This is part 3 of our special series of excerpts from the definitive book on Akita. In this part, the miraculous of weeping of the statue is witnessed, and the events begin to receive consideration by the media and the Church.
All unattributed excerpts are by the author, Fr. Teiji Yasuda.
The statue weeps for the first time
It was the time of prayer which follows breakfast, Sister K., who was putting the chapel in order, came running to call me while I was still in the corridor, ‘Agnes…come see!’
Wondering what was happening, I followed her into the chapel. She pointed with her finger to the statue of the Virgin. ‘What is it?’ I asked her, looking at her face which seemed like a trembling leaf. Approaching the statute I was shocked on seeing the face. Water was accumulating in the two eyes.
Oh! Water…’ I said to myself when the water suddenly began to run down. ‘Water which flows from the eyes…but then those are tears!’ I thought to myself: ‘Could these be the tears of the Blessed Virgin?’ I asked Sister K., but she remained fixed and her lips were trembling.
Feeling my knees give way, I prostrated myself. Then coming to myself I said that something had to be done. I ran to the telephone to advise the Father who was in the presbytery at that moment. Then there was a general astonishment. Father immediately arrived and all the community gathered in the chapel in the space of a few moments. Prostrated in the back, I did not have the courage to approached the statue. I prayed within myself with all my strength, ‘Holy Mary, pardon me. It is I who have made you cry. Pardon! Lord, pardon me because I am a sinner.’
Mary weeps because we have not taken count of all the graces obtained by Her intercession! I was abashed by the weight of regret.
That day the tears appeared two more times. The second time was about one o’clock in the afternoon. As two of the sisters who were on retreat had to leave sooner, I went to gather medals placed in offering before the statue of Mary because I was sacristan that day. When I looked into the face of Our Lady to greet Her, after taking the medals from the table, I was amazed to see the tears again starting to flow. I felt myself shaken with an emotion still stronger than the first time, perhaps because I had discovered them myself an so close up. I took hold of myself and informed the sister who was at the other end of the chapel and I hastened to tell the others. They all soon arrived with the Father and we recited the Rosary.
At 4 o’clock Father Yasuda began his talk. I was touched when he explained that these tears were the authentic proof of the messages. The emotion which I had stifled until then suddenly overwhelmed me and I felt my body drained of all its energies. After the sermon, Father noticed that I was in such a weak state that I was unable to rise although my companions seemed to have thought simply that I was delaying to pray.
The tears began to flow a third time while I was remaining thus for a long moment absorbed in prayer. Towards 6:30 in the evening, the sister who came to ring the dinner bell was the one who saw it first. The two of us were in the chapel praying. This time the tears did not flow by accumulation and then overflowing from the eyes. They streamed one after the other. It flowed, flowed… in a continual flux, they formed streams on the cheeks the chin, down to the breast, and fell drop by drop.
I found just the strength to prostrate myself, repeating in myself without being able to move my lips, ‘Holy Mary, Holy Mary, why to such a degree?’ The sisters who came seemed also deeply impressed. Even those who had remained perplexed the first two times, perhaps because they had not seen well, appeared convinced this time of the evidence of the miracle.
Meanwhile, the Bishop had arrived and seeing the tears for the first time, had cotton brought and he himself gradually dried the tears.– Sr. Agnes / Pgs 125 – 127
The angel explains the weeping
During the Rosary after the talk [of the retreat given by Father Yasuda], I saw again my guardian angel who had not appeared for a long time (it was the first time since the curing of my deafness) and she said the Rosary with me. Then she disappeared for a moment, returning during the prayer of silence a little after the profession of the lay members.
She told me: ‘Do not be so surprised to see the Blessed Virgin weeping. She weeps because she wishes the conversion of the greatest number; She desires that souls be consecrated to Jesus and to the Father by Her intercession.
He who directs you told you during the last sermon today; your faith diminishes when you do not see. It is because your faith is weak. The Blessed Virgin rejoices in the consecration of Japan to Her Immaculate Heart because She loves Japan. But She is sad to see that this devotion is not taken seriously. Even though She has chosen this land of Akita to give Her messages, the local pastor doesn’t dare to come for fear of what one would say. Do not be afraid. The Blessed Virgin awaits you all, Her hands extended to pour forth graces. Spread devotion to the Virgin. She rejoices in the procession of lay members consecrated today by Her intercession in conformity to the spirit of your Institute. You must not consider the lay members thus consecrated as of little importance. The prayer which you have the custom of saying, ‘Grant to Japan the grace of conversion through the intercession of the Virgin Mary,’ is pleasing to the Lord.
