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The Rosary used to look like the Buddhist prayer beads; now it looks like the Blessed Mother’s sash

I am Immanuela Sun-Hee Yang in the Hwagok-dong Parish. I am a nurse at Chosun University Medical Center. I write this testimony for the Blessed Mother, who suffers pains for us, and also for the benefit of our Protestant friends and those Catholics who are staying away from the Church.

Several years ago, one of my fellow nurses at the hospital said to me, “I have heard that the Virgin Mary is weeping tears of blood in Naju. Shall we not visit that place together?” I said, “Yes,” without thinking seriously. Later, I regretted that I had said that. On the other hand, I had some curiosity also, because I had seen a pamphlet about Naju about three years earlier. I thought that it was strange and amazing. Soon, twelve people who work at the hospital left for Naju. I was the only Protestant.

When we arrived in Naju, I saw a large statue of the Virgin Mary in the front yard of the Chapel. I tried to avoid looking at her and entered the Chapel. There was a smaller statue of the Virgin Mary inside the Chapel. It was smaller than I expected. I said to myself, “Can the tears of blood be real? They must be a fake.” I could not believe that they were real. I was a deacon in a Protestant church and did a lot of work in that church. I had been a Protestant for 30 years and even established six mission churches. I felt very uneasy and ashamed to be in the Chapel in Naju. After we prayed together in the Chapel for a while, Julia gave us a brief talk. While she was speaking to the group, she pointed to me and said, “Sister, the Blessed Mother is specially calling you to come here again!” I thought, “You make me laugh. I am not going to come here any more.” Julia continued speaking, “This is not by accident. I have never invited anyone to come here, but since the Blessed Mother is calling you, please come back on the coming First Saturday.” She said further, “Oh, why am I saying this? I have not asked even my family to come here.” She made a small cross on her lips with her finger. I felt very strange and more ashamed. While everyone was going to light a candle before the Virgin Mary’s statue, I stood hesitantly at the end of the line. But Julia called me to the front and made me light a candle before others.

I had lived a life of being indifferent to the Blessed Mother. I had been trained that way since my childhood. She was just a woman who gave birth to Jesus. I had not felt any more about her. After I came home after the visit to Naju, I said to myself, “She asked to come back on the First Saturday. She is making me laugh. I am not coming back.”

When it was the First Saturday, I was feeling a struggle in my mind. On the one hand, I did not want to go. On the other hand, I had an urge to go. Even before I made a clear decision, I was already going to Naju. The overnight prayer meeting began. While they were praying, I felt awkward, because I did not know Catholic prayers. In the second part of the meeting, Julia spoke. Every word she spoke penetrated my heart. It seemed that she was personally speaking to me. My husband was a Protestant seminarian when we got married. I married him because of his good faith. However, he quit the seminary after marriage and began living a dissolute life for the next seven years.

Of course, we were church-goers, but we fought once every two or three days. Because our financial conditions were tight, I continued working at the hospital despite my poor health. My stomach illness became worse and, because of that, I had a real bad breath. When I was in bed, I turned my face away from my husband. When my mother-in-law walked by me, she said, “Ah, what a problem for such a young one!” I always had a sadness on my face. I also had an arthritis and had never worn high-heeled shoes. However, while I was attending the First Saturday prayer meeting, I was healed of all my health problems! It was Mary 2, a First Saturday. It was a day that I will never forget. Before then, I have not experienced true happiness. But, during that prayer meeting, I realized that every problem was because of my fault. Tears of repentance were pouring out of my eyes. I felt that the Blessed Mother, whom I had felt remote and had alienated myself from, was my real Mother. Since then, I am calling her “Mommy!” I decided to convert to Catholicism. As I was changing, my husband began changing also. He consented to my conversion. My mother-in-law and all other family members clapped their hands with joy.

Soon, the whole family began going to the Catholic Church. Before then, my husband and I had fought three or four times every week, which had also hurt my mother-in-law. Now, my husband, who had been looking hateful, now looks so lovable. So, I prayed to the Blessed Mother, “Mother, I love my husband. Please love him, too.” My husband was healed of his health problems also.

Since our conversion to the Catholic Church, we have not had any more fights. My husband began taking instruction in the Catholic Faith. After every class, he says something nice like praising the Blessed Mother or making a positive comment on the Catholic Church. My mother-in-law also was prayed over by Julia and was completely healed of her 50 year-old stomach illness.

My younger sister-in-law lives with us. I had not liked her much, but, after my conversion, she looks so lovable. So, before going to work every morning, I get up earlier than usual and wash her baby’s diapers. I feel so happy and full of energy at work. My husband said to me, “You went to the Protestant church for 30 years, but you did not change much. But the Blessed Mother of Naju is really changing you.” The Blessed Mother gave me another sign. I began smelling fragrance from my rosary. Before my conversion, the rosary looked like the Buddhist prayer beads; now it looks like the Blessed Mother’s sash. The Hail Mary’s that I offer are roses for the Blessed Mother. So, I thought that I would pray more rosaries so that the Blessed Mother’s hands may become full of roses. As I prayed more rosaries, I had fewer worries. Even when my husband comes home late, I don’t complain, because I have more time to pray. I say, “Mother, I entrust my husband to you. You take care of him as you wish.” My husband continues changing. He has regained his faith. My mother-in-law had been a Catholic and has a baptismal name of Maria. She came back to the Church also.

Moreover, the family on my side also began coming to the Catholic Church one after another. All together, more than 20 of my family converted. I hope this will be a small consolation to the Blessed Mother and a tiny reparation for our neglect of her. My family, which had living in disputes and quarrels, has found love and harmony. We are aboard the Blessed Mother’s Ark of Salvation. I said Good-bye to the Protestant church after 30 years in it and after establishing six mission churches. I thank the Lord and the Blessed Mother for the changes and the fullness of joy in my family.

—Immanuela Soonhee Yang, Chosun University Medical Center, Kwangju, 1991

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