Updated April 20, 2021
The canonical status and history of the Our Lady of America devotion started with Archbishop Paul F. Leibold of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. He was the first Bishop of competence to recognize the private devotion to Our Lady of America, The Immaculate Virgin, in the early 1960’s. He had the medal struck, gave his Imprimatur to prayers and facilitated the distribution of the diary. Further he had the first image of Our Lady of America carved. These actions established the first canonical recognition for the devotion to Our Lady of America.
For many years, a number of additional bishops recognized the devotion by taking steps in their dioceses allowing for its practice.
In May of 2020, the six Roman Catholic Bishops, who have jurisdiction over this devotion because the alleged apparitions occurred in their dioceses, released a joint decree discussing the supernaturality of what Sr. Mary Ephrem experienced as the basis for this devotion. This group of Bishops was led by Bishop Kevin Rhoades of the Fort Wayne – South Bend Diocese. These ecclesiastical authorities have determined that what Sr. Mary Ephrem experienced cannot be said to be of supernatural origin in the sense of objective occurrences such as those seen at places like Guadalupe and Lourdes, but rather: “It seems that these were authentically graced moments, even perhaps of a spiritual quality beyond what most people experience…” They further recognized Kneipp Springs as the birthplace of the devotion where there have been many reports of good fruit including reported healings and conversions. The Devotion to Our Lady, the Immaculate Virgin, Patroness of America, in short, Our Lady of America, has been allowed as a Private Devotion of the lay faithful.
We frequently hear the question: “What does it mean to be a Private Devotion of the Faithful?” The words private and public do not have the same meaning as the secular meaning of “in private” or “in public.” A Private Devotion, while it is not approved as a devotion of the Church by legitimate ecclesiastical authority, is recognized by the ecclesiastical authority as occurring and as not prohibited. In other words, it can continue among the faithful of their own accord under the oversight of the local Bishop.
Concerning this website: Any reference to apparition or other supernatural claims of Sr. Mary Ephrem, or any blog posting and comments referring to the same must be understood as alleged. Furthermore, any reference to Our Lady of America must be understood to mean Our Lady, The Immaculate Virgin, Patroness of America.
For further information see: Posting of Decree and Statement