Our Lady of Mercy

The story of Our Lady of Ransom begins with St. Peter Nolasco, born in Languedoc about 1189. At the age of 25 he took a vow of chastity and made over his vast estates to the Church. After making a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Montserrat, he went to Barcelona where he began to practice various works of charity.

He conceived the idea of establishing an Order for the redemption of captives seized by the Moors on the seas and in Spain itself; they were being cruelly tormented in their African prisons to make them deny their faith.

He spoke of it to the king of Aragon, James I, who knew him well and already respected him as a saint; for the king had already asked for his prayers when he sent out his armies to combat the Moors, and he attributed his victories to those prayers.

In effect all the Christians of Europe, and above all of Spain, were praying intensely to obtain from God the remedy for the great evil that had befallen them. The divine Will was soon manifested. On one night — August 1, 1218 — the Blessed Virgin appeared to St. Peter, to his confessor, Raymund of Penafort, and to the king, and through these three servants of God established a work of the most perfect charity, the redemption of captives.

On that night, while the Church was celebrating the feast of St. Peter in Chains, the Virgin Mary appeared first to St. Peter, saying that she indeed desired the establishment of a religious Order, later known as the Mercedarians, bearing the name of her mercy. Its members would undertake to deliver Christian captives and offer themselves, if necessary, as a ransom pledge.

The Order, thus solemnly established in Spain, was approved by Pope Gregory IX under the name of Our Lady of Mercy. By the grace of God and under the protection of His Virgin Mother, the Order spread rapidly. Its growth was increased as the charity and piety of its members was observed; they very often followed Our Lady’s directive to give themselves up to voluntary slavery when necessary, to aid the good work. It was to return thanks to God and the Blessed Virgin that a feast day was instituted and observed on September 24, first in the Order, then everywhere in Spain and France. It was finally extended to the entire Church by Pope Innocent XII. Pope Leo XIII encouraged the devotion by making this feast proper to all the dioceses of England, with a focus on how Our Lady ransoms us from the slavery of our sins, and brings us the grace of conversion.

~Source:catholicculture.org

Prayer to Our Lady of Ransom

O God, who by means of the most glorious Mother of Thy Son

was pleased to give new children to Thy Church

for the deliverance of Christ’s faithful

from the power of the heathen; grant, we beseech Thee,

that we who love and honor her as the foundress of so great a work may,

by her merits and intercession,

be ourselves delivered from all sin

and from the bondage of the evil one.

Through the same Christ, our Lord.

Amen.

Our Lady of Cuapa

On April 15, 1980, the sacristan, Bernardo Martinez (age 50), witnessed the statue of Mary in the chapel light up on its own.  Recently, the sacristy lights had mysteriously illuminated on two other occasions.   Thinking that Mary might be mad at him for arguing with others, he set out to seek forgiveness from those people.  But they laughed at his story and ridiculed him.  He begged Mary to not request anything more of him because it was causing him troubles.  He even avoided going near the statue.

Visionary Bernardo Martinez of Cuapa, Nicaragua

Bernardo was close to his breaking point both physically and emotionally due to illness, being out of work, and not being able to care for his family well. To cheer himself up, he went to the river to fish.  When it began to rain around 1:00 p.m., he decided to sit under a tree and wait.  He dozed for a short time but woke with a start and an unexplained fear.  He decided to pray the Rosary.  By 3:00 p.m., he decided to gather his fish and head home.  Returning from this fishing trip on May 8, 1980, Bernardo saw two lightning flashes.  On the second flash the Virgin Mary appeared to him.  He felt immobilized and could not run or yell.  But he was surprised that he felt no fear.  He thought that he might just be envisioning the same statue in his mind – and perhaps was dreaming, but when he passed his hand over his eyes and looked again, he saw that she had human skin and eyes that moved and blinked.  “She is alive!” he thought to himself – because his tongue would not move to speak.  He felt numb – his lower jaw and tongue were stiff as if asleep.  His whole body was immobilized – only his thoughts in his mind could be active.

