While hanging on the Cross and obtaining our salvation, our gracious Lord made the effort to turn our attention toward His Mother. In addition, He instructed her to behold His disciples as her own sons and daughters. While He is her first born, all of mankind is her second born. Christ commanded the fostering of this relationship from the Cross because there is a tie within it to the graces of salvation. As always, Mary was obedient to her Son. Viewing all of humanity as her beloved children, the Blessed Virgin is a perfect mother. She loves, supports, and encourages her children, respecting their free will, but also beckoning them towards all that is good, true, and beautiful: namely, her Son.
Approved Marian Apparitions throughout the World
Throughout Church history, numerous reports of Mary’s appearance under miraculous circumstances have been made. These claims are never taken lightly by the Church and are scrutinized under heavy investigation. Only twenty-six have been given approval by Church hierarchy, and a distinct pattern can be seen in each of the appearances. Mary always lovingly assures us of her love and care for us, and beckons us towards repentance and greater communion with Jesus. Often she requests the building of a church to be built upon that location, while also imploring an increase in prayer, fasting, and sacrifice.
No matter the time or place of the apparition, Mary’s message is universal—a truth made abundantly more clear by the fact that she has appeared to people throughout the centuries and all around the globe!
In all of Africa, only one apparition has been granted approval by the Holy See; the appearance of Our Lady of Kibeho who referred to herself as “Mother of the Word.”
Our Lady of Kibeho
On November 28th, 1981, Our Lady appeared to sixteen year old Alphonsine Mumureke outside the Catholic high school she attended in Kibeho, Rwanda. With great faith, Alphonsine immediately knew the heavenly identity of the beautiful woman and listened attentively. Mary’s message was a request for repentance and conversion in order to avoid a coming war, but no one believed Alphonsine’s claims. As a sub-par student from a murky region with ties to the practice of magic, many believed it an attempt to garnish personal attention. Humbly, Alphonsine requested that Our Lady would appear to other students in order to make her message more widely accepted. Mary responded affirmatively.
On January 12th, 1982, thirteen year old Nathalie Mukamazimpaka witnessed an apparition of Mary in the same vicinity as Alphonsine. To her, Mary echoed the call for redemptive suffering and unceasing prayer. Then, on March 2nd, 1982, Marie Claire Mukangango–a fellow student who had been staunchly unbelieving–was also granted an apparition. Through her, Mary called for more repentance and emphasized devotion to the Rosary and the Seven Sorrows of Mary.
Our Lady of Kibeho appeared to the three girls multiple times, with Alphonsine’s visions being the most numerous and lasting until November 28th, 1989. All three girls reported seeing visions of the impending destruction and violence that could be prevented by mass repentance. In 1994, Rwanda fell into civil war and nearly a million people lost their lives to the Rwandian Genocide.
After a thorough investigation, Bishop Augustin Misago of Gikongoro approved the apparitions on June 29th, 2001.
Like Africa, Asia has only one approved Marian apparition. Of all the apparitions supported by the bishops, Our Lady of Akita is the only one in which Mary appears in a non-traditional way.
Our Lady of Akita
In 1973, over the course of four months, Our Lady appeared three times to a middle-aged Buddhist convert who was completing her novitiate with the Institute of the Handmaids of the Holy Eucharist. Though completely deaf, Sister Agnes Sasagawa heard the Virgin Mary speak and was healed. Mary instructed that the inclusion of the word, “truly” be added to a Eucharistic prayer that had been penned by the current bishop. She emphasized obedience and the practice of praying for the Pope, bishops and priests. She warned of a great chastisement and reminded of the Second Coming.
A unique aspect to this apparition is that Mary spoke to Sister Agnes via a wooden statue of herself. This statue reportedly bled, wept (101 times over the course of eight years), and perspired in congruence with her messages. The sculptor also declared that the expression on Mary’s face post-apparition was not the same as the one he had originally fashioned.
After eleven years of investigation, the apparition of Our Lady of Akita was approved by Most Revered John Shojiro Ito, Bishop of Niigata on April 22nd, 1984.
