Testimonies of the Worldwide Action
of the Lady of All Nations - 2012
We have been told numerous examples and witnesses in the shrine of the Lady of All Nations. One is more touching and beautiful than the next; for example, Sigmund Janas, from eastern Germany, who found an interesting way to distribute nearly a million prayer cards.
There is also Dr. Monika van Elmpt, who faithfully hands out prayer cards for peace on the streets of Amsterdam every week for an hour. Sometimes the Mother of God takes matters into her own hands when it comes to getting her prayer and image into people’s hands.
Sr. Maria Columba: Not too long ago, I was biking along a canal back from the market to the shrine. Piled high with flowers for the image, a bouquet fell unnoticed from my bike into the middle of the street. “You lost your flowers!” a voice called out. I stopped and saw a lady holding my flowers and waving. Quickly, I turned around and claimed my dropped bouquet. Spontaneously, I offered the prayer card to the helpful lady as a little thank-you. “I’ll gladly take one!” she smiled. Then, we quickly moved off the street, so that a patient driver could get by. Indeed, sometimes even a little “accident” can assist in the mission of the Lady of All Nations!
Another sister from Amsterdam explained, “Once I went to pick up a registered letter at the post office. I was overwhelmed by the worldly atmosphere. I thought, ‘Oh, Mother, I’m really not in the right frame of mind to pass out your prayer card today!’ So I quickly pulled out my passport, which I needed as ID. And then it happened anyway: A prayer card drifted across the table landed directly at the feet of the postal worker. Of course, that made it easy to give one to the man who accepted it thankfully. As I left, I resolved to be more courageous the next time.”
Nel from Doorn in the Netherlands also hands out the prayer card. Once she gave one to the man working at the cash register of a health food store. When she came back the following week, the cashier approached her, “I have to tell you something! On the day that I received the image of Mary from you, my family started talking about Jesus and Mary, completely out of the blue. My little boy asked, ‘What does Mary actually look like? I have never seen her!’
‘Wait’, I replied and pulled out the picture that you had just given me that day. When my son saw her, he exclaimed, ‘Oh, I like that. I’ll hang it by my bed.’”
Here today, among the pilgrims from Slovakia are Andrej and L’udmila Šarišsky, along with their daughters. Four weeks ago, the Greek Catholic couple came to the chapel in Amsterdam. By chance, L’udmila mentioned that she converted twelve years ago when the pilgrim image of the Lady of All Nations had come to her eastern Slovakian village Dacov.
L’udmilla Šarišska: Today, on the occasion of the Day of Prayer, I want to say how grateful I am that I learned about the Lady of All Nations twelve years ago. Many things have improved in my family. It was June of 2000, and I was completely overwhelmed by all the work of having six children and a huge farm. Every morning I would get up at four o’clock to feed the animals. I would complain and curse incessantly because of all the work. One day, the children came home and said: “Mom, the Mother of God is at our neighbor’s house!”
“Which Mother of God? She’s in heaven!” I answered, annoyed. My six-year-old son began to cry, “Mom, come on! The Mother of God is waiting for us!” But, I yelled at him, saying, “I cannot go now! I have a ton of work and no time. I have to feed the cattle in the barn!”
In the end, I reluctantly went with my children to the neighbor’s house, where about twenty people were gathered in the living room, praying. I started to feel a powerful spiritual battle within me. Even physically, I felt it strain throughout my entire body. Completely irritated I stared at the image and thought “What am I even doing here?”
However after an hour, something unraveled within me. I don’t know how, but I was suddenly overcome with relief and peace. It was as if I had become another person.
The next day, my oldest daughter Ludka suddenly said, “Mom, do you realize that you haven’t yelled or cursed all day?” Then I noticed that despite several mishaps, not one bad or evil word had crossed my lips. On top of that, I had an inexplicably strong desire to go to Confession. Surprised, my daughter said, “Easter is past, and Christmas is a long way off! Why do you want to go to Confession?” However, something drew me to Holy Confession, and so I went that very same day. Since then I have been completely freed from the curse of swearing.