She was so beautiful – wearing a long white dress with bare feet resting upon an extremely white cloud.  She had a celestial cord around her waist, long sleeves, and a veil of a pale cream color with gold embroidery covering her.  She extended her arms and rays of light, “stronger than the sun,” emanated from her hands.  The rays touched his chest – and he was able to speak again, so he asked her name.

“She answered me with the sweetest voice I have ever heard from any woman – sweeter than the softest voice.”  He saw her move her lips and say that her name was Mary.  He knew she was alive and real because she actually responded to him!

B:         “Where do you come from?”

M:        “I come from Heaven.  I am the Mother of Jesus.”

B:         “What is it that you want?”

M:        “I want the Rosary to be prayed every day.”

B:         “Yes, we are praying it – The priest brought us the intentions of the San Francisco parish so that we would unite ourselves with them.”

M:        “I don’t want it (Rosary) prayed only in the month of May.  I want it to be prayed permanently, within the family, including the children old enough to understand – to be prayed at a set hour when there are no problems with the work in the home.

Love each other.  Fulfill your obligations.  Make peace.  Don’t ask our Lord for peace, because if you do not make it, there will be no peace.  Renew the Five First Saturdays.  You received many graces when all of you did this.”

Mary added that prayers should not be rushed or said in a mechanical fashion.  She told him to read the Bible passages that go along with the mysteries of the Rosary.

M:        “Nicaragua has suffered much since the earthquake.  She is threatened with even more suffering.  She will continue to suffer if you don’t change.  Pray! Pray, my son, the Rosary for all the world.  Tell believers and non-believers that the world is threatened by grave dangers.  I ask the Lord to appease His Justice, but if you don’t change, you will hasten the arrival of a Third World War.”

B:         “Lady, I don’t want problems.  I have many in the church.  Tell this to another person.”

M:        “No, because Our Lord has selected you to give this message.”

Bernardo was frightened to spread Mary’s message because of the persecution he had endured earlier.  He kept the vision to himself for eight days until Mary appeared again.

M:        “Why have you not told what I sent you to tell?”

B:         “Lady, it is that I am afraid.  I am afraid of being the ridicule of the people, afraid that they will laugh at me, that they will not believe me.  Those who will not believe this will laugh at me.  They will say that I am crazy.”

M:        “Do not be afraid.  I am going to help you. And tell the priest.”

Bernardo described Mary looking upward toward Heaven, and the cloud that held her slowly elevated her.  She was in a ray of light, and when she reached a certain height, she disappeared.

So Bernardo began telling people and his priest – who encouraged him to keep sharing with others what he had witnessed.  On June 8, 1980, Mary appeared again, giving him four visions – “which were like movies in the sky.” The first vision was of the first Christians, singing and marching towards Heaven.  They were dressed in white – their bodies glowing with light.  The second vision was of another group of people also dressed in white.  They held illuminated rosaries in their hands.  The leader read from a book, and after meditating on the reading, they prayed an Our Father and ten Hail Marys.  Mary explained that they were the first ones to whom she had given the Rosary.  She wanted everyone to pray the Rosary like they were doing it.  In the third vision, Bernardo saw a group of men dressed in brown robes.  Mary explained that these were the Franciscans.  “They received the Rosary from the hands of the first ones.”  In the fourth vision,  he saw a large group, as big as an army, of people in normal dress, all holding rosaries.  Light radiated from their bodies, and they were beautiful.  He wanted to join them and go with them even though he was not illuminated, himself.

M:        “No!  You are still lacking.  You have to tell the people what you have seen and heard.  I have shown you the glory of Our Lord, and you people will acquire this if you are obedient to Our Lord, to the Lord’s Word – if you persevere in praying the Holy Rosary and put into practice the Lord’s Word.”

Bernardo only shared these visions with the priest, knowing that the church must approve them first.  The priest gave Bernardo approval and permission to spread the visions.

