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Discernment of Private Revelation

Claims of Private Revelation: True or False?
An evaluation of the claims and messages of Olive Dawson
and the so-called instrument of Dublin

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There is a set of messages of claimed private revelation which have been received in Dublin, Ireland, from 1988 until at least 1999. It is not clear if any messages were received after 1999. The messages were received as locutions to the younger brother of Olive Dawson; his name is David Smyth (Dawson is her married name). David receives and writes the messages; Olive travels around promoting the messages. When these messages are promoted by Olive and other persons, David is usually kept anonymous, and is referred to as "the instrument."

A website promotes these claims; but the site has very little specific information:
The website has a note about making donations, supposedly from a priest, but the only name given is "Fr. Director". The name of the priest associated with the devotion is kept anonymous. The site keeps the source of most of the messages, namely Olive Dawson's brother, David Smyth, anonymous. The person who runs the website, Lucille Savoca, a close friend of Olive Dawson, is kept anonymous on the site. The mailing addresses given on the site are P.O. Boxes. The messages to David Smyth are not quoted on the website. The site seems to exist merely to promote the claim of Olive Dawson to live only on the Eucharist and the associated messages.

David claims to have received these messages from an angel. When David asked the angel his name, he is said to have replied 'you may call me Kevin'. But David calls this angel 'R2,' after the small robot character, R2-D2, in Star Wars. The messages themselves are presented as if they had been given directly from the Virgin Mary. This contradiction is never explained. And the doctrinal errors in the messages imply that, if these messages are from an angel, it must be a fallen angel.

Why is David Smyth kept away from the events that promote these messages? Why is his name kept out of the various materials that promote this claimed private revelation? Perhaps it is because, if he were allowed to explain his claims in his own words, no one would believe it. What Catholic would adhere to a claimed private revelation from an angel named after R2-D2? Why is the book 'All Through Mary' promoted to the exclusion of the other books and messages from David Smyth? The whole truth about these messages is NOT being presented by Olive Smyth Dawson.

Select messages, mainly from 1989, are published in a book titled: "All Through Mary, Our Lady's Message of Mercy to the World." The book has 445 numbered pages and a plain blue cover with white text. The interior text is in fairly large print (about 14 point type). The back cover has a quote, as if the book itself were speaking, which says: "The enemy, he will not be able to stop me nor avoid reading me."

A leaflet was sent to me with this book from 'The Friends of the Mother of Divine Mercy,' located in Armonk, New York. The leaflet states:
"Olive Dawson, who is from Dublin originally and is married and now living in Kent, England, has been chosen to promote these messages from Our Lady. As a special grace, in order to carry out this mission Olive lives on the Eucharist. This commenced in September 1999. Olive needs neither food nor water. She also needs very little sleep and has boundless energy, praise God."
The claim that Olive Dawson does not need food or water is unsubstantiated. Also, notice that it does not say she has not taken any food or water, but only that she does not need to take food or water. Perhaps she does eat and drink, but they claim that she does not need to do so. However, the wording strongly suggests that she does not take food or water. It seems deceitful to use this type of equivocation in wording, but this is common in false private revelations. The wording is given so that, no matter what happens, it can be claimed to be true. If she is caught taking food or drink, they can say that she does not need to do so; they can claim that her special gift is only to not need food or water, even if she does eat and drink.

Grave Offenses against the Eucharist

See this article on Olive Dawson and her grave offenses against the Most Holy Eucharist.

Assocation with Dennis Ward

Olive Dawson is associated with "Fr." Dennis Ward "O.S.B." who fraudulently claims to be a Benedictine and to have his own Benedictine monastery. He also claims to have received private revelations himself. She chose him as her spiritual director. He was her spiritual director for about 2 years. He has taken some of the messages of David Smyth and has published those messages under his own name, Dennis Ward, in the book 'All Through Mary Two'.

