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VISIONARY: Marie Alphonse Ratisbonne (28)


FIRST APPARITION: January 20, 1842

LAST APPARITION:  January 20, 1942

APPROVED: June 3, 1842

FEAST DAY: November 17th

per Alphonse: “In the presence of the Blessed Virgin, even though

she did not speak a word to me, I understood the frightful situation I was in,

my sins, and the beauty of the Catholic Faith.”




  On January 20, 1842, Marie Alphonse Ratisbonne, an anti-Catholic Jew, saw a vision of Our Lady and converted to Catholicism, joined the priesthood, and began a ministry for the conversion of Jews; indeed a miracle based upon Ratisbonne’s beliefs prior to the apparition.


  The miracle of Alphonse’s conversion that took place in Rome shook up all of Christendom. It was evidently a miracle, a miracle that fell from Heaven like a drop of water on a parched mankind that was being influenced by the rationalist myths of the Revolution.


  In those times there was not this accursed ecumenism we are witnessing today. Then, the separation of the religions was much deeper and, therefore, so also was the gorge that separates truth from error, and good from evil. A wealthy and influential Jew, with absolutely no reason to favor the Catholic Church, suddenly converted because he saw Our Lady. He gave proof of his sincerity by giving up his positions in the world and breaking his advantageous engagement. He embraced the religious life, and founded a religious congregation to convert other Jews and to combat Judaism. It is impossible to imagine a more objective proof of the truth of the apparition. This episode had an enormous impact throughout Italy and France, and then the whole Catholic world.

  Divine Providence had done something very similar already in 1830 with the apparitions at Rue du Bac (Paris) to St. Catherine Labouré. There, among other things, Our Lady gave the world the Miraculous Medal, opening a torrent of graces and miracles for mankind. Our Lady also appeared in the grotto at Lourdes in 1858, and soon after there were reports of many miracles of healing for those who bathed in its waters. The miracles of Lourdes constitute the longest series of miracles ever to occur in the History of the Church.

  This series of apparitions and miracles was the blow Our Lady chose to give to the Revolution at that time. She counter-attacked with a skillful strategy, very well calculated. It was her way to smash the head of the serpent. The very head of Judaism was smashed by the public witness of an important Jew who affirmed that the Catholic Church is true.


  We should, therefore, analyze the miracles Divine Providence gives, looking for the higher rule that governs them. Miracles become more frequent in the epochs when they are more necessary.



  In 1842, a 28-year-old French Jew named Alphonse Ratisbonne was visiting Rome. He was the youngest son of an important banking family in Strasbourg, a close relation of the Rothschilds. As often happens with European Jews, a family takes the name of a city. The French Ratisbonne comes from Ratisbona, the Latin name for Regensburg, a famous German city near Munich. Alphonse was a Jew by race and religion, virulently anti-Catholic, and libertine in his customs.

  Alphonse was making a tour of Europe and the East before settling to marry his cousin Flore and assume a partnership at his uncle’s bank. Ending by coincidence in Rome instead of Palermo as he had intended, he was well received by the French diplomatic circle residing there. He reluctantly made a call on Baron Theodore de Bussières, a very fervent Catholic. Even though the Jew seemed quite far from any conversion, the Baron, undaunted by his sarcasm and blasphemy, saw in him a future Catholic and encouraged his visits.


  One afternoon, during a lively conversation in which Alphonse was ridiculing the superstitions of the Catholic religion, the Baron challenged Alphonse to submit to a simple test and wear the Miraculous Medal. Taken aback but wanting to prove the ineffectiveness of such religious baubles, Alphonse consented and allowed the Baron’s young daughter to put the medal around his neck. Baron de Bussières also insisted that Alphonse recite the Memorare once a day. Alphonse promised, saying, “If it does me no good, at least it will do me no harm.”

  The Baron and a close circle of aristocratic friends increased their prayers for the skeptical Jew.  Notable among them was a devout Catholic who was seriously ill, Count Laferronays, who offered his life for the conversion of the “young Jew.” On the same day he entered a church and prayed more than 20 Memorares for this intention, he suffered a heart attack, received the last Sacraments, and died.


  The next day, his friend Baron de Bussières was on his way to arrange the Count’s funeral in the Basilica of St. Andrea delle Fratte when he met Ratisbonne. He asked him to accompany him and wait in the church until he had arranged some matters with the priest in the sacristy.



  Alphonse did not accompany his friend into the sacristy. He wandered through the church admiring the beautiful marbles and various works of art. As he stood before a side altar dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel, Our Lady suddenly appeared to him. It was January 20, 1842.

