Bayside, a section of the borough of Queens, New York, had been the scene of apparitions of the Virgin Mary to Veronica Lueken (1923-1995), a housewife, from 1970 until her death. Over the years she received numerous messages from the Virgin through a process now generally termed channeling.
Lueken's experience with the Virgin began in June of 1968, on the day that presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated. Watching television in her home, she responded to the call for prayers that had gone out and then smelled the scent of roses. Soon afterwards, St. Theresa (the French saint generally called the Little Flower) appeared. Her 10-year-old son also reported seeing the saint. No words were exchanged. Over the next two years she had a series of random visions; then in 1970, the Virgin appeared for the first time. Mary asked that on the eves of the great feast days of the Roman Catholic Church, vigil services for the recitation of the rosary be held outside of the St. Robert Bellermine Catholic Church in Bay-side Hills, Queens. She would appear to Lueken at each of these vigils, the first of which was held on June 18, 1970. At these times, the Virgin spoke through Lueken and delivered numerous messages. She was invoked under the name Our Lady of the Roses, Mary Help of Mothers.
Large crowds began to gather for the vigils. The messages took an increasingly negative tone focusing upon the evil of the world and within the church, and warning of widespread chastisements. Included was a prophecy that a comet would strike the earth and that World War III was imminent. Relations with the church deteriorated after an investigation by the office of the Archbishop of Brooklyn concluded that there were not any miraculous or sacred qualities to the apparitions. Additionally, the neighbors complained about the noise and congestion caused by the gatherings. Forced from the church property, in 1975 Lueken and the group that had gathered around her moved to the Vatican Pavilion at Flushing Park that had been erected for the 1965 World's Fair. Lueken predicted that they would be allowed to return to the church, but that never occurred.
Shortly after the move, Lueken endorsed the idea that an imposter had been substituted for the real Pope Paul VI. She also supported the circulation of a number of unusual photographs said to be miraculous photographs. One such picture taken in 1971 of a statue of Mary turned out, when developed, to have the words "Jacinta 1972" written across it. Jacinta was one of the three children who saw the Virgin at Fatima, Portugal, in 1917. As she lay dying just a short time after the apparitions, she is noted to have told the nun caring for her that her order should prepare for 1972.
Lueken died in 1995. The messages channeled by her supported a conservative Roman Catholicism, prophesied many disasters, and decried the moral degeneration of modern life. Since her death the vigils have been carried on by the group that gathered around her and believed in her visions and the revelation spoken by the Virgin Mary through her. The continued vigils are carried on by Our Lady of the Roses Shrine, Box 52, Bayside, NY 11361. An Internet presence can be found at http://www.roses.org/. Believers in the apparitions in Massachusetts organized These Last Days Ministries (P.O. Box 40, Lowell, MA 49331-0240) and launched a weekly radio show, "These Last Days," to promote the messages from Bayside. Other groups in the conservative wing of the Roman Catholic Church have offered their support to the shrine.
Grant, Robert. "War of the Roses." Rolling Stone 113 (February 21, 1980): 42-46.
Our Lady of the Roses, Mary Help of Mothers. Lowell, Mass.: These Last Days, n.d. .