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Marian Apparitions

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The Blessed Virgin

Marian Apparitions

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True apparitions, although rare, may be traced back even to Scripture. Both the Old & New Testaments contain accounts of angelic apparitions. In the New Testament, the Apostles (Peter, James & John) saw Moses and Elijah at the Transfiguration. We know that St. Paul also conversed directly with Christ after His Ascension. Since then, various apparitions of angels, saints, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and even Christ Himself have been reported. 

While it is true that most alleged apparitions are not approved by the Church, there are a number which have received the Church's approval - including a number of apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In fact, "the first Marian apparition" - as witnessed by St. James the Greater - may be traced all the way back to 40 A.D. More recently, a number Marian apparitions have occurred in which the Blessed Virgin made accurate productions and left indisputable proof of their authenticity (including miraculous images, healings, solar phenomena, etc.).

Perhaps the biggest difficulty with apparitions is determining whether or not they are truly of the supernatural - and not a figment of a "seer's" imagination or a "diabolical deception". To assist in this matter, the Church may employ a rigorous investigative process and advise the faithful whether or not a reported apparition is "worthy of belief". Even with this process, however, the Church does not guarantee that any apparition is genuine or require belief in any apparition. 

With regard to apparitions, the following should be kept in mind:

  • Most alleged apparitions are false.

  • There have been a "countless number" (many thousands) of reported apparitions. Very few receive recognition from the Bishop.

  • Apparitions may not add to the deposit of the faith, which was completed with the apostles. [Error CONDEMNED by Pope St. Pius X in "Lamentabili": "Revelation, constituting the object of Catholic faith, was not completed with the apostles." (Pope St. Pius X, This proposition was condemned in "Lamentabili", 1907 A.D.)]

  • No one is bound to believe that any particular apparition is true, even if the Church has ruled it "worthy of belief". 

  • The Church may rule that an apparition is "worthy of belief", but does not guarantee that the apparition is true.

  • Alleged apparitions may be more likely to be false than true. In fact, it is generally safer not to believe that an alleged apparition is true. The faithful are called to be prudent about belief in apparitions. Misplaced belief in false apparitions may be dangerous.

  • It is not sinful to disbelieve in an apparition (however, if the Church has ruled it "worthy of belief", one must at least be respectful of it). Also, it would be imprudent to disregard a true message from heaven that has received the Church's approval.

  • The Church is the ultimate authority to determine whether an apparition is "worthy of belief". It is wrong to go against the Church's official rulings concerning apparitions. The faithful should reject apparitions that the Church deems unworthy of belief.

  • Many apparitions never receive a decision from the Church. Of the remainder, most are given a negative decision.

  • Information from apparitions is not required for salvation. The Church already has all that is required for salvation. [In fact, it should be noted that some alleged apparitions may actually serve as a distraction from what is required for salvation.]

  • Persons should not propagate / promote unapproved apparitions (including "reading, publishing, possessing, translating, and distributing literature which treat of unapproved apparitions").

  • Acceptance of an apparition by a bishop does not mean the apparition has the full acceptance of the Church. Also, there may be different levels of approval (e.g. "worthy of belief", "not contrary to the Faith").

  • Apparitions require careful discernment. Apparitions that engender disobedience are highly suspect as are those whose "messengers" are untrustworthy / prideful / vain / hostile / attention-seeking / etc. Scripture tells us that unfulfilled prophecies show a message is false ["If you say to yourselves, 'How can we recognize an oracle which the LORD has spoken?', know that, even though a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if his oracle is not fulfilled or verified, it is an oracle which the LORD did not speak." (Deut (18:21-22)]. Messages from apparitions that go against traditional Church teaching are most surely false (and possibly diabolical) and should be rejected. Also highly questionable are "trivial messages or messages intended to satisfy curiosity", "simplistic spiritual platitudes", and non-dignified messages. Even alleged "good fruits" (even if they seem manifest and widespread) are not sufficient to prove an apparition is authentic. In any event, it is important to remember that the ultimate authority to determine whether or not an apparition is "worthy of belief" rests with the proper Church authority and is not a private determination.

