How fitting today that we gather to reflect on Mary’s apparitions at Kibeho, this day May 13th of the centenary of Fatima in which thousands are rejoicing right now in Portugal over the canonization of the two young seers, Saint Francisco and Saint Jacinta. At Kibeho Mary danced and sang with her African children. All heaven is dancing today with little Jacinta. Mary’s songs from Kibeho have an exquisite beauty that reminds me very much of Gregorian chant. African dance, like Vietnamese and that of other hot climates is traditionally slow, graceful and modest. Perhaps you can Google it some time and watch it. So I ask you to imagine the dancing as we listen to a song that the girls learned from Mary herself. Instead of greeting people with “Hello”, Rwandans say “Long life to you”, and this is the song’s refrain, the most beautiful I think that Mary sang for them and taught them to sing to her:
Long life to you our beautiful Mother Mary, the Blessed Virgin!
You are the treasure of women that they won’t do without.
You are the basket of peace, and keep the secret of the king.
You are the treasure of the kingdom of God.
You are the star that guides those you are lost.
You are the beautiful clean water that feeds the thirsty.
Dear mother Mary, if anyone wants to come to you, they will arrive
I played that several times on an instrument and I’m pretty sure it’s Mode Seven which corresponds to Gregorian chant and I just think it’s so exquisite. Mary taught the seers many songs. The apparitions at Kibeho were beyond sensational, capturing the whole nation. We Americans might still know little about this if it wasn’t for a young Rwandan girl named for the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Immaculée Ilibagiza was enamored of little Jacinta and the Fatima story and used to play near her house, gathering the family’s few goats together, in the hope that Mary would appear to her because she was taking care of her flock and saying her prayers like Jacinta.
Statistics vary but it seems that Rwanda in the 1980s may have had the highest percentage of Catholics in any African nation. When European missionaries reached this tiny equatorial country, in the1800s, they found a people who were already worshiping one God, creator of all, inherently good, and in need of nothing. They believed in the immortality of the soul, but with no clear idea of heaven. The people weren’t interested in a foreigner’s religion, so the missionaries concentrated on converting the chiefs. After the reception of baptism by their leaders, Catholicism deeply permeated the culture. In the 1980s at least two thirds of Rwanda was Catholic; some estimates go as high as 80%.
Modern Rwanda is different now, but as little as forty years ago most of the citizens lived in villages, trying to raise food to feed their families. In that jungle climate travel was difficult. Luxuries were few, roads were few, maps were few, but wild animals were abundant. Most people didn’t travel. They lived below the poverty line. Automobiles and shoes were rarely seen in villages which were necessarily rather isolated. There were some larger cities. The Europeans brought literature, languages, culture and religion. They preferred to govern indirectly through the King, until the 1950s and 1960s when so many African countries achieved their independence.
The social and political environment in the locality of Mary’s apparitions to the world is always significant, precisely because her apparitions are for the world. In 1830 most of her messages to St. Catherine Labouré concerned the fall of the monarchy and the uprisings of the Commune in Paris. In Fatima She appeared in the midst of the first World War and talked about another World War and the rise of Communist Russia. At Rwanda, Mary wanted to put a spotlight on its political situation to raise it as a signpost to the world. Political unrest led to vandalism which was rampant all over the country in the early 1980s. Almost all of the statues of the Virgin Mary that were at the entrance of villages were mutilated, destroyed, or stolen. Many pastors didn’t bother having them repaired. Influenced by modern theologians they were not interested in the Rosary or devotion to Mary. Desires were focused on obtaining material prosperity.
The best way to move out of poverty was to obtain a better education. But to send a child to high school or college was a costly investment. Moreover, the student had to leave the village and board at the school.
Deep in the jungle of southern Rwanda, in the poorest area of the country was a place called Kibeho where flourished a Catholic boarding school for 120 girls. There were two fervent priests, three nuns, and five male and one female lay teachers, two of them Protestants. The majority of the students were Catholic, but morals were far from being exemplary.
First Apparition: November 28, 1981
One Saturday, November 28, 1981 seventeen year old Alphonsine Mumureke was taking her turn as server in the school lunch room. Right in front of everyone she suddenly went into ecstasy as she beheld the Blessed Virgin who introduced herself as the Mother of the Word. “I would like it if your companions had more faith because some of them do not believe enough.” Thus began a series of apparitions in which Mary endeavored to inculcate deeper faith into the life of the students. This is now the official feast day of Our Lady of Kibeho. St. Catherine Labouré saw the Miraculous Medal vision for the first time also on the same day at evening prayer, the eve of the First Sunday of Advent. Alphonsine said:
During Advent we should reflect upon the return of Jesus. Mary told me that her Son will return to earth soon and that our souls must be prepared for his arrival. The world is in a very bad way.
Only a handful of girls believed Alphonsine and they kept a cowardly silence in the face of the scoffing ridicule of most of the school, including the nuns. Alphonsine prayed that others could witness the apparition. On January 12, 1982, Nathalie Mukamazimpaka became a seer. A second witness wasn’t good enough for the stubborn, hard-hearted, loud-mouthed Marie Claire Mukangango, so Mary appeared to her March 2, 1982. Now the school is shocked to behold Marie Claire in ecstasy, but the Virgin Mary is not pleased at their reticence to accept her messages.
In early March she appeared to each of the visionaries separately to announce a public apparition to each of them in the school courtyard on March 25. All 120 students were to kneel down during this apparitions and pray the rosary as an act of penance for having mocked, disrespected and persecuted the visionaries. If the students agreed, Mary promised that every student who attended Kibeho High School during the next six years would graduate with a diploma. In one of the world’s poorest countries, very few students made it to graduation. Most of the girls, even the most skeptical, could not resist such a prize and they showed up at the appointed time.