You who have believed while seeing the tears of Mary, when you have permission of your superior speak to the greatest number in order to console the hearts of Jesus and Mary. Spread this devotion with courage for their greater glory.
You will transmit my words to your superior and to him who directs you. She leaned forward to look at me and then disappeared.– Sr. Agnes / Pgs 129-130
After reactions to the new events Father Yasuda seeks scientific evidence
Gradually as the most diverse opinions [about the events] were voiced one after the other, I came to a decision. It was necessary to find scientific proof. Shortly afterwards, I went to seek the counsel of Professor Okuhara of the faculty of medicine of Akita. I showed him the bandages which had served to sponge the blood six months before and the cotton used to dry the tears of the 4th of January. On his recommendations I asked Professor Sagisaka of the Faculty of Legal Medicine to make a rigorous scientific examination.
It goes without saying that we did not tell him the origin of the liquids submitted for examination in order not to harm the objectivity of the studies. After two long weeks of waiting the following results were communicated to me:
The matter adhering on the gauze is human blood. The sweat and the tears absorbed in the two pieces of cotton are of human origin.
The objects submitted to this scientific examination reveal the presence of strange bodies due to the contact of the fingers which had used the gauze and cotton to absorb the blood and tears. But this had no bearing on the result.
Furthermore (and this was an amazing fact for one who knew the actual origin of the materials) when the blood was and tears belonged to group AB. Now it is unthinkable and scientifically impossible that the same person belong to different groups.Pgs 132-133
The Significance of the Feast of Saint Joseph
After breakfast Sister Agnes went to the chapel and saw that the tears were flowing again from the statue. The previous lachrymation [flowing of tears] had been one year and two months before, namely the 6th of March of the preceding year. Naturally, everyone went to the chapel and we recited a Rosary.
Then when Sister K. came about twenty after nine to make a sketch on drawing paper, she found to her astonishment that the tears had begun again and immediately informed all the others who again gathered to recite a Rosary with her. I could not be present at this second lachrymation because I left to give some courses in the city. I was told about it when I returned a little before midday.
A half hour before vespers, which was scheduled for 5 o’click in the afternoon, one of the sisters went to the chapel and again the statue was weeping. A third Rosary was recited by the entire community.
The group of visitors arrived later than expected, towards 8 o’clock in the evening. We had been awaiting without eating because the Mass had to precede the dinner. Taking advantage of the holidays in the month of May, about twenty other persons were expected to arrive from Niigata, Sendai, and other regions.
The Mass which began at 8 o’clock was said in honor of Saint Joseph to thank him and to ask his protection. It ended about 9 o’clock. When everybody had left the holy place, I remarked that Sister Agnes remained alone, prostrate without moving since the end of her Communion. A littler later she came to find me with a paper grasped in her hand. The angel had appeared to her after Communion. This is the text:
“Many men in this world afflict the Lord. Our Lady awaits souls to console Him. Remain in poverty, sanctify yourself and pray in reparation for the ingratitudes and the outrages of so many men. The Rosary is your weapon. Say it with care and more often for the intention of the Pope, of bishops and priests.
You must not forget these words (of Mary). The Blessed Virgin prays continually for the conversion of the greatest possible number and weeps, hoping to lead to Jesus and to the Father souls offered to Them by Her intercession. For this intention, and to overcome exterior obstacles, achieve interior unity, form a single heart. Let believers lead a life more worthy of believers! Pray with a new heart.
Attach great importance to this day for the glory of God and His Holy Mother. With courage spread this devotion among the greatest number. Inform your superior and him who directs you of what I have told you.” Saying this the angel disappeared.
After reading this I went to dinner at the presbytery with the group of visitors. About twenty minutes of ten in the evening we were still at the table and they were recording some of the happenings of their trip (they had traveled 700 kilometers by car). The telephone rang. It was a call from the convent. The statue of Mary was again weeping for the forth time in the same day!
Through the dark night we all hastened to the chapel and at the sight of the tears flowing from the eyes of the statue some prostrated themselves, others sobbed, each manifesting his emotion in a different way. As on the other occasions, I took out my Rosary and we meditated on the Sorrowful Mysteries.
During the recitation of the Rosary, the tears continued to flow abundantly from both eyes down the cheeks; the drops fell from the chin to the breast and even wet the pedestal. They finally stopped during the second decade.Pgs 147-149
A Catholic journal editor publishes the story
On the 13th of May of 1976, Mr. and Mrs. Keisuke Yama’uchi, journalist and editor of the Catholic Graph were privileged to witness a lachrymation.
