Q: What is the latest news about Kibeho (Rwanda)?
A: Thousands gathered at a special Mass Nov. 29 at the start of a jubilee year to mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the first apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the small town here that was one of the most gruesome sites of the genocide in the mid-1990s in Rwanda. The Catholic bishops of Rwanda and Burundi led the celebrations attended by thousands of priests, men and women religious and lay people from Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Uganda and Europe. During the Mass, apostolic nuncio Archbishop Anselmo Guido Pecorari read a letter from then-Pope Benedict XVI announcing that a plenary indulgence had been granted by the apostolic penitentiary to pilgrims who visit Kibeho during the jubilee year.
"Our Lady of Kibeho is a beacon of hope, a light for all Africa and the world. This was demonstrated by the fact that ten-thousand people braved torrential rain to take part in the ceremony to open the Kibeho jubilee year," Bishop Augustin Misago of Gikongoro, told the FIDES news service.. "I was deeply moved at the devotion of the people taking part in the procession and the Mass which followed," Bishop Misago said.
The apparitions at Kibeho were officially recognized [Kibeho_letters] by the church through the local bishop on June 29, 2001, following twenty years of investigation by two commissions, one theological and the other medical. Only the apparitions, which were reported between 1981 and 1989, to three people were recognized: Alphonsine Mumureke, Nathalie Mukamazimpaka and Marie Claire Mukangango. Mary presented herself to them as Nyina wa Jambo, or Mother of the Word. Among the apparitions reported were visions in 1982 of sights of rivers of blood, which some later saw as an ominous foreshadowing of the Rwandan genocide. Kibeho was the site of an estimated four-thousand and eight-thousand people killed in April 1994 during the Rwandan genocide, which took the lives of more than one-hundred-thousand [see note below]. Some were murdered in the same school where the apparitions had occurred.
Source: Catholic Information Service for Africa (CISA), date: 12/4/2006
N.B. Other reputable sources provide much higher casualty estimates, with losses of life nearing one million.
There is some recent positive news though. The Associated of Marian Helpers has been constructing a Cana Center in Kibeho. For more information, click into kibeho-cana.org.