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Virgo by Josef Moroder-Lusenberg
A Marian apparition is a reported supernatural appearance by Mary, the mother of Jesus, or a series of related such appearances over a period of time.
Mary was a first-century BC Galilean Jewish woman of Nazareth, and the mother of Jesus, according to the New Testament and the Quran.
In order to be classified as a Marian apparition, the person or persons who claim to see Mary (the "seers") must claim that they see her visually located in their environment.(If the person claims to hear Mary but not see her, this is known as an interior locution, not an apparition. Also excluded from the category of apparitions are dreams, visions experienced in the imagination, the claimed perception of Mary in ordinarily-explainable natural phenomena, and miracles associated with Marian artwork, such as weeping statues.)
A dream is a succession of images, ideas, emotions, and sensations that usually occur involuntarily in the mind during certain stages of sleep. The content and purpose of dreams are not fully understood, although they have been a topic of scientific, philosophical and religious interest throughout recorded history. Dream interpretation is the attempt at drawing meaning from dreams and searching for an underlying message. The scientific study of dreams is called oneirology.
Since the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ on Calvary, a number of people have claimed to have had visions of Jesus Christ and personal conversations with him. Some people make similar claims regarding his mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. Discussions about the authenticity of these visions have often invited controversy. The Catholic Church endorses a fraction of these claims, and various visionaries it accepts have achieved beatification, or even sainthood.
Perceptions of religious imagery in natural phenomena, sometimes called simulacra, are sightings of images with spiritual or religious themes or import to the perceiver. The images perceived, whether iconic or aniconic, may be the faces of religious notables or the manifestation of spiritual symbols in the natural, organic media or phenomena of the natural world. The occurrence or event of perception may be transient or fleeting or may be more enduring and monumental. The phenomenon appears to approach a cultural universal and may often accompany nature worship, animism, and fetishism, along with more formal or organized belief systems.
Believers consider such apparitions to be real and objective interventions of divine power, rather than subjective experiences generated by the perceiving individuals, even in cases where the apparition is reportedly seen by only some, not all, of the people present at the event's location.
Marian apparitions are considered expressions of Mary's ongoing motherly care for the Church. The understood purpose of each apparition is to draw attention to some aspect of the Christian message, given the needs of a particular time and place. Apparitions are often accompanied by other alleged supernatural phenomena, such as medical cures. However, such miraculous events are not considered the purpose of Marian apparitions, but exist primarily to validate and draw attention to the message.
Each Marian apparition is often associated with one or more titles given to Mary, often based on the location of the apparition, such as Our Lady of Pontmain in Pontmain, France. Others are named using a title which Mary applies to herself during the alleged apparition, as in the case of The Lady of All Nations.
Mary is known by many different titles, epithets, invocations and other names.
Our Lady of Pontmain, also known as Our Lady of Hope, is the title given to the Virgin Mary on her apparition at Pontmain, France on 17 January 1871.
Pontmain is a commune in the Mayenne department in north-western France.
Some Marian apparitions have only one purported seer, such as Our Lady of Lourdes. Other apparitions have multiple seers; in the case of Our Lady of Fatima, there were only three seers of the apparition itself, but miraculous phenomena was reported by a crowd of approximately 70,000 people, and even by others located miles away.In other cases, the entirety of a large group of people claims to see Mary, as in the case of Our Lady of La Vang. Some modern mass apparitions, witnessed by hundreds of thousands, have also been photographed, such as Our Lady of Zeitoun.
Our Lady of Lourdes is a Roman Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary venerated in honour of the Marian apparitions that occurred in 1858 in the vicinity of Lourdes in France. The first of these is the apparition of 11 February 1858, when 14-year old Bernadette Soubirous told her mother that a "lady" spoke to her in the cave of Massabielle while she was gathering firewood with her sister and a friend. Similar apparitions of the "Lady" were reported on seventeen occasions that year, until the climax revelation of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception took place.
Our Lady of La Vang refers to a reported Marian apparition at a time when Catholics were persecuted and killed in Vietnam. The Shrine of our Lady of La Vang is situated in what is today Hai Phu commune in Hải Lăng District of Quảng Trị Province in Central Vietnam.
Our Lady of Zeitoun, also known simply as El-Zeitoun, Zeitun or rarely Our Lady of Light, was a mass Marian apparition that is supposed to have occurred in the Zeitoun district of Cairo, Egypt, over a period of 2–3 years beginning on April 2, 1968.
Most alleged apparitions involve the verbal communication of messages, but others are silent, such as the apparition of Our Lady of Knock.
