News from Rwanda
Several years before he became Pope Benedict XVI, as the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had personally approved the Declaration on the Definitive Judgment on the Apparitions of Kibeho. Thus, on 28 June, 2001, by accepting the Pastoral Letter of Rwandan Bishop Augustine Misago, Vatican officially recognized the Apparition of Our Lady in Kibeho. Actually, the Rwandan story started at approximately the same time as that in the greatest shrine in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Međugorje, in 1981.
I will not speak about something that has become a general place for every true believer in Africa. I will not state chronologically all that Our Lady told her visionaries – Alphonsine, Anathalie and Marie-Claire. Maybe it would not be a bad thing to remind only of the last Lady's appearance, which happened exactly eight years after Alphonsine Mumreke heard Our Lady's voice in the dining room of the school for nuns for the first time - on 28 November, 1989.
The event was witnessed by 10,000 pilgrims, and the apparition was observed by doctors and the Bishop's Commission. During appearance, Alphonsine was going through dramatic moments of the forecast future. She had a small bottle of holy water in her hand, by which she sprinkled gathered people and invited them to pray devoutly. The last Virgin Mary's appearance lasted about an hour and a half. Throughout that time, she uttered painful cries and sprinkled holy water on present people. During the appearance, Alphonsine was standing in rain that rained buckets.
After the appearance, an unexplainable surprise followed. Namely, doctors and members of the Bishop's Commission ascertained that Alphonsine's hair, face, in fact, her whole body and all the clothes on her were - completely dry!
In the Catholic Church, the month of May is the month of the Blessed Virgin Mary. On the last day in May, we make the pilgrimage to visit the Blessed Virgin Mary in – Kibeho. You are probably familiar that, by the religious orientation, Rwanda is the most Catholic country in Africa. Then you can imagine how large and attended the procession to Kibeho is on that day. There were several thousands of believers, over 500 priests, monks and nuns, all the bishops and an apostolic nuncio that gathered in pleas and songs.
The holy mass started at 9 a.m. and ended at 5 p.m.! And it lasted just as long as the most upsetting apparition that the visionaries had on the Assumption in 1982 before 20,000 pilgrims.
They were thus standing in rapture with eyes aimed at the sky. After they had seen Our Lady crying, they started to shiver, shake and their teeth began to chatter. In their faces, fear and pain could be seen. The same scene repeated hour after hour. The visionaries were shaking and painfully recurving, and then they fell on the floor as if they were stricken dead. And they remained lying on the floor motionless for a while. Then they got up again, shivered, trembled, broke down, fell, got up...
After over eight hours spent in ecstasy, the visionaries calmed down and described to the worried pilgrims that they saw horrible visions of massacre and violence during appearance of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They saw a river flowing red with human blood. They saw people killing each other, mutilated bodies lying all around, hundreds of headless and mangled bodies floating on the bloody river...
Unfortunately, at the time, almost nobody had taken seriously Our Lady's messages, that became true 12 years later...