The image did not only come to her house; rather, in the course of six months, L’udmilla herself brought it to each of the families in the village who wished to have it. But that was not easy.
L’udmila remarked that, “Some laughed, not believing my conversion. Others wouldn’t accept the prayer card or even pray because the prayer was being led by a sinner. I felt bad because I had to agree with them. Actually, it used to be easier for me to sin than to pray!”
Over the past twelve years, many things have changed. Earlier, barely a dozen old women came to pray the Rosary before Holy Mass. Now there are many believers who come on the first Sunday of every month. A year and half after L’udmilla’s conversion, her husband Andrej gave up drinking, and both are firm in their Christian conviction. L’udmila helps daily in the parish as an organist, singer and leading the prayers; she also looks after the altar boys.
As her husband Andrej attests, “Years ago we toiled away in the fields until 9 o’clock in the evening. Now we have to finish at 6 o’clock to get ready for church, which is three hours of lost time, looking at it from a workers point-of-view. Even so, everything is functioning fine, and from the spiritual perspective it is an explosion of grace.”
Let us go over to Italy where our seminarians write how an ordinary day of studies turned into an unexpected mission:
“After our lectures at the university, we always rush to catch the bus to main train station ‘Roma Termini’. One day, we all just barely caught the bus, with the exception of Janko our Swiss brother, who missed it. But he didn’t give up; he began to run as fast as possible to get on at the next stop. In the beginning, he was able to keep up surprisingly well, and people in the bus started making bets: Will he make it or not? In the meantime pretty much all of the people on the bus had noticed the sprinter racing on the sidewalk after the bus. Since the bus route makes several turns around Piazza Venezia, he managed to catch up with the bus. When he jumped on completely out of breath he was greeted with cheers and applause. ‘Complimenti, complimenti!’ the Italians routed.
“Surprised, we explained to Janko that everyone had been following his ‘race’. So, he quickly took advantage of the moment to open his folder and hand out prayer cards on the bus. Everyone accepted them gladly, and even people at the front of the bus came to ask for one.” (Janko is the tall one!)
Old and young can participate in the Worldwide Action.
Ettore Fava from Turin wrote “I diligently read the excellent pamphlet about the Mother of All Nations. I am already 88 years old. Nevertheless, I wanted to make myself useful by passing out the prayer of the Mother of All Nations. Mary really is our “Mama”.
So, Ettore started with 250 prayer cards and the permission of priests from three parishes in Turin, to win the parishioners’ hearts to pray this prayer.
Since then, Ettore is involved in various places with the mission for the “Lady of his heart”, as he lovingly calls Mary. He himself prays “her” prayer often during the day and also at night. We spoke on the phone and he said, “My love of ’Mammina’ is young and alive! This kind of love never grows old!”
Two of our sisters also went to an Italian high school in Ariccia near Castelgandolfo where they went from class to class, handing out 700 prayer cards to 400 boys. The principal initially said to us, “They are not going to take these cards!” Contrary to expectations, the difficult students, between the ages of 13 and 20, were very interested and asked several questions.
The teachers were astounded. Normally, their students, many of whom come from orphanages or foster families, are so disruptive and loud that they do not even hold a school Mass anymore. At the end, a teacher pointed out, “In the first class you did not pray the prayer with the boys. However, in the second class, you did and the atmosphere was completely different. A certain kind of peace was evident! I just wanted to tell you this, to encourage you to pray the prayer with all of the classes. It really does give peace, even to me!”
The parishioners of Omignano Scalo had the original idea of honoring the Lady of All Nations with a three day festival. Together with the parish priest, the mayor, as well as the mayors of two neighboring towns, they greeted the Mother of God at the entrance to the town. After a procession through the town to the church square, the “Signora di tutti i Popoli” was symbolically handed a large key. As they put it, the key was given to her the “true Mother and Lady” of the town and parish.
The Mother of All Nations even came to the notorious Regina Coeli prison in Rome, with its 1000 inmates. After a Mass in the inner courtyard, our sisters were allowed to speak for ten minutes to the inmates about the prayer of the Lady of All Nations and of the significance of the image. They were also permitted to pray the prayer with them. As the inmates were being brought back to their various sectors, one turned around and asked, “Sister, please give me a few more images. Inside there are others who would like to have one.” Incidentally, even the guards took the prayer cards.