Of all the continents, Europe has the most approved apparitions by both local bishops and the Holy See. Eighteen in total, this is likely due to proximity. Since these apparitions take place over the course of many centuries, and the ease of modern travel and communication has not always been available, it is logical to see how these countries were able to more easily communicate with the Vatican than those scattered throughout the globe. Thus, some of the most popular Marian devotions have arisen from these countries (Our Lady of Fatima, Our Lady of Lourdes, Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, etc.).
Due to their widespread popularity, lesser known apparitions from the continent are highlighted below.
Our Lady of the Golden Heart
At the end of November 1932, Our Lady appeared various times to two sets of siblings in Beauraing, Belgium asking for the conversion of sinners. Over the course of thirty-five days, siblings Fernande, Gilberte, and Albert Voisin, along with their friends Andree and Gilberte Degeimbre reported that she, dressed all in white and claiming to be the Immaculate Conception, appeared to them a total of thirty-three times. In one of her last visits to the children, she revealed to them her heart, which was golden in color.
Sixteen years later, Andre Marie Charue, Bishop of Namur, finished the evaluation process and officially approved the apparition on July 2nd, 1949.
Our Lady of Siluva
The first widely-known apparition in Europe took place in this small Lithuanian village. As a result of the Protestant Reformation, the people of Siluva slowly succumbed to Calvinist belief and abandoned their Catholic Faith. Weeping profusely and holding her infant Son, Mary appeared to four children who were playing and watching over their family flocks. Donned in white and blue, her brown hair loose and flowing, she said nothing to the children. She only turned to them in her great sorrow.
The children were chastised by some for their tale, but their persistence and unwillingness to abandon their story eventually won over the people. The entire village returned to their Catholic Faith.
This apparition was approved by Pope Pius VI on Aug 17th, 1775 (a couple of centuries later).
Our Lady of Lezajsk
In 1578, a Polish woodcutter, Thomas Michalek, received two visions of the Blessed Virgin while he was working in the forest. During her first visit, Our Lady requested a church be built at the site to honor her Son and promised to pour out graces to those who visited faithfully. Mary returned a second time because Thomas told no one of her first visit. At her persistence, Thomas obeyed.
A little over a century later, the apparition was officially approved by both the local bishop (Henryk Firlej, Bishop of Przemysl on July 2nd, 1724) and the Vatican (Pope Benedict XIV on September 8th, 1752).
In North America
Our Lady of Guadalupe
One of the most popular Marian apparitions took place in Guadalupe, Mexico when Our Lady appeared to Juan Diego on Mount Tepeyacac dressed as an Aztec princess. She requested the construction of a church at the site, which was granted after her provision of a miracle.
One of the most important aspects of this apparition was the immense healing it brought to the region. The brutality of the Spanish Conquistadors had left deep wounds among the natives. Most rejected the Catholic religion which had been forced upon them. However, after this apparition in which she appeared dressed as one of them, millions of people converted with their whole hearts. Over the course of ten years, nine million people in total became Catholic which transformed the entire culture of Mexico.
Twenty-four years after the appearance, Archbishop Alonso de Montúfar gave his official approval of this miraculous appearance of Mary.
Our Lady of Good Help
Just four years after the appearance of the Immaculate Conception in Lourdes, France, Our Lady appeared to a Belgium immigrant to the United States in October of 1859 a total of three times. Referring to herself as “Queen of Heaven,” she instructed Adele Brise to evangelize and catechize the children in the surrounding areas of (modern day) Champion, Wisconsin—still somewhat unsettled—that they would know what was necessary for their own salvation. Though the task seemed daunting, Mary assured Adele, “Go and fear nothing. I will help you.” Adele obeyed, traveling on foot a radius of fifty miles regularly to accomplish this task. Her father built a chapel over the site, which remains as the national shrine.
This apparition was recently granted episcopal approval on December 8th, 2010 by Bishop David L. Ricken of Green Bay, Wisconsin.
In Central America
The only approved Marian apparition took place in Nicaragua in 1980.
Our Lady of Cuapa
Forty years ago, Our Lady illuminated light from a statue as a sacristan, Bernardo Martinez, worked alone within his parish. This experience moved him to personal conversion as he examined his conscience. He made a public apology for divisions he had caused among the people in his small village of 5,000. Mary then appeared to Bernardo a handful of times after this.
