VISIONS AND APPARITIONS
An apparition is “a ghost or ghostlike image of a person” or “a remarkable or unexpected appearance of someone or something”. Apparitions of the Virgin Mary that have been recognized by the Catholic church include: 1) In Paris in 1830 a novice nun named Catherine Laboure saw an image of the Virgin in a chapel and the image transformed into a “Miraculous Medal” used to worship Mary; 2) In Pontamain France in 1871 the Virgin appeared to four children who were urged to pray for Prussian troops to turn back. 3) In Knock Ireland in 1870 Mary, Joseph, John the Apostle and a lamb was seen by more than 15 people as they stood in the rain. 4) In 1933 in Beauraing, Belgium Mary appeared 33 times to five children, aged 9 to 15, in a garden. 5) In Banneaux, Belgium in 1933 a 12-year-old girl saw Mary eight times in a family garden.
Other apparition of the Virgin Mary that have been not been recognized by the Catholic church include: 1) in Amsterdam in 1945-59, Mary appeared many times to Ida Peerdeman promising world peace and asking for the titles "Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate”: 2) in Kibeho, Rwanda in 1981-89, visionaries saw images of genocide followed by an image of Mary calling for prayer; 3) in Medjurgorhe, Bosnia, a small town of 250 families in a Croatian enclave of Bosnia, where beginning in 1981, six children there have were said the had visions of Mary.
Describing an apparition on the slopes of Mt. Etna, a Sicilian woman told journalist John McLaughlin, " Yes, the Madonna appears once a month, on the third...She always comes at the same time...three o'clock in the afternoon...Me, I've never seen her myself, but who knows. There are some people who are meant to see her, and other's who aren't. They say there have been miracles here, that people have been cured.”
Websites and Resources: Christianity Britannica on Christianity britannica.com//Christianity ; History of Christianity history-world.org/jesus_christ ; BBC on Christianity bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity ;Wikipedia article on Christianity Wikipedia ; Religious Tolerance religioustolerance.org/christ.htm ; Christian Answers christiananswers.net ; Christian Classics Ethereal Library www.ccel.org ; Bible: Bible Gateway and the New International Version (NIV) of The Bible biblegateway.com ; King James Version of the Bible gutenberg.org/ebooks ; Christian Denominations: Christianity.com christianity.com/church/denominations ; Christianity Comparison Charts religionfacts.com ; Difference between Christian Denominations Quoracom ; Holy See w2.vatican.va ; Catholic Online catholic.org ; Catholic Encyclopedia newadvent.org ; World Council of Churches, main world body for mainline Protestant churches oikoumene.org ; Wikipedia article on Protestantism Wikipedia ; Online Orthodox Catechism published by the Russian Orthodox Church orthodoxeurope.org ; Nihov's Worldwide Coptic Directory directory.nihov.org
Miracles in Catholicism
A miracle is defined by the Catholic Church as an "inexplicable recovery" that is "sudden, complete and lasting." Peter Stanford wrote for the BBC: “At various Marian shrines around the world, for instance, the Catholic Church believes that a small number of miracle cures of illness have been effected. [Source: Peter Stanford, BBC, June 29, 2011 |::|]
Miracles have always played a big part in winning converts to Christianity. They have come in the form of bleeding paintings of the Virgin Mary, talking images, miracle-working icons and saint's bones and frescoes that have been scraped off the wall and mixed with water and oils poured through the coffins of dead saints and drunk as a medicine.
British historian Robin Cormack wrote in the New York Times, "What could better demonstrate Christ's life on earth than a picture that shared all his powers of healing? Who needed to listen to theological quibbling over the nature of Christ if an icon could speak a thousand words?" In the early church miracles were performed by saints while they were alive. Later on, beginning in medieval times, most miracles were attributed to saints and others after they died.