  Standing over the altar, Our Lady appeared wearing a crown and a simple long white tunic with a jeweled belt around her waist and blue-green mantle draped over her left shoulder. She gazed at him affably; her hands were open spreading rays of graces. Her bearing was quite regal, not just because of the crown she was wearing. Rather, her height and elegance gave the impression of a great lady, fully conscious of her own dignity. She transmitted both grandeur and mercy in an atmosphere of great peace. She had some of the characteristics of Our Lady of Graces. Alphonse saw this figure and understood that he was before an apparition of the Mother of God. He knelt down before her and converted.




Alphonse’s conversion


  Returning from the sacristy, the Baron was surprised to see the Jew fervently praying on his knees before the altar of St. Michael the Archangel. He helped his friend to his feet, and Alphonse immediately asked to go to a confessor so he could receive Baptism. Eleven days later, on January 31, he received Baptism, Confirmation and his First Communion from the hands of Cardinal Patrizi, the Vicar of the Pope.  His conversion had enormous repercussions over all Christendom. The entire Catholic world became aware of it and was impressed by it. Afterward, Alphonse became a Jesuit priest. Ten years later, he and his brother Theodore, who also had converted from Judaism, founded a religious congregation - the Congregation of Sion - turned to the conversion of the Jews.

Magnificent Picture of Our Lady


  Shortly after the apparition, based on the description of Alphonse, a picture was painted representing Our Lady who had appeared to him that day in Sant' Andrea delle Fratte. When the picture was completed, he viewed it and said that it only vaguely depicted the beauty of the apparition he had seen. This is not difficult to believe since the actual beauty of Our Lady must far surpass any mere representation. The picture was placed on the exact spot where she had appeared to him, and became know as Madonna del Miracolo, Our Lady of the Miracle, referring to the two-fold miracle, her apparition and the instantaneous conversion of Alphonse Ratisbonne.



Miracolo) placed over the altar where the portentous event took place:



  “The picture of Madonna del Miracolo (Our Lady of the Miracle) shows her with the forehead topped by a crown and a halo-shaped ring of 12 stars. Her face is slightly smiling, her eyes turned to those kneeling in front of her. She is very affable but at the same time very regal. She gives the impression of being a tall and slender person without being thin; she is very well proportioned and displays an imponderable awareness of her own dignity. One gets the impression of a queen, much less by the crown than by her overall deportment, a mixture of grandeur and mercy.


  A person who contemplates it tends to be appeased, serene, reassured, as if soothed in his stirring evil passions. I think this appeasing aspect is the most touching element of this image. It is as if she were saying, ‘My son, I will it get all worked out; do not fret, I am here listening to you — who are in need of everything — but I can do anything and it is my desire to give you everything. So, do not doubt; wait a bit and I will heed you abundantly. For you I have no reservations or refusals, not even recriminations for your sins. I am looking at you with a state of soul, a disposition of mind in which you will obtain from me all that you ask for and even much more.’


  The painting has a certain air of mystery, but a suave and diaphanous mystery. It would be like the mystery of a day with a very blue sky when you ask yourself what could there be beyond the blue. It is not a thick mystery, but one behind the blue and not behind clouds. And it is as if that mystery were saying: “If you only knew the gift of God, if you knew how much I have to give you and what  exist in me, then you would understand. I see these wonders and overflow with desire to give them to you. How well you would understand who I am if you wanted to open your eyes to these wonders.”


  The appeasement she communicates is a kind of first step for a person who wants to open himself to marvel so that, when receiving that mysterious action of grace he begins to admire and try to figure out what is in her and what she is saying or expressing.


  Note the impression of purity the picture conveys. She communicates something of the pleasure of being pure, making you understand that, contrary to what many people think, happiness is not found in impurity, but the opposite. By truly having purity we understand the ineffable happiness it gives, compared to which all the pseudo happiness of impurity is trash, torment, and affliction.


  Note also her humility. She displays the bearing of a queen but shrinks from all superiority over the person praying in front of Her. She treats the person as if he were proportional to her whereas none of us has that proportion, not even saints.


  However, if Our Lord Jesus Christ were to appear she would kneel to worship the One Who is infinitely more than her: She has the ineffable happiness of unpretentiousness and purity.”


Alphonse’s description of Our Lady


  Here is Alphonse’s description of Our Lady in his own words: "I was scarcely in the church when a total confusion came over me. When I looked up, it seemed to me that the entire church had been swallowed up in shadow, except one chapel. It was as though all the light was concentrated in that single place. I looked over towards this chapel whence so much light shone, and above the altar was a living figure, tall, majestic, beautiful and full of mercy. It was the most holy Virgin Mary, resembling her figure on the Miraculous Medal. At this sight I fell on my knees right where I stood. Unable to look up because of the blinding light, I fixed my glance on her hands, and in them I could read the expression of mercy and pardon. In the presence of the Most Blessed Virgin, even though she did not speak a word to me, I understood the frightful situation I was in, my sins and the beauty of the Catholic Faith."


