What are still little known worldwide are the private revelations of Our Lord made public through the famous and very holy Belgian mystic, Berthe Petit, a Franciscan Tertiary (1870-1943), who enjoyed the highest respect of Cardinals, Bishops, theologians and other members of the Church hierarchy at the time. While attending midnight Mass in 1909, she saw the wounded Heart of Jesus and closely adherent to it was the Heart of Mary pierced with a sword. Then she heard these words: “Cause My Mother’s Heart transfixed by the sorrows that rent Mine to be loved.”
Then on February 7, 1910, she saw the Hearts of Jesus and Mary interpenetrating each other and hovering over the Hearts was a Dove. Jesus then spoke: “You must think of My Mother’s Heart as you think of Mine; live in this Heart as you seek to live in Mine; give yourself to this Heart as you give yourself to Mine. You must spread the love of this Heart so wholly united to Mine.” A few days later her mission was revealed to her. It was to obtain the consecration of the whole world to the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary.
For many years this holy Franciscan Tertiary, while leading a life of hidden suffering in the world, a voluntary victim for the expiation of sin, received repeated revelations from Our Lord of His desire that the whole world should be publicly consecrated to the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. She once saw the divine face under a crown of thorns in a great glory of light at the moment of the elevation of the Host. Our Lord then said to her once more: “The world must be dedicated to the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of My Mother as it is dedicated to Mine. Fear nothing, no matter what suffering and obstacles you may meet. Think only of fulfilling My will.”
On Easter Sunday, 1910, while in Rome, Berthe again saw the Hearts of Jesus and Mary fused with one another under the wing of a dove. This time she heard these words: “What I desire derives from what I did on Calvary. In giving John to My Mother for her son, I confided the whole world to her Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart.” Our Lord then bade her to make the drawing of the vision of the two Hearts, adding: “I will guide your hand.” A few months later, she received a further communication from Jesus: “I desire that the picture for which I guided your hand should be widely diffused as well as the invocation ‘Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us.’ ”
On September 8, 1910, after receiving Holy Communion, Our Lord said to Berthe: “The Heart of My Mother has a right to be called Sorrowful and I wish this title to be placed before that of Immaculate because she has won it herself. The Church has defined in the case of My Mother what I Myself had ordained—her Immaculate Conception. This right which My Mother has to a title of justice is now, according to My express wish, to be known and universally accepted. She has earned it by her identification with My sorrows, by her sufferings, by her sacrifices and by her immolation on Calvary, endured in perfect correspondence with My grace for the salvation of mankind. In her co-redemption lies the nobility of My Mother and for this reason I ask for the invocation which I have demanded be approved and spread throughout the whole Church. It has already obtained many graces; it will obtain yet more when the Church will be exalted and the world renewed through its consecration to the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of My Mother.”
Then nine days later, on September 17, 1910, the Mother herself appeared to Berthe and revealed in a symbolic way the bodily martyrdom that she suffered at the foot of the Cross. Berthe saw her brow wounded and bleeding and her hands and heart pierced. She then said: “Now you can understand the sorrows which my Heart endured and the sufferings of my whole being for the salvation of the world.”
At a Holy Hour devotion during the night of March 24-25, 1912, the eve of the feast of the Annunciation, the Blessed Virgin spoke again to Berthe of her Sorrowful Heart: “I am called the Immaculate Conception. With you, I call myself the Mother of the Sorrowful Heart. This title that my Son wants is the dearest to me of all my titles and it is through it that shall be granted and spread everywhere, graces of mercy, spiritual renewal and salvation.”
July 12, 1912 marked the beginning of a different phase in the mystical experiences of Berthe Petit. Until that time her heavenly communications dealt solely with religious matters but on that day she received the first of several revelations concerning political events. They were similar to some of the messages of a political nature which were given by the Blessed Virgin Mary to St. Catherine Labouré in 1830, by the Virgin of La Salette to Melanie Calvat and Maximin Giraud in 1846 when she wept copiously, and… to Ida Peerdeman in Amsterdam in 1945-1984.
