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Beginning in 1938, Washington, DC, USA, a sister of the Congregation of the Precious Blood, known as Sister Mary Ephrem, began receiving locutions from Christ. These inner locutions were later followed by apparitions of the Archangels Michael and Gabriel. On September 25, 1956, while stationed in Rome City, Indiana, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of America, began appearing to her. The main theme of the apparitions was the call to purity and conversion of the United States and for the sanctification of the family.
While Our Lady continued to appear to Sister Mary Ephrem for the next few years, it was in October of 1956 that she received an inner locution from St. Joseph, followed by his apparitions in 1958 in which he spoke of his spiritual fatherhood, his protection of the Catholic Church and devotion to his Most Pure Heart.
It is known that Archbishop Paul F. Leilbold, spiritual director of Sister Mary Ephrem, was a supporter of the apparitions, granting the Imprimatur to the messages and also having medals struck according to the instructions of Our Lady of America.
More recently, in a letter dated May 31, 2007, Archbishop Raymond L. Burke (now Cardinal Burke) states:
“What can be concluded canonically is that the devotion was both approved by Archbishop Leibold and, what is more, was actively promoted by him. In addition, over the years, other Bishops have approved the devotion and have participated in public devotion to the Mother of God, under the title of Our Lady of America.”
In early October, 1956, about a week after Our Lady’s first appearance, St. Joseph, though I did not see him at this time, spoke to me the following words:
It is true, my daughter, that immediately after my conception I was, through the future merits of Jesus and because of my exceptional role of future Virgin-Father, cleansed from the stain of original sin.
I was from that moment confirmed in grace and never had the slightest stain on my soul. This is my unique privilege among men.
My Pure Heart also was from the first moment of existence inflamed with love for God. Immediately, at the moment when my soul was cleansed from original sin, grace was infused into it in such abundance that, excluding my holy spouse, I surpassed the holiness of the highest angel in the angelic choir. My heart suffered with the Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Mine was a silent suffering, for it was my special vocation to hide and shield, as long as God willed, the Virgin Mother and Son from the malice and hatred of men.
The most painful of my sorrows was that I knew beforehand of their passion, yet would not be there to console them. Their future suffering was ever present to me and became my daily cross, so I became, in union with my holy spouse, co-redemptor of the human race. Through compassion for the sufferings of Jesus and Mary I co-operated, as no other, in the salvation of the world.
March 11, 1958
Our Lady said to me: St. Joseph will come on the eve of his feast. Prepare yourself well. There will be a special message. My holy spouse has an important part to play in bringing peace to the world.
March 17, 1958
St. Joseph came as was promised, and these are the words he spoke at this time:
Kneel down, my daughter, for what you will hear and what you will write will bring countless souls to a new way of life. Through you, small one, the Trinity desires to make known to souls Its desire to be adored, honored, and loved within the kingdom, the interior kingdom of their hearts.
I bring to souls the purity of my life and the obedience that crowned it. All fatherhood is blest in me whom the Eternal Father chose as His representative on earth, the Virgin-Father of His own Divine Son. Through me the Heavenly Father has blessed all fatherhood, and through me He continues and will continue to do so till the end of time.
My spiritual fatherhood extends to all God’s children, and together with my Virgin Spouse I watch over them with great love and solicitude. Fathers must come to me, small one, to learn obedience to authority: to the Church always, as the mouthpiece of God, to the laws of the country in which they live, insofar as these do not go against God and their neighbor. Mine was perfect obedience to the Divine Will, as it was shown and made known to me by the Jewish law and religion. To be careless in this is most displeasing to God and will be severely punished in the next world.
Let fathers also imitate my great purity of life and the deep respect I held for my Immaculate Spouse. Let them be an example to their children and fellowmen, never willfully doing anything that would cause scandal among God’s people. Fatherhood is from God, and it must take once again its rightful place among men.
As St. Joseph ceased speaking I saw his Most Pure Heart:
The Most Chaste Heart of St. Joseph seemed to be lying on a cross which was of brown color. It appeared to me that at the top of the Heart, in the midst of the flames pouring out, was a pure white lily. Then I heard these words: Behold this pure heart so pleasing to Him who made it.
St. Joseph then continued:
The cross, my little one, upon which my heart rests is the cross of the Passion, which was ever present before me, causing me intense suffering. I desire souls to come to my Heart that they may learn true union with the Divine Will. It is enough, my child; I will come again tomorrow. Then I will make known to you how God wishes me to be honored in union with Jesus and Mary to obtain peace among men and nations. Good night, my little one.
