Akita, Japan: Apparitions of Our Lady to Sister Agnes Katsuko Sasagawa
About the Apparitions:
An apparition for our times dates from just 1973. On May 12 of that year, Sister of the Institute of the Handmaids of the Holy Eucharist gained a novitiate named Sister Agnes Katsuko Sasagawa. These sisters had taken vows of poverty and lived a very simple basic life of prayer. Sister Agnes was totally deaf, but her presence at the convent would soon change things forever.
In the simple chapel was a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, carved by a Buddhist sculptor from the area. It was about three feet tall, carved from the Judea tree that grew in the area. The statue had Our Lady standing before a cross with her arms at her side, palms upright and outstretched, with a globe at her feet.
While Sister Agnes was praying in the chapel one day before the statue the Sisters were amazed to see blood forming in the shape of a cross on her hands. This took place for the next three weeks.
Just one month after Sister Agnes joined them, the Sisters found a bright light emanating from the tabernacle in the Chapel. This took place on several occasions and was accompanied by what appeared to be fog or smoke.
During one of these manifestations Sister Agnes saw what appeared to be angels hovering over the tabernacle. As it happened the local Bishop was staying at the convent at this time and she confided her experience to him. Then on July 5, 1973 she developed the stigmata when a painful small opening appeared in the palm of her left hand and began to bleed. This continued, although the pain lessened during most of the week. The pain became intense, however, on Thursday nights and all day Fridays. Sister Agnes had already had apparitions of her guardian angel and he told her that “the wounds of Mary are much deeper and more sorrowful than yours. Let us go together and pray in the chapel”. Upon going to the chapel her guardian angel disappeared, and suddenly the statue seemed to come to life. She received the message “your deafness will be healed” and instructed her to “pray very much for the Pope, bishops and priests”.During a visit that Bishop Ito made to Rome in 1988, the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith approved the contents of his pastoral letter. In the August 1990 issue of the magazine 30 Days, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger is quoted as saying “there are no objections to the conclusion of the Pastoral Letter”.
Subsequent to this, there have been claims that the apparition is false and was never approved; however, the fact that the local Bishop did approve them would seem to negate those claims.
About the Shrine:
The chapel is open daily from 9:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. until 4:30 p.m.
Traveling to Akita:
There is train service to Akita from Tokyo.
We are not aware of any official website nor do we have contact information at this time. Akita was not too far removed from the devastating earthquake that hit the area in 2012.
1. Akita-The Tears and Message of Mary, Teiji Yasuda, OSV, 101 Foundation, 1989.
2. Miraculous Images of Our Lady, Joan Carroll Cruz, Tan Books, 1993.