From the Marines to Making Rosaries (Parts 1 and 2)

By Michael H. Brown


Part 1

Reported in [Spirit] online newspaper. Two burly former Marines, Joseph and Rocco Nasiatka of Pawcatuck, Connecticut -- who are also twin brothers -- have revealed to us what appear to be unique and credible apparitions of the Virgin Mary.

They're not seers; each saw her once. But it was something they could never forget. For Rocco, it happened in Viet Nam, about 18 miles from Da Nang. He was based with Delta Company, first battalion, Seventh Marines. One night at the end of June in 1968, Rocco, who operated an M-60 machine gun, was stationed on a ambush at what was called Hill 41. He was sitting there watching for the enemy as others slept when suddenly Mary was there with no forewarning, just hovering in front of his sights. "She was absolutely beautiful," he recounts. "I tell people flat out, I wasn't dwelling on the religious. I was dwelling on survival. And at that time we used to go out on night ambushes. What you do is basically look for the enemy and a lot of times you wouldn't see the enemy and it would be just mundane boredom. This one particular night I saw a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary. She was elevated off the ground, she was in blue, and she said I was to be wounded, that my life was 'mitigated.' That was the word. I was to die in Viet Nam. I had felt that -- I had felt before I left for Viet Nam that I had been marked for death, and others worried about this too -- but I still did it because it was my duty, I was a Marine."

He had been marked to death but that fate was about to be lessened. It was going to be lessened because of prayers, says Rocco, now in his fifties.

Instead of death, the Lord was going to send him a physical suffering.

"She was barefoot and elevated off the ground," he continues about the apparition. "She said, 'How do you feel about a disability?' She said, 'It will be severe.' I said I could deal with it if my brain was intact."

The former Marine says he saw the Virgin with his eyes wide open and in the pose of Our Lady of Grace, but all in blue, "more like an electric blue, vibrant, beautiful. She was all blue and she just appeared right in front of me."

The Virgin told Rocco his life was to be spared and when she foresaw that he would be wounded she pointed to her own left hand and said he would have a severe disability -- specifically predicting what would occur a week later, something that, in retelling, still gives Rocco goose bumps. "Wow! You know? Then she came later and asked for like input, 'How do you feel about this,' and I said as long as my mind was intact, I can deal with a disability."

The prophecy was precisely fulfilled -- in what is one of the most remarkable visitations we've heard about -- a week later. While on night ambush on July 4, 1968, Rocco had rested his hand atop the machinegun's feed cover when his unit was fired upon. Four bullets ravaged his left hand while another hit between the fingers of his right hand. Meanwhile the left hand and its position atop the gun was just right to deflect the bullets from striking his head while the bullet in his right hand went through skin without touching bone! "When the Holy Mother talked to me, she'd said it would be my left index finger that would be amputated, and what they did was take a good portion of my hand because gangrene had set in," Rocco says. "They did take the finger off too. But the one on the right hand, if you could see it, you'd wonder how it could happen. It went through the skin only and didn't hit a bone, a pure miracle, plain and simple."

Born on Easter Sunday 1949 both Rocco and his brother Joseph had grown up in a very devout home, and in fact had begun making rosaries when they were 12. But they had lost their feel for religion in the Marines. Joseph was a sergeant who served in Guam while Rocco was in Viet Nam, and as Joseph says, the Marines "took the holiness out of us."

They do not look like standard seers. They look like they would be more at home working a dock than kneeling in a church. But as it happens, Joseph too has seen Mary. His apparition occurred 27 years after his brother's, while he was in his bedroom. She appeared out of the blue -- once again was just there -- and when she arrived, all else, everything in the room, disappeared.

"It was September 1995 that the Blessed Mother appeared to me," says Joseph. "When I saw her she was absolutely beautiful. I was a military policeman, and so [when the apparition later occurred] I took in a lot of details. She looked about 25 years of age, very beautiful, very small stature. She wasn't large. And she was barefoot.

"She had like a blue shawl and I asked her, point blank, why did you intervene for my brother, because I remembered that she had seen my brother in Viet Nam, and she said, 'It was your mother's tears and prayers that had gotten my attention.' I asked her to explain to me why that would happen, and she made a gesture with her hands. And she said, 'In life there's a life stream,' and she said, 'Your brother was to die in Viet Nam.' That's what she said. And she said, 'I asked the Father for mercy, and mercy was granted.'

"I was very analytical," says Rocco. "I was questioning her. I told her I didn't understand that. When I said that, she spread her hands apart like Our Lady of Grace and said, 'I have great love for all of humanity' -- and when she said this there were waves of her love, her most beautiful love, her precious hands were apart, and there was like love coming from her hands into me like an ocean. It was rolling into me and it was beautiful. It was fantastic. When I saw her, everything else disappeared around me. She had roses strewn at her feet. She was about five-foot tall. The remarkable thing was the love coming out of her. I told my mother about it the next day. Somebody said it was because I was immersed in the faith, but that isn't so. I hadn't even been in a church. And then in October of that year, my mother suffered a series of heart attacks and what happened was that I actually came back to the faith at her deathbed. The Holy Spirit came into me."

