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Our Lady of Kibeho

Our Lady of Kibeho by Brenda Nippert

Artist Narrative:

In 1981, Mary appeared to a group of African teenagers in Kibeho, Rawanda. Their country was on the brink of civil war as the hatred between the Tutsi and Hutu tribes ran deep. Mary warned that if the people didn't give up their hatred for each other and turn their hearts to God, the price would be very high and a river of blood would run through their country. Appearing at regular intervals, Mary even showed them horrifying visions of what the tragedy would be like. She urged them to tell the people to change their ways and live more devout lives. Jesus also appeared to the group, warning of terrible things to come if people did not change their hearts. Unfortunately, most people didn't listen and the tragic events predicted by Jesus and Mary happened. The country was so steeped in hatred that 12 years after the apparitions began their warnings, the unspeakable madness and mayhem they foresaw came true. More than 800,000 died horrible deaths as civil war rocked the region, if only the warning had been heeded, these unthinkable events could have been avoided. This very sad story can't be changed now, but we can still take many lessons from it into the future about how important love for each person without prejudice is.

Her feast day is November 28.

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Beginning on November 28, 1981, the Blessed Virgin Mary (and later Jesus) chose to appear at regular intervals to a group of teenagers in the rural countryside of Kibeho, Rwanda, giving them urgent heavenly messages intended to be shared throughout the country and the entire world. Because of the great importance of the alleged heavenly messages, the Church immediately began investigating the visionaries and the messages, and on June 29, 2001, the local Bishop formally and officially approved the events pertaining to three of the visionaries. At the beginning of the events, the initial messages all came from the Virgin Mary, and they were full of her love for her children here on Earth. Early on, the content of the messages was often instructional, providing spiritual direction and guidance for people to live more devout lives, repent of their sins and reject sinful temptations, so as to draw closer to God. Mary's instructions for humanity included urging everyone to pray the rosary every day to ward off evil; and for all people to open their hearts to one another, and to help one another. Soon however, some of the Virgin Mary's messages began to contain frightening predictions of war, catastrophes, and corruption that She said the world would be facing in the coming years. She gave the young visionaries terrifying glimpses into a future in which people's hearts would be dominated by hatred instead of love, and where the planet would be torn apart by wars of religion, failed economies, collapsing governments and natural disasters.

But amidst the messages of encouragement to repentance and love of neighbor there was one very significant message that seemed to be the most important of all the Blessed Virgins messages; in 1982 the Blessed Virgin specifically predicted the horrible 1994 genocide--12 years before it occurred. She said that "a river of blood" would flow across Rwanda unless the Rwandan people stopped harboring hatred and animosity for each other, and instead would need to turn their hearts with love and brotherly charity towards one another. And on August 15, 1982, the seers saw“a river of blood, people who were killing each other, abandoned corpses with no one to bury them, trees all in flames, bodies without their heads.”

On this most notable occasion, August 15, 1982--a day that was supposed to be joyful celebration of the Feast of the Assumption---the Blessed Virgin Mary first appeared to the visionary Alphonsine to be visibly sorrowful and was crying. The visionary was deeply distressed at the sight of our Blessed Mother in tears. She asked Her "Mother, why are you crying? I can't bear to see You in tears!"Alphonsine was then heard to say: "Yes, Mother, I will repeat what you say: 'To the people on Earth: You say three times; You opened the door, and they refused to come in. You opened the door, and they refused to come in. You opened the door, and they refused to come in." Suddenly, Alphonsine let out a terrifying heart wrenching scream: "I see a river of blood! What does it mean? No, please!...Why are You showing me this, Mother? Stop...please stop! The trees are exploding into flames, the country is burning!...Oh no!..no!....Why are those people slaughtering each other? Later that same day, another visionary, Marie-Claire, was given similar visions of her countrymen slaughtering each other en masse, and she cried aloud in horror of the images she was being shown. It is estimated that there were 20,000 people in Kibeho that day, and all were terrified of what they had heard through the visionaries. At that time this vision and the Blessed Virgin Mary’s prophecy seemed completely unrealistic to most, even though it is true that the Rwandan’s have a very long history of tribal feuds and the animosity amongst the different tribes and social groups has always been a significant problem for the country. What the Virgin Mary soon began to plead for is for the people to abandon this hatred based on tribal affiliations, and to see all of their fellow Rwandans’ as brothers. She strongly encouraged all peoples to have a love and concern for others centered and based on the love and mercy of Her Son, Jesus. And by practicing this love, She said the looming civil war and bloodshed could be averted. Sadly, too few Rwandans heeded Our Lady's advice, and the country descended into madness, mayhem, and murder, just as She had predicted.

Through her visionaries, the Blessed Mother urged all Rwandans to seek Her help to embrace Christ's love and forgiveness. She said that the surest and best way to accomplish this was by praying the rosary every day. The Virgin Mary said that the rosary was one of the most powerful tools in the world to defend us against temptation and evil. She pleaded with everyone to pray the rosary at least once a day, no matter what religion they belonged to, and promised all who did would receive special spiritual graces and blessings.

Along with the Blessed Virgin, Jesus Himself also appeared many times to the visionaries at Kibeho, urging the people to repent of their sins and to seek to live virtuous lives. Like the Blessed Virgin Mary, He also warned of a bloody civil war that would soon occur if the people did not change their tribal/sectarian animosity for one another. During an apparition 12 years before the genocide, Jesus had shown Segatashya (one of the alleged visionaries) images of homes in flames and people being hacked to pieces by killers armed with machetes. The Lord told Segatashya that this was what would happen if people continued to sin and to hate one another. When the bloody genocide gripped Rwanda, Segatashya himself was shot by a death squad.

Throughout the course of 100 days from April 6 to July 16 1994,approximately 800,000 Rwandan Tutsis and some moderate Hutus were massacred in the Rwandan genocide. During this period, more than 6 men, women and children were murdered every minute of every hour of every day. This incredible rate of killing was maintained for more than 3 months. Along with the intense bloodshed, it is believed that approximately 250,000 women were raped during the 100 days of genocide (a precise count is such circumstances is impossible) and roughly 30% of the womenwho were raped during the genocide were infected with HIV/AIDS. In many cases, this resulted from a systematic and planned use of rape by HIV+ infected men as a weapon of terror and future genocide. There were 10 times as many widows(women) than widowers (men) with almost 50,000 widows, and there were approximately 75,000 children who were orphanedas a result of the genocide.

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