  • Unexplained "phenomena" do not guarantee authenticity of an apparition. Even the devil can simulate "miracles". As Jesus warns us in Mt. 24:24: "False messiahs and false prophets will arise, and they will perform signs and wonders so great as to deceive, if that were possible, even the elect."

  • The proliferation of so many false "apparitions" disparages true revelations, possibly bringing all apparitions to disrepute in the minds of some outside (or even inside) the Church.

  • Even saints have been wrong in interpreting visions.

  • Even "visions" that call people to prayer and penance may be deceptions of the devil. Remember the truism that "the devil may be willing to lose a lot, if he can gain in the long run." Also remember that Satan, the Father of Lies, "may allow 99% truth to get in his deadly 1% error."

  • Church rulings on the authenticity of apparitions are not infallible. 

  • One should be careful that one's perceived approval status of an apparition is the actual approval status of the apparition. Some may attempt to persuade others that a pope or bishop approves of a certain apparition, whereas this may be untrue. Approval of an apparition would be verifiable in appropriate, authentic, and public written documents authored by those with the proper authority in the Church.

  • Persons should not center their faith around an apparition. "Faith rests on divine revelations made through the prophets and apostles and set down in the canonical Scriptures, not on revelations, if there by any, made to other holy teachers." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church"). And, as Jesus says, "Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed." (Jn. 20:29)

  • Incautious interest in apparitions may be dangerous. Those who immerse themselves in questionable apparitions may find it becomes dangerously easy to become "drawn into them." The person may become less objective and less discerning concerning the apparition. And, the more familiar one becomes with such "apparitions", the more one's resistance may be worn down.  

  • Even seemingly real apparitions may be the result of "human fraud or diabolic deception". Some alleged apparitions have shown to be hoaxes, while others may be shown to be diabolical (one "seer" has admitted to a pact with the devil in exchange for the "glory" of the false apparition). "The devil is most pleased when he sees that people desire to accept revelations and are inclined toward them. For then he has an excellent opportunity to inject errors and disparage faith as much as possible." (St. John of the Cross, Doctor of the Church)

  • The Church is unable to guarantee the authenticity of any apparition with "absolute certainty."

Also See: Highlights From 'Norms Regarding the Manner of Proceeding in the Discernment of Presumed Apparitions or Revelations' [5/29/12 News Update]

Some Well-Known Marian Apparitions

Below are brief summaries of some of the more well-known Marian apparitions. This listing includes apparitions which have received Church approval.

"If, in those last days, the danger is to be so great that the very powers of heaven shall be moved, our Lord, as we are told in our Epistle, has providentially confirmed in us His testimony and our faith, by continual manifestations of His power. And, as if to verify that other word of the same Epistle, that He will thus confirm unto the end them that believe in Him, He redoubles His prodigies in these our times, as though they were precursors of the end. Miracles are forcing themselves on the word's unwilling notice; and our modern facilities for propagating news are made to tell this story of the Lord all over His earth! In the name of Jesus, in the name of one or other of His saints, but especially in the name of His Immaculate Mother, who is preparing the final triumph of the Church, the blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear, and every misery of both body and soul is suddenly made to yield. So incontestable, indeed and so public, is the manifestation of supernatural power, that business managers of all kinds, though they must, out of regard for incredulity, laugh at the facts, yet are most serious in turning the occasion to their profit. Such very material agencies as railway companies have been glad to accommodate the faithful thousands, and carry them as quickly as they could to the favored sanctuaries, where the holy Mother of God has appeared." (Liturgical Year)

Note: The following is not comprehensive and may be subject to change. We do not guarantee accuracy of any item herein or the authenticity of any apparition. Contact appropriate Church authorities for current information on approval status of apparitions.

 Our Lady 

      of Guadalupe

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Location:

Guadalupe, Mexico

Date(s):

December 1531 A.D.

Witnessed By:

St. Juan Diego 

Message(s) of Apparition May Include:

The Virgin requested that a church be built at the apparition site.

Gifts Given / Signs May Include:

Miraculous Appearance of Roses, Miraculous Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Juan Diego's Tilma (Cloak), Miraculous Cures, Numerous Conversions

Church Approval Information:

Apparition Approved (Source: USCCB, 9/01)

Other Comment(s):

Responsible for the conversion of millions in the "New World" and for the ending of human sacrifices there by the Aztecs.