Now, waiting to retire from jobs with the Groton Department of Utilities, the two brothers make rosaries that exude an indescribable grace. It's their mission. The Virgin had told them that they were to be holy and do many acts for her, and that's exactly what happened. She said we would be her servants and bring many people to Jesus. So now these two former Marines make rosaries! They have never charged money. They give them freely. They feel it must come from the "sweat of the brow." Tears come as they're doing them, and they wash some rosaries with those tears. They stopped counting at 1,000. The beads are not just among the most beautiful we've seen but imbued with a great spiritual feeling. Those to whom the rosaries are given have experienced beautiful things: healings, conversions, one woman who was saved from suicide. Occasionally they feel spoken to, and in 1996 Joseph was invited to consecrate to her due to the "dire times." He too still gets goose bumps. "I was told it would be like entering her ark of protection," says Joseph of his relation with the Virgin Mary, "and I knew this was what I was born for."


Part 2

Now (we) want to look at what has happened since: what kinds of things have occurred recently, and what other experiences the two brothers, now in their fifties (and employed by the Groton Department of Utilities), have had. We do so because of the outpouring of response, and because there are indications that their ministry of making rosaries has been attached to miracles (indications that, of course, need to be documented). Indeed, those to whom they have given their hand-made beads have claimed everything from emotional healing and protection against car crashes to alleged remissions of cancer.

It is those "most in need" to whom the brothers minister, and they decline to take any money for the rosaries -- which many find to glow beyond their remarkable, beautiful crystal and which are imbued with the result of their nearly palpable devotion. Both men formally consecrated themselves to the Virgin Mary after Joseph's apparition in 1995. They have made more than a thousand rosaries and the graces associated with them are reportedly numerous. Joseph says that in one case his wife had given a physical therapist at South County Hospital in Wakefield, Connecticut, a pair and the therapist had in turn given them to a daughter who later had an accident. The rosaries had been hung from the rearview mirror and the daughter got through a horrid crash with hardly a scratch. Recalls Joseph: "The car looked like it had been through a shredder, and there was only the rosary and the mirror, with streams of lights hitting the rosary when this woman went to see the daughter's wreck."

They know it is not them. They know they are "vessels." They have tried to remain "cloistered." They know those who really need them will find them -- and it is to those they gladly minister. In one dream Joseph saw "seven flaming spiritual creatures" who were humanlike but both terrifying and majestic. He believes they represented the gifts of the Spirit. Often, the experiences come with little forewarning. Recounts Joseph: "We went to this restaurant and this woman who was a waitress heard that I was giving away rosaries, and she was wanting very much my rosary and it broke my heart that all my rosaries had been given away. But I had a Miraculous Medal that a priest had given me and I was thinking of giving her my Miraculous Medal instead of the rosary and the Blessed Mother in an inner allocution told me that she had written her name on my heart and for me to give this woman my Miraculous Medal. She knew it meant a lot to me because it was given to me by a priest. She had said, `I have not written my name among many hearts, but I have written my name upon yours,' and enough said." When the waitress came around Joseph gave her the medal and as he did the Holy Spirit entered the woman so strongly that some of those who worked with her were ready to call an ambulance. The woman was trembling and weeping but describing the experience as fantastic.

"Another time, I was given the image of a woman's face," says Joseph. "She worked in a post office in a town right near where my dad lived and I was told she was in much need of my rosary. I had seen her but didn't know her name, and I was told to go over to her and give her one of the healing rosaries. I immediately went over and gave her a rosary and I said, 'I don't know what your problems are, but I was told you are in much need.' Immediately, as if someone had turned on a spigot, the tears came flowing down from her eyes and she said, 'I'm speechless.' She put it around her neck and called me later on and said what happened was that she had severe back problems. She had some kind of an operation and it caused her to have severe problems and when she put the rosary on the rosary healed her."

There are other accounts of protection. In Ashaway, Rhode Island, was a woman who put a pair of the rosaries on her bedpost and a month later there was a freak accident. In this instance a car crashed through her home into her living room but stopped at the bedroom. In another case Joseph went to a Catholic gift shop to get a holy image for another person in need and just before he left felt "told" to take a healing rosary with him because he would be seeing a person in much need. It turned out to be a woman who owned the shop. "I went over in faith and again I presented my rosary to this woman and told her I didn't know what her circumstance was, but that I was told she was in much need of healing, and she was astonished. She said, 'Who told you?' I told the story and gave her a rosary I call the 'Sword of the Spirit,' and she started crying. What I found out was that she had just lost a 26-year-old daughter and she had donated one of her kidneys to try to save her daughter's life but it didn't happen and the mother was extremely heartbroken. The next time I came in, she said, `I was heartbroken. I had lost all zest for life. But when I received that healing rosary I could feel God's love heal my heart.' Even though it was a terrible ordeal, she has moved on. She says she feels wonderful. That made me so happy. All these graces are to remind us to have oneness with Jesus through Mary."

