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Last updated 6-8-13




Our Lady of Emmitsburg and Dr. Gianna Talone Sullivan

This particular Private Revelation is unique in that renowned Marian Theologian Fr. Rene Laurentin established an investigation (Note: this may be done independently outside of a particular Bishops request.) which included both medical and theological experts and found overwhelming evidence that Gianna was having authentic Divine communications. He then wrote a letter in support of the authenticity of Mrs. Sullivan to her local Bishop in Emmitsburg in 2001.  (Note: The first diocese she lived in examined her and made no decision while the one she lives in now examined her and judged “not supernatural” in 2003 and forbade any public activity on any Church property.)  The diocese also circulated that she and the faithful are strongly cautioned against disseminating the messages in a Pastoral Advisory addressed to all in the Archdiocese of Baltimore.  (Link at http://www.archbalt.org/news-events/decrees/)

An excerpt from Dr. Courtney Bartholomew’s letter to “All believers in Our Lady of Emmitsburg” addresses Fr. Rene Laurentin’s report:

“Now, Fr. René Laurentin, the well-known French theologian of international repute and the author of more than 60 books on the Blessed Virgin Mary and who was also an expert advisor for the Council during Vatican II and an expert investigator of Marian apparitions and seers, brought a medical team of scientific specialists from France to America. They then worked in liaison with expert scientists from the University of San Francisco Medical Center to investigate Gianna’s mental state during an apparition.

I have in my possession the results of those investigations, which were written in great detail. Without subjecting you to the many pages of that report, may I summarize it, quoting only a brief section of the report of Dr. Philippe Loron, a specialist neurologist from France, who specializes in cases where neurology meets the spiritual (ecstasy of the seers and reactions to exorcism), and which was written to Gianna Talone-Sullivan:

“… I made on you some ocular tests with light in front of your eyes without advertising it, and also with a hand movement. Your eyelids didn’t move; you didn’t blink. It is a positive test to assert a certain disconnection from the surrounding world. I saw also that your glance was fixed. It is the same as the ecstasies with other seers.”

Dr. Charles D. Yingling, Professor of Neurological Surgery and Otolaryngology and of Intraoperative Monitoring in the University of San Francisco Medical Center, also wrote this as part of his report to Fr. Laurentin: “The prolonged absence of alpha activity (on the EEG) and eye movements during the visionary’s state is comparable to what will be seen during intense visual concentration, although there was no objective stimulus in the visual field (as I recall, we set up the recording apparatus so that she was facing a blank wall during the entire period). The absence of spontaneous or reflexive eye movements is certainly unusual, and indicates a state of detachment from external stimuli… Electrophysiological recordings appeared to be consistent with a lack of responsiveness to outside stimuli… I recall that Dr. Loron was also unable to elicit reflex eye blinks even with rapid hand movements towards the eye. It is very difficult to voluntarily suppress such protective reflexes.”

In summary, it has been conclusively shown by modern scientific investigations that Gianna is “disconnected from the exterior world during an ecstasy” when in communication with the Blessed Virgin


Fr. Laurentin’s Letter

Fr. Laurentin then wrote a letter to Cardinal William Keeler on August 15, 2001 in support of the authenticity of Gianna Talone-Sullivan.  Fr. Jelly, one of Gianna’s spiritual directors, who had negatively judged in the past several preceding apparitions, also supported Gianna.  So did Fr. Robert Faricy SJ, the well-known Mariologist and author (who spends most of his time in Rome), the Mariologist Fr. Edward O’Connor of Notre Dame University and Fr. Joseph Ianuzzi, Doctor in Mystical Theology from the Gregorian University in Rome, all of whom appeared before the Commission of Inquiry to testify in her favor. 

Fr. Laurentin, in his letter to Cardinal Keeler, among other things, also wrote: “As no human being is perfect, authenticity does not require perfection of the person, a fact that one also has to discern. Among numerous criteria I once described elsewhere, the fruits are the most important.  In Gianna’s case, the fruits have always been positive, without anything negative.”