On that day, Jesus told Berthe that the heir to the Catholic empire of Austria-Hungary would be assassinated: “A double murder will strike down the successor of the aged sovereign, so loyal to the faith.” He was referring to Archduke Franz Josef I (1830-1916), who was 82 years old at the time. Jesus added: “It will be the first of those events (World Wars) full of sorrows, but from whence I shall still bring forth good and which will precede the chastisement.”
This prophecy was fulfilled a little less than two years later on June 28, 1914 when Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophia, the Duchess of Hohenburg, were assassinated by 19-year-old Gavrilo Princip, a Serbian nationalist. The following day, June 29, Jesus said to Berthe: “Now begins the ascending curve of preliminary events, which will lead to the great manifestation of My justice.” Indeed that “preliminary event” in Sarajevo led to World War I which started about five weeks later on August 4, 1914 when Germany violated Belgium’s neutrality, and by midnight Great Britain and Germany were at war. That war eventually led to World War II, which may well culminate in a World War III in this nuclear age with the possibility of the annihilation of several nations.
According to Berthe Petit, when the Germans entered Brussels and violated Belgium’s neutrality, just as He harshly criticized the Pharisees, as recorded in the Gospels, Jesus had harsh words to say about the German invaders: “The proud race and its ambitious ruler (Kaiser William II) will be chastised on the very soil (Belgium) of their unjust conquest… The worst calamities which I predicted are unleashed. The time has now arrived when I wish mankind to turn to the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of My Mother. Let this prayer be uttered by every soul: ‘Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us’ so that it may spread as a refreshing and purifying balm of reparation that will appease My anger. This devotion to the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of My Mother will restore faith and hope to broken hearts and to ruined families. It will help to repair the destruction. It will sweeten sorrow. It will be a new strength for My Church, bringing souls, not only to confidence in My Heart, but also to abandonment to the Sorrowful Heart of My Mother.”
Pope Pius X died on August 10, 1914 soon after World War I began and he was succeeded by Pope Benedict XV. As Sir Nicholas Cheetham commented in his History of the Popes: “How ought the Holy See to react to a murderous conflict in which Catholic Austria-Hungary and partly-Catholic Germany stood initially opposed to an alliance of Catholic, but officially irreligious France, with Orthodox Russia and Protestant Great Britain?”
This indeed was the problem facing the Pope, shortly to be complicated by Italy’s entry into the war. In his first statement on September 8, 1914, the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, he mourned the bloodshed and pleaded for a quick end to the war just begun. He also denounced the war as a crime against religion, humanity and civilization, perpetrated as it was by Catholic countries.
In his first encyclical Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum, issued on November 1, 1914, Pope Benedict criticized the warring Christian peoples: “Who could realize,” he wrote, “that they are the children of the same Father in heaven?” He then closed with a call for a prayer to Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary, “who bore the Prince of Peace.” Then the following year, on May 3, 1915, he sent a letter to the Dean of the Sacred College, Cardinal Venutelli, which concluded with the following recommendation addressed to all the bishops of the world: “Let us send up our prayers, more than ever ardent and frequent, to Him in whose Hands lie the destinies of all peoples, and let us appeal with confidence to the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, the most gentle Mother of Jesus and ours, that by her powerful intercession she will obtain from her divine Son the speedy end of the war and the return of peace and tranquility.”
