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The Catholic Defender: The Prophecy of the Virgin Mary to George Washington


Our Lady, who, under the title of the Immaculate Conception, is still today our national patroness, played an important role in the establishment of the United States and the life of our nations most vital Founding Father, George Washington.


Our Lady’s intervention may have saved the life of General George Washington on several occasions; it’s also recorded that she encouraged him at the most trying time of the American Revolution, appearing to him at his headquarters in Valley Forge during the terrible winter of 1777 and 1778.

He later described her as a “woman of singular beauty, ” and related how she said, “Son of the Republic, look and learn! ” In the vision of the future he was then given, Washington saw the colonies take root and thrive, only to be fiercely attacked and dreadfully scourged on three different occasions; the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and a future conflict (World War III? ) still to take place. A painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary hung in the Washington's residence at Mount Vernon.

George Washington was friendly with Catholics and was determined to defend their right to worship. He was friends with John Carroll, the first Catholic Bishop of the United States. Washington was known to make the sign of the cross before his meals. It was a long tradition among both the Maryland Province Jesuits and the slaves of the Washington plantation and those of the surrounding area that the first President died a Catholic.


George Washington’s Vision as Recorded in the Library of Congress

The father of our country, George Washington, was a man of prayer. We have all read of how he went to the thicket many times to pray during the winter his army was at Valley Forge. However, little publicity has been given to the vision and prophecy he received at that time.


The first-hand account of this vision was given in 1859 by an old soldier named Anthony Sherman. He gave it to a writer, Wesley Bradshaw, who published it.


In the vision, God revealed to George Washington that three great perils would come upon the Republic. He was given to know that America was going through the first peril at that time. The old soldier who told the story of the vision said that the nation would soon see the account verified by the second peril descending upon the land.


The story of George Washington's vision of a mysterious beautiful lady at Valley Forge is almost as old as America itself. Perhaps it was appropriate that Our Lady of the Americas would want to mark the auspicious occasion of the founding of the nation with her presence; and in any case, She always comes as the mother of the poor and disenfranchised, as consolation for those who suffer, and the bearer of light and hope for those discouraged.


The account was taken from the reprint in the U.S. war veterans’ paper The National Tribune, in December 1880. The National Tribune is now called The Stars and Stripes.

This article was reprinted in the Stars and Stripes December 21, 1950.

Washington was certainly that when in 1777 (or 8), the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to him to assure him of victory, not only against the British, but in three subsequent crises that America would face. One would be the terrible specter of slavery, the sin of which would have lasting ramifications on the nation and lead to the terrible and bloody civil war.


“Let us go into the hall,” he said. I want to tell you of an incident of Washington’s life – one which no one alive knows of except myself; and if you live, you will before long see it verified. Mark the prediction, you will see it verified.”


In the report of this phenomenal and most important heavenly message for us at this hour, Wesley Bradshaw wrote: The last time I ever saw Anthony Sherman was on the fourth of July 1859, in Independence Square. He was then ninety-nine years old and becoming very feeble. But though so old, his dimming eyes rekindled as he gazed upon Independence Hall, which he came to visit once more.

“By this time, I felt strange sensations spreading through me. I would have risen but the riveted gaze of the being before me rendered volition impossible. I assayed once more to speak (address her), but my tongue had become useless, as if (though it had become) paralyzed. A new influence, mysterious, potent, irresistible, took possession of me. All I could do was to gaze steadily, vacantly at my unknown visitor.”


“Gradually the surrounding atmosphere seemed to fill with sensations, and grew luminous. Everything about me seemed to rarefy, the mysterious visitor (herself) also becoming more airy and yet more distinct to my sight than before. I began to feel as one dying, or rather to experience the sensations, which I have sometimes imagined, accompany death. I did not think, I did not reason, I did not move. All were alike impossible. I was only conscious of gazing fixedly, vacantly at my companion.”

First Great Peril


“Presently I heard a voice saying, ‘Son of the Republic, look and learn,’ while at the same time my visitor extended an (her) arm eastward. I now beheld a heavy white vapor at some distance rising fold upon fold. This gradually dissipated, and I looked upon a strange scene. Before me lay, spread out in one vast plain, all the countries of the world– Europe, Asia, Africa and America. I saw rolling and tossing between Europe and America the billows of the Atlantic, and between Asia and America lay the Pacific. ‘Son of the Republic,’ said the same mysterious voice as before, ‘look and learn.’


