Akita

Our Lady of Akita is the title of Marian apparitions reported in 1973 by Sister Agnes Katsuko
Sasagawa in the remote area of Yuzawadai, near the city of Akita in Japan. The messages emphasize
prayer and penance. Sister Sasagawa stated that the Virgin Mary told her: “Pray very much the prayers
of the Rosary. I alone am able still to save you from the calamities which approach.”
An unusual nature of the apparitions was that unlike other case, the entire nation of Japan was
able to view the tears of the statue of the Virgin Mary on national television.
For several decades, Agnes Sasagawa had encountered many health problems as a result of a
poorly performed appendix operation and was immobile for over a decade. Her health reportedly
improved after drinking water from Lourdes. After going totally deaf, she went to live with the nuns in
the remoteness of Yuzawadai in Akita prefecture.
In 1973 Sister Agnes reported apparitions of the Virgin Mary, as well as stigmata and a weeping
statue of the Virgin Mary which, it is said, continued to weep over the next 6 years on 101 occasions.
The nuns at Yuzawadai also reported stigmata on the statue, as well as on the hands of Sister Agnes.
The stigmata on the statue is said to have appeared before the tears started, and disappeared after the
tears.
Sister Agnes only reported three messages from the Blessed Virgin during 1973, but the Virgin
Mary Statue is reported to have continued to weep thereafter. The statue of the Virgin Mary at Akita is
carved from a single block of wood from a tree and is about three feet tall. Sister Agnes reported that
she first heard the statue calling her, and then the first message began.
During a Sunday Mass in 1982, Sister Agnes was totally cured from her deafness. Bishop John
Shojiro Ito of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Niigata who had been an eyewitness to some of the
events at Akita initially approved the apparition in 1984. In 1988 he went to Rome to consult with
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (who later became Pope Benedict XVI). As the Prefect of the Congregation
for the Doctrine of the Faith Cardinal Ratzinger formally approved Our Lady of Akita as supernatural
and worthy of belief.
According to Japanese officials, the Diocese of Sendai, about 90 miles from the Akita shrine
was the hardest hit area in the 9.0 magnitude Tōhoku March 2011 earthquake, the strongest in the
recorded history of earthquakes in Japan. Akita prefecture experienced fire damage and flooding as a
result of the earthquake, as did other parts of northern Japan.

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