Our Lady of Akita

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Coordinates: 39°45′35″N 140°08′59″E / 39.7596°N 140.1497°E / 39.7596; 140.1497

Our Lady of Akita
Virgin Mary of Akita Japan.jpg
A carved wood statue at Our Lady of Akita Shrine
LocationYuzawadai, Akita Prefecture,
Date1973 - 1979
WitnessAgnes Katsuko Sasagawa
TypeMarian apparition
ShrineOur Lady of Akita Shrine Redemptoris Mater at the convent of the Seitai Hoshikai Handmaids of the Holy Eucharist at Yuzawadai[1]

Our Lady of Akita is the Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary associated with a wooden statue venerated by faithful Japanese who hold it to be miraculous. The image is known due to the Marian apparitions reported in 1973 by Sister Agnes Katsuko Sasagawa in the remote area of Yuzawadai, an outskirt of Akita, Japan. The messages emphasize prayer (especially recitation of the Holy Rosary) and penance in combination with cryptic visions prophesying sacerdotal persecution and heresy within the Catholic Church.

The apparitions were unusual in that the weeping statue of the Virgin Mary was broadcast on Japanese national television, and gained further notice with the sudden healing of hearing impairment experienced by Sasagawa after the apparitions.[2] The image also became affiliated with the devotion to Our Lady of Fatima, with which the message shares close similarities.

The local ordinary of the convent, John Shojiro Ito, Bishop of Niigata,[3] authorized "the veneration of the Holy Mother of Akita," within the Roman Catholic Diocese of Niigata in a 1984 pastoral letter, "while awaiting" a "definitive judgment on this matter" pronounced by the Holy See. A request for Canonical coronation for the Marian image was formally submitted to the Vatican on 19 July 2002. [4][not in citation given]


For several decades, Sasagawa, originally from a Buddhist family, had encountered many health problems. She was born premature and suffered poor health most of her life.[5] She also had a poorly performed appendix operation and was immobile for over a decade. Her health reportedly improved after drinking water from Lourdes while under the care of a Catholic nun. After going totally deaf, she went to live with the nuns near Akita.[6]


In 1973, Sasagawa reported apparitions, as well as stigmata and a wooden statue of the Virgin Mary which was said to have wept on 101 occasions. The nuns at Yuzawadai also reported stigmata on the statue, as well as on the hands of Sasagawa; the stigmata on the statue supposedly appeared before the tears started, and disappeared after the tears.[7]

Sasagawa reported three messages from the Blessed Virgin during 1973,[8] but the statue itself is reported to have continued weeping thereafter. Sasagawa reported that she first heard the statue calling her, and then the first message began.


Sasagawa claimed to have started receiving the first of the messages from the Virgin Mary on July 6, 1973.[9] Sasagawa described that when this happened, the statue became illuminated as it acknowledged her stigmata and hearing impairment. She was instructed to recite the prayer of the Handmaids of the Eucharist, which the Virgin Mary said would cure her deafness.[9] The other reported messages ask for the praying of the rosary and to pray Acts of Reparation. "Pray very much the prayers of the Rosary. I alone am able still to save you from the calamities which approach."[10][better source needed][11]

The second message includes the following:"Many men in this world afflict the Lord. I desire souls to console Him to soften the anger of the Heavenly Father. I wish, with my Son, for souls who will repair by their suffering and their poverty for the sinners and ingrates."[8]

The third message communicated on October 13, 1973 was described by Cardinal Ratzinger as essentially the same as the third Our Lady of Fatima message or Third Secret.[a] After this final warning, it was claimed that the statue became animated for an extended period and was witnessed by a number of nuns.[9] The third Our Lady of Akita message is:

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.[8]

Medically confirmed cures[edit]

Sasagawa was admitted to the community of the Sisters of Junshin in Nagasaki.[year needed][12]