Some students brought rosaries to have them blessed by the Blessed Virgin. Alphonsine, in ecstasy, began raising the rosaries for Mary to bless them, having no idea which rosary belonged to whom. But the seer found one Rosary too heavy to lift. It belonged to a student who did not believe in the authenticity of the apparitions, and had been criticizing them.
Mary progressively made herself known to the students, and won them over. She gave advice, encouraged them, and made remarks to bring them on the right path. She played the role of a true Mother who educates her children. She became the Queen of this school and should become the Queen of every school!
The present situation in schools worldwide is awful, because God has been chased out, because his law is no longer taught. It is even forbidden to pray to Him in schools! Every morning, when we go to Mass, our heart breaks when we see school buses arriving to school, loaded with children. Poor little ones, who are taught that God does not exist! Mary came to Kibeho in a school, to set the example to the whole world, and to show how students can be transformed when God’s law is taught in schools.
After that initial apparition in the cafeteria, the next series took place in the school dormitory, in the evening until January 16, 1982, then they became either in the schoolyard or in the dormitory of the students, or in a place converted into a chapel where the students gathered to pray in the evening. At this stage the apparitions are considered private, just for the school. The public is not allowed. The Virgin focuses on school life and often during an apparition a star of sparkling lights would be visible to all present.
The Virgin Mary habitually told the seer the date of her next apparition so all would know when to gather. Eventually the Apparitions moved out to the schoolyard and were open to the public. The crowds kept increasing in size. A podium and powerful speakers are installed to allow journalists and the members of the medical and theological commission to circulate freely, and above all, to allow the people to hear the dialogue of the seers. On August 15, 1982, there were 20,000 people.
When one tries to read or present a systematic account of the events at Kibeho one gets bogged down racing back and forth from books to blogs trying to reconstruct the logical timeline, and a record of the messages, and which visionary saw what. But it’s a useless effort. No tidy record exists. Ten years, or twelve, after the Blessed Virgin gave extraordinary signs and asked the conversion of the nation, the Rwanda genocide struck like a hurricane. Entire families were butchered, houses burned, churches demolished, public places sacked. Thousands of people grabbed the few belongings they could carry and ran across borders. Tape recordings of the visionaries, photographs, journals, books, notes, all went missing in the chaos. It took the bishop’s commission twenty years to investigate the events. Even though there had been thousands of witnesses, it took years for the nation to settle down.
Furthermore, unlike previous apparitions like Lourdes or Fatima, where Mary spoke briefly and it was written down. Kibeho apparitions went on for hours. One seer after the other experienced a vision individually, while the others seers were watching along with everyone else in the crowd. These apparitions varied in duration: songs, prayers of intercession, blessings (especially by means of water). To delineate one apparition from the next, the seer would collapse heavily, dramatically, even frightfully. All would expect the seer to have broken her bones but she would awake from ecstasy unscathed. Then there were other phenomena which required careful monitoring, like mystic sleep and long journeys to heaven, hell or purgatory, and in Lent1983 extraordinary fasting that was closely witnessed by a team of physicians from the National University of Rwanda.
And who can collect all the data of phenomena experienced by the onlookers? A frequent feature occurred towards the end of an Apparition: the Blessed Virgin asks the seers to bless the crowd. The seers are in ecstasy; they do not see the crowd, but instead an immense garden of flowers, some fresh, and others faded. Our Lady asks the seers to water the flowers. The fresh flowers represent people whose hearts are turned to God, whereas the faded flowers represent those whose hearts are turned to earthly things, especially to money. From a clear, cloudless sky, the onlookers would often feel a refreshing rain, and many who were sick would be healed.
Then there were visible signs in the sky, reminiscent of Fatima’s Miracle of the Sun, but with more variety. The sun would dance and changed into many colors, like a rainbow swirling in a glass. Or the sun became pale gray and like the moon. Or another sun would appear behind the natural sun. Some saw a giant Eucharist and chalice imposed on the moon. Some saw a third sun, red, green, and gold with the face of the Virgin Mary in the center. Others witnessed the sun changing into a beautiful mirror that reflected the hills of Rwanda. Things occurred in the night sky as well. On one occasion 15,000 people dropped to their knees making the sign of the Cross as they beheld, high in the sky, an image of Jesus on the Cross, with the Blessed Mother standing below Him with her head bowed in grief.
The apparitions of the three main seers were formally approved. All this other phenomena only served to augment the idea that something supernatural was happening. Jesus had predicted a time
when there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth distress of nations in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves [Lk 21:25].
If we interpret the tumultuous sea as the usual Old Testament analogy for people, especially non-Israelites, then we may be in this era. These sky phenomena have been reported all over the world by people who attend places where Mary is or was allegedly appearing such as Naju, Korea, Lubbock, Texas, Medjugorje in Bosnia, and Montichiari and Fontanelle Italy as “Rosa Mystica.” I note these in passing. They have not yet received formal approbation, but the testimonies are very impressive.
Besides the original three seers whom the bishops concentrated on, they acknowledged five more credible seers. The subsequent chaos in the aftermath of the genocide made it difficult to proceed but they said they might reopen the investigation of these later on. Jesus allegedly said to Agnes Kamagaju:
‘Behold what you see-are there any among you who can deny now that they have a sign? Watch closely and remember what you witness. Believe your eyes or deny what you are seeing. But I ask you only to tell the truth.”
Agnes commented: God wants to show us that He holds the world in his hands and He can bring it to an end at his will.”