Famous Apparitions of Mary
Tia Ghose of Live Science wrote: “Our Lady of Guadalupe: In 1531 in the fields near Mexico City, a peasant named Juan Diego claimed to see an apparition of the Virgin Mary, who asked that a church be built in her honor. The Virgin also asked the man to gather flowers on a hillside, which he did and placed in his cloak. Afterwards, the cloak appeared to hold the imprint of the Virgin Mary. Though there have been a few scientific analyses of the so-called Our Lady of Guadalupe miracle over the years, no one has come to a definitive conclusion as to whether or how the image was painted, and if so, how it has been preserved so well. [Source: Tia Ghose, Live Science, July 9, 2013 /+/]
“Fatima: In 1917 in the fields near Fatima, Portugal, shepherd children said the Virgin Mary appeared to them in a vision, telling them a miracle would occur on Oct. 13 that year. Thousands came to witness the event. Around Noon on a rainy day, the sun appeared to turn into a spinning disk that spiraled toward the Earth. Newspaper reporters onsite also reported the event. The church added the miracle of the sun to its list of official miracles in 1930. Some skeptics, however, point out that the effect could have been a sundog, a patch of light that appears near the sun, or note that not everyone there that day saw the miracle. /+/
“In 1981 in the small town of Medjugorje in what is now Bosnia-Herzegovina, six children reported seeing apparitions of the Virgin Mary. For years they claimed to receive daily messages and so far have allegedly received thousands of prophecies. "One is a prediction that there are 10 secrets that will reveal the end of the world," said Michael O'Neill, who runs the website MiracleHunter.com. Though the Vatican has never officially weighed in, the site has attracted millions of pilgrims over the years. In 2010, the Vatican agreed to investigate this event and said its findings would be ready in 2013. /+/
“In 1968, people in the Zeitoun district of Cairo, Egypt, reported seeing an apparition of an illuminated woman walking on the roof of a Coptic church. Many considered this to be an apparition of the Virgin Mary. The event was reportedly seen by many onlookers and even captured in photographs. So far, no one has found evidence that those photos were manipulated. The head of the Coptic Church in Alexandria declared this a legitimate miracle. /+/
“In 1973, a statue in a little church in Akita, Japan, allegedly began to bleed soon after Sister Agnes Sasagawa at the church had an apparition of the Virgin Mary. The statue continued to cry, sweat and bleed for several years and was even captured on national television. The Sister Agnes, who was deaf prior to the apparition, also regained her hearing about a decade later.” /+/
Fátima, Portugal is one of the world's most famous Catholic pilgrimage spots, along with Lourdes in France and Guadalupe in Mexico. Honoring the Virgin Mary, it attracts millions of pilgrims each year, many of whom march on their knees for almost a kilometer across an asphalt mall that once covered a pasture where three young shepherds had a vision of the Virgin Mary in 1917. [Source: Jane Vessels, National Geographic, December 1980]
Some of the pilgrims wear knee pads; others carry children on their shoulders to increase the burden; and others still burst and into tears and wail with emotion as they pray. At the small chapel at the end of the mall, pilgrims can be seen wrapping their swollen ankles and bruised knees with bandages.
To honor the Virgin and the children, pilgrims burn life-size wax effigies of children and the Virgin Mary and light candles to commemorate the vision. On ordinary days people go to the chapel and melt wax legs, arms and other body parts in an effort to get miracle cures for the corresponding body parts.
Miracle of Fatima
The reported miracle of Fatima began in a quiet pasture on May 13, 1917, when three young shepherds — 10-year-old Lucia dos Santos and her cousins 9-year-old Francisco de Jesus Marto and 7-year-old Jacinta de Jesus Marto, from Aljustrel, a small hamlet near Fátima — looked up from a sand-castle-like stone house they were building and saw "the most beautiful lady they had ever seen...more brilliant than the sun" appear above a small oak tree. The lady told the children: "Recite the Rosary — a devotion to the Virgin — to bring peace to a world at war, and make sacrifices for sinners who have no one to pray for them." She promised the children to return on the 13th day of the next five months and then disappeared. [Source: Jane Vessels, National Geographic, December 1980]
Each month on 13th the lady appeared at the oak tree. Each time Lucia could see her, walk with her and talk to her, Jacinta could see her and Francisco could only hear her. During one of her visits, she showed the children a vision of Hell and warned against the perils of Communism. News of the vision attracted increasingly large crowds to Fatima for each scheduled vision. A "large number of people" showed up on July 13. Maybe 30,000 were there on August 13. On October 13, a crowd of 70,000 surrounded the shepherds, who saw the Virgin. She reappeared briefly and told the children to raise a chapel in her honor.
