On April 22, 1984, Bishop John Shojiro Ito, the local ordinary of the
diocese where the Marian apparitions took place, issued a pastoral letter in
which he authorized the veneration of the Holy Mother of Akita. In the
pastoral letter, Bishop Ito declared the supernatural authenticity of three
Marian messages, the messages of an angel and other mysterious events that
have happened to a Japanese nun since 1973 at a convent in Akita, Northern
Japan, a city that belongs to his diocese.
His successor as local ordinary, Bishop Francisco K. Sato, has continued
his predecessor’s authorization of the veneration of the Holy Mother of
Akita. Thanks to these two diocesan bishops’ authorization of this
veneration, pilgrims from some fifty countries have trekked to the convent
of the apparitions over the past twenty years and pilgrimages still continue
Here an important fact should be noted: Akita, Fatima and Lourdes all
share one decisive Providential development—a local ordinary who declared
the supernatural truthfulness of the Marian apparition, in the form of a
pastoral letter. In Lourdes, Bishop Bertrand Laurence did so on January 18,
1862. In Fatima, Bishop Jose de Silva issued his pastoral letter on October
13, 1930. In Akita, Bishop Ito did so in 1984.
The mysterious events in Akita chiefly concerned a wooden statue of the
Blessed Mother at the convent of the Handmaids of the Holy Eucharist. The
statue stands on a globe with a Cross standing behind her body. The statue
stretches out both arms slightly downward. The statue was carved by a
Japanese sculptor, a Buddhist, Saburo Wakasa, who used a small card
containing the image of "The Lady of All Nations" of Amsterdam as its model.
He sculpted it about thirty years ago by adding the facial features of a
typical Japanese woman to the image of the Lady of All Nations. The statue
shed tears for the first time on January 4, 1975, which was a Saturday
morning. The second and third weepings took place in the afternoon and
evening of the same day. The last and one hundred first weeping took place
on September 15, 1981, the feast day of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed
Virgin Mary. This number "101" has a profound meaning, which I will explain
I witnessed almost all of the hundred and one episodes of the statue’s
weepings or lacrimations with my own eyes, except for three of these
episodes. I was appointed as the spiritual director for the convent in Akita
By Bishop John Ito in 1974—a year before the weeping began. Every time the
statue wept, I was notified about it by someone and called to the scene.
During each of these incidents I directed eyewitnesses to recite five
decades of the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary in front of the weeping
statue. Whenever teardrops still remained on the statue after we completed
the joint recitation of the rosary, I collected them with cotton swabs.
These cotton swabs, along with labels carrying the date of each weeping,
have been preserved as precious hard evidence and kept inside a wooden
display stand with a glass lid.
Why the statue shed tears had remained an unanswerable question for
several years. Some people interpreted the weeping as being the Holy
Mother’s warning against the sinfulness of modern men. From the onset of
these series of weepings, I had thought that there might be a deep
relationship between the statue’s weepings and the historical fact that the
Blessed Virgin Mary wept on Calvary when she observed her Divine Son Jesus
Christ redeem mankind by His bloody Sacrifice on the Cross.
In 1981 a mysterious event taught me that God caused the statue to weep
in order to teach the Roman Catholic Church the truth of Marian Coredemption,
by calling its attention to the Blessed Virgin’s sufferings and tears at the
foot of the Cross. This realization was given to me after an angel explained
the profound meaning of the statue’s one hundred and one weepings to Sr.
Agnes Katsuko Sasagawa, one of the nuns at the convent. Sr. Agnes
immediately rushed to my office to recount the angelic message after the
The message and the weeping constitute private revelations. Those who
received the message and witnessed the mysterious events are not in charge
of defining or promulgating a doctrine or dogma of faith. However, it does
not mean that the message and weeping may be ignored. This message related
to the Coredemption and the tears from the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary
has the same level of profound significance as the Marian apparitions in
Lourdes in 1858.
When Pope John Paul II defines and promulgates to the world the
Coredemption by the Blessed Virgin Mary as a dogma of faith, true Catholic
believers around the world will welcome these private revelations in Akita
as invaluable events by which God explained the truth of Coredemption, just
as they have welcomed the Marian apparitions in Lourdes.
