There are many reported apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary. While Catholics are required to show reverence (not worship, which is given to God alone) to Mary, apparitions are an optional devotion. If, after an investigation, the Church finds an apparition to have merit it is approved for veneration. An apparition is the private appearance of Mary to individuals. Usually a message is given to the individual.
Currently, Mary is believed to be appearing in Medjugorje, (formerly Yugoslavia). Many pilgrims go every year to witness for themselves the effect of the apparition on the town of Medjugorje. Because the apparition is still occurring, it has not been approved by the Church. Only when the apparition has ended does the Church complete its' investigation.
For an apparition to be approved the Church must believe it is bearing good fruit and that it leads pilgrims to Jesus. The Church then approves the apparition as worthy of belief. It does not consider this declaration infallible.
The Church teaches us that Mary is the mother of God. She is also our spiritual mother, to whom we can always go for support, comfort and her prayers. Intercessory prayer is when a person or saint prays on behalf of another person. The belief in the communion of saints is the belief that saints in heaven can pray for pilgrims still here on earth. We all belong to the family of God.
Mary is the Queen of Saints. This is because Jesus is the Prince of Peace. A prince becomes a King. The mother of a king is a queen. Hence, Mary, the mother of the Prince of Peace, is our Queen, deserving of our respect and love. She always leads us closer to her son, Jesus.
Five popular apparitions of Mary are :
- Our Lady of Lourdes
- Our Lady of Fatima
- Our Lady of Guadalupe
- Our Lady of Medjugorje
- Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.
View the list to see each of the images of Our Lady and to learn about each apparition.