When the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared in Mexico she revealed her title as “The Perfect Virgin, Holy Mary of Guadalupe.” When Bishop Zumarraga first saw her miraculous image on St. Juan Diego’s cloak he said, “It is the Immaculate One!” Similarly, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared in the United States and revealed her title as “Our Lady of America, The Immaculate Virgin”, another representation of the Immaculate Conception, the Patroness of the United States.
She appeared to a young nun in the United States in several apparitions during the latter half of the 20th century. The nun’s name was Sister Mary Ephrem, later Mildred Neuzil, her birth name. She was born in Brooklyn, New York, on August 2, 1916.
At the age of 14, Mildred entered the active religious congregation of the Sisters of the Precious Blood, a Papal Community, in Dayton Ohio. In the fall of 1956, Sister Mary Ephrem was sent to Kneipp Springs Sanitarium, near Rome City, Indiana.
After 1979, she became a contemplative of the Indwelling Trinity in Fostoria, Ohio, an order that never became officially recognized by the Catholic Church.
In 1938, Sister Mary Ephrem began to have mystical experiences. The principal apparitions of Our Lady of America to her took place in the chapel of the Precious Blood Sisters Convent in Kneipp Springs Sanitarium. Our Lady of America revealed her title, her image and her messages to Sister that continued until her death in her convent on January 10, 2000 at the age of 83.
Sister Mildred Mary Neuzil
On September 26, 1956, Our Lady appeared to Sister and called her children in America to dedicate their lives to her purity. She said: My child, I entrust you with this message that you must make known to my children in America. I wish it to be the country dedicated to my purity. The wonders I will work will be the wonders of the soul. They must have faith and believe firmly in my love for them. I desire that they be the children of my Pure Heart. I desire, through my children in America, to further the cause of faith and purity among peoples and nations. Let them come with confidence and simplicity, and I, their Mother, will teach them to become pure like to my Heart that their own hearts may be more pleasing to the Heart of my Son.
Sister Mildred said that Our Lady called herself “Our Lady of America” in response to the love and desire that reached out for this special title in the hearts of her children in America. This title is a sign of Our Lady’s pleasure in the devotion of her children of America towards her, and her visit was a response to the longing, conscious or unconscious, in the hearts of her children in America.
She entrusted Sister, as she said, with “this message that you must make known to my children in America.” to “further the cause of faith and purity among people and nations, especially through its youth.”
She revealed that the youth of America are challenged to be the leaders of this movement of renewal on the face of the earth and that they must be prepared for it by instilling in them the knowledge and study of the Divine Indwelling so that the Divine Presence becomes an intimate and necessary part of their life and daily living. Those who are willing wholeheartedly to follow her in her great battle against evil will bear the special title of “Torchbearers of the Queen,” bearing the torch of Divine Love that will conquer hate.
The Practice of the Devotion
The elements of the devotion to Our Lady of America are the image, the statue, the medal, the Divine Indwelling; the prayers and honoring St. Joseph. We practice the devotion by displaying, honoring and venerating the image or statue; wearing the medal with great devotion; practicing the Divine Indwelling; praying the prayers and the Rosary, especially as a family and by honoring St. Joseph, especially on First Wednesdays. If we practice the devotion to Our Lady of America, she promises us peace and her protection.
Sister Mildred’s spiritual director was Bishop Paul F. Leibold. He later became the Archbishop of Cincinnati, Ohio. As Our Lady requested, Bishop Leibold had a medal struck of the image and, on January 25, 1963, he approved and gave his Imprimatur to the revelations from the Blessed Virgin Mary under her title of “Our Lady of America, The Immaculate Virgin.” It is the only approved devotion in the United States based upon an apparition that occurred here.
Archbishop Raymond L. Burke, a world renowned canon lawyer, stated that the devotion to Our Lady of America was canonically approved. In a letter dated May 31, 2007, he reviewed the prior history and then state of the devotion, as well as the earlier actions of Archbishop Leibold approving the devotion. Archbishop Burke wrote, “What can be concluded canonically is that the devotion was both approved by Archbishop Leibold and, what is more, was actively promoted by him. In addition, over the years, other Bishops have approved the devotion and have participated in public devotion to the Mother of God, under the title of Our Lady of America.”
Watch a narrated slide show of the story of Our Lady of America.