According to e-mails to me from Andrew Nugent O.S.B., Prior of the Benedictine's Glenstal Abbey in Ireland, "Father" Dennis Ward "O.S.B." is not a member of the Roman Catholic Benedictine order. He believes that Dennis Ward was either illicitly ordained by a schismatic group, or was never ordained at all.

The websites from Ward's fake Beneditine order, where he used to request donations for his fake monastery, have been shut down. Reportedly, Dennis Ward also uses the alias "Reverend (or 'Father') John Francisco OSB."

This blog has some information on Ward:

False Worship

This video from YouTube ( shows a type of quasi-liturgical service which superficially resembles the Mass.

First, Olive Dawson gives a talk based on the claimed private revelations to her brother David and his book of claimed messages. These messages are presented as if they replace Sacred Scripture. The book is claimed to be greater than any book in Church history. It is as if the liturgy of the Word is being replaced by a talk by Olive based on her brother's claimed private revelation.

Next, everyone lines up as if to receive Communion. But instead they come forward to receive a personal blessing from Olive, a married laywoman. She is neither a priest, nor a nun. Why should the faithful line up to receive a blessing from her? It is because her brother claims to receive messages from an angel?

It seems as if she is holding something in her hand in the video, possibly the book of messages. This book is presented as if it were an object of worship.

After being blessed by a laywoman, they move to the next station, as if to receive the Precious Blood of Christ. But instead they are presented with an image which is said to be from the claimed private revelation to Olive's brother. They then kiss the image and return to their seats. Again, an object associated with a claimed private revelation is presented as if it were an object to be worshipped.

Private revelation is always very clearly false when it either seeks to cause the faithful to engage in false worship, or seeks to cause the faithful to place the messages of a claimed private revelation above Tradition, Scripture, Magisterium. This claimed private revelation does both.

Mediatrix of all graces
Oct. 24, 1997
"Truly My Image is the Mediatrix of all graces."

Apr. 19th, 1999
"When you hold the book, you hold Me, your Mediatrix of all Grace."
There are a number of problems with these assertions, made in these messages of claimed private revelation. First, an image of the Virgin Mary is not the Mediatrix, but Mary herself is the Mediatrix. Second, the claim that holding the book of messages is the same as holding the Virgin Mary is absurd. Third, this same claim has the effect of exalting the book to be the near equivalent to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, Queen of Heaven, and Mediatrix of grace. The exaltation of this book to be greater than any other book, to a point of near worship of this book, is one of the most serious errors in these messages. Third, the Virgin Mary does not call herself the Mediatrix of all grace in true private revelations, because she is not the Mediatrix of the graces that she herself receives, nor is she the Mediatrix of the graces that flow from the Divine Nature of Christ to His human nature.

Use of the book for divination
"Say a prayer, any prayer of your choice, then open the book at random. Read the 'Pearl' on the even numbered page. That is the main point of the message that Our Lady wishes to impart. Find the particular text in the dated message on the opposite page and read the message through for that date. This message is Our Lady's personal message to you."
(All Through Mary, Our Lady's Message of Mercy to the World, p. 9)
The so-called proper use of the book is described on pages 9 - 10, where it is said that the reader should not read the book from front to back, but rather open to a random page and read that part of the message as if it were a personal message to the reader for that particular time and situation. Thus, this book is presented as if it were a method of divining God's will, apart from Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture, and the Magisterium. There is a certain superstition in this method of using the book, as if opening the book to a random page would answer any question, or give guidance in any situation, like reading tea leaves or palms or tarot cards or other superstitions. The effect is the book competes with, and attempts to replace and supercede the Divine Revelation of Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture, and the guidance of the Magisterium.
Jan 31, 1999
"I have given you the greatest sign that I am truly with you in every situation. That sign is, that I speak to you when you open the book."

