The story of Sister Teresita Castillo and the supposed Marian apparitions of Lipa City, Philippines reads something like a mystery novel.
A negative judgement given in a document signed by local bishops and subsequent suppression of the devotion most likely drove the visionary nun out of the convent.
Years later, some bishops involved in the disapproval of the case allegedly came forward with deathbed confessions, saying they only ruled against the apparitions on threat of excommunication.
A document from the 1950s that would further clarify the case is still being kept secret in the archives of the Vatican.
Then in May of this year, the local Archbishop Ramon C. Arguelles announced that the Holy See had reiterated its negative judgement on the supernatural nature of the apparitions. The reiteration was a rebuttal to the archbishop, who had a few months prior announced (without Vatican approval) that the apparition had been reapproved as supernatural.
The exchange was just the latest in a decades-long ping-pong match between the Vatican and the local clergy over whether or not the popular local devotion should be officially approved.
As it currently stands, the apparitions of Mary in Lipa – known as Mary, Mediatrix of all Grace – are officially considered “not supernatural in nature” by the Holy See.
The highest recognition that the Catholic Church gives to an alleged miracle is that it is “worthy of belief.” If investigations determine an event to be fraudulent or lacking in supernatural character, a rejection may be issued.
Alternatively, the Church may declare that there is nothing contrary to the faith in a supposed miraculous phenomenon – but without making a determination on whether a supernatural character is present.
However, in an unprecedented move in this case, the Lipa apparitions are not considered supernatural, but local devotion is still allowed.
“I believe it to be the singular case in history where you have a negative judgement, but the devotion is allowed,” Michael O’Neill, a Catholic miracle researcher and author who runs the website miraclehunter.com, said.
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