Some apparitions are one-time events, such as Our Lady of La Salette. Others recur over an extended period of time, such as Our Lady of Laus, whose seer claimed 54 years of appearances. Public, serial apparitions (in which a seer not only says that they have experienced a vision, but that they expect it will reoccur, causing people to gather to observe) appear to be a relatively recent phenomenon; up until about the seventeenth century, most reported apparitions happened when the individual was alone, or at least no one else was aware of its occurrence.
Physical contact is hardly ever reported as part of Marian apparitions. In rare cases, a physical artifact is reportedly left behind, such as the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which is said to have been miraculously imprinted on the cloak of St. Juan Diego.
The Catholic Church believes that it is possible for actually-supernatural Marian apparitions to occur, but also believes that many claimed apparitions are fabricated by the seer or the result of something other than divine intervention. For this reason, the Catholic Church has a formal evaluation process established for assessing claimed apparitions.
In 1978, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith promulgated the currently-used investigation guidelines in a document entitled "Norms of the Congregation for Proceeding in Judging Alleged Apparitions and Revelations," better known as Normae Congregationis , a shortening of its Latin title. Investigations into alleged apparitions can be carried out by the local ordinary (i.e. diocesan bishop), the national episcopal conference, or the Holy See. Apparitions are evaluated on multiple criteria, including the sincerity and moral uprightness of the seers, the theological accuracy of the messsages, and positive spiritual fruits resulting from the apparition event.
Occasionally, an ecclesial authority will decide not to investigate the veracity of an apparition in itself, but will approve the religious practices that have grown around the alleged apparition, such as by authorizing public veneration connected with the apparition, or by granting a request contained in the apparition messages. Pope Leo XIII, for example, authorized the use of a scapular described in the messages of Our Lady of Pellevoisin,but did not pass judgment on the supernatural character of the apparition itself.
Even if a Catholic bishop approves an apparition, belief in the apparition is never required of the Catholic faithful.The Catholic faith is rooted in so-called Public Revelation, which ended with the death of the last living Apostle. A Marian apparition, on the other hand, is considered private revelation, which may emphasize some facet of the received public revelation for a specific purpose, but can never add anything new to the deposit of faith.
In the Catholic Church, approval of a Marian apparition is relatively rare. The majority of investigated apparitions are rejected as fraudulent or otherwise false.Recently rejected apparition claims include those of "Our Lady of Surbiton," denounced as fraudulent in 2007, and those associated with Holy Love Ministries in Elyria, Ohio, condemned in 2009. Some whose apparition claims are rejected proceed to break away from the Catholic Church and found splinter groups, as in the case of the Mariavite Church, the Palmarian Catholic Church, and the Fraternité Notre-Dame.
Marian apparitions, particularly those that are officially approved, often have a widespread impact on Christian piety and on the broader culture. Apparitions can become an engrained part of national identity, as Our Lady of Guadalupe is for the majority-Catholic population of Mexico.
In many cases, apparition seers report a request from Mary for the construction of a shrine on the spot of the apparition. Such Marian shrines often become popular sites of pilgrimage. The most-visited Marian shrine in the world is the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, which draws 10 million pilgrims each year. Other popular apparition-related Marian pilgrimage sites include the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima in Portugal (6-8 million per year ) and the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes in France (5 million annually).
Apparitions often lead to the establishment of Marian confraternities, movements, and societies that seek to heed and spread the messages of a particular apparition, such as the Blue Army of Our Lady of Fátima.
Occasionally, apparitions will introduce prayers that become incorporated into widespread Catholic practice, as in the case of the Fátima prayers.
Our Lady of Fátima, is a Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary based on the famed Marian apparitions reported in 1917 by three shepherd children at the Cova da Iria, in Fátima, Portugal. The three children were Lúcia dos Santos and her cousins Francisco and Jacinta Marto.
Our Lady of La Salette is a Marian apparition reported by two children, Maximin Giraud and Mélanie Calvat to have occurred at La Salette-Fallavaux, France, in 1846.
The Three Secrets of Fátima consist of a series of apocalyptic visions and prophecies which were supposedly given to three young Portuguese shepherds, Lúcia Santos and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto, by a Marian apparition, starting on May 13, 1917. The three children claimed to have been visited by the Virgin Mary six times between May and October 1917. The apparition is now popularly known as Our Lady of Fátima.
