1st International Day of Prayer
honoring the Lady and Mother of All Nations
Amsterdam, May 31, 1997
„All Generations Shall Call Me Blessed!“
On May 31, 1996, the diocesan Bishop of Haarlem-Amsterdam, His Excellency Mgr. Hendrik Bomers and his Auxiliary Bishop, Mgr. Jozef Punt, in an official letter, approved the public veneration of the Mother of God under the title THE LADY OF ALL NATIONS.
Already in 1955, in the message of May 31st, Mary appeals to her children: "...make sure that every year the nations will be assembled ... before this picture. This is the great favor that Mary, 'Miriam' or 'the Lady of All Nations' is allowed to bestow on the world." This was realized for the first time on May 31, 1997.
Approximately five thousand participants from around the world responded to the invitation, among whom were also brothers and sisters of other religious denominations and those interested in the faith. They came on their own or with pilgrim groups to Amsterdam for the First International Day of Prayer. Representatives from forty-nine nations, in bringing their flags, symbolically brought their nations to the miraculous image of the Lady of All Nations.
The sisters of the Family of Mary Coredemptrix, who have been taking care of the Shrine of the Lady of All Nations in Amsterdam since July 31, 1996, received greetings and messages from over twenty-five nations for the Day of Prayer. Among these was a message from the Prioress of the Carmelite monastery in Coimbra, Portugal, where Sr. Lucia, the visionary of Fatima, lives. Together with her fellow sisters in the convent, she united herself on that day with all the pilgrims who had come to Amsterdam.
At the beginning of the conference by Bishop Paul Maria Hnilica, his secretary, Father Luciano Alimandi, read the greetings from His Eminence Ricardo Cardinal Vidal of the Archdiocese of Cebu in the Philippines and from His Eminence Alfons Maria Cardinal Stickler from Rome.
Cardinal Vidal would have gladly come himself had he not already promised to take part in the Eucharistic Congress in Poland. Cardinal Stickler, who on that day was participating in a meeting of the movement "Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici" in Rome, referred to the prayer meeting in Amsterdam in his opening address there. In his greeting, he expressed his great joy over this First International Day of Prayer in Honor of the Lady of All Nations and his personal conviction as to the authenticity and importance of the Amsterdam messages.
Bishop Paul Maria Hnilica S.J. gave his conference on the theme, "Fatima and Amsterdam in the mystery of the Coredemption". In the course of it he convincingly showed the profound connection between Fatima and Amsterdam.
The high point of the day was the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Diocesan Bishop Mgr. Hendrik Bomers, as the main celebrant, together with Mgr. Eduard Kojnok, the Bishop of the diocese of Roznava in Slovakia, and Mgr. Paul Maria Hnilica S.J., celebrated the Mass. Among the eighty concelebrating priests, who had come from twenty-five different missionary areas, were also retired Abbot Nicolaas de Wolf O.S.B. from Holland and retired Abbot Dr. Thomas Niggl O.S.B. from Germany.
In his homily, which he gave in five languages, Bishop Bomers stressed once again the importance and necessity of the veneration of Mary as Lady and Mother of All Nations.
The procession of the forty-nine flag bearers expressed in an impressive and solemn manner that the Mother of God wants to lead the people of all nations to Jesus Christ. As the gift bearers in their respective national costumes, acting on behalf of all the nations of all continents, brought their gifts to the altar, many of the faithful and even Bishop Bomers were moved with emotion. There were tears of joy on many faces, for everyone could feel the atmosphere of unity and deep peace.
After the solemn blessing, the bishops along with the faithful renewed before the miraculous image of the Lady of All Nations the consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary with the same words that the Holy Father had prayed on March 25, 1984, in Rome in St. Peter's Square.
Bishop Eduard Kojnok spoke in the afternoon about the devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows in Slovakia and about his personal experiences during the time of the communist persecution.
Afterwards, in his inspiring conference, Father Paul Maria Sigl illustrated the importance of the Lady of All Nations for the Church and the world of today.
The Telegraaf, the most widely read daily newspaper in Holland, stated on the following day: "It may be true that Mary didn't appear, but nonetheless the almost five thousand pilgrims felt her presence. In a hitherto unprecedented way, faithful from forty-nine countries honored Mary for twelve hours."
Even before the Day of Prayer, the Telegraaf reported: "Mary remains the rock amid the breakers. Overwhelming preparation for the Day of Prayer in honor of the Lady of All Nations. Many Catholic Churches have had to close their doors in recent years because the faithful are staying away. It is called the de-christianizing of the Netherlands. Despite all of the de-christianization, Mary clearly remains a support and assurance, a rock amid the breakers for believers and non-believers alike. The statements which "the Lady" made during her appearances, and which often refer to the future of humanity, have subsequently become known world-wide as The Messages of the Lady of All Nations and are often mentioned in the same breath with the message of Fatima, where Mary appeared to three shepherd children in 1917. The International Day of Prayer is a unique event in the history of the Church in the Netherlands" (May 24, 1997).