The patroness of the United States is the Blessed Virgin Mary as the Immaculate Conception. On May 26, 1846, the Catholic Bishops of the United States at the Sixth Provincial Congress in Baltimore, passed this decree:
With enthusiastic acclaim and with unanimous approval and consent, the Fathers [of the Council] have chosen the Blessed Virgin Mary, conceived without sin, as the Patroness of the United States of America; without, however, adding the obligation of hearing Mass and abstaining from servile work on the feast of the Conception of Blessed Mary. And, therefore, they decided that the Supreme Pontiff be humbly asked to transfer the solemnity, unless the feast fall on a Sunday, to the nearest Sunday, on which both private and solemn Masses may be celebrated of the feast thus transferred, and the vesper office of the same feast may be recited.
Pope Pius IX confirmed the request of the Bishops that Mary as the Immaculate Conception be the patroness of the United States on February 7, 1847.
Flash forward more than a hundred years to September 26, 1956 to Fostoria, Ohio. On that date Sister Mary Ephrem, born Mildred Neuzil, a thirty year old contemplative nun of the Indwelling Trinity had her first vision of the Immaculate Conception. The message of the Blessed Virgin was simple:
My child, I entrust you with this message that you must make known to my children in America. I wish it to be the country dedicated to my purity. The wonders I will work will be the wonders of the soul. They must have faith and believe firmly in my love for them. I desire that they be the children of my Pure Heart. I desire, through my children in America, to further the cause of faith and purity among peoples and nations. Let them come with confidence and simplicity, and I, their Mother, will teach them to become pure like to my Heart that their own hearts may be more pleasing to the Heart of my Son.
Mary called herself in the vision Our Lady of America. Sister Neuzil’s Bishop, Paul F. Leibold, later Archbishop of Cincinnati, gave his imprimatur to two books relating the visions, the only eclessiastically approved visitation of Our Lady within the United States.
Sister Mary continued to experience her visions until her death in her convent in 2000 at age 83. One poignant passage in her vision is this:
“Behold, O my children, the tears of your Mother! Shall I weep in vain? Assuage the sorrow of my Heart over the ingratitude of sinful men by the love and chasteness of your lives. Will you do this for me, beloved children, or will you allow your Mother to weep in vain? I come to you, O children of America, as a last resort. I plead with you to listen to my voice. Cleanse your souls in the Precious Blood of My Son. Live in His Heart, and take me in that I may teach you to live in great purity of heart which is so pleasing to God. Be my army of chaste soldiers, ready to fight to the death to preserve the purity of your souls. I am the Immaculate One, Patroness of your land. Be my faithful children as I have been your faithful Mother.”
Sadly the Blessed Virgin has wept in vain thus far. No objective observer could look at America in 1956 and in 2015 and discern any vast improvement in morality. As morality has waned in our land, so has freedom. This would not have surprised George Washington:
And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle. It is substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who, that is a sincere friend to it, can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?
Fortunately it is not too late if we, individually, repent and start a vast movement of turning back to God. Such repentance is difficult, but not as difficult as the woes brought upon individuals and nations for lack of repentance. Lincoln described what occurs in his Second Inaugural where he speculated that the Civil War might be God’s punishment for the North and South so long tolerating the sin of slavery. In a letter to Thurlow Weed who congratulated him on the speech, Lincoln noted the following:
Men are not flattered by being shown that there has been a difference of purpose between the Almighty and them. To deny it, however, in this case, is to deny that there is a God governing the world. It is a truth which I thought needed to be told; and as whatever of humiliation there is in it, falls most directly on myself, I thought others might afford for me to tell it.
Freedom is meaningless without virtue, and will not long survive in the absence of it.