In Lourdes, Bernadette Soubirous witnessed the Blessed Virgin Mary emit
splendorous light from her majestic figure in the grotto of Massabielle a
total of eighteen times. God taught the Roman Catholic Church, through the
experiences of Bernadette, that this wonderful figure of the Blessed Virgin
itself signifies her Immaculate Conception, in addition to the Holy Mother’s
own words, "I am the Immaculate Conception."
Although the dogma of the Immaculate Conception had been promulgated to
the world by Pope Pius IX four years before the apparitions, the contents of
the dogma had remained difficult for ordinary Catholic laymen to understand
and embrace in their hearts. As a result, the dogma could not filter down
into the hearts of Catholic believers around the world, even for some years
after its ex-cathedra promulgation.
Then God sent the Blessed Mother Mary to Lourdes as a crucial divine gift
for all Catholic believers. Today, we know that numerous statues depicting
the image of the Holy Mother at Lourdes have been installed at many Catholic
churches around the world to commemorate the divine intervention in 1858.
These developments suggest that the dogma of the Immaculate Conception
would not have been able to exert its favorable effect of strengthening the
faith of ordinary laymen if the Marian apparitions in Lourdes had not taken
place and thereby profoundly influenced ordinary laymen. These apparitions
have helped these laymen understand this dogma, and each believer’s faith
has been bolstered by their understanding of the dogma.
Generally speaking, even if a dogma is promulgated as a truth of faith by
a pope, the truth remains hard to understand from the standpoint of ordinary
Catholic believers. The Apostle Paul said, in his letter to the Romans
(12:6), "Our gifts differ according to the grace given to us. If your gift
is prophecy, then use it in accordance with the teachings of the faith."
Here, St. Paul teaches the Catholic Church that the truthfulness of the
content of a prophecy or the messages of an alleged apparition can and must
be judged by examining whether they correspond with Catholic dogmas and
doctrines. This is because expressions of dogmas are formulated by human
beings under inspiration from the Holy Spirit.
What Saint Paul said here applies to Lourdes, where God arranged for the
dogma of the Immaculate Conception to be explained in a manner that could be
understood by ordinary Catholic believers by linking the difficult dogma to
the Marian apparitions there.
Our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, has repeatedly alluded to the Blessed
Mother’s Coredemption through his encyclical Redemptoris Mater and
explanations at general audiences, although he has not yet defined and
promulgated it as a dogma.
If Catholic believers around the world come to understand that the
hundred and one episodes of weeping of the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary
in Akita signifies her Coredemption, they will be able to understand and
embrace the upcoming dogma of Coredemption in their hearts far more easily,
just as the Marian apparitions in Lourdes helped believers understand the
dogma of the Immaculate Conception. This is because the doctrine of the
Coredemption contains a subtle theological nuance, and therefore it is
sometimes hard for ordinary Catholics to understand this truth.
It is truly beautiful that God revealed this difficult truth in Akita in
such an easily understandable manner for ordinary Catholic believers—namely,
by causing the statue to shed tears that symbolize her maternal suffering on
Calvary, which she offered up to the Heavenly Father as Coredemptrix by
giving full consent to the immolation of her Divine son Jesus on the Cross.
God willed that Mary suffer together with Jesus in accordance with His
eternal plan of Salvation. It was even more painful for Mary to consent to
her Son’s immolation than for her to be physically killed. She offered up
her suffering to God, thereby acting in accordance with God’s own plan for
the salvation of mankind.
Of course, nobody should interpret Jesus’ Redemption and Mary’s
Coredemption as having the same level of value. Saint Paul says, in his
First Letter to Timothy (2:5-6), "For there is only one God, and there is
only one mediator between God and mankind, Himself a man, Jesus Christ, who
sacrificed Himself as a ransom for them all."
Essential differences between Jesus’ Redemption and Mary’s Coredemption
need to be understood by keeping in mind the ontological differences between
the persons of Jesus and Mary. The Divine Person of Jesus Christ, who
assumed a human nature, offered His body to the Heavenly Father as the
Sacrifice, and suffered in His human flesh and soul to redeem mankind.