Berthe Petit spent the years of World War I in Switzerland where she was frequently told in advance of the calamities that would befall the Allies. However, the two Cardinals who cooperated most with her were Cardinal Desiré Mercier, Primate of Belgium, and Cardinal Francis Alphonsus Bourne, the Primate of England and Archbishop of Canterbury. Cardinal Bourne (1861-1935) became acclaimed for his patriotic speeches during the war and Cardinal Mercier (1851-1926) became the spokesman of Belgian opposition to the German occupation for which the Germans placed him under house arrest. He was Berthe’s spiritual director for several years, was deeply impressed by her heavenly communications, and energetically promoted the devotion to the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary in Belgium. In fact, he had also approached the predecessor of Pope Benedict XV, Pope Pius X (1903-1914), and attempted to win his approval for the worldwide devotion. Seventeen petitions were made to the Pope, however, sadly to say, the Pope did not find it appropriate to promote a new worldwide devotion at that time, but it was certainly never condemned on doctrinal grounds. However, like Pius X, Pope Benedict XV also did not judge the time opportune for a worldwide devotion.
In February, 1915, Our Lord said to Berthe: “It is through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of My Mother that I will triumph, because having cooperated in the redemption of souls, this Heart has the right to share a similar cooperation in the manifestations of My justice and of My love. My Mother is noble in everything but she is especially so in her wounded Heart, transfixed by the wound of Mine.”
Berthe in the interim remained quietly patient in Switzerland awaiting God’s good pleasure and continued to receive heavenly communications. Our Lady later showed her in a vision an untold multitude of every race and color, sick and suffering, all praying with arms raised to heaven. Some were physically healed, others, touched by grace, fell on their knees. “It seemed a regeneration of the whole world,” said Berthe.
Meanwhile, as the war continued, on March 7, 1916 Cardinal Mercier announced that during the Good Friday ceremonies he would dedicate his diocese and his beloved country Belgium to the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, and in England Cardinal Bourne continued to rally the faithful towards this devotion. In a pastoral letter of September 3, 1916, he wrote:
Nowhere in Christendom should honor be paid more readily to the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary than here in England. In the days of united faith (that is, before the Reformation), her purity and her sorrows were ever held in loving veneration. Throughout the realm, Our Blessed Lady, God’s Mother, were terms and titles dear to every English heart. England was, in very truth, Our Lady’s dowry. It is, therefore, not with the idea of introducing any new devotion, but rather in order to give fresh meaning and greater force to thoughts long cherished by us all and deep-rooted in the history of our race that we desire to consecrate with renewed effort the prayer, which the special circumstances of the moment so urgently demand, to the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary…
For these reasons, we desire and enjoin that in all the churches and public chapels of our diocese, Friday, September 15, the feast of the Seven Sorrows of Our Blessed Lady, or on the following Sunday, during Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, the Stabat Mater be sung, to be followed by the recitation of three Hail Marys and the invocation (repeated after each Hail Mary) “Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us,” in order that, by this public homage, all our dioceses, and, insofar in us lies, our whole country and empire may be solemnly consecrated and dedicated to Our Blessed Lady under this special title.
That day, September 15, 1916, marked the greatest success of the British. In fact, each time public devotions were performed in England, the British armies swept forward to unexpected victories, so much so that Marshal Ferdinand Foch, the Commander in Chief of the Allied forces in France, observed in his “Memoires” that, strangely enough, the English seemed scarcely aware of how those successes could have come about. “I will never repeat it too often,” he wrote, “that the English fought in a most extraordinary way. They won victory upon victory. At the beginning of October they had broken the formidable Hindenburg line at its strongest point. But still more wonderful, these victories were won almost unknown to themselves.”
Among those notable successes of the war by the Allies was the capture of the village of Passchendaele by the Canadians ending the third battle of Ypres and the enemy then lost all hope of piercing the line to Calais. There was also the success of the Allies in driving back the Germans on the Marne, relieving the threat to Paris.
On August 15, 1917, Cardinal Bourne once more consecrated England to the Sorrowful Heart of Mary (This was repeated solemnly on Christmas day). On August 22, 1917, the feast of the Queenship of Mary, Our Lord sent the following message through Berthe Petit to Cardinal Bourne:
I ask My apostle Francis to exert an ever increasing activity in favor of the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of My Mother … Let him hasten what he calls his ‘first step’ so that a still more solemn consecration may be timed for the feast of the Sorrows of My Mother—that great feast of her Heart as Co-redemptrix. When the nation (England) of my apostle Francis will be entirely dedicated to this Heart he will see that he has not listened to My word in vain, for my providential intervention is reserved for all the people consecrated to the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of My Mother. I wish thus to show the power of this Heart which is linked in everything with My own.
