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Discernment of Private Revelation

Claims of Private Revelation: True or False?
An Evaluation of the messages to the little servant of Mary

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In my humble and pious opinion as a faithful Roman Catholic theologian, the claimed private revelations in the form of the messages to little servant of Mary (of the U.K.) are not true private revelations from Heaven. A list of reasons and examples follows.


The little servant of Mary is a woman born in Pretoria, South Africa, in 1956, who currently lives in the U.K. She claims to have received visions and messages from Heaven, including from God, the Virgin Mary, and some of the Saints. She distributes her claims by e-mail and discusses them in an online discussion group:
Her messages and ideas are full of theological errors and ideas contrary to reason. Yet she claims to be sent by God to teach and to establish farming communities that will re-evangelize the world after the Chastisement. The quotes below come from her 'Testimony' which she distributes by e-mail [with numerous spelling errors corrected], unless otherwise indicated.
  1. Purgatory

    She claims to have seen Purgatory, during a dream:
    I found myself in a grey place, everything was grey. Even though the people had on colored clothes they appeared grey. There was a grey stone bridge with two rows of people on either side of the bridge…. "this place is Purgatory." "But, but, how long will we be here?" The man beckoned me to be quiet again as if time wasted in anything but penance would add to one's time there. "I don't know... hundreds, sometimes even thousands of years," he replied. With that I awoke!
    She interprets this dream as a revelation from Heaven. As such, it contains the false claim that persons in Purgatory spend hundreds, or even thousands of years there. To the contrary, God is merciful and all the souls in Purgatory benefit from the treasury of the merits of the Saints and of the Church. So a stay of hundreds or thousands of years is not possible, since it would be incompatible with the mercy of God. Also, Purgatory is beyond time, in the usual sense of the word. So this dream appears to be merely a dream, not a revelation.

  2. Limbo

    She claims to have seen Limbo in a vision:
    Next, in the distance I saw as if sea of fog, a twilight zone and I heard the crying of thousands of babies who are aborted. (I am not saying that these babies go to Hell, rather, it is a kind of Limbo, where they are deprived of knowing the Presence of God). That is why we should name these babies and pray for their baptism, so that our Lady and the angels may fetch them and take them to Heaven.
    There are a number of theological errors in this quote. First, Limbo as a separate place (not Heaven, Hell, or Purgatory) has never been taught formally or definitively by the Church. Second, she describes a Limbo where the souls “are deprived of knowing the Presence of God,” but which is not Hell. Yet the main suffering of Hell is deprivation of the Presence of God. So her version of Limbo is more like Hell than like anything else, yet the souls there can supposedly be saved to go to Heaven.

    One idea of Limbo, which was suggested by St. Ambrose but never taught officially by the Church as a doctrine, is as a separate place of everlasting perfect natural happiness. But this is not what she describes, because the souls in her version of Limbo do not stay there permanently, and are not happy at all (there are thousands of crying babies there, she claims).

    She also claims that these aborted babies in her version of Limbo can be baptized after death, so as to go from 'Limbo' to Heaven. This is contrary to the teaching of the Church. Baptism and the other Sacraments can only be given to the living; they cannot be received at all after death.

    There are two acceptable ideas within Catholic teaching about where the souls of aborted babies go:
    1. either to an upper level of Purgatory, to prepare them for their subsequent journey to Heaven
    2. or else directly to Heaven by the mercy of God.

    Purgatory does not lack the Presence of God. Baptism is not available to anyone under any circumstances after the last moment of life. Thus, her claims about Limbo and aborted babies are full of theological errors.

  3. False doctrine of prefigurement

    She claims the following teaching:
    I saw that certain people prefigure other people and some prefigure us as individuals. People we can relate to or identify with on a very deep level. What quantum physicists would refer to as 'ghost-like images, pockets of energy in the Universe.' No such thing as reincarnation, only prefigurements.
    This doctrine of prefigurements is stated to be unlike reincarnation, however, it is enough like reincarnation to be false. Each individual is a unique creation of God. So, it is not the case that each individual was prefigured by individuals in the past. When the Church says that certain Biblical figures were foreshadowings of Christ, this is not meant in a literal sense, but only figuratively. When we say that David, for example, prefigures Christ, it is meant figuratively, not literally. But she claims that there are literal prefigurements. This idea resembles various ideas in New Age spirituality, but is unlike any teaching in Catholicism (or Protestantism, or Judaism).