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Miraculous Medal

Our Lady of the 

      Miraculous Medal

Location:

Rue du Bac, Paris (France)

Date(s):

1830 A.D. 

Witnessed By:

 St. Catherine Laboure (Labour√©) 

Message(s) of Apparition May Include:

Mary gives graces to those who ask. Those who wear the Miraculous Medal will receive great graces ("abundant graces will be given to those who have confidence"). Warnings regarding future troubles. Call to prayer.

Gifts Given / Signs May Include:

Miraculous Medal (Originally Called "Medal of the Immaculate Conception"), Conversions, Cures, Fulfilled Prophecies, Incorrupt Body of St. Catherine

Church Approval Information:

Apparition Approved (Source: USCCB, 9/01)

Other Comment(s):

Vision included the prayer "O Mary Conceived Without Sin, Pray For Us Who Have Recourse to Thee". 

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Our Lady 

     of La Salette

Our Lady of La Salette

Location:

La Salette, France

Date(s):

September 19, 1846 A.D. 

Witnessed By:

Melanie Mathieu, age 14, and Maximin Giraud, age 11

Message(s) of Apparition May Include:

The weeping Virgin spoke to the children regarding offenses against her and her Son (esp. blasphemy, missing Sunday Mass) and regarding the consequences of these offenses. She told that calamities could be avoided if the people would repent. She also instructed the children to pray. As Pope Pius IX said regarding the 'secrets' of La Salette, "Unless the world repent, it shall perish!"

Gifts Given / Signs May Include:

Miraculous Spring of Water, Miraculous Cures, Fulfilled Prophecies 

Church Approval Information:

Apparition Approved (Source: USCCB, 9/01)

Other Comment(s):

Our Lady also predicted concerning Pope Pius IX not leaving Rome, about Napoleon, and about "a series of wars until the last war". 

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Our Lady of Lourdes

Location:

Lourdes, France

Date(s):

1858 A.D. 

Witnessed By:

St. Bernadette Soubirous

Message(s) of Apparition May Include:

Call to prayer & penance. Our Lady identified herself as the Immaculate Conception ("I am the Immaculate Conception").

Gifts Given / Signs May Include:

Miraculous Fountain, Miraculous Cures, Incorrupt Body of St. Bernadette

Church Approval Information:

Apparition Approved (Source: USCCB, 9/01)

Other Comment(s):

This series of apparitions was visible only to St. Bernadette. St. Bernadette prayed the Rosary during the first apparition with Our Lady's approval (Our Lady also carried a Rosary). 

The authenticity of various miraculous cures have been verified by numerous doctors (including unbelievers).

Misc. Quotations:

"[N]o sooner had Pius IX, proclaimed as a dogma of Catholic faith the exemption of Mary from the original stain, than the Virgin herself began in Lourdes those wonderful manifestations, followed by the vast and magnificent movements which have produced those two temples dedicated to the Immaculate Mother, where the prodigies which still continue to take place through her intercession furnish splendid arguments against the incredulity of our days." (Pope St. Pius X, "Ad Diem Illum Laetissimum", 1904 A.D.)

"To a society which in its public life often contests the supreme rights of God, to a society which would gain the whole world at the expense of its own soul and thus hasten to its own destruction, the Virgin Mother has sent a cry of alarm." (Pope Pius XII, "Le Pelerinage De Lourdes", 1957 A.D.)

"Rumors of favors received at the holy grotto [at Lourdes] spread rapidly, and the crowds of devout visitors increased daily, so that the Bishop of Tarbes, who has been impressed with the candor of Bernadette, found it advisable to hold a judicial enquiry into the facts. In the course of the fourth year he gave sentence, recognizing the supernatural character of the apparition, and permitting devotions to our Lady under the title of the Immaculate Conception to be held in the grotto. A chapel was soon built, and since then every year has witnessed innumerable pilgrimages...The name of Our Lady of Lourdes has become famous all over the world, and cures are obtained everywhere by use of the water." [Liturgy, Our Lady of Lourdes (Liturgical Year)] 

