‘Lipa apparition’ decree publicly released after 72 years

‘Lipa apparition’ decree publicly released after 72 years

By: - Reporter / @dexcabalzaINQ
/ 05:40 AM March 21, 2024

The Archbishop of Lipa has released to the public for the first time the controversial 1951 Vatican decree—supposedly nonexistent according to some Marian devotees—which confirmed the apparitions of the Virgin Mary in Lipa, Batangas, back in 1948 were not supernatural.

This is the spot at the Carmelite monastery in Lipa City, Batangas province. MA. CERES P. DOYO/INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

The Archbishop of Lipa has released to the public for the first time the controversial 1951 Vatican decree—supposedly nonexistent according to some Marian devotees—which confirmed the apparitions of the Virgin Mary in Lipa, Batangas, back in 1948 were not supernatural.

‘Lipa apparition’ decree publicly released after 72 years

NO MIRACLES. The Archdiocese of Lipa releases the Vatican decree dated May 28, 1951, declaring that the alleged 1948 Marian apparitions at the Mt. Carmel monastery in Lipa, Batangas province, are not of supernatural origin. PHOTO COURTESY OF ARCHDIOCESE OF LIPA

In a circular on Tuesday, Lipa Archbishop Gilbert Garcera said the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith (DDF) has released a copy of the “much-awaited 1951 decree regarding the conclusion of the Holy See on the alleged apparition in Lipa.”


The handwritten decree in Latin dated May 28, 1951, said: “By order of the Most Holy Father’s will: The apostolic delegate is to authorize the apostolic administrator to issue a document from the Curia in which it is declared that the events of Lipa, after serious examination, turns out not to have a supernatural origin and character.”


It was drafted “in [an] audience with His Holiness,” then-Pope Pius XII, on March 29, 1951. Manuel Victor Cardinal Fernandez, prefect of the DDF, the Vatican’s doctrinal watchdog, certified the copy of the decree as authentic.

But Harriet Demetriou, former Sandiganbayan justice and Marian devotee, told the Inquirer on Wednesday that Dominican theologian and exorcist Fr. Winston Cabading—whom she charged with perjury after he denied the Lipa apparitions—was “not yet vindicated” even with the decree’s release.

She said the document’s veracity should be vetted first.

“Where was this decree all along? Why was he (Cabading) not able to present it before? For more than 70 years, this decree has not appeared, and suddenly it was released to the public,” she noted.

In a statement, Demetriou raised several questions “after a thorough examination” of the document, including the fact that it was handwritten, with erasures.

She said she would wait for answers before making a final judgment. Her 2022 perjury complaint against Cabading was based on her claim that the Vatican decree was nonexistent.


The perjury complaint was dismissed in January 2023 by the Makati City prosecutor’s office for insufficiency of evidence but Demetriou vowed to go all the way to the Supreme Court.

READ: Show us proof of ‘negative judgment’ on Lipa apparitions

Cabading was briefly detained in May last year in connection to the “offending religious feelings” case filed by Demetriou in 2022 for his denial of the Marian apparitions in Lipa in 1948, citing the 1951 Vatican decree. The priest, however, was able to post bail two days later, with the case still pending before the court.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) had long asked the Vatican Archives for materials related to the Holy See’s investigations from 1949 to 1950. However, the DDF granted its request only last October and released the documents.


In an Oct. 6, 2023, letter to CBCP president and Kalookan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, Cardinal Fernandez of the DDF said the Vatican was not only providing a copy of the 1951 decree but also a copy of the letter of Sister Mary Cecilia de Jesus, the prioress of the Carmelite monastery where the events occurred, who “confessed guiltily to having deceived the faithful about the alleged apparitions in Lipa and consequently asked for forgiveness.”

The Vatican decision was based on De Jesus’s handwritten confession letter (dated March 17, 1951).

“This fact definitively and directly confirms the non-supernatural nature of the events in Lipa,” Fernandez stressed.

During the CBCP’s 127th plenary assembly from Jan. 27 to 29, 2024, the bishops decided that a copy of the 1951 decree would be issued publicly. However, the letter of De Jesus “should not be circularized due to the sensitivity of the personal letter of Mother Cecilia to the Holy Father.”

Garcera and other officials of the Lipa archdiocese had a meeting with the Carmelite sisters in the Monastery of Mt. Carmel on Jan. 31 to discuss the developments in the case of the Marian apparitions. Sister Maria Fe Tud, the mother superior of the monastery, received copies of the Vatican documents, including the 1951 decree and De Jesus’ confession letter.

The sisters affirmed that the penmanship in the document matched that of De Jesus in their archives.

No more feast day

According to Garcera, the feast day of Our Lady of Lipa, also known as the Our Lady Mary Mediatrix of All Grace, every Sept. 12 of the year shall not be celebrated.

“With the documents of 1951, which are already released by the Dicastery, it was concluded that celebrating Sept. 12, the alleged apparition date, is no longer necessary,” read the minutes of the Jan. 31 meeting released by the Lipa archdiocese.

The alleged apparitions of Our Lady of Lipa have been a source of controversy and debate among Filipino Catholics for decades.

The Catholic Church hierarchy has long been insisting that there was nothing miraculous about the apparitions of Mary before Teresita Castillo, a postulant of the Carmelite Sisters, at their Lipa monastery in 1948.

The apparitions were initially approved by the local bishop in 1951 but later condemned by the Vatican in the same year.

Another bishop reopened the case in 1991, allowing the devotion to resume. In 2015, then-Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles declared the apparitions supernatural and worthy of belief, but the Vatican overruled this.

The Vatican reiterated its negative judgment on the apparitions in 2016 but allowed the local devotion to continue.

(Reporter’s note: We are acceding to the request of Demetriou, through her lawyer, to publish her press statement in full.)


After a thorough examination of the 28 May 1951 Dicastery Decree, I raise the following questions:

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  1. Why is it a mere handwritten one, and with erasures?
  2. Who is L. Ottaviani? What was then his position or authority in the Dicastery on 28 May 1951 to have the jurisdiction to issue this 1951 Dicastery Decree? And why did he not attach a copy of the 1951 Papal Decree in his Dicastery Decree of 1951?
  3. This purported Dicastery of 1951 only bears a handwritten note “Autentico: Victor Fernandez” with no signature. Why did they not present us with a formal consularized copy of it?
  4. Why does this alleged 28 May 1951 not bear the express formal approval of then Pope Pius XII?
  5. Why did it take them more than 72 years to release this 1951 Dicastery Decree?
  6. Why is this 1951 Dicastery Decree not published in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, the Vatican’s official commentary, as required under Canon 8, Code of Canon Law?
  7. Assuming that they do not publish decrees on non-supernatural private revelations, then how come they published the 25 July 1951 Negative Verdict of Pope Pius XII regarding the Marian Apparition in Heroldsbach, Germany?
  8. I want answers to all these questions before I make my final judgment.


TAGS: Lipa, Vatican

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