Pozharski during his march on Moscow with his Nationalist Army in 1612. Today, that is known to have been the original icon, not a copy.
At the time, however, it were the likes of Grand Duchess Zenia and priests that had actually handled the original icon in Moscow, like Patriarch Leonty of New York, that aided the verification of the artefact as being the original icon. The identification occurred through the rizza, with its configuration of jewels, which is the easiest method to attain a positive identification: the icon in the possession of the Mitchell-Hedges family had a rizza that only the original icon, on display in Moscow in 1917, possessed.
The Mitchell-Hedges Virgin of Kazan was the original… but what to do with it? With Russia off-limits, a new venue for the Virgin of Kazan had to be found and as early as 1963, there seemed to be but one choice: the Portuguese town of Fatima, where in 1917 the Virgin Mary had apparently appeared to three small children. John Shahovskoy, the Archbishop of San Francisco and the Western United States, wrote how “the Roman Catholic faith holds that the blessed Virgin appeared at Fatima and predicted the reconversion to the government of Holy Russia to Christianity. There must be something more than coincidence that this occurred in 1917 AD, the year that our beloved Russia was lost to the Bolsheviks and Communism.”
Meanwhile, in 1964-1965, a special pavilion was erected at World Trade Fair in New York to house the icon so that people could come to admire it. On October 4, 1965, Pope Paul VI came to bless the icon.
And then entered the “Blue Army”, an American organisation that had embraced the communist strife and the role of Fatima. The icon was the perfect billboard to promote their campaign. The Blue Army had its first “official contact” with the icon on September 13, 1965, at the New York World’s Fair. That night, the pavilion was filled with members of the Blue Army, led by the Bishop of Fatima himself. It appears that the entire night was spent in adoration and prayer for the conversion of Russia and world peace. Blue Army groups around the world, in many cities, held similar all night vigils on that same date.
The Blue Army learned about the opportunity to purchase the icon in January 1970. Anna Mitchell-Hedges demanded $125,000 for the relic – a most reasonable price.
Father Karl Pazelt, the director of the Byzantine Centre in San Francisco, begged the leaders of the Blue Army to make sure the necessary funds were raised. Then, it seems, another miracle of Fatima happened, for the Blue Army were able to purchase the artefact, even though officially there was nothing to indicate they would ever be able to obtain the required funds. This is why some accounts claim that Anna Mitchell-Hedges was only paid $25,000.
Once the icon was purchased, it was taken to Fatima. Russia’s most precious relic now hung in the very place where the Virgin had predicted the vice that was communism. It therefore doesn’t take a genius to figure out what the Soviet communist regime did next: it suggested that the icon was not the original one. The Soviet powers were perfectly aware that the icon was courting a date with destiny… and became extremely nervous.
The West, of course, wanted to see the icon returned to Moscow, as its return would be interpreted by the Russian people as an omen that the evil of communism was about to be vanquished by the Virgin. But would the people of Russia rebel against their leaders, inspired by the return of the icon? And would such a revolt be successful? That was definitely not a foregone conclusion. And if the icon failed to bring about a popular revolt, then what? It was therefore agreed that the icon would remain in Fatima until Russia was free from communism… a far safer option.
What happened next, was a surprise, for rather than to Russia, the icon went to the Vatican… to the private quarters of Pope John Paul II. After the papal assassination attempt in 1981, the pope became convinced that his life had been saved by the intervention of the Virgin herself. He believed that the Third Secret of Fatima had predicted his survival and that the Virgin had personally saved him from death. Equally, the Polish-born pope tried to bring religion back to the communist countries.
When he discovered the icon in 1991, during one of his many visits to Fatima, he realised the icon was most important, politically, but maybe also to his own personal cause. He asked to have it transferred to the Vatican, where it was installed in the papal apartment. In 1993, the Blue Army consented to this transfer.
Rome was never meant to be its destination, of course. In 1989, when communism had collapsed, Metropolitan Alexy of Leningrad, the future Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow, visited Seattle and had dinner with Father Frederick Miller, then-executive director of the Blue Army. The meeting could be seen as the first step in a process that might see the return of the icon to Russia.
But in 1993, it was no longer the Blue Army, but the pope who was negotiating with the Russian Orthodox leaders. The pope did not merely want to see the object on display in Moscow, he personally wished to visit Moscow or Kazan, when he would return the icon to the Russian Orthodox Church. It was clear that the Vatican wanted to show to the people of Mother Russia that it was the Catholic Church, not the Orthodox Church, which had preserved their most precious relic. Unsurprisingly, these plans were blocked by the Moscow Patriarchate. They wanted to see the relic’s return, but without the Vatican’s fingerprints all over the event.
Officially, the pope wanted to deliver the relic personally as a sign of rapprochement between the two Churches that had been divided since 1054. This was also the dream of the Blue Army, but it was clear that this would be a very high-profile state visit, which would have to meet with the total approval of Russian president Vladimir Putin. The president, it seemed, did not wish to see a papal visit to Mother Russia either… and definitely not one in which he brought the Virgin of Kazan back.
Little happened for a decade, but after Putin’s visit to the Vatican in 2003, it became obvious that the seriously frail and aging pope would not be invited to Russia any time soon. Pope John Paul II realised that he had to lower the stakes if he wanted to accomplish anything. As such, he consented in a lower key process in which a Vatican missionary would present the icon to the Russian Church.
In late August 2004, the Pope said goodbye to the icon in an incense-filled Liturgy of the Word celebration inside the Vatican. “How many times have I prayed to the Mother of God of Kazan,” he lamented about the icon that had hung over his desk in the papal apartments for the past ten years, “asking her to protect and guide the Russian people and to precipitate the moment in which all the disciples of her Son, recognizing themselves as brothers, will know how to reconstruct in fullness their compromised unity.” He then handed the icon over to two emissaries, Cardinals Walter Kasper and Theodore McCarrick, the latter archbishop of Washington, who took it to Russia.
