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Perryville, MO

Receiving Messages from the Virgin Mary

Receiving Messages from the Virgin Mary
By: Amy Jacquin

Perryville, Missouri - There's something happening in Perryville that's attracting people from miles away. On the 13th of every month, one man says he has visions of the Virgin Mary, and that She gives him messages.

It all started about a year and a half ago, as a personal revelation for Neal Gremaud. Since then, Neal says the Virgin Mary told him to invite everyone to pray with him. And over the past year, the crowds have steadily grown.

On this nasty January morning, only true believers gather at the Grotto on the Vincentian seminary grounds in Perryville. A couple dozen people huddle in prayer... Starting at 9 a.m. And lasting more than two hours. It'd during the praying Neal says he sees and hears the Virgin Mary.

"When she appears to me, it's not as I see you or am talking to you," he tries to explain. "It's more internal. I don't really know how to explain it. When you're talking about something Heavenly, it's impossible to describe it."

It's the hope of such a heavenly visit that inspires people to come. Sometimes by the hundreds, sometimes smaller. The small January group showed devotion despite shaking with cold.

"I feel really warm inside," says Elaine Pinar of Perryville. "It's very cold... But I'm warm inside. I feel so blessed. Especially when Neal said the Blessed Mother was walking around and touching every one of us. I really felt that touch."

"I didn't care what the weather would be like, I wanted to be here," agrees Pat Fornkohl of Cape Girardeau. "I took off work to be here. I feel so blessed."

There are stories of other miraculous happenings here at the Grotto. Stories we couldn't confirm.

Neal says he received his first visit in the summer of 2003.

"I was working in the fields, on the tractor, and I smelled the scent of roses so I knew it was Her," he says. "She asked me to some out to the grotto on the 13th of every month, for 13 months."

According to Neal, she extended that time frame. And now, he has no clue what to expect from month-to-month.

"I hope that people come here and see how she works in people's lives," he says simply.

So how does She work? Why pick a Perryville farmer to spread messages of prayer, fasting and peace?

"I wondered, why me?" admits Neal. "I really don't know! All I know is, She asked me and I could not refuse."

He says the Virgin Mary has a plan for the old seminary, and wants to keep it a holy place.

"She's asking that the buildings here not be destroyed," he says. "She has a future purpose for them."

The Vincentians, however, plan to tear-down two buildings and replace it with a new residence for retired priests. Demolition prep work started just this week

"I just keep praying for all her intentions," he shrugs. "That's all I can do."

No one is getting paid for this. No money changes hands. No collection is taken.

"It's not about profit," Neal answers calmly. "It's all about calling Her people to pray."

Everyone here knows there are skeptics and non-believers. Neal knows some may call him crazy. But it's a cross he's willing to bear.

"If it were me, something I was doing personally, I couldn't do it," he says. "It's only by God's grace that I am being allowed to do this."

Neal types-up the messages and hands them out to anyone who wants them. They all center around a request to pray.

We should mention we did find a few skeptics around town, but no one wanted to talk on camera.

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