What do apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary, UFOs and the Hollow Earth theory have in common? While the first two have been connected by various ufologists in the past and is again the topic of two books, the latter two are also an old theme in ufology. On the first two, two new books of a projected trilogy have been written by Dr. Joaquim Fernandes and Fina D’Armada, titled Heavenly Lights, The Apparitions of Fatima and the UFO Phenomenon (2005) and Celestial Secrets: The Hidden History of the Fatima Cover-Up (2006). But a connection between all three? For this we have to travel back to a small rural town called Necedah, in Wisonsin, and a farm nearby. It was here that May Ann van Hoof, a farmers woman and mother of seven children, claimed that the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to her, beginning in November 1949.
A year, seven apparitions and several messages later, throngs estimated between 50,000 and 100,000 people flocked the farm, rivalling those at Fatima, Portugal, decades earlier. Not unlike Fatima, unusual atmospheric phenomena were reported. A participating priest who was there would later claim, acording to a newspaper, to have seen
"The sun whirl over the barren farm at midmorning, when the sun momentarily appeared through the clouds... I saw it (the sun) whirl clockwise and it also jumped."A number of women and a newspaperman also claimed to have seen the same phenomena. There are more similarities to Fatima: in the second of their proposed trilogy, Fernandes and D'Armada examine the role of the Jesuit Order in what they claim is an elaborate cover-up of the truth. In the case of Mary Ann van Hoof a Jezuit priest conducted a full scale investigation into her claims. He subsequently told the newspapers that she had hoaxed the whole affair.
As the Blessed Virgin did not appear to the thousands of onlookers, people with ailments hoping for miraculous cures, and the devoted, her reputation dwindled, although she never changed her claim of the Blessed Virgin appearing to her . In later years, Van Hoof was forbidden to visit her local church, but a small but loyal group sprang up around her. The Van Hoofs moved to a new house near the farm, which burned down due to a defective heater in the basement, the local police claimed. Van Hoof, who died a widow in the mid 1980's, had led a strange life. She emigrated to America from Transylvania, Hungary.
Her mother, Elizabeth Bieber, was a spiritualist and allegedly practiced witchcraft with Gypsies in Transylvania. Bieber held seances in Kenosha, Wisconsin. With Mary Ann she attended Spiritist camps in Wonewac, and became vice-president of the Kenosha Assembly of Spiritualists. As a youth, Mary Ann suffered from an abusive father and epileptic seizures. It is alleged that her mother always was behind her during the apparitions. One of the messages that Van Hoof claimed to have received and that was later published by members of her group, was that
"...a SPACE SHIP coming to take us away before the coming chastisement... This space ship will be guided by someone called "Alex". The SPACE SHIP with a 1200-year-old man will come and take them to the MIDDLE EARTH, where they will be spared the chastisement and then emerge to re-populate the world and establish Christ's TRUE CHURCH."Middle Earth is of course the hollow earth, where a subterranean civilisation awaited them. In the late 1960's, Charles Manson would gather his family for searches in Death Valley for Devil's Hole, another supposed opening to the inner earth, where the Family too could hide and await upcoming Helter Skelter.
The sleepy town of Necedah saw many strange figures arrive in ensuing years such as selfstyled Pope Clemens XV, head of the Order of Saint Michel and the founder of the New Church. This sect believed in the salvation of mankind with the help of extraterrestrials. One of his followers was German engineer Franz Philipp, inventor of the Sonnenkraft-Triebwerk (Solar Power Motor) and author of the very strange book Deutscher Raumflug ab 1934, ein unbequemes Buch (German Spaceflight since 1934, an unpleasant Book) which was published in 1970. Philippp was found dead in his Berlin appartment in the late 1970's, after having laid there for two weeks. Rumor has it that the CIA had tried to assassinate him at least once. And, while countless other apocalyptic contactee cults disbanded, faded away or sometimes even committed mass suicide, the small group around Mary Ann van Hoof is still waiting for the space ship to take them to the center of the earth.