Cuapa is a town situated in a small valley in the Municipality of Juigalpa, in Chontales, Nicaragua. Its people are very simple folk, small cattle ranchers who live a rustic lifestyle and raise cattle for family consumption. This peaceful corner of Nicaragua is where Our Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, began to manifest herself to one of the local farmers, who received a message from the Queen of Heaven in 1980. The Apparitions was approved in 1994.
His name was Bernardo and he was the sacristan of the town. From his childhood he had helped clean the chapel, wash the altar linens, ring the bells for the recitation of the Rosary in the evening… All this he did with sincere desire to serve God, in spite of those who made him a laughingstock.
Everything began the night of April 15, 1980. While he was in the chapel, Bernardo saw the image of Our Lady – which he was especially fond of – radiating light. The light radiated out from the image, which he saw was more beautiful than ever and let off enough light for him to walk at a normal pace without tripping.
This led Bernardo to make an examination of conscience. In doing so, he recalled certain divisions he had recently caused in the town, as he was a man with a bad temper. He decided to tell the people what had happened, after the recitation of the Rosary, and publicly ask their forgiveness. News of the story soon spread throughout the town of Cuapa and many laughed at him for claiming to have seen the image of Our Lady clothed in light. Yet, it was obvious that Our Lady was preparing him for what was to come, seeing his change of heart and public apology.
8 May, 1980
Bernardo was struggling with personal problems at the time. One restless night, seeing as he was unable to sleep he decided to go fishing. Around noon, he started praying the Rosary. He felt immersed in a profound peace and the hours flew by. At three o’clock, he was surprised to see flashes of lightning in the sky, although there were no signs of rain. He then saw Our Lady on a pure white cloud, above one of the nearby trees. Squinting, he realized that the image he was seeing was a real person that blinked. Our Lady opened her arms and rays of light came forth from them.
That was when Bernardo finally decided to ask her her name. She told him in a sweet voice, “I come from Heaven; I am the Mother of Jesus.” Then, Bernardo asked her what she wanted and she responded, “I want the Rosary to be prayed every day.” The farmer interrupted her, saying that this was something they already did in the town. However, she insisted, “I do not want them to pray it during the month of May alone. I want them to pray it always in their families… from the moment the children reach the age of reason…They should pray it at a set time that does not enter in conflict with the daily tasks of the home.” She explained that the Lord is not pleased with prayers done without thinking or rattled off mechanically, and recommended that they pray the Rosary accompanied by a reading of the corresponding Biblical passages and with an effort to live according to the Word of God. She then added, “Love one another. Carry out your duties. Make peace. Do not ask the Lord for peace, for if you all do not make peace there will be no peace.”