Sasagawa experienced hearing loss in her left ear years earlier;[year needed][13][b] she experienced hearing loss in her right ear for first time in March 1973 at Myōkō, Niigata.[14]

Sasagawa moved into the convent of the Seitai Hoshikai Handmaids of the Holy Eucharist at Yuzawadai on 12 May 1973.[15] The three messages from the statue were "perceived by the deaf ears of" Sasagawa while she was a novice at the convent.[4]

In October 1974, Sasagawa experienced a sudden improvement in hearing.[clarify][16] In March 1975, Sasagawa began to "experience violent headaches" and hearing loss.[16] The diagnoses of two hearing examinations in March 1975 was hearing loss in both ears.[17][c]

Dr. Sawada of the Niigata Rosai Hospital at Jōetsu, Niigata, verified that she was 'incurably deaf' and issued documents for her to receive state subsidy.[18][d] Dr. Arai of the Eye and Ear Division of the Akita Red Cross Hospital also verified her complete deafness.[20]

In May 1982, Sasagawa experienced a sudden improvement in hearing.[21]

In June 1982, Sawada attested that Sasagawa's hearing was fully restored.[20] According to Yasuda, the hearing improvement noticed during Sasagawa's 1982 hearing examination was not certified as a "miraculous cure" by the hospital.[22]

On August 4, 1981, a Korean woman with a terminal brain tumor was miraculously cured[dubious ] after friends and relatives prayed for the intercession of Our Lady of Akita. Her name is Teresa Chun Sun Ho. She received visions of Mary related to the Akita events during her recovery,[citation needed] the first while comatose. Her disease was diagnosed and the subsequent cure verified by medical professionals in South Korea.[23][better source needed] Yasuda wrote that according to Chun and other October 1983 Korean pilgrims, Chun's cure "had been declared miraculous by Church authorities of Korea".[24]


Sasagawa "claimed to have had a stigmatic-like experience."[25] Her left hand developed bleeding marks.[26] Yasuda wrote that in June 1973 "in the center of [Sasagawa's] palm were two red scratches in the form of a cross" which seemed to have "been engraved in the skin" and began to bleed a few days later.[26][27] "There were two red traces in the form of a cross and they seemed to cause [Sasagawa] pain," according to one nun.[28] According to Sasagawa's account, the stigmata emerged after she began seeing supernatural beings, which appeared to be angels, and two incidents where she felt piercing pain in the palm of her hand.[6] When the wound appeared in her hand, there were several explanations proposed, including the theory of ectoplasmic capability although theologians said that the stigmata on the Sasagawa and the statue's hands were meant as signs.[6]

Weeping statue[edit]

The palm of the statue's right hand oozed a liquid from two short intersecting lines.

It was described as "a blackish mark," by one nun. One would have said that it had been traced with a fine point of a pencil".[29] "One would have said that they were traced by a pen with black ink," according to a second nun. "On these lines there stood out two darker points. It resembled very much ink which had spread under the effect of heat. I said to myself that the Novice Mistress must have spoken of these points when she saw blood flow through a hole as large as that of a needle."[30] A third nun, who had been the sacristan, described that she "saw in the middle of the palm of the right hand that a wound in the form of a cross had been cut with something like the tip of a blade."[31]

TV Tokyo Channel 12 videotaped the weeping statue in December 1973.[32]

The blood type of the statue and its sweat and tear type[clarification needed] were found to be types B and AB, respectively.[33]


Ito (r. 1962–1985) consulted with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in 1975.[34] In 1976, Ito created an inquiry commission which "declared that it was not in a position to prove the supernatural events."[4] In 1978, the CDF published norms for examining "presumed apparitions or revelations."[35][e] Following the 1978 CDF norms,[37] Ito requested a CDF intervention in 1979 to create another inquiry commission to re-examine the facts.[4] In 1981, the CDF was "unfavorable to the events" and responded that it would not initiate a new examination.[38] But the 1981 CDF response "contained some misunderstandings," according to Ito, so he re-examined the facts in 1982 and "sent the complete dossier, augmented with the new facts" to the CDF.[38] Ito met with CDF officials in 1983 but the case remained under examination by the CDF.[4] Although the case remained under examination,[f] on 22 April 1984, Ito wrote that he did not find "any elements which are contrary to Catholic faith and morals" in the events and he also:

