She appeared in Kibeho, and about a decade after her appearances, the words of Our Lady were sadly fulfilled.
In Kibeho, Rwanda, in 1981, a 16-year-old schoolgirl, Alphonsine Mumureke, heard a heavenly voice calling out to her. She then saw a beautiful woman, who said, “I am the Mother of the Word.” This first apparition occurred in the school cafeteria, and Mumureke later recounted her experience.
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 that I was in the dining room. My classmates told me that I was speaking in several languages: French, English, Kinyarwanda, etc.
Similar apparitions were recorded by two other school girls, Nathalie Mukamazimpaka and Marie Claire Mukangango.
The primary message of Our Lady was that of mercy and repentance, revealing herself as “Our Lady of Sorrows.” She especially exhorted the visionaries to pray the Chaplet of the Seven Sorrows.
A short guide to praying the Chaplet of the Seven Sorrows of Mary
Yet, the most remarkable aspect of the visions was a prophetic message that would later prove true. On August 19, 1982, the visionaries witnessed “a river of blood, people who were killing each other, abandoned corpses with no one to bury them, a tree all in flames, bodies without their heads.”
The Lady warned the visionaries that if the people did not repent of their sins, that what they saw would take place. Sadly, in 1994, between 500,000 and one million people were slaughtered in Rwanda. The nearby river soon became a “river of blood” as the bodies of the dead were thrown into it.
Even more alarming was Our Lady’s message to Marie Clare, explaining how her message was not reserved for Rwanda, but the whole world.
When I show myself to someone and talk to them, I want to turn to the whole world. If am turning to a parish of Kibeho, it does not mean that I am concerned only for Kibeho or for the Diocese of Butare or for Rwanda, or for the whole of Africa. I am concerned with and turning to the whole world. The world is evil and rushes towards its ruin. It is about to fall in its abyss. The world is in rebellion against God. Many sins are being committed. There is no love and no peace. If you do not repent and convert your hearts, you will all fall into an abyss.
Many other “visionaries” at the time claimed miraculous messages, but later on the local bishop declared only the initial three visionaries as “authentic,” including the visions of the Rwandan genocide.
In 2001 the Vatican released the report of the bishop, declaring it “worthy of belief.” As with all apparitions of Our Lady, these apparitions are known as “private revelations” and do not require the belief of the faithful.
As in Fatima, the Lady urges us to repent and believe in the Gospel, a central teaching of Jesus that remains constant no matter what is happening in the world.
These apparitions were officially approved by the Holy See as “worthy of belief”
This map illustrates 500 years of Mary’s apparitions