Interestingly, Cardinal Walter Kasper, the president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, stated that the icon was “a symbol of the new Europe and its formation, of which Russia is a part.” He added that “Our Lady of Kazan is the protector of Europe and its Christian roots. […] After two world wars, and the phenomena of secularisation, Europe needs to be founded again in the faith.”
On August 26, 2004, the Virgin of Kazan went on display on the altar of St. Peter’s Basilica. Two days later, it was delivered to Moscow. Vatican Cardinal Walter Kasper handed the icon back to the Russian Orthodox Church in a ceremony at the Kremlin’s Cathedral of the Assumption, as a personal gift from Pope John Paul II.
It would be almost one year later, on the next feast day of the holy icon – July 21, 2005 – that Patriarch Alexius II and Mintimer Shaymiev, the President of Tatarstan, placed it in the Annunciation Cathedral of the Kazan Kremlin. The Virgin of Kazan was back where she belonged – and where she had conquered, it seemed, the forces of communism. Destiny had been fulfilled, through divine will and/or political engineering, with the participation of several popes, an English treasure hunter, maybe Hitler’s inner circle, and maybe even the Virgin Mary herself.
This article appeared in Atlantis Rising, Issue 87 (May – June 2011).
New Russian Submarine named after Russian Saint
By Stephen K. Ryan
As Russia rattles its sabre in the aftermath of the Ukraine crisis a new Russian nuclear submarine has been named after Saint Aleksandr Nevsky of Russia. The new sub will be fitted with its own Orthodox chapel after the vessel finishes its sea trials. It becomes the second nuke-carrying sub equipped with a religous sanctuary.
Veneration of Saint Alexander Nevsky as a saint began soon after his death. The remains of the prince were uncovered in response to a vision, before the Battle of Kulikovo in the year 1380, and found to be incorrupt. He was glorified (canonized) by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1547. His principal feast day is 23 November. By order of Peter the Great, Nevsky’s relics were transported to the Alexander Nevsky Lavra in St. Petersburg where they remain to this day
The military chapel on the submarine will allow sailors to attend religious services right on board during the sub’s long missions.
It is the sixth military chapel to consecrated into the Russian Navy. The other five were installed on the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, the heavy cruiser Pyotr Veliky, Russian Navy sail training ship Kruzenshtern, guided missile cruiser Moskva, and nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine K-433 Svyatoy Georgiy Pobedonosets.
Construction on the Alexander Nevsky began in March 2004 and it was launched in December 2010. Its sea trials began on October 24 in the White Sea. After the trials, the sub will return to port, where the chapel will finally be installed.
The development of clergy activities in the Russian army has support from the highest level. Some 240 clergy and nine priest positions have appeared in the Russian army in 2011, and by the end of the year the military is expected to fill all the vacancies with representatives from all official religions.
A full-scale military priesthood existed in Russia from the 18th century until the beginning of the Soviet era. In 2009, President Dmitry Medvedev supported a project to restore the military priesthood to Russia.
Prophecies Fulfilled: From Fatima to Kibeho and Medjugorje
By Daniel Klimek
There are two sets of Marian apparitions of the 20th century (one extending into the 21st) that have had much in common, and whose similarity is quite noteworthy for the immeasurable consequences. They are the apparitions of Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and the apparitions of Kibeho, Rwanda.
Both apparitions began in 1981. Both contained a group of young visionaries, mostly teenagers, experiencing the phenomena – six visionaries at Medjugorje, seven at Kibeho. Both featured extraordinary supernatural signs witnessed by thousands of people. Both contained visions of the afterlife given to the young visionaries. Perhaps most importantly, both apparitions correctly predicted significant world catastrophes, from war to genocide.
More specifically, Our Lady of Medjugorje correctly predicted the wars in the former Yugoslavia and the end of Communism in the region, while Our Lady of Kibeho correctly predicted the Rwandan genocides. What is most remarkable is that these correct prophecies came years before any serious political or military conflict was noticeable in the regions of these apparitions.
In Medjugorje, Our Lady told the visionaries that Communism would end in the Balkans after a war. This prophecy, given in the early ’80s, came years before Slobodan Milosevic, the Serbian war criminal, came into power in the former Yugoslavia and began advocating a hegemonic “Greater Serbia” to rule the Yugoslavian states. The prophecy came long before Milosevic applied nationalistic language to incite Serb antagonism toward the Croats and Muslims in the region. The prophecy came long before any military action was undertaken in the region, long before the concentration camps were reestablished in Europe, for the first time since World War II, long before war broke out in 1991. The warning – from Our Lady of Medjugorje – was there years earlier. Unfortunately, people were not listening.
Bishop Paolo Hnilica, a Jesuit who survived the GULAG slave camps in Soviet Europe and who was one of Pope John Paul II’s closest friends and Vatican advisers, once explained: “In Medjugorje, Gospa [Our Lady] started with the warning that there would be war if we were not converted. Nobody took these messages seriously. Maybe if the bishops of former Yugoslavia had accepted these messages more seriously it [the war] would not have gone that far.” im
The nearly identical scenario transpired in Kibeho, in southern Rwanda. Years before political or military conflict was present in the region, Our Lady of Kibeho predicted the bloodshed that would follow through war and genocide. Not only that but, like in Medjugorje, Our Lady of Kibeho asked the people to pray to prevent a terrible war from coming. Similarly, in Medjugorje, Our Lady has frequently repeated that with prayer and fasting even wars could be stopped,
The great prophecy of Kibeho came in August 19, 1982, when the Kibeho visionaries experienced an unusually long apparition, which lasted eight hours. During this apparition the seers were shown a horrifying and disturbing vision of the Rwandan genocides that were to come. In this terrifying vision, they saw “a river of blood,” people slaughtering each other indiscriminately, killing, mass murder, human corpses – many without their heads – too numerous to bury.