On July 8, 1980, an angel presented him with a vision of a prophecy.  The angel told Bernardo to tell a certain woman how and when her brother would get released from jail because he was innocent.  He had a message for another woman regarding her alcoholic father and brother and her own problems teaching in a communist school.  Finally, the angel foretold that his own cousin would be assaulted and later killed.  All of these prophecies came to pass exactly as the angel had described.

On October 13, 1980, on the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, a large glowing circle appeared above the ground in front of fifty people that had gathered to say the Holy Rosary.  Everyone saw the light that came from the sky – a single ray – like a powerful spotlight that illuminated the circle in front of them.  Then the people noticed that a circle had also formed in the sky.  “It was like a ring around the sun – but it’s not the sun!”  The circle began to radiate all the colors of the rainbow (at exactly 3:00 p.m.) – which danced about the sky.

“It was 3:00 p.m. in the afternoon.  One could feel a small breeze that moved softly.  Pleasant – like a fresh shower – but which did not wet us.  While we observed this, we were silent and continued seeing that circle of light which gave off colored lights from the exact center, where the sun is at twelve noon.  All of a sudden, a lightning flash – the same as the other times – then, a second flash.  I lowered my eyes, and I saw the Lady.”

She appeared on her little cloud which rested above a pile of flowers that the group had brought.  She extended her hands, and rays of light reached out to everyone, causing some to cry with joy.  Bernardo begged her to appear to all of those present as they did not all believe in his vision.  Mary’s face became pale and her clothes turned gray, appearing as Our Lady of Sorrows.

“It saddens me to see the hardness of those persons’ hearts.  But you will have to pray for them so that they will change.  Pray the Rosary.  Meditate on the mysteries.  Listen to the Word of God spoken in them.  Love one another.  Love each other.  Forgive each other.  Make peace.  Don’t ask for peace without making peace, because if you don’t make it, it does no good to ask for it.  Fulfill your obligations.  Put into practice the Word of God.  Seek ways to please God.  Serve your neighbor — as that way you will please Him.  They ask of me things that are unimportant.  Ask for Faith in order to have strength so that each can carry his own cross.  The suffering of this world cannot be removed.  That is the way life is.  There are problems with the husband, with the wife, with the children, with the brothers.  Talk, converse, so that the problems will be resolved in peace.  Do not turn to violence.  Never turn to violence.  Pray for faith in order that you will have patience.  You will no longer see me in this place.”

B:         “Don’t leave us, my Mother!  Don’t leave us, my Mother!  Don’t leave us, my Mother!”

M:        “Do not be grieved.  I am with all of you even though you do not see me.  I am the Mother of All you sinners.  Love one another.  Forgive each other.  Make peace … Pray, pray, my son, for all the world.  Grave dangers threaten the world.  The Mother never forgets Her children, and I have not forgotten what you suffer.  Invoke me with these words, Holy Virgin, You are my Mother, the Mother to all of us sinners.

As she departed, the little cloud seemed to be pushing her back up to Heaven. At this, the messages from Mary were completed.  These six apparitions were officially approved by the church in 1982, and, shortly after that, Bernardo Martinez was ordained a priest.  The local bishop, Monsignor Vega published his approval of these apparitions on November 13, 1983.

Most of the 202,000 Nicaraguans who reside in the United States fled to this country in the 1980’s when the brutal war in Nicaragua broke out between the Sandinistas and the Contras.

Our Lady of the Rosary of San Nicolas

MARY OF THE ROSARY OF SAN NICOLAS

Buenos Aires, Argentina 1983–1990

Our Lady first appeared to Gladys Quiroga de Motta on 25 September, 1983, in the city of San Nicolas de los Arroyos, some 230km from Buenos Aires.

Gladys is married and has two daughters, both of whom are married with children.

Although without much religious formation, she is a very normal, balanced woman with deep piety and she does not like attention.

After a delicate operation in 1976 which saved her life, Gladys surrendered herself to Our Lady and promised to visit the shrine of Our Lady of Luján every year for the next five years, a promise she kept.

On 24 September, 1983, Gladys noticed that the rosary hanging in her room was glowing. Others saw it too and they prayed the rosary together.

