LESSER KNOWN APPARITIONS OF OUR LADY. These apparitions have been approved by the Holy See.

Our Lady of Cabeza. Legend has that in the first century an image of Our Lady was brought to Spain by a disciple of St James.  In the century the villagers hid the sacred image in some rocks in a most inhospitable mountain to keep it safe from occupying Arabs. A shepherd, Juan Alonso Rivas, was tending his cattle and goats near the top of the mountain when he saw a bright light and the ringing of a bell. Juan suffered from complete paralysis of his left arm. In a gap formed by two huge granite rocks he found the image of the Virgin Mary. He knelt and prayed. The image spoke to him and asked him to have a chapel built there. Juan found that his paralysis had been cured. He returned to  his village and seeing his cure all believed. During the Spanish Civil War the chapel was destroyed but has since been rebuilt. During April there is a pilgrimage when the faithful visit the Chapel on the hill.

In 1909 declared patroness of Andujar  by Pope Pius X and in 1959 declared patroness of the Diocese of Jaen by Pope John VIII.

Our Lady of China. The anti-Christian Boxer Rebellion took place in China from 1899 to 1901. A great number of their soldiers attacked a small community of Christians in the village of Donglu. The Virgin Mary appeared in white and a fiery horseman (believed to be St Michael) chased the soldiers away. The pastor, Fr. Wu, commissioned a painting of Mary with Christ as a child dressed in golden imperial robes. This painting became the image of Our Lady of China, Donglu, which in 1924, became a pilgrimage shrine.

In 1928 the image was blessed and promulgated by Pope Pius XI.

Our Lady of Good Help. This is certainly a lesser known apparition. I hadn’t previously heard of it until I commenced this research.

In 1859 Adele Brise, a 28 year old emigre from Belgium who was now living in Wisconsin in the USA saw a vision of a woman clothed in white. Adele described the woman as surrounded by a bright light with a yellow sash around her waist and a crown of stars above her flowing bond locks. She was frightened by the vision and prayed until it disappeared. The following Sunday on her way to Mass she saw the apparition a second time. She was walking with the her sister and a friend but they didn’t see anything. She asked her parish priest for advice, and he told her that if she saw the apparition again, she should say “In the name God who are you and what do you wish of me?” Returning from Mass on the same day she saw the apparition for the third time and spoke the words the priest had given her. The lady replied, “I am the Queen of Heaven, who prays for the conversion of sinners, and I wish you to do the same”. Adele was also given a mission to “gather the children in this wild country and teach them what they  should know for salvation”. Adele devoted the rest of her life to teaching children. Other women joined her in this work and they formed a community of sisters according to the rule of the Third Order Franciscans.

Adele’s father, Lambert Brise, built a small chapel at the site of the apparition. In 1861 A larger church was built. So many pilgrims came that in 1880 an ever larger church had to be built along with a school and convent.

In 1871 a firestorm enveloped the whole area around the chapel and church. Adele refused to evacuate but organised a procession to ask the Virgin Mary for her protection. The whole surrounding area was destroyed by fire but the chapel and its grounds and the people who had taken refuge were miraculously unharmed.

After a two year investigation The Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help was approved by the Catholic Church in the USA. Adele died 1896 when she was 59. She had successfully carried out the work given to her by Our Lady.

Mother of the Word. Also known as Our Lady of Kibeho. This is another apparition which I have not previously heard of and is it very cruel and bloodthirsty. Kibeho is in Rwanda. There are three main visionaries: Alphonsine 17, Nathalie 20 and Marie Claire 21, though others also claimed to have visions. The purpose of the visions was to warn of the appalling genocide to come when the Tutsi’s and Hutu’s attacked each other. On the 19th August 1982 the visionaries saw Our Lady who identified herself as ”The Mother of God”. In the vision they were shown violence, dismembered corpses and destruction. Otherwise they had separate apparitions but all with the same prediction of genocide. The Tutsi’s and Hutu’s spoke the same language an generally practiced Christianity so why the conflict? It sadly came down to warfare of ‘class’. The Tutsi’s had greater wealth, they favoured cattle ranching rather than the lower class farming of the Hutu’s. The final outrage which led to the start of the conflict was when, in April 1994, a plane carrying Rwanda’s President and the Hutu president was shot down This double assassination triggered the response. When the conflict started it was appalling. In the 100 days during which Hutu militants targeted Tutsis. Between 800.00 and 1 million people were killed. In some cases next door neighbours were being slaughtered. The Virgin asked the visionaries to pray the ‘Chaplet of the Seven Sorrows’ to obtain the favour of repentance.

Since then western leaders have apologized to the Rwanda Government and people  for failing to act during the genocide. Since 2000 the cost per head in foreign aid has almost trebled to £68 per person helping to built their ‘Agaciro’ which translates as ‘Dignity’.

In June 2001 Rwandan Bishop Augustin Misago of the approved the Marian apparition of Kibeho. The Maria sanctuary is named ‘Shrine of Our Lady of Sorrows’.

The visionaries either fled the violence of were among the casualties of the genocide. Their memory is kept alive in the Shrine.