At that moment, Mary, observing her son’s sacrifice from beneath the
Cross, gave full consent to Christ’s immolation and offered her beloved son
to the Heavenly Father as unique human cooperator. During this Mary was
experiencing very acute spiritual pains whose intensity is beyond any human
being’s ability to imagine. God called our attention to her suffering by
causing the statue in Akita to shed tears.
No human wisdom can grasp the depth of Mary’s self-abandoning love of
God, which caused her to show deep and perfect obedience to the Heavenly
Father as His handmaid, from the moment of the Annunciation to the moment of
the Redemption of mankind by her son Jesus on the Cross.
Her first public action as such a unique cooperator of the Redeemer
recorded by the Scripture was her presentation of the baby Jesus to God in
the Temple, on the fortieth day after the Redeemer’s birth, according to the
Law of the Lord. She, as His mother, offered Jesus to God and thus silently
expressed her willingness to consent to the upcoming immolation of her son.
Then the upright old prophet, Simeon, foretold the mystery of her mission
as the Coredemptrix to her: "You see this child: He is destined for the fall
and for the rising of many in Israel, destined to be a sign that is
rejected—and a sword will pierce your own soul too" (Lk 2: 35).
On September 15, 1981, around two o’clock in the afternoon, the statue of
the Blessed Virgin Mary wept for the one hundred first time. A total of
sixty-five persons, including myself, were eyewitnesses on that day. The
weeping moved all deeply, especially because the day fell upon the feast day
of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary. No one present could
foresee, however, that God had willed that this episode was to be the
statue’s last weeping.
On the thirteenth day from that date, September 28th, Sr. Agnes felt the
presence of an angel at her side in front of the exposed Holy Eucharist,
during her silent prayers which followed the sisters’ joint recitation of
the Rosary at the chapel.
Sr. Agnes did not see the angel in person then. Instead, the mysterious
vision of a majestic, beautiful Bible surrounded by a celestial light
appeared in front of her. The angel instructed her to read a passage in
Scripture. In an open page of the Bible, she recognized the reference—Verse
15 of Chapter 3, of the book of Genesis. Then she heard the voice of the
angel say, in the manner of a preamble, that there is a profound
relationship between this passage and the weeping of the Blessed Mother
Mary. The angel then said:
There is a profound meaning to the figure 101 of the hundred and one
episodes of the holy weepings of the statue of the Holy Mother Mary. This
signifies that sin came into the world through a woman and it is also
through a woman that the grace of salvation came to the world. The zero,
which is between the two "ones," signifies God who exists from all eternity
until eternity. The first "one" represents Eve, and the last "one" signifies
the Holy Mother Mary.
Then the angel instructed her to reread Verse 15 of Chapter 3 of Genesis,
and told her, "You must convey this message to the Catholic priest who has
given you spiritual guidance." The angel then left. At the same time the
vision of the Bible disappeared.
After the adoration of the Holy Eucharist, Sr. Agnes rushed to my office
and asked me to verify the passage. I opened the Bible and found the passage
which carries God’s prophetic announcement to Satan: "I will place enmity
between thee and the woman, between thy seed and her seed. She will crush
thy head and thou shall bite her heel."
It was by the message of the angel, who quoted Verse 15 of Chapter 3 of
Genesis, that the profound significance of the tears of the Holy Mother Mary
was elucidated. This means that the statue’s tears resulted from the Divine
aim of calling all Roman Catholics’ attention to Mary’s sufferings at the
foot of the Cross as Coredemptrix. The miraculous tears were created by God
to teach the entire Roman Catholic Church that the Holy Mother suffered and
wept as the Mother of Jesus Christ amidst her noble act of Coredemption,
when she gave full consent to his immolation.
When our Holy Mother Mary observed Jesus crucified to redeem mankind, she
consented to the sacrifice of her Son and offered her Son to the Heavenly
Father. Nonetheless, her intense spiritual sufferings (before the reality
that she was losing her beloved Son Jesus), caused her to shed copious tears
as she endured this great ordeal.
