Each month, on the 25th of July and the 2nd of August, Mary appears to two visionaries in the tiny village of Medjugorje in Bosnia-Hercegovina. Our Lady has been doing this since 1981, when she first appeared to six children.
Four hundred-fifty years before the Medjugorje apparitions began, a humble Mexican named Juan Diego experienced a series of Marian apparitions. The year was 1531, a time when the Aztecs were sacrificing humans to their idols. After the first apparition, there were many miracles, cures and interventions. By 1539, almost nine million Indians had converted to Christianity.
One miracle was an image of Mary on Juan Diego’s tilma (a parka-like garment made of fabric from cactus fibers). It is still in perfect condition and remains on display today.
These Marian apparitions are just two of the innumerable appearances of Our Lady throughout history. Sixteen of these apparitions have been officially approved by the Catholic Church.
Our Lady of Lourdes
When St. Bernardette first saw the Virgin Mary in the Lourdes, France grotto in 1844, it was beyond her understanding. She was an uneducated peasant girl. She was given the phrase, “I am the Immaculate Conception” to say to the local priest. Soon Bernardette was attracting large crowds when she would pray and wait for Mary to appear again. In one apparition, Mary instructed Bernardette to bathe in and drink from the fountain. Because there wasn’t a fountain, Bernardette began to dig in the dirt where she stood. A pond and stream appeared, and from then through the present, thousands of people have visited the stream in search of physical healing. To date, 67 people have been cured of illnesses and conditions.
Mary promised Bernardette that — this life may not be the best for her, but the next life would. Bernardette left Lourdes in 1866 to become a nun with the Sisters of Nevers Order. She avoided all publicity. In 1879 Bernardette died at the age of 35. She was canonized a saint by Pope St. Pius X in 1933. When her body was exhumed for examination relating to sainthood, it was found to be incorrupt, meaning that it hadn’t decayed.
The Study of Our Blessed Mother Mary
If Protestants and Catholics alike can believe that God made the world in seven days, that Jesus performed miracles while he was on earth, and other doctrines that reflect the supernatural, why not believe in Marian apparitions? It’s been often said by non-Catholics that “Mary-ology” causes us to take our eyes off Jesus. But this is not true. Mary always, always points us directly to her Son, as she is not God, but — instead — His mother.