  4. the Soul and Predestination

    She denies the doctrine of predestination:
    “God's plan for our life is written in our soul, not like predestination because we have freewill and can take route A, B, C, D, etc. to live out that plan. Rather like an acorn, if given fertile soil, enough light and nurtured will grow into an oak tree.”
    To the contrary, the Church teaches that the elect are predestined for Heaven. Also, the idea that our life is written into our soul is not found within Catholic teaching, nor even within Catholic speculative theology. Again, this is an idea which resembles New Age spirituality, not Christianity or Judaism.

  5. Confused teaching about the spirit of man and the Holy Spirit

    She confuses the spirit of human persons with the Holy Spirit:
    We are made up of body, mind, soul and spirit…. Your spirit is in the Great Big Universal Holy Spirit, for God's Spirit gives life to all living things.
    The human spirit is not identical to the Holy Spirit. The term 'spirit' when applied to the Third Person of the Trinity is used with a very different meaning than when applied to the human spirit. So it is not true that 'your spirit' is the Holy Spirit. The mere fact that the Holy Spirit gives life to us does not imply that the human spirit is identical to the Holy Spirit.

  6. False claims about the three days of darkness

    Her claim that the three days of darkness will last about 72 hours is false; this claim is found only in false private revelation. In true private revelation, such as that to Marie Julie Jahenny, the length of time given is three days less one night, not 72 hours.

    She claims that the three days of darkness is caused by a comet striking the earth, and that the cause of the three days of darkness is natural, not supernatural. (This claim is found in her testimony, and in her discussion group posts.)

    To the contrary, the numerous descriptions of the three days of darkness by Saints, Blesseds, mystics, and in Sacred Scripture, always present it as being a supernatural event, with features that can only be supernatural in causation. These features include the following:

    1. persons in-doors will be safe, but persons out-doors will die immediately
    2. faithful persons will be able to light blessed candles, but wicked persons will not be able to light blessed candles
    3. there will be no light from sun, moon, stars, or fire, or electricity (only blessed candles)
    4. complete darkness, not merely a dimming of the light from the sky
    5. electric devices will not work

    There is no possible natural explanation for this set of circumstances. Her claims about the three days of darkness contradict numerous other, more reliable sources.

  7. False interpretation of Sacred Scripture

    She claims that the Scripture passage referring to disciples of Jesus not seeing death is to be interpreted as follows:
    Some people will be reduced to ashes. Those who love God and keep His Word will not 'see' death, as the Scriptures tell us. They will see Jesus coming to fetch them because the transition will happen so quickly they will not see themselves reduced to ashes.
    So her understanding of that Scripture verse is merely that such persons will die very quickly. In other words, they will not literally 'see' their own deaths because they will be so quickly reduced to ashes (by a comet striking the earth). This interpretation is absurd. Consider the Scripture verses at issue here:

    {16:28} “Amen I say to you, there are some among those standing here, who shall not taste death, until they see the Son of man arriving in his reign.”

    {8:51} “Amen, amen, I say to you, if anyone will have kept my word, he will not see death for eternity.”

    The first verse quoted above can be interpreted to mean that the beginning of the arrival of Jesus and the beginning of the arrival of His kingdom began with that generation. It can also be interpreted to refer to the subsequent event of the transfiguration of Jesus, which some of the Apostles saw only days after Jesus said these words. For the transfiguration of Jesus is a figure of the arrival of His kingdom through the transfiguration of the Church and the world. However, her interpretation of this verse is completely unrelated to what the verse says.

    The second verse quoted above refers to eternal life. In other words, true disciples of Christ will die, but they will have life forever in heaven. Again, her interpretation has nothing in common with the words of Sacred Scripture and is in no way a viable interpretation of this verse.

  8. Electricity and the earth's magnetic field

    She claims that, after the comet strike:
    “Electricity will no longer work, the magnetic field of the earth will have changed.”
    This claim is absurd and is contrary to reason. It is not possible for a change in the earth's magnetic field to stop all electricity from working. The earth's magnetic field has a strength of about one gauss. One can readily purchase a magnet with a strength of 10,000 gauss. Yet even such a strong magnet cannot stop an electrical device from working. Her claim contradicts the laws of physics.