Alphonsine Mumureke was the original and principle seer and would receive visitation from heaven exactly eight years from Nov. 28, 1981 to Nov. 28 1989. In her public ecstasies Alphonsine often prayed for vocations to the priesthood and the religious life, for the youth, for the Bishops of Rwanda, the heads of States, and for peace for the whole world because she saw “dissensions, troubles, hatred all over the world.” Friends smuggled her out of the country to save her from the genocide and today she is living a life of prayer and penance as a Poor Clare nun in a monastery.
More Seers / Witnesses
The other two school girls were primarily brought in as witnesses to Alphonsine, but they had their own role to play. Nathalie Mukamazimpaka received messages for almost two years, from January 12th, 1982, the last time on December 3rd, 1983. Whereas Alphonsine’s vocation was to retire to a convent, Mary asked Nathalie to remain in Kibeho and remind the pilgrims about the need for expiatory suffering and incessant prayer for a world at risk of falling into the abyss.
Marie Claire Mukangango offered dramatic personal testimony because of the radical change from a person who had disbelieved the others and persecuted them with name-calling, to a person who was deeply repentant of her hardheartedness and would be found weeping for her past sins and praying often. To her especially, Mary revealed the importance of the Chaplet of the Seven Sorrows and an urgent call to repentance. Marie Clarie’s first apparition took place on March 2nd, 1982, and her last, on September 15th, 1982, after a period of 6 months and 15 days. She graduated in July 1983 and used her diploma to teach in a primary school. Four years later she married a good Catholic man, Elie Ntabadahiga, employed as a journalist, but to their sorrow they could not conceive children. Their lives were brutally cut short. They would be caught off guard by the genocide of 1994, and fled like others towards Byumba which was supposed to be a secure zone, but where a trap was set and a great number of unarmed civilians were slaughtered. The exact date and circumstances of their death are not yet elicited. Witnesses say that Marie Claire was killed because she was attempting to assist others.
Among the other five witnesses, whom the bishops thought worthy of consideration, was a pagan boy Segastashya who received instruction in the Faith miraculously, and his entire family was baptized. We’ll return to Emmanuel (his Christian name) further on. Then there were a couple dozen others who roamed the country, coming to Kibeho from time to time and passing themselves off as prophets. One of the most impressive witnesses was the Muslim woman, Vestine Salima, who was blind for fifteen days after her first apparition–reminding us of Saul [see Acts 9:8]. She gave strong testimony to Jesus and Mary. But others seers seemed to be suspicious, enjoying the reputation of being somebody, and living as guests of gullible Catholics. The Bishops urged the people to be cautious.
Try to keep in mind that Rwanda is a very poor country. Electricity and roads were not the norm. Communication is not easy. People mostly relied on radios to get their news, and the government controlled the news. So long as the Kibeho messages were benign and caused a surge of unity in the nation, the radio enthusiastically urged people to get there. Travel was usually barefoot through a jungle without a map! It took courage, but thousands set out. Here is one testimony:
On our third day, we arrived at a washed-out bridge that spanned a river too deep and swift for us to cross, so we were forced to walk many miles out of our way. We were lost in thick bush, and when the sun set, we didn’t know which direction to take the next day. We made camp and prayed for guidance. Two hours later, we saw eight stars in the night sky forming the shape of a cross [. . .] none of us had ever seen those stars before, and we knew that it was Mary guiding us to Kibeho. In the morning we walked out of the bush in the direction of the cross of stars and made our way to a path that led us to a road just outside of Kibeho.
Many quickly ran out of food since they had nothing extra to bring from home, but bags of rice and beans would appear inexplicably at camp in the mornings. Wild animals did not approach. The father of Immaculée made the journey several times, but no matter how hard she begged, he would never allow his wife or daughter to come. Perhaps the most unique feature of all Marian apparitions was the many songs taught to the seers. The words would appear as if on a blackboard. Mary or Jesus would sing a line and the seer, in ecstasy, would sing it into the microphone. Soon the whole crowd was singing along and committed them to memory. Immaculée has tried to collect the words, and when possible the melodies. Here is an example:
I woke up very early in the morning.
I woke up early, and I went to Africa.
I made it there, my loved ones.
I called them, and I gave them a message, and they delivered my message.
I made it there, my cherished ones.
I called them by surprise and they heard me.
My eldest children, I love you.
Listen, let me tell you my name: I am the Mother of the Savior.
I am the Mother of the Savior, Jesus Christ, my dear Child.
When I came to you so early, I did not leave Him behind. He came with me.
He was at my right, at my left, in the front, and in the back.
Even, now my children, we are together.
My dear children I love you . . . Hear me, listen to me. . . .“I Came Early in the Morning” (a delightful song)
The betrayer of life, his name is Judas.
He sold the Child of God. . . .
When Judas sold Jesus, and Jesus was caught, then Judas killed himself. (repeated 3 x)
There was a lot of suffering in the Child of God. When I look at heaven I cry a lot.
They killed Jesus so badly. And yet, He was the Child of God.
They killed Him in such a bad way.
They threw stones at Him. They killed Him badly.
Then Peter came, and He turned his face away
They killed Him so badly. They laughed at Him. They mocked Him.
When Judas sold Jesus . .The Betrayer (a sad song)
Some songs were joyful, as Mary tried to gain the confidence and the conversion of the hearts of the people. Others were subtly prophetic as there would be many traitors in the genocide when Catholics would hand over Catholics to death. One song about Joseph really intrigued me. Part of the message is obviously to help these very poor people not to get consumed in a desire for material happiness, to stress the example of Jesus who, as a man like us in all things, sought to know the will of his Father. Another part is about Mary which I’ve never heard before. Jesus taught this song. It’s quite long so I’ll give the highlights
Joseph the protector of Mary, and protector of the Child of God suffered . . .