Describing the final vision, Lucia wrote: "The Lady said, 'I am the lady of the Rosary.’ And opening her hands, the Lady made them reflect on the sun, and while ascending her person reflected off the sun itself." No one but the children saw her put most people there reported that a bright light appeared and "the sun seemed to dance and whirl closer to earth." Three times the sun spun and danced and three times it stopped and then hurled towards the crowds, scaring them, before returning to its original place in the sky.
After the Miracle of Fatima
Later a chapel was built over the oak which was stripped for relics after the sightings. The peasant grassroots movement that developed after the sightings was at first viewed with skepticism by the government and the Catholic church. The Vatican generally tries to discourage miracle worship but later it recognized Fatima as well as Lourdes. Around 1,500 "miraculous cures" have occurred at Fatima, most of them before a medical investigation bureau was established at Fatima in the mid-1920s.
In the her second visit the children reported asked the Virgin if they could go to heaven. She reportedly told Jacinta and Francisco they would come "soon" but Lucia would come later so she could "establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart.” Jacinta and Francisco died of respiratory diseases during a worldwide influenza around two years after the miracle.
Lucia dos Santos entered a Catholic school in Porto five years after the sighting and entered became a nun, entering the Carmelite Order in 1928. She lived most of her life in seclusion as a nun and wrote an account that detailed the Virgin's request for prayers for the conversion of Russia. She died in 2005 after spending most of her life in seclusion at the Carmelite convent of Santa Teresa in Coimbraa, Portugal, where she had lived since 1948.
Each day the virgin appeared is honored with a pilgrimage. Of the six pilgrimage dates, May 13 is by the far the largest. It draws as many as 300,000 pilgrims, many of whom participate in a candlelight procession that precedes the Midnight Mass on the 13th.
Pope John Paul II attributed his recovery after the attempt on his life in 1981 to Our Lady of Fatima. The bullet that was lodged in the pope's stomach was placed in a golden set on the head of Virgin’s statue in Fatima by the Pope himself. The assassination itself was later revealed to be the “Third Secret of Fatima,” a carefully guarded secret that was kept hush for decades. The Virgin Mary reportedly showed the children an “angel with a flaming sword” and “a bishop clothed in white,” who the children said they believed was the “the holy father,” who “half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow” reached the foot of a cross and is “killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him.”
Lourdes (near Tarbes and reached by Toulouse or Biarritz) in southern France is the home of Grotto of Massabielle, where a famous Vatican-sanctioned miracle occurred in 1858. It is the most popular Roman Catholic pilgrimage destination in the world after St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.
Visited by around 5 million people a year and located in the foothills of the Pyrenees where the Gave de Pau River joins an old canal, the cave contains altars with statues of the Virgin Mary and walls lined with tiny crutches and blackened by the soot of millions of candles. Along a 60-meter path water from the grotto's miraculous spring is dispensed from small spigots.
Around the spring is sprawling park with chapels, hospices, infirmaries, libraries and auditoriums. The Basilica of St. Pius X is one of the world's largest churches. Completed in 1957 at a cost $5.6 million, it is a three-level neo-Byzantine church that is 200 meters long and has a capacity of 13,000 people. An additional underground basilica has room for 7,000 more.
The main draw, other than the spring-feed baths, are small cubicles where the sick, crippled and terminally ill immerse themselves in hopes of a miraculous cure. There are also two hospitals that care for but don't treat the sick.
