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Apparitions of the Virgin Mary Mystery

Marian apparition

For two centuries, cases of apparitions of the Virgin Mary, as saving figure and prophetess, multiply. For believers, these Marian appearances are a miracle; for skeptics, a quackery.

What is a Marian apparition ?

The Virgin Mary would come into contact with a person to give her prophecies, send her words of comfort, warnings and sometimes even apocalyptic predictions. Those to whom she would have appeared must not divulge the messages which they receive. In general, these are prayers or secret messages that the recipient will not be able to communicate until shortly before his death or that he will have to take to the grave.

The witnesses to a Marian apparition are generally believers, and often children. They see the Virgin Mary and hear her. Sometimes she appears surrounded by scents of roses, music or a dazzling glow. The other people present at the time of the appearance generally perceive less things than the person concerned: they see only a light or a general silhouette.

The most famous appearances are those where mother Mary, after announcing herself, returns several times to the same place. Often these places become pilgrimage sites where rich churches are erected.

Doubts

Since 1830, stories relating to the apparitions of Mary have multiplied. In addition, the Virgin would no longer deal only with religious questions, but would warn the people to whom she appeared against certain political developments, promising her help to those who had faith. It is in France, where the Revolution of 1789 led to a real decline in faith, that these appearances are most numerous. In general, the apparitions of the Virgin are all the more frequent as the time is turbulent and “unbelieving”.

This is why skeptics take these apparitions for a simple charlatanry, organized perhaps even by the Church. They are comforted in their opinion by the fact that Mary does not appear to the people to whom she wants to address, but uses as intermediaries simple people or children: people easily influenced and easier to fool. Skeptics and scientists, convinced that these appearances are only illusions, do not however bring irrefutable proof supporting their theory. For most believers, the Marian apparitions are miracles, but the Church leaves her faithful free to add faith or to question them.

The position of the Church

Like all supernatural phenomena, the apparitions of the Virgin are generally subjected to an examination on the part of the Church, which entrusts to a bishop or to another authority the task of verifying their authenticity.

Three levels of appreciation are provided:

The first two evaluations are final, the third is likely to be called into question by new discoveries. In many cases, the apparitions of the Virgin have been disputed by the Church. Those of Lourdes, Fatima and Guadalupe have however been confirmed.

On the other hand, those of Medjugorje in Croatia and Sievernich in Germany, during which the Virgin Mary appeared to a woman every first or second Monday of the month as to encourage prayer, repentance, peace, love of neighbor and fidelity to the pope, have not yet been recognized by the Church.