Our Lady of Laus. Situated in Dauphiné, in southern France at the foot of the Alps, just southeast of Gap, is the vale of Laus. Its name means lake in the local dialect as there once was one at the bottom of the basin. In 1666 the hamlet held twenty households scattered in little huts. The inhabitants had built a chapel dedicated to the Annunciation, Notre-Dame de Bon Rencontre (Our Lady of the Good Encounter, i.e., the Annunciation).

Apparitions. Benoite was born in September 16, 1647, into extreme poverty in the village of St Etienne d’Avancon. Her father died when she was only seven. By the time Benoite was twelve she took employment tending sheep In May 1664, the seventeen-year-old Benoite saw an apparition of Saint Maurice, a 3rd-century martyr who was greatly honoured at Laus. This was in a nearby chapel, then in ruins, dedicated to St. Maurice. He warned her that if she remained in that area, the local guards would take her flock if they found it there. St. Maurice told the shepherdess to go to the Valley of Kilns, above Saint-Étienne, where she would see the Mother of God.

On May 16 Benoite took her sheep to the Valley of Kilns. She came to a grotto, when Mary, holding the Child Jesus in her arms, appeared to her. Her offer to share the hard bread she had made the beautiful lady smile, but she left without saying a word. For a period of about 4 months, the Lady came back every day, and Benoite heard her speak. Others could not hear what Mary said. On August 29, the Lady told Benoite that her name is Mary.

The Lady instructed Benoite to go to Laus from her own village nearby and to look for her there "where you will smell a very nice perfume". Benoite made her way to Laus and found an old Chapel dedicated to Notre Dame de Bon Rencontre, and, while the smell of the beautiful perfume was there, the Chapel was in a bad condition. "It is my desire that a new chapel be built here in honour of my beloved Son. It will become a place of conversion for numerous sinners and I shall appear here very often," said the beautiful lady.

She told Benoite that the oil from the sanctuary lamp would work miracles with the infirm if they received the anointing with faith in her intercession.

Message Our Lady of Laus asked for sinners to do penance, a chapel of Eucharistic adoration to be built so Jesus could convert sinners, and a house for priests to be built so the priests could administer the sacraments to sinners. At the heart of the message given to Benoite is a conversion of souls which aims to bring full reconciliation with oneself, with others and wit God.

Veneration. Several saints including Saint Julian Eymard made pilgrimage to Laus. He did so when he was eleven and preparing for his First Holy Communion. Later he wrote “That is where I first came to know and love Mary”.

Our Lady of Laus received approval of the Church in 2008 during the Pontificate of Benedict XVI

Our Lady of the Piilar. This is associated with St James who in 40 AD is claimed to have visited Spain and had a Marian Apparition of Our Lady holding the Child Jesus atop a Pillar surrounded by angels. Pope Callixtus III granted indulgences towards her shrine and in 1905 Pope Pius X granted the image Canonical Coronation. The tradition of the Apparition can be traced to the 15th Century.

Following the Apparition in 40 AD St James returned to Jerusalem where in 44 AD he became a martyr by being beheaded. His disciples allegedly returned his body to Spain.

Our Lady of Zeitoun. The first apparition at Zeitoun was on the 2nd April 1968 when a Muslim bus mechanic working across the street from St Mary’s Coptic Church thought he saw a woman attempting suicide by jumping from the church roof. Others saw the figure and realised ir was an apparition of The Virgin Mary. Police tried to disperse the crowd which gathered but they were unsuccessful. The vision ended after a few minutes.

A week later the phenomenon appeared again and after that apparitions became more frequent, sometimes two-three times a week, for several years, ending in 1971. According to Coptic tradition the site is where the Holy Family stayed during their flight into Egypt.

A committee was appointed to investigate the matter. On the 5th May 1968 Coptic Orthodox Pope Kyrillos VI approved the apparition.      

Our Lady of Lezajsk. Thomas Michalek, of Lezajsk in Poland, saw a bright light and a lady who identified herself as The Blessed Virgin. She said “Here my son will be loved and respected, and whosoever shall call on my intercession will receive my blessing”. Thomas was not believed and was even thrown into prison. Eventually a small chapel was built and later a Shrine and Basilica was built which in April 1752 Pope Benedict XIV ordered to be crowned.

Our Lady of Siluva. The history of this shrine which is in Lithuania starts in 1457 when a church was built in honour of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In 1593 the population became predominately Calvinist and many Catholic churches were closed. But the old church stayed open for a while but was eventually burned to the ground.  

In the summer of 1608 some children tending their sheep reported having seen a lady, holding a baby, appearing at the very spot where the church had stood. She was weeping bitterly. The children returned the next day accompanied by a Calvinist minister, and they all saw the lady. A small wooden church was built on the site of the original church. In 1786 the present day Basilica was built.

Pope Pius VI approved devotions to Our Lady of Siluva.

Our Lady of Hope. Also known as Our Lady of Pontmain. This Title of Our Blessed Mother arises from her appearance to several children in Pontmain, France on January 17, 1871. 