Miracle of Lourdes
The original miracle at Lourdes occurred on February 11, 1858 when a 14-year-old illiterate peasant girl named Bernadette Soubirous, who was out collecting firewood with her sister and a friend, said she heard what sounded like a gust of wind and then saw a girl with a blue sash around her waist, a yellow rose on each foot and rosary beads on her arm, in the grotto while the other girls were on the other side of the canal.
Soubirous later said, "I lost all power of thought when, turning my head towards the grotto, I saw at one of the openings a rosebush, one only, moving as if it were very windy. Almost at the same time there came out of the interior of the grotto a golden cloud, and soon after a lady, young and beautiful, exceedingly beautiful, the like of whom I had never seen, came and placed herself at the entrance of the opening above the bush."
Soubirous said the "lady" was 16 or 17 and dressed in a white robe with a blue ribbon tied around the waist and bare feet adorned with two yellow roses. She said that she could feel the presence of the a lady, who momentarily froze the girl's body. When Soubirous told her sister and her friend what happened. They laughed at her and called her an "imbecile and a bigot."
Soubirous disobeyed her mother and even the chief of police in her town and returned to the grotto and had a total of 18 visions over the next five months. On the ninth visit the lady told the girl to "drink from the fountain and bath in it." The girl said that the virgin caused a spring to start flowing from the cave and later wished for pilgrimages to be made to a chapel built at the site now called the Grotto of Massabielle.
On her 12th visit, accompanied by 20,000 people, the lady revealed herself by telling Soubirous, "I am the Immaculate Conception...I do not promise to make you happy in this world but in the other." That year seven miraculous cures of the sick occurred at Lourdes. Soubirous spent the last 12 years of her life as a nun. She died in 1878 and was canonized as a saint in 1933 by Pope Pius XI..
Tourism and Miraculous Cures at Lourdes
In the spring and summer throngs of tourist and Catholic faithful come to the the Grotto of Massabielle at Lourdes to wash themselves in the water which many believe has miraculous curing powers. Candlelight processions are sometimes held in front of the Chateau of Lourdes which also houses the Pyrenean Museum.
About 20 percent of the visitors to Lourdes are people seeking a miraculous cure. Many people are very sick, enfeebled or dying. Many are in big blue armchairs on three wheels pulled by nuns and nurses. Most of these people wash in the sacred waters and worship in the basilica.
As of 1999, thousands of people said they had been cured at Lourdes but of these only 66 had been authenticated by the strict standards of the Catholic church, which include medical proof that the person was indeed sick before the miraculous cure and the symptoms disappeared within several hours and lasted for several years.
Among those cured were Mademoiselle Dulot, who was cured of stomach and liver cancer in 1925 and went from being unable to eat or take liquids to having a ravenous hunger; the 22-year-old Margerie Paulette, cured of tubercular meningitis in 1929; four-year-old Francis Pascal, cured of blindness and paralysis in 1938; and Guy Leydet, cured of idiocy and paralysis in 1946. When Rose Martin was cured of uterine cancer in 1947 she said she felt her organs moving around inside of her at the moment of her cure. In 1998, a man suffering from multiple sclerosis who was cured on 1987 was recorded as the 66th miracle at Lourdes.
Virgin of Guadalupe
The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe north of Mexico City houses a small shrine which commemorates the appearance of a bronze-skinned Virgin Mary — the Virgin of Guadalupe — to a poor Indian in 1531. The Virgin of Guadalupe is Mexico's patron saint. She was sighted many times before the Catholic Church finally recognized her. One Mexican man told the Washington Post, "It means as much to Mexicans as life itself. Guadalupe is the start of everything. Our people, our country, our liberty. All of the Christmas fiestas begin with this."
The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe (in the northeast suburb of Gustavo A. Madero) is the most venerated shrine in Mexico, and perhaps all of Latin America. In December 1531 the Virgin appeared three times in the form of an Indian princess before a poor Indian named Juan Diego and imprinted her image on his cloak. This vision was responsible for the conversion of large numbers of Indians in Mexico to Christianity.