May 11, 1999
"Again I remind you to simply open the book at any page and you will find the path that leads to peace and know an indescribable joy."
The greatest signs that Jesus and Mary are with us are found in the Sacraments, especially Communion and Confession. Then too, we have Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture, and the Magisterium so that we may know the will of God in every situation. But these messages seeks to put this book above the Sacraments and above Tradition, Scripture, Magisterium. There is an exaltation of these messages found throughout the messages, which is to an extent that may be accurately called heresy and idolatry.
Oct. 24, 1997
"You must concentrate only on the book I have given to you…. Never before in the history of the Church have I blessed such a book as I have the one I have given you."
This claim that no book in the history of the Church has been blessed as this book has is abject heresy. For the holy Bible is the most blessed book given to the Church. The Old Testament was written before Christ became Incarnate. But the New Testament was written after Christ's Ascension, and so it was written during the early history of the Church. It is a grave sin against God to claim that any book is greater than Sacred Scripture.

Furthermore, even if we compare this book of messages to the least book written by the least Saint, the book by the Saint is far better. This book is mainly a set of empty vague platitudes, interrupted by repeated and exalted claims about the greatness of the book itself. The claim that this book is more blessed than any book by any Father of the Church, Doctor of the Church, Saint or Blessed or Pope is patently false. This claim has the effect of denigrating all these holy books in the history of the Church. This one false claim by itself is sufficient to prove that these claimed private revelations are false.
Apr. 2, 1998
"In essence, the book of messages is for the renewal of every soul."

Jan. 14, 1999
"Open the messages and ask Me what message I want you to live each day and I will tell you. I ask you not to live the messages of the world but live My messages and you will find peace, and they will spread and you will be truly happy, and everyone will see in you the reflection of My messages."
Notice that there is no mention at all of Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture, or the teachings of the Magisterium in these repeated descriptions of the path to peace and joy and happiness. This book of messages is exalted to the point that it becomes the basis for the reader's faith, instead of Tradition, Scripture, Magisterium. Every situation is said to be answered by this book of messages, apart from other sources of truth. It is raised up as if it were possible to find salvation by means of this book alone.

Such extravagant claims are often found among false claims of private revelation. There are numerous other books of messages given to other claimed visionaries and locutionists. And each set of messages makes a similar claim, to be the path to salvation, to be the most blessed book or the greatest revelation, all apart from the true basis of the Catholic Faith: Tradition, Scripture, Magisterium.

The message of this book is said to be eternal life. The book contains repeated claims that reading the book will bring peace when one is troubled.
"This message is eternal life…."
(All Through Mary, p. 11; see also p. 10.)
Sacred Scripture teaches the contrary. Jesus is our Peace and our Life:

[John 14]
{14:1} "Do not let your heart be troubled. You believe in God. Believe in me also.
{14:2} In my Father's house, there are many dwelling places. If there were not, I would have told you. For I go to prepare a place for you.
{14:3} And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will return again, and then I will take you to myself, so that where I am, you also may be.
{14:4} And you know where I am going. And you know the way."
{14:5} Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going, so how can we know the way?"
{14:6} Jesus said to him: "I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father, except through me.

{3:16} For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that all who believe in him may not perish, but may have eternal life.

Thus this book of messages sets itself up in competition with Sacred Scripture, asking the reader to seek eternal life through the messages of the book, rather than through Jesus Christ, His Sacraments, His Scriptures, and His Church.

Language and Expression

The messages of false private revelations are often awkwardly worded, with incorrect grammar, odd expressions, and discontinuity of thought. This is because false private revelations are generally from fallen angels, for whom human language is not natural. True private revelations have no such faults of language, because these are from Jesus, who is fully human and fully Divine, and from Mary, who is perfect and fully human. The messages promoted by Olive Dawson (but received as locutions by one who remains anonymous) are like the messages from other false private revelations.