"[F]or nowhere, perhaps, except at Lourdes does one feel so moved to prayer, to the forgetting of oneself, and to charity. When they see the devotion of the stretcher-bearers and the serene peace of the invalids, when they consider the spirit of brotherhood which unites the faithful of all races in a single prayer, when they observe the spontaneous mutual assistance and the sincere fervor of the pilgrims kneeling before the grotto, then the best of men are seized by the appeal of a life more completely dedicated to the service of God and their brothers; the less fervent become conscious of their lukewarmness and return to the road of prayer; quite hardened and skeptical sinners are often touched by grace, or at least, if they are honest, are moved by the testimony of this 'multitude of believers of one heart and one soul.'" (Pope Pius XII, "Le Pelerinage De Lourdes", 1957 A.D.)

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Our Lady of Knock 

Location:

Knock, Ireland

Date(s):

August 21, 1879 A.D.

Witnessed By:

More than a dozen men, women & children

Message(s) of Apparition May Include:

Reinforced Church doctrine regarding the Eucharist & the Communion of the Saints. Believed to be a "call to contemplation and prayer". 

Gifts Given / Signs May Include:

Numerous miraculous cures

Church Approval Information:

Apparition Approved (Source: USCCB, 9/01)

Other Comment(s):

Silent apparition (no verbal communication).

Said to be visible for miles.

Also present were: St. Joseph & St. John the Evangelist and a Lamb & cross above an altar.

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Our Lady of Fatima

Our Lady

     of Fatima

Location:

Fatima, Portugal

Date(s):

May - October, 1917 A.D. 

Witnessed By:

Apparition was witnessed by three shepherd children [Sr. Lucia (Lucy) dos Santos, Bl. Francisco Marto, and Bl. Jacinta Marto]. The "dance of the sun" was witnessed by tens of thousands (including many who went there as unbelievers and skeptics).

Message(s) of Apparition May Include:

Call to devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Call to prayer and sacrifice ("offer up everything within your power as a sacrifice to the Lord in reparation for the sins by which he is so much offended and of supplication for the conversion of sinners"). Call to amend one's life and do penance for one's own sins and the sins of others ("Many souls are dammed because there is no one to pray for them."). Requested recitation of the daily Rosary for peace. Predicted that Russia would spread her errors through the world before being converted. Warning of chastisement ("the Lord our God...is already so much offended"). Predicted election of Pius XI, the end of the war and the start of a greater war (WWII). The children were also shown lost souls in fiery hell (where there is "never an instant's peace or freedom from pain"). Also confirmed Church teaching regarding guardian angels, the Eucharist, and Purgatory [The Blessed Virgin told Sr. Lucy that one of her recently deceased young friends (age 18-20) is to be in Purgatory "until the end of the world"]. Mary also announced that she would request the consecration of Russia.

Gifts Given / Signs May Include:

First Five Saturdays Devotion (click here), "Dance of the Sun", Miraculous Drying of Wet Clothes/Land, Miraculous Cures, Fulfilled Prophecies

Church Approval Information:

Apparition Approved (Source: USCCB, 9/01)

Other Comment(s):

The Blessed Virgin appeared at Fatima as Our Lady of the Rosary.

This series of apparitions has been considered by some to be a response to Pope Benedict XV's 1917 request for the Blessed Virgin's intercession in bringing peace to the world. 

The children were told that war is a punishment for sin.

Warned of wars, famines, persecution of the Church. Also warned that if her requests weren't heeded, "various nations would be annihilated".

"Heavenly peace plan" (in addition to the Church's consecration of Russia): Stop offending God with sin, pray the rosary daily, offer penance, prayers and sacrifices of reparation*, including the devotion of the first five Saturdays, consecrate yourself to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and wear the brown scapular. [*Note: On making sacrifices: "Make of everything you can a sacrifice (e.g. mortifications, prayers, tasks, etc.), and offer it to God as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and in supplication for the conversion of sinners."]

The children were given prayers (including the "O my Jesus..." prayer to be said after each decade of the Rosary). Note: Click here  for Fatima Prayers

The apparitions of Our Lady were preceded by angelic apparitions. 