The weepings of the statue of the Holy Mother Mary in the convent in
Akita equal that of the mysterious experiences of Saint Bernadette, who
witnessed the vision of Mary the Immaculate Conception at the grotto of
Massabielle. I have heard that numerous statues of Mary have wept in various
sites around the world. But none of these weepings had their meaning
explained by an angel’s reference to Scripture.
In Akita, God linked the weepings of the statue of the Blessed Mother
with the upcoming dogma of the Coredemptrix by having the tears themselves
signify the upcoming dogma in advance. In this sense, the tears were a
mystical Divine prophecy of the dogma. If we confirm that the meaning of the
one hundred and one episodes of the statue’s lacrimations can be explained
clearly by the words of Scripture, then we can conclude that the weepings
are truly Divine Revelations and that they have a celestial supernatural
To confirm this, let us examine the profound Christology of the Apostle
Saint Paul in his letter to the Romans, in which St. Paul, inspired by God,
identified Jesus Christ as the new Adam. Saint Paul wrote:
Sin entered the world through one man, and through sin death, and thus
death has spread through the whole human race because everyone has sinned
Adam prefigured the one to come. The gift (of the Redemption) itself
considerably outweighed the fall. If it is certain that through one man’s
fall so many died, it is even more certain that divine grace, coming through
the one man, Jesus Christ, came to so many as an abundant free gift. The
results of the gift also outweigh the results of one man’s sin (Romans
Given the fact that the truth of the contrast between the old Adam and
the new Adam, Jesus Christ, was elucidated by Saint Paul, it is natural to
conclude that Saint Paul was also aware of a similar contrast between the
old Eve and the new Eve, Mary, the Mother of God. This is because the sin of
Adam is linked with that of Eve, who tempted Adam to disobey God’s command.
It is evident that the grace of the Redemption of Jesus Christ, the
Redeemer, came to the world in accordance with the plan of God, who willed
that Jesus be born of Mary, the Immaculate Conception, the New Eve.
Now, let us ponder an analogy between Saint Paul’s Christology and the
angel’s explanation about the mission of our Holy Mother Mary, delivered
through Sr. Agnes to us. As mentioned, the angel said:
There is a profound meaning to the figure 101 of the hundred and one
episodes of the holy weepings of the statue of the Holy Mother Mary. This
signifies that sin came into the world through a woman and it is also
through a woman that the grace of salvation came to the world…. The first
"one" represents Eve, and last "one" signifies Holy Mother Mary.
Saint Paul compared the new Adam, Jesus Christ, the Redeemer, with the
old Adam, a sinner. In Akita’s message in 1981, God had the angel reveal the
contrast between the old Eve, who tempted Adam to sin, and the new Eve, our
Holy Mother Mary, who gave birth to the Savior. The one hundred and one
episodes of the weepings of the statue signify this truth, that God
integrated Mary as an inseparable part of His plan of Redemption, from all
Whenever Sister Agnes had encounters with supernatural events that cannot
be explained as natural phenomena—be they messages of the Holy Mother or
those of an angel—the nun, first of all, reported the events to Bishop John
Ito or myself, asking for our spiritual guidance. Not a single time did Sr.
Agnes announce those events to the public by herself. When she received the
most important message that elucidated the meaning of the one hundred and
one lachrymal episodes of the statue, she reacted in the same manner.
The supernatural authenticity of the tears of the statue of the Holy
Mother Mary was substantiated and corroborated by two other objective
One of the two is the miraculous cure of Mrs. Teresa Chun Sun Ho, a South
Korean housewife, from brain cancer in 1981. Mrs. Chun had lapsed into a
coma due to cerebral tumors, which also reduced her to a mere vegetative
existence. Her relatives, family and acquaintances implored our Holy Mother
Mary of Akita to cure the bedridden woman by placing the photograph of the
weeping statue beside her pillow. Then, on August 4 at midnight, while Mrs.
Chun was still in a coma, the Blessed Mother appeared to her in a vision,
looking exactly as she does at Akita. At that point Teresa was completely
healed. The x-ray photographs of her brain—taken at Saint Paul Hospital in
Seoul—certify the complete disappearance of the cancer from her brain.