The brothers, no-nonsense types, but totally open to God, believe the rosaries are the result of the Virgin's flow of God's power. "When the Blessed Mother was in front of me, I was absorbing those graces and that's why the rosaries are so powerful," says Joseph. "They're her graces. They are not of earth. When the Blessed Mother was standing in front of me, and she told me she had great love for all humanity, it was pretty much like Our Lady of Grace when the graces came out of her hands, and as I was standing there I actually was absorbing those graces, and as they were coming out of her they were coming out of me and that's why these rosaries are so powerful -- because of her graces."

Often, the ministry of these two burly ex-Marines is to women and children. Joseph consecrated himself to the Immaculate Heart first, and then Rocco, who had not yet fully come to Mary despite his Viet Nam apparition, consecrated himself after a second experience.
This was in 1996, and unlike the apparition in Viet Nam, this time her voice came from an indistinct ball of blue light that appeared to him. "It was in my bedroom as I was praying," says Rocco, who like his brother has had only one full-scale apparition. "I wasn't forced to consecrate. I had to think about it and she said she wasn't forcing me. She doesn't say you must do that. She just said she would be pleased."

He consecrated himself and since that time the vocation of rosaries -- something that they had been taught to do in childhood, but that they had lost touch with during their years as hardened Marines -- has quietly exploded. They are constant witnesses to the Lord's goodness. They repeatedly see both small and great happenings. "God always gives help when you need it," says Joseph. "You just have to look for it."

Not everyone is healed. In fact, Joseph's own wife died of breast cancer. But so many have touched the goodness. At a spiritual level, the rosaries are nearly delectable. We have experienced them ourselves. They seem otherworldly. According to Rocco they were going to Adoration at St. Michael's Church one day when they encountered a relative with a friend who had cancer and while on Interstate 95 felt "told" to go immediately to this church. As it happens, the Nasiatka twins were in the parking lot and when the brothers prayed over her, she too trembled, broke into a sweat, and later claimed a remission had occurred at that point. "I saw her later and she was beaming," says the former Marine. "She said she was free of cancer. We tell people, don't look to us. We're just conduits."

The Lord heals those who are in His plan to be healed and does so in this case through faith -- and the rosaries. They are "shock waves" of goodness, says Joseph. The message is to think of one another. All they ask in return for a rosary is for people to do is something good for someone else. "It's God's way," Joseph says.

It is the opinion of Joseph, who saw the Virgin in September of 1995, that the 1990s spelled a decade in which there was the beginning of a "change of heart" in humanity but that it was also the onset of "much sorrow and chastisement". Both my brother and I knew there were going to be world events that would force mankind to go onto a different path, that were going to make people consider loving one another and also forgiveness. There were going to be things happening that would wake people out to stopping their way of living for selfishness, anger, and cruelty to one another. God's way is love and forgiveness.

I knew the 1990s were the beginning, and that the year 2000 and beyond would be critical." He pointed out strange weather events, and said, "I saw in the 1990s a lot of extraordinary events, storms of the century, and these were like wake-up calls. What I think is that the screws of life are going to be tightening down further for chastisement and mankind is going to be brought to the point where we understand that we're all in this together. Everyone is going to be made to put the other person first. This is God's way, to serve one another. What's going to happen is that there will be events that make us value life, because there may be points in time where innocents are going to be murdered, and it's going to be horrifying and bring mankind a change of heart.

All of this is for our own good. I know some things were mitigated. I think Halloween was an especially crucial time. I was kind of told that there were things that could have happened but that God has smiled upon us and saw how man people were going into prayer."

Joseph, who along with brother Rocco now has a ministry of making rosaries, said he happened to send a "blood-red" rosary to a close friend and as if an omen it arrived to her on September 11. "A lot of things were mitigated, things that could have happened," he believes of last autumn. "The message is to think of one another."

Rocco, whose apparition occurred 27 years before (while manning a machine gun in Viet Nam), comments that "the times are getting critical and you have to protect yourself." The last time Rocco had a direct experience was in 1996, when he saw a "bluish ball of light" while praying and heard the Virgin's voice. There was no prophecy (the Virgin was inviting him to consecrate himself), but it's his impression that "the end of our civilization could have happened in the 1990s. We had great floods and a lot of catastrophic things happening. I firmly believe that Mary held back the wrath of God's Hand. She let people mature in their faith, and she let more souls through. I believe there were catastrophes that she held back, but I think we're on borrowed time. It's just a feeling. To me the early 1990s were when things were critical -- weather, storms that hadn't happened like that in centuries."

But events, he warns, have only been held off. When Rocco talks about "borrowed time," he points to things like Harry Potter, which he calls "the most pressing issue" because it spreads a "diabolical" effect on young minds.