Mother of the World

Mother of the World (Rwanda)

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

In the African country of Rwanda, in the town of Kibeho, seven young people experienced a set of apparitions of the Virgin Mary in which she called herself the Mother of the World. The apparitions began in November 1981 in three separate locations. Three of the visionaries, Alphonsine Mumureke, Anathalie Mukamazimpaka, and Marie Claire Mukangango, lived at a Catholic boarding school. Three were Catholics who lived in the countryside. The seventh, named Sagstashe, was not a Christian. He began to receive visits from the Virgin, converted, and took the name Emmanuel. Among the early messages given to him was a warning to prepare for final judgment.

The first apparition was initiated over the noon lunch hour in the school’s dining hall on November 28. Alphonsine heard a voice calling to her. Going into the corridor outside the dining hall, she saw a beautiful woman in a white dress with her hands clasped together over her breast and her fingers pointing upward. She describedherself as the Mother of the World. The two other girls began to see the Virgin early in 1982. As they were joined by the four visionaries who did not live at the school, people began to gather in support of their visions.

For six of the seven visionaries, the messages continued to be received through 1983. Alphonsine, however, continued to receive messages each November 28 through 1989. After an examination by the local bishop, initial approval to them was given in 1988.

Rwanda was, of course, shaken by the genocidal war of 1994–1995, which many survivors saw as proof of the accuracy of the apocalyptic aspect of the messages. During this period, Alphonsine and Emmanuel were both killed, though the remaining five visionaries are still alive. To date, no shrine has developed at the site in Kibeho where most of the apparitions were seen and the messages received. In 1997 the Vatican gave an initial assessment that the visions were authentic.

In keeping with many apparitions, those at Kibeho also advocated a particular form of devotion, in this case the use of a chaplet, a string of fifty prayer beads (similar to the rosary, which has 150 beads). In particular, the apparitions called attention to the Chaplet of the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady, a medieval prayer cycle that emphasized the experiences that brought Mary sadness in her earthly sojourn.

Sources:

Brown, Michael H. The Day Will Come. Ann Arbor, MI: Servant Publications, 1996.
Connell, Janice T. Meetings with Mary. New York: Ballantine Books, 1995.
Lindsey, David Michael. The Woman and the Dragon: Apparitions of Mary. Gretna, LA: Pelican Publishing Company Inc., 2000.
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