The following day, Sunday 25 September, Gladys was praying the rosary when suddenly she saw Our Lady with the Child Jesus in her arms, bathed in a bright light.

She didn’t say anything about it at the time, for fear that others would consider her crazy.

Our Lady continued appearing to her until finally on 12 October she decided to confide what had happened to the parish priest of the cathedral, Fr Carlos Pérez.

He listened attentively and advised her to pray, assuring her that if this was from God, much good would come from it.

The following day Our Lady spoke to Gladys, giving her a message of conversion for all mankind. Thereafter Gladys received many messages that she was to pass on to the whole world.

The messages are the traditional ones associated with the apparitions in Lourdes and Fatima: the need for conversion, the recitation of the Rosary, the consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the frequent reception of the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist… When Our Lady gives Gladys a message, it is as though Mary is doing the writing herself by the hand of Gladys, with a speed and depth of content which are humanly inexplicable.

One extraordinary event associated with the apparitions came on 15 November 1983. Our Lady appeared to Gladys, giving her name as Our Lady of the Rosary. When Gladys described the vision to Fr Pérez he recognised it as that of a lifesized statue of Our Lady of the Rosary which had been blessed by Pope Leo XIII and placed in the cathedral.

When the cathedral suffered considerable damage over a century before, the statue, too, was damaged and was placed in the bell tower.

Fr Pérez showed Gladys the statue and she immediately recognised it as what she had seen in the vision. Our Lady appeared at that moment and asked that the statue be placed once again in the cathedral, even though it was missing a hand and there was no rosary in her hands.

Our Lady also asked Gladys to have a shrine built in her honour for the increase of faith and prayer of the people.

She showed Gladys the spot on which the shrine was to be built by having a bright ray of light come down from heaven over the place when Gladys went there one night with a group of people.

An imposing temple has since been built, following the instructions given by Mary herself. It was opened in 1989 and millions have visited it, with many conversions taking place.

Another extraordinary phenomenon associated with the shrine is the smell of roses in the shrine itself, in the buses travelling there or in the homes of those who have visited it.

Also many rosaries have begun to glow for those who visit the shrine and many people have seen the sun dance in the sky or turn colours while they were able to look at it without damage to their eyes.

Some have seen a white host in front of the sun. Many miraculous cures of illnesses have also been reported.

Gladys herself received the stigmata of Our Lord on her wrists, feet, side and shoulder. A medical specialist says that in one wrist there is one mark but in the other there are two, as on the shroud of Turin, because Christ was nailed twice through that wrist when the first nail did not enter the prepared hole.

The wounds bleed on Fridays and by Sunday or Monday they are back to normal. On Fridays in Lent they are more pronounced and Gladys suffers much pain.

On 22 May, 2016, after a long and thorough study, Bishop Hector Cardelli of San Nicolas declared the apparitions and messages to be of supernatural origin and worthy of belief.

Messages of Our Lady of the Rosary of San Nicholas

• That mankind is falling away into sin and corruption, and is “hanging by a thread.”

• That the majority of mankind is in spiritual darkness of atheism, especially in large cities.

• That Mary is giving such frequent messages due to the darkness of the times into which we are heading.

• That these are Advent times, Jesus’ Second Coming is quickly approaching.

• A plea to prayer and conversion of heart.

• The role of Mary in salvation history as the Ark of the Covenant and the “woman clothed with the sun” in the book of Revelation.

• An admonition to pray the rosary faithfully and be consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

The majority of mankind has allowed itself to become contaminated and as a result the world is under a “warning,”

“It is your duty to teach the Almighty’s justice, and blessed is he who learns it,”

“You must be warned, children, the plague is big. At these moments all humanity is hanging by a thread. My children, the senseless person is dead, even if alive, because he does not fear the justice of God, nor fears not fulfilling of His commandments. He wants to ignore the fact that the Lord’s day and His judgment will arrive. Blessed are those who fear God’s judgment.”