Consider the ineloquence and awkwardness of the following examples:
"My dear child you grasp and try by your own intellect to carry out what God is asking of you, but you fail and think, 'Is there any way?' Are you not aware it is now My designs and the pattern you must be attentive to. (…) Pray and pray and simply pray as to no end." (All Through Mary, p. 17)
Notice the severe imperfections in this message, particularly: 'you grasp and try' and 'it is now My designs and the pattern you must be attentive to.' This is not the way that the perfect Virgin Mary, the most perfect human person next to Jesus Christ, expresses herself. Notice also that the pronouns referring to the author of these messages, supposedly the Virgin Mary, are capitalized, as is usually only done with pronouns referring to God.

Secrecy, Control, and Possessiveness

The true Gospel will set you free by means of the truth of Divine Revelation. But false private revelations often propose to the reader that they will only find what they seek by means of the one particular apparition and messages. Some of these messages even express a desire for control, a certain possessiveness, of the adherent. This type of possessiveness and control is not of the true Gospel.
"Now I lead you in secret on a path of interior captivity. You don't know what I mean. But if you accept these locutions, you will come to know that I am the Mother who leads you to My Son Jesus." (All Through Mary, p. 13)
This quote has a type of expression, commonly found in false private revelations, in which the author of the messages expresses the desire to possess and control the recipient of the messages. This is not the holy desire of the Virgin Mary. Is not Mary your true Mother in heaven? What true mother seeks to possess and control? Instead, these messages are from a fallen angel, who seeks inordinate control and power over human beings. Does this sound like an expression of true love to you?: "Now I lead you in secret on a path of interior captivity." It is creepy and menacing. It sounds like it was written by a stalker.

It is claimed that this message is from Mary. But then it is said that the recipient of these messages must follow a secret path of interior captivity in order to know that Mary is the Mother of Jesus. The Catholic Christian receiving these messages already knows that Mary is the Mother of Jesus. When the true Virgin Mary speaks, she speaks the truth with clarity. But this message makes no sense, saying that one must follow a secret path of interior captivity to know what all Catholics already know.
"Influenced [sic] by all else is not good. It takes your heart from Me. Nothing can give you peace. Only My way, through Me."
(All Through Mary, p. 17)
Again, the tone is possessive and controlling. There is a claim to exclusivity: "Nothing can give you peace." Nothing, it is claimed, except this book, which seeks to replace the Church, the Sacraments, Tradition, Scripture, Magisterium, and all that God gives us in the path to salvation. Also note that, although the messages claim to be from the Virgin Mary, it often seems as if the pronouns used are referring to the book itself. A book that seeks to possess and control, and to cut the reader off from the Church; a book that seeks to have exclusive domination of the adherent of these claimed private revelations. Such is not the Way of Christ and Mary at all.
"This is My heart wanting you to come closer to Me. Do you not feel that I call you sometimes. I love coming to visit your soul, so small!"
(All Through Mary, p. 115)
These messages are from one or more fallen angels. They attempt to express true love in these messages, but instead a false love, possessive and condescending and controlling is expressed.
"Dear child don't rush around looking for the next event to hit you. The event already has! It already has! Live it! It is each moment God allows to you. Pray, let understanding be for those whose business it is to understand."
(All Through Mary, p. 19)
Notice the worldly language in the above quote. The author of this message does not talk the way that the true Virgin Mary talks, but instead speaks in a worldly manner, like a self-help guru. More importantly, the adherent of these messages is encouraged by the messages themselves not to try to understand, but just to accept the messages without thinking: "let understanding be for those whose business it is to understand." This is the same attitude that any cult seeks to inculcate in its adherents, to accept what is said without thinking and without understanding.

To the contrary, Jesus said:

[John 15]
{15:15} "I will no longer call you servants, for the servant does not know what his Lord is doing. But I have called you friends, because everything whatsoever that I have heard from my Father, I have made known to you."

