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'Virgin Mary' message directed at 'youth of the world'

The faithful
CNN's Martin Savidge reports from Conyers, Georgia
Windows Media 28K 56K
In this story: October 13, 1998
Web posted at: 10:33 p.m. EDT (0233 GMT)

CONYERS, Georgia (CNN) -- An estimated 100,000 pilgrims crowded onto a Georgia farm Tuesday to hear what they believed would be a final message from the Virgin Mary, delivered by a woman who claims to have received hundreds of such visions.

Nancy Fowler, 47, has attracted huge crowds since she said the Virgin Mary told her to buy a farm in 1990 and pass on her messages to the faithful.

Fowler emerged from her home Tuesday afternoon saying that the Virgin Mary had given her a message to "the youth of the world" who are "lacking in direction."

"I ask the youth of the world to choose a saint, and model their life after the saint, and you will receive the intercessory help of the saint," Fowler quoted the Virgin Mary as saying.

Seemingly endless lines of cars snaked through the hilly terrain as the pilgrims converged at the farm, located about 35 miles east of Atlanta.

Fowler said she had been told this would be the last year the Virgin Mary would deliver a message.

'I'm hoping my daughter will get up and walk'

The faithful

Believers, some of whom had waited for days, prayed on rosaries as they waited for Fowler, a former nurse, to relay the last of the messages.

Some came not only to hear the message, but also because of rumors of miracle cures at the farm.

"I'm hoping my daughter will get up and walk," said Theo Osuji, whose four-year-old daughter has cerebral palsy. Osuji immigrated to the United States from Nigeria.

Martha Gonzalez came with 1,500 other Catholic Church members from Monterrey, Mexico. She said she made the trip "just to be here around all the people who believe in the same thing -- that God is alive, calling us."

Catholic Church does not sanction event

In 1993, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported, Rockdale County authorities threatened to declare the large crowds at the farm a public nuisance, saying the influx of people were a concern in the largely rural county of 60,000.

The complaint failed to deter the public, however, and in November of that year 80,000 people showed up.

Fowler said that year her monthly messages would stop and she would speak only once a year -- October 13, the anniversary of a reported appearance by the Virgin Mary to three children in Fatima, Portugal, in 1917. Pope John Paul II has recognized the Fatima appearance as a factual event.

The Catholic Church, however, does not sanction the Conyers' event, and local Catholic leaders have distanced themselves from Fowler.

Even though the Virgin Mary is not expected to appear again before Fowler, the pilgrimages are likely to continue to the farm because Fowler plans to build a church on the site.

She said the final message from the Virgin Mary was too long to deliver in full, so it will be posted on what many consider to be a modern-day miracle -- the Internet.

Correspondent Martin Savidge andReuters contributed to this report.

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