When the tide of battle turned against the Allies in the dreadful spring of 1918, Jesus explained to Berthe: “It is a necessary trial for after My protection had helped them to conquer, they attributed the glory to their own prowess. Reverses are now showing these soldiers how human means alone are powerless to repel the surge of invasion.”
However, by mid-October 1918, the Germans were all but finished and desertions were skyrocketing. People had had enough. Governments fell and chaos prevailed over central Europe. Then on October 17, 1918, Our Lord told Berthe:
Were it not for my intervention, obtained by My apostle Francis through recourse to the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of My Mother, the victory would have belonged to those who strained every nerve during so many years to prepare and organize a great war for the attainment of their own ambitions …. Material force would have overborne justice and right and this more especially so for your own country (Belgium). For why should I come to the help of a people in France intent on persecuting My Church? That is why trials will continue until the day when, humbly acknowledging her errors, this nation will render Me My rights and give full liberty to My Church.
During that month Our Lord also warned Berthe: “The world is hanging on the edge of utter cataclysm. My justice cannot preside over the machination of those who work in their own interests to forward a peace totally unworthy of the name, and which can never be genuine except through My intervention.”
Three weeks later, after a most bloody conflict among the nations, and after ten million people had died and many more maimed and displaced, the greatest global war in known history at that time ended abruptly and gloriously in favor of the British. It was at eleven a.m. on the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918 when the Armistice took place. On May 24, 1919, the Archbishop of Westminster again consecrated his country to the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary in thanksgiving for the great victory in what was thought to be “the war to end all wars.”
In July, 1919, eight months after the Armistice, Our Lord spoke as follows to Berthe:
Internal strife is more rampant than ever in your country. It is being fanned by the evil seed sown by the invader. It is fed by egoism, pride and jealousy—malevolent germs which can only generate moral ruin… Time will prove that a peace established without Me and without him who speaks in My name (referring to Pope Benedict XV) has no stability. The nation (Germany), which is considered to be vanquished but whose forces are only momentarily diminished, will remain a menace for your country and likewise for France. Confusion and terror will steadily spread through every nation. Because this peace is not Mine, wars will be rekindled on every side—civil war and racial war. What would have been so noble, so true, so beautiful, so lasting in its fulfillment is consequently delayed. Humanity is advancing towards a frightful scourge which will divide the nations more and more. It will reduce human schemes to nothingness. It will break the pride of the powers that be. It will show that nothing subsists without Me and that I remain the sole Master of the destinies of nations.
“A peace totally unworthy of the name,” said Our Lord to Berthe. Let us research the history of that rebuke. Now, Pope Benedict XV had adopted a rigidly neutral position between the belligerents, and while denouncing the war as a crime against religion, humanity and civilization, he had blamed both sides equally for allowing it to happen and to continue. However, neither side appreciated his attitude nor responded to his exhortations. In fact, it later transpired that one of Italy’s conditions for entering the war in 1915 with the Allies was the exclusion of the Holy See from any eventual peace conference.
After his suggestion of a general Christmas truce in 1914 was totally ignored by the Allies, on August 1, 1917, he issued a seven-point peace plan to each of the belligerent nations. Ignored by most powers, only Austria-Hungary regarded it with any degree of seriousness. However, the Pope strove continually and imperturbably for a negotiated peace as opposed to a dictated one, and being barred from the Palace Peace Conference, which began in January 1919 in Paris caused him to stigmatize the Treaty of Versailles (not unfairly) as a “consecration of hatred” and a “perpetuation of war.”