In Advent 2010, as they were binding advent wreaths, our missionaries in the Czech Republic spoke to children from the city of Nové Hrady about the Mother of All Nations, and encouraged them to pray the powerful prayer of the Mother of All Nations. A girl named Zdenka was particularly moved. Despite coming from a family of non-believers and unbaptized, she faithfully stated to pray the Amsterdam prayer every day. This did not go without effect. Soon she began to attend religious education classes and attend daily Mass. It did not take long before she longed for Baptism and Holy Communion. But that’s not all! Zdenka invited her friends to catechism and Holy Mass; she absolutely wanted her friends to know that Our Lady is their personal mother. On May 8th last year, it was finally time for Zdenka, who was well-prepared, to receive Holy Baptism and in May this year, her first Holy Communion.
The next witness is from a teacher and father of seven, Johannes Piendl from Abensberg, Germany.
I am pleased to report on a newly erected chapel in honor the Mother of All Nations in Germany. The pilgrimage church “The Assumption of Mary” is located between Regensburg and Ingolstadt, in the heart of Bavaria, in a lovely area near Allersdorf. It is in a circle of ten Marian chapels. One could say that Mary leads the pilgrims to Jesus through the pilgrimage chapels.
Each chapel depicts a different mystery from the life of Mary. The more than 300-year-old chapels were all half in ruins, with no funds available for restoration. The church building committee proposed that whoever wanted to fund the renovation of a chapel would be allowed to choose the pictures of Mary and the saints to be hung in the chapel. Almost magically, I felt drawn to restore the first and the last chapels. The Marian epoch began in Paris with the Immaculate Conception is depicted in the first chapel.
Once the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception had been restored, I had a great desire and even felt commissioned to restore the tenth chapel, to place in crowning glory the image of the Lady of All Nations. However, many difficulties stood in the way! The chapel stood on a steep slope. In the picture you can see it to the left. The façade had sunk by 8 inches, and there were cracks in the walls. It would cost too much, people thought, and even building experts maintained that the chapel would collapse if the foundation was not reinforced.
Despite all concerns, I trusted that with God’s blessing, everything would go well with this dilapidated chapel too. For the side walls we choose the image of Jesus of Divine Mercy, St. Joseph, and a guardian angel. On the outside pillars, we attached the Amsterdam prayer in eight different languages.
Following a ten-month renovation, the chapel was blessed by Fr. Antonius Maria Sohler. In his homily, he fittingly said, “Mary, who chose the chapel on the slope, seems to be saying ’Stop! Stay here by your Mother, for from here on, it is only downhill! I will take you by the hand and lead you to Christ, to his Holy Church.’”
During the renovations, I saw just how many different people of various ages come at different times of day to spend quiet and private time in the chapel. Now there is a box of prayer cards and brochures as well as ones of Jesus of Divine Mercy. Thus dozens of pictures are taken by praying pilgrims, especially since Allersdorf is so accessible.
The unfamiliar image appeals to both young and old. Even honoring Mary under the generally unknown notion of “Mother of All” is gratefully accepted and makes some think more about it. Let us hope that this little chapel erected in honor of the Mother of All Nations will bring blessings to many in the future. May the Lady of All Nations be our advocate!
Chapels to honor the Lady of All Nations are, of course, established in other countries as well.
Milena Cosic, who is with us today, erected a chapel in Croatia in thanksgiving for the recovery of her son. Every week a Holy Mass for unity is celebrated there.
About 800 miles south, in Congo, a German Augustinian priest, Fr. Ferdinand Bodensteiner has been working for over forty years as a missionary.
In January of this year, Fr. Ferdinand dedicated a pilgrimage church in Amadi in honor of two African martyrs. At the same time, a statue in honor of the Lady of All Nations was placed in the courtyard of the chapel, which he erected with the local people.
“I thought to myself that the Lady of All Nations fits well here,” he said to us on the phone. “The people have openly accepted her and gladly go to the chapel to pray the prayer of Amsterdam in Lingala. This is how it soaks into the earth.”