  Our Lady did not need to say anything to Alphonse: all she had to do was to show her infinite beauty and love! And Our Lady does this uniquely at each of her apparitions. At each, She is not only infinitely beautiful, but she appears in the manner and appearance of the peoples to whom she is appearing. She not only favors their appearances and skin color but also speaks their dialect.


  What Power, Wisdom, and Merciful Tenderness the Adorable Trinity has granted to the Blessed Virgin (Three Hail Mary’s devotion)!

Protestant Revolution and Rationalism


  But in the doctrinal and psychological context of those times, the Ratisbonne miracle had a more profound significance. In the 19th century, the Revolution was strongly promoting Rationalism, a school of thought that today has become outdated. Then the Revolution was emphasizing this point: the rational man, the man who tries to determine everything according to reason, cannot find the necessary supports in reason to believe that God exists, that the Catholic Church is the true Religion, and that she was founded by Jesus Christ. Therefore, the Revolution concluded, the entire Catholic edifice of doctrines cannot be accepted by human reason.

  Those revolutionary assertions were just myths, like the Roman mythology or legends of the indigenous and African peoples. Most of the rationalist arguments were chicaneries or sophisms, with only a few proceeding from captious arguments. But because the Revolution insisted relentlessly on those points and presented a torrent of objections to Catholic doctrine, many people of that time lost their faith.



  In February, 1842 the Vatican held a canonical investigation of the circumstances surrounding Alphonse's conversion. After a lengthy inquiry and many depositions, it concludes that his sudden conversion was entirely miraculous; an act of God wrought through the powerful intercession of the Virgin.

  In the same year, after a formal inquest about the apparition of January 20, the Vicar General of Pope Gregory XVI, Cardinal Patrizi, declared on June 3, 1842, that it was a divine miracle operated through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and permitted the publication and spread of texts recording the miracle.


  Today we have reached the situation where the action of the Devil is becoming more evident with each passing day. I am speaking not only about UFOs and the hippy revolution. It is clear, according to Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira (who is the source of much of the material in this document), that these phenomena are linked to a preternatural invasion, referring also to the death of rationality in public opinion.


  That men effectively stopped using their reason - as they did in the '80s and '90s - and acted only by temperamental impulses is something that cannot be explained except by a special action of the Devil. He is making an enormous effort to keep the Revolution going, notwithstanding its failure to convince public opinion. Since we cannot explain this preternatural action, it is also difficult to combat it efficiently. It continues to grow and is reaching such an apex that it seems that an astounding miracle is necessary.

  What kind of miracle will it be? What would be the miracle that could move contemporary man to return to the Catholic Faith? The mysterious designs of God are beyond the knowledge of man. But this does not prevent us from speculating based on what He has done in the past.

  Contemporary man has reached such a hardness of heart that he is no longer touched by miracles like the one that took place with Ratisbonne, nor the series of miracles at Lourdes.


  First, we are in need of a miracle that would move the good Catholics to be unafraid to disagree with the prevailing opinion of the revolutionary milieu around them. They should become indifferent to that opinion. Further, they should take the offensive against it. This is the first part of what is necessary. It was what happened at Pentecost. Tongues of fire appeared over the Apostles, and they left the Cenacle with the courage to face everyone. Before this, they were cowards, but with this they became invincible fighters.  Was it something interior or exterior that took place there? The whole city of Jerusalem heard an enormous exploding sound that came from the Cenacle. Therefore, it seems that it was not only an interior action within their souls, but that it was preceded or followed by some exterior miracle. What really happened there we do not know. But in commemoration of the Madonna del Miracolo, we should ask Our Lady to give us a similar miracle to transform us into the Apostles of the End Times predicted by St. Louis Grignon de Montfort.

  Second, this divine intervention should be a chastisement that would punish the world for its acceptance of and concessions to the Revolution, and especially for the sin committed within the Catholic Church. To be more clear, for the acceptance of Progressivism within the Church even to her highest summits.


  For example, the chastisement Our Lady predicted in Fatima in which many nations will disappear. The miracle of the sun that left its orbit and raced toward the earth seems to prefigure a cosmic chastisement where the very equilibrium of the sun may be altered in obedience to a command of Our Lady. What would be the consequences in our solar system if the sun would actually shake and change its course for a short period of time? Such a cosmic disequilibrium could produce all kinds of meteorological catastrophes on the face of earth, destroying countless things and people.

  Even after that, many of the people who survived these catastrophes would still need the miracle of a conversion like the one Alphonse experienced.

  Both of these perspectives point to grandiose miracles necessary to make contemporary men return to the right path and make possible the Reign of Mary, as Our Lady predicted in Fatima.

  In order to be prepared for such miracles, we should at the least pray the Memorare, the prayer that Alphonse said before his conversion. We should pray it often, asking the Madonna del Miracolo to give us these two miracles and the victory of the Holy Church over the Revolution.



Our Lady of the Miracle – January 20 - (Madonna del Miracolo) - Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

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