He worked hard; he walked on foot because they were poor.
Poverty is not a sin. Poverty is not a shame.
Poverty is poverty of heart, was born in poverty. I [Jesus] grew up in poverty. . .
I learned how to build, to help my father feed our family.
I walked many hours in the mountains, looking back where I was going, where I was coming from.
I stood and asked [within] myself, “my dear Father in heaven, how come I don’t see You?”
I begged my Father, I asked Him what to do, when to start, to spread his message.
I needed his permission to begin his work and to do it well.
I could not stay with my parents, because I chose to work for heaven.
. . . Children I am not asking for money or what you have. I am asking for your heart.
I am asking you to wake up, to work for my Father in heaven . . .
Ask me what you want and I will give it to you. . . And my children when I ask something of you too,
do not look [turn] back, do not close the door. . .
The song returns to Joseph of Nazareth
He worked hard, He had many difficulties, especially when he was told that the Virgin Mary was pregnant.
An angel came to him in sleep, and he gave him peace, gave him the good news.
Mary was persecuted. She suffered a lot when she was pregnant.
People gave up on her, they didn’t understand her.
They shunned her, but Joseph the protector was there for her.
What is the implication of Mary being persecuted? She conceived Jesus as a legally married woman. Jesus’ enemies never derided him as an illegitimate son of an unwed mother. Betrothal required divorce. Conjugal relations were permitted before the eight-day wedding ceremony which was usually delayed until after harvest time. Joseph was publicly acknowledged as his father. The lyrics of this song suggest that news of the miraculous circumstances of John’s birth, of Elizabeth’s loud greeting hailing Mary as “Mother of the Lord,” of Herod sending men to Bethlehem to kill the Messiah, had permeated Nazareth. When Joseph and Mary returned from Egypt their neighbors couldn’t reconcile their humble circumstances with the birth of the Messiah. They “they shunned her,” they gave up in trying to “understand her.” Probably they were jealous. But Joseph, a man of firm faith, stood by her when She was nearly friendless, except some relatives like Mary of Clopas. How many Rwandans found comfort in this song, years later when schism would tear apart the country and neighbor would turn against neighbor?
I would now like to use extracts from the bishop’s statement as a framework for presenting selections of the messages from the apparitions of Kibeho.
Bishop Augustin Misago of Gikongoro diocese wrote an official declaration on June 29, 2001, regarding the Revelations in Kibeho. In it, he declared: It is true that the Mother of God appeared in Kibeho on the day of November 28, 1981 and during the following months . . . to Alphonsine Mumureke, Nathalie Mukamazimpaka, and Marie Claire Mukangano. The Virgin Mary appeared to them as “Mother of the Word,” which she explained is a synonym for “Mother of God.”
The main points of the message are as follows:
1. An urgent appeal to the repentance and conversion of hearts:
Repent, repent, repent! Convert while there is still time! . . . God sees your every action and knows your every thought, you can hide nothing from Him. Admit all your bad deeds and thoughts and ask for God’s forgiveness . . . Then, my children, you must offer forgiveness by asking God to forgive all those who have trespassed against you, all who have given you suffering, insult, or injury. . . .Ask God to bless them and help them.
2. An assessment of the moral state of the world:
The world hastens to its ruin, it will fall into the abyss. The world is rebellious against God, it commits too many sins, it has neither love nor peace.
3. The deep sorrow of the Mother of God:
After months of joyful apparitions with music and dancing, on August 15, 1982, the Mother of God appeared weeping and very sad. She complained of lack of repentance, and the continuous disobedience to God’s Commandments. The children cried out with horror as they beheld “a river of blood, people who were killing each other, abandoned corpses with no one to bury them, a tree all in flames, bodies without heads.” There was agony, torment, and inconsolable sorrow throughout the land. Although Our Lady’s prophesies and warnings of the consequences of sin were shared throughout the country, many were callous and refused to convert and amend their lives.
“Young people must stop treating their bodies as playthings and instruments of pleasure. So many of the youth are using any means they can to find love and to be loved by others! They have forgotten that true love comes from God and God alone. Instead of serving Him, they live at the service of money. Young women must make their bodies instruments that will glorify God, not serve as objects of pleasure for the lust of men. Young men must seek to satisfy the hunger of their spirit, not feed the desires of their flesh. Tell them all to pray to my mother to intercede on their behalf. Tell the youth not to ruin their lives; the wrong way of living can weigh heavily on their future . . . Your youth leads you to an optimism which borders on naiveté. Be watchful, be careful not to fall, since the smallest stumble could prove fatal for you. The good go to heaven to live with God, and the bad go to hell with Satan. It is the struggle you are daily engaged in, within the freedom you have received from God, that determines your fate.”
Sub-Saharan Africa developed the world’s highest number of full-blown AIDS cases. By 1994 that region of the globe had 70 percent of the world’s estimated 4.5 million cases–and many more millions were infected with HIV. Children are also victims of the virus. Up to 90 per cent of the worldwide childhood cases are in Africa.
4. “Faith and unbelief will come unseen”
Mary spoke these mysterious words repeatedly to Alphonsine and told her to repeat it to the people. The bishop makes no comment. I have not way to assure you that the grammar is a precise translation. Could it mean that faith does not come from seeing signs in the heaven? People believe or disbelieve from their own interior dispositions. Many Pharisees and Sadducees watched Jesus call Lazarus out of the tomb and immediately they left the scene to meet with Caiaphas to discuss how to dispose of this miracle-worker and depose him as a false prophet. In one of Jesus’ parables, Abraham tells the rich man that it is useless to send Lazarus from the dead to warn the rich man’s brothers.
‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.”Lk 16:31
5. Suffering is salvific
The Bishop writes: This subject is among the most important among the revelations in Kibeho. Suffering is necessary for Christians to attain eternal glory. Suffering is both a means of compensating for the sins of the world and participating in Jesus’ and Mary’s sufferings for the salvation of the world. On May 15, 1982, Mary said
“No one will reach heaven without suffering,”–“A child of Mary does not reject suffering.”
Thus, Kibeho is a reminder of the role of the cross in the life of a Christian and the Church.
“So many souls are running to ruin that I need your help to turn them back to my Son. As long as you are on earth, you have to contribute to the salvation of souls. If you will work with me, I will give you a mission to lead those lost back from the darkness. . . .You are weeping, you are suffering, but you have a Comforter. Think about this. . . . For all of you who have been declared incurable, nothing is healthier than a soul at peace. There is no greater wealth than that of a pure heart.”
This is my favorite line: “Clothe yourself in tiredness and suffering, and go help my children who are getting lost in the mud!”
6. “Pray always and single-heartedly”
My children, there are many who want to pray, who try to pray, but do not know how to pray. You must ask for the strength and knowledge to understand what is expected of you. My love goes out to all of you, for there are many here who want to reach the road to heaven, but do not have the strength or knowledge to ask for God’s help. My children, listen to my words, for I will teach you how to pray from the bottom of your hearts. . . . . . Priests, religious men and women, the sort of life you have been called to is especially demanding and comprises many difficulties. The important thing is to remain faithful to your commitment.”
7. Marian devotion
The rosary is the most powerful tool of prayer and conversion to fight evil and receive God’s love. . . My child, pray your rosary while you walk. [Meditate on the mysteries and live them.] When you meet an orphan, treat him as your own child, give comfort to the troubled, and care for the sick. Never refuse any who ask for your help. If your pockets are empty, give them hope. Your every action must be born of kindness, your every word spoken with love. Live as God would have you live, and others will be inspired to do the same. By walking the world as a shepherd, you will show my earthly children that the walk to heaven is along a narrow road that is sometimes rough to travel. But the road leading to Satan is wide and easy to follow, because the devil puts no obstacles on the road to darkness.
8. The Chaplet of the Seven Sorrows of the Mother of God:
The visionary Marie Claire Mukangano claims to have received revelations regarding this rosary. This rosary pleases the Mother of God. It was once well known, but now it has been forgotten. The Mother of God of Kibeho desires for it to be renewed and spread in the Church. However, this prayer does not replace the Holy Rosary.
9. Mary desires that a chapel be built for her –
When Our Blessed Mother appeared at Kibeho she requested that a chapel be named “The Gathering of the Displaced.” It was an odd name for a chapel, but later it made perfect sense: the war of 1992-1994 generated 2.2 million refugees. Most fled to Tanzania and Zaire. It was the largest single exodus in human history. One place chosen as refugee camp was Kibeho, probably because it had already been used to hold large crowds. But on April 22, 1995, troops began screening Kibeho’s one hundred thousand displaced people to identify anyone who might have been guilty of the preceding year’s genocide. A riot ensued as some people tried to break the barrier and run away. The soldiers opened fire and some two thousand people died right there.
10. Pray always for the Church,
The role of the Church during the genocide was disturbing. Some Church leaders actively participated in the tribal slaughter, some participated passively by allowing massacres to take place in church buildings, only a few railed against the violence. Catholics would come to the priests and ask if it was permissible to kill on the Sabbath! Many people went to the churches for refuge, but the Church leaders were far from heroic defenders of the flock. During the 100 days slaughter, more people died in churches than anywhere else. The Tutsis were promised shelter in the churches, but this was only to lure them to one place. Hutu death squads would throw in a grenade, then move in and kill the survivors. One infamous Catholic Hutu priest shot ten of his Tutsi parishioners who came to the church seeking refuge. This was the pride and hardness of heart that Mary had wanted to convert.
11. Kibeho is for the World
Alphonsine said that the Lady’s beauty was so great it could not be described in words, and that the golden light radiating from the Blessed Mother was filled with the immeasurable love that Mary felt for all the people in the world, whom she called her “earthly children.”
If I am now turning to the parish at Kibeho, it does not mean that I am concerned only for Kibeho or for the diocese of Butare, or for Rwanda, or for the whole of Africa. I am concerned with the entire world. Be converted and believe in the Gospel while there is still time.
As the vision began to fade, Mary asked Alphonsine to sing another song, and repeating two lines, seven times:
— There will be fire that will come from beneath the earth and consume everything on Earth …
— The day you will come to take those who have served you, God, we beg you to have mercy on us …
The Genocide, a Prophetic Sign for All Nations
It’s been forty years, and thanks to Immaculée the messages are starting to spread through the English-speaking world. Mrs. Ilibagiza has became famous for her book “Left to Tell.” This book leaves aside religion and testifies to the world what she experienced in hiding during the genocide. In this way the genocide captured America’s attention and perhaps the whole world. Two years ago I spoke with a priest and religious from Nigeria. They knew nothing of Kibeho. They explained that Africa is comprised of multitudes of languages even within a single nation. Each country is a world into itself. If they want education or travel, they don’t go to another country in Africa, they go to Europe or America. Probably they will learn about Kibeho eventually from English books.
Mary said that Kibeho and Medjugorje would be a sign to the world. The non-Catholic world is basically ignorant of her messages, but the horror of the genocides of Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia have filled the news and stunned the world.