Over a decade later in the summer of 1994, the vicious civil war broke out in Rwanda between the Tutsis and the Hutus, resulting in the murders of nearly one million people, including the Kibeho visionary Marie Clare Mukangango. What’s fascinating, and that much more disturbing, is that the killing style of the genocides fulfilled the Kibeho prophecy. Many of the victims in Rwanda were beheaded by machetes and their corpses dumped into the Kagea River – this was exactly as Our Lady prophecized, twelve years earlier, in giving the seers a vision of a “river of blood” [as found in the Kagea River] and of headless corpses laying amidst mass killing. Like in Medjugorje, the Kibeho prophecy came many years before military and political conflict erupted in the region. Like in Medjugorje, the Kibeho prophecy came as a warning, urging the people to pray, fast, reconcile, and convert to God in order to stop these evils from arriving,
Even in the spiritual sense, the content of the messages between Medjugorje and Kibeho has been strikingly similar, beyond the terrifying prophecies.
In the book, “Those Who Saw Her: Apparitions of Mary,” the Catholic author Catherine M. Odell observes some of the connections between the apparitions in Kibeho and the apparitions in Medjugorje. She especially noticed the remarkable similarity between the content of the devotional messages given by Our Lady of Kibeho and Our Lady of Medjugorje, very likely pointing to the same spiritual source at each location.
“Many Rwandans must have recalled the words they heard from the seven youths of Kibeho. The young people had communicated a message from the Mother of the Word. Like the Queen of Peace in Medjugorje, she had pleaded for reconciliation, conversion, penance, and prayer! Our Lady also begged to be seen as a loving Mother of all peoples. She had come to bring a message of love and consolation to a nation that was soon put upon a cross.”
Prayer, penance, fasting, reconciliation, these simple—but deeply mystical—messages have been given by Our Lady in both Medjugorje and Kibeho for years. Interestingly, the continuing similarities between the two apparition sites go even further. In both Medjugorje and Kibeho, Our Lady has given the young seers visions of the afterlife.
Alphonsine Mumureke, who was a student at Kibeho College during the apparitions and the first visionary to see the Virgin, experienced an unusual phenomenon from March 20-21 of 1982. Alphonsine told the Sisters of the college and her classmates, “I will look dead, but don’t be afraid. Don’t bury me.” As March 20th arrived, so did Alphonsine’s predictions. Her body seemingly turned into stone – in other words, it was not possible to move the young visionary. Alphonsine fell into a deep sleep, it appeared. Her body was so heavy that priests, nuns, and medical doctors from the Red Cross could not lift her. Even her hands, which were clasped together as if in a state of prayer, couldn’t be separated from one another.
Alphonsine remained in this strange state for eighteen hours. What was truly fascinating, perhaps even more so than what was happening externally, is what was transpiring internally through the visionary. In this eighteen hour state, Alphonsine experienced a mystical journey. She was showed what many people would die to see (no pun intended): the afterlife. Our Lady showed Alphonsine heaven, purgatory, and hell.
The visionary was shown what happens to a person’s soul after they die, the realm that they travel into. Heaven was a place aglow with illumination, great lights, joy and happiness permeated the realm. Purgatory was a sad place of reconciliation. Hell was a disturbing and dark place of fierce fire and complete separation from God.
After experiencing this phenomenon, after eighteen hours, Alphonsine’s body returned to its normal state and the young seer finally awoke.
Similarly, the visionaries of Medjugorje were also shown the afterlife. As in Kibeho, the Medjugorje visionaries describe seeing three realms – heaven, purgatory, and hell. Two of the visionaries, Vicka Ivankovic and Jacov Colo, report being physically taken by the Virgin to these locations, while the others were simply given visions of these realms.
Heaven, according to the Medjugorje visionaries, is a huge place of great lights, beauty, and immense joy. Meadows, mountains, hills, beautiful countrysides are all present; people possess an inner light, radiating a serene joy from their presence. Purgatory is a very sad and chilling place. The visionary Vicka described it as a gray area with misty fog through which people could be heard trembling, weeping, moaning, and where an extreme loneliness permeates the atmosphere. Hell is even more disturbing. The visionaries have described it as a vast space with many people and a great sea of fire in the center. According to the visionaries, the people in hell are enraged, cursing, ugly, angry. They enter the fires naked and come out horrific, no longer in human shape, in vastly darkened, blackened skin.
What is fascinating is that, in addition to the similarities of the Kibeho visions, these descriptions of the afterlife given by the Medjugorje seers match the Fatima visions as well. As one of the three secrets of Fatima, the visionary Lucia Santos was shown a vision of hell. She later described this vision thus:
“Our Lady showed us a great sea of fire which seemed to be under the earth. Plunged in this fire were demons and souls in human form, like transparent burning embers, all blackened or burnished bronze, floating about in the conflagration, now raised into the air by the flames that issued from within themselves together with great clouds of smoke, now falling back on every side like sparks in a huge fire, without weight or equilibrium, and amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear. The demons could be distinguished by their terrifying and repulsive likeness to frightful and unknown animals, all black and transparent.”
It is interesting how the Medjugorje visionaries described a sea of fire in the center of hell, like Sister Lucia did in Fatima. It is further interesting how the Medjugorje visions describe people who, after entering the flames, no longer resemble humans but take on different (inhuman) forms with darkened, blackened skin. Incredibly similar to Sister Lucia’s vision in describing what appeared as a “repulsive likeness to frightful and unknown animals, all black and transparent.”