Now Germany had refused to acknowledge any sole guilt and responsibility for the war and the German people, having agreed to set about forming a democratic republican government, felt that they were entitled to a just peace. However, when the terms of the Versailles Treaty, laid down by the Allies without negotiation with Germany, were published in Berlin on May 7, 1919, they came as a staggering blow to the German people. Germany was made to pay “reparations” far beyond her power of payment and in contravention of the plain understandings upon which she had surrendered. She was put in a position of economic serfdom.
Angry mass meetings were then organized throughout the country to protest against the treaty and to demand that Germany refuse to sign it. Indeed, the treaty was branded as “unreasonable and unbearable,” and intolerable for any nation, so much so that Phillipp Scheidemann, who had become the first Chancellor of the Weimar Assembly, exclaimed: “May the hand wither that signs this treaty!” In fact, Field Marshall von Hindenburg, President of Germany, came to the conclusion that he could not help feeling that it was better to perish honorably than accept a disgraceful peace.
However, the Treaty of Versailles was eventually signed in the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles on June 28, 1919 with objections from the German government, protesting that they did so “under the threat of force.” On that day Germany became a house divided. In fact, when he read the Peace Treaty, Marshall Foch burst out: “This is not peace! This is an armistice for twenty years.” Indeed, twenty years and sixty-seven days later, once more Great Britain and France declared war on a militant Germany! As Our Lord had said to Berthe Petit: “Time will prove that a peace established without Me and without him who speaks in My name has no stability.”
Yet another critic of the Versailles Peace Treaty was Winston Churchill. In his book The Second World War, he began his magnum opus with these words:
The economic clauses of the Treaty were malignant and silly to an extent that made them obviously futile. Germany was condemned to pay reparations on a fabulous scale. The triumphant Allies continued to assert that they would squeeze Germany “till the pips squeaked” and that Germany should be made to pay “to the uttermost farthing.” All this had a potent bearing on the prosperity of the world and the mood of the German race. History will characterize all these transactions as insane. They helped to breed both the martial curse and the economic blizzard. All this was a sad story of complicated idiocy in the making of which much toil and virtue was consumed. Thereafter mighty forces were adrift, the void was open, and into that void after a pause there stood a maniac of ferocious genius, the repository and expression of the most virulent hatreds that have ever corroded the human breast—Corporal Hitler.
A picture of Our Lady, referred to later as Our Lady of Ollignies, is of mysterious origin. It was discovered in Ollignies under precarious circumstances in 1918 in the Convent of the Bernadine nuns by whom Berthe Petit had been educated. After the withdrawal of the German troops from Belgium, consequent on the closure of the war, one of the Sisters was asked to put the cellar in order. Among the various items she found was a piece of cardboard wrapped in an old newspaper with pornographic pictures which she tore off to be burnt along with other rubbish. However, to her astonishment she found underneath the cardboard, a beautiful picture of Our Lady. This was reported to the Mother Superior and the whole Community then felt that their safety during the war was probably due to the special protection of Our Lady manifested by that picture within the precincts of the convent. However, in spite of thorough investigations they were unable to trace its origin.
When it was shown to Berthe Petit in 1919 on returning from Switzerland after the war, she at once recognized it as a picture of the two-fold symbols of the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary. The image in the picture represented the Mother of God, holding in her left hand a lily, the symbol of her immaculate purity, the gratuitous gift of her divine Son; the finger of her right hand pointed to her Sorrowful Heart surmounted by flames and pierced with a sword. Soon it became widely known and sought after all over Belgium. It bore on the back an Act of Consecration dictated by Our Lord Himself to Berthe Petit—and used by His Eminence Francis Cardinal Bourne, Primate of England, during and after World War I.
Dr. Courtenay Bartholomew, M.D., is a scientist from Trinidad who is considered a leading international AIDS researcher. He has authored a series of mariological studies from a scientific perspective entitled, A Scientist Researches Mary. The above article was excerpted from The Last Help Before the End of Time, Queenship, 2005.