“There are no devils left in hell,” the missionary said. “They are all in Rwanda” [Time Magazine, 5/16/94].
The messages from Mary at Kibeho went on from 1981-1989, but in the same years the rhetoric coming from the corrupt government grew stronger telling the people to pin the nation’s problems on a minority tribe as a scapegoat. In 1992 and 1993 there were some momentary massacres but soon the government promised rewards of money and a banana plantation for citizens who would step forward and slaughter a Tutsi tribe member. The blatant motive was greed. For 100 days from April 4, 1994 to July 4, 1994 men and women picked up any crude instrument at hand and walked through the streets and into homes to “kill the cockroaches.” Thousands fled, some hid, but over three-fourths of the tribe, about a million people, were brutally hacked to death.
Compare this to the alleged apparitions at the not-yet approved Medjugorje. For ten years, from 1981 to 1991, Mary primarily spoke to them about prayer and the need to pray for peace. The seer Vicka commented,
We couldn’t understand why Our Lady was talking so much about peace. She even said that, through prayer and fasting, wars could be stopped or even averted. Yes, we lived under Communist rule but that was all we knew. We were in peace.
“You, dear children, are at peace but are not able to comprehend lack of peace. Therefore, I am calling you, so that by your prayer and your life, you help to destroy everything that is evil in people and uncover the deception that Satan makes use of.”—Our Lady of Medjugorje, September 25, 1986.
Quoting some memoirs from a member of a relief agency:
On June 25, 1991, ten years to the day when Our Lady first appeared to the children and spoke about the need to pray for peace, the war of genocide began in Slovenia. Soon it spread to Bosnia and Herzegovina and Medjugorje was right in the middle of it all. Suddenly, everything they had was destroyed, including family photos and personal mementos that can never be replaced. Younger people had time on their side and the hope of rebuilding a new life. But, for the elderly, life as they had known it was gone forever. On paper, the war ended in 1995 but there were still hotbeds of crime and carnage for years to come. Most of the world forgot about Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina as the plight of those people was no longer in the forefront of the news. Many people think that, once a war is over, life goes on. Not so. Supplies from a number of different sources were no longer coming in. The availability of medical treatment became even less as doctors moved to other countries where they could actually get paid. Free government medication would now have to be purchased, meaning that the many people who didn’t have a penny to their names, died or just suffered. Not far from Medjugorje, homeless people took refuge in the city dump where they constructed make-shift shelters from scraps of cardboard and plastic. They ate from the garbage, along with the rats that chewed on the people’s feet as they tried to sleep. Other folks, in outlying areas, had to fend off bears and wolves that devoured a few young children every year. It was obvious to us, and the people who traveled with us, that our work was far from over. For a long time unemployment in Medjugorje and the surrounding area was 70 to 98 percent, depending on one’s nationality. Gasoline was $9.00 a gallon. There are no soup kitchens, no food stamps and there was no public assistance of any kind. For many people, it feels like a hopeless situation.
Yet the more sinister sign that Mary was talking about it, was the schism. In both countries it was Christians killing Christians, Catholics killing Catholics, Orthodox and Catholics slaughtering one another. This was a secular conflict but the Church was involved. At Akita and elsewhere Mary has told us that schism will come inside the Church itself.
The young seer Segatashya would experience a taste of schism. The Catholic girls at their remote jungle school in Kibeho began experiencing apparitions of the Blessed Mother toward the end of 1981, about six months after the Marian apparitions began in faraway Medjugorje. In July 2, 1982 a 15 year-old pagan boy named Segatashya was resting in his family’s bean patch. Neither he, nor his siblings, nor his parents had learned to read. They were extremely poor. The main task each day was to grow food or earn money for food. They lived in a grass hut and the children had no other clothing than what they were wearing. Segatashya looked up and saw Jesus.
I felt like I disappeared into another world, a world more beautiful. . . I was all alone, standing in a vast sea of vibrant, sweet-smelling, green grass. Then suddenly in a brilliant, white light appeared the most handsome man I had ever seen, he was floating high above me. He was standing in the middle of beautiful white flowers. He looked like He was in his early thirties. He was of a dark-skinned complexion, [not like equatorial Rwandans, but something luminous] . . . He was wearing the traditional tunic of a Rwandan man. He wore a white robe and white clothes crossing his shoulders. He looked like the sun was shining from Him. In his presence, I felt total peace.
We owe all our information on Segatashya to Immaculée Ilibagiza. During the young man’s brief life he became a sensational celebrity in Rwanda and the nearby Congo. Church authorities and psychiatrists taped-recorded many hours of interviews. Notebooks were filled. Immaculée grew up with lore about this amazing boy. Segatashya predicted the genocide, but it seemed too surreal. He said that his life would be short, but he was so young and strong. Then the genocide erupted with all the subtlety of a volcano. Churches and streets and rivers were filled with corpses. Houses were destroyed in efforts to expose hiding places. Thousands fled across the borders. In the melee, at the age of twenty-seven, Segatashya was shot to death, one casualty among a million, one seer among dozens. His parents were dead, his brothers were dead. The nation was in shambles. Who could stop to think about collecting any memoirs? The documents of the first three seers were on their way to Rome. Other seers would have to wait their turn. But would there be sufficient living witnesses, written testimonies, photographs, tape recordings? Rwanda was a war zone.