The similarities are important for they show a coherency in these apparitions, pointing once again to the same spiritual source in each location. Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, the Archbishop of Vienna, who has been an astute observer of these matters, once observed: “I am fascinated with the coherence of Medjugorje with other Marian shrines, apparition sites. I always say that there is a grammar of Mary’s apparitions. That style has something special with Our Lady. I think that theologians have to study the syntax of Mary’s apparitions and in that context to study the phenomena of Medjugorje.”
The same coherence that Cardinal Schonborn spoke of, between Medjugorje and other Marian shrines, Pope John Paul II noticed years ago, once famously explaining that “Medjugorje is the fulfillment of Fatima.” Given the fact that the late Polish Pope likely constituted one of the individuals in the third Fatima secret, his expertise on the matter, and his role as the great pontiff, are unmatched.
What is noteworthy is that there are even more similarities, and thus more coherence, between Medjugorje, Kibeho, and Fatima. Perhaps Fatima’s most famous event occurred when thousands of people – many of them skeptics – saw the sun dance in 1917, thus a visible supernatural sign was given by God to prove the authenticity of the apparitions. The miracle of the dancing sun has been reported also a few times at Kibeho while the visionaries experienced their apparitions. At Medjugorje, likewise, the miracle of the dancing sun, which was seen once in Fatima and a couple of times at Kibeho, has been so frequent and so constant that a simple online YouTube search will produce several video clips of the phenomenon in the Bosnian village, recorded by countless of pilgrims, thousands having witnessed the occurrence. This is very important to note because it was the widely reported miracle of the dancing sun, witnessed by an estimated of 70,000 people in Fatima, which quickly led to the approval of the apparitions by the Church.
Invoking Fatima, it is also noteworthy that the famous apparition of Portugal prophesized the coming of World War II and the end of Communism in Russia. Thus both Medjugorje, in correctly prophecizing the wars of the former Yugoslavia and the end of Communism in the region, as well as Kibeho, in correctly prophecizing the Rwandan wars and genocides, have their predecessor in the apparitions of Fatima. Again, as Cardinal Schonborn acknowledged, there is a syntax, a coherence between Mary’s apparitions.
There is one major difference between Fatima and Kibeho, on the one hand, and Medjugorje on the other. The difference is not spiritual but ecclesial. Both the Fatima and Kibeho apparitions have concluded and have been subsequently approved by Roman Catholic authorities. In Medjugorje, on the other hand, the apparitions have not concluded but continue to this day, nearly thirty years later, and are currently under investigation by the Holy See.
Before becoming Pope, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger acknowledged that in investigating Medjugorje what the Church will consider are the facts and the fruits. The fruits, of course, have been abundant. From the millions who have converted and reawakened their faith at Medjugorje, to the thousands that have discovered their vocations to the priesthood at Medjugorje (see, “The Amazing Fruits of Medjugorje – Religious Vocations Point to Authenticity” on MinistryValues).
But, as the Holy See continues its diligent investigation of Medjugorje, it will no doubt (to quote Cardinal Schonborn’s advice) also look for the coherence of Medjugorje with other Marian apparition sites, especially those that have been approved by the Church. This is where the facts come in. In this sense, the coherence present between what is happening in Medjugorje and what happened in both Fatima and Kibeho, from the catastrophic prophecies of war and genocide, to the spiritual messages of prayer, fasting, and conversion, to the extraordinary supernatural signs and witnessed miracles like the dancing sun, to the coherent visions of the afterlife at each of these three locations, is both abundant and impossible to ignore. All of the evidence points to the presence of the same spiritual source at each site – the Mother of God.
Daniel Klimek recently completed his Master’s degree at Yale Divinity School and is now pursuing a Doctoral degree in Spirituality at Catholic University in Washington D.C.
In a surprise move two weeks ago, it was announced thatPope John Paul II’s private notes are to be published just before his canonization. The publication is being led by the Pope’s private secretary for over 40 years, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwicz. This according to reports is against John Paul II’s wishes. Pope JPII clearly directed in his will for all his private notes to be burned.
There has been much speculation as to the contents of the Pope’s personal notes. Pope John Paul II has long been known as a supporter of Medjugorje ( see below) He has been called "The Protector"of Medjugorje by some. Is it possible that the private notes contain the Pope’s personal views on Medjugorje?
Now according to Denis Nolen, well known Medjugorje supporter, Cardinal Stanislaw has reached out to the big-time Medjugorje advocate by inviting him to Krakow. Denis Nolen writes: "After viewing a DVD on Mary TV’s mission , Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwicz, for nearly 40 years personal secretary to Pope John Paul II, invited me to come to Krakow, expressing his desire to collaborate with MARY TV. The Archbishop of Krakow told me he was praying in his chapel in Krakow to Blessed John Paul II, asking that through his intercession Mary TV be given the money to finish our television station in Medjugorje.
It is quite astonishing that the Pope’s personal secretary – just days after finding himself in the vortex of a world wide controversy – now has reached out to a high profile Medjugorje supporter before the Vatican has ruled on Medjugorje and just a few months before John Paul II’s canonization.
From news reports "Pope John Paul II’s secretary "did not have the courage" to burn all of the pontiff’s notes after his death, and is now having some of them published, he said Wednesday.The book, "Very Much in God’s Hands. Personal Notes 1962-2003," comes out Feb. 5 in Poland, where the pope is still a much-loved authority. It contains religious meditations that Karol Wojtyla recorded between July 1962, when he was a bishop in Poland, and March 2003, when he was pope.Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz told a news conference that in preserving some of the notes he was motivated by the "despair of historians" when the letters of Pope Pius XII were burned after his death, as he had wished. In his last will, John Paul commissioned Dziwisz, his personal secretary and closest aide of almost 40 years, to burn his personal notes. Instead, Dziwisz kept them and is having them published before John Paul is declared a saint April 27 in Rome."