These are the hours,when prayer and visits to the Blessed Sacrament must be especially “fervent.” Humanity is living, in very dramatic moments.”

Gladys says she was shown a vision of the world in two parts, with one of the parts representing those whose souls are being “destroyed,” especially through an obsession with wealth. “A great part of the world is very far from God,” the Virgin told Gladys in more than 1,900 messages. “They go ahead in everything that is materialism, and they do not advance in what is most important, in the knowledge of the Word of God.

“Daughter, the earth is inhabited, but it seems uninhabited. A very great darkness is over it. God’s warning is over the world. Those who stay in the Lord have nothing to fear, but those who deny what comes from him do. Two-thirds of the world is lost and the other part must pray and make reparation for the Lord to take pity. My dear daughter, there is darkness and loss everywhere! My children, in the large cities of the world, atheism and total indifference toward God are to be seen. The devil wants to have full domination over the earth. He wants to destroy. The earth is in great danger.”

In what can only be termed stark warnings, the Virgin emphasized materialism and pride in all its manifestations.

“My children, impose nothing on your lives!” say the messages, granted between 1983 and 1990. “Do not be too ambitious, because to want much can make you forget that the only and real ambition you should have is to be able to enter God’s Kingdom. Try to remember this always, as it is the only thing that matters to the Lord. Not everything is corrupt in the world, but a great part is. This great part is what must be fully and completely renewed, since they despise God. They are God’s enemies. They are being used by the devil craftily and very coldly. Break the bonds to the materialistic world you live in, and join the Lord.”

Reaffirming messages from other places, the Virgin told Gladys in 1988 that “the weapon that has the greatest influence on evil is to say the Rosary” and emphasized that for those who pray it is not a time for anguish but of “hope,” “peace,” and “fortitude.” “The coming of the Lord is imminent,” says a 1988 message, “and as the Scripture says, no one knows the day or the hour, but it will be, and certainly for that hour the soul of Christians should be prepared. These are hours in which your prayer must be fervent. Do you not know that prayer is a shield against evil? It is not mankind who is abandoned by God, but God Who is abandoned by mankind!”

“I say this for all my children: God does not want you to humble yourselves before the enemy, nor does He want you to be destroyed by him, but for you to face up to him. Fear nothing, because the Lord goes in front to each battle. May your will not shrink; be strong because you have the Presence of the Almighty. Daughter, the prince of evil pours out his venom today with all his might, because he sees that his reign is ending; his end is near; little is left to him. My daughter, the evil one is triumphant now, it is true, but it is a victory that will last briefly. Hurry because time is running out.”

Most Holy Name of Mary

In accordance with Jewish custom our Lady’s parents named her eight days after her birth, and were inspired to call her Mary. The feast of the Holy Name of Mary therefore follows that of her Birthday, as the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus follows Christmas. The feast originated in Spain and was approved by the Holy See in 1513; Innocent XI extended its observance to the whole Church in 1683 in thanksgiving to our Lady for the victory on September 12, 1683 by John Sobieski, king of Poland, over the Turks, who were besieging Vienna and threatening the West. This day was commemorated in Vienna by creating a new kind of pastry and shaping it in the form of the Turkish half-moon. It was eaten along with coffee which was part of the booty from the Turks.

The ancient Onomastica Sacra have preserved the meanings ascribed to Mary’s name by the early Christian writers and perpetuated by the Greek Fathers. “Bitter Sea,” “Myrrh of the Sea,” “The Light Giver,” “The Enlightened One,” “Lady,” “Seal of the Lord,” and “Mother of the Lord” are the principal interpretations. These etymologies suppose that the Hebrew form of the name is Maryãm, not Miryãm. From the time of St. Jerome until the 16th century, preferred interpretations of Mary’s name in the West were “Lady,” “Bitter Sea,” “The Light Giver,” and especially “Star of the Sea.” Stella Maris was by far the favored interpretation. The revival of Hebraic studies, which accompanied the Renaissance, led to a more critical appraisal of the meanings assigned to Our Lady’s name. Miryãm has all the appearance of a genuine Hebrew name, and no solid reason has been discovered to warrant rejecting the Semitic origin of the word. The Hebrew name of Mary, Miryãm, (in Latin Domina) means lady or sovereign; this Mary is in virtue of her Son’s sovereign authority as Lord of the World. We call Mary our Lady as we call Jesus our Lord, and when we pronounce her name we affirm her power, implore her aid and place ourselves under her protection.

