Oil weeping religious items Lakeland, Florida
Former Anti-Catholic who 'Died' and saw Mary claims to now suffer the stigmata
Written by Michael H. Brown
July 2, 2003 - Reported in [Spirit Daily.com] online newspaper. A while back we carried the account of Stanley Rutherford, a Lakeland, Florida, man who encountered a mysterious nun who he says turned out to be the Blessed Mother. The "nun" first appeared to him in 1991 after a serious operation during which Rutherford says he "died." It occurred at Lakeland Regional Hospital, when Rutherford was brought to consciousness by a gentle touch of the exquisitely beautiful nun who tapped him on the face, told Stan to wake up, and said he had work to do.
The twist was that it wasn't a Catholic hospital. There were no nuns. This was confirmed by a nurse Rutherford summoned. She was shocked he was alive. It was a room where people are taken when they don't get through surgery -- and the nurse blurted out that he was supposed to be dead. Later, Rutherford -- who grew up in an abusive home and led a hardscrabble life before his conversion -- saw a picture of the Blessed Mother that looked just like the nun.
The other twist: if Rutherford, 51, had any religion it was Pentecostalism, with an aversion to the Blessed Mother. Yet, he says that Mary -- first in the form of the nun, then later as Our Lady of Grace -- began making regular appearances.
When I was in Florida recently, I stopped in on Stan and his lovely, holy Filipino wife, Amor, in their modest home between Tampa and Orlando. Is what happened to Stan real?
We can say that Stan is a regular, unpretentious, no-nonsense type who doesn't particularly care what anyone thinks. He simply recounted his experience straight from the shoulder and informed me that he has also been experiencing stigmata: the bleeding wounds of Christ in his hands, side, head, and feet. Moreover, he and his wife, as well as friends, say he has cried "tears" of blood.
We are always particularly careful with alleged stigmatics, and so, as in every such case, we urge prayer, fasting, and discernment before folks venture to such encounters, especially if it involves laying on of hands. We must be open to the Spirit, but also cautious. We have seen too many cases that looked holy on the surface (what could look holier than stigmata?) but ended up problematic.
Stan understands this, and doesn't miss a beat. In recalling one stigmatic experience last May 12, he says, "My feet were hurting so much I couldn't walk. I was helped into the TV room. It lasted about half an hour, and then we cleaned up my feet with Holy Water. I went to sleep and dreamt of Jesus with two streaks of blood and the next thing I knew it was morning and I noticed two women were staring at me and crying. One said, 'You have to wash your face.' When I asked why, she said there was blood on it. Two tears of blood. And two streaks on my forehead. The dream had manifested."
Psychosomatic? A manifestations of the supernatural? Other alleged phenomena are even more difficult to explain. Amor, who is herself a nurse, told me of a time that Stan dreamt he was at Calvary crawling in the earth to the Cross, where he kissed Jesus' feet -- and when he awoke she saw that her husband was covered with soil like it had actually happened. She saw it herself. "He was dirty as if he had been crawling," says Amor.
Others present spoke of the many statues they have seen weeping or exuding oil in the little home, where a garage has been converted into a chapel. Even Amor, initially skeptical, has seen this first-hand. On one occasion she purchased a statue of the Blessed Mother, placed it in the chapel, and watched as this new statue -- which no one could have manipulated -- began to exude fluid.
Rutherford says that blood first appeared on his hands during visions in which he touched Jesus on the cross. He says he also has been shown Heaven, hell, and purgatory. "There's a place between here and the Light that is very comfortable but it's not Heaven," is the way this former Pentecostal puts it. What is Heaven like? "I couldn't even begin to describe it," he says. "It's like in old Roman times and huge columns and angels, columns that are white like light bulbs -- and just glowing."
Everyone must go to the Cross, emphasizes this man who now considers the Passion his ministry. Everyone must go there and ask for forgiveness, he emphasizes. He knows. He had much forgiveness to ask. He had lived a hard life that at times had seen him locked in jail. A drifter. A man who had spent his youth in one home after another. But a man whose life was transformed by the Lord.
How does Jesus appear to him? Says Rutherford, "His eyes are so gentle and kind. When He looks at you, He doesn't judge you. You can tell He was a working Man, but also an intellectual Man. He's everything to everyone. When He touches you, that's another thing. When He lays hands on you, you can't stand up."
Rutherford, whose "death" had come in an industrial accident while heading a crew cleaning up a phosphorous facility near Lakeland, says, "I didn't nearly die -- I died." It came during surgery to remove gigantic stones that had formed in his kidneys as a result of the accident [see original story]. That was when he encountered the mysterious "nun" who he says was the Blessed Mother. He now calls her "Mama Mary" and considers her his "true mother" -- having spent a wretched childhood of rejection, abuse, and foster care.
Messages? Does he have alleged messages?
Yes, Rutherford says. The Lord has prophesied to him. The Blessed Mother has. He believes events we see in the world are "signs of the times" and warns that there is currently the "beginning of a one-world system." Like so many others, he also warns of chastisements. "This little thing we've been through in the last few months, it's a walk in the park," he says, referring to the flurry of foreign and domestic events. "SARS is nothing but a sniffle compared to what is going to come."
Are his prophecies still valid? Are they pure? Does the fact that he had a near-death episode mean that we accept all that he says?
We are certainly open to them at the same time that we begin a system of testing the spirits. One thing we can say is that Stan Rutherford is a good man struggling as we are all struggling to purify. He knows that the important thing is not worldly events, but what happens to us after. And he has this advice for a pleasant eternity: "If you even try to do the will of God, and be honest and truthful, you're going to a good place." God's laws, he says, are written not in stone, but in the heart.