This is the best article on the internet about John Paul II and Medjugorje
By Daniel Klimek- Exclusive for ministryvalues.com
|Pope John Paul II "Medjugorje – The Spiritual Heart of the World"
Pope John Paul II once powerfully observed, "Today’s world has lost its sense of the supernatural, but many are searching for it – and find it in Medjugorje, through prayer, penance, and fasting." The late pontiff and future saint, his holiness, spoke these words on August 1, 1989, while addressing a group of Italian physicians studying the apparitions in Medjugorje with medical and scientific investigations.It is no secret within Rome that John Paul II absolutely loved Medjugorje, once even acquiring the nickname "Protector of Medjugorje" within the Vatican. Even eminent American intellectuals were no strangers to this reality. The great Franciscan intellectual, Fr. Benedict J. Groeschel, himself an investigator of supernatural phenomena, once admitted about John Paul II in a revealing interview: "I can tell you for a fact that the pope loves Medjugorje from afar and would go there in a minute if the theologians would let him."While it is known that the late Polish pope never personally visited Medjugorje, what is less known is that throughout the last two decades of his life Pope John Paul II held personal meetings and correspondences with Medjugorje visionaries, Medjugorje priests, even Medjugorje inner locutionaries, and numerous pro-Medjugorje bishops. His enthusiasm and love for Medjugorje’s mystics was overwhelming and filled with abundant respect and a joyful beauty overcome with hope. One such example is when Medjugorje visionary, Mirjana Dragicevic Soldo, met with John Paul II. She once shared the details behind this poignant, and somewhat humorous, encounter while addressing a group of pilgrims:
"I personally had a such a great honor to be able to speak with late Pope John Paul II. That was so beautiful. I was in St Peter’s Basilica in Rome with all other pilgrims. Pope as he was walking by, he was blessing everybody. He blessed me and just walked away. And then this Italian priest I was with said ‘Holy Father, this is Mirjana from Medjugorje.’ He came back, blessed me again and he left. And I said to this priest, ‘Father, you see he just thinks that I need a double blessing’ [laughter]. However, in the afternoon we received an invitation tomorrow morning to come to Castelgondolfo, close to Rome in order to talk to Holy Father. I don’t have to tell you that I couldn’t sleep all night. Tomorrow when I reached the place, he saw that I was so excited. We were alone and then he started talking to me in Polish. He thought I would understand because both are Slavic languages. He wanted to make me feel comfortable but I didn’t understand a word because it’s not even close to our language. However, I was crying and I couldn’t catch a breath to say a word. So when I finally succeeded to say a word, I said ‘Holy Father, can we try in Italian ?’ [laughter]. Then we talked and among other things he said to me, ‘If I were not Pope, I would be in Medjugorje a long time ago. I know everything, I have been following everything. Ask pilgrims to pray for my intentions. And take good care of Medjugorje because Medjugorje is the hope for the entire world…’ "
Beyond such personal words of encouragement and trust for the visionaries and the fruits of faith at Medjugorje, Pope John Paul II frequently displayed his appreciation in officially signed papal blessings as well. Two such official blessings were given by John Paul II to Fr. Jozo Zovko, O.F.M., the pastor in St. James Church at Medjugorje when the apparitions began, and to Vicka Ivankovic, one of the Medjugorje visionaries who still receives daily apparitions. Vicka, like Mirjana, has also personally met with the Holy Father in Rome, exchanging gifts and warm sentiments of faith. The official blessing she received from the late pope hangs on her wall, beautifully framed, in her home.
Fr. Jozo met with Pope John Paul II in 1992, in the midst of the wars in the former Yugoslavia. John Paul II’s words to Fr. Jozo were striking: "I am with you, protect Medjugorje! Protect Our Lady’s messages!" The passion and urgency of the Holy Father’s words for the protection of Medjugorje make clear how much the holy site, as to millions of Catholics, meant to him.
That Our Lady is appearing in Medjugorje, the Holy Father had little doubt about. The papal blessing he signed and gave to Fr. Jozo read:
"I grant from the heart a particular blessing to Father Jozo Zovko, o.f.m. and I invoke a new outpouring of graces and heavenly favors, and the continuous protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Joannes Paulus II."
The Holy Father’s own knowledge of Medjugorje and the major figures surrounding the events there was very impressive. Often his knowledge extended beyond the facts that many Medjugorje devotees may even know. For instance, most Medjugorje followers know that there are six visionaries. However, fewer may know that, in addition to the original six children who reported experiencing apparitions of Our Lady in 1981, two also reported experiencing interior locutions (locution cordis), the mystical grace of seeing and hearing Our Lady in an interior way – through the heart, especially when in prayer. Jelena and Marijana Vasilj, distant cousins, were the two youngsters who reported experiencing this grace. At Medjugorje, they acquired the nickname of "the seers of the second generation," being ten year-old girls (compared to the older visionaries) during the beginning periods of the apparitions.
Of course, such idiosyncratic distinctions, between young mystics who received apparitions and those who received inner locutions-while perhaps a bit perplexing to many observers-were no problem for John Paul II to discern. He didn’t miss a beat. In 1988, John Paul II received a group of Croatian Catholics into his private chapel in Rome. He instantly recognized two members of the group from photographs he had witnessed. Approaching the two young girls, he said, "Ah yes, Jelena and Marijana, who have the interior locutions." John Paul II greeted the girls warmly and stared into their eyes for some time with much amusement.