The Fátima prayers are five Catholic prayers that originate from the Marian apparitions at Fátima, Portugal, in 1917. The Decade Prayer, as the best known of these five prayers, is commonly added at the end of each decade of the Dominican Rosary, one of the most popular devotional practices in Roman Catholicism. Another two other prayers are also associated with the visions and may be classed as Fátima Prayers. However, they did not come to existence in Fátima but in Spain many years later. This brings the number of prayers to seven.
Necedah Shrine, officially the Queen of the Holy Rosary, Mediatrix of Peace Shrine, is a Marian shrine located in Necedah, Wisconsin. On November 12, 1949, Mary Ann Van Hoof (1909–1984) reported receiving a vision from the Blessed Virgin Mary. She claimed that in subsequent visions she was told to "bring the truth to people" through prayer and the rosary. The Roman Catholic Church investigated and found the reported visions and other phenomena indisputably faked, and when Van Hoof and her followers refused to desist, put her under interdict. Van Hoof and her followers then left the Roman Catholic Church and joined themselves to the Old Catholic movement.
Veronica Lueken was a Roman Catholic housewife from Bayside, New York, who, between 1970 until her death in 1995, reported experiencing apparitions of the Virgin Mary, Jesus, and numerous Catholic saints.
Private revelation is, in Christian theology, a message from God which can come in a variety of types.
Pierre Maximin Giraud, known as Maximin Giraud, was a French member of the Corps of Papal Zouaves and a Marian visionary of Our Lady of La Salette.
Roman Marian churches are religious buildings dedicated to the veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary. These churches were built throughout the history of the Catholic Church, and today they can be found on every continent including Antarctica. The history of Marian church architecture tells the unfolding story of the development of Roman Catholic Mariology.
The Lady of All Nations is a Catholic Marian title associated with alleged apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Ida Peerdeman of Amsterdam, Netherlands. Peerdeman claimed to have received 56 visions of the Lady from 1945 to 1959. The messages, as recorded by Peerdeman, focus on the universality of Mary's spiritual motherhood, and so refer to Mary with a definite article, as "The Lady of All Nations", in marked contrast to other Marian apparition titles, which typically use the formulation "Our Lady".
Our Lady of Medjugorje is the title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary by those who believe that she appeared in 1981 to six Herzegovinian teenagers in Medjugorje, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Local Diocese as well as the Catholic Church have not recognised the apparitions as either supernatural or authentic.
The Sanctuary of Fátima, also known as Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima, is a group of Catholic religious buildings and structures in Cova da Iria, in the civil parish of Fátima, in the municipality of Ourém, in Portugal.
Medjugorje, a village in Bosnia and Herzegovina, has been the site of apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary since 24 June 1981. Various officials of the Catholic Church have attempted to discern the validity of these Marian apparitions in order to provide guidance to potential devotees and pilgrims. On Dec. 7th 2017, it was reported that Archbishop Hoser, Pope Francis' envoy to Medjugorje, announced that official pilgrimages are allowed, stating, "dioceses and other institutions can organize official pilgrimages. It’s no longer a problem.” This pilgrimage was officially authorized by the Vatican in May 2019. The approval was made official with the celebration of a youth festival among pilgrims and Catholic clergy in Medjugorie in for five days in August 2019.
Normae Congregationis (NC) is a 1978 document written by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) which sets guidelines for Catholic bishops in discerning claims of private revelation such as Marian apparitions. It specifies the manner of discernment and the authorities competent to carry out such discernment.
Our Lady of the Rosary of San Nicolás is, in Catholicism, a title of veneration of the Virgin Mary associated with a reported private revelation to Gladys Quiroga de Motta, a middle-aged housewife, beginning in the 1980s in city of San Nicolás de los Arroyos, Argentina). Quiroga said that she was tasked with promoting devotion to the Mother of God under this title, with an emphasis on key passages in the Bible and a particular mystical stellar symbolism. The devotional image, that of a standing Madonna offering rosary beads to the faithful, resembles that of Our Lady of Mount Carmel offering the scapular to St. Simon Stock, while differing from traditional Dominican Seat-of-Wisdom-type depictions of Our Lady of the Rosary popularized by the Order of Preachers.
An apparition is best understood as a specific kind of vision in which a person or being not normally within the visionary's perceptual range appears to that person, not in a world apart as in a dream, and not as a modification of a concrete object as in the case of a weeping icon or moving statue, but as part of the environment, without apparent connection to verifiable visual stimuli.
Even if the Church recognizes an apparition as worthy of belief, no Catholic is obligated to believe in any private revelation, such as an apparition. The Church simply says that a person can find spiritual aid from an apparition, if he or she so chooses.