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Flowers for Our Lady of Kibeho

By Kayla Harris, Librarian/Archivist

The official feast day for Our Lady of Kibeo, the anniversary of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s initial apparition to Alphonsine Mumereke in 1981 in Kibeho, Rwanda, was Nov. 28. As a young student, Alphonsine saw a beautiful woman who presented herself as “Nyina Wa Jambo” meaning “Mother of the Word” and Alphonsine recognized her as the Blessed Virgin Mary. Shortly after, on Jan. 12, 1982, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Nathalie Mukamazimpaka and on March 2, 1982 to Marie Claire Mukangango. While others reported visions, it was only these three visionaries that were ultimately approved by the Vatican in 2001 after a lengthy investigation. Eventually the apparitions turned dark, as the visionaries reported seeing rivers of blood, foretelling the Rwandan genocide in the 1994. Sadly, even Kibeho itself was a site of massacre, and Marie Claire was one of many who lost her life.

Kibeho remains the only Vatican approved apparition in Africa and is increasing in popular devotion in the United States. Particularly here in Ohio, Father Lambert Ulinzwenimana, Parochial Vicar of Winton Wyoming Pastoral Region, has brought devotion to Our Lady of Kibeho locally. Originally from the Gikongoro Diocese in Rwanda, he has led celebration in Cincinnati the last five years, including mass, a prayer of the rosary, a procession, and a ceremony where flowers were laid at the altar beneath the Our Lady of Kibeho statue as Our Lady calls us all to be flowers in the eyes of God. 

There are resources in the Marian Library to learn more about this important apparition, including books in our circulating collection, a statue of Our Lady of Kibeho given to the Marian Library by Bishop Celestin Hakizimana of the Diocese of Gikongoro, and some articles and ephemera in the archives. However, this apparition is not as well represented in our collections as some of the other more widely known apparitions, such as Guadalupe, Lourdes, or Fatima. If you have any materials related to Our Lady of Kibeho, please contact Marian Library Archivist, Kayla Harris

Sources and Further Reading:

"Apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Kibeho — Brief Overview," Kibeho Sanctuary, accessed December 2, 2019. 

Kibeho Jubilee, All About Mary, University of Dayton

Mbonyinshuti, Jean d'Amour. "Up Close with Mukamazimpaka: The Lady Who Saw the Virgin Mary at Kibeho," The New Times, August 20, 2018

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