Detroit Stories Episode 51: 'A Message of Divine Mercy' (PODCAST)

Spared on her deathbed, Catherine Lanni's visions of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Jesus inspired a movement of mercy in Detroit

(0:04) Catherine Lanni recounts a harrowing deathbed experience, during which she received a message from God that completely changed her life.

(1:38) Catherine describes the plan she had for her own life — getting married, having a family — and how starting a religious community was the furthest thing from her mind. She got married, but after becoming pregnant for the first time, Catherine miscarried. For months, Catherine and Mike grieved the loss of Joseph Anthony.

(3:43) The couple went on to have two more daughters, but in 1986, during another pregnancy, Catherine began to hemorrhage again. She was rushed to emergency — this time with severe complications — with doctors telling her she wasn’t going to make it.

(5:00) As Catherine prayed through the ordeal, the Holy Spirit gave her two visions: One of her grandmother, and another of her father — two figures of faith and piety in her life — to calm her fears. And then, a third vision, of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

(8:03) Catherine describes her vision of the Blessed Mother. She begged Mary to spare her life, and her prayer was answered. In return, Catherine promised to “do something good for Jesus.”

(11:06) After being released from the hospital, Catherine had a Mass of thanksgiving said, and started to teach catechism, thinking that would satisfy her duty of gratitude to God. But in September 2022, Catherine experienced another powerful vision: this time of Jesus himself.

(13:17) Catherine describes her vision of Jesus, who conducted what she describes as a “spiritual open heart surgery” on her. Jesus commanded her to begin a prayer group, as well as to found a religious order that would be devoted to spreading the message of Divine Mercy.

(16:13) In the aftermath of her earth-shattering experience of Jesus, Catherine struggled to comprehend and share what she had witnessed. Several months later, she told her vision to her parish priest — at Jesus’ command — and the priest gave her a simple piece of spiritual advice.

(19:17) With the priest’s help, Catherine began to take steps toward fulfilling the mandate she had been given. She began a small prayer group to meet regularly, praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet and studying the writings of St. Faustina. In 2003, Cardinal Adam J. Maida approved the group as an official apostolate, the Servants of Jesus of the Divine Mercy, and later, the Divine Mercy Center (today the Shrine of Jesus the Divine Mercy) was founded in Clinton Township.

(20:16) Catherine talks about the final request Jesus had made: to start a religious order of women. In 2012, she received permission from Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron to begin a new community: the Sisters of Jesus’ Merciful Passion.

(23:53) Today, Catherine is still incredulous at how powerfully God has worked in her life, and reflects on the hopes she has for the shrine and budding religious community: to be a conduit for God’s incredibly powerful Divine Mercy for others in need.

Reporting by Daniel Meloy; narration by Fr. Craig Giera; script by Casey McCorry; production by Ron Pangborn

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