After the cure, Mrs. Teresa Chun testified, "The Holy Mother Mary of
Akita, who held a white lamb in her arms, appeared to me, when I was
bedridden, and breathed upon my forehead three times. I saw the lamb’s wool
flutter and sway due to the strong breaths of the Holy Mother."
This miracle was attested to by Dr. Gil Song Lee in a medical
certificate, which was sent to the Holy See, along with a document issued by
Maryknoll Father Roman Theisen, S.T.D., then head of the Archdiocesan
Tribunal of the See of Seoul. The Church of South Korea had established a
committee to work towards the canonization of 103 Korean martyrs, and it
sent documents reporting her cure to the Holy See. The miracle was used to
secure the Holy See’s authorization of the committee’s application to
canonize the 103 martyrs.
The other of the two miracles is the cure from complete deafness of Sr.
Agnes herself in 1982. By then, nine years had elapsed since she lost her
hearing in 1973. On May 30, the feast day of Pentecost, her deafness was
cured at the moment she received a blessing by the Holy Eucharist in a
monstrance, which I elevated at the chapel. The moment the blessing by the
Eucharist was given, she heard an adoration bell being rung by another
sister religious. Her cure was attested to in a medical certificate issued
by Dr. Tatsuhiko Arai of the Akita Red Cross Hospital.
Saint Bernard, a Doctor of the Church, provided a profound insight in
connection with this truth in one of his sermons: "The old upright man
Simeon prophesied that the Virgin Mary would suffer a spiritual martyrdom.
Simeon told Mary that the infant Jesus is destined to be a sign that is
rejected. Then, he told Mary that a sword would pierce her own soul too."
St. Bernard went on to explain, in the form of a prayer, what happened on
Dear Holy Mother, your soul was certainly pierced by the sword. The lance
thrust by the Roman soldier could not pierce the body of your son without
piercing your soul. After Jesus died, the cruel lance pierced our Lord’s
side relentlessly. Jesus, who was already dead then, did not feel any pain.
But this lance certainly pierced your soul…. It is appropriate for me to say
that you are greater than the martyrs.
How many tears our Holy Mother shed when she witnessed Jesus continue to
suffer on the Cross! The intensity of her sufferings is beyond any human
being’s ability to imagine. Her sufferings at the foot of the Cross were, in
a mystical sense, the pains of childbearing, which she accepted in order to
become the mother of all the faithful in accordance with the plan of God,
who willed to give mankind the true Heavenly Mother who continues to care
for believers until the end of the world.
Through her humble acceptance of the mystical pangs of childbirth, she
became the mother of the Mystical Body of Christ, to which we belong as its
members. First, she conceived Jesus, the head of the Mystical Body of
Christ, in her chaste womb, and then, through the process of her
Coredemption, she began to give birth to members of His Mystical Body, which
is the community of all Catholic believers through all generations.
Because the mystical process of the application of the effects of
Christ’s Redemptive sacrifice continues until the end of the world, Mary’s
intercessory activities, as the Mediatrix of all the graces which have
flowed from the Redemption, are also continuing while she acts as a unique
subordinate to Jesus and the Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier.
Amidst this mystical process of the joint distribution of graces, Jesus
and our Holy Mother are jointly struggling against Satan to help believers
courageously join in the subjective Redemption, or the application of the
effects of Christ’s sacrifice. Because of this mystical struggle with
Satan—where the eternal lives of souls are at stake—one can affirm that our
Heavenly Mother is still offering up her mystical pains of childbearing for
us, all believers, while acting as an instrument of grace to sanctify us. In
doing so, the Holy Mother mediates graces in accordance with the will of
Jesus Christ, while distributing graces as a subordinate to the Holy Spirit.