Excerpted from Mariology, 3 volumes (1955-1961), edited by Juniper B. Carol, O.F.M.

Our Lady of Czestochowa

The origin of this miraculous image in Czestochowa, Poland is unknown for absolute certainty, but according to tradition the painting was a portrait of Our Lady done by St. John sometime after the Crucifixion of Our Lord and remained in the Holy Land until discovered by St. Helena of the Cross in the fourth century. The painting was taken to Constaninople, where St. Helena’s son, the Emperor Constantine, erected a church for its enthronement. This image was revered by the people of the city.

During  the siege by the Saracens, the invaders became frightened when the people carried the picture in a procession around the city; the infidels fled. Later, the image was  threatened with burning by an evil emperor, who had a wife, Irene, who saved it and hid it from harm. The image was in that city for 500 years, until it became part of some dowries, eventually being taken to Russia to a region that later became Poland.

After the portrait became the possession of the Polish prince, St. Ladislaus in the 15th century, it was installed in his castle. Tartar invaders besieged the castle and an enemy arrow pierced Our Lady’s image, inflicting a scar. Interestingly, repeated attempts to fix the image, artistically have all failed.

Tradition says that St. Ladislaus determined to save the image from repeated invasions, so he went to his birthplace, Opala, stopping for rest in Czestochowa; the image was brought nearby to Jasna Gora [“bright hill”] and placed in a small wooden church named for the Assumption. The following morning, after the picture was carefully placed in the wagon, the horses refused to move. St. Ladislaus understood this to be a sign from Heaven that the image should stay in Czestochowa; thus he replaced the painting in the Church of the Assumption, August 26, 1382, a day still observed as the Feast Day of the painting. The Saint wished to have the holiest of men guard the painting, so he assigned the church and the monastery to the Pauline Fathers, who have devoutly protected the image for the last six hundred years.

Having survived two attacks upon it, Our Lady’s image was next imperiled by the Hussites, followers of the heretic priest, John Hus from Prague. The Hussites did not accept papal authority as coming from Christ and taught that mortal sin deprived an office holder of his position, among other heresies. Hus had been influenced by John Wyclif and became infected with his errors. Hus was tried and condemned at Constance in 1415. The Hussites successfully stormed the Pauline monastery in 1430, plundering the sanctuary. Among the items stolen was the image. After putting it in their wagon, the Hussites went a little ways but then the horses refused to go any further. Recalling the former incident that was so similar, the heretics threw the portrait down to the ground, which shattered the image into three pieces. One of the plunderers drew his sword and slashed the image twice, causing two deep gashes; while attempting a third gash, he was overcome with a writhing agony and died.

The two slashes on the cheek of the Blessed Virgin, together with the one on the throat, not readily visible in our copy, have always reappeared after artistic attempts to fix them.

The portrait again faced danger in 1655 by a Swedish horde of 12,000, which confronted the 300 men guarding the image. The band of 300 routed the 12,000 and the following year, the Holy Virgin was acclaimed Queen of Poland.

In September 14, 1920, when the Russian army assembled at the River Vistula, in preparation for invading Warsaw, the Polish people prayed to Our Lady. the next day was the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. The Russians quickly withdrew after the image appeared in the clouds over Warsaw. In Polish history, this is known as the Miracle of Vistula.

During the Nazi occupation of Poland in World War II, Hitler order all religious pilgrimages stopped. In a demonstration of love for Our Lady and their confidence in her protection, a half million Poles went to the sanctuary in defiance of Hitler’s orders. Following the liberation of Poland in 1945, a million and a half people expressed their gratitude to the Madonna by praying before this miraculous image.

