A Marian apparition is an event in which the Virgin Mary is believed to have supernaturally appeared to one or more persons.
The central role of Virgin Mary in the belief and practice of Catholicism is reflected in the fact that a lot of Roman Catholic churches contain side altars dedicated to Mary. It is claimed apparitions or appearances are always accompanied by messages to the world.
The term Marian apparition is usually used in cases where visions of just the Virgin Mary herself are claimed. However, there are also cases where visions of Jesus and Mary and conversations with both are reported.
Here are most famous places, where Virgin Mary is believed to have appeared: Fatima, Lourdes, Medjugorje
Our Lady of Fátima is the title given to the Holy Virgin Mary by those who believe that she appeared to three shepherd children at Fátima in Portugal. It started on May 13th in 1917, the Fatima holiday, and recured on the 13th day of six consecutive months. The three children were Lúcia dos Santos and her cousins, siblings Francisco and Jacinta Marto. The children related that the Lady identified herself as “the Lady of the Rosary”.That`s why the title “Our Lady of the Rosray” is also sometimes used for the same apparition( this title was first used in 1208 for the apparition in the church of Prouille)Lúcia described the appeared lady as “brighter than the sun, shedding rays of light clearer and stronger than a crystal ball filled with the most sparkling water and pierced by the burning rays of the sun.”
The lady confided to the children three secrets, called the Three Secrets of Fátima. She told the children to do penance and to make sacrifices to save sinners. And the children did it: they wore tight cords around their waists to cause pain, abstained from drinking water on hot days, and performed other works of penance. But Lucia said that the most important mission the lady gave them was saying the Rosary every day, reiterating many times that the Rosary was the key to personal and world peace.
The apparitions of Our Lady of Lourdes began on 11 February 1858, when the 14-year old farmer girl from Lourdes, Bernadette Soubirous admitted that she had seen a “lady” in the cave of Massabielle, about a mile from the town, while she was collecting firewood and bones with her sister and a friend. When she was about to wade through the water near the Grotto of Massabielle, she heard wind noises but the trees and bushes nearby did not move. She saw a light in the grotto and a lady, as small as she was, dressed all in white, apart from the blue belt fastened around her waist and the golden yellow roses, one on each foot.
Bernadette didn`t want to tell anybody about this happening, but after parental cross-examination, she underwent corporal punishment for this unusual story. After three days, Bernadette returned to the Grotto with two other girls, who became afraid when they saw her in ecstasy and run away.
Bernadette remained ecstatic when she returned to the village. On February 18th the Lady allegedly said to Bernadette: “I promise to make you happy not in this world but in the next” and she was told to return to the Grotto over a period of 14 days. Afte the local interest was aroused, the police and city authorities got involved and Bernadette was interdicted by her parents and the police to ever go there again, but she went anyway. On February 25th she was asked to drink from the water, which at first was very muddy, but became increasingly clean when she started to drink it. This water was given to medical patients of all kinds, after which numerous miracle cures were reported.
Similar appearances of the “lady” took place on seventeen further happenings that year.
Bernadette Soubirous was canonized as a saint, and many Catholics believe her visions to have been real. Pope Pius IX authorized the local bishop to permit the veneration of the Virgin Mary in Lourdes in 1862.
From the beginning of Medjugorje apparitions in 1981, Medjugorje (in Bosnia and Herzegovina) became an important source of God’s grace and encouragement for faith for millions of people.
Medjugorje Apparitions started on June 24th, 1981, when six young people – Ivanka Ivankovic, Mirjana Dragicevic, Vicka Ivankovic, Ivan Dragicevic, Ivan Ivankovic and Milka Pavlovic, saw on the
hill Crnica( now called Apparition Hill) several hundred meters above the place called Podbrdo, a young woman with a child in her arms, who gave them a sign with her hand to come nearer.
Surprised and scared, they did not approach her, they ran away.The next day, June 25th, 1981, four of them: Ivanka Ivankovic, Mirjana Dragicevic, Vicka Ivankovic and Ivan Dragiceviæ, felt strongly drawn towards the place where they had seen the person the day before which, they had recognised later as Our Lady. Marija Pavlovic and Jakov Colo joined them and the group of Medjugorje visionaries was formed. They prayed and spoke with Our Lady. This is why June 25th is celebrated as the Anniversary of the apparitions and not the 24th . According to the testimony of the visionaries, from that day onwards, they had daily apparitions, together or separately, wherever they were. Milka Pavloviæ and Ivan Ivankovic never saw Our Lady again.
Medjugorje became a place visited by thousands of pilgrims from all over the world. A lot of hotels and guest houses have come since this happening and the streets in the center of the town are lined with cafes and a lot of souvenir shops.