He continued: “What appears most impressive to me―for it is an important criterion in the discernment of apparitions―is that the Charism of the contemplative order has flowered into charity through a Charism of service, perfectly integrated and technically adapted to provide full health care to many Americans, deprived because of poverty. This is essentially in the line of the healings mentioned in the Gospels. Gianna and her husband Dr. Michael Sullivan, specialist in internal medicine, have dedicated their lives to this task with a perfection above all praise. When one encounters the alliance of prayer with charity, this alliance is one of the best positive criteria that exist…

“Too often committees focus on criticism and not values. Values are essential. Criticisms do not suffice to motivate a negative judgment, also at the doctrinal level, except major or grave error. For no saint or Doctor of the Church is free from ambiguous formulas. For example, St. Thomas Aquinas as also St. Catherine of Sienna, given the state of theology at their time, did not grasp the immaculate origin of the Virgin Mary. Indeed, after the dogma was defined, one did not deprive them of their quality of saint and Doctor of the Church.  I could quote many other examples of ambiguities in the Fathers and Doctors of the Church… 

“In many cases, committees set up to judge sincere, prayerful apparitions bearing indisputable fruits, issued the verdict ‘non constat de supernaturalitate,’ and the press states: ‘It is not supernatural,’ or ‘it is an illusion,’ or ‘it is not authentic’ (apropos this, Msgr. Jeremiah F. Kenney, Judicial Vicar and Cardinal’s Delegate for Canonical Affairs, told the Catholic Review: “We do not believe in the apparitions”).  Fr. Laurentin ended his dissertation: “It is a terrible defamation for excellent Christians, better than others, when the Church’s apparent judgment seems to defame them. It happens frequently.” And so say we all.

(Note: this judgment literally means, “supernatural is not evident”, or in other words, it may not be evident whether or not the alleged apparition is authentic. This judgment would seem to be completely open to further evidence or development.)

Fr. Rene Laurentin also gave a response affirming that Dr. Michael Sullivan’s (Gianna’s husband) letter on the Eucharistic Reign of the Child Jesus that is part of the context of the Emmitsburg messages was explained very well … dispelling all ambiguities”. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/oloe/message/142

The diocesan statements also warn us of the danger of being led astray by apocalyptic prophecies.  The fact that God has given messages through Our Lady in the past regarding possible future chastisements as a warning in order to bring us all back to God, such as Fatima, Akita etc., proves that apocalyptic prophecies do not make a private revelation illegitimate.

For those who have claimed that Gianna is disobedient I make this reply.  She was told she could not have the prayer meetings at St. Joseph’s any longer, she obeyed.  Then she was told there could be no public activities related to Our Lady of Emmitsburg on any church property, she obeyed.  And finally she was strongly cautioned not to communicate in any manner, personally or through another, any information connected to the alleged visions or messages, in the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.  She has obeyed this as well.  It is clear that she is cautioned and not forbidden and therefore it is a matter of prudence as to whether it is worth the risk.  If she believes that The Mother of God is telling her to disseminate these messages, it is obviously worth the risk morally to not heed the caution.  Also, it is only in reference to the Archdiocese of Baltimore since that is the limit of his jurisdiction, and therefore if she were to have the vision in, or give the message to another to disseminate who is in another diocese, it does not contradict the caution of the Archbishop.  These are all the complaints against her of disobedience, and none of them are true.

Although the Diocese of Baltimore did officially judge that her apparitions were not of a supernatural nature, it is our understanding that since the Bishop does not have  infallibility and it is not a matter of infallibility, and in light of the public evidence that proves undoubtedly the authenticity of Gianna’s supernatural experiences, we as discerning faithful have the moral freedom to doubt Cardinal Keeler’s judgment in this case.  While the Holy See affirmed his authority to make his judgment, it did not confirm the judgment or make a judgment itself as of yet.  Fr. Wang and this site have more information available on this subject.  http://www.prourladyofemmitsburg.org/churchresponses/emmitsburgandtheholysee.html