One particularly impressive example from Austria demonstrates how the Mother of All Nations can prepare us for death.
Sr. Angela tells us the story:
On October 22, 2011, after a Day of Prayer in Switzerland, we sisters drove to Innsbruck. Filled with new enthusiasm, we did not want to miss any opportunity to pass out the prayer card. Thus, even the man at the border patrol between Lichtenstein and Austria did not “escape” us, even though he wanted to wave us through.
Surprisingly, he studied the image and said, “This is exactly what I need; my son is hovering between life and death at the hospital in Innsbruck.” “May we visit him?” I asked spontaneously. This pleased him very much and so we made our way to the hospital in Innsbruck the very next day.
When I entered the room, I thought to myself, “This cannot possibly be 30-year-old Simon.” Chemotherapy, not to mention twenty operations, had turned Simon into an old man. His face was devoid of any joy.Far from the Church and now without any home, he had even considered suicide. I explained to him how I had met his father at the border, and I also gave him a prayer card.
From that day on, we visited Simon every day and prayed with him. A real friendship developed until his death a few months later. At first he did not want to hear anything about heaven, but with time, we noticed a change externally, but also interiorly. He even asked of his own accord for Holy Communion and received the Anointing of the Sick several times. He gladly prayed with us. On February 3rd, the First Friday in honor of the Sacred Heart, he peacefully passed away in his sleep.
Indeed we could not believe how the Mother of God had managed to lead us to Simon through this simple image and to prepare him for death. In the last weeks of his life, what the Lady of All Nations said had come to pass: “Nations, through the hands of the Lady let yourselves be brought to the Lord, be brought to your Sacraments”. She had literally led him to the Sacraments.
The Mother of All Nations wants everyone to have the prayer in their native language. How these translations come about can be very interesting:
At a conference of Aid to the Church in Need in March 2011 we met the Pakistani Professor and Bible expert Fr. Emmanuel Asi. He translated the prayer of the Mother of All Nations into Urdu and suggested having the prayer printed in Pakistan, so it could be passed out to thousands of people at the annual, national Marian pilgrimage.
The plan was good, but doing it was not so easy because, as usual, the translation has to be proofread by an independent person. However, where does one quickly find a competent person who could correct the prayer in Urdu? Time was ticking, because the prayer cards needed to be printed by September 8th.
Then, on the August 13th, on a train ride to Paris, we met a Catholic Pakistani family.
It turned out that both Francis Rehmat and his wife Celine are teachers of Urdu. Very willingly they agreed to check the translation. This was a sign for us that the Mother of All Nations really wanted her prayer and image to be distributed in Pakistan on her birthday.
In October, Fr. Asi wrote: “The prayer cards in Urdu were actually able to be printed in September in Pakistan and handed out at the opening ceremony of the national pilgrimage at Mariambad.”
There, in the presence of thousands of pilgrims, many priests, sisters, catechists, multiple bishops and important political figures, Fr. Asi explained the image and prayer.
We are constantly reminded that fruitful ministry is supported by hidden prayers and sacrifice. This was reiterated when Francis Rehmat told us that his oldest son Sunil is completely paralyzed due to a doctor’s mistake. The Rehmat family is representing Pakistan today, by bringing up the gifts at Holy Mass.
Should you happen to visit one of the many islands of the Philippines, you will certainly see a picture of the Mother of All Nations.
On October 24, 2011, the Co-General Director of the Philippines Civil Air Office Edgardo Costes wrote to all airport managers of the nearly 100 civilian airports. He requested that they destine a place in their airport to hang a framed picture of the Lady of All Nations. Since then Zenaida Belcina keeps busy sending each and every airport a framed picture. From many airports, she has already received a photo showing where the picture is hanging.
Here you see the check-in area of the airport Silay on the island of Negros. Every week the prayer cards in front of the image are replenished.
It was nice, in April and again just last week, several Filipinos who had seen the image in Philippine airports and came to visit the chapel in Amsterdam.
