Veronica Lueken (July 12, 1923 – August 3, 1995) was a Roman Catholic housewife from Bayside, New York, who, between 1970 until her death in 1995, reported experiencing apparitions of the Virgin Mary, Jesus, and numerous Catholic saints. She gave messages from them at both Saint Robert Bellarmine Catholic Church in Bayside, and at the exedra monument at the 1964 New York World's Fair Vatican Pavilion site in Flushing Meadows Park. Lueken and her husband Arthur W. Lueken, Sr. (died August 28, 2002) had five children. They met in Flushing Meadows Park skating rink in 1945 and married the same year.
Bishop Francis Mugavero, then Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, stated in 1986 that "a thorough investigation revealed that the alleged visions of Bayside completely lacked authenticity" and that "the messages and other related propaganda contain statements which, among other things, are contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church,".
In June 1968, Lueken reported experiencing her first heavenly manifestation when she smelled a perfume of roses in her car while praying for the dying U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy, who was shot in an assassination attempt, and would die the next day from his injuries June 6, 1968. Lueken attested that Saint Thérèse of Lisieux appeared to her and dictated sacred poem-messages called Occulations from Heaven.
Lueken reported her first Marian vision in her home on April 7, 1970, when the Virgin Mary informed Lueken that: She would appear on the grounds of St. Robert Bellarmine Roman Catholic original Church in Bayside on June 18, 1970, and subsequently, on all great eve of the feast days of the Catholic Church. From that day, Lueken reported a series of Marian apparitions on the property of St. Robert Bellarmine in Bayside Hills. According to her report, on the date of her first vision, Mrs. Lueken was instructed by the Blessed Virgin Mary to establish a Marian shrine on the site of the church, and to hold Rosary Vigils on the eve of the feast days and Sunday holy hours of reparation for the Pope and priests. Lueken began to type up and circulate her messages from Heaven, of prayer, penance and atonement for the many sins becoming a way of life especially abortion which was brought forward in Albany in 1970 and legalized in 1971 and many of which had apocalyptic content. Overwhelmed by the influx of an estimated five hundred to two thousand Marian devotees from many states and Canada, the parish priests fenced off the church property in December 1974. In 1975, Monsignor James P. King, Chancellor of the Brooklyn Diocese, announced that the diocese did not believe in Veronica's apparitions.
Lueken elaborated on her reported visions. Apart from the Virgin Mary and the aforementioned Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, she also said she received visitations from Jesus Christ, Saint Joseph, Saint Peter, Paul the Apostle, John the Evangelist, Theresa of Avila, Thomas Aquinas, Bernadette Soubirous, Jacinta and Francisco Marto, Saint Rita, Saint Benedict, Pope Pius IX, Pope Pius X, Pope Pius XII, Pope Paul VI, Pope John XXIII, Catherine Laboure, Joan of Arc, St. Anne, Joachim, St. Benedict, Francis of Assisi, St. Louis de Montfort and St. Robert Bellarmine, Doctor of the Church, who was a leading figure in the counter reformation, to whom the church in question was named and dedicated. The archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael as well as guardian angels were said to have appeared to her. Most of the public apparitions occurred during the Rosary Vigils, during which Lueken would fall into a state of ecstasy and see the heavenly personages and repeat the message as a 'voice-box'. Lueken would describe the vision given her and the personages would speak through her. Almost all of the ecstasies were recorded live on audio cassette tape in the presence of hundreds of pilgrims and printed and sent to the world.
Following Monsignor King's comments, Lueken and her followers assembled on a traffic island in front of the site of the alleged visitation (1974/75). After objections raised by the Bayside Hills Civic Association, the Queens County Court Judge negotiated a permanent site of worship without harassment in agreement with the NYPD, NYC Dept of Parks and Recreation at the Vatican Pavilion site exedra monument in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. The Rosary Vigils and Holy Hours have continued until the present day.
