The Apparitions of Our Lady of Kibeho
Kibeho is a small village found in southwestern Rwanda in the district of Nyaruguru. Popularly known as a place of apparitions, Kibeho has been a global pilgrimage destination for Roman Catholics since 28th November 1981 when a young school girl named Alphonsine Mumureke at Kibeho High School, heard a voice and saw an image of a beautiful woman dressed in neither white nor black. Alphosine was at the school cafeteria when this happened. She presented herself as “Nyina wa Jambo” translated as “Mother of the Word” and the Alphonsine immediately recognized her as the Virgin Mary. She issued the warning that Rwanda would become a hell on earth in a war which also would turn the waters of the rivers in Kibeho into red with blood.
When this girl reported what she had seen, she was mocked and scorned by students including her friends and teachers and her village members avoided her.
She was looked at a mad girl or possessed by evil while others went on and called her a mediocre student who wanted intending to prank and make herself more accepted in this school that was conducted by a Congregation of Benebikira Sisters. Two other girls from her school, Anathalie and Marie Claire said they had been visited by the Virgin Mary too on January 12, 1982 and March 2, 1982 respectively. They insisted they had been given the same apocalyptic warning and the three were christened as “The Trinity”.
However much there were a lot of critics and objections against the Apparitions, there was a quick development of a belief, both inside and outside the school. Towards the end of the year 1981, Alphonsine and a number of converted students and teachers started to regularly meet for prayers reciting the rosary and sing hymns to honor the Virgin Mary. In May 1982, the occurrence of the apparitions appeared in a different way when it spread like a bush fire outside Kibeho High School towards the primary school, the hills around the place and its remote areas. As the number of seers inside the school stopped, new alleged seers increased outside of the school. After about 7 months following the first apparitions, there was a question of alleged apparitions of Jesus, though the alleged seers of this later on became well known to the pilgrims of Kibeho and later on ended up developing in a disturbing way that dishonored them.
The apparitions were marked by heavy falls at the end. They were also characterized by an abundance of words, the length of the ecstasies, prayers of intercession, songs and blessings and others mortifications. In 1983, lent was characterized by extraordinary fasting that was closely monitored by a team of physicians from the National University of Rwanda. Kibeho apparitions attracted a lot of people whereby some days like May 30, 1982 a crowd of about 10,000 visited this place.
By the time Alphinsine joined the school in 1981, it was called Kibeho High School. In 1984, its name was changed to Ecole des Lettres de Kibeho (Kibeho School of the Letters) and later in 1998 until today, it is called Groupe Scolaire Mère du Verbe (Mother of the Word High School).
After about 10 years of the Visions of the trinity, Rwanda faced a conflict that led to loss of many people’s lives through massacres. In approximately 100 days, an estimate of one million people out of seven million Rwandese had died in the genocide. It was the ruling Hutu that were against the Tutsi and this came to be known as the “Rwanda genocide of 1994”. At Kibeho Church, over 17,000 people were killed during the genocide.
Following a 20-year investigation after the apparitions and 7 years after the genocide (that is in 2001) by the Vatican, the pope certified the apparitions as authentic and since then, thousands of people travel to Kibeho. The major site is Kibeho Church where the pilgrims receive Holy Communion. The two major dates for the pilgrimage on the calendar are 15th August known as the assumption day and 28th November which is the anniversary of the Virgin Mary’s appearance.
Best time to visit Kibeho
During the peak season and the days of the pilgrimage of the calendar), Kibeho receives between 25,000 and 30,000 people. It hosts pilgrims from different parts of the world including Italy, France, America, Poland and India.
If you do not want crowds, then visit Kibeho during the low season where it records about 100 visitors. Most tourists recorded during the low season are from Rwanda, Tanzania, the DR Congo and Uganda.
Location of Kibeho
Spoke of as the place of apparitions and pilgrimage in Rwanda, this place can be visited in self drive or a guided tour. It is situated in the southern part of the “land of a thousand hills”, in Nyaurguru district, 36km from the residence of Bishop of Gikongoro and 30 km from the residence of the Bishop of Butare. Hire a car from Kigali and drive through this beautiful country to Kibeho to get an insight of the apparitions hearing the history from the site guide.
Additionally, Rwanda has three national parks that offer exhilarating experiences of an African safari. Volcanoes national park is a great gorilla trekking destination with other interesting activities like golden monkey tracking, mountain climbing and hiking to Dian Fossey tomb. Visit Nyungwe forest national park for the thrilling canopy walk and chimp trekking. Rwanda’s only savannah park Akagera has lots of big game and birds which make wildlife game drives very rewarding. Book for your trip to Rwanda to witness the historical Kibeho site and also adventure its rich national parks. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on +256-700135510.