The Apparitions at El Escorial, Spain - Sacrifice leads to Salvation
Over the past few months we have presented a beautiful, little known apparition outside of Madrid that parallels Medjugorje in time frame. We are grateful to Juan Gonzalez of Houston, Texas, a retired professor of Linguistics, for providing us the inside story of the extraordinary El Escorial visionary Amparo Cuevas and the messages imparted to her by the Blessed Virgin Mary. Like us and so many others, Juan relates that his conversion experience came about in Medjugorje. For him it came on the feast of the great scholar of the Church Saint Thomas Aquinas on March 7, 1988 (the old commemoration of his feast; it is now celebrated on January 28th). Juan has since returned to Our Lady's special Oasis of Peace four times, but none had the impact of his first visit. With teeth chattering on a cold March evening, Juan was among thousands who trekked up Apparition Hill for the message from the Blessed Mother to visionary Ivan Dragicevic and his prayer group. Juan translated the message for the English-speaking pilgrims and, as he descended Podbrdo, he remembers having the moving experience: "Something beautiful came over me and I knew then and there what I was to do and I committed my life to consecrating the talents God had given me to the Blessed Mother."
Juan has since dedicated his life to translating many works and messages in five different languages into English. And that brought him to El Escorial and the massive project he undertook out of zeal and love on the apparitions in El Escorial, Spain which we have detailed in these pages over the last two months. He has over 2000 pages on the messages to Amparo and is praying for a publisher in God's time. If any one knows of a publisher who is willing to take on this inspiring work, please contact us at the DAILY CATHOLIC and we will put you in touch with Juan. He is a very private person and, in respect for that, we do not give out his address and phone number except on a need-to-know basis. He retired in the summer of 1995 from his teaching position at Texas Southern University to spend more time with his loving wife Juanita and enjoy being a grandfather for his four children Juan Jr., 34, Rosa, 32; Carlos, 29; and Jose, 22. He also has been using this time to work on an extensive project regarding the Divine Will. Juan, you will remember, translated many of noted French Mariologist Father Rene Laurentin's books about Medjugorje and one on San Nicolas.
Once Juan heard of El Escorial, he was hooked and made several journeys to learn more about the visions and the messages and their meaning in today's world. It prompted him to begin taking notes and have the opportunity to discover who Amparo was and her life. Amparo is now a 68 year-old housewife and loving mother who has been receiving messages from Our Lord and His Blessed Mother since 1981. What started as a curiosity became a crusade to get the word out that Our Lady is asking all for self-sacrifice through prayer, penance and sacrifice. Our Lady calls herself Nuestra Senora de los Dolores - Our Lady of Sorrows and has appeared to Amparo as more beautiful than words can describe. In the mid-eighties she described to the best of her ability how Mary looked and master Madrid artist Professor dona Elvira Soriano transfered that to canvas, depicting how the Blessed Virgin appeared while his Holiness Pope John Paul II was in Spain for his pastoral trip. Our Lady, dressed in papal robes, held a fifteen-decade Rosary in her right hand and displayed a large pix of the Blessed Sacrament around her neck cupped in her right hand. It was a unique portrait of the Mother of God which has never been seen but represented so much for she is the Mother of the Church and her words in the message to Amparo said volumes when she said, "My child, ask everyone to pray very much for my beloved son Pope John Paul II." She emphasized the need to come to her Divine Son Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament in her words, "I ask you to approach the Sacrament of Convession and of the Holy Eucharist. It is very important to receive the Body of Christ to give you strength to fight against the enemy."
Like Lourdes, Medjugorje and Betania, the elderly, handicapped and infirm flock to the site in Prado Nuevo, a section northwest of Madrid, Spain and partake of the healing water where countless souls have been healed spiritually. Pilgrims from all over the world gather for the First Saturday visions at the Ash Tree where the Mother of God often appeared to Amparo and to pray at the Shrine to Our Lady of Sorrows. The messages over the past eighteen years have been permeated with the theme of our need to do penance, pray and sacrifice. It is the same message she has been bringing to visionary Maria Esperanza de Bianchini in Betania where Our Lady first appeared before her coming to El Escorial, and to the visionaries of Medjugorje where she appeared shortly after her first appearance to Amparo. So you see, El Escorial is sandwiched, so to speak, between Betania and Medjugorje and all three are still on-going. Our Lady has said at all three places and to countless other chosen messengers that her messages will end soon. Why has she been so insistent on repeating the message of prayer, penance and sacrifice? Because our world today has forgotten what sacrifice means; forgotten how to pray and why; forgotten the necessity of penance. We are, in a word, spoiled. Our Lady, like a loving, caring mother, comes to straighten us out and like any human matriarch, repeats over and over her words until hopefully it will sink in and we "get with the program." If we don't, well then we can consider ourselves in big trouble with the Big Guy upstairs - more affectionately known to all of us as God the Father - Abba or Daddy. He can be stern, but He is also loving and Merciful. He sent His Only-begotten Son to redeem us and He sends His pure daughter to remind us. That is why the messages of El Escorial are so important; that is why we have devoted nine installments to this lesser-known but equally important apparition; that is why we appropriately end this in Lent for her messages embody the meaning of Lent - the meaning of life!