Twenty-eight years after the Russian’s first attempt at capturing the city, they successfully took control of Warsaw and the entire nation in 1948. That year more than 800,000 brave Poles made a pilgrimage to the sanctuary at Czestochowa on the Feast of the Assumption, one of the three Feast days of the image; the pilgrims had to pass by the Communist soldiers who patrolled the streets.

Today, the Polish people continue to honor their beloved portrait of the Madonna and Child, especially on August 26, the day reserved by St. Ladislaus. Because of the dark pigment on Our Lady’s face and hands, the image is affectionately called the “Black Madonna,” most beautifully prefigured in the Bible, in the Canticle of Canticles, “I am black but beautiful.” The pigmentation is ascribed primarily to age and the need to keep it hidden for long periods of time in places where the only light was from candles, which colored the painting with smoke.

The miracles attributed to Our Lady of Czestochowa are many and most spectacular. The original accounts of them,  some of them cures, are archived by the Pauline Fathers at Jasna Gora.

Papal recognition of the miraculous image was made by Pope Clement XI in 1717. The crown given to the image was used in the first official coronation of the painting, which was stolen in 1909.

Pope Pius X replaced it with a gold one encrusted with jewels.

Our Lady of Sorrows~Kibeho Rwanda

Kibeho, Rwanda 1981–1983

The small country of Rwanda is seen by some as the heart of the continent and one of its most beautiful areas, where plantations of tea and coffee abound. Visitors have named it the Land of Eternal Spring. But at the time of the apparitions, the country was in a state of unrest. Statues of the Blessed Mother were mutilated or destroyed and priests, influenced by the propaganda of false theologians, were lax in their duties and beliefs. Only two devout priests maintained the true principles of the Faith and the teaching of sound doctrine, which influenced most of the people of Rwanda to the fervent practice of the Catholic Faith. To correct the morals of the region and to plead for the restoration of religion, the Blessed Virgin appeared to Alphonsine Mumreke who was seventeen years old. Alphonsine was a student in a school that was run by three nuns and various lay teachers. There she was known to have been very pious and to have shown a great love of the Mother of God.

THE FIRST APPARITION

The first apparition took place in the school on Saturday, November 28, 1981. Alphonsine was in the dining room serving her classmates that day when she was startled by a sweet voice that called her. Since she did not see anyone around her who spoke her name, Alphonsine went into the hallway and saw a most beautiful Lady who announced that she was the “Mother of the World,” and had come in answer to her prayers. Alphonsine described the Lady in this way, The Virgin was not white as she is usually seen in holy pictures. I could not determine the color of her skin, but she was of incomparable beauty. She was barefoot and had a seamless white dress, and also a white veil on her head. Her hands were clasped together on her breast, and her fingers pointed to the sky. Later I was told by my classmates that I had been speaking in several languages: English, French, Kinyarwanda and others. When the Virgin was about to leave I said three Hail Marys and the prayer, Come Holy Spirit. She then rose to heaven like Jesus. Alphonsine remained kneeling in a state of ecstasy for more than fifteen minutes while the nuns and staff members attempted to rouse her. When Alphonsine finally began to stir and spoke of the apparition, the faculty thought she was sick.