Recognizing the realities of this subjective Redemption, believers must
use their free will to offer up their sufferings, prayers and sacrifices of
love to help apply the effects of Jesus’ sacrifice to their souls. Thus,
they are led to join in the Holy Mother’s struggle against Satan. This is
the reason why God told the Serpent, "I will place enmity between thee and
the woman, between thy seed and her seed." This struggle continues until our
Mother completes the process of giving birth to all members of the Mystical
Body of Christ, and in this sense her mystical pains of childbearing will
continue until the end of the world. This is the profoundest meaning of her
Coredemption. The tears shed by the wooden statue of Our Lady in Akita is
the hard evidence God has manifested in history, in order to prove the
lasting enmity between Satan and our Heavenly Mother.
Amidst this lasting antagonism, the Rosary is our powerful weapon. With
this we appeal to our Advocate to "pray for us, sinners." And our Holy
Mother, Mediatrix of all graces subject to the Holy Spirit, will crush the
head of the Serpent in a struggle that we must join with our free will and
Scripture says, "Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother and his
mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas and Mary of Magdala (John 19:25)."
This means that the two other women, named Mary as well, were also standing
while weeping at the sight of the crucified Jesus. But the tears of the two
other Marys were shed out of mere sympathy for Jesus’ sufferings, so there
is not the same profundity of meaning in them.
In sharp contrast, the tears of Holy Mary were the tears which resulted
from her spiritual pains suffered when she gave full consent to the
Sacrifice of her divine son Jesus and offered Him up to the Heavenly Father
as the Mother of the Redeemer of mankind.
Therefore, there was an essential abyss between the meaning of the tears
of our Holy Mother Mary and that of the tears of the other two Marys. The
tears of the Blessed Virgin were the tears of objective and mystical
What is the significance of the divine revelation of the tears of
Coredemption using the statue of the Holy Mother Mary, in connection with
the crisis engulfing today’s Roman Catholic Church throughout the world?
Since the end of the Second Vatican Council, ecumenical movements have
been gaining momentum in many countries. The scope of meaning of ecumenism
has been expanded to mean dialogue with non-Christian religions. Many
proponents of ecumenism say that other religions’ teachings have certain
degrees of truth on ethics and morals, even though they neglect to call
specific and unique attention to the Redemption by Jesus Christ. As a
result, the true meaning of the Redemption has been confused even in the
minds of many Catholics.
Against the background of this worldwide situation, the dogma of the
Redemption by Jesus Christ crucified on the cross continues to emit a unique
light. Religions other than Christianity do not have the Redemption among
their teachings. The truth of the Redemption by Jesus Christ who atoned for
mankind’s sins by offering himself in the sacrifice of the Cross to satisfy
the justice of God is unique, and has absolute value.
If the Catholic clergy and laity disregard or start downplaying the value
of this Redemption, it creates a serious danger that all Catholic doctrines
and dogmas will lose their meaning. We have to be mindful of this danger. If
the Roman Catholic Church misses or misunderstands the unique value of the
Redemption, it will end up degenerating into merely one sect among numerous
religious sects around the world.
I believe the reason why the truth of Marian Coredemption has come under
international scrutiny in recent years, is that God is trying to revive
Catholics’ serious attention toward the dogma of Christ’s Redemption of
humanity. The fact that this dogma movement is gaining momentum appears to
have mystical connections with God’s plan to lead the Holy Father to define
and promulgate the dogma of Marian Coredemption. When the Holy Father
promulgates the dogma of Coredemption in accordance with the Divine plan, it
will lead to the reviving of many Catholics’ faith in the dogma of the
Redemption by her Son, Jesus.
The Heavenly Father, offended at the proliferation of immoral values and
heretical theological teachings in today’s world, appears to have caused the
wooden statue of the Holy Mother in Akita to shed tears in order to help
ordinary Catholic believers easily understand the truth of her Coredemption,
and to lead them to again embrace their Catholic faith in the Redemption and
Coredemption as their true inherited treasures.
Fr. Thomas Aquinas Yasuda was the spiritual director of the visionary,
Sr. Agnes Sasagawa, recipient of the Church approved apparitions of Our Lady
in Akita, Japan (which is often referred to as the "Fatima of the East)."
Fr. Yasuda is considered the world’s foremost authority on the message and
apparitions of Akita. The above article was originally published in
Contemporary Insights On A Fifth Marian Dogma: Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix,
Advocate, Theological Foundations III, Queenship, 2000.