The shrine of Our Lady of Akita is getting just a little bit more attention lately since the megaquake of March 11 in Japan.

Sister Agnes Sasagawa was in a convent in Akita, in northern Japan, in 1973, when she reported hearing the three-foot-high wooden carving of Our Lady of Akita calling to her.  That year she received three messages from “the statue.”  (There was no apparition).

Two years later on January 4, 1975, the statue of the Blessed Virgin began to weep. It continued to weep at intervals for the next 6 years and eight months. It wept on 101 occasions.

On March 11 a magnitude 8.9 earthquake and consequent tsunami  hit Sendai Japan near the northern  coast of Honshu; it was the  worst quake since 1923.

Japanese church officials have confirmed that the Diocese of Sendai, in the north of the country, was hit hardest by the 8.8 magnitude earthquake – the worst in Japanese history – and the resulting 23-foot waves.

Hundreds of people have already been confirmed dead in the city of Sendai, located less than 90 miles away from the apparition site of Our Lady of Akita in the town of Yuzawa.

The city of Akita, which experienced fire damage and flooding along with many parts of northern Japan, is a place of veneration for Catholics.

Here is Mary’s last message:

As I told you, if men do not repent and better themselves, the Father will inflict a terrible punishment on all humanity. It will be a punishment greater than the deluge, such as one has never seen before. Fire will fall from the sky and will wipe out a great part of humanity, the good as well as the bad, sparing neither priests nor faithful. The survivors will find themselves so desolate that they will envy the dead. The only arms which will remain for you will be the Rosary and the Sign left by My Son. Each day recite the prayers of the Rosary. With the Rosary, pray for the Pope, the bishops and priests.
The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, bishops against bishops. The priests who venerate me will be scorned and opposed by their confreres…churches and altars sacked; the Church will be full of those who accept compromises and the demon will press many priests and consecrated souls to leave the service of the Lord.

The demon will be especially implacable against souls consecrated to God. The thought of the loss of so many souls is the cause of my sadness. If sins increase in number and gravity, there will be no longer pardon for them.

According to the testimony of more than 500 Christians (and non-Christians including the Buddhist mayor of the town) the statue of Our Lady has shed blood, sweat, and tears.  Sr. Agnes Katsuko Sasagawa has received the stigmata and has received messages from Our Lady.  On April 22, 1984, after eight years of investigations, after consultation with the Holy See, the Bishop of the diocese approved the messages of Our Lady of Akita.

The Catholic diocese of Sendai was the first victim of Japan’s tsunami following the earthquake. Covering a land area of 27864 square miles, the diocesan territory includes the cities of Aomori, Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima. Initial reports suggest that Miyagi and Fukushima were the first to fall victim to the 33 ft tsunami caused by the megaquake. In Sendai, where a major oil terminal exploded when its cooling system failed, Catholics form 0.15% of the total population of 7,207,624. In Tokyo Catholics are 0.51% of a total population of 18,552,995 people. In both cities, the predominant religions are Shinto and Buddhism.

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Buckle up; it’s going to be a rough ride.  – Glenn Beck

You have still something to ask? Today is the last time that I will speak to you in living voice. From now on you will obey the one sent to you and your superior.
Pray very much the prayers of the Rosary. I alone am able still to save you from the calamities which approach. Those who place their confidence in me will be saved.  — last words of our Lady of Akita to Sister Sasagawa