Our Lady of the Roses, Mary Help of Mothers
Our Lady of the Roses, Mary Help of Mothers(religion, spiritualism, and occult)
One of the most controversial claims concerning an apparition of the Virgin Mary in the contemporary world center on Veronica Lueken (1923–1995). Lueken’s unusual experience began in 1968 when Saint Therese of Lisieux (1873–1897) appeared to her and began to dictate poems and other spiritual writings to her. Then, in 1970, the Virgin Mary appeared to Lueken and told her that she would reappear on June 18, 1970, at the nearby Saint Robert Bellarmine Church in Bayside, Queens, New York. She then left instructions that the church’s priest prepare for the visitation and erect a shrine and basilica on the same site. The new church would be dedicated to “Our Lady of the Roses, Mary Help of Mothers”.
Lueken became Mary’s voice, and Mary appeared to her quite frequently. The messages arrived as the Roman Catholic Church was going through changes instituted by Vatican II, the all-church assemblage of Roman Catholic bishops that gathered in the early 1960s. The messages to Lueken spoke against many of these changes, as well as the general social and moral disintegration she perceived around her. As the messages continued and the crowds grew, the church moved against Lueken and her following. She was denied use of the church grounds, and so meetings were moved to the nearby Flushing Meadows Park in Queens.
Through the mid-1970s, the messages became more and more critical of the Catholic Church. In 1975 they endorsed a popular conspiratorial idea that Pope Paul VI (1897–1978) had been replaced with an imposter. Several Catholic bishops in the area, whose members attended the meetings at which Lueken spoke to the Virgin, issued statements denouncing the meetings. The groups, under the name Our Lady of the Roses, Mary Help of Mothers, gradually aligned with some other independent Marian centers with which they shared a similar conservative perspective. Lueken continued to receive messages until her death in 1995. Since that time the meetings have continued, with prayers using the rosary the central practice.
Among the unusual occurrences attending the apparitions are a set of unique photographs. Beginning in the 1970s, photographs taken by people attending the apparition sessions reported strange objects showing up in their pictures. One included a luminous cross, another the words “1972 Jacinto” (a reference to the Fatima apparitions). Many had a variety of strange lines of light. These “miraculous” photographs became so important that the Virgin gave instructions on taking them with a camera that allowed instant development and thus little opportunity to fake the pictures. Lueken’s followers have interpreted the pictures as added evidence that God is trying to communicate with humanity in preparation for the imminent end of the world.
In 1986, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Brooklyn issued a statement reiterating earlier statements declaring that the Church did not consider Lueken’s revelation credible. He also emphasized that the revelations contradicted Catholic teachings and were sowing seeds of doubt among the faithful relative to the Church’s leadership, especially regarding the claims about the pope being replaced by an imposter.