To commemorate the event a large domed church was built in 1709 on top of a small hill where the event reportedly took place. The cloak has been set in silver and enclosed in the 27-ton silver railing in the middle of church's spectacular altar. And a chapel was built above a well that began spouting water after the virgin appeared. Scattered around the altar are thousands of metal arms, tiny crutches, images of the cloak and small plates offering thanks for miraculous cures, some of which date back to 1860, and other devotional offerings that have been left by believers, thanking the Virgin for her assistance.
The monument-lined avenue leading to the basilica is called the Calzada de los Misterios. Each year tens of thousands of pilgrims come to visit the shrine, many of them walking from their hometowns hundreds of kilometers to get there, and then kneeling and walking on their knees the last few hundred meters from a gateway of the church across a spacious courtyard to the entrance. Large processions are held on December 12th and midnight on December 11th.
The part of church was built on a slab of bedrock stands erect and proud; the eastern towers and adjoining chapel, situated on softer ground, sag to one side. There are seven other churches in the area and many of them list at funny angles. One was even made horizontal when one side of it was lifted over ten feet and then supported. Some residents of Mexico City say that the Mexican tourists in Italy never visit Pisa because "our own city is full of leaning towers." A new basilica has been built next to the old church, which was converted into a museum.
Miracle of the Virgin of Guadalupe
On the morning of December 9, 1531, a 57-year-old Aztec Indian woodcutter named Juan Diego was walking past the barren hill of Tepeyac, which once housed a temple honoring Tonantzin, mother of the Aztec gods. Suddenly he heard the songs of a melodious bird and a woman’s voice calling him. He couldn't see the source of the voice because of the morning mists. He began climbing the hill and saw a 16-year-old girl with beams of light emanating from her head.
The girl told Juan that she was the Virgin Mary and she wanted a shrine raised in her honor on the hill and for Juan to run as fast as he could to what is now Mexico City and inform the bishop. Juan did as he was told but the bishop didn’t believe him. Juan returned to the hill and told Mary what had happened and she told him to try again. The bishop still doubted Juan but this time he told Juan to ask the Virgin for some kind of sign. Juan related this to Mary who said she would give him a sign the following day.
That night Juan's uncle became seriously ill and Juan was unable to meet with Mary as he arranged. When it seemed that the uncle was on the verge of death Juan decided to try and find a priest to give his uncle his last rites. On the way to find a priest he encountered the Virgin Mary. She told him to gather flowers that had miraculously grown on the barren hill where the Aztec temple once stood and place them in his rough woolen cloak. She told him to take the cloak to the bishop but not open it until he was in the bishop's presence.
When Juan Diego met the bishop he opened his cloak. The flowers had disappeared and on it developed an image of the Virgin Mary like an image on a Polaroid picture. On the cloak, Mary was standing on a moon, one of the symbols of the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl, and her eyes reflected what she saw. At the same time Juan's uncle also saw the Virgin Mary and was immediately cured. The Virgin told him to tell the bishop that she wanted to called Sainted Virgin of Coatlaxopeuh. Coatlaxopeuh is another name for Earth Mother Tonantzin.
The bishop was convinced that a miracle had taken place, and the Virgin Mary had appeared, but when he heard the uncle's story he thought he said the "Sainted Virgin Mary of Guadalupe" and that is what he she has been called ever since."
After the Miracle of the Virgin of Guadalupe
The bishop authorized the construction of a small shrine to honor the apparition. Juan Diego lived in a hermitage next to the shrine for the last 17 years of his life, until his death in 1548. The shrine and Juan Diego's vision were responsible for the conversion of large numbers of Indians to Christianity, and a domed church was built in front of a small hill where the event reportedly took place. Juan Diego was beautified by Pope John II in 1990 on his second trip to Mexico.
In 1709, a domed church was built to house the shrine. Every year on the Virgin's feast day, thousands of pilgrims arrive by bus, by car, by bicycle and on foot to see the shrines. Many of them kneel and walk the last few hundred meters on bloodied knees while singing and chanting. They end their pilgrimage by crowding into the basilica which holds 12,000 people.
In 1996, eight people died and 15 were injured during the pilgrimage to shrine. One 60-year-old Mexican who had come from the United States died of a heart attack just three blocks short of the basilica; a 12-year-old boy on a bicycle was hit by a bus near the shrine; and six other pilgrims died when their bus collided with another bus. A total of 6 million people visited the shrine in 1996 during a four week period beginning December 12.
Mexico’s Virgin of the Metro
On June 1, 1997, the 15-year-old daughter of a subway janitor working at the Hidalgo subway station in Mexico City discovered a tile bearing an image of what she believed was the Virgin Mary. Soon word got out that a miracle had taken place and hordes of Mexicans descended on the already busy subway station to pay their respects and say prayers and make offerings to the 12-inch image, a stain in the tile created by leaking water that looked like postcard pictures of the Virgin of Guadalupe.
When the image was first notice newspapers ran headlines that screamed, "Metro Miracle" and "Curiosity and Fervor in the Metro." The Catholic Church did not recognize the image as a true miracle but it did say it was pleased about the interest in religion that it generated. [Source: Molly Moore, Washington Post, June 9, 1997]
The image became so popular that 25 guards were called into to keep order. Pilgrims were allowed to spend a minute in front of the image and then had to move. About 30 pilgrims a minute visited these site on weekdays, 50 a minute on the weekends. Visitors touched the image, kissed it, and left flowers, coins and candles.
After seeing the image one tearful 76-year-old believer fell to her knees and cried, "This is nothing less than a miracle. It's a sign by the Virgin of Guadalupe to show us her love in rough times." An elementary schoolteacher insisted, "It's not just water, it's real. I touched her. I felt her. She didn't wipe away."
To relieve the congestion $3,800 was raised by government and private donations to move the tile outside to a street corner near the subway station. Mariachi bands played during the inauguration ceremony and people shouted, "Long live the Virgin! Long live Christ the king!" The tile was treated with silicon and placed in a glass case to prevent the image from disappearing when it dried out, a fate that befell a virgin image discovered on a tile in southern Mexico City 20 years earlier.
Apparitions at Marpingen, Germany
Stanford historian James Sheehan wrote in the New York Times: "On July, 13, 1876, a company of heavily armed infantry was dispatched to Marpingen, a village nestled in hilly country on Germany's western border. It was not sent to combat foreign invader or social revolutionaries, but to disperse a group of pilgrims who had gathered to pray at the site where the Virgin Mary was believed to have recently appeared... [Source: "Apparitions of the Virgin Mary in the Nineteenth Century Germany" by David Blackbourn, Alfred Knopf]
"The first apparition occurred on July 3, when three 8-year-old girls, returning to the village from picking berries, saw—or thought they saw, or said they saw—a figure in white, whom they identified as the Virgin Mary." At first family members and villagers were skeptical, but later were several more appearance and woman in the vision identified herself as "the Immaculately Conceived."
“Before long the word got out and pilgrims from all over Germany were converging on Marpingen. realizing the commercial potential of the event, an innkeeper telegraphed his supplier for 150 gallons of beer, "Marian miracle in Marpingen. Enormous pilgrimage. Send several hecto [liters]...immediately."
“In an attempt to find out what was really going the German government sealed off Marpingen and sent in police agents disguised as an Irish journalist because the Protestant German government was currently locked in cultural war with the Catholic Church over their influence on the German people. The three children who had the visions were taken to an orphanage and interrogated and several villagers, including a parish priest, were arrested for fraud. A government report dismissed the apparitions as the result of female hysteria, peasant superstitions and possibly a French conspiracy. Many pilgrims still visit Marpingen and there was another set of apparitions in the 1950s.
Crying Statues of the Virgin Mary
Reports of statues of the Virgin Mary shedding tears, perfumed oils and blood have been reported in Ireland, Japan, Belgium, Zaire, Korea, Vietnam, Italy, the United States, Mexico and other places. Her statues have inexplicably wobbled and the Virgin Mary has been photographed in the sky and miraculously appear on windows and sidewalks. In September 1995, there were reports of the Hindu god Ganesh drinking milk in Calcutta and Jersey City within hours of each other. Not long after there reports of Virgin Mary statues drinking milk in Cheshire, England and Kuala Lumpur.
On February 2, 1995 a plaster statue of the Virgin Mary from Medjurgorhe, Bosnia reportedly began shedding tears of blood in the small Italian town of Pantano, near the port of Civitavecchia in southern Italy. The first person to see it was Jessica, the five-year-old daughter of a state employed electrician named Fabio Gregory. The girl told her father, "Daddy the Madonna is crying!" When Fabio touched the tears he said he felt "a great blast of fire from head to toe." [Source: Marina Werner, the New Yorker, April 8, 1996]
Later that day he told the priest and within 48 hours a mass of people had descended on Pantano. Over the next month and a half at least 50 witnesses claimed they saw the 16-inch high statue shed red tears. After that more people showed up and the mayor ordered portable toilets and had benches built in anticipation of his town becoming a major tourist attraction.
Authorities ordered an investigation and had samples of blood from the statue tested for hormones, vaccines and other things to determine the sex and age of blood's owner. Preliminary tests indicated that the blood shed by the virgin belonged to a male who had been vaccinated.
Some skeptics believe the statue contained blood-filled syringe that was activated with a battery triggered by a remote control device. By the time authorities came to examine the statue, it had been replaced with a similar statue (there are thousand if not millions of 19-inch-high Madonna statues from Medjurgorhe, Bosnia scattered around the world).
Bosnia’s Virgin of Medjugorje
In 1981, six children in Medjugorje, Croatia reported had daily visits from the Virgin Mary. The apparitions were never authenticated by the Catholic Church. Even so, as of 2000, more than 20 million pilgrims had visited Medjugorje. When Ivan Dragucevic, one of the grown-up children, spoke at churches in the United States, he drew huge crowds.
Tia Ghose of Live Science wrote: In 1981 in the small town of Medjugorje in what is now Bosnia-Herzegovina, six children reported seeing apparitions of the Virgin Mary. For years they claimed to receive daily messages and so far have allegedly received thousands of prophecies. "One is a prediction that there are 10 secrets that will reveal the end of the world," said Michael O'Neill, who runs the website MiracleHunter.com. Though the Vatican has never officially weighed in, the site has attracted millions of pilgrims over the years. In 2010, the Vatican agreed to investigate this event and said its findings would be ready in 2013. [Source: Tia Ghose, Live Science, July 9, 2013 /+/]
Medjurgorhe is a small town of 250 families in a Croatian enclave of Bosnia. The apparitions of the Virgin Mary there that have been not been recognized by the Catholic church. Even so Medjugorje became a major tourist sight. Criticizing the commercialism there, an Australian pilgrim said, "I didn't come here to buy a T shirt. I came here for the Holy Mother."
Medjurgorhe is now one of the most visited Catholic shrines in the world. An estimated 25 million pilgrims have visited the site. For a while a “White Lady” reportedly appeared to the former children everyday at certain times and told them to pray for the sons of the world to avert catastrophe. Croatians are Catholic and Serbs and Bosnians live nearby. One guide in Medjurgorhe told Newsweek, "The Serbs! They breed like rabbits. You see where Mary appeared? On our side of the mountain, the Croatian side. The Serbs don't see her."
Image Sources: Wikimedia, Commons except Mexico Metro pic, CNN
Text Sources: Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Christian Origins sourcebooks.fordham.edu “World Religions” edited by Geoffrey Parrinder (Facts on File Publications, New York); “ Encyclopedia of the World’s Religions” edited by R.C. Zaehner (Barnes & Noble Books, 1959); King James Version of the Bible, gutenberg.org; New International Version (NIV) of The Bible, biblegateway.com; “ Metropolitan Museum of Art metmuseum.org, Frontline, PBS, “Encyclopedia of the World Cultures” edited by David Levinson (G.K. Hall & Company, New York, 1994); National Geographic, BBC, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Smithsonian magazine, Times of London, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Lonely Planet Guides, Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.
Last updated September 2018