Dr. Gianna Talone Sullivan has been seeing visions of the Virgin Mary for years. In her native Arizona, Sullivan's visions were examined by the archdiocese in 1989 and were considered benign. Now the Archdiocese of Baltimore has determined after a two-year investigation that the Emmitsburg-area woman's visions are false. She reportedly began receiving the visions about five years before she came to Emmitsburg. Once moving here in 1993, she shared the messages she received with her Thursday night prayer group at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Emmitsburg. The meetings mostly included reciting the rosary and celebrating the Eucharist, or taking communion. The prayer meetings at St. Joseph's started on Sept. 11, 1991, about two years before Sullivan came to the area and exactly 10 years to the day before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Over time, the number of people attending the meetings grew substantially, fluctuating between 600 and 1,000 people.
At the same time, however, church officials began to have concerns about the validity of the messages.