“At that moment I beheld a dark, shadowy being, like an angel, standing, or rather floating in mid-air, between Europe and America. Dipping water out of the ocean in the hollow of each hand, he sprinkled some upon America with his right hand, while with his left he cast some over Europe. Immediately a cloud arose from these countries and joined – in mid-ocean. For a while it remained stationary, and then it moved slowly westward, until it enveloped America in its murky folds. Sharp flashes of lightning gleamed through it at intervals, and I heard the smothered groans and cries of the American people (probably the War of Independence).”

Second Great Peril


“A second time the angel dipped water from the ocean and sprinkled it out as before. The dark cloud was then drawn back to the ocean, in whose heaving billows it sank from view.”

“A third time I heard the mysterious voice saying, ‘Son of the Republic, look and learn.’ I cast my eyes upon America and beheld villages and towns and cities springing up one after another until the whole land from the Atlantic to the Pacific was dotted with them.


Again, I heard the mysterious voice say, ‘Son of the Republic, the end of the century comes, look and learn.’

“And this time the dark shadowy angel turned his face southward. From Africa I saw an ill-omened specter approach our land. It flitted slowly and heavily over every town and city of the latter. The inhabitants presently set themselves in battle array against each other.


“As I continued looking, I saw a bright angel on whose brow rested a crown of light, on which was traced the word ‘UNION.’ He was bearing the American flag. He placed the flag between the divided nation and said, ‘Remember, you are brethren.’”


“Instantly the inhabitants, casting down their weapons, became friends once more and united around the National Standard” (probably the Civil War).

Third and Most Fearful Peril


“Again I heard the mysterious voice saying, ‘Son of the Republic look and learn.’ At this the dark, shadowy angel placed a trumpet to his mouth, and blew three distinct blasts; and taking water from the ocean, he sprinkled it upon Europe, Asia and Africa. Then my eyes beheld a fearful scene. From each of these continents arose thick black clouds that were soon joined into one. And throughout this mass there gleamed a dark red light by which I saw hordes of armed men. These men, moving with the cloud, marched by land and sailed by sea to America, which country was enveloped in the volume of cloud. And I dimly saw these vast armies devastate the whole country and the villages, towns and cities which I had seen springing up.”


“As my ears listened to the thundering of the cannon, clashing of the swords, and the shouts and cries of millions in mortal combat, I again heard the mysterious voice saying, ‘Son of the Republic, look and learn.’ Where the voice had ceased, the dark shadowy angel placed his trumpet once more to his mouth, and blew a long and fearful blast.”

Heaven Intervenes


“Instantly a light as of a thousand suns shone down from above me and pierced and broke into fragments the dark cloud which enveloped America. At the same moment the angel upon whose head still shown the word UNION, and who bore our national flag in one hand, and a sword in the other, descended from the heavens attended by legions of white spirits. These immediately joined the inhabitants of America, who I perceived were well-nigh overcome, but who immediately taking courage again, closed up their broken ranks and renewed the battle.”


“Again, amid the fearful noise of the conflict I heard the mysterious voice saying, ‘Son of the Republic, look and learn.’ As the voice ceased the shadowy angel for the last time dipped water from the ocean and sprinkled it upon America. Instantly the dark cloud rolled back, together with the armies it had brought, leaving the inhabitants of the land victorious.”


“Then once more, I beheld the villages, towns and cities springing up where I had seen them before, while the bright angel, planting the azure standard he had brought in the midst of them, cried with the loud voice: ‘While the stars remain, and the heaven send down dew upon the earth, so long shall the UNION last.’ And taking from his brow the crown on which blazoned the word ‘UNION,’ he placed it upon the Standard while the people, kneeling down, said ‘Amen.’

The Interpretation


The scene instantly began to fade and dissolve, and I, at last saw nothing but the rising, curling vapor I at first beheld. This also disappeared, and I found myself once more gazing upon the mysterious visitor, who, in the same voice I had heard before, said, ‘Son of the Republic, what you have seen is thus interpreted: Three great perils will come upon the Republic. The most fearful for her is the third. But the whole world united shall not prevail against her. Let every child of the Republic learn to live for his God, his land, and UNION.’ With these words the vision vanished, and I started from my seat and felt that I had seen a vision wherein had been shown me the birth, the progress, and the destiny of the United States.”


“Such, my friends,” the venerable narrator concluded, “were the words I heard from Washington’s own lips, and America will do well to profit by them.”

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