Sr. Julian: In April 2011, I was invited with another sister, to speak about the Lady of All Nations in two primary schools in London. The first school, St. Mary’s, consisted of four classes with students from different ethnic and religious backgrounds. The principal was very pleased to receive the image of the Lady of All Nations and promised to hang it in the school lobby and to place the school under the special protection of Our Lady.
The second school, named after its patron St. Ignatius, was substantially larger with 340 students. Principal Jim Coffee personally escorted us to every class. In the beginning he was quite reserved, but by the second class, he started handing out images to the students himself. He even wanted more material and said to the students, “Children, let’s add this prayer to our daily prayers at school.”
As you can see in the photos, the children were happy to receive the image and some even kissed it as we prayed together in each class.
We also heard touching stories from Ireland which demonstrate how well the Mother of All Nations is received by children and youth in schools and camps. Unfortunately, there is not enough time today to tell them all.
However, we would just like to cite one special example from a school in Argentina:
Our Lady requests that, “This prayer shall be spread in churches and by modern means”.
With this in mind, in November 2011 the sisters in Amsterdam had the first possibility to hold a video conference, all about the Lady of All Nations. Basically, they were connected in shrine via internet with a class in South America. In the Colegio Cardenal Pironio of Buenos Aires, the conference was projected on a wall.
In this technological, modern way, the Mother of All Nations “visited” another continent, while our parishioners in the Amsterdam chapel prayed for the success of the video conference.
At the end, a teacher who had been taking copious notes spoke up, saying: “I am very touched by everything we have heard and will ensure that each and every one of the students gets a prayer card with the image of the Lady of All Nations. We will learn and pray the prayer together with the whole student body.”
Since we are in South America, let’s head over to Peru:
There, among other orders, the Dominican sisters hand out the prayer card in their convents and distribute them among the students of their numerous schools.
When, for example, the General Mother Superior Antonina Alfar Minchola, went to visit the convents in Peru and Argentina, she took 1000 prayer cards for the sisters and wrote to us: “Thank you for the material, which I will personally distribute.”
The interest in the prayer card is so great that Mónica Farah in the capital city Lima has to keep reprinting tens of thousands of them.
Today Mónica Farah is here from Peru to share with us an unforgettable experience.
Sad and dejected, she was on her way home one day, when, on the side of the road, she spotted a man with no limbs. She gave him some money, with a few kind words as she quickly continued on her way.
After a few steps she heard the poor man say, “I am blind!” So, Mónica turned around and spoke full of sympathy to the handicapped man about the Lady of All Nations and the value of offering up one’s suffering. She was sorry that she did not have a prayer card with her.
Since the man was blind though, she began to recite the Amsterdam prayer, line by line, until he had memorized it. This touched a passerby so much, that she stopped and, after listening attentively, took out a pen and paper and wrote down the Amsterdam prayer. What’s more, she was Protestant, as was the blind man.
As the three eventually said goodbye, Mónica was cheerful and felt as if she was the one who had been given something. You see that even in this unique case, the lack of a prayer card was not a hindrance, even though it is always good to have one handy.
Speaking of prayer cards… Dear pilgrims, for the Worldwide Action, the Mother of All Nations personally gave us “her” prayer and “her” image. As we near the end, let us draw your attention to the 4-page prayer card. It contains the most important information, to facilitate distribution without the need for too much explanation. The prayer card continues to be translated into additional languages. Please help others to get to know the Mother of God.
If you are looking for a nice gift idea, the prayer cards are available in a format similar to that of a credit card. Even the aptly named “Action pamphlet”, available in various languages, is worth recommending, especially for those who already show some interest in Amsterdam.
The valuable conference from Father Paul Maria Sigl, held three years ago here in Cologne gives even more details and offers more background on Amsterdam. It is available in seventeen different languages.
Father de Waard, a Dutch missionary working in Brazil, asked to have hundreds of copies of the conference sent in Portuguese. Since April he has been meeting every week with his parishioners to study its contents. In this way, they seek to better understand Mary’s calling.
Finally, one little tip: if you happen to notice that you did not get enough prayer cards, it is now possible to order more Lady of All Nations material through our web shop over the internet.
Thank you for your attention.