  9. false eschatology

    She presents an explanation of the future which is very simplistic and which contradicts numerous predictions from Saints, Blesseds, and from well-accepted true private revelation. Her claim is that a comet will strike the earth, killing the vast majority of people on earth and causing the three days of darkness. She seeks to establish farming communities centered around the Eucharist, which will re-evangelize the world after this event. Some additional claims follow; all the quotes below are from her Testimony, except the last quote, which is from an online discussion group post.
    “Very few people on earth. People becoming tribes once again.”

    “All previous political organizations and institutions will be no more.”

    “After three years have passed, people traveling to where the Sahara desert is now and because of all the seeds scattered there throughout the centuries and because of the change in rainfall, the desert becoming a beautiful place. It will have healing trees and healing properties in the waters. And a sphere of light coming down out of Heaven in pyramid shape and covering a certain area. In that area the Presence of God will be tangible. It is there that all the tribes of the Lord are to meet under Jesus Christ who is our Head.”

    “At this stage we would like to set up two farming community/missions centered around the True Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. These places will not be safe havens for a select few because for those who die today, it is the end of the world for them anyway, and none of us know when we will go, and the important thing is that we have our souls ready before God. Rather, we aim to be true disciples and soldiers for Jesus Christ, to live out Gospel values and to preserve the true and authentic Catholic Faith so as to hand the same on to future generations in the hope of continuing God's Plan of Salvation.”

    “But some, when they see the state of their own soul, will become even more hateful. They will persecute God's people. It would be better for us to be in communities with our own supply of food and centered around Jesus in the Eucharist. There is strength in unity and God has designated specially chosen places as refuges for His people. However, we should not think of ourselves as some elect few that God has chosen to save. Rather, we should prepare ourselves to carry out God's Plan of Salvation. We should prepare to re-evangelize the world.”
    There are numerous problems with this view of the future. First, the Book of Revelation describes the tribulation as a long complex series of events, taking many chapters to explain. By contrast, her explanation of the tribulation consists of a comet striking the earth, followed by the three days of darkness. Although there are many different interpretations of the Book of Revelation, none is so simplistic, none ignores so many verses and entire chapters, so as to explain, as she does, all of the tribulation in just a few sentences. Her explanation ignores most of the Book of Revelation.

    Second, as explained above, the three days of darkness cannot be caused by a comet striking the earth.

    Third, although there are a few verses of the Book of Revelation which can be interpreted as referring to pieces of a comet striking the earth, her explanation has one whole comet striking the earth, and sees this event as the entire cause of the tribulation. She discounts the possibility of war, of nuclear war, and of various other catastrophic events as being a part of the tribulation and attributes everything to a comet.

    Fourth, the claim that people will be organized into tribes and that “All previous political organizations and institutions” will cease to exist is contradicted by numerous Catholic prophecies which say that a Catholic monarch will rule over political and social institutions, and that a holy Pope, the Angelic Shepherd, will rule over the Church.

    Fifth, in place of the Pope and the Church leading the world to rebuild after the first part of the tribulation, she claims that 'farming community/missions' will “preserve the true and authentic Catholic Faith so as to hand the same on to future generations in the hope of continuing God's Plan of Salvation.” Notice the lack of any Church structure within her explanation of the future. The Catholic Faith is supposedly in her hands, not in the hands of the Pope and the Bishops and the parishes of the world.

    Sixth, the claim that a pyramid shaped light will form in the Sahara desert, where all tribes are to meet Jesus, is absurd, false, and incompatible with everything found in Catholic eschatology for the last 2,000 years. The idea of a pyramid of light sound like New Age spirituality, and has nothing in common with true Christianity.

    Seventh, the idea of special refuges for God's chosen people to hide out in during the tribulation is a false idea found in numerous false private revelations, including John Leary, Patricia Mundorf, and Joseph DellaPuca & Denise Curtin. This idea is similar to the Protestant idea of the rapture, in which the best Christians are taken out of the world before the tribulation, so that they do not have to suffer, except in this case, the idea is that the best Christians are separated from the world in special refuges so that they do not have to suffer during the tribulation. The idea is not found in any true private revelations, and is contrary to the Gospel teaching that even the best disciples of Christ must carry their crosses and must accept even great suffering in their lives. Also, the visionaries of Medjugorje have said that the good will suffer with the bad during the coming chastisements.

