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Akita, Japan (1973-81)


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Apparitions to Saints
Unapproved Apparitions


Sister Agnes Sasagawa of the Handmaids of the Eucharist received visions of an angel and messages emanating from a wooden statue that wept 101 times.



Agnes Sasagawa is born.


The institute of Handmaids of the Eucharist was founded after Sumako Sugawara settled in the city in 1946.

May 12, 1973

Agnes enters the convent of the Institute of the Handmaids of the Eucharist in Akita, Japan.

June 12, 1973

Sr. Agnes encounters on several occasions a bright light emanating from the tabernacle in the chapel and "spiritual beings" worshipping the Eucharist. She reports these experiences to Bishop John Ito.

June 1973

Sr. Agnes begins to experience the stigmata. On Thursdays she feels initial pain and on Fridays and Saturdays finds a cross of blood on her left hand.

July 6, 1973

Sr. Agnes encounters her guardian angel and subsequently a three-foot high wooden statue of the Virgin (Our Lady of All Nations) ablaze with light. The statue was created in 1963 by Saburo Wakasa, a sculptor based in Akita. The statue spoke to Agnes and asked her to pray for the reparation of the sins of humanity and to follow her superior. After the apparition, Agnes and the other nuns discover a bleeding wound in the hand of the statue.

July 26, 1973

The angel appears again and promises that the pain in her wound would subside.

Aug 3, 1973

The statue speaks again and warns of a great chastisement.

Sep 29, 1973

The statue stops bleeding but tears start flowing down its cheeks. More than 2,000 people have since witnessed the statue weeping.

Oct 13, 1973

Sr. Agnes receives her last message from the Virgin. She was told that the Father would inflict a terrible punishment on humanity, that fire would fall from the sky and wipe out part of the population, and that the devil would infiltrate the Church.

May 1974

The angel tells Agnes that her hearing will be temporarily restored and then permanently cured later.

Oct 13, 1974

Agnes temporarily regains her hearing.

Jan 1975

The tears, sweat and blood from the statue were sent for laboratory analysis.

Dec 1975

The angel appears again.


Bishop John Shoojiroo Ito (1962-1985) of Niigata went to Rome to the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1975 where he consulted Archbishop Hamer, deputy secretary of this Congregation. He explained to the Bishop that judgment regarding such a matter falls under the jurisdiction of the local Ordinary (bishop) of the diocese in question.


Bishop Ito requested that the archbishop of Tokyo name the first commission of inquiry. (This first commission later declared that it was not in a position to prove the supernatural events of Akita.)


Bishop Ito publicly announced that it was necessary to abstain from all official pilgrimage and all particular veneration of this statue while the inquiry was underway.

Sep 15, 1981

The statue weeps for the 101st and last time

Sep 28, 1981

Her guardian angel shows her a vision of the Bible and asks her to read Genesis 3:15: "I will place enmity between thee (Satan) and the woman (Mary), between thy seed and hers. She will crush thy head and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel."

Aug 4, 1981

Theresa Chun is cured of a brain tumor after praying to our Lady of Akita.

May 30, 1982

Agnes' hearing is restored permanently in accord with the promise of the angel.

April 22, 1984

Approved by Bishop John Shoojiroo Ito of Niigata in a pastoral letter.

March 9, 1985

Bishop Ito retires.

June 1988

Bishop Ito brought his letter to Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger -- now Pope Benedict XVI -- who allowed the pastoral letter and its dissemination to the faithful.

April 1990

The apostolic nuncio in Japan, Bishop William Aquin Carew in an interview with 30 DAYS, a Catholic Magazine, noted of Cardinal Ratzinger that: “His Eminence did not give any judgment on the reliability or credibility of the ‘messages of the Virgin.’ According to the transcription of the meeting, he simply affirmed that ‘there are no objections to the conclusions of the pastoral letter.’”

July 1990

The president of the Japanese bishops’ conference, Peter Seiichi Shirayanagi, told 30 DAYS,” that, “The events of Akita are no longer to be taken seriously. We think they do not now have a great significance for the Church and Japanese society.” (30 DAYS Magazine, July - August 1990, “The Tears of Akita,” by Stefano M. Paci, p. 45).

March 14, 1993

Bishop Ito dies.

December 1999

The Apostolic Nuncio in Tokyo, Ambrose de Paoli, in response to a query from the editor of a British Catholic magazine Christian Order, stated: “The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has asked me to respond to your query re: Akita. ... The Holy See has never given any kind of approval to either the events or messages of Akita.” (Christian Order, December 1999, p. 610.)


The chapel building was rebuilt in the style of traditional Japanese wooden architecture by carpenters who work on temples.

Photo Gallery

Akita 01
Our Lady of Akita (Japan 1973)
Akita 02
Our Lady of Akita (Japan 1973)
Akita 03
Our Lady of Akita (Japan 1973)
Akita 04
Our Lady of Akita (Japan 1973)
Akita 05
Our Lady of Akita (Japan 1973): Sister Agnes Sasagawa of the Handmaids of the Eucharist

Description of the Virgin

In the events of Akita, there was no "apparition" of the Virgin. Agnes reported the apperance of her guardian angel but the messages attributed to Mary were said to emanate from a bleeding 3-foot high wooden statue. The wooden statue in the convent at Akita was carved by a Buddhist woodcarver from an identical image of The Lady of All Nations.


