On May 31, 2007, then serving as the Archbishop of Saint Louis, Cardinal Raymond L. Burke issued a letter on the devotion to “Our Lady of America” in which he made this observation:
“A specific request of Our Lady of America was that her statue be placed in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. There is a providential connection between Sister Mary Ephrem and the late Archbishop Bishop John Francis Noll of the Diocese of Fort Wayne, who is celebrated as the Apostle of the National Shrine. The principal apparitions of Our Lady of America to Sister Mary Ephrem took place in the chapel of the Precious Blood Sisters Convent in Kneipp Springs Sanitorium, near Rome City, Indiana. Archbishop Bishop Noll, who died in 1956, maintained a summer residence at the Sanitorium, within a few hundred feet of the place of the apparitions. While the National Shrine is the largest shrine in the world at which there was not a previous apparition, the private revelation to Sister Mary Ephrem very much confirms the mission of the National Shrine.”
It was this very same Archbishop-Bishop John Francis Noll of Fort Wayne-South Bend who was at the vanguard of the Catholic Church in the United States promoting the virtue of purity:
“The other American bishops also appointed Bishop Noll as one of the original committee of four that formed the Legion of Decency in 1933. In 1937 he launched a drive against printed pornography that culminated in his selection as chairman of a committee that organized the National Organization for Decent Literature.
“In 1946, Bishop Noll became the head of a committee of archbishops and bishops to raise five million dollars for the completion of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. Unfortunately, he did not live to see the completion of the shrine. A bust of him is prominently displayed in the shrine, however, in a place of honor to commemorate his contributions toward the completion of the Shrine.” (Article about Archbishop Noll)
Our Lady of America, the Immaculate Virgin first appeared to Sr. Mary Ephrem in the chapel next to the room where Archbishop Noll lived his last summer. He was at the Rome City Sanatorium operated by the Precious Blood Sisters which is on Sylvan Lake in the Diocese of Fort Wayne – South Bend. This lake is where he and his extended family would gather year after year. I have heard many of stories from relatives who fondly recall these family events. By appearing here, of all places, it seems Our Lady was recognizing not only the holiness of the person but also the fruitfulness of this prelate’s work.
Good American bishops devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary have been warning the people of these United States for more than 80 years about the moral peril of pornography. The antidote to this vice is the virtue of purity: “I am Our Lady of America. I desire that my children honor me, especially by the purity of their lives” — the first words spoken by Our Lady of America, September 26, 1956.
This past week a stalwart Catholic priest has again made this connection between purity and Our Lady of America on the internet site Roman Catholic Man in an article entitled: PORNOGRAPHY DESTROYING OUR NATION – GOD SENT OUR LADY OF AMERICA.
Let us pray for that solemn procession of the statue of Our Lady of America into the National Shrine of The Immaculate Conception, that this action will yield a nearly universal infusion of the virtue of purity into the citizens of the United States of America, and eventually throughout the world! With this in mind, during the Month of May, please pray The Most Holy Rosary daily and conclude it with your normal prayers and this aspiration: By Thy Holy and Immaculate Conception, O Mary, deliver us from evil!