  • recognized "the supernatural character of a series of mysterious events concerning the statue" in the convent.[38]
  • authorized "the veneration of the Holy Mother of Akita," within the Diocese of Niigata, "while awaiting" a "definitive judgment on this matter" pronounced by the Holy See.[38]
  • distinguished that the events were a private revelation and not necessary for salvation like public revelation.[4]

In August 1988, Union of Catholic Asian News reported that Mutsuo Fukushima of the Kyodo News Service wrote that he accompanied Ito to a June 1988 meeting with Ratzinger. UCAN reported that "Ratzinger has approved the veracity of the messages of the Blessed Mother Mary at Akita, [...] according to information disclosed" by Fukushima.[32] It was reported that Fukushima wrote that Ratzinger told Ito that he did not object to Ito's pastoral letter.[32] But according to Yasuda, the CDF assured Ito in June 1988 "that he had acted properly."[39] Although not objecting to Ito's pastoral letter, Ratzinger "made no judgement about the credibility of the events."[40]

In April 1990, Bishop William Aquin Carew, apostolic nuncio to Japan, in an interview in Catholic magazine 30 Days, said that Ratzinger "did not give any judgment on the reliability or credibility of the 'messages of the Virgin'."[41]

Archbishop of Tokyo Peter Shirayanagi, then president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Japan, "said bluntly, 'The events of Akita are no longer to be taken seriously'," in a 1990 30 Days interview.[42]

Ito died in 1993.[3]

In 1999, Archbishop Ambrose De Paoli, apostolic nuncio to Japan, replied to the traditionalist Catholic magazine Christian Order that "The Holy See has never given any kind of approval to either the events or messages of Akita."[42]

"Despite claims that Cardinal Ratzinger gave definitive approval to Akita in 1988," Eternal Word Television Network wrote, in a 2011 correction, that "no ecclesiastical decree appears to exist, as certainly would in such a case." Nevertheless, there is no repudiation of "Ito's decision by his successors, or by higher authority," so "the events of Akita continue to have ecclesiastical approval."[8] In contrast, Thomas J. Craughwell wrote, in OSV Newsweekly, that "It appears, then, that Akita is not an approved apparition and the apocalyptic warnings we have read recently are not 'worthy of belief'."[42] As of May 2016, the Holy See "has not issued a formal statement on the matter."[33]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ In 1998, Inside the Vatican magazine reported the former Philippine ambassador to the Vatican, Howard Dee, said that "Ito was certain Akita was an extension of Fatima, and Cardinal Ratzinger (when he led the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) personally confirmed to me that these two messages, of Fatima and Akita, are essentially the same."[citation needed]
  2. ^ Years prior to 1973,[year needed] Sasagawa was Sawada's patient when she experienced hearing loss in her left ear.[13]
  3. ^ Sasagawa was examined in March 1975 at Akita City Hospital and at Akita Red Cross Hospital. Yasuda & Haffert (1994, pp. 144–145) did not include what type of hearing loss was diagnosed or which part of the auditory system was damaged.
  4. ^ Rosai hospitals provide government medical workers' compensation services that "include the prevention and treatment of work-related injuries and illnesses, and support for patients returning to work after an injury or illness."[19]
  5. ^ Official modern language translations of the 1978 CDF norms were published in 2012.[36]
  6. ^ Ito wrote in 1984 that the case had been under examination for eight years.[4]