In 1861, Kaiser Wilhelm I ascended the throne of Prussia, and immediately appointed Otto von Bismark as his chancellor.  Their goal was to unite all German-speaking states into a single country.  Together, they assumed an aggressive, bellicose stance.  To assert as well as to test its position among their neighbors, Prussia waged three quick wars: First, against Denmark, in 1864, taking Holstein; second, against, Austria in 1866, putting Prussia in control of Germany; and finally, against France in 1870.

On August 1, 1870, the first cannon was fired, and the Franco-Prussian War had begun.  The French army quickly fell to the militarily superior Prussian army.  By December 27, the Prussians had invaded Paris.  Now they turned to the western provinces of Normandy and Brittany.

By mid-January, 1871, the Prussian army was just a few miles from the town of Pontmain, which was located right inside the French defensive line.  The citizens feared for their lives.  Father Guerin, who had been the parish priest for thirty-five years, instructed the children to pray to the Blessed Mother for protection.

On the evening of Tuesday, January 17, at about five o’clock, twelve-years-old Eugene Barbadette was leaving his father’s barn.  He looked up into the starry sky and saw a beautiful Lady standing in the air, about twenty feet above the roof line and between the two chimneys of Jean and Augustine Guidecoq’s home across the way.  The Lady was wearing a dark blue dress covered with gold stars, a black veil, and a simple gold crown.  Eugene stood there entranced in the snow for about fifteen minutes.

His father and ten-year-old brother, Joseph, came out of the barn.  Eugene cried out, “Look over there!  Above the house!  What do you see?”  Joseph described the Lady in the same way Eugene had seen her.  Their father did not see her, so he sternly ordered them to return to feeding the horses in the barn.

For whatever reason, a little later, the father told the brothers to go out and look again.  They again saw her.  Joseph kept saying, “How beautiful she is!  How beautiful she is!”  Their mother, Victoria Barbadette, had now appeared on the scene, and told Joseph to be quiet since he was attracting so much attention.  Knowing that the boys were honest and did not lie, she said, “It is perhaps the Blessed Virgin who appears to you.  Since you see her, let us say five Our Fathers and five Hail Marys in her honor.”  (The brothers were truly pious: They had begun their day serving Holy Mass, reciting the Rosary and offering the Stations of the Cross for the intentions of their older brother, serving in the French army.)

After reciting the prayers in the barn so as not to attract attention, Mrs. Barbadette asked if the children still saw the Lady.  When they replied, “Yes,” she went for her eyeglasses.  When she returned, bringing their sister Louise with her, neither of them saw anything.  The mother’s mood changed, and she accused them of lying.

Mrs. Barbadette then thought of calling the religious sisters.  She said, “Sisters are better than you are.  If you see, they will certainly see, too.”  Sister Vitaline also knew that the boys were honest.  However, she too could not see the Lady.  Sister Vitaline then went to a neighboring house, and asked two little girls, Francoise Richer (age eleven) and Jeanne-Marie Lebosse (age nine) to come with her.  The two girls described the Lady in the same way.

Sister Marie Edouard had now joined the group.  Upon hearing what the two girls had said, she went to bring Father Guerin and another child, Eugene Friteau (six-and-one-half years old).  Eugene also saw the Lady.  By this time a large crowd of about fifty villagers had gathered.  Augustine Boitin, only twenty-five months old, reached to the Lady and said, “The Jesus!  The Jesus!”  Only these six children would see the vision of Our Lady of Hope.

Father Guerin told everyone to pray, so they knelt and said the Rosary.  Sr. Marie Edouard led the crowd in reciting the Magnificat.  Gradually, a message in gold letters appeared in the sky: “But pray my children.”  All of the children saw the same message.

Sister Marie Edouard then led the crowd in singing the litanies of the Blessed Virgin.  The message continued to unfold, “God will hear you in a short time.”

News came that the Prussians were now at Laval, very close to Pontmain.  The message continued, “My Son allows Himself to be moved with compassion.”  When the children had announced this message, Father Guerin told the crowd to sing a hymn of praise.  Sr. Marie Edouard said, “Mother of Hope, of name so sweet, protect our country, pray for us, pray for us!”  The people responded, “If [the Prussians] were at the entrance of the village, we should have no fear now!”

At the conclusion of the hymn, the message disappeared.  The crowd then sang a hymn of repentance and reparation to Jesus.  The Lady appeared sad and held a large red crucifix with the inscription “Jesus Christ.”

At 8:30 p.m., the people sang, Ave, Maris Stella, and the crucifix disappeared.  She again smiled, and two small white crosses appeared on her shoulders.  She lowered her hands, as seen in images of the Immaculate Conception.  A white veil gradually covered her, from foot to crown.  At about 8:45 p.m., the children said, “It is over.”  Our Lady had disappeared.

While this apparition was happening, General Von Schmidt received orders from the Prussian High Command to halt his campaign and withdraw.  Ten days later, an armistice was signed between France and Prussia.  The miraculous intercession of our Blessed Mother had saved Pontmain.

Because of this apparition, devotion to Our Lady of Hope spread.  The message of our Blessed Mother is that of hope:  “But pray my children.  God will hear you in a short time.  My Son allows Himself to be moved with compassion.

The apparition was approved in 1872 during the pontificate of Pope Pius IX.