THE SECOND APPARITION

Another apparition took place the next day, November 29, and was repeated almost every Saturday in December.During these visitations, Alphonsine’s classmates attempted to test her by pricking her with needles or trying to burn her with matches. They also waged a subtle persecution by heaping upon her all types of verbal abuse, saying among other things that she had lost her mind. Eventually, because of various phenomena, which included sparkling lights and the appearance of a star, both faculty and students came to believe, and even gave Alphonsine their rosaries for the Blessed Virgin to bless. While the daytime visions took place in the dining room, the evening visits took place in the dormitory, in the room of Alphonsine. Eventually, as news spread about the miraculous events, the apparitions began to take place in the school yard where thousands gathered. To the surprise of all, Our Lady began appearing to another student, Anathalie Mukamazimpaka and then to Marie-Claire Mukangango who had been one of the most vocal opponents of the apparitions. Marie-Claire declared, as a result of an apparition, that “One must meditate on the Passion of Jesus, and on the deep sorrows of His Mother. One must recite the Rosary every day, and also the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows of Mary, to obtain the favor of repentance.” Alphonsine experienced a mystical journey on March 20, 1982. After informing the nuns that she might appear to be dead while this was taking place, she would nevertheless be very much alive. During the eighteen hours in which this ecstasy took place, priests, nurses, religious and medical assistants for the Red Cross, all saw that Alphonsine appeared to be in a deep sleep, was rigid, and had clasped hands that could not be separated. Alphonsine later revealed that the Blessed Mother had shown her Heaven, Purgatory and Hell. During these visitations, the Blessed Virgin gave many messages for the world. Calling herself the Mother of the World, she announced that the purpose of her visitations was to communicate a message of conversion through a life of prayer and confession, a life renewed by the Word of God and by works of charity and justice. The Blessed Mother told Marie-Clare that she was addressing herself to the whole world which is in revolt against God and is “on the edge of catastrophe.” During other apparitions, Anathalie described the visions in this way: In July 1982, and the following months, August 15, 1982, the feast of the Assumption, and again on September 4, and in January 1983, Our Lady showed us many things about the coming war. Often she talked in general that the world is bad, that people do not have love, contrary to what God shed His blood for; Our Lady insists as well on love. Our Lady talked about and showed us some visions of reality where people killed each other, blood running, fire burning on the hill, mass graves, skulls, beheaded bodies, skulls put apart. Anathalie continued: “Our Lady appeared to remind us what we have forgotten. In her messages she insisted on prayer and on conversion, on penance and humility.”

The Blessed Mother’s last visit to the visionaries was on August 19, 1982, during which she revealed the consequences of those who would ignore what she recommended. Like the vision of Anathalie, the other visionaries also saw “a river of blood, people who were killing each other, abandoned corpses, trees all in flames, bodies without heads.” About a decade later, in the spring of 1994, a vicious civil war erupted in Rwanda in which an estimated 500,000 to 800,000 people were killed; many beheaded by machetes and dumped into the Kagea River. Many were killed by friends or neighbors in the genocide that lasted one hundred days. The Blessed Mother had also warned that sexual promiscuity would lead to disaster—this before the world experienced the AIDS epidemic. By 1994, Africa had 70 percent of the world’s cases. It is estimated that several million Africans fell victim to the disease. It was during the war that the visionary, Marie-Clare, was killed. It is said that she had married Elie Ntabadahiga in 1987, and had moved to Kigali to be with him. According to eyewitnesses, Elie was taken prisoner by the militants, and when Marie-Claire begged for her husband’s release, she was murdered. As for the other visionaries, Alphonsine is now a cloistered nun living in the Saint Claire convent of Abidjan, Ivory Coast. Her religious name is Alphonsine of the Glorious Cross. Anathalie still lives in the Kibeho parish where she is dedicated to preparing the church and the altar for Holy Mass. It was after the civil war that the Catholic Church made a definitive ruling regarding the apparitions of Alphonsine Murmureka, Anathalie Mukamazimpaka and Marie-Claire Mukangango.

Although four others are said to have witnessed the apparitions, approval for the visions of the original three was granted by Bishop Jean-Baptiste Gahamanyi who was in charge of the Diocese of Butare at the time of the visitations. On July 2, 2001, the Vatican released the declaration of Bishop Augustin Misago of Gikongoro who expressed approval of the visions after examinations were conducted by both medical and theological examiners. The original summary of their studies consisted of a twenty-three-page document. Bishop Augustin Misago declared, “There are more reasons to believe this than to deny it,” and that “the events corresponded satisfactorily to all the criteria established by the Church in the matter of private apparitions and revelations.” Pope John Paul II, during his visit Rwanda in 1990, exhorted everyone to turn to the Virgin Mary as a sure guide to peace and salvation.

~Source:”See How She Loves Us” by Joan Carrol Cruz