  1. ^ Duricy 2012.
  2. ^ Schroedel, Jenny and Schroedel, John. The Everything Mary Book: The Life and Legacy of the Blessed Mother, 2006 ISBN 1-59337-713-4 page 137-138
  3. ^ a b catholic-hierarchy.org.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Ito & Duricy 2011.
  5. ^ Lindsey, David (2000). The Woman and the Dragon: Apparitions of Mary. New Orleans: Pelican Publishing Company. p. 235. ISBN 1565547314.
  6. ^ a b c Petrisko, Thomas W., Laurentin, Rene, and Fontecchio, Michael J., The Fatima Prophecies: At the Doorstep of the World by 1998 ISBN 1-891903-30-6 page 172, 174
  7. ^ Those who saw her: apparitions of Mary by Catherine M. Odell 1995 ISBN 0-87973-664-X pages 177-193
  8. ^ a b c d EWTN 2011.
  9. ^ a b c Hayes, Patrick (2016). Miracles: An Encyclopedia of People, Places, and Supernatural Events from Antiquity to the Present: An Encyclopedia of People, Places, and Supernatural Events from Antiquity to the Present. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. p. 291. ISBN 9781610695985.
  10. ^ Zelinsky, Vladimir (2007). "The Mother of God in the Orthodox Church". In Miravalle, Mark I (ed.). Mariology: a guide for priests, deacons, seminarians, and consecrated persons. Goleta, CA: Queenship Publishing. p. 880. ISBN 1-57918-355-7.
  11. ^ Miller, John D., Beads and prayers: the rosary in history and devotion, 2002 ISBN 0-86012-320-0 page 159
  12. ^ Yasuda & Haffert 1994, p. 8.
  13. ^ a b Yasuda & Haffert 1994, p. 9.
  14. ^ Yasuda & Haffert 1994, pp. 9, 182.
  15. ^ Yasuda & Haffert 1994, p. 11.
  16. ^ a b Yasuda & Haffert 1994, p. 143.
  17. ^ Yasuda & Haffert 1994, pp. 144–145.
  18. ^ Yasuda & Haffert 1994, pp. 195–196.
  19. ^ Fujii 2008, PubMed abstract.
  20. ^ a b Yasuda & Haffert 1994, p. 197.
  21. ^ Yasuda & Haffert 1994, pp. 181–182, 184.
  22. ^ Yasuda & Haffert 1994, p. 182.
  23. ^ Fukushima, Francis Mutsuo, "Akita: Mother of God as CoRedemptrix Modern Miracles of Holy Eucharist" (Queenship Publishing, Santa Barbara, California, 83-93)
  24. ^ Yasuda & Haffert 1994, p. 187.
  25. ^ Murguia 2016a, p. 290.
  26. ^ a b Yasuda & Haffert 1994, pp. 25–27.
  27. ^ Yasuda & Haffert 1994, p. 31.
  28. ^ Yasuda & Haffert 1994, p. 43.
  29. ^ Yasuda & Haffert 1994, p. 41.
  30. ^ Yasuda & Haffert 1994, pp. 42.
  31. ^ Yasuda & Haffert 1994, pp. 42–43.
  32. ^ a b c Union of Catholic Asian News 1988.
  33. ^ a b Rezac 2016.
  34. ^ Murguia 2016a, p. 291.
  35. ^ Ito & Duricy 2011; CDF 1978.
  36. ^ Glatz 2012.
  37. ^ EWTN 2011; CDF 1978.
  38. ^ a b c d Ito & Duricy 2011; Craughwell 2011.
  39. ^ Yasuda & Haffert 1994, p. 186.
  40. ^ Murguia 2016a, p. 292; Murguia 2016b, p. 427.
  41. ^ "Akita, Japan (1973-81)".
  42. ^ a b c Craughwell 2011.

External links[edit]

  • December 2015 National Geographics map showing Our Lady of Akita approval [1]
  • Haffert, John. The meaning of Akita (PDF). Asbury, New Jersey: 101 Foundation. OCLC 45063040. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2016-05-14. Retrieved 2016-05-14.