Today, both Jelena and Marijana are, of course, mature women. Jelena’s path has especially been interesting. Traveling to the United States for her undergraduate studies, she completed her B.A. at the Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio. Shortly thereafter, Jelena returned to Rome where she pursued a doctorate in theology at the Gregorian University, always displaying a sophisticated mind with a deep appreciation for the Catholic faith.
Only two years after the pope met with "the seers of the second generation," John Paul II sent his friend and confidant, Bishop Paul Hnilica, S.J., then Auxiliary Bishop of Rome, to accompany Marija Pavlovic, another Medjugorje visionary, on a visit to Russia. Bishop Hnilica continually told Marija how much the pope wished to visit Medjugorje. Similarly to the words John Paul II gave to visionary Mirjana Soldo during their meeting, the Bishop emphasized how the Holy Father explained to him: "If I wasn’t the Pope, I’d be in Medjugorje already!"
Many bishops from around the world have had similar encounters with John Paul II on the topic of Medjugorje. In June 1986, in response to a group of twelve Italian bishops seeking advice on pilgrims traveling to Medjugorje, the pope recognized the indisputable fruits of faith present in the village: "Let the people go to Medjugorje," he said, "if they convert, pray, confess, do penance and fast."
Similarly, in April 15, 1990, the National Catholic Reporter quoted Bishop Michael D. Pfeifer of San Angelo, Texas. Bishop Pfeifer explained:
"During my Ad Lumina visit to Rome with the Bishops of Texas in April 1988, I asked our Holy Father his opinion about Medjugorje during the private conversation I had with him. He spoke very favorably about the happenings there, pointing out the good which had been done for people. During the lunch which the Texas Bishops later had with the Holy Father, Medjugorje came up for further discussion. Again His Holiness spoke of how it has changed the lives of people who visit it, and said that so far the messages are not contrary to the Gospel."
Likewise, during his Mass Homily at the Notre Dame Conference on Medjugorje delivered on May 14, 1989, Bishop S. Treinen, Bishop of Boise, Idaho, related a conversation he once had with John Paul II:
"In the course of it [our conversation] I said: ‘Holy Father, I have just come from Medjugorje. There are wonderful things going on there.’ The Pope replied: ‘Yes, it’s good for pilgrims to go to Medjugorje and pray and do penance. It’s good.’ That’s first hand, I heard him say it myself."
In February 1990, Bishop Murilo Krieger, then Auxiliary Bishop of Florianopolis, Brazil, reported a conversation with John Paul II about the apparitions, wherein the pope enthusiastically told him: "Medjugorje is a great center of spirituality!" Not only that but the Holy Father also happily assented to Bishop Krieger’s request, giving his papal blessings to the visionaries. Bishop Krieger explained:
"In 1988, I was with eight other bishops and thirty three priests on spiritual retreat in the Vatican. The Holy Father knew that many of us were going to Medjugorje afterwards. After a private mass with the Pope, before leaving Rome, he said, without having been asked anything, ‘Pray for me in Medjugorje.’ On another occasion, I told the Pope ‘I am going to Medjugorje for the fourth time.’ He concentrated his thoughts and said, ‘Medjugorje, Medjugorje, it`s the spiritual heart of the world.’ On the same day I spoke with other Brazilian bishops and the Pope at lunch time and I asked him: ‘Your holiness, can I tell the visionaries that you send your blessing?’ He answered: ‘Yes yes,’ and embraced me."
In addition to Pope John Paul II’s overwhelming support, in recent years Medjugorje has acquired some very influential supporters in Roman Catholic circles. Critics of Medjugorje, from the bishop of Mostar to German theologian Manfred Hauke, are given a lot of media attention. But what is noteworthy is how many cardinals have voiced their affection for the shrine, including Cardinals Tonini Ersilio, Emmanuel Wamala, Jean Margeot, Frantisek Tomasek and, most recently, his eminence Christoph Cardinal Schonborn, the Archbishop of Vienna who visited Medjugorje as a pilgrim for Christmas 2009. Even theologians have shown their appreciation. The French theologian Fr. Rene Laurentin and the Swiss theologian and cardinal Hans urs von Balthasar have been open Medjugorje supporters. Balthasar, in addition to being arguably the most eminent theologian of the twentieth century, is also known for co-founding-with his friend Joseph Ratzinger (the current Pope), and with others-the Catholic journal Communio. He frequently referred to the events happening at Medjugorje as "a theater of holiness."
Most recently, the popular American priest, Fr. Donald Calloway of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception, published his autobiography, No Turning Back: A Witness to Mercy. Fr. Calloway is the vocation director for the Marians of the Immaculate Conception, the author of numerous books, and a leading proponent of the Divine Mercy devotions of St. Faustina Kowalska. It was a book about Medjugorje, The Queen of Peace Visits Medjugorje, which led to Calloway’s famous conversion, going from an agnostic and destructive youth wrestling with addiction, promiscuous sex, and illegal crime to someone who found hope, peace, and meaning in Medjugorje, leading to the priesthood and to his current life of spiritual maturity and personal unity with Christ and Our Lady.
The messages and fruits of Medjugorje have reached an innumerable amount of people. From the faithful millions who have visited the village to the millions who have read about it, to some of the most influential members of the Catholic Church. Pope John Paul II, who many Catholics believe was a mystic himself, had a special relationship (in his immense spirituality and in his devotion to Our Lady) with Medjugorje. He asked others to protect Medjugorje and he believed that Medjugorje was the fulfillment of Fatima.
Monsignor Angelo Kim, President of the Korean Bishops’ Conference, once wrote about his encounter with John Paul II in the Korean national weekly newspaper, Catholic News,in 1990. Prior to the conclusion of the last Bishops’ Synode in Rome, the Korean bishops were invited to a lunch with John Paul II. Msgr. Kim addressed the Holy Father directly and said, "Father, thanks to you, Poland was able to liberate itself from Communism." To this, the Holy Father responded, "No, this is not my merit. This is the work of the Blessed Virgin Mary, as She had predicted in Fatima and in Medjugorje."