Lueken established the Shrine of Our Lady of the Roses, which survived her death in 1995. At the apex of this organization were Veronica Lueken (President) and her husband, Arthur W. Lueken, Sr. (Vice President), Ann V. Ferguson (Secretary), (Officers on the Board). Accompanying them, were full-time volunteer men as workers to organize prayer vigils and assist the increasingly infirm and aging Lueken with mail corresponding with her followers. At some point, Lueken predicted, the authenticity of her visions would be recognized, and there would be a Basilica built on the site of her first visions at St Robert Bellarmine Church in Bayside, as well as the appearance of a healing spring of 'curative waters to erupt', and the area would become the venue of a national Marian shrine in the United States. Author Michael P. Carroll has suggested "the Bayside apparitions were modeled directly upon those in Necedah."
Status of the apparitions
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. In addition to these concerns, the Diocesan Bishop of Brooklyn at the time of the alleged apparitions, Bishop Francis Mugavero made the following declaration on November 4, 1986:
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.
Father Mark Gantley, JCL, clarified on EWTN that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a document related to "Proceeding in Judging Alleged Apparitions and Revelations" in 1974. Initially, a Diocesan Bishop is enabled to investigate the phenomenon in question. After he has completed his scrutiny, he may or may not ask for assistance from national Catholic Bishops Conferences, or refer the matter to the Holy See. St Michael's World Apostolate claims that the Vatican's guidelines for judging apparitions were not followed by the Brooklyn Diocese, no example of doctrinal error has been produced by the diocese, and claims Lueken was not questioned by the diocese. Furthermore, the group goes on to say that the Brooklyn Diocese has not made public any minutes and findings of this investigative committee to substantiate their claim that a full and thorough investigation was ever conducted. The Diocese continues to stand by its finding.
- Mugavero, Francis. "Declaration Concerning the 'Bayside Movement'"
- Kilgannon, Corey (October 9, 2003). "For These Believers, the Visions Endure". New York Times.
- Lii, Jane H., "Neighborhood Report: Bayside Hills;A Cherished Memory: Banishing Veronica", New York Times, June 4, 1995
- Wojcik, Daniel. "'Polaroids from Heaven', Photography, Folk Religion and the Miraculous Image Tradition at a Marian Apparition Site", Journal of American Folklore, 109 (432), pp. 129-148, American Folklore Society, 1996
- LeDuff, Charlie, "They Heard, They Came, They Await the End", New York Times, March 23, 1997
- Carroll, Michael P., "The Cult of the Virgin Mary: Psychological Origins", p. 139, Princeton University Press, 1992; ISBN 9780691028675
- "Complaints by SMWA on Diocecean investigation". Retrieved 2011-09-09.
- Veronica Lueken: The Virgin Mary's Bayside Prophecies: Volume 1: 1970-1973: Bayside, New York: 2002; ISBN 1-891981-01-3
- Our Lady of the Roses Shrine: Roses From Heaven: Orange, Texas: Children of Mary: 1990.
- David Clyde Skovmand: Prophecies Received by Mrs. Veronica Lueken (1997): Oakland: Our Lady's Worker of Northern California.
Contemporary media reports
- Roberta Grant: "War of the Roses" Rolling Stone (21.02.80):43-46.
- Phillip Nobile: "Our Lady of Bayside" New York 11 (11.12.78): 47-60.
- Daniel Wojcik, The End of the World as We Know It: Faith, Fatalism and Apocalypse in America (New York University Press, 1997), ISBN 0-8147-9283-9
- Michael Carroll, The Cult of the Virgin Mary: Psychological Origins (Princeton University Press, 1986), ISBN 0-691-09420-9
- Bishop Francis Mugavero, "Declaration Concerning the 'Bayside Movement'" (p. 209-211) in James LeBar ,ed., Cults, Sects and the New Age (Huntington, Indiana: Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division, 1989), ISBN 0-87973-431-0
- Sandra Zimdars-Swartz, Encountering Mary: From LaSalette to Medjugorge (Princeton University Press, 1991), ISBN 0-691-07371-6
- Michael W. Cuneo, The Smoke of Satan: Conservative and Traditionalist Dissent in Contemporary American Catholicism (Oxford University Press, 1999)
- Joseph P. Laycock: The Seer of Bayside: Veronica Lueken and the Struggle to Define Catholicism (Oxford University Press, 2014), ISBN 978-0199379668