Shortly before the genocide Immaculée had her one and only opportunity to meet Segatashya in person. He had just taken a job as custodian at the very campus where she was finishing college. He graciously answered all her questions. After the genocide she was off to the United States to work in the United Nations on behalf of Rwanda, to fall in love and settle down in the United States since Tutsis still felt unsafe among Hutu neighbors. Immaculée loved Mary deeply and wanted her apparition of Kibeho to become known, but in telling the story Immaculée focused on the officially approved seers. She steered clear of the blatantly doomsday messages of the pagan convert to Catholicism–that is, until Segatashya began appearing in her dreams and begging that she spread his message without delay. So she consulted numerous Church officials. They assured her that he had received unanimous approval during his lifetime. She was encouraged to set off for Rwanda to gather what data she could.
In her book “The Boy who met Jesus” she gives many details of his mission, and she has released other information onto the internet. Segatashya’s primary message was threefold: conversion to prepare for one’s individual death, for the Second Coming and for the end of the world. Segatashya, like Stefano Gobbi, tended to conflate the end of the world with the Second Coming, but none of their testimony prevents the interpretation that they are separate events. In her locutions to Fr. Gobbi Mary always qualified the Second Coming as a “coming in glory.” Jesus often told Segatashya that the most important thing was to emphasize, was the end of the world for each person at the moment of death. No one can say that God failed to give Rwanda ample opportunity for conversion. Indeed many victims had converted before they died in the genocide. For a million Rwandans it was the end of their world.
Jesus Christ sent me here today to tell you, and all men: Renew your hearts. The day is coming when things will really get hard for humanity. You must change your heart while there is still time. Soon those who have refused to repent will not be able to do so.
“Know that I am with you. Pray to Me to sustain you in a true way . . . Your home is not this world, heaven is your home.”
Immediately after his encounter with Jesus, Segatashya had infused knowledge of the truth of the Catholic faith. He wanted baptism, but was delayed some months as Church authorities made him go through the usual paths of instruction. Segatashya converted his entire family. After awhile Jesus instructed him to go to Kibeho. The boy had never traveled any distance from home. He had only the poor, torn clothing on his back. He heard about large crowds at Kibeho. He felt shy and intimidated, but he obeyed Jesus. Soon he was pulled onto stage with the major seers. He would fall into ecstasy in front of the crowds and deliver powerful messages. The following are random quotations, probably delivered at different times or locations
Anyone who comes calling himself Jesus, don’t believe in him.
The ways in which Satan will try to deceive in those days will be many. For example, he might come and stand where you can hear him well. He will say that he is Jesus and is coming to heal people. . . He will trick people. He will show them miracles and tell people that he will heal them and so they will come to get healed.
Satan will come calling himself Jesus and other names. At times he will call himself a messenger of Jesus who is coming to perform all the miracles Jesus did in the past. Satan will be coming seeking attention and calling himself the Son of God. He will want you to see the good he has done. He will say, “You see I saved you from this or that…”
Satan might use food to attract people, telling people that he is doing what Jesus did in the past, feeding the hungry. The food will have poison that will blind people’s hearts from the truth and the love of God and neighbor. . . Don’t accept his lies or his food.
Because of the many who have refused to acknowledge and repent of their sins, difficulties will increase. Demons will come from all corners of the world and will start to tempt people with all sorts of miracles telling you that, “I am Jesus. I am here to end all your problems. I will give you everything you want and give you all you are lacking.”
The one who will come saying that God and Satan are brothers, don’t believe in him. Anyone who will come saying that Jesus sent him to give you a message and you must go through (this or that person) so he can show you how to reach God, don’t believe him.
When you hear someone claiming to be Me, or acting in my name, but use words that contradict those I have said in the Bible, you will know they are demons trying to lead you away from the light of God. Don’t accept them.
The one who will lead you on the bad road, you will know him right away. The one who leads with truth, you will know him as well. . . .
You will know that My return is near when you see the explosion of wars between religions. When you see that, know that I am on the way back. Once the wars of religions begin, nothing will stop the fighting. Towards the end, there will be wars, and nation will fight against nation, and religion will fight against religion. Families will also fight against one another. Parents will fight their children and children their parents and children will fight among themselves. Many miseries will follow because many people will continue to refuse to repent.
In the last days, the sun will be very hot and many people will die from famine and other calamities that will follow this famine. There will be many temptations from the devil in those times, because there will be greater suffering on earth than the world has ever known before.
In many places, the sun will beat down so relentlessly that the earth will dry up and crops will fail year after year. Winds will carry away all the soil, and never-ending rains will bring great flooding. Hunger will grip many nations. Many will fight each other for food, and scores will starve to death.
Those who will believe in Me, they will be persecuted heavily. I am telling you don’t be discouraged, I will be near you.
Let those who know that I set foot on earth, know that I am on my way back to take those who have worked well for Me to heaven for their eternal reward.
All of the above might be taken literally, but the following seems to me to be symbolic:
Everything you see here on earth will burn and end, but the promises I made with the world will remain. The sun and the moon will fall on earth, then fire will come from inside the earth and burn everything that remains on earth.
The earth would disintegrate before the sun crashed into it? The sun is 109 times larger than the earth, just a sunspot. Why mention the moon? It’s a dot. And how could there be anything remaining from this “crash” that would require another fire coming up from the center? The Apocalypse is full of symbols and Mary has been explaining them to us. Jesus Himself tells Segatashya to interpret as symbolic the passage in the gospels:
Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days!Mt 24:19; Mk 13:17; Lk 21:23
Woe especially to two groups of people when I return. Those who will be pregnant and those who will be breastfeeding during those times. . . . I am speaking about those who are pregnant with sins, who have sinful plans, or who are breastfeeding others by leading them to sin. Of course, pregnant and breastfeeding women will suffer more, because they will be carrying another person; it is the same as those who are breastfeeding their babies. But those who will suffer without measure are those, men or women, who will be pregnant with sin or breastfeeding sin in others.