As mentioned, in the Vatican he was known as the "Protector of Medjugorje." In reality, this relationship was mutual. According to the testimony of the Medjugorje visionaries, on May 13, 1982, on the anniversary of the Fatima apparitions and on the occasion of an assassination attempt on John Paul II’s life, Our Lady said, "His enemies tried to kill him, but I have protected him."
By Stephen K. Ryan
February 20, 2014
Ernest Hemingway’s hero, Santiago, the fishing captain from his famous book, Old Man and the Sea, prays: Hail Mary, and Our Father. These are the prayers Santiago recites ‘should I catch this fish’. Santiago also promises to make a pilgrimage to the Virgin De Cobre (Our Lady of Charity from Cuba) if he catches the fish.
Furthermore, The Virgin De Cobre and the Scared Heart of Jesus, pictures of both the Virgin De Cobre and the Scared Heart of Jesus are the only adornments in Santiago’s shack. The pictures were the relics of the late wife of Santiago.
Most folks are familiar with the religious and Catholic overtones of Old Man and the Sea, but few are aware of the connection to Santiago’s fictional promise to the Virgin De Cobre and Hemingways’ authentic gift to the Virgin Mary. It is likely Ernest Hemingway made the same promise to himself that Santiago made, "if he should catch this fish". After winning the Nobel Prize for literature in 1954, (which he won for writing The Old Man and the Sea,) clearly the big fish - the prize he had pursued, he made his own pligrimage to the shrine of Caridad del Cobre in Cuba and offered his Nobel prize award, a medallion, to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Interestingly this was not the first time Ernest Hemingway had the Virgin Mary on his mind. Years before giving up his Nobel Prize to the Virgin De Cobre, Hemingway had gone to the bullfights in Zaragoza, Spain. It was there that he witnessed the Pilar shrine.
Our Lady of the Pillar is the name given to the Blessed Virgin Mary for her claimed appearance in Spain. Her shrine that moved Hemingway is in the Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar in Zaragoza, by the river Ebro. According to legend, in the early days of the Church, the Apostle James the Greater was evangelizing the Gospel in Caesaraugusta, but his mission was making little progress until miraculously, he saw Mary committing him to Jerusalem. In his vision, she was atop a column or pillar, which was being carried by angels. That pillar is believed to be the same one venerated in Zaragoza today. Miraculous healings have been reported at the scene. This is the only known apparition of Mary to have occurred before her Assumption.
After Hemingway’s time in Spain he returned to the States and bought a fishing boat. The boat which would eventually inspire him to write "Old Man in the Sea" was named Pilar. Hemingway’s beloved boat was named after the apparitions in Zaragoza.
Hemingway’s famous boat is now a popular tourist destination in Cuba.
By Stephen K. Ryan
Mark Twain believed in the supernatural, apparitions, and loved a Catholic Saint.
Mark Twain, to the surprise of almost everyone, wrote a book, a biography no less, about the life and times of Joan of Arc. The book is call the “Personal Recollections of Joan of Ark” and astonishingly he called this virtually unknown volume his “best and favorite work”.
Author Randall Sullivan told us recently in an e-mail
“Thanks for your letter regarding my book, The Miracle Detective. I was simultaneously stirred and chagrined by what you wrote about Mark Twain and his Joan of Arc book. I have to admit that I was among those who did not know that Twain had authored such a book, let alone that he considered it his most important work.”
There are intriguing reasons why most folks are unaware of the beliefs of Mark Twain, but first here are the remarkable words from Mark Twain about a book he wrote about a Catholic Saint.
“I like Joan of Arc best of all my books; and it is the best; I know it perfectly well. And besides, it furnished me seven times the pleasure afforded me by any of the others; twelve years of preparation, and two years of writing. The others needed no preparation and got none.”
Mark Twain admired, maybe even venerated “Joan of Arc” and he was transfixed by the amazing spiritual events experienced by the young French virgin who called herself “Joan the Maid”
Mark Twain spent twelve years researching and writing his book.
Twain went to the National Archives of France and read through the transcripts of the trial that ended in Joan’s martrydom, as well as the inquisition — held 25 years after her death — that cleared her name. He studied both English and French accounts of the French heroine, and concluded, in an essay(read the entire essay here) he wrote in 1904 that Joan was the “Wonder of the Ages,” an individual “stainlessly pure, in mind and heart, in speech and deed and spirit.”
Mark Twain said:
“Taking into account, as I have suggested before, all the circumstances — her origin, youth, sex, illiteracy, early environment, and the obstructing conditions under which she exploited her high gifts and made her conquests in the field and before the courts that tried her for her life, — she is easily and by far the most extraordinary person the human race has ever produced”.
“The most extrodinary person the human race has ever produced”, certainly high praise for a Catholic Saint from Mr. Twain.
Edward Wagenknecht in his biography , “Mark Twain: The Man and His Work” said of Mark Twain’s labor:
“It is an extraordinary (and baffling) literary phenomenon that Mark Twain, who was not disposed to see God at work in the melancholy affairs of men, should have been so galvanized by the life and achievement of this young woman that he devoted years of his life to this book about her.”
Thomas Howard, Author, “”Chance or the Dance? weighed in with:
“Mark Twain comes furtively like Nicodemus at night with this tribute to one of God’s saints. In doing so he tells a secret about himself. It is as though the man in a white suit and a cloud of cigar smoke thought there just might be a place where people in white robes stand in clouds of incense.”
But it is in Mark Twain’s remarkable essay where we see in his own words his special relationship and love for Joan of Arc:
“There is no blemish in that rounded and beautiful character.