First, while fishing and praying the Rosary, Bernardo witnessed flashes of lightning before the Blessed Virgin appeared on a white cloud, affirming that she was the mother of Jesus. A second time, while dreaming, he saw different groups of people in stages of holiness, either in Heaven or moving towards it, all of whom were holding rosaries. Another time, Our Lady appeared as a seven-year-old child. At each appearance, her message was the same. She desired the prayerful, deliberate repetition of the Rosary in order to bring about personal conversion and stop destruction within the world. The fourth time she appeared, she wept because of the staunch, unmoved hearts of the people who would not believe Bernardo. She told him that she would appear no more, but to be assured that she is always with us and to never be troubled.
Only two years later this apparition was approved by Bishop Pablo Antonio Vega Mantilla of Juigalpa, as well as Bishop Bosco M. Vivas Robelo, Auxiliary Bishop and Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Managua.
In South America
Our Lady of Good Success
Venerable Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres witnessed multiple heavenly visitors and was a recipient of the stigmata in addition to her reception of Our Lady of Good Success. Over the course of forty years, Our Lady appeared to Mother Mariana a total of four times. On her first visit (February 2nd, 1594), she appeared with comfort and assurance for the abbess who was imploring heavenly assistance for the state of her convent, as well as the world. The Blessed Virgin spoke of being the Queen of Victories, her eloquence planting trust in heart, and insisted she would see the sisters through every difficulty they faced.
Throughout the decades, she prophesied of many things to come, including the declaration of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, local events in Ecuador like the election and martyrdom of a truly Christian president, and a decline of faith among the people around the world including priests and religious. Often she appeared holding the infant Jesus whom she would place in Mother Mariana’s arms to adore.
This apparition was approved on February 2nd, 1611 by Bishop Salvador de Riber before the final appearance occurred on December 8th, 1634.
Reconciler of People and Nations
On the feast of the Annunciation in 1976, Our Lady appeared to Maria Esperanza, a mother of seven, in Betania, Venezuela. The property had been prayerfully purchased by Maria and her family as she had been promised by God that great things would come to pass on the land. In this visit, Our Lady revealed her desire to be known as “Reconciler of People and Nations,” that people would be drawn to conversion and reconciliation to God through her. The site immediately became a place of devotion, and numerous people testified to miraculous things occurring (heavenly singing, throngs of flowers springing forth, and movements of the sun to name a few). However, Maria remained the only visionary. Then, on that same date in 1984, a group apparition occurred in which over 108 people clearly saw the Virgin Mary at the site.
After three years of interviews and investigation, Bishop Pio Bello Ricardo approved the apparitions on November 21st, 1987. The final apparition occurred in 1990.
Our Lady of the Rosary
Of all the Marian Apparitions, there is only one-approved apparition that is ongoing and taking place to this day. Beginning on September 25th, 1983 in San Nicolas, Argentina, Our Lady appeared to Gladys Quiroga de Motta, a middle-aged woman with almost no formal education, thousands of times. Dressed in blue and holding the infant Jesus, Our Lady called for the conversion of sinners and the prayerful recitation of the Rosary. She often gave Gladys Scripture passages with which to pray, and warned of impending world dangers should conversion be rejected. She implored the faithful to remember that these are “Advent times,” and the Second Coming is fast approaching.
Though ongoing, the bishops serving over the decades could not deny the fruits born of these supposed apparitions. After thorough investigation, Bishop Hector Cardelli of San Nicolas declared that the apparitions are “supernatural” and “worthy of belief” in 2016.
From “Eva” to “Ave” // Mother of All the Living
In the original Hebrew, Adam names Woman, “Eva” as she is the “mother of all the living.” In many ways our faith assures us that Mary is “New Eve,” the supernatural mother of all the living. These apparitions of Our Lady around the globe and throughout the centuries are no exception. Her message—no matter the time or place—is the same for all her children: personal conversion. Though sin came into the world through Eva, Mary’s love and faithfulness allows for great transformation and conversion. With the sin of “Eva” amended, we find eternal life and sing forever, “Ave” in gratitude to Our Redeemer and His Mother.
What are some of your favorite approved Marian apparitions from around the world? Let us know in the comments below!