  10. Her Mission

    Like many other false prophets, the little servant of Mary claims to be appointed by God to tell people God's message. But there is no substantial theological content to what she is saying. She tells of her own life experiences, along with a few claims of visions and conversations with God, Mary, and a few Saints. But there is no religious truth being presented, other than a few superficial ideas already very widely found within the Christian faith. All of her account of visions and messages put together do not have even as much Gospel truth as one homily from a devout priest, or as one class from a lowly parish religious education teacher. In fact, there are numerous theological errors, and some absurd claims also, within her few messages and visions.

    So then, what is the content of this message that she has supposedly been appointed to tell? It is devoid of the wisdom of the true Gospel, and instead offers a distorted and absurd explanation of future events, along with numerous claims contrary to reason. She claims that:
    God gave me a very keen sense of discernment. There were many paradoxes, seemingly contradictions which are in fact subliminal truths.

    Jesus said, "I have appointed you to tell my people of the things I have revealed to you….”
    To the contrary, it appears certain, from all of the errors cited above, that she does not have a keen sense of discernment, nor does she seem able to explain paradoxes (except with absurd or manifestly false explanations). The term 'subliminal truths' does not make sense, since it uses the word 'subliminal' incorrectly. This is typical of her entire testimony, which shows a distinct lack of education, not only in theology, but in language and in science as well.

    Her claim to have been appointed by Jesus to teach His people is highly unlikely, because of the numerous theological errors and absurd claims cited above.

    Moreover, within her entire written 'Testimony' that she distributes by e-mail, there is no theological insight and not even a basic presentation of the Gospel message. Instead, it is an account of her life and experiences, with a few claimed visions, dreams, and messages scattered throughout. Although her Testimony is relatively brief (about a dozen pages), it is filled with theological errors and absurdities. Therefore, she has not been appointed by Jesus to teach God's message, and she is incapable of leading a re-evangelization of the world.

    This kind of claim is very common among false prophets. They claim to have an essential and seemly indispensable role in God's plan for the future and for the salvation of the world. They claim to be bringing some message or teaching of great importance. Yet when one looks at their words and teaching, one finds not even a basic presentation of the truths of the Gospel, and instead one finds numerous erroneous and false ideas.

  11. Discussion group posts

    In one discussion group, at, she posted the following message in a thread about the end times:
    “When that comet comes, the one that's gonna strike the earth, bend down and kiss your arse goodbye.”
    Yet she claims to be sent by God “to deliver God's message” and to establish farming communities, centered around the Eucharist, which will re-evangelize the world after most of the world is destroyed by a comet. There are numerous problems with these claims, not the least of which is that she has no theological insights and no real content, in terms of the truths of the faith, to “God's message.” If a message were truly from God, one would expect profound truth, not superficial and at times absurd claims about the future.

  12. The New Pentecost

    Now some true private revelations, such as those to Fr. Gobbi of the Marian Movement of Priests, talk about a time in the distant future when there will be a new or second Pentecost, an out-pouring of the Holy Spirit to renew mankind. But, properly understood, this event takes place hundreds of years from now, after the second part of the tribulation. (Only the first part of the tribulation is for this generation.) By contrast, she claims that the New Pentecost occurs after a comet strikes the earth. Her view is overly simplistic and it dispenses with the vast majority of the events described in the Book of Revelation.

  13. experiences with evil

    She reports that her alleged mystical experiences began after meeting a man involved in Satanism:
    Around that time a friend of my husband's came to visit. He was blonde haired and blue eyed. He said that he was born on one of Hitler's stud farms. He held out a silver box to me and told me that this was one of Satan's archangels. He began telling me about different dimensions. I put my hand out to take hold of the medal and get a closer look. "Don't touch it!" he said. "It's undergoing a process."