She was deeply religious, and believed that she had daily speech with angels; that she saw them face to face, and that they counselled her, comforted and heartened her, and brought commands to her direct from God. She had a childlike faith in the heavenly origin of her apparitions and her Voices, and not any threat of any form of death was able to frighten it out of her loyal heart. She was a beautiful and simple and lovable character.
Her history has still another feature which sets her apart and leaves her without fellow or competitor: there have been many uninspired prophets, but she was the only one who ever ventured the daring detail of naming, along with a foretold event, the event’s precise nature, the special time-limit within which it would occur, and the place — and scored fulfilment.
At Vaucouleurs she said she must go to the King and be made his general, and break the English power, and crown her sovereign — “at Rheims.” It all happened. It was all to happen “next year” — and it did. She foretold her first wound and its character and date a month in advance, and the prophecy was recorded in a public record-book three weeks in advance. She repeated it the morning of the date named, and it was fulfilled before night.
At Tours she foretold the limit of her military career — saying it would end in one year from the time of its utterance — and she was right. She foretold her martyrdom — using that word, and naming a time three months away — and again she was right.
At a time when France seemed hopelessly and permanently in the hands of the English she twice asserted in her prison before her judges that within seven years the English would meet with a mightier disaster than had been the fall of Orleans: it happened within five — the fall of Paris. Other prophecies of hers came true, both as to the event named and the time-limit prescribed.”
Finally one of our favorite passages from Twains’ essay:
“asked at her trial why it was her standard (The standard depicts the Virgin Mary and two angels) had a place at the crowning of the King in the Cathedral of Rheims rather than the standards of the other captains, she uttered that touching speech, “It had borne the burden, it had earned the honor” — a phrase which fell from her lips without premeditation, yet whose moving beauty and simple grace it would bankrupt the arts of language to surpass.”
“Bankrupt the arts of language to surpass” Again high praise from one of America’s finest writers.
But of course the main stream media will have none of Mark Twain’s journey into the supernatural. The media, book critics , and academia have kept Mark Twain’s views of this Catholic Saint a virtual secret for years. Most reviews of the book dismiss the work as insignificant.
Atheists, agnostics and “intellectuals” have employed Mark Twain’s wit to ridicule organized religion for decades , they are beholden to this notion and so they are not about to sully the waters with a spiritual view of Mark Twain. The atheists love to quote Mark Twain’s famous quip “It ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.”
We have no doubt Mark Twain was quite scornful of many aspects of organized religion in his day. Who is not from time to time. The Ted Haggards, the Mark Stanfords, the Jimmy Swaggerts and all the hypocrits deserve to be pilloried.
But the Atheists, the purveyors of logic and reason, refuse to have a balanced view of Twain. They reverentially genuflect at Twain’s derision of people of faith, but they quickly label him a fool when he finds beauty and virtue in a religious figure.
The Atheists can not accept Mark Twain’s book about a Saint, as worthy of his talents, particularly a book about a Catholic religious figure that claims to have been guided by apparitions, angels and Saints.
Mark Twain was fully aware that Joan of Arc was exceptionally pious. She required her soldiers to take the Sacraments of Confession and Communion regularly and she would have her men of her army gather around for daily prayer and devotion. Mark Twain knew all this. He also understood that she believed all that she accomplished was possible only through God’s intervention and to the dismay of the Atheists, Mark Twain does not quibble with any of her testimony.
She is the Wonder of Ages.
Below is a fascinating story of Mark Twain and “Joan of Arc” from the New York Times from 1905
Left to Right: Andrew Carnegie, Mark Twain, Dan Beard, Sir C. Purdon Clarke, Rollo Ogden, Miss Angersten
This photo of the event appeared in the December 31, 1905 edition of The New York Times, Pictorial Section.
Mark Twain was the guest of honor at a dinner given last night at the Aldine Association by the Society of Illustrators. All the well-known magazine and newspaper artists were present, while other distinguished guests included Andrew Carnegie, Sir. C. Purdon Clarke, Caspar Whitney, Robert Collier, Jr., Norman Hapgood, Alphonse Mucha, Arthur Scribner, and Thomas A. Janvier, Frederick Remington, Henry S. Fleming, and Daniel Beard were on the Reception Committee.
It had been arranged that when the humorist arose to speak Miss Angersten, a well-known model, was to appear in the garb and with the simple dignity of Jean d’Arc, his favorite character in all history. He was on his feet as Jean d’Arc entered the room. She wore the armor of the French heroine and her hair and face made a strangely appealing picture.
The face of the humorist, which had been wearing its “company” smile all night, suddenly changed. He had every appearance of a man who had seen a ghost. His eyes fairly started out of his head, and his hand gripped the edge of the table.
Jean d’Arc presented him with a wreath of bay. He merely bowed, with his eyes fixed on the girl’s face. They followed her as in reverent silence she passed out, followed by a little boy in suitable costume, bearing a banner over her head. Then Mark Twain spoke. His voice was broken, and his word came slowly.
There’s an illustration, gentlemen – a real illustration,” he said. “I studied that girl, Joan of Arc, for twelve years, and it never seemed to me that the artists and the writers gave us a true picture of her. They drew a picture of a peasant. Her dress was that of a peasant. But they always missed the face – the divine soul, the pure character, the supreme woman, the wonderful girl. She was only 18 years old, but put into a breast like hers a heart like hers and I think, gentlemen, you would have a girl – like that.”
The humorist looked toward the door, and there was absolute silence – puzzled silence – for many did not know whether it was time to laugh, disrespectful to giggle, or discourteous to keep solemn. The humorist realized the situation. Turning to his audience he came out of the clouds and said solemnly:
“But the artists always paint her with a face – like a ham.”