God always picks the lowly and the humble to do His work. This certainly has been true throughout the ages and no less so in our times. Catherine Laboure was a simple country girl who was called by the Blessed Mother to bring to the world the Miraculous Medal. Melanie Calvat and Maximin Giraud were simple shepherds visited by Our Lady of La Salette to bring Her message to the world. Bernadette Soubirous was of a humble family. The three children of Fatima, Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco were likewise shepherds. This was no less true regarding Ida Peerdeman, a devout but simple person, to whom the Lady of All Nations revealed Her messages.
At the time of the first apparition of the Lady of All Nations Ida Peerdeman was forty years old, unmarried, and worked in Amsterdam doing clerical work for a perfume factory. She was like any of the working girls that one might see in one of our cities, arising every morning, doing the morning grooming, commuting to work, getting through the day and returning to the family in the evening. Yet heaven had very special designs for Ida Peerdeman.
She was born on August 13, 1905 in Alkmaar, Holland. Her father was a textile salesman and was often away from home. Her mother was always with the children but when Ida was only 8 her mother died. She was the youngest of five children and was from that point on raised by her siblings. God and family life were the center of everything.
Once, when Ida was 12 years old, she was on her way home from confession and saw at the end of the road a bright figure of a woman. The child recognized the woman as the Blessed Mother. The figure did not speak but smiled at the child who basked in Her light. Finally the figure signaled that the child should be on her way home. It was October 13, 1917. The woman appeared two more times to Ida that month. The child of course had no idea that at the same time the Blessed Virgin was appearing to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal and that the great Miracle of the Sun would take place that day. Ida was advised by both her father and her confessor to keep quiet regarding these events and she did so.
The apparitions and the messages of the Lady of All Nations began on March 25, 1945. The war had not yet ended. One must place oneself in the situation of the visionary and those around her. The destruction of the war was all around them. Holland was still occupied by the Nazis. True, the Allies were advancing but Holland was not yet liberated and anything could happen. The future was indeed uncertain.
Ida and her sisters were sitting around ceramic heating oven, something similar to a pot belly stove, and talking about the war and the latest happenings. Fr. Frehe, Ida's confessor and friend, was in the city and came to visit. It is surely no coincidence that Our Mother began he revelations as the Lady of All Nations on the Feast of the Annunciation. It was on this day that Mary gave her consent to God and thereby made way for the salvation of mankind. In a sense she was repeating the act bringing through Her apparitions and messages the love and salvation of Her Lord and Master. Ida recounts that she saw a light in the corner of the adjoining room and she was drawn to it. Out of the light came the Lady. The Lady told Ida to repeat what She said after Her. Ida did so. The Lady spoke slowly. Fr. Frehe told Ida's sister to write down what Ida was saying and she did so. Thus began the series of apparitions which would last until May 31, 1959, fifty six in all.
One must realize the enormity of the task which was given to Ida. She was a simple office worker who was given the task to communicate to priests, bishops and yes, the Pope himself, the content of the messages which the Lady gave her. An intimidating task for anyone, indeed. First Ida had to overcome her own natural reticence and then the political boundaries of the clergy. No small feat, indeed. During decades Ida had to bear the criticism and the mockery of both clergy and laity. She never failed her task but remained true to her mission until her death in 1996 at the age of ninety.
Aside from the human problems which existed, Ida was at times subjected to demoniac attacks. These occurred from the time that she was a young woman into her old age. These too she suffered for the Lady and remained true to her mission.
The apparitions and messages of the Lady of All Nations ended on May 31, 1959. This was not, however, the end of Ida's mystical experiences. For 26 years Ida would receive what she called Eucharistic Experiences because most of these revelations occurred in church at the reception of the Eucharist. They lasted until 1984.
Ida had been promised by the Lady that she would not die before seeing the public veneration of the Lady of All Nations. The Lady, as always, was true to Her word. On May 31, 1996 Bishop Henrik Bomers and his auxiliary Bishop Josef Punt in an ecclesiastical letter, officially approved the public veneration of Our Mother under the title of the Lady of All Nations. Ida had lived to see it. On June 17, 1996 Ida Peerdeman of Amsterdam went home to the Lady she loved and suffered for so much. She had not flinched. She did not waver. She did not fail.
The city of Amsterdam was picked specifically by Our Lady as the site of these apparitions and messages. All the world shall turn to Amsterdam. Amsterdam is where the church of the Lady of All Nations will be built.
" I have selected Amsterdam as the place for the Lady of All Nations. It is also the place of the Blessed Sacrament..." ( March 20, 1953 )
What Our Lady is referring to when she says that Amsterdam is the place of the Blessed Sacrament is the Great Eucharistic Miracle of Amsterdam which took place in 1345. Till this day the Great Eucharistic Procession of Amsterdam takes place every year.
In 1345 Amsterdam was a mere fishing village. One of the fisherman, a man by the name of Ijsbrand Dommer was dying. His wife had sent for the priest to administer last rites to him. He confessed and received the Eucharist but in a coughing fit he vomited and with it the Host. The wife automatically swept all the vomitus away and threw it into the fire. The next morning, when she came to stir the fire, she found the Host undamaged floating above the fire. She removed the host and placed it in a clean cloth and placed it in a chest. She then called the priest from the church to take the Host back to the Tabernacle. The next day as the woman went into the chest she discovered the Host there once again. Once again she called the priest who once again took the Host to the Tabernacle in the church. On the next day the woman went into the chest and there again was the Host. At this the priest was given to understand that the Miracle of the Host was not to be kept secret. This time a procession was formed of both clergy and faithful and they joyfully and publicly accompanied the Host back to the parish church. The church was St. Nicholas. The bishop of Utrecht, the diocese to which Amsterdam belonged at the time, approved the veneration of the miracle within a year, after investigating the matter. The people built a chapel for the Miraculous Host above the house where the miracle had taken place. There the Miraculous Host of Amsterdam was held in exposition in a monstrance for all to adore. The chapel was called Holy Place. Every year in March the Eucharistic Procession took place from Holy Place to St. Nicholas.
Up till this time Amsterdam had been a mere fishing village. With the recognition of the Great Eucharistic Miracle this village now became a place of pilgrimage. Pilgrims from all over Europe came to Amsterdam to do reverence to Our Lord in the Great Miracle of the Most Blessed Sacrament. It was because of these pilgrimages that the city of Amsterdam became the great city that it has been and is today. The pilgrims would come both rich and poor and commerce grew up in this city which soon became a port. The pilgrims would come by both land and sea. They would give their love and respect to Our Lord and then trade with each other. This is the true secret of Amsterdam.
There is a second miracle that took place at the Holy Place. About a century later a fire devastated the Holy Place and the chapel burned to the ground. All was destroyed except the monstrance and the Miraculous Host it contained. A new chapel was built on the old one.
During the Reformation the Protestants took over the Holy Place and the Miraculous Host was never seen again. The procession was forbidden by the Protestants during the Reformation but nevertheless Catholics would gather each year and walk the way in prayer and in silence. This became known as the Silent Way. Even to this day Catholics gather from all parts of Holland to walk the Silent Way every year.
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