It was a year and a half before that the Catholic Graph had published a series of articles on “The Virgin of Akita.” Other magazines and newspapers had reprinted the news, and two or three television networks had shown “The Statue Which Weeps” on the little screen. Thus the secular media drew attention of the public to such an extent that the Japanese Catholic press wanted to hear nothing more about it and fell into an obstinate silence on the subject.
For my part, I sent exact information to various Catholic centers of information but nothing was published. So I wrote to the Catholic Graph, offering to put all the documents at their disposal.
The at least astonishing news of the lachrymations of the Virgin temporarily increased the circulation of the magazine, but at the same time drew upon it the anger of people who were apriori opposed. My. Yama’uchi often told me of his concern for the future of his work, “Since we speak of the Virgin of Akita, the very existence of our review is in danger.”
Now on this 13th of May, 1976, Mr. Yama’uchi had the providential opportunity to assist himself at a lachrymation. The article in which he relates his experience begins by telling of the difficulties he met in making known the events of Akita. Opposition from within the Church was so great that he confesses that he did not know how he could continue because of his feeble resources. He added, “This work became, for me above all, an insupportable burden…”
On this 13th of May when he came to the convent, Mr. Yama’uchi had already prepared the next issue of Catholic Graph in which he was going to publish the interviews of eleven witnesses of the lachrymations of the first and second of May (the first of May was not only the Feast of Saint Joseph the Worker, but also the First Saturday of the Month). Now less than two weeks later, having taken the decision to publish these testimonies, he relates the state of despondency which he felt when he arrived at Akita. He confided to us the bitter complaint he addressed to Mary as he prostrated before Her statue:
“I put myself out to try to bring to life a Catholic journal in the service of loyal and honest information, but the result is that I am at the end of my strength. I can do no more. I believe that it is thanks to Your miraculous help that we have been able to avoid failure to the present day. I thank Your Grace for that… but the collective interview which I am preparing to publish will finally do nothing but repeat that such and such a one has seen this and that. Then, if these facts are authentic, give me the grace to be among the witnesses. Would I not have more more to say with more more credibility? But it is You that will decide and not I. May it be done according to Your will. But as for me, I can do no more.”Pgs 154 – 155
The editor witnesses the miraculous tears
Mr. and Mrs. Yama’uchi took the train from Tokyo the night before and they arrived in Yuzawadai in the morning after breakfast and Eucharistic adoration.
Briefly these are the circumstances which brought Mr. Yama’uchi to witness the tears of Mary. First his wife had pointed to the holy water font at the entrance to the chapel. “It has a fragrance,” she said. “Not especially,” he answered. Then she wet her finger and made the Sign of the Cross several times. “It is true, more now,” she added.
That afternoon both of them went to the chapel which seemed empty. Looking at the statue to the right of the altar, Mr. Yama’uchi saw not only the face but the entire body giving off a white light. Remembering that the statue had been dark when he saw it in the morning, he called his wife and went closer:
I came as close as 30 centimeters, no… 10 centimeters to observe. A drop of water shown on the end of the nose. Large round drops had stopped on the right cheek. The right eye was wet and shooting off reflections, and from the lower lid began the trace of a thread of water developing into drops.
“Drawing back I exclaimed: She weeps!’ My wife sat down, saying that she was afraid. My eyes did not leave the statue and all sorts of thoughts filled my mind.”
Gathering himself together, Mr. Yama’uchi wanted to recite a Hail Mary, but his voice was too broken with emotion and he could not. When he began to pray more slowly, his wife began to cry with great sobs. (She recounts that she prayed for the first time in her life with a truly childlike heart and that she felt the presence of God very close to her at that moment.) Shortly after, Mr. Yama’uchi hastened to find me in my office and I at once followed him to the chapel.
On that day twenty parishioners of Akita had come to participate in a Day of Recollection. At the announcement of the news they all assembled in the chapel and we were witnesses of the phenomenon. As in the preceding times I led the Rosary. When it was over, the areas wet with tears retained a reddish color clearly visible. Mr. Yama’uchi describes the condition of the statue in his article:
When we were coming to the end of the Rosary, the water which had accumulated at the neck disappeared from our eyes in the space of an instant. They disappear, they disappear, I said to myself looking at this strange phenomenon which unfolded before me as in a film. From the place were I was I cannot verify what happened to the tears on the cheek and on the chin, but I very well observed the change which took place at the level of the neck.”
When the phenomenon was over, he felt that it was the response of God to his prayer and at the same time an encouragement to continue to publish the review no mater what it cost. It is thus that the Catholic Graph continued to appear for many years.Pgs 155 -156
This concludes part 3 of our special series of excerpts from “Akita: The Tears and Message of Mary.”
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