    With that, I turned on my heels and walked out of the living room to the kitchen to make some tea. I wasn't interested anyway. The man followed me and came into the kitchen. "So, it's your birthday tomorrow," he said, "well, happy birthday." He touched his thumb to my chin. For three months I had a visible burn mark on my chin where he had touched.
    She also reports having been tormented by Satan many times:
    Satan tried to 'bomb the planes before they got off the ground' he tried to rob me of my sanity. Every night just as I was falling asleep I would hear a BANG! on the cupboard next to my head, or a coat hanger would fall off the back of the door, or...or...or... It was pure torment. I could no longer eat or sleep, my left arm went lame, my heart pained. And still the torment went on.
    Such severe and unremitting torments are indicative of false private revelation. It is true that some holy persons experience some tempting or opposition from fallen angels. But such severe and continuous torments are not indicative of true private revelation, but are sometimes found amid false private revelation (e.g. Nancy Fowler, Julia Kim). Also, it is incompatible with true private revelation that her mystical experiences began with her alleged meeting with a man claiming to be a Nazi and a Satanist.

  14. alleged Dark Night of the Soul

    The true dark night of the soul is experienced by a few contemplatives who have become very close to God through continual prayer and a high degree of holiness. It is so weighty that even the Saints have found it to be nearly unbearable. But she claims to have experienced the dark night of the soul for seven years:
    “The Dark Night of the Soul…. Now I felt myself in the Garden of Gethsemane…. For seven years I was in a Gethsemane spirituality.”
    It is very unlikely that she experienced the true dark night of the soul for seven years, as few persons can withstand this experience for even a brief time, and because her numerous spiritual and theological errors are incompatible with the soul and mind of someone who has truly passed through that experience.

    After claiming to have experienced the dark night of the soul for seven years, she says that she went back to Pretoria for eleven years. Then she says:
    “The Dark Night of the soul continues... The next phase was seven years in the dark tomb. I felt myself in darkness and very far away from God.”
    Apparently, she is claiming to have experienced a second set of seven years in the dark night of the soul. This length of time in such an experience is unprecedented. What is much more likely is that she was depressed or that she had some suffering in her life, perhaps even in her spiritual life, and that she misunderstood this experience for the dark night of the soul.

  15. Claimed Approval by the Vatican

    She recounts a visit she made to the Vatican, during which time she was brought before unnamed Church officials.
    "Okay, okay...sit down, tell us what you saw." I sat down and told the Church authorities most everything that I have written here. They said, "of everything you have told us, none of this contradicts Holy Scripture or the Holy Doctrine of the Church. But this is your baby. God will give you all the gifts and talents to bring it to fruition in His time, when He wants. So now, go home."
    Now we are not told who she met with. She tried to meet with the Pope (John Paul II), and was unable. She then tried to meet with the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (then Cardinal Ratzinger), and was unable. We are not told who she met with, except that she describes one person as “A priest with a very Roman face” and another person as “Monsignor Swalina.” Apparently, this second person is a priest named Reverend Monsignor Michael Swalina, formerly an assistant to Prefect Ratzinger.

    Now I doubt that she told these 'Church authorities' about her vision of a pyramid of light, or about her claim that the earth's magnetic field would change, so as to prevent electricity from working, or about her claim that the human spirit is the Holy Spirit, or about her distorted ideas of Limbo and Purgatory, or that she has been appointed to re-evangelize the world after the chastisement. Perhaps she mentioned other elements of her Testimony, such as various events in her life, some claimed visions and messages that are both benign and empty of content. But no priest working for the Vatican would give approval to such theological errors and absurdities.

    Also, this impromptu meeting that she had in no way can be interpreted to mean that the Vatican has reviewed her claims and found them to be without error.

The alleged private revelations to the little servant of Mary are filled with theological errors and ideas which contradict both faith and reason. Some of her false teachings seem to be the result of her own imagination and misunderstandings, but other false ideas are attributable to her claimed private revelation, yet are contradictory to faith and reason. Her claims about the future are simplistic, exaggerated; they contradict numerous points of Catholic eschatology; they ignore most of the Book of Revelation while at the same time claiming to summarize its truths. Her claim to have been appointed by Jesus to teach God's message and to re-evangelize the world after the chastisement is not believable, partly because her own understanding of the Gospel is at best, superficial, and at worst, erroneous, and also because her 'message' is filled with error. She makes herself the center of this claimed re-evangelization of the world, instead of the Church led by the Pope. For these and the above cited reasons, it is my theological opinion that her claims to have received private revelation from Heaven are false.

by Ronald L. Conte Jr.
February 17, 2007

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