Jesus spent much time and effort to bring understanding to His followers. So also does His Church do the same. But the author of these messages does not want the adherent to think and to understand. They are told that it is not their business to understand. Why? Because anyone who thinks about these messages and understands will see that they are contrary to the true Gospel. If the adherent rejects understanding, and accepts this claimed private revelation and its messages, then the adherent becomes isolated from the rest of the Church, and can be more easily led astray. There are cult-like tendencies in these messages. Again and again the adherent is told to surrender to "Me" (the author of the messages, supposedly the Virgin Mary), that "I the Mother" am the only one who can help you, and to let "Me" be in control.
"Dear child it is only when you come closer to Me that you can visualize Jesus. You are aware that I the Mother, am the only one to help you live in Jesus perfectly. So pray to Me, the Mother of your soul that you may understand all that I am doing in your life." (All Through Mary, p. 17)

"Don't get involved in anything other than God's work. Now, respond by letting Me be the Mother of your soul…. By My Motherhood of you, you are Mine…. Surrender yourself to Me…."
(All Through Mary, p. 21)
These kind of controlling and possessive messages, sometimes expressed in very odd or worldly language, go on and on throughout the book:
"Only My presence can save you from the ambushes the Devil lays for you." (All Through Mary, p. 23)
"Do all for Me. I will Mother you back to full strength, to full joy!" (All Through Mary, p. 25)
"By this new way I wish you to confide in Me before you do anything and I shall tell you what to do…. Depend totally on Me. Listen to Me. Allow no other way to take your fancy, or luring of any worldly kind." (All Through Mary, p. 29)
"That is why your slavery to Me is so precious." (All Through Mary, p. 35)
"Believe it is I. Just you and Me. No one can guide you to the beauty of Heaven with more certainty than Me." (All Through Mary, p. 41)
This kind of exhortation to surrender, not to try to understand, not to get involved in anything other than 'God's work' (with God's work being defined by these messages), and various expressions of a desire to possess and control the adherent, are contrary to the true spirit of the Gospel. Consider how the Holy Spirit, in the true faith, guides with grace and providence, gently influencing our lives, but never compromising free will and never seeking to control. Then compare this to the distorted version of the Gospel in these messages. They are incompatible. Choose the true Gospel found in the Bible.


The messages of this claimed private revelation exalt this book above Sacred Scripture and above all the books by all the Saints throughout the history of the Church. The messages ask the reader to treat the book as if it were an object of worship, and to practically turn over control of the reader's life to the book. These messages seek to turn the reader away from being led by Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture, and the Magisterium, so that the reader is led by this false private revelations above all else. These messages are not in agreement with the teaching of the Church, nor are they in agreement with the letter and spirit of the Gospel message.

Therefore, in my humble and pious opinion as a faithful Roman Catholic theologian, this claimed private revelation, in the form of the messages to the so-called "instrument" of Dublin, Ireland, is not from the Virgin Mary, nor is it from God or from Heaven. These messages are most likely from one or more fallen angels.

Concerning the claim that Olive Dawson has lived without food or drink since September, 1999: this claim is most likely false, for two reasons. First, it is claimed that she was given this gift by God as a way to promote the messages of the claimed private revelation to the so-called instrument of Dublin. But those messages are contrary to Catholic teaching, and so they are not from God. Therefore, neither has God given a miraculous gift of being able to live without food or water to Olive Dawson. Second, the claim is presented in deceitful language, with an equivocation: that Olive needs neither food nor drink. They strongly imply that she has not taken food or drink, presenting this as a miraculous gift. Yet they are careful never to explicitly state that she has not taken food or drink since this began in September 1999. Thus, if she is caught eating or drinking, they can claim that she did not need to eat or drink. So the claim is deceitfully worded, such that it cannot be proven false. Therefore, it is my considered theological opinion that this claimed miraculous ability is a false claim.

See also this brief explanation of how Olive Dawson first began to make these claims.

by Ronald L. Conte Jr.
August 2, 2009

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