Misc. Quotations:

"Why doesn't the Lady show Hell to everybody? Then nobody would ever again commit a mortal sin." (Bl. Jacinta)

"People must amend their lives, ask pardon for their sins and not offend Our Lord any more, for He is already too much offended." (Our Lady of Fatima)

"The Blessed Mother can no longer restrain the hand of her Divine Son from striking the world with just punishment for its many crimes." (Bl. Jacinta)

"Many marriages are not good; they do not please Our Lord and are not of God." (Bl. Jacinta)

"Certain fashions will be introduced that will offend Our Lord very much." (Bl. Jacinta)

"More souls go to Hell because of sins of the flesh than for any other reason." (Bl. Jacinta)

"Priests must be pure, very pure. They should not busy themselves with anything except what concerns the Church and souls. The disobedience of priests to their superiors and to the Holy Father is very displeasing to Our Lord." (Bl. Jacinta)

"Tell everybody that God gives graces through the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Tell them to ask graces from her, and that the Heart of Jesus wishes to be venerated together with the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Ask them to plead for peace from the Immaculate Heart of Mary, for the Lord has confided the peace of the world to her." (Bl. Jacinta)

"In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph." (Our Lady of Fatima)

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Some Other Marian Apparitions With Ecclesiastical Approval 

[Approved Status of Apparitions Listed Below (except WI apparition) - Source: USCCB, 9/01]

Note: List below is not comprehensive. Approval may be limited.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel & St. Simon Stock

Saragossa, Spain (40 A.D.) (Bilocation) - Witnessed by St. James the Greater 

Neocaesarea, Asia Minor (238 A.D.) - Witnessed by St. Gregory Thaumaturgus ("Wonder Worker")

Rome, Italy (352 A.D.) - "Our Lady of the Snows"

Our Lady of Mount Carmel / England (1251 A.D.) - Witnessed by St. Simon Stock (Brown Scapular - "Those who die devotedly clothed with this scapular shall be preserved from eternal fire.") 

Czestochowa, Poland (1382 A.D.) - Associated with the Black Madonna image 

Kazan, Russia (1579 A.D.) - Associated with image of Our Lady of Kazan

Champion, Wisconsin [U.S.A.]  (1859 A.D.) - First in the U.S. to receive approval of diocesan bishop [although some questions may still remain (click here)]. [Approval Source: Diocese of Green Bay, 12/8/10]     Note: Try News & Opinion Archive for more information.

Pontmain, France (1871 A.D.) - Credited for peace treaty between Prussia and France. Call to prayer ("My Son allows himself to be moved").

Beauraing, Belgium (1932 A.D.) - Considered an appeal for prayer and promise of Mary's mediation for the conversion of sinners.

Banneaux, Belgium (1933 A.D.) - Miraculous stream, cures, conversions, call to prayer.

Akita, Japan (1973-81) - Our Lady warned (from a statute) of a great chastisement for humanity and of troubles in the Church. [Note: Approval may be limited.] [Also note: Critics have pointed to "abundant reason[s] to avoid this apparition"]

Note: Rejected apparitions include: Bayside, Necedah, Garabandal, Amsterdam ["untrue predictions, strange occurrences, odd expressions, erroneous doctrine, questionable 'visionary', craziness!" - "obviously false", although originally rejected, it boasts some later - yet very controversial - (limited) recognition], and others. Click here  for 'Is Medjugorje a True or False Apparition?' 

Note: The above is a summary only and is not intended to be comprehensive.

Please do not send us any additional apparition information.


IMPORTANT NOTICE:

Belief in apparitions and private revelations is not binding on Catholics. Note that it is up to the appropriate Church authorities to pass judgment on all apparitions and private revelations. Catholics should reject any 'apparitions' and 'private revelations' which do not conform to traditional Catholic teaching as unworthy of belief. The Faithful should also confirm that any information obtained from apparitions / private revelations has not been condemned by Church authorities (not exempting any which may be contained on this site). 


Important Notice: We make no guarantee regarding any item herein. Information herein is not comprehensive and may be subject to change. Translations may vary. Contact proper Church authorities for current approval status of apparitions. We do not guarantee the accuracy of any item herein or the authenticity of any apparition. By using this site you agree to all terms. For more terms information, click here.


By using this site you indicate agreement to all terms. For terms information, see "Important Notice" above and click here.

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