All of this was amazing enough for a young pagan boy who had known nothing of the Bible and had never left home, but then Jesus tells him to leave Rwanda and set off for Burundi. The clergy had already heard of him. Segatashya had an excellent reputation in Rwanda, but the bishops and priests were cruel and hard-hearted. They treated him badly and he had to leave Burundi without an opportunity to preach to the people. He felt very ashamed but Jesus was very pleased with his obedience. After his failure, Segatashya was very surprised when Jesus appeared to him in 1986 and asked him to go to the country presently known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This jungle nation was vast compared to Rwanda. More than 200 languages or dialects were spoken. How could Segatashya communicate?
He crossed the border, stood by the road and began to deliver the messages from Jesus. Someone approached and began translating. Crowds gathered. Protestant ministers invited him to speak in their churches. Segatashya began overhearing conversations in Swahili. Within a week he was completely fluent. Something similar happened with the Lingala language, and then the Ciluba language. Although he had received the gift of tongues and gave many interviews and some were published in newspapers, Segatashya never learned to read.
The Catholic clergy in the Congo were more humble and receptive than Burundi. They assigned him a driver with security personnel because the country was full of crime and political violence. Segatashya sojourned in 37 parishes during several years. At first his message was similar to what he had delivered in Rwanda, but now Jesus told him to inform the Congo that polygamy was against the will of God. Unlike Rwanda, it was common in the Congo for a man to have two or more wives, even those who were otherwise devout Christians. It was an extremely unwelcome and unpopular message, but Segatashya bravely related Jesus’ words:
The second wife is an adulterer like all adulterers because she is committing adultery with the man who has the sacrament of marriage with the first wife.
The second wife is a murderer like any other murderer, because she is killing the love and the peace of the first wife, who has the sacrament of marriage, because she stole her husband.
The second wife is a thief like any other thief because she is stealing the husband of the wife who has a sacrament of marriage.
The second wife is killing my commandments. My ninth commandment said that you shall not covet another’s blessings, another wife’s husband or another’s marriage.
A man who has two wives is like the second wife. He is a killer like any other killer, because he is killing the promises he made to his first wife and to Me and to others.
A man who has two wives is a thief like any other thief. He is stealing from God, who gave him permission to have one wife, yet he gave himself two wives.
A man who has two wives is killing my commandments. My ninth commandment said that you shall not covet another’s blessings, a woman that is not yours.
Jesus told me that these people were setting a very bad and dangerous example for the younger folks who belonged to the church and looked up to their elders for guidance. He said that there are no exceptions when it comes to polygamy and that people who worshiped him in church should know better than to commit such an obvious sin.
The people began to boo and demand that he return home to Rwanda. Each time they would surround him and say: “Polygamy is practiced in the Bible . . . What about the patriarchs in the Old Testament? Abraham had three wives, King David had six wives, and King Solomon had seven hundred wives! Why could they do it and we can’t? Why can’t we even have two wives?”
The people who were most outraged by the message were the women! Forty or fifty angry women confronted me one evening after I’d finished speaking at a church hall in Lubumbashi. “How can you say those things!” one of them shouted. “Most of the men in my village were killed during war, and now there’s a shortage of men. What do you expect us women to do when it is time for us to get married and have children? What is wrong with several different women sharing a husband? It’s better to share a husband than to never have a husband! Or is it that God wants us all to be nuns?” Another said she’d been in a polygamous marriage for 12 years and it was impossible to follow Christ’s message to get out of such a marriage. “I’m the third wife, but I have been married to my husband for a long time,” she told me. “We have three children together, what do you want me to do? Am I supposed to leave my husband? Where would I go? How would I feed my children? Must I become a beggar so my children won’t starve? There are lots of women like me”
Segatashya was no theologian. All he could do was reply “Jesus came to Earth to show us the new way.”He would tell them that God’s will is not always easy to follow, but we must follow it. Our life on Earth is difficult, but it is fleeting. We will be rewarded in heaven for living the way God wants us to on Earth. He would reiterate Jesus words that men and women who enter into a polygamous relationship are like murderers because they kill the purity of the love that God bestows upon a man and woman when they join together as husband and wife during the holy sacrament of marriage.
Nor was Segatashya’s condemnation of fornication welcome.
Many young men and women . . . approached me after my talk, they wanted to know what was wrong with sex outside of marriage.
“It’s not normal for any man to go for a long period of time without having a woman,” one young man stated. “And why shouldn’t young women be able to be with a man if the man can help her pay for her rent or her tuition? Isn’t it okay for a young woman to benefit a little bit in a relationship with a man? What’s wrong with making a man happy if the man makes the woman happy in return?”
Segatashya answered by repeating the message Jesus and Mary delivered at Kibeho regarding premarital sex:
“Men and women must respect themselves and treat their bodies as though they are temples of the Lord, not allowing their bodies to be treated as a playground of the flesh. They put their souls at risk for fleeting moments of pleasure. Teenagers and young adults are thinking about having fun; they’re not thinking about the consequences of their actions or about their immortal souls. This is something your church elders should advise you about.”
He told the young people to pray for God to bring men and women of faith and good character to their church. Those are the role models young people need, not people who are polygamous and live in a constant state of adultery. The youth should learn the truth that adultery is a serious, serious sin. It breaks the Seventh Commandment. It is best to be chaste until marriage and faithful in a marriage that is a union between one man and one woman.
But Segatashya took comfort. He said:
Although this message was never well received, because the truth is sometimes hard to take, Jesus assured me that many listened . . . and that many changed their ways.