The incredible reversal of Ireland, the stark betrayal of Christian principles, the tremendous disappointment in what was a short time ago the most Catholic of nations — the national vote okaying marriage between those of the same gender — has unsurprisingly brought thoughts back to phenomena and prophecies that occurred there, as if in preparation, during the 1980s and 1990s.

It was then, across the emerald isle, that statues of the Virgin Mary seemed to be coming to life. The statues were at roadside shrines or “grottos.”

This is a nation that has grottos, most dedicated to Lourdes, at virtually every village entrance — and a statue of her at its major airport.

Back in the 1990s: strange fogs were descending on the miniature shrines and when the fog cleared these grottos would seem to temporarily “disappear,” replaced by the spectacle of a shimmering heavenly meadow with the living three-dimensional figure of the Virgin standing there instead of a statue.

This happened at dozens of places hundreds of miles apart, where folks had not heard of what was transpiring elsewhere.

While newspapers, like our current-day bloggers, mocked the reports as a product of “the silly season,” adults and children alike insisted they were seeing Mary and receiving messages about the world — and its immorality, its coming darkness.

The statues were smiling, frowning, or turning (allegedly; yes, we’ll use that term). They were disappearing and giving way to living apparitions with messages similar to Betania in Venezuela, Kibeho in Rwanda, and Medjugorje in Bosnia-Hercegovina. Anyone who wanted to hear forecasts of coming events was in the right place along Ireland’s winding roads.

The “epidemic” actually started in 1985 near a village south of Cork called Ballinspittle. There a 70-inch statue of the Lourdes Virgin in a small cave up a steep vine-laden knoll gained instant notoriety. Phenomena occurred on and around it. The reports were everywhere, to the befuddlement of secularists who did not yet rule the day.

“They were looking for explanations, but there was no rational explanation,” said a priest, Father Gerard McGinnity, of Saint Patrick’s College in Armagh, shortly after the outbreak. “Our Lady was asked if the moving statues were only in Ireland, and she said this was happening especially for Ireland — a kind of preparatory stage. Why throughout Ireland? At the present time I could see Ireland as the place where the residue of faith is strongest. Our Blessed Mother is turning to this nation in the hope that we’ll spread this to the rest of the world — in hopes she would find a foothold here.”

Alas, such does not appear to be what has occurred.

Similar oddities were noticed in the hill country between Cork and Killarney.

And in some cases, it wasn’t just movements or superimpositions (images coming to life on statues). It was full-fledged, speaking apparitions — often, speaking a warning.

“Pray more for the conversion of sinners,” Mary putatively told one of the pilgrims/seers, Mary Casey, the mother of nine children (in this nation that is also edging toward the regularization of abortion). “I want you to remember bishops, priests, nuns, and all in the religious life in your prayers. Satan has begun to thwart my plans. I am always with you. Be not afraid of temptation. I want your prayers continuously.”

It was a nation that would soon be shamed by priestly sex-abuse crises, along with horror stories from those who had been in Catholic schools and orphanages.

A true Catholic tragedy this was — is. No wonder that the nation, of so many good people, and still many of them devout Catholics, would be visited by the glowing figure of a tall and exquisitely beautiful, motherly, but worried woman.

Other saints, and Jesus, were also seen: people claimed to witness the face of the Lourdes Virgin turn into the bearded countenances of Christ, especially as the Jesus of Mercy, or into holy figures like Padre Pio, Saint Joseph, Saint Thérèse the Little Flower, Saint Anthony, Saint Maria Goretti, and even Pope Pius XII.

In some places, balls of fire were seen falling, or there were huge rents in the earth; the sea flooding in. Prophetic images, they claimed. We’ll have more detail on this in a special report next week. “Woe,” was a message alleged to have come to a visionary near Cairn from Christ. A blood-red moon was seen. There were warnings especially about fornication, murder, abortion, and test-tube babies. Chastisement could come more swiftly than the wind, a seer told us. As for the water, it would start gently and then build up without stopping. [See our book, The Final Hour]. This was said at a Lourdes grotto inside Saint Peter and Saint Paul’s Church in Bessbook. “My angels are touching the earth,” was a message. “They haven’t struck. Mark what I say: They haven’t struck.”

In one case, at Melleray, a demon was observed. To the great relief of onlookers, he disappeared after a minute, but Mary warned that if the world did not improve, “the devil will take over God’s Church in ten years.”

“I love the Irish people,” she reportedly intoned. “I am praying with the people of God, to forgive the Irish people. I want the Irish people to spread my message to the world.”

Instead, the message is same-sex marriage.

And the lesson is that at least for now, a stronghold of Catholicism has succumbed — dramatically and dangerously — to the culture.

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