Our Lady of Kibeho


Our Lady of Kibeho is the name given to Marian apparitions concerning several adolescents, in the 1980s in Kibeho, south-western Rwanda. The apparitions communicated various messages to the schoolchildren, including an apocalyptic vision of Rwanda descending into violence and hatred, possibly foretelling the 1994 Rwandan Genocide.[1]
In 2001, the local bishop of the Catholic Church officially recognised the visions of three schoolchildren as authentic.[2]
Kibeho is a small site located in the southern part of Rwanda. The Kibeho apparitions began on Nov. 28, 1981, at a time of increasing tension between the Tutsis and the Hutus. They occurred at Kibeho College, a secondary school for girls,[3] and included an apocalyptic vision of Rwanda descending into violence and hatred which many believe foretold the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The Virgin Mary appeared to the group with the name “Nyina wa Jambo” (“Mother of the Word”) synonymous with “Umubyeyi W’Imana” (“Mother of God”).[4] The teenage visionaries reported that the Virgin Mary asked everyone to pray to prevent a terrible war. In the vision of Aug. 19, 1982, they all reported seeing violence, dismembered corpses and destruction.[5]
The longest series of visions were attributed to Alphonsine Mumureke who received the first vision on November 28, 1981 and the last on November 28, 1989, shortly after she had been admitted to the Kibeho High School in October, 1981, immediately after her primary studies. Nathalie Mukamazimpaka’s visions began in January 1982 and ended on 3 December 1983. In her apparitions, Our Lady of Kibeho recommended that people pray the Chaplet of the Seven Sorrows to obtain the favor of repentance.[6] Marie Claire Mukangango had visions for six months, lasting from 2 March 1982 until 15 September 1982. She was later killed in the massacre of 1995 at the same location.[5]
During his 1990 visit to Rwanda, Pope John Paul II exhorted the faithful to turn to the Virgin as a “simple and sure guide” and to pray for greater commitment against local divisions, both political and ethnic.[5]
In the 100 days that followed the April 1994 assassination of dictator Juvénal Habyarimana, by most accounts, 800,000 Rwandans, by some accounts, over one million, were slaughtered by their countrymen and, in some cases, their next-door-neighbors. The violence was the culmination of intensifying animosity between the two ethnic groups – the Hutus and Tutsis – and the civil war that had preceded it.[7] Twice, Kibeho was the site of a massive massacre, first at the parish church in April 1994, and then a year later in April 1995 where more than 5,000 refugees who had taken shelter at Kibeho were shot by soldiers.[8]

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