March 19, 1958
On the evening of the next day, March 19, 1958, St. Joseph again appeared to me as he had promised and addressed me in these words:
My child, I desire a day to be set aside to honor my fatherhood. The privilege of being chosen by God to be the Virgin-Father of His Son was mine alone, and no honor, excluding that bestowed upon my Holy Spouse, was ever, or will ever, be as sublime or as high as this. The Holy Trinity desires thus to honor me that in my unique fatherhood all fatherhood might be blessed.
Dear child, I was king in the little home of Nazareth, for I sheltered within it the Prince of Peace and the Queen of Heaven. To me they looked for protection and sustenance, and I did not fail them. I received from them the deepest love and reverence, for in me they saw Him Whose place I took over them. So the head of the family must be loved, obeyed, and respected, and in return be a true father and protector to those under his care. In honoring in a special way my fatherhood, you also honor Jesus and Mary. The Divine Trinity has placed into our keeping the peace of the world. The imitation of the Holy Family, my child, of the virtues we practiced in our little home at Nazareth is the way for all souls to that peace which comes from God alone and which none other can give.
Then suddenly, as he ceased speaking, I was favored with a unique and marvelous vision of the glorious St. Joseph:
St. Joseph seemed suspended, as it were, a short distance above what had the appearance of a large globe with clouds moving about it. His head was slightly raised, the eyes gazing upward as if in ecstasy. The hands were in a position similar to that of the priest during the celebration of Holy Mass, only they extended upward somewhat. The color of his hair, as also of his rather small and slightly forked beard, seemed a very dark brown. His eyes resembled in color the hair and beard.
He was clothed in a white robe that reached to his ankles. Over this he wore a sort of cloak which did not come together at the throat, but covering the shoulders and draped gracefully over each arm, reached to the hem of the robe. The cloak at times had, or seemed to have, the appearance of a brown, sometimes a purple, hue, or perhaps a slight blending of the two. The belt about his waist was of a gold color, as were his sandals.
His appearance, though quite youthful, gave at the same time the impression of rare maturity combined with great strength. He seemed a bit taller than medium height. The lines of his face appeared strong and purposeful, softened somewhat by a gentle serenity. I also saw his most Pure Heart at this time.
Moreover, I saw the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove hovering above his head. Standing sideways, facing each other, were two angels, one on the right, the other on the left. Each carried what appeared to be a small pillow in a satin covering, the pillow on the right bearing a gold crown, the one on the left, a gold scepter. The angels were all white, ever their faces and hair. It was a beautiful whiteness that reminded me of the stainlessness of heaven.
Then I heard these words: Thus should he be honored whom the King desires to honor.
When the vision ended, St. Joseph before taking leave spoke to me in the following manner:
The Holy Father need have no fear, for I have been appointed his special protector. As God chose me to be the special guardian of His Son, so has He chosen me as the special guardian of him who in Christ’s Name is head of the Mystical Body of that same Son on earth. My special protection of the Holy Father and the Church should be made known to him. God wishes to make this known to him that he may receive thereby renewed consolation and encouragement. During the war, little daughter, it was I who saved him from death at the hands of his enemies. Continually I watch over him and the Church, and I desire this to be acknowledged for the greater glory of God and the good of souls.
Lovely child, precious to the heart of your spiritual father, I will come again on the last Sunday of this month. Jesus and Mary will come also in a special visit. Receive my blessing.
As I knelt down to receive it, I felt his hands on my head and heard the words: May Jesus and Mary, through my hands, bestow upon you eternal peace.
March 30, 1958
As he had promised, St. Joseph came again – accompanied by Jesus and Mary. His requests were similar to those of Our Lady and the First Saturday Devotion. The Sacred Hearts of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph have been chosen by the Most Holy Trinity to bring peace to the world; hence, their request for special love and honor, also, in particular, reparation and imitation.
I am the protector of the Church and the home, as I was the protector of Christ and His Mother while I lived upon earth. Jesus and Mary desire that my pure heart, so long hidden and unknown, be now honored in a special way. Let my children honor my Most Pure Heart in a special manner on the First Wednesday of the month by reciting the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary in memory of my life with Jesus and Mary and the love I bore them, the sorrow I suffered with them.
Let them receive Holy Communion in union with the love with which I received the Savior for the first time and each time I held Him in my arms. Those who honor me in this way will be consoled by my presence at their death, and I myself will conduct them safely into the presence of Jesus and Mary. I will come again, little child of my Most Pure Heart. Until then, continue in patience and humility, which is so pleasing to God.