The Virgin delivered messages 3 times in 1973 (July 6, August 3, and October 13). Her guardian angel appeared an additional 4 times.

"As for the content of the messages received, it is no way contrary to Catholic doctrine or to good morals. When one thinks of the actual state of the world, the warning seems to correspond to it in many points. The Congregation of the Doctrine for the Faith has given me directives in this sense that only the bishop of the diocese in question has the power to recognize an event of this kind."

Bishop John Shojiro Ito, the Diocesan Bishop of Niigata

Click here to read messages.

Miracles, Cures, and Signs

The statue wept 101 times. Her guardian angel explained it with the following:  "There is a meaning to the figure 101 (the number of times the statue wept). This signifies that sin came into the world by a woman and it is also by a woman that salvation came into the world. The zero between the two signifies the Eternal God who is from all eternity until eternity. The first one represents Eve, and the last, the Virgin Mary."

The actual weeping of the statue was not only witnessed by the local bishop but was shown on national Japanese TV.

Theresa Chun, a Korean woman diagnosed with a brain tumor, placed an image of Our Lady of Akita under her pillow and prayed to her for a miraculous healing. On August 4, 1981, the tumor was found to have disappeared. This healing was well documented by Fr. Joseph Oh of Seoul, S. Korea.

In May 1982, her angel told Agnes that her hearing would be permanently restored that month, and on May 30 the deafness was cured. (Tests performed on Agnes at the Akita Muncipal Hospital in 1975 had confirmed that she was deaf and that her deafness was incurable.)


The first tests on the samples of blood, tears, and sweat from the statue were performed by Professor Eiji Okuhara, a Catholic physician in the Akita University Department of Biochemistry and a former Rockefeller Foundation fellow. Professor Okuhara, who had witnessed the weeping statue himself, also passed the samples on to a non-Christian forensic specialist, Dr. Kaoru Sagisaka. The scientists confirmed that the samples were of human origin- the blood was found to be type B and the sweat and tears were type AB.

Initially the nun's claims were rejected by an archbishop, then accepted by the bishop of her actual diocese, Most Reverend John Shojiro Ito of Niigata, who on April 22, 1984, after years of extensive investigation, declared the tears to be of supernatural origin and authorized veneration of the Holy Mother of Akita.

"After the inquiries conducted up to the present day, one cannot deny the supernatural character of a series of unexplainable events relative to the statue of the Virgin honored at Akita (Diocese of Niigata). Consequently I authorize that all of the diocese entrusted to me venerate the Holy Mother of Akita."

Bishop John Shoojiroo Ito of Niigata (April 22, 1984)

Bishop Ito was apprehensive over the reaction of the Vatican to his pastoral letter, but when he brought his letter to Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger -- now Pope Benedict XVI -- in 1988, the cardinal, who was initially disinclined toward the revelation, allowed the pastoral letter and its dissemination to the faithful. The Vatican has never issued a formal statement.


marian apparitions - Our Lady of Akita Shrine

Our Lady of Akita Shrine
"Redemptoris Mater"
The Chapel of Seitai Hoshikai
Handmaids of the Holy Eucharist
Soegawa Yuzawadai 1
Akita 010-0822 JAPAN
Phone: 018-868-2139 / FAX: 018-868-4728

As of 2017, the shrine receives about 7,000 pilgrims a year, and I think about two-thirds of them are from overseas according to Keiko Ogawa, the Mother Superior.

The Motherhouse of the Institute of the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist stands atop a hill away from residential homes. It is located about seven kilometers north of Akita Station, which takes about six hours to reach from Narita International Airport in Chiba Prefecture, a major gateway into Japan, using express and bullet trains.


Eucharistic Prayer of Akita

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, truly present in the Holy Eucharist,
I consecrate my body and soul to be entirely one with Your Heart,
being sacrificed at every instant on all the altars of the world and giving praise to the Father,
pleading for the coming of His Kingdom.

Please receive this humble offering of myself.
Use me as you will for the glory of the Father and the
salvation of souls.

Most Holy Mother of God, never let me be separated from Your Divine Son.
Please defend and protect me as Your special child.

Books and Videos

Akita: The Tears and Message of Mary
by Teiji Yasuda (Preface), John M. Haffert (Translator) (June 1989)

Akita: Mother of God As Coredemptrix Modern Miracles of Holy Eucharist

by Francis Mutsuo Fukushima (Queenship Publishing. December 2000)

Meetings with Mary
Janice T. Connell

Divine Mirrors: The Virgin Mary in the Visual Arts
by Melissa R. Katz (Editor), et al

The Meaning of Akita
by John M. Haffert

Akita - The Tears and Message of Mary and The Meaning of Akita

By Fr. Teiji Yasuda, O.S.V.

by Brother Craig Driscoll

Dee, Howard Q. Our Lady’s message the same from Fatima to Akita. Philippine Daily Inquirer 04/03/2011


Our Lady of Akita (Japan) 68 min 1993

The Messages of Our Lady in Akita
60 min 1994

A Hill of Redemption (Talk of Sr. Agnes, Fr. Yasuda and Bishop Ito ) 101 minutes


The Work of God
The Circle of Prayer
101 Foundation
Diocese of Niigata, Japan
Catholic Bishops Conference of Japan

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