Fr John Flader: Mary's appearance in Africa?
Friday, 12 November 2010 Our Lady of Kibeho
I understand that among the approved Marian apparitions is that of Kibeho, in Africa. Can you tell me something about it?
There were a number of apparitions of Our Lady to several school children in Kibeho, Rwanda, beginning in November 1981.
The first apparition took place on Saturday, 28 November 1981 to a sixteen year-old girl named Alphonsine. She was a boarder in Kibeho High School, an all girls boarding school run by nuns. She had helped to serve lunch to the girls when she felt called to leave the dining room. Out in the corridor she saw a bright light, out of which a gentle woman’s voice said “My child”. The words were repeated and then Alphonsine saw a beautiful woman floating above the floor, wearing a white dress with a white veil covering her hair, her hands folded in prayer.
When Alphonsine asked who she was, the lady answered “I am the Mother of the Word”. The lady went on to say that she wanted Alphonsine’s friends to have more faith. She asked Alphonsine to join the Legion of Mary and said she wanted to be loved by everyone so that she could lead lost souls to salvation through Jesus.
The lady then disappeared and Alphonsine collapsed on the floor where she lay for more than ten minutes, finally waking up surrounded by her classmates. When she explained that she had seen the Blessed Virgin they didn’t believe her and taunted her.
Our Lady appeared to the girl again the next day, this time in her room, and several more times in December 1981. Her message was that she loves us very much and wants us during Advent to prepare for the return of Jesus, that there is a lot of hatred and sin in the world and we should pray the Rosary every day. There was also a message for the government, with its policy of discrimination against Tutsis, telling the leaders to turn their hearts to God’s love.
After each apparition Our Lady would tell Alphonsine when she would appear next, so that soon other people were going to the school to see for themselves and the whole country was talking about the events. During the apparitions the other girls, led by a twenty-one year-old named Marie-Claire, would verbally and physically abuse Alphonsine. On one occasion they held a burning candle under her arm and stuck a needle into her, but she did not flinch.
Our Lady also appeared to other children from the school. The second one was a pious seventeen year-old named Anathalie, from a large, devout Catholic family. One day in January 1982, while praying the Rosary with some friends in her room, she suddenly fell into a trance and saw a bright light and heard Our Lady’s voice, asking her to help save souls through a life of prayer and penance, and telling her that she would have much suffering in her life.
The third visionary was none other than Marie-Claire, who had accused the other two girls of lying and being part of a plot of the devil. She had her first vision in March 1982. With her conversion, it was now easy for others to believe that Our Lady was indeed appearing.
One of the most alarming visions came on the feast of the Assumption, 15 August 1982.
Before a gathering of 20,000 people, each of the girls separately screamed in horror as they saw rivers of blood, with people hacking each other to death, and hundreds of thousands of corpses.
It was clearly a warning of the genocide that was to take the lives of more than a million Tutsis in 1994.
Our Lady asked that the people cleanse their hearts through prayer.
On 15 August 1988, the local bishop approved public devotion linked to the apparitions of Kibeho, and the first stone of the “Shrine of Our Lady of Sorrows” was laid on 28 November 1992.
On 29 June 2001 the bishop of Gikongoro issued a declaration formally approving the authenticity of the apparitions of Our Lady to the three girls. There were other people who reported having visions as well but only the visions to these three were mentioned in the declaration.
The riveting story of the apparitions is told in great detail by Immaculée Ilibagiza in her book Our Lady